Labor Day History
Celebrating the Workers Who Make America Run
For Over 100 years Labor Day has Been our Holiday
Labor Day is observed on the first Monday in September, and pays tributes to both the contributions and achievements of everyday working families.
The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City. Following the deaths of 13 workers during the Pullman Strike in June of 1894, President Grover Cleveland put reconciliation with the labor movement as a top political priority and Labor Day became a federal holiday. and grew to 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.