Labour Day

This coming Monday September 2nd is Labour Day, a national holiday in Canada and the U.S. This day is the workers’ holiday celebrating their labour efforts.

You can thank some union workers who worked in a printing shop in Ontario in the 1800’s for this annual long weekend.

English: Toronto Globe newspaper office (with ...

Toronto Globe newspaper office (with a globe on top) on King Street East, Toronto, Canada, early 1860s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 1869 the union petitioned their employers, requesting a weekly reduction in working hours. Their request was refused outright by the owners of the printing shops, and by the founder of the Toronto Globe, which later became the Globe and Mail.

In 1872 the Toronto Printers Union went on strike and fought for a 9 hour work day. Previously the employers expected their workers to clock in a 12 hour work day.

After that year, almost all union demands included the 54-hour week. The Toronto printers were pioneers of the shorter workweek in North America.

Celebrating the workers’ successful striking efforts, Labour Day became an annual celebration. By 1894, it became the official national holiday that we continue to recognize today.

Here’s an ironic twist. For the first time ever, The Globe and Mail newspaper will not be publishing a Labour Day edition of their paper this year, due to lack of advertising revenue. According to a note to subscribers from the publisher and CEO of the Globe & Mail, the revenue is “needed to cover the costs of formatting, printing and delivery of the paper, and the number of vacation stops by subscribers”.

Enjoy your long weekend, and of course, this Labour Day.

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