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The Origins of Labor Day

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - Lost in the grill smoke of Labor Day celebrations are the holiday's origins in America's unions.

Unions organized the first Labor Day in New York 130 years ago in 1882.

Now many see the holiday as the federal government's love letter to labor, but history tells us, it was more of an apology.

That story starts with the Pullman Strike of 1894.

Rail workers went on strike and called for a boycott of Pullman trains.

The federal government sent troops to break the strike, and according to historical accounts, they killed more than a dozen people.

Suddenly, President Grover Cleveland needed to make it up to the labor movement in a big way, so he pushed legislation to recognize Labor Day as a federal holiday.

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