Labor Day has Been our Holiday for More Than 100 years
Labor Day is observed on the first Monday in September to pay tribute to the contributions and achievements of everyday working families.
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. Following the deaths of 13 workers during the Pullman Strike in June of 1894, President Grover Cleveland made reconciliation with the labor movement a top political priority, and Labor Day become a federal holiday in 1894.
During the major economic depression of the early 1890s, the Pullman Palace Car Company cut wages in its factories. Discontented workers joined the American Railway Union (ARU), led by Eugene V. Debs, which supported their strike by launching a boycott of all Pullman cars on all railroads. ARU members across the nation refused to switch Pullman cars onto trains. When these switchmen were disciplined, the entire ARU struck the railroads on June 26, 1894. Within four days, 125,000 workers on twenty-nine railroads had quit work rather than handle Pullman cars.
The strike was broken up by United States Marshals and some 2,000 United States Army troops, sent in by President Grover Cleveland on the premise that the strike interfered with the delivery of U.S. mail. During the strike, 13 workers were killed and 57 were wounded.