Idahoans celebrate history of Labor Day

Many gathered in a Boise park for a picnic.

BOISE - Labor Day is much more than just the unofficial end of summer break or a BBQ holiday.  Labor Day is a day to recognize all those who make our nation great -- a yearly tribute to the American worker.

Americans have been celebrating Labor Day since Grover Cleveland was in the White House. The president signed legislation making Labor Day a federal holiday back in 1894 -- a day to honor the American workforce.

Still more than a hundred years later, there is still confusion over who proposed the holiday.  Some records show it was Peter McGuire, who was the co-founder of the American Federation of Labor. Others say it was the secretary of the Central Labor Union in New York, Matthew Maguire.

"It's just taking a day out of the year and observing an appreciation for working people and what we do in building this country," said Aaron White, president of the Idaho AFL-CIO.

One way people like to celebrate the holiday is with a picnic, and for nearly 40 years people have come to what is now Kristin Armstrong Municipal Park to take a break from their daily lives.

"It's a time to take a little break and enjoy each other's company and celebrate the fruits of our labor and each other's company," White said.

Idaho has nearly 800,000 Idahoans in the workforce. The Gem State is also home to one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, but does have one of the lower minimum wages in the U.S.  It's something former state Sen. Mike Burkett says is starting to get better.

"Idaho will get there. It's just a little bit behind the rest of the nation on these issues," Burkett said.

Labor Day may also be known as the unofficial end of summer, but according to Burkett it's the start of something else.

"Here in Idaho campaigns get started on Labor Day," Burkett said.

Although, the first Labor Day was celebrated in New York City, Oregon was the first state to pass a law making Labor Day an official holiday.

Copyright 2016 KTVB


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