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Labor Day has historic roots

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
Sept. 1, 2003
Have you ever wondered how Labor Day started?
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the holiday was a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers.
The day is a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of the country.
Here are some Labor Day facts. To find out more about Labor Day, visit the U.S. Department of Labor Web site at www.dol.gov.
First holiday: The first Labor Day was celebrated Tuesday, Sept. 5, 1882, in New York City in accordance with plans of the Central Labor Union. The Central Labor Union held its second Labor Day the next year.
First Monday: In 1884, the first Monday in September was selected as Labor Day. The idea spread with the growth of labor organizations; in 1885, Labor Day was celebrated in many U.S. industrial centers.
Government recognition: The first government recognition of Labor Day came through municipal ordinances passed in 1885 and 1886. From them developed the movement to secure state legislation.
State recognition: The first state bill was introduced in New York, but the first to become law was passed in Oregon on Feb. 21, 1887. During the year four more states Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York created a Labor Day holiday.
Congressional recognition: By the end of the decade, Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states adopted the holiday in honor of workers; on June 28 of that year, Congress made the first Monday in September each year a holiday in the District of Columbia and territories.

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