Monday, September 3, 2012

Happy Labor Day

It is Labor Day! Woo! Day off!

But wait...what the fuck IS Labor Day, other than an excuse for a barbecue and a day off from work?

Most of us know that Labor Day is meant to celebrate workers of any and all kinds, but is that it? Seriously? I'm not saying it isn't a good enough reason to celebrate, it's just...I kinda expected more. Well, I needed to find out because I am on a continuing quest to know everything. So strap in bitches, I am about to drop some history on your ass. HARD.
Aw yeah.
Depending on who your source is, the invention of Labor Day is credited to either Peter McGuire or Matthew Maguire. Either way, it was in the area of New York/New Jersey and involved one or more dudes with the same last name (but different spelling), in the year 1882.
Either way, one of those sweet mustaches wins.
The average working conditions at the time sucked all kinds of ass and this was meant to be a holiday to show solidarity with your co-workers. So, kinda like a company picnic today...except then, you were hoping more that they would be motivated to pull you out of a machine or save you from a fall instead of just saying, "Oh him? Screw that guy."
Fucking Ted and his new hat. He's wearing an Indiana Jones fedora and fancy pants.
The rest of us are stuck with these straw hats and regular pants. What an asshole.
A fairly new idea called labor unions became closely tied with the new celebration. Labor unions were all about worker's rights and safety, which a lot of companies were not gung-ho about. After a few years, a couple of states were like, "Hey, looking out for your fellow worker and not having people die all the time IS an awesome idea! Let's do this shit!"
Oregon was first in 1887.
Oregon: fucking trendsetter before it was cool.
Fitting, I guess, as they are one of the birthplaces of hipsters.
They chose the first Monday in September to celebrate, because it was halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving, which I suppose was some kind of symbolism for being independent from the whims of The Man and being thankful for it. Or five months was way too long to wait for another day off.
You know what this month needs? A motherfucking holiday.
President Grover Cleveland finally signed it into law as an official federal holiday in 1894. Why did it take so long? Probably because he was totally against the idea of supporting unions.
Don't act like this is not what you think of every time you hear Grover Cleveland's name.
What ended up changing his mind? There was a huge railway strike in Pullman, Illinois due to unfair treatment of workers. Despite the governor of Illinois saying, "Do NOT send in the military. This shit is peaceful right now and we don't need dudes with guns blowing this out of proportion", Cleveland sent in US Marshals and the Army, under the pretense of the strike violating the Sherman Antitrust Act (basically, the Sherman Antitrust Act prohibits police, firemen, hospital staff, and other public service workers from striking because it would be a threat to public safety. In this case, the public service being interrupted was the US Mail).

In the end, approximately 18 workers killed (depending on what source you reference), many more were wounded, and it was a political disaster for Cleveland. He was afraid there would be more violence and strikes, so he quickly signed Labor Day into law to show his support for the killed and wounded workers...In other words, he did some serious ass-covering.
Sorry for fucking up and killing all those dudes and shit,
here's a holiday celebrating your right to do what I just tried to stop you from doing. 
Today, Labor Day mostly marks the end of the official summer vacation season. You get one last trip to the beach and one last cookout before the weather turns to shit. So, while you grill up those weenies and close up the pool, take a moment to be thankful that working conditions don't suck as much as they used to. All because a President sort of killed some dudes and was trying to save face.


squashculls said...

That's a bit ridiculous. Our country is weird. Also that Grover is exactly what I imagine.

Melissa Bloechl said...

Our country IS weird. And a little insane...and not always the good kind of insane.

Also, that is totally what everyone should picture when they think of Grover Cleveland. The real guy looks angry and bored.

Audra said...

Huh. I did not know any of that. So basically you're telling me that I should have been celebrating my hardworking self on Monday rather than pulling my hair out wondering why my kids started school so early only to have another day off? Damn. Next year, then.

Melissa Bloechl said...

Yeah, that is essentially what I am telling you. Also, don't slap your co-workers on Labor Day, because it is all about workforce unity and shit.

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