What does Labour Day mean to you?
Thousands of union workers in Toronto are marching in the 141st annual Labour Day Parade with a theme of "unite against austerity."
Members of ACTRA, Ontario Federation of Labour, the Toronto and York Regional Labour Council, CAW and federal and provincial NDP members are expected at the march.
Meanwhile on the east coast, the Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour is making an effort to attract greater numbers of young members to its ranks.
"For the first time we're looking at the possibility of the next generation of workers probably not doing as well as their parents have done," said federation president Lana Payne.
"This is an astounding thing to be happening in a society where we have so much wealth."
According to a fall 2011 report by Statistics Canada, approximately 4.2 million employees belonged to a union in 2010. That's 29.5 per cent of workers, a slight decline from 30.8 per cent in 2009.
Rates vary between age groups, with 36.3 per cent of employees aged 45 to 54 belonging to a union, compared to 14.3 per cent of those aged 15 to 24. Higher rates of union membership were found in Newfoundland and Labrador (37.3 per cent) and Quebec (36 per cent), with lower rates in Alberta (22.6 per cent).
In Canada, Labour Day has been celebrated on the first Monday in September since the 1880s. The day can be traced back to 1872, when the Toronto Printer's Union went on strike to protest long working hours. According to the Canadian Encyclopedia, a parade on April 14 of that year grew to 10,000 workers.
In what might be seen as a clash of sorts with the primary reason behind Labour Day - and indeed its very name - the September holiday is also associated with several other events that take place at the same time.
Many use the long weekend to commemorate the final days of summer. Parents herald it as the last weekend before their children go to school. In universities and colleges, Labour Day kicks off frosh week and orientation activities for its newest students.
What does Labour Day mean to you? Do you hold its labour and union roots to heart, or associate it with the end of summer, or the beginning of the school year? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)
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