NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) – Labor Day is a federal holiday in the United States that many workers look forward to, as most are given the day off.
But organizers of Labor Day events in the Neenah-Menasha area told Local 5 News that the day is about so much more than getting a day off from work.
Six-year-old Jameson Wulff already knows that the true purpose of Labor Day is to celebrate the workers in our country. Every day, he watches his mother Katrina, the youth services manager at Neenah Public Library, work hard at her job.
Local 5 News asked Wulff why he thinks it’s important to give workers a day off on Labor Day.
“Because they work very hard and might be very tired,” said Wulff.
“Just to celebrate all the hard work that everybody does around the nation,” said his mother Katrina when asked why Labor Day is an important holiday.
The Neenah-Menasha area celebrated Labor Day with a parade and a picnic at the Neenah Labor Temple.
Several hundred people, many of them union workers, attended the picnic featuring bounce houses for the kids and live music.
One of the people in attendance at the picnic was Andrew Frymark who is a mail carrier. He said he normally works six days a week and rarely gets a day off, so he really looks forward to Labor Day each year.
“Rain or snow, all year round I haven’t had a day off due to inclement weather that’s for sure,” said Frymark.
Frymark said he takes pride in working hard and recognizes the importance of being a mail carrier.
Organizers of the event said the day is about celebrating people like Frymark. But it’s also about recognizing the importance of labor unions. According to the latest Gallup Poll, 71 percent of Americans approve of labor unions which is the highest mark since 1965. The poll also found that one in six Americans live in a union household.
“I want people to realize that workers make a huge contribution to our country and our state and this day is all about them,” said Mark Westphal who is the president of the Fox Valley Area Labor Council.
Labor Day became a federally recognized holiday in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland made it official. More than half of the states celebrated Labor Day several years before it became a national holiday.
There’s some debate about which person first proposed the idea of having Labor Day. Still, historians generally agree that it was either Peter J. McGuire who was the general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a co-founder of the American Federation of Labor, or Matthew Maguire who was the secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York.