Labor Day in Milwaukee: History behind the holiday

The City of Milwaukee had Labor Day celebrations on Monday, Sept. 5. But do you know the history behind the holiday?

Downtown Milwaukee was full of workers on Monday celebrating the holiday.

"We have families to feed, so this is an important day to me," said Kanisha Thomas from Milwaukee.

Milwaukee Labor Day Parade 2022

"Having just a bunch of different people all talking about the particular labor that means a lot to them all in one parade I think is really nice," said Claire Carlson of Milwaukee.

The Milwaukee Area Council hosted Laborfest. It kicked off with a parade. But how many people watching the parade actually what it is all about?

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In a nutshell, Labor Day is a federal holiday honoring American labor workers. It started during the American Labor Movement in the late 1800s, when workers fought for fair working conditions – things like higher wages and an eight-hour work day. 

Milwaukee Labor Day Parade 2022

So where did that meaning get lost centuries later?

"I think they just see it as a day off," said Roderick Winfield of Pennsylvania. 

"It’s pieces and bits of history that don’t get told – we just get told it’s a day to celebrate it’s a day to rest but we don’t explain why we’re resting," said Yadira of Chicago.

Whether you are working the holiday or celebrating with a day off, everyone who has a job in Milwaukee has something to celebrate this holiday.

Milwaukee Labor Day Parade 2022

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"It’s a good holiday – it’s just letting the world know, the community know about the people that get up and work hard every day," Thomas said.