Pullman strikers outside Arcade Building
Remembering the radical past of a day now devoted to picnics and back-to-school sales .......
Labor Day, though, was meant to honor not just the individual worker, but what workers accomplish together through activism and organizing. Indeed, Labor Day in the 1880s, its first decade, was in many cities more like a general strike—often with the waving red flag of socialism and radical speakers critiquing capitalism—than a leisurely day off. So to really talk about this holiday, we have to talk about those-which-must-not-be-named: unions and the labor movement.
The Bloody Origin Of Labor Day
A labor movement in Chicago in 1894 left 30 Pullman workers dead, and later spurred Congress and President Grover Cleveland to pass a bill creating Labor Day. But the history of this holiday is rarely taught in schools, and there are few full-time labor journalists to write about working class communities. ...