What Does Labor Day Mean to You?

Posted on by Leave a Comment

The original meaning of Labor Day is lost on a lot of people in the United States and Canada. The first Monday in September is variously the final long lazy weekend of the summer, the last breath of freedom for students heading back to school, or the first break in the school year for those students who resume classes in August.

NetSuite Waterloo employees having fun in the sun

Celebrating Workers

Many forget that this public holiday sprang from the labor movement, which in turn was rooted in the growing tensions between factory workers and their employers in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The movement had a strong political component in Europe, becoming associated with socialism, communism and anarchism because the struggle between owners and workers was seen primarily as another symptom of class distinction.

In the United States and Canada, while connections existed between the labor movement and left wing political interests, the movement focused on forging solidarity as a bargaining tool for improving wages and working conditions.

In much of the world (instead of sharing our cherished end of summer long weekend), International Workers’ Day is celebrated on May 1. Ironically, this date was chosen by The Second International, an organization of socialist and labor parties formed in Paris on July 14, 1889, to commemorate the Haymarket affair[1], one of the most violent episodes in the American labor movement.

Why is Labor Day in September?

The Canadian and American celebration of workers found its place at the end of summer for a number of reasons.

It began with a labor rally organized by the Toronto Trades Assembly on April 15, 1872 in Toronto, Canada. Workers rallied to protest the imprisonment of 24 leaders of the Typographical Union, who had been imprisoned for violating anti-strike laws. While the rally failed to gain the workers freedom, it generated considerable sympathy across Canada and the U.S. Throughout that spring and the summer that followed, the twenty-four workers continued to languish in prison while worker sentiment seethed.

Finally, on the third of September, growing frustration resulted in a mile-long parade through Ottawa that caught the attention of Canada’s Prime Minister, Sir John A. MacDonald. Moved by the plight of the 24 imprisoned workers and the passion of the protestors, MacDonald joined the parade and later succeeded in having a number of anti-labor laws repealed.

In subsequent years, parades and festivals were held across Canada supporting workers’ rights and honoring the efforts of 1872. These celebrations were accompanied by increasing calls for a national holiday to honor workers.

American labor supporters soon caught the wave, and the first U.S Labor Day Parade was held on September 5, 1882

Finally, when the government began to seriously consider an official day to honor workers, both May 1 and the beginning of September were considered. In the end, the same association that made The Second International choose May 1 (i.e. Haymarket) was cited as a good reason to reject that date in North America. Preferring to mark Labor Day as a celebration of labor rather than a memorial to one of its most tragic events, the decision makers chose the first Monday in September.

Labor Day Becomes a National Holiday

Although originally inspired by early successes in Canada, labor supporters in the U.S. didn’t take long to overtake Canada in their efforts to gain recognition. After extensive lobbying from labor organizations, the U.S. Congress declared Labor Day a national holiday in the United States on June 28, 1894. Twenty-five days later the Canadian Parliament did the same.

Make the Most of Labor Day

Whatever Labor Day means to you, make the most of it. Whether you reward your hardworking self with one final summer fiesta or take time to ponder the grit of those early workers who fought for safer workplaces, better wages and reasonable hours—make it count. This is the one day we set aside each year to honor and respect the efforts of all hard-working people.

Now, hold that thought—and see if you can extend it year round!


Support your hard-working team with great tools. Try NetSuite TribeHR today!


Additional References

Chuck Nugent. Origins of Labor Day Holiday in North America. http://chuck.hubpages.com/hub/Labor_Day_and_the_North_American_Labor_Movement

Canada Info: Labour Day. http://www.craigmarlatt.com/canada/symbols_facts&lists/labour_day.html

Haymarket and Mayday. The Encyclopedia of Chicago http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/571.html

Haymarket Square Riot http://www.history.com/topics/haymarket-riot

William J. Adelman. The Haymarket Affair. Illinois Labor History Society. http://www.illinoislaborhistory.org/haymarket/the-story-of-the-haymarket-affair.html

[1] Haymarket Riot, United States History http://www.britannica.com/event/Haymarket-Riot

Taking Your Vacation Creates Jobs

Posted on by Leave a Comment

Time for a vacation! We’ve all heard the arguments for taking our full allocation of paid vacation. The mental and physical break from work reduces stress, recharges our batteries and improves our frame of mind. From an employer’s perspective as well, it makes sense to ensure employees take an annual vacation. When employees return after a break, they are more productive, less stressed and less inclined to suffer heart attacks and other stress related ailments. Clearly vacations are a win/win proposition for employers and employees. But none of the rhetoric about the benefits of taking …

HCM Research Sampler

Posted on by Leave a Comment

A lot of interesting HCM research has been published over the past few months. Whenever we come across new research, we tweet about it. If it resonates with us, we reference it in a blog or even dedicate a full article to it if we find the research especially relevant. A couple of things struck me the other day: Research Process by jtneill, Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Twitter feeds fly by and few people regularly review historical tweets. HR practitioners and decision makers are often too busy to find and read the available research. So, for those of you …

5 Steps to Creating a Real-Time Culture of Success [eBook]

Posted on by Leave a Comment

Many books have been written about creating a culture of success. But there is very little information circulating about how to merge traditional management theory with the very untraditional (and even virtual) environments we find ourselves working in today. My free eBook How to Cultivate Success in Real-Time offers a path of convergence between experience-based best practices and the “learn as you go” demands of real-time execution that managers and leaders now face. Here is a special preview of part 4, called 5 Steps to Creating a Real-Time Culture of Success:Step 1: Build on Shared Values A lackluster corporate culture often develops …

Do The Hardest Hires Have to Be Bought?

