It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!
In the late 1800s, many Canadians and Americans worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week, often in physically demanding, low-paying jobs. Children worked too, on farms and in factories and mines. Conditions were often harsh and unsafe.
The first recognized protest demanding better hours, pay and working conditions can be traced to April 15, 1872, when the Toronto Trades Assembly organized Canada's first significant demonstration for worker's rights. The aim of the demonstration was to release the 24 leaders of the Toronto Typographical Union who were imprisoned for striking to campaign for a nine-hour working day. At this time, trade unions were still illegal and striking was seen as a criminal conspiracy to disrupt trade.
On September. 5, 1882 American workers held the first Labor Day parade, marching from New York’s City Hall to a giant picnic at an uptown park to protest poor pay and working conditions. Many of these concerns were directed at major industrial institutions who maintained monopolies over entire small towns and various trades.
Between 1872 and 1894 there were several notable abuses of labor leading to national headlines and public outcry in the United States and Canada. These incidents prompted introduction of bills making Labor/Labour Day national holidays allowing many workers opportunities to lobby for better working pay and working conditions. United States President Grover Cleveland and Canada Prime Minister Sir John Thompson signed bills into law in 1894 declaring Labor/Labour Day a national holiday. Federal recognition of Labor / Labour Day were considered by many historians to be first steps in improving worker pay and worker conditions in the United States, Canada and other countries.
Other countries who celebrate a form of Labor Day holiday include Australia, Bahamas, Jamaica, Kazakhstan and New Zealand.