It’s around that time of the year again—Labor Day—and the average American worker is looking forward to sleeping in or catching up with the family. As Labor Day swiftly approaches, Rock Hill workers’ compensation attorney, from the law offices of Harris and Graves, would like to reflect on the history and sacrifices behind this national holiday and the events leading up to the workers’ compensation law. It’s assumed that the average working American is familiar with concepts such as workers’ compensation, national holidays, and unions, but knowing where these concepts came from and their significance in today’s society is a different story entirely. After all, understanding the importance of this national holiday will only make celebrating, or relaxing, that much more meaningful.
The American Labor Movement
Since the beginning of the United States to well after the Industrial Revolution, workers were treated with little regard for their humanity and the realities of working conditions. Compensation for injury was an almost laughable prospect, especially for the dangerous conditions that factory and mine workers faced, as it was only granted if it was proven that the employer was at fault. This process was easily influenced and incredibly unreliable. However, the American Labor Movement changed this by introducing new workers’ compensation laws in 1935, removing the concept of “fault” from the equation entirely and allowing any injured worker to be entitled to compensation.
But what is the Labor Movement, really? Although historians vary their perspective on when a collective movement becomes recognized, it can generally be agreed that instances of workers banding together to improve their conditions can be considered part of the movement. Employers and business owners frequently fought back against or even criminalized the demand for better working conditions. Because of this struggle, unions were deemed necessary to represent individual workers, and to use numbers to their advantage when bargaining for better conditions.
On Sept. 5, 1882, a massive parade was held in New York to celebrate the average worker. This concept spread to other states, with a few making it a known holiday until Labor Day became nationally recognized in 1896. Sept. 5 was initially the planned date for these celebrations until 1884, when it changed to the first Monday of September and the nation followed suit.
Labor Day contrasts with International Workers Day, held on May 1, which is not a national holiday but is still often recognized due to the notorious Haymarket Affair. On May 4, 1886, a nonviolent protest demanding a shorter work day turned violent when a bomb was thrown at police, who then fired into the crowd. This violent history was recognized by unions, but a calculated move by President Grover Cleveland saw Labor Day become the national holiday, so that it could develop its own connotations.
Receiving Workers’ Compensation
The process of filing a claim for workers’ compensation due to workplace injury can leave one with many unanswered questions. To find a Rock Hill workers’ compensation attorney, contact Harris and Graves at 877-390-8590. They also have other convenient South Carolina locations, with offices in Columbia, Greenville, Conway, Spartanburg, and Florence.