Happy Labor Day
September 6, 2021
Dear brothers of the Empire District 6:
On behalf of the District Lodge, I wish our chapter officers and members a happy and safe Labor Day. As we celebrate this national holiday with our families and friends, let us pause for a few moments and remember those workers who paved the way for the benefits and working conditions we enjoy today.
Labor Day originated during America's most dismal labor history chapter. It was in the late 1800s at the height of the U.S. Industrial Revolution where the average American worked twelve hours a day, seven days a week, to earn the basic of living standards. Children went to work in the mills, the factories, and the mines across the entire country, earning just a fraction of the wages that an adult would make in the same position. People of all ages, especially those that were poor and recent immigrants, as well as Hellenes, faced extremely unsafe working conditions. They did not have access to fresh air, sanitary facilities, or have breaks. None of these basic benefits existed for them.
As mining and manufacturing grew, labor unions began to organize strikes and rallies to protest poor working conditions and to compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay. People who couldn't advocate for themselves, and those who didn't know what to do, had representation. Sadly, many of these events turned violent during this period, including the infamous Haymarket Riot of 1886 in which several Chicago policemen and workers were killed. Other events gave rise to longstanding traditions: On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history. During Labor Day, we remember Louis Tikas (Ηλίας Αναστασίου Σπαντιδάκης), born in Loutra, Crete, in 1886. Tikas was the main labor union organizer at the Ludow camp, representing the United Mine Workers of America, during the 14-month strike known as the Colorado Coalfield War in southern Colorado from 1913 – 1914. He was shot and killed during the Ludlow Massacre on April 20, 1914.
Brothers, what we're celebrating today, are people who gave their lives for us. It was in the wake of massive unrest and riots, and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, that Congress passed an act naming Labor Day a legal holiday. On June 28th, 1894, is when President Grover Cleveland signed the act into law.
As Labor Day represents the unofficial end of summer and the start of the back-to-school season, the District Lodge wishes everyone a safe and productive return to work and school.
Dean Moskos AHEPA District 6 Governor