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Labor Day

LABOR DAY

LABOR DAY is observed annually in honor of working people on the first Monday in September in all the states and territories, including Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The day was originally conceived in 1882 by Peter J. McGuire, the radical founder and indefatigable warrior of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of New York. On 8 May, McGuire proposed to the New York City Central Labor Union that the first Monday in September, because it fell midway between the Fourth of July and Thanksgiving Day, be set aside annually as a "labor day." His effort bore fruit on Tuesday, 5 September 1882, when workers in New York City held a large parade and a festival sponsored by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor. In 1884, the New Yorkers held a parade on the first Monday of September and designated that day as the annual Labor Day. The agitation in New York City was soon followed by labor unions in other states, which staged vigorous campaigns in their state legislatures for the establishment of Labor Day as a legal holiday. Their earliest victories were in Oregon and Colorado, where Labor Day was declared to be a state holiday in February and March 1887, respectively. The next year the American Federation of Labor passed a resolution for the adoption of a Labor Day at its St. Louis, Missouri, convention. Thirty states had followed the lead of Oregon and Colorado by the time the first Monday in September was made a national holiday by an act of Congress, with the bill signed into law by President Grover Cleveland on 28 June 1894. In the early twenty-first century, Labor Day parades, rallies, festivals, and speeches were still organized by labor unions across the country and often supported by political leaders. Because of the shrinking popular base of traditional labor unions, however, most Americans tended to regard the day merely as the finale of a long summer of fun in which hot dogs, barbecues, and picnics reigned.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Commons, John R., et al. History of Labour in the United States. 4 vols. New York: Macmillan, 1918–1935.

DavidPark

See alsoHolidays and Festivals .

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Labor Day

LABOR DAY

The labor day (trudoden ) was a mechanism for calculating the labor payment of peasants belonging to collective farms. In theory the collective farm was a cooperative form of organization, and thus peasants divided among themselves a residual payment for work rather than a contractual wage. The latter was reserved for the payment of state workers (rabochii ) in industrial enterprises and on state farms.

Each daily task on a collective farm was assigned a number of labor days, according to the nature of the task, its duration, difficulty, and so forth. Peasants accumulated labor days, which were recorded in a labor book. Although a peasant might have some sense of the value of a labor day from past experience, the value of a labor day in terms of money or product would not be known until the end of the agricultural season. Valuation would be determined by the following general formula: To calculate the value of a labor day, the compulsory deliveries to the state would be subtracted from the farm output, and the result divided by the total number of labor days.

After the completion of the harvest, the value of each labor day could be known, and each peasant rewarded in kind (for example, grain) or in money (rubles). With the magnitude of compulsory deliveries at low fixed prices set by the state, the state wielded significant power by extracting products from the farm. Moreover, even though changes in the frequency and form of payment were made over time, the labor day system was a very crude mechanism of payment, with severe limitations as an incentive system.

See also: collective farm; peasantry

bibliography

Davies, R. W. (1980). The Soviet Collective Farm, 19291930. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Stuart, Robert C. (1972). The Collective Farm in Soviet Agriculture. Lexington, MA: D.C. Heath.

Robert C. Stuart

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Labor Day

Labor Day, holiday celebrated in the United States and Canada on the first Monday in September to honor the laborer. It was inaugurated by the Knights of Labor in 1882 and made a national holiday by the U.S. Congress in 1894. In most other countries—and among the leftists in the United States and Canada—May Day (May 1) is celebrated instead.

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Labor Day

La·bor Day • n. a public holiday or day of festivities held in honor of working people, in the U.S. and Canada on the first Monday in September, in many other countries on May 1.

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