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Gerken and the Spirit of American Labor

Reflecting on the meaning of Labor Day.

Construction Crew

For many of us, Labor Day weekend signals the end of summer. But have you ever wondered how the official holiday came to be? Read on to learn about Labor Day’s meaning and history.

Labor Day began during the late 1800s, during one of the bleakest chapters in American labor history. At the height of the Industrial Revolution, the average American worker toiled 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Many faced deplorable working conditions, including limited access to fresh air, restrooms, and breaks. Labor unions became more influential and soon began organizing strikes.

On September 5, 1882, the Central Labor Union held the first Labor Day celebration with a parade in New York City. Nearly ten thousand workers left their jobs to march from City Hall to Union Square. New York and 23 other states adopted a Labor Day holiday by 1894, and President Grover Cleveland signed a law making it a national holiday that year.

Today, Americans observe Labor Day on the first Monday of every September. The holiday recognizes the countless economic and societal contributions workers continually make to our country’s soundness and prosperity.

Nowhere is the spirit of American labor more apparent than among the 500 men and women working at The Gerken Companies. As part of the Gerken family of businesses, you’re part of building a great future—for yourself, your family, and your community. We greatly appreciate your efforts.