1856 to Present
U.S., Canada, WorldwideLabor Day (Labor Day in the United States) is an annual holiday to celebrate the achievements of workers. Labor Day has its origins in the labor union movement, specifically the eight-hour day movement, which advocated eight hours for work, eight hours for recreation, and eight hours for rest. For most countries, "Labor Day" is synonymous with, or linked with, International Workers' Day, which occurs on 1 May. Some countries vary the actual date of their celebrations so that the holiday occurs on a Monday close to 1 May. Some countries have a holiday at or around this date, but it is not a 'Labor day' celebration.
Labor Day in Australia is a public holiday on dates which vary between states and territories. It is the first Monday in October in the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and South Australia. In Victoria and Tasmania, it is the second Monday in March (though the latter calls it Eight Hours Day). In Western Australia, Labor Day is the first Monday in March. In Queensland and the Northern Territory, Labor Day occurs on the first Monday in May (though the latter calls it May Day). It is on the fourth Monday of March in the territory of Christmas Island. The first march for an eight-hour day by the labor movement occurred in Melbourne on 21 April 1856.
Labor Day has been celebrated in Canada on the first Monday in September since the 1880s. The origins of Labor Day in Canada can be traced back to December 1872 when a parade was staged in support of the Toronto Typographical Union's strike for a 58-hour work-week, almost a full decade before a similar event in New York City by the American Knights of Labor, a late 19th-century U.S. labor federation, launched the movement towards the American Labor Day holiday. The Toronto Trades Assembly (TTA) called its 27 unions to demonstrate in support of the Typographical Union who had been on strike since 25 March. George Brown, Canadian politician and editor of the Toronto Globe hit back at his striking employees, pressing police to charge the Typographical Union with "conspiracy." Although the laws criminalising union activity were outdated and had already been abolished in Great Britain, they were still on the books in Canada and police arrested 24 leaders of the Typographical Union. Labor leaders decided to call another similar demonstration on 3 September to protest the arrests. Seven unions marched in Ottawa, prompting a promise by Canadian Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald to repeal the "barbarous" anti-union laws. Parliament passed the Trade Union Act on 14 June the following year, and soon all unions were seeking a 54-hour work-week.
The Toronto Trades and Labor Council (successor to the TTA) held similar celebrations every spring. American Peter J. McGuire, co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, was asked to speak at a labor festival in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on 22 July 1882.
On 23 July 1894, Canadian Prime Minister John Thompson and his government made Labor Day, to be held in September, an official holiday. In the United States, the New York parade became an annual event that year, and in 1894 was adopted by American president Grover Cleveland to compete with International Workers' Day (May Day).
Labor Day is a national holiday in the Bahamas, celebrated on the first Friday in June in order to create a long weekend for workers. The traditional date of Labor Day in the Bahamas, however, is 7 June, in commemoration of a significant workers' strike that began on that day in 1942.