Labor's Downbeat Labor Day

Unions fight a decline in membership and new wage concessions

It was on a forgotten day in May 1882 when Peter J. McGuire, the energetic president of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America and a leader in the Knights of Labor, first publicly proposed that a holiday be set aside to give special honor to the "industrial spirit" of American workers. McGuire thought that the day should be halfway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving, so that it could be celebrated in pleasant weather. Thus on Sept. 5, 1882, 10,000 workingmen risked...

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