OPINION: As summer comes to an unofficial end, we salute the American worker
Welcome back to work to all our readers and their families!
For some, this a long-awaited three-day vacation marking the unofficial end of what was a long, hot summer. Sadly, it also marks the last chance to enjoy the city’s public pools, although some will remain open a few more days.
For those with West Indian roots, it marks the biggest party of the year beginning with the J’Ouvert celebration in early hours before dawn, leading to the day-long West Indian American Carnival and Parade in the very heart of Brooklyn.
Rain or shine, you can count on thousands of people dancing and waving flags from Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, Grenada, Haiti and other Caribbean nations and coming together in a joyful expression of their ethnic heritage.
We can all can take pride that this holiday, celebrated on the first Monday in September, has its roots right here in New York City. At its core, the holiday honors the American labor movement and the contributions that it has made to the prosperity and well-being of the country.
The holiday was first proposed by Matthew Maguire in 1882, while he was serving as secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York. The Central Labor Union adopted his Labor Day proposal and appointed a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic.
The Central Labor Union celebrated a second Labor Day a year later 1883 and suggested that other brotherhoods join them in the following year. By 1894, 28 states had officially adopted the holiday. The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday” coincided with the growth of labor organizations.
On June 28, 1884, Congress unanimously passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a Federal holiday, which was then signed into law by President Grover Cleveland.
In addition to Monday’s celebrations, the city’s Annual Labor Day Parade will take place on Saturday, Sept. 8, in Midtown Manhattan. The participants, including Thousands of union members from nearly every labor organization — including SAG-AFTRA, the NewsGuild, DC-37, Teamsters and IBEW – will march up Fifth Avenue from 44th Street to Central Park starting at 10 a.m. This year’s grand marshal will be Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers.
This year’s theme is “New York City is a Union Town.” Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill de Blasio and a host of other elected officials are expected to attend.
Although Labor Day celebrations in New York and throughout the country have become joyous occasions, the holiday grew out of decades of tensions and violence in the 19th century with no less than 37,000 strikes.
This is indeed a day for labor organizations to take a well-earned bow.
There is nowhere in America where Labor Day is better celebrated than New York City. That’s no accident. It’s the result of labor organizations that continue to defend the rights of their workers.
As early as last Thursday, Parks Department employees had already begun preparing the route in Brooklyn for Monday’s parade/celebration. Long before that, parade organizers and community leaders began meeting with the NYPD and other city officials to make certain that this year’s celebration goes off without incident, a safe event for the entire family.
We wish all of our readers a happy end to the summer, whether you plan to attend one of many parades, hold a barbecue or just kick back, turn on the TV and enjoy the beginning of football season.
Most of all, we salute the workers and their unions that have given great meaning to this holiday.
Leave a Comment
Leave a Comment