Labor Day 2023Updated: December 23, 2022
Labor Day is a national holiday, according to the U.S. Department of Labor official site, that exists as “a creation of the labor movement” dedicated to the “social and economic achievements of American workers.”
Labor Day is always observed on the first Monday in September. This year, Labor Day falls on Monday, Sept. 4, 2023.
Who Started Labor Day?
The first official government observance of what we now know as Labor Day occurred in Oregon when the state passed legislation to formally recognize the holiday in 1887.
It’s uncertain who first thought up the holiday. According to the Department of Labor, it was either Peter J. McGuire, a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew McGuire, a machinist who later became the secretary of his local International Association of Machinists lodge in New Jersey.
When Was the First Labor Day?
New York City celebrated the first Labor Day on Sept. 5, 1882, two years before Oregon made it a state holiday.
New York City’s celebration occurred “in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union” according to the Department of Labor.
The idea spread, thanks to the encouragement of the Central Labor Union. Over time the tradition of observing the first Monday in September as Labor Day went national. Today, banks, government offices, and individual businesses close to observe this nationwide recognition of labor, the labor movement, and its role in American history.
Who is Rosie the Riveter And Why is She Associated With Labor Day?
“Rosie the Riveter” was an iconic image used in stateside public relations programs to support World War II manufacturing efforts at home.
Songwriters Redd Evans and John Jacob Loeb released the popular song “Rosie the Riveter” in 1942, followed up by a Westinghouse poster campaign, which featured an iconic factory worker with her sleeves rolled up declaring, “We can do it!” This image has since become associated with laborers, Labor Day, and labor unions.
The most famous version of Rosie the Riveter was created by famed Saturday Evening Post illustrator Norman Rockwell. But, the Post refused to license the image for widespread use. The Rosie we know best today was created by J. Howard Miller.
Rosie may not be the “official face” of Labor Day, but she does embody “the strength and esprit de corps of the trade and labor organizations” the holiday is known for, as described by the U.S. Department of Labor.