By Hayley K. Graham
Labor Day was born out of a tumultuous time in American history. In the late 1800s, unsafe conditions, low wages and long hours of “the workingman” were laying the groundwork for the height of the Industrial Revolution.
Manufacturing became the backbone of the US economy and workers became more vocal about the abysmal conditions they were forced to work in seven days a week. Twelve-hour workdays, dangerous and unsanitary conditions, poor air quality, few breaks, and dismal wages were no longer acceptable. As workers became the fuel of booming manufacturing and infrastructure, they began fighting for eight-hour workdays, a living wage and improved work environments.
Labor unions grew and rose to the occasion, organizing strikes and rallies, protesting the poor conditions and demanding higher wages from employers. Chicago was front and center of the movement, with many critical moments taking place here. In 1886, the Haymarket Riots turned violent and deadly. In 1884, the federal government dispatched troops to Chicago in response to the Pullman Strike, leading to a wave of deadly riots.
Congress attempted to mend relationships with the working class in the wake of this turmoil by passing legislation to make Labor Day a federal holiday. President Grover Cleveland signed the act into law in 1884. The first Monday in September became a day to honor the achievements and contributions of the American labor force.
This Labor Day, amid an unprecedented time in history, we are reminded of the vital role “the workingman” and “the workingwoman” plays in America. We celebrate the men and women, who were deemed “essential,” during the shelter-in-place order. Those who bravely went to work, keeping us safe, treating the ill and continuing to build America.
Since its founding in 1955, Anesi Ozmon has been a supporter of workers and organized labor. Anesi Ozmon has long fought to protect workers’ rights in the event of an injury and fought the efforts of employers and their insurance companies to limit the benefits to which they are entitled.
Anesi Ozmon has also taken its fight on behalf of workers outside of the courtroom. Our partners have testified in Springfield before the State legislature in support of bills that would expand workers’ rights and testified against bills that sought to curtail those rights. We have also actively supported political candidates both locally, statewide and nationally who support unions and the right to collectively bargain.
Additionally, Anesi Ozmon has promulgated state and federal safety laws and standards designed to protect the life and limb of union workers. Our partners address local union meetings to make sure that all workers know their rights in the event of an injury, as well as to keep them abreast of changes in the law.
Over the last 65 years, Anesi Ozmon has been a tenacious advocate for workers and their families in the face of an injury. We have proudly supported organized labor and will continue the fight against the erosion of workers’ rights, the middle class and the American dream. Happy Labor Day from our Anesi family to yours.