Those were tough days to be a laborer (or a labourer). People worked 12-hour days, often seven days a week. Children worked in factories. Working conditions were miserable.
In 1872, 10,000 workers in Toronto went on strike for a day and held a march demanding better conditions. The Yankees caught up in 1882, with 10,000 workers in New York taking an unapproved day off work to march for less slave-like conditions.
Working conditions improved and in 1894, both Canada and the United States declared the first Monday of September as a day set aside to honor workers.
Much has changed since then. Today, the rights of workers and working conditions are governed by a complex web of government regulations. It might be argued that the pendulum has swung too far.
Labor Day has become a day for cookouts, baseball games and department store sales.
I like to think of it as a day to remember the dignity of work, of making all work an offering to God and a service to others. There is honor and joy in work. And while it can seem like little more than the means to our economic ends, we need to remember its intrinsic value.