Do you get weekends off work? Lunch breaks? Paid vacation? An eight-hour work day? Social security? If you said “yes” to any of these questions, you can thank labor unions and the U.S. labor movement for it. Many of the most basic benefits we enjoy at our jobs today were the result of years of hard-fought battles and the legislation they inspired. On the first Monday in September, we take the day off to celebrate Labor Day and reflect on the American worker’s contributions to our country.
Why We Love Labor Day
A. We're hard workers—we deserve the day off
Statistics show that Americans work longer hours than the majority of other countries—137 more hours per year than Japan, 260 more per year than the UK, and 499 more than France. And our productivity is high—400% higher than it was in 1950, to be exact. So we totally deserve that day off.
B. It's one last chance to grill out
Labor Day is widely considered to be the unofficial last day of summer. Before the air turns cold and the leaves start to fall, it's our last chance to grill some steaks and wear shorts.
C. It's the reason we can say TGIF
Labor Day is a time to celebrate the benefits we enjoy at our jobs—including weekends off. The concept of American workers taking days off dates back to 1791, when a group of carpenters in Philadelphia went on strike to demand a shorter work week (10-hour days, to be exact). It wasn't until 1836 that workers started demanding eight-hour work days.
How to Celebrate Labor Day
1. Read up on the history of Labor Day
Labor Day has a rich history that directly impacts the working conditions we experience today. So in between rounds of BBQ at your Labor Day celebration, take the time to read a book or article about the U.S. labor movement and its contribution to our country's current work culture.
2. Buy an American-made product
When you're doing your Labor Day shopping, take the time to read the labels. Consider buying products that say "Made in the USA" to show your support for American laborers.
3. Watch a movie about unions
In all likelihood, you'll get the day off for Labor Day. What better way to relax than to stretch out on the couch and watch a movie about the American labor movement? There are tons of union-themed movies to choose from.