In most of the public’s eyes, being a construction worker is not a noble profession. In their minds, positions that use project management tools like a project manager, lead engineer, or head architect are the career paths to take in the construction industry. But people often forget about the hands which raised the structure from the ground, the one whose blood and sweat build numerous buildings. Even with the best construction management software, the project will only be as good as the laborers who worked on them.
In reality, construction workers are modern-day heroes. They go to work each day, risking their lives so the rest of us can enjoy a safe and stable building structure, whether it’s residential, commercial, or industrial. With an organized builder schedule and construction laborers.
Labor Day In The U.S.: A Brief History
What many Americans know about Labor Day is a time off work to relax and party, as it also symbolizes the end of summer. Still, few recognize the origins of this national holiday. Before any subcontractor scheduling software existed, laborers worked 12 hours a day and seven days a week. In the 1800s, when the Industrial Revolution was at its highest,even children as young as five years old worked in factories, mines, and mills, despite restrictions in some states– and they only earn a fraction of adult wages. Things aren’t as tough today with construction schedule software. But before, laborers of all ages often work under severely unsafe working conditions, with the lack of fresh air, sanitary facilities, and occasional breaks.
As machines replacing people became more rampant, labor unions, which first appeared around the late 18th century, became more vocal. They began organizing rallies and strikes, protesting the poor working conditions, and urging their employers to give them better hours and better pay.
The Beginning of the Celebration of Labor Day
Labor Day is one of the many American holidays that always fall on a Monday– President’s Day (or George Washington’s birthday), Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Memorial Day, and Columbus Day. But why is Labor Day celebrated on the first Monday of September?
The Laborer’s Call To Action
Thanks to over 10,000 workers in New York City, Labor Day was created. On September 5, 1882, the first Monday of that month, they took unpaid time to march from New York’s City Hall to Union Square, making that the first ever Labor Day Parade. Many industrial centers then heard of this historical moment and the idea of a “workingmen’s holiday” caught on, which was to be celebrated on the first Monday of September. This encouraged many organizations to follow, and soon after, the government.
Although many of the country’s states recognized this event and passed legislation, it took Congress 12 years to legalize it.
The government first recognized Labor Day in 1885 and 1886 when they passed municipal ordinances. Then, the first state bill that became a law was passed on February 21, 1887, in Oregon. Not long after, more states followed suit, including Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Connecticut.
As expected, many of these strikes and rallies turned into violent riots. One of the most notable events was the Haymarket Riot of 1886 in Chicago, where many police officers and workers lost their lives.
It took the strike of the Pullman Palace Car Company’s employees in Chicago on May 11, 1894, protesting wage cuts and the firing of some union representatives for Congress to recognize the situation.
Then on the 26th of June, Eugene V. Debs led the American Railroad Union in boycotting all Pullman railway cars, which crippled railroad traffic in the entire country. The federal government had to dispatch troops Chicago to put an end to that strike. Unfortunately, this resulted in multiples riots that killed more than a dozen American workers.
Who Created Labor Day in The U.S.?
With massive unrest inciting riots all over the country, Congress passed an act that recognized Labor Day as a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and other areas with hopes of repairing ties with the American workers. Then on June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.
However, more than a century later, the real founder of Labor Day is yet to be credited. Many say that co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, Peter J. McGuire, should be credited. However, others say that Matthew McGuire, a secretary of the Central Labor Union, proposed the idea first.
Labor Day in 2020
It has become a tradition for Americans to take advantage of the long Labor Day weekend by going to or hosting block parties– barbeques in the backyards, dads drinking a cold one, and kids running around. Some prefer to take this time to unwind with some alone time– reading a book, catching up on shows, or getting some much-needed rest.
That has been the norm for decades. But with the COVID-19 pandemic still going around, Labor Day plans may look a little different for Americans. Instead of enjoying their family and friends’ company, American laborers will spend their Labor Day weekend indoors, staying safe and healthy. Block parties and social gatherings are put on hold this year.
But even though it can’t be “celebrated,” let us not forget to recognize this holiday’s true meaning. That is to thank and appreciate American laborers in all fields for their service and their contributions to the country’s strength, success, wealth, and well-being.
Labor Day for Construction Workers
In the past, Labor Day means time off for almost all the workers. But with today’s economic situation, about 40% of U.S. businesses will be open, meaning they have their employees on the clock.
But because some cities and states prohibit construction work on holidays like this, most construction workers get some well-deserved vacation time. Construction work on these days are “illegal” and “may be subject to fines,” as ordered by the Washington D.C. Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs.
Like most American workers, workers in the construction field will be taking this time to rest and spend more time with family and friends, making the most out of their time away from work. However, given the year’s events, they will most likely spend this day indoors, relaxing their mind and body, especially after working on some of the most dangerous and most strenuous tasks on site.
It’s no secret that construction is one of the most dangerous fields to work in and holds some of the most physically intense jobs. They risk their lives for the sake of their career and finishing a structure other people might enjoy– climbing too high heights, operating large machinery, lifting heavy materials, and being exposed to various dust and chemicals. Plus, they risk losing their lives from falling, electrocution, and object falling on them. And on top of that, they also have to be quick thinkers, having to figure things out when management can’t come to their aid. So, the high pressure they face daily is taxing on both the body and the mind.
So, this long weekend is more than deserved; it is more likely necessary. Numerous studies have found that time off work can boost worker productivity and improve one’s health. This means that if they take time for themselves, ideally around two weeks, to take a break and truly relax, they can perform better at their jobs and will be much safer on site.
Thanking the Construction Workers
Construction workers are heroes and deserve more than a day off. To the people in higher positions, go the extra mile and show them they are an essential and valued member of the crew, the project, the company, and the country. Shake their hands, give them meaningful gifts, and personally tell them how much you appreciate them and their work. Even if they have to come in for work, make this day that is dedicated to them a bit more impressive than the rest.
This Labor Day, let’s take time to appreciate the construction workers:
● Carpet installers
● Cement and concrete workers
● Equipment operators
● Flooring installers
● HVAC installers
● Pile driver operators
● Sheet metal workers
On this historical holiday, let us give credit where credit is due. Construction laborers work hard to put up structures and make everyone else’s lives convenient and livable. Without the bravery and strength of the thousands of skilled construction workers in America, the people would not have roofs over their heads that keep them sheltered and safe; they would not have malls and restaurants where they can stroll and eat happily. Without construction workers putting their lives on the line, streets would be chaotic without concrete, the industry would be non-existent, and the country’s economy would fall. Without construction workers, civilization would be what it is today.