Each year, on the first Monday in September, Americans observe a national holiday called Labor Day. Canadians celebrate the holiday on the same day, although the spelling is slightly different, and known as Labour Day. For some, the Labor Day holiday is a long weekend that marks the end of summer, with backyard barbecues, a final summer getaway, or shopping. Federal, state, and local governments close their offices. Banks and post offices also shut down for the day. However, the foundation for observing Labor Day is to pay tribute to working men and women in the U.S. and Canada.
During the 19th century, many people, including children, worked seven days a week. The workday was 12 hours long. Most Americans endured these harsh, unsafe, working conditions to try and earn a living. Some worked on farms, while others worked in mines or factories. The tasks were often physically demanding, yet offered poor pay. In 1879 New York, a woman working as a dressmaker in a factory averaged between 33 and 58 cents per day. Although only a small number of workers joined varied labor unions, the idea of organized labor was growing. Labor leaders in the late 1800s suggested a Labor Day event to show the solidarity of labor unions and support for America’s laborers.
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