Meaning of Labor Day

Posted at: 08/30/2013 5:22 PM
By: Jenna Lohse

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- Labor Day weekend has officially kicked off for many of you and that extra day off means different things to different people.

"I think Labor Day is celebrating the laborers, the hard work that Americans put forth,” said Cynthia Zuniga Puig.

It became a federal holiday in 1894, but the meaning behind Labor Day has evolved overtime.

"Really today for most people, Labor Day is the end of the summer and the start of school,” said History Professor Chad Israelson.

The holiday was once a means to placate the growing labor unrest in our country.

"There was quite a bit of labor battle going on and there were big strikes the Pullman strike for example and that was sort of the impetus for the creation of Labor Day,” said Israelson.

Now more than a century later, Labor Day is a way to celebrate the accomplishments of the American worker.

"It's a day to think about and appreciate how people who came before really did struggle and fight and continue to struggle for fair treatment in the workplace,” said Rep. Tina Liebling, DFL Rochester.

For many, the assurance of fair treatment on the job comes with joining a union.

“They allow me the security through collective bargaining,” said Andy Kuisle of IBEW Local 343.

Andy Kuisle is one of about 800 union members of IBEW Local 343 in Rochester.

"I come to work to provide for my family through this union and through organized labor to give them opportunities that may not have been had otherwise,” said Kuisle.

Whether it be laying pavement or shuffling through paperwork, "If it wasn't for us workers, would there be an America, I don't know, you know. So we built it and so we should celebrate it,” said Zuniga Puig.