Labor Day Honors and Statistics in the USA

Labor Day is also a time to remember early workers and their struggle to make working conditions human.

Labor Day marks the end of summer.  And for many, it is the last care-free summer holiday before fall schedules and school terms take over their lives.  Labor Day is such a mysterious and perhaps misunderstood holiday that we depart from our usual tax and accounting topics, to bring you some special Labor Day facts and statistics.

So, welcome to a special Labor Day blog from Gavrilov & Co. First of all, we take this opportunity to send out Happy Labor Day congratulations to the 162 million American workers who enrich our country today.  Most people only vaguely know the details of Labor Day and, admittedly, most of us only think of food, family, and fun.

Family Time and Fun Time to Close the Summer Season, But On a Slightly More Serious Labor Day Note…

It is true that picnics, parties, and parades will consume our nation’s energy this coming long weekend.

Celebrate Labor Day with a historical perspective.
Know your Labor Day Heritage.

We will celebrate Monday’s holiday spirit with camping, swimming, boating, and back-yard barbecuing.

However, after a little research, Gavrilov & Co sends out a sincere wish that everyone could take a moment to honor the meaning and history of this holiday.  Sometimes we get very involved with picnics, parades, and parties.  And we forget the reason this Labor Day holiday was nationalized.

And if we, as adults, forget, how can we expect future generations of children to remember?

History, Labor Movements, Protest and a First Labor Day Celebration in New York City’s Past:

Although known in Canada as part of May time celebrations, the first American Labor Day was in New York City.  And it’s quite a story.  Basically, the entire idea was instigated by 10,000 marching men in 1882.  And they had plenty of labor problems to protest in the days of the Industrial Revolution.

That day, September 5, 1882, their demonstration was peaceful.  Why did they demonstrate?  They marched against the required ten-hour workday.  However, some people worked even longer hours.

Our Labor Day Holiday Was Born from Labor Reform

Imagine the working conditions of that time period:

  • Unsafe working conditions.  (No wonder fire was feared. No laws existed for sprinkler systems in those days.)  There are labor stories from this time in history that could melt the hardest hearts.  For example, see the story of March 25, 1911.  Triangle Shirtwaist Company factory fire in New York City killed 145 workers.  It is remembered as one of the most infamous incidents in American industrial history.  The “deaths were largely preventable”…  “Most of the victims died as a result of neglected safety features and locked doors within the factory building.”
    The lives of workers during that time period were nothing like ours.
  • Child labor (Childcare was just no problem because a 5-year-old could work right beside her mother in a sweatshop. Of course, both would have quotas.)
  • Low pay
  • 10-16 hour workdays
    But on that day, the first Labor Day Celebration occurred in 1882.  The protesting and speeches erupted in massive picnicking instead of violence.

Slow Growth of  Labor Reform and a Change We Still Enjoy

That’s right, massive picnicking followed the massive picketing on that first NYC Labor Day.  (Now you know where the cook-out custom originated.)  All of this happened on September 5, 1882.

However, incredible as it seems, our society had to wait until 1916 for the 8 hour work day to become legal.  This occurred by the authority of the Adamson Act.  And there is more behind that story in the eyes of history.  That story begins a year after the NYC peaceful demonstration and celebration of the first Labor Day.  It began when an 1883 economic depression caused a downturn in the purchase of rail cars for passenger trains.

Labor Laws brought human living conditions to the workers.
Labor Laws Were Born From the Violence and Deaths of Strikers.

“Railroad company owner George Pullman cut workers’ wages but refused to lower their rents.  A nation-wide labor strike ensued…”  To squelch the rebellious behavior, President Grover Cleveland called in military muscle.”  And violence ensued.  The unfortunate statistics from that clash included “30 deaths, 57 injured, and $80M dollars in property damage.

So we can understand that President Cleveland was eager to make Labor Day a federal holiday in 1894.  Yes, he rushed Congress into creating the official holiday.  It was not until 23 years later, with the Adamson Act that we actually established the 8-hour workday and 40-hour workweek.

Those are the statistics, and the stories behind the Holiday we are about to enjoy.  Only if we know the history and the heritage can we really appreciate it.

And Now—Back to the 21st Century:  Please Do Not Become a Labor Day Statistic

Labor Day, like all summer holidays, is also a time of great traffic as we exit our cities to outlying parks, lakes, and beaches. Thus we also take a moment to caution you about traffic safety.  We don’t want any of our friends, clients or future clients and friends to become holiday traffic statistics.  “Each year, there is a spike in traffic accidents and fatalities as more people take to the roads over the long holiday weekend.  And this year, it is anticipated that even more Americans will be on the roads than usual.  AAA attributes this to less expensive gas compared to years past, and also to upturned consumer confidence.  According to their predictions, around 30 million people will be on the roads over the holiday weekend.  This accounts for almost 86% of total weekend travelers.”

CBS News recently reported, “Knowing these dangers probably will not deter you from driving to your holiday celebrations.” And they added, their number one safety driving tip for all holidays. “Texting or other distracted driving is more dangerous than driving drunk.  If you need to tell your relatives you are running late, pull over.”

Shocking Statistics for Labor Day Traffic Fatalities

You know how much we at Gavrilov & Co like statistics, numbers, and facts.  Yet some statistics fill us with dismay and horror.  “According to The National Safety Council (NSC), over each Labor Day weekend, approximately 400 Americans on average are involved in fatal car accidents.  An additional approximately 49,000 people will experience non-fatal medically consulted injuries (injuries serious enough to seek medical care).”

Therefore, Gavrilov & Co would feel remiss if we did not caution you about the consumption of alcohol and driving on the nation’s busy holiday roads during the Labor Day holiday.  Drink responsibly are magic words.  Sure, have a good time with family and friends at your party.  However, we urge you to either hire transportation or designate a sober driver.  We are concerned about your life and the lives of your friends.

Breaking News:  Alarming Labor Day Statistics

The National Safety Council has issued special alerts about this year’s traffic.  The figures for 2018 might be worse than the previous average and approximate ones.  The National Safety Council has increased the average estimate to “420 people may die on U.S. roads this Labor Day holiday period.”

By the Way, Labor Day is More than a Day

Labor Day is a day for family fun and honoring our labor heritage.
Drive Friendly and Drive Safe

When you read statistics such as the ones above, keep in mind they often refer to the entire long weekend, not just one day.  Did you know that officially, Labor Day is a 3.25-day weekend.  It consist of Friday evening, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday? In 2018, the Labor Day weekend extends from 6 p.m. Friday, August 31, to 11:59 p.m. Monday, September 3.

So, Gavrilov & Co. urges you to drive safely and enjoy this unique holiday. We also hope you appreciate the Day that has come to our country through the trials of the workers of the Industrial Revolution.  Now we can see that it’s easy to reflect gratefully upon all that workers of this country have done–and continue to do–to make our country run. Happy Labor Day from our family to yours, Gavrilov & Co Accounting and Tax Services.

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