For many people in the U.S. Labor Day means the unofficial “last” day of summer, the start of the new school year and the start of fall sports. For Katz Friedman it means so much more and entails many of the principles on which our firm was founded.
Labor Day is a federal holiday in the United States celebrated on the first Monday in September to honor and recognize the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the United States. Having the first Monday in September be a day off from work has been significant for American workers since the late 1800s. At the peak of the industrial revolution, working conditions in factories, mills, mines and most other industries were very unsafe. The average worker, many of whom were young school aged children, were often required to work 12 hours a day, six days a week, in crowded, poorly ventilated spaces. Workers began holding strikes and rallies that called for shorter workdays and better conditions. During this time period most of the labor unions as we know of them today were born, and memberships in unions were at their peak in the period leading up to the late 1960s.
In 1953, when labor union memberships were at an all-time high, Harold Katz represented the United Auto Workers, and Irving Friedman was a trial Attorney for the National Labor Relations review board. Although the two labor lawyers met as opposition, they inevitably joined forces and went on to have a 50+ year partnership to fight for economic justice for workers across Illinois.