The Origins of Labor Day in Maine!

  • Come Celebrate Labor Day with Us!
  • Support for Unions at Near 50-Year High!
  • BIW Seeking 1,000 New Workers

The Origins of Labor Day in Maine

Labor Day at the Railroad Station in Rumford, 1902
Happy Labor Day, brothers and sisters! If you don't have other plans, please join us at one of the four LaborDay celebrations held at venues throughout the state on Sunday September 1 and Monday September 2. There will be food, music, family-friendly activities and exciting guest speakers!
President Grover Cleveland signed the law establishing the first federal Labor Day holiday in 1894 during a period of serious labor upheaval as workers demanded an end to poverty wages, dangerous working conditions and child labor. But Mainers celebrated the holiday much earlier.
The legendary Knights of Labor were the first Maine workers to celebrate Labor Day on August 31, 1886 when over 3,000 people gathered at Peaks Island for a day of rest and recreation. It was a time of intense labor unrest with the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, the Haymarket Riot of 1886 and at least twenty-one strikes in Maine that year alone. As workers fought for the eight-hour day, the secret ballot, the citizen initiative and an end to anti-union conspiracy laws, Maine became the ninth state to legally recognize Labor Day in 1891.
“For over 130 years, Mainers have celebrated Labor Day as a day to reflect on the struggles of working people and to honor those who have sacrificed for the cause of workers’ rights,” said Cynthia Phinney, President of the Maine AFL-CIO. “On this day, we pledge to continue the fight for dignity and a fair shake for all working people.”

Support for Unions at Near 50-Year High!

As we celebrate Labor Day this year, a new Gallup poll finds 64 percent of Americans support unions — a near 50-year high! Support for unions has climbed 16 points since hitting a low in 2009 during the Great Recession. Support has grown dramatically among voters across all political affiliations.  Gallup reports that union approval averaged 68 percent in 1936 and 1967 and was consistently over 60 percent during that time period. Ever since then, support for unions has been on average 10 points lower and tends to dip lower when there is a bad economy.

BIW Seeking 1,000 New Workers

Bath Iron Works is hiring. Most jobs at BIW are union jobs - the Machinists, UAW and the Security Guards local represent workers there.  The company has already hired 1,000 workers this year and hopes to hire another 1,000 more by the end of the year. BIW is struggling to recruit workers amid record low unemployment, so it is offering several incentives for hires including relocation bonuses, training stipends and free training through Southern Maine Community College. Anyone who completes either the manufacturing or welding classes is guaranteed a job interview with BIW, according to WGME, A student can complete either of the two courses part-time in 10 weeks, or finish full-time in three weeks. Click here for more information!