The History of International Workers' Day

The past mirrors our current struggles.

In broad strokes, the creation of this international holiday is bloody. In the 1880s, Factory workers worked in hazardous workplace conditions for 8-16 hours per day, and they wanted change. In Chicago, there was a peaceful protest which urged for an 8-hour workday. The police forcefully tried to disperse the rally, someone threw a stick of dynamite at the police, and a shoot-off occurred. 7 police officers and 4 protesters died, and about 60 officers and over a hundred protesters were injured. 8 organizers were falsely charged, the jury was bribed, and they were either imprisoned for life or sentenced to death.

The detailed story of the Haymarket Tragedy:

Average Workweek from 1890-1988:

Ricardo Levins Morales Pass Along Labor History (2007)

Labor Day History:

The Story of Chicago’s Haymarket Square Riot on May 4, 1886.” The Digital Research Library of Illinois History JournalTM, 15 Mar. 2017, Accessed 29 Apr. 2023.

Ph.d, Dr Neil Gale. “The Digital Research Library of Illinois History JournalTM:

The Chicago Times, xenophobic politics

Andrews, Evan. “Remembering the Haymarket Riot.” HISTORY, 4 May 2016,

“History of Labor Day | U.S. Department of Labor.”

Whaples, Robert. “Hours of Work in U.S. History.”

This was the Haymarket Tragedy of 1886.

After this event, the International Socialist Conference in 1889 declared May 1st as International Workers' Day in solidarity of the persecuted workers in Chicago.

5 years later, in 1894, President Grover Cleveland declared the first Monday of every September as Labor Day to further ease tensions.

More context, the motivation for the rally:

The Haymarket Affair — Illinois Labor History Society. “Illinois Labor History

Society.” Illinois Labor History Society, 2014,

Ricardo Levins Morales Labor Movement (2006)