While the United States officially celebrates Labor Day the first Monday in September, much of the world celebrates its working class on May 1st for International Workers' Day. The idea of May Day may conjure images of folks dancing around a May Pole, and maybe it reminds you of the Men Without Hats “The Safety Dance” video. But it’s a day we should reflect on our past and be thankful for what we have.
International Worker's Day
International Workers' Day was inspired by the Haymarket Affair that occurred in Chicago May 4, 1886. According to William J. Adelman, “No single event has influenced the history of labor in Illinois, the United States, and even the world, more than the Chicago Haymarket Affair. It began with a rally on May 4, 1886, but the consequences are still being felt today. Although the rally is included in American history textbooks, very few present the event accurately or point out its significance.” Workers went on strike demanding an 8-hour work day. In the late 19th century, many folks were working 10-12 hours a day with little pay. An unknown person detonated a bomb during the peaceful protests and chaos ensued. Many anti-labor governments tried to use the Haymarket Affair as an example to crush the spirits of the labor movement. Ironically, this very instance inspired.
Today, we still have 40-hour work weeks – and some companies even opt for a 32-hour work week. We have the labor movement of thank for that.
And even though we don’t officially celebrate our workers until September, it doesn’t hurt to practice a little gratitude. When you’re ordering your latte, make eye contact with the barista give him a genuine thank you. Appreciate the job your employees or coworkers are doing. It’s nice to feel needed. And it’s even nicer to feel appreciated.