Posted on by Leave a Comment

Making the right hire is one of the hardest tasks that businesses ask HR to help perform. And while there are a number of strategies that can help you (shameless plug: maybe an applicant tracking system from TribeHR?), still it can feel like the best prospects simply aren’t interested in getting new jobs. Networking, recruiting agencies, online job portals, and even beautiful robust applicant tracking systems (sorry!) won’t always cut it. So what if you could just buy them out? Flickr/A.Currell An increasing number of firms arerecruiting kidnapping finding top-notch personnel through a practice known as …

Top 5 Academic HR Articles of 2011

Posted on by Leave a Comment

2011 was another challenging year for human resource management. With ever-changing laws, policies and regulations, coupled with continued economic difficulties and the ever-present threat of downsizing, the only constant demand for HR managers was "change." With more of the same expected for 2012, TribeHR has rounded up five of last year’s most useful and insightful peer-reviewed HR papers.1. "Strategic Human Resource Management in Small and Growing Firms: Aligning Valuable Resources."  Hargis, M.B., & Bradley, D.B. (2011). Academy of Strategic Management Journal. Preview. Michael Hargis at the University of Central Arkansas, and Don Bradley at East Carolina University, take a look …

Sitting for 8 hours: Worse than smoking?

Posted on by Leave a Comment

Have you ever considered that sitting at your desk could be as detrimental to your health as smoking? Well, if you spend hours on your rear, start worrying, experts say. Blood clots, cardiovascular disease, weight gain, diabetes—the hazards are real. The reality TV world may contend that crab fisherman have the deadliest job, but “desk jockey” may not be far behind. People are increasingly becoming more sedentary, and our bad habits are pushing us towards a healthcare epidemic.America in crisis According to Steve Blair’s report to the American Psychological Association, physical inactivity is the “biggest public health …

Creating a workplace brand: Challenges and best practices

Posted on by Leave a Comment

"A strong workplace brand increases loyalty because employees develop a strong affiliation to the company and its culture, resulting in increased retention and saving thousands of dollars in hiring and training costs.” — Robert M. Blonchek Now, more than ever, establishing and nurturing a positive workplace brand is critical to recruiting and retaining new employees. But HR managers and recruiters know that a major challenge in the development of a workplace brand is getting buy-in from company leadership, who might want to put priorities elsewhere. Branding helps companies recruit and retain the very best talent. Just like companies look for stand-out …

HR research: 5 Attributes of a good follower

Posted on by Leave a Comment

Yesterday, Workplace Tribes published an interview with HR consultant and Flipskills co-founder Marc Hurwitz. What we didn’t mention was Marc’s frighteningly long list of academic credentials.  He has a BSc in Theoretical Physics, two Master of Science degrees(Nuclear Physics and Applied Mathematics), an MBA from Wilfred Laurier University(where he is a Finance Lecturer), and a PhD in Neuroscience(his thesis was called “Dynamic Judgments of Spatial Extent: Behavioural, Neural, and Computational Studies”). Marc Hurwitz and Samantha Hurwitz Clearly, Marc Hurwitz is a thought leader in a number of different fields. His HR specialty, though, is understanding …

HR Environmental Scan—Work hours around the world [infographic]

Posted on by Leave a Comment

A long day feels like a long day no matter where you live. In some countries, though, the working day actually does last for a few more hours. In July, we looked at overtime laws from around the world. This week, we pulled data from the OECD to find out which country has the longest average working day. We also compared unpaid working time by gender. Guess who spends more time gardening; the answer might surprise you! Don’t forget to check out all of the HR infographics from TribeHR (maker of awesome HR software). Do you operate a …

Next Page

Experience TribeHR for Yourself
Contact us to schedule a demo of TribeHR.

Book A Demo
The Latest from Workplace Tribes
Translating 12 Modern Job Titles November 24, 2015
10 Signs You’re Disengaged at Work November 19, 2015
Working With People Who Have Disabilities November 17, 2015
Dealing With HR Contradictions November 12, 2015
Centered Leadership November 10, 2015
Downtime and Productivity November 05, 2015
HCM and the Quantified Organization November 03, 2015
Let The Masquerade Begin! October 29, 2015
Values Alignment and Fit October 27, 2015
Is Your Workplace Ready for Flu Season? October 22, 2015