|1932 El Rodeo, Labor Day Description|
The meanings of the name, and observances of, “Labor Day” differ greatly between the U. S. and the UC campus at Davis. In the larger U.S., Labor Day is, quoting Wikipedia, “a public holiday [that] honors the American labor movement and the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, laws and well-being of the country.” Unions began to promote such a day in the late 19th century and, in 1887, Oregon was the first state to make it an official holiday. “By the time it became an official federal holiday in 1894, thirty U.S. states officially celebrated Labor Day.”
A curious and interesting aspect is that, starting in 1897, the same name was used at the University of California (then meaning Berkeley) to label a campus-wide day of voluntary labor devoted to campus improvement projects (Ann Scheuring, Abundant Harvest, p. 35).
Given what we know about the intensity of public sentiments for and against labor unions, it is not a stretch to guess that Berkeley’s Labor Day was a sideways negative comment on the larger and “real” Labor Day.