“Where love is there is no labor; and if there be labor, that labor is loved.” — Jane Austen
Another Labor Day is now upon us and many may be spending this holiday either going for a second cheeseburger, dusting sand off from the beach, or filing away the receipts after a bit of bargain shopping. For those fortunate enough to have this Federally observed holiday off, and even for those not so fortunate, this day is for everyone to celebrate the achievements of both American labor as a collective and to recognize the individual laborer’s contributions.
While the holiday’s original creator is still a subject of some debate, with some camps pointing to Peter J. McGuire, a general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners as well as a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor as the first person to propose a holiday celebrating the worker. Other historians have pointed out that it was Matthew Maguire, a machinist, who when serving as the secretary of the Central Labor Union, proposed the day along with a committee to plan a demonstration and picnic for recognizing labor’s contributions.
Regardless of the creator, the origins of Labor Day are deeply rooted in the labor movement of the late 19th century and the first celebration was held on September 5, 1882, in New York City. So entrenched was the holiday in the early labor movement that during this first celebration, police were out in force, wary that a riot of workers might break out. This would not come to be however as initially there were so few workers to show up and a lack of music to hold a large demonstration.
Despite the underwhelming crowd, eventually, the Central Labor Union of New York met up with the Jewelers Union of Newark Two who had a band in tow and their movement grew to a reported 700 men. What began as a slow-start demonstration quickly grew as spectators began to join the marchers and a final report of the event put the number of marches anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 men and women.
Though the very first Labor Day almost nearly fell apart, due to the tenacity of the union members, other laborers, and support from the public the event found an audience. While originally a more local holiday, it soon spread to other states until it was officially recognized and signed into law by President Grover Cleveland who made it a federal holiday in 1894.
This year as we celebrate the worker it is now more than ever important to recognize the tremendous work so many have done despite these recent challenging times. Right now everyone from the frontline healthcare professionals, essential workers, teachers, and more are all working together to keep the wheels of progress turning. While these times may be unprecedented the spirit of America’s labor force is alive and well.
Not only is celebrating the American worker important but so is rewarding hard work. If you are a business owner looking for new opportunities to reward your employees you should consider unique benefits such as financial planning for your employees. One of the unique challenges that new and smaller firms face as well as being able to provide competitive benefits without unbearable costs. My Financial Coach, in association with Milton Park Partners, is here to help smaller employers who want benefits packages similar to leading Fortune 500 companies that are guided by a dedicated personal CFP® professional.
So this year as you celebrate the contributions of labor, consider how you might be able to give back as well. Whether that be in the form of unique benefits like student loan forgiveness, extra paid days off, or best-in-class HR benefits, today is all about honoring the hardworking spirit of the American worker.
Andrew J. Crosby, CFP®, ChFC®, RICP®
Lead Financial Coach