Friday, September 6, 2019 / by Bridget Brennan
Labor Day Remains EHT SDRAWKCAB YADILOH
In case you aren’t sure of the title… it's Labor Day. The Backwards Holiday. Every year when it rolls around I wonder why it’s named Labor Day and cant help making the same point. Since it’s a Holiday intended to be just that, a Holiday – I would think a better name may be Relax Day or Lazy Day or Off Day or Sleep in Day, maybe even Do-Nothing Day, something other than Labor Day. After all, we know what Labor means. And many will likely be celebrating Labor Day by Laboring.
Labor Day came about because workers felt they were spending too many hours and days on the job.
In the 1830s, manufacturing workers were putting in 70-hour weeks on average. Sixty years later, in 1890, hours of work had dropped, although the average manufacturing worker still toiled in a factory 60 hours a week.
These long working hours caused many union organizers to focus on winning a shorter eight-hour work day. They also focused on getting workers more days off, such as the Labor Day holiday, and reducing the workweek to just six days.
These early organizers clearly won since the most recent data show that the average person working in manufacturing is employed for a bit over 40 hours a week and most people work only five days a week.
Surprisingly, many politicians and business owners were actually in favor of giving workers more time off. That’s because workers who had no free time were not able to spend their wages on traveling, entertainment or dining out.
As the U.S. economy expanded beyond farming and basic manufacturing in the late 1800s and early 1900s, it became important for businesses to find consumers interested in buying the products and services being produced in ever greater amounts. Shortening the work week was one way of turning the working class into the consuming class.
So, to celebrate the month of September and the affection for Laboring, I have a special announcement to make: I will be Laboring, but for a very special reason.
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