Let’s go back to the late 1800’s. There was Peter J. McGuire and Matthew Maguire. Not related.
Peter McGuire came to this country from Ireland. They were poor. Peter quit school and went to work as a carpenter and became a labor union leader at a time in our history when there were no laws as to how long you would work in a day. Because of that, he campaigned for the eight hour work day and led a successful strike of carpenters in St. Louis, Missouri.
He is known as the Father of Labor Day however he died at the age of 53 in 1906 and his ending was tragic. After spending better than 20 years paying union expenses out of his own pocket, he drew criticism from opponents. They demanded an audit. $10,000 was unaccounted for. McGuire was arrested for embezzlement in 1901 and voted out of office 1902. He became an alcoholic and died within four years.
Where does Matthew Mcguire fit in this historically? From the U.S. Department of Labor, recently evidence uncovered at the New Jersey Historical Society reveals that another respected union figure of the day, Matthew Maguire, may quite possibly be the man behind the creation of Labor Day. He too, led several successful strikes which brought the plight of the working man into public scrutiny. His downfall was holding radical beliefs which conflicted with leader, Samuel Gompers (American Federation of Labor) thus Gompers credited his friend, Peter McGuire, for the origination of Labor Day.
Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894. Celebrated the first Monday in the month of September.
During the 20th century, Labor Unions have changed their complexion. Once the bastion of private industry, these days, the largest unions are government employees. Look back to 1979 when the total number of union members peaked at an estimated 21 million. As of January, 2019, it is down to 16.4 million.
The largest union in America today is the National Education Association of the United States with over 2.7 million members representing public school employees like teachers, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, guidance counselors, nurses, administrative assistants, secretaries, psychologists, and librarians.
With our public education system producing some of the most under-educated students particularly in the State of California, one has to wonder what it’s going to take to change the system?
Take a look at articles like this published in LA School report by Mario Koran – July 26, 2018 : “More than half of California’s high school grads still don’t meet minimum requirements for the state’s own public universities.”
A sad comment on this year’s holiday.
But, on the bright side, there are numerous activities going on in Crescent City – Del Norte County this weekend. Wander around town and enjoy garage sales, Farmer’s Market at the Fairgrounds, and bands playing at several bars/restaurants.