Just what the hell is Labor Day all about?!
History is bleak. But it can afford us a small amount of relief and dare-I-say pride in the fact that we don’t subject one another to quite the level of atrocities we once did.
At the height of the Industrial Revolution, Americans were little more than greased cogs clad in flesh and bone. The average adult worked 12-hour-a-day, seven-day weeks to scrape by.
And yes, children as young as 5 found themselves sweating in mines and mills, factories and farms, earning a tiny fee comparable to the size of their bodies.
1882 marks the very first Labor Day, instigated by the Central Labor Union in New York City; a parade was held in Union Square.
Fourteen years later, 4,000 American Railway Union workers employed by the Pullman Company began striking in Chicago. Pullman ran the entire town as an extension of its business, refusing to let employees own their own homes and slashing wages whenever they saw fit; eventually more than 250,000 workers in 27 states joined the cause.
Pullman refused to acknowledge wrongdoing or the protests, and subsequently, riots broke out. 37 people were killed, 57 injured, and 80 million dollars of damage caused. President Grover Cleveland had to send in the army to restore order. (He then signed a bill marking Labor Day as a national holiday.)
The U.S. Department of Labor has this to say:
“The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy.”
I think we can all agree that is largely steaming hot air blowing up all our behinds and there are plenty of folks in America still working a grueling 12-hour-a-day, seven-day week reality just to scrape by…
BUT, we’re getting a little better all the time.
This is all to say, I hope you can enjoy your day off. (If you get it off.) Thank yourself and your comrades who wake up every day and throw their shoulder against the world to keep it moving. To keep it spinning into the shadows and into the sun and back again.
We only have each other.
Work. And rest.
With love + rage, Katie Tandy Co-founder | Creative Director
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