LAS VEGAS (KLAS)– For many Americans, Labor Day is a three-day weekend, often associated with sales, family barbecues, and the unofficial end of summer, but the holiday holds a much deeper meaning.

Labor activists unofficially started celebrating the holiday in the late 1800s, after calling for improvements to working conditions, including establishing an eight-hour work day.
But, it wasn’t until 1894 that congress designated Labor Day a legal holiday.

“Your family is protected by many laws that passed,” said Susie Martinez, executive secretary-treasurer of the Nevada AFL. “The 40-hour work week, you get overtime, we now have social security, there are the worker protections.”

All the benefits people experience today are the direct result of those who advocated on behalf of workers in years past.

“Those holidays off, those break times, those celebrations are because men and women have fought for those rights that we have to be able to celebrate this day,” said Michelle Maese, local SEIU chapter president.

The fight for workers’ rights is an ongoing battle, and labor activists say that fight is far from over.

“This year we have several issues on the ballot that will affect working families and SEIU is committed to engaging our families,” said Maese. “We wanted our elected pro-worker candidates up and down the ballots.”