ISHPEMING — Union groups, politicians, and community members from all over the U.P. came to celebrate at the 26th Annual Labor Day Festival in Ishpeming.
The theme for this year’s Labor Day parade festival was “Unions Strengthen America”. That motto serves as a consolidated and mutual belief for everyone who attended the parade.
“Labor Day is a day that we sort of just pause and slow down and take stock of what working men and women have done for this country,” said Michigan’s 1st Congressional District Candidate General Jerry Cannon, “and it’s a great tribute to all of the accomplishments that working class people and labor in general have done for the country.”
“Everybody thinks of it as the long weekend,” said Labor Day Festival Chairman Tony Ghiringhelli, “but we also got to remember why we got to this point and the stuff that our forefathers gave up and the fights they made to get us to that and we really shouldn’t forget that.”
“It’s a great day to recognize the hard working men and women that helped build this country,” said State Representative John Kivela.
“This means a lot to me,” said Marquette–Alger Community Labor Council President Rich Helgren, “look at the solidarity you have with the people that are all together here, our union brothers and sisters. We had a little parade earlier and now we’re having a little festival, a little picnic commemorating all of the fruits of our labor.”
The different groups in the parade represented teachers, nurses, trade workers and more from throughout the Upper Peninsula, with the common goal of increasing working conditions through strength in numbers.
“When we stick together, we get better benefits, respects, and pay,” said Negaunee Education Association President Marius Grazulis, “I think that’s important. We take care of the future of America and the future of all of the towns in America by teaching and educating students and teachers should be respected for what they do.”
All of the groups involved are part of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, also known as AFL–CIO that serves as a national trade union center.
“The U.P. is a very dense union population, but it sets the bar for everything else,” added Ghiringghelli, “you got all of your wages set off of the union and what they fought for. A lot of the health and safety rules that are in play were because the unions fought for that. Working class working for working families. That’s what we’re all about.”
The festival had a family oriented vibe with plenty of candy and games for the children of union workers to enjoy.