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According to the industry group, Airlines for America, 15.6 million Americans will be traveling during this Labor Day weekend. The industry group expects Atlanta to experience the brunt of airline travelers, which is estimated as seeing 1.1 million fliers departing Atlanta this weekend. Cheaper gas prices are also expected to bring heavy traffic throughout the country.

At the same time, millions of Americans are facing Hurricane watch. The East Coast continues to follow Tropical Storm Hermine and Hawaii is bracing for Tropical Storm Lester. These storms are expected to bring extremely unsafe conditions to popular Labor Day beach destinations across the East Coast and parts of Hawaii. Emerging Growth would like to wish everyone a happy, safe, and healthy Labor Day weekend.

Labor Day: A History

On September 5, 1882, workers’ unions paraded in New York City to celebrate the American worker and labor unions. However, the first passed municipal legislation that officially recognized “Labor Day” did not come until New York, New Jersey, Colorado, and Oregon were among the first U.S. states to pass legislation in 1887. By 1894, Congress had passed legislation that made the first Monday in September a national holiday, Labor Day. President Grover Cleveland signed the legislation into law later in 1894. Ironically, just months earlier in 1894, President Cleveland received considerable backlash after ordering federal troops to crush a union uprising at the Pullman Railroad Co., which killed 34 union workers.

While Labor Day’s origin was embedded in the vast labor union landscape that used to be the normality in the U.S., labor union membership peaked in the 1950s, at around 40% of the total American working population. As of 2013, labor union membership is around 11% of the total American working population, but we continue to celebrate Labor Day for the vast improvements in working conditions over the course of our history, celebrate American workers, and our accomplishments.

Who Was The First Person To Come Up With The Idea of “Labor Day?”

Interestingly enough, there is still a lot of debate and uncertainty surrounding the origins of Labor Day. Some people and records show that Peter J. McGuire, general secretary of Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and cofounder of American Federation of Labor, was the originator of the idea of Labor Day. Conversely, some people believe that Matthew Maguire was the first to come up with the idea, while serving as the secretary of Local 344 of the International Association of Machinists in 1882.

Here is former-U.S. Department of Labor, Linda Stinson’s response to the debated question:

“When studying the history of Labor Day, two names stand out, and the funny thing is that they sound just alike. One is Peter J. McGuire, a leading official in the American Federation of Labor and organizer of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners. The other is Matthew Maguire, a machinist from the Knights of Labor. The problem with declaring a single “founder” of Labor Day is that, at the time, no one realized that a new national holiday was being born. It was only after the fact that people tried to pinpoint a single founding father.”

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“Seven years after that first New York Labor Day parade, the union journal for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters published an article claiming that their union brother, McGuire, made the original proposal to have the Labor Day event in New York and called for one day a year to be set aside as Labor Day. This article was reprinted yearly, and it became the common assumption that these were the facts.”

“However, in 1967, a retired machinist from Maguire’s union stepped up and claimed that his union brother was, in fact, the true originator of the movement for a national Labor Day. He pointed to an old newspaper article written nine years after the New York Labor Day parade titled “Labor Day: Its History and Development in the Land.” This article claimed that the first Secretary of the Central Labor Union, Maguire, was the one who arranged the parade. This claim was supported six years later when the grand marshal of the New York parade of 1882 himself reminisced about how Maguire from the Knights of Labor had first suggested that the Central Labor Union call upon the unions of New York City to join together in a labor parade.”

“So the historical conundrum seems to hinge on the fact that the two names sound alike and were probably mixed up in the common consciousness. Toss in the years of bitter rivalry between the American Federation of Labor and the Knights of Labor and, of course, you’re going to have multiple heroes emerging in the legend of Labor Day.”

“I don’t really know if there is only one true parent of Labor Day. But when former Secretary of Labor W. Willard Wirtz spoke at the convention of the International Association of Machinists in 1968, he said: “My decision…is that there is no question as to who is the father of Labor Day in this country. Officially, as of this moment, insofar as the Department of Labor is concerned, it is Matt Maguire, machinist!” So in the question of McGuire versus Maguire, I don’t really know. But my money backs Bill Wirtz every time!”

No matter how you choose to celebrate Labor Day during this holiday weekend, Emerging Growth would like to wish everyone a safe, happy, and healthy holiday!