A day for our hard word

Tricia Peterson / Washburn Review

Labor Day, always landing on the first Monday of every September, is one of those holidays that most people accept but they never consider its significance. Sadly, I am usually one of those people and this year I decided to check it out.

According to the United States Department of Labor website, there is some debate,  about who originally proposed this worker’s holiday. There are two men, Peter McGuire, general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor, and Matthew Maguire, a machinist, who is supposed to have founded the holiday. I think it’s funny they both have the same last name, it’s just spelled differently. I don’t know if there is a significance there with the confusion, or not.

That same website says that McGuire was said to have wanted to adopt a holiday that would honor those “who from rude nature have delved and carved all the grandeur we behold.” While this has never been challenged, the second Maguire was a secretary for the Central Labor Union in New York which is also who adopted the Labor Day proposal. It doesn’t matter who proposed it first. I think that because it was this was all happening in 1882 it’s a big deal. Sure it took a few years for the first state to make it a holiday, Oregon in 1887, and federally in 1894, but it’s significant because it was so long ago.

Today I feel like we are spoiled workers. Most of us take this day off from work and think nothing more of it. Back in the 1880s, people worked hard, with their hands and rarely had an extra day off from work. Back then, to take a day off from work was lazy and would cost a lot of money. Today, we have so many days off given to us throughout the year and we take full advantage. We take advantage of sick days, holidays and personal days. Even if some places require you to work on holidays, you get paid time and a half or more.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in Labor Day and think we all deserve a day off in observance of our hard work throughout the rest of the year. I just think it’s pretty amazing that this day was made a federal holiday over a century ago and we still observe it today.