Did you know that labor day is not just for picnics and parties and getting ready for school to start?
A long time ago people worked very hard and long hours with very little pay. in very dangerous condition they worked in factories. doing tasks like sewing buttons on shirts, ironing, sewing clothes,. they worked very hard, these places were called “sweat” shops. the people worked so hard and fast that they would be sweating a lot!
The boss would fill the room with 100’s of people and would lock the door so workers could not leave. they worked for hours and hours with no breaks!
Not to go potty, how many of you go potty?
We all go potty.
Not to have lunch.
How many of you eat lunch?
We all like to eat lunch.
But the bosses wanted them to work, and that is all they did. the people worked long hours so they could feed their family. some of the families were so poor that their children had to go to work, some as young as 6 years old. How many of you are 6 years old?
How many of you were once 6 years old? Wow! We all have so much in common with each other, huh?
The children did things like keeping the thread on the sewing machines, so the seamstress would not have to stop working. It was very dangerous work for a child. The bosses wanted children because they had small hands. They could get their hands in the small parts of the machines. These children worked the same long hours as the grown ups, from early in the morning before the sun came up, till way past bed time. At the end of the day the boss would give them 75 cents!
But there was a man named Peter McGuire who had worked as a child. He believed that it was wrong to treat workers that way. He wanted the workers to have a safe place to work, to be able to take bathroom breaks, to get fair pay for the hours they worked, He wanted people to have a day off, but most of all he wanted the children in school, not a factory.
On September 5 1882 he got over 10,000 workers to go on strike in New York City. That was the first labor day. In 1894 congress passed a law making labor day a national holiday.
So tomorrow when you are hanging out with your family, eating yummy food and maybe even watching parade. take a minute, put your hand on your heart and say a silent thank you to Mr McGuire and the work he did for the working people of years ago and even the workers now.
copyright. Erika Allen
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