Labor Day pays tribute to the contributions and achievements of American workers and is traditionally observed on the first Monday in September. It was created by the labor movement in the late 19th century and became a federal holiday in 1894.
Labor Day weekend also symbolizes the end of summer for many Americans and is commonly celebrated with parties, street parades, and athletic events.
Today many Americans see Labor Day as time off from work, an opportunity to enjoy a barbecue with friends and family, and a final moment of summertime relaxation before the busy fall season begins.
Don’t Forget Why We Celebrate Labor Day
Labor Day, an annual celebration of workers and their achievements, originated during one of American labor history’s most dismal chapters.
But the history behind the Labor Day holiday is far more complex and dramatic than most might realize, starting with a heated campaign by workers in the late 19th century to win support and recognition for their contributions. In July 1894, President Grover Cleveland finally signed into law legislation creating a national Labor Day holiday in early September.
In the late 1800s, at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. Despite restrictions in some states, children as young as 5 or 6 toiled in mills, factories, and mines across the country, earning a fraction of their adult counterparts’ wages.
People of all ages, particularly the very poor and recent immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions, with insufficient access to fresh air, sanitary facilities, and breaks.
As manufacturing increasingly supplanted agriculture as the wellspring of American employment, labor unions, which had first appeared in the late 18th century, grew more prominent and vocal. They began organizing strikes and rallies to protest poor conditions and compel employers to renegotiate hours and pay.
In the wake of this massive unrest and in an attempt to repair ties with American workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and the territories. On June 28, 1894, President Grover Cleveland signed it into law.
Labor Day is still celebrated in cities and towns across the United States with parades, picnics, barbecues, and other public gatherings. For many Americans, particularly children and young adults, it represents the end of the summer and the start of the back-to-school season.
Labor Day Forecast Hot and Dry — Please be Careful and Safe!
Preventing wildfires is a responsibility we all share!
|With hot, dry conditions in the forecast & increased crowds for Labor Day weekend, please know where campfires are allowed & never leave them unattended.|
We’ve had an unprecedented fire season already. Don’t be that spark that could lead to a tragedy!
This public lands link is super helpful to check before you head outdoors. The Keep Oregon Green website carries ODF’s public use restrictions. Click the link for up-to-date information: https://keeporegongreen.org/current-conditions/
Roads Will Be Busy For a Labor Day Getaway
Many Oregonians will be hitting the road this Labor Day weekend, and officials are advising travelers to drive carefully and be prepared. There are already wrecks being reported!
“We expect a very busy weekend this Labor Day. Traffic is going to be back out on the roads again,” said Don Hamilton, spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT). “Highway 18, Highway 6, certainly 26 up to Cannon Beach are all going to be very busy starting on Friday”
The Oregon Coast will probably be one of the most popular destinations. If you haven’t booked a room yet, Travel Oregon communications manager Allison Keeney said you’re probably too late.
“I would suggest calling hotels directly might be the best way to snag a last-minute hotel but preferably we’ve been telling people to plan ahead, plan ahead. So hopefully most people have done that already,” said Keeney.
Some people will head to central Oregon for the long weekend break, while others are heading south to see the sites like Crater Lake.
In either direction, be aware of the traffic impact from wildfires and recovery efforts.
“Really all over the areas where we had the wildfires a year ago are slow and dangerous. You’ve gotta be careful around in there even though work is stopping over the holiday,” said Hamilton.
“Debris cleanup from last September’s devastating wildfires has complicated the holiday and summer road picture. Work continues in key corridors connecting the Willamette and Umpqua Valleys to Central Oregon and the coast,” the agency said in a news release.
Wildfire impacted routes include Highway 138 in Douglas County, Highway 22 in the Santiam Canyon, Highway 18 east of Lincoln City, and Highway 126 along the McKenzie River. There are also around 30 active fires in the state.
ODOT is advising travelers to keep hot cars off dry grass and keep trailer chains from dragging to prevent any new, disastrous fires from sparking.
Some AAA members said they are waiting until Friday or even Saturday morning before hitting the road. For Oregonians, the Oregon coast is the top destination, followed by Central Oregon, Las Vegas, Washington, and California. 85% of people are expected to head by car to their destination.
Drivers will also be paying the most expensive gas prices for the Labor Day holiday in seven years. The average in Oregon is $3.87 per gallon. However, prices locally are settling down and even starting to drop in some cases.
Labor Day is also an especially deadly time because of drunk or impaired driving. Law enforcement agencies have announced extra patrols for DUIIs.
For more information on Oregon roads, check tripcheck.com
And when you get where you’re going, Travel Oregon asks that you be kind, especially to front-line service workers at restaurants and hotels, working under pressure.
“Just understanding that they have been working this whole time and they are people just like us, doing the best that they can often with short staff,” said Keeney with Travel Oregon. “So please practice kindness when you’re out there this weekend.”
Also, be responsible when it comes to COVID, even at the beach. “Please wear a mask when you’re inside and outside, that’s what’s mandated right now, also just try to keep socially distanced,” said Keeney. And if you do show up at a place that’s really crowded, have another place in mind as a backup plan.
Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) are urging people to stay safe this Labor Day weekend as COVID-19 cases rise and health care workers are stretched thin due to hospitals at full capacity.
Gov. Brown released a statement on Friday recommending that people who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 stay close to home and avoid gathering with people from other households.
“This year, with the highly contagious delta variant surging and our hospitals and health care workers stretched to their absolute limits treating COVID-19 patients, we all have a personal responsibility to watch out for the health and safety of our friends, neighbors, and loved ones,” said Gov. Brown.
She also asked vaccinated people to take safety precautions by wearing masks.
“More Oregonians masking up over the last several weeks has helped to slow the spread of COVID-19,” said Gov. Brown. “We are also all at risk in another way: when our hospitals and emergency departments are full, it means there may not be a bed for you if you need care. Rethink activities that might put you at risk for physical injury. If you go out on the water, wear a life jacket and boat sober.”
New cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Oregon have increased week-over-week. The OHA said as of Thursday there were 1,131 people hospitalized with COVID-19 in Oregon. Out of those 1,131 people, there were 308 patients in intensive care unit beds.
In a post on Twitter, the OHA asked people to avoid risky behavior because there may not be space for them in Oregon hospitals. The OHA also put out a statement saying playing it safe this long weekend is the best choice to protect yourself, your household, and your community.