Ironworkers News Archive

2018

History of Labor Day from Iron Workers Local 404 - (9/3/2018)

As a celebration of the American worker, Labor Day provides the opportunity to commemorate the accomplishments of the Labor movement. Without this movement, and more specifically unions, common workplace improvements like OSHA, child labor laws, paid holiday, a 40-hour work week, even the idea of a weekend would not exist. On Monday, September 3, this national holiday turns 124 years. 

“Many of the workplace comforts society has grown accustomed to are the results of organized labor,” explained Kerry Zettlemoyer, Business Manager for Iron Workers Local 404. “Basic employment rights such as workplace safety, proper payment for work performed and worker’s compensation exist today because of our brothers and sisters who fought for these rights.” 

In addition to all that has been accomplished, the labor movement remains alive today. According to the AFL-CIO, unions continue to be the voice of labor and focus on:

  • Workplace improvements
  • Safer, healthier quality of life
  • Benefits, better pay, retirement 
  • Being a voice on the job

In Pennsylvania, union members account for 12 percent of wage and salary workers, while the national average for union members is 10.7 percent (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2017). When it comes to construction, the building trades deliver value through their apprenticeship programs that produce a highly-skilled, safety-trained workforce. For instance, the Iron worker apprenticeship program consists of a minimum of 600 hours of training and focuses on specialized skills such as welding and torch cutting and safety programs including OSHA and MSHA regulated steel erection standards. This training provides a solid career choice for the worker with no tuition/financial burden.

Labor Day became a legal, national holiday on June 28, 1894, when President Grover Cleveland signed the bill. It was during that same year, on Monday, September 3, the first official holiday was celebrated and every first Monday of September thereafter.


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