Happy Labor Day!
Do you know the origins of this holiday? According to the Department of Labor, in 1882 either Peter J. McGuire or Matthew Maguire (records vary) proposed a holiday in honor of the “laboring classes.” McGuire and Maguire were both labor unionists. McGuire belonged to the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and the American Federation of Labor, Maguire to the Central Labor Union and International Association of Machinists.
Initially a municipal holiday, Labor Day soon became a state holiday. Although New York gets credit for celebrating Labor Day first, in 1882, Oregon beat them to the punch, in 1887, of passing the first state law. By 1894, nearly three dozen states had passed laws honoring the day.
A Federal Law and a Bit of Irony
Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland signed legislation setting the first Monday in September as the official day of celebration. (A few days later he sent Federal troops to Chicago to deal with striking railroad workers.) From the beginning, the day was commemorated with parades and picnics, with speeches by prominent community members becoming a feature added by the beginning of the twentieth century.
The Crime Connection
Do you find yourself giving the person in the next cubicle or next to you on the assembly line the side-eye and wondering if anyone else feels the same? You’re not alone. There are many crime novels set in the workplace. “Workplace Thriller” is an actual sub-genre. The Other Black Girl is one of the newest under that category. There’s also a plethora of mysteries that center on Labor Day or labor unions. Mystery Fanfare, the blog by Janet Rudolph, lists more than two dozen. (By the way, this blog is a great place to find holiday-themed mysteries. I don’t think there’s a major holiday without at least one mystery listed.)