House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) on Monday mistakenly described Labor Day as a celebration of entrepreneurs and business owners, rather than workers.
“Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success,” the conservative congressman said in a statement. “I am committed to keeping taxes low and reducing red tape to make it easier for Virginia’s small business owners to start hiring again, create more jobs and ensure a thriving economy for the future so more people can achieve the American dream.”
However, Labor Day actually celebrates the victories of trade and labor organizations in the United States, who fought for 8-hour work days and other standards that most Americans take for granted.
The first Labor Day was organized by the Central Labor Union of New York City in 1882, according to the Department of Labor. Other labor organizations across the country quickly adopted the celebration.
In 1894, Congress made the celebration a federal holiday.
“The vital force of labor added materially to the highest standard of living and the greatest production the world has ever known and has brought us closer to the realization of our traditional ideals of economic and political democracy,” the Department of Labor explains. “It is appropriate, therefore, that the nation pay tribute on Labor Day to the creator of so much of the nation’s strength, freedom, and leadership — the American worker.”
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