#LaborDay is about more than just barbecues and a three-day weekend. It’s a celebration of the working Americans who power our nation’s prosperity. But on this Labor Day, as we continue to recover from the great recession with a strong economic wind at our back, employers need to recognize their responsibility — to their workers and the nation — to help make sure that prosperity is broadly shared.
Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.
Through the years the nation gave increasing emphasis to Labor Day. The first governmental recognition came through municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886. From these, a movement developed to secure state legislation. The first state bill was introduced into the New York legislature, but the first to become law was passed by Oregon on February 21, 1887. During the year four more states — Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York — created the Labor Day holiday by legislative enactment. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska, and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 other states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers, and on June 28 of that year, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories.
On March 15, 1887, Colorado's Sixth General Assembly passed a law designating the first Monday in September as a holiday honoring workers. Less than a month earlier, Oregon had been the first state to create an official labor holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed legislation that made Labor Day a federal holiday on June 28, 1894.
The Rocky Mountain News from September 6, 1887, covered Denver's Labor Day festivities. It was reported that around 2,000 people — "representatives of the various labor organizations and those in sympathy with them" — attended.