The first Monday in September is one of America’s most important holidays—Labor Day. Today, it means getting the day off from work and school, before the fall starts to get busy. However, the history is much richer than that.

Workers’ compensation also has a deep history in supporting workers throughout the United States. Unfortunately, however, many people today still do not realize the extensive rights that they have under the workers’ compensation system. A workers’ compensation attorney can talk to you more about your rights under this benefit program.

A History of Labor Day

Labor Day dated back in 1882. It started as an organized parade in New York City. They initially called it a “monster labor festival.” Organizers were worried that no one would join them because they would have to forgo a day’s pay to join the parade, but roughly 10,000 people joined in. They considered it a “day of the people,” and a way to celebrate the hard work that they do day in and day out.

Oregon was the first state to declare the festivity a national holiday in 1887. Massachusetts followed soon after. Later, the President declared it a holiday in 1896.

Originally, the date in September coincided with a conference of the Knights of Labor, which was one of the most influential (and largest) labor unions in the New York. To this day, there is still a large parade in New York to commemorate the day.

A History of Workers’ Compensation

Generally speaking, 1911 is recognized as the year that states enacted workers’ compensation law. Massachusetts was one of the first states to develop their own workers’ compensation system. Interestingly, however, pirates were actually the first individuals to develop a workers’ compensation scheme that resembles the modern-day benefits program.

Pirates needed a way to motivate their crew to keep working even when the activities or the waters were dangerous. Workers that were injured were often rewarded for their sacrifice. That way, workers knew that even if they got hurt, they were still going to get their share of the bounty. The loss of a limb, for example, was “worth” a very specific amount of gold, much like many of the systems today.

Europe developed a workers’ compensation system before the United States. Otto Von Bismark established the first workers’ compensation program in Germany in 1884. It had taken some time before the concept made it to the United States. There was some pushback regarding the program, and it came from an unexpected group—the labor unions. The unions in some states thought that if workers’ compensation legislation passed, they would not be needed anymore.

Supporting Workers in the United States

America recognizes the great importance that its workers play in today’s society, and having programs like workers’ compensation and celebrations like Labor Day allow states and the federal government give back. The fight for benefits like these was a long and dangerous road, however.

Workers should be proud of their rich heritage in the United States and take advantage of the benefits for which their ancestors fought. If you are having trouble getting benefits after a work injury, a workers’ compensation attorney can help.