Today is a federal holiday in the United States, the one we call “Labor Day.” In most countries the labor movement celebrates on May 1 (May Day), but the origin of the US holiday ironically was in Canada where the fight for the nine-hour working day in the 1870s was celebrated at the end of summer. American labor leader Peter J. McGuire saw one of these celebrations and organized the first one in New York in 1882. After US soldiers and marshals put down a peaceful strike at the Pullman plant in bloody fashion in 1894, a fear of escalating labor unrest (the depression of 1893 was in full swing) led Grover Cleveland and a terrified Congress to make Labor Day a federal holiday, thereby separating it from the international workers’ day in May and throwing a sop to labor.
By law, it is always the first Monday in September, so today is officially Labor Day in the US. For most people — ordinary people — it marks the end of summer. But for many ordinary people this year, it is not a holiday from work because they have no job. It is just another day without work and without pay. It’s the day of an ordinary man:
The Reveres, Labor Day 2009