Ishpeming holds Labor Day parade and picnic; Unions attend to show support

The Michigan Education Association, Ironworkers and United Steelworkers were some of the many unions that took part.
United Steelworkers
United Steelworkers(WLUC)
Published: Sep. 5, 2022 at 6:52 PM EDT
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ISHPEMING, Mich. (WLUC) - The City of Ishpeming celebrated the final holiday of the summer on Monday.

Labor Day began in New York City in 1882, and was first celebrated by thousands of workers with a picnic, concert and speeches. One-hundred-forty years later, festivities took place across the U.P. in honor of Michigan’s working class. Ishpeming held a parade and picnic to celebrate.

The parade began on Euclid Street, near the Cliffs Shaft Mining Museum. It traveled down Main Street, Division Street, then back to where it began. Jenn Hill, a Democrat running for Michigan’s 109th State House District, took part in Monday’s celebration.

“Labor Day means we are celebrating the folks who build wealth,” Hill said.

The Ironworkers, United Steelworkers, Michigan Education Association (MEA) and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) were some of the many unions that also took part. Kathy Carlson, member and former treasurer of the Michigan Council 25 American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, (AFSCME), said the AFSCME and other unions took part in the parade to make their causes known.

According to Carlson, those causes are to bring workers together, advocate for better wages, benefits and working conditions.

“The parade is an opportunity for all the different locals to stand together and march in solidarity,” Carlson explained. “We all stick together for working families.”

The AFSCME consists of approximately 1.3 million public sector employees and retirees. Carlson added that the AFSCME advocates for snow plow drivers, childcare providers, civil engineers and many other employees.

“When you see our workers working on the streets, doing things like plowing snow, they are working 24/7,” Carlson said. “They are out there keeping your roads safe when you are resting at night and there is a snowstorm.

The Michigan Education Association (MEA) is another unit that was present. The MEA union covers around 120,000 educators across the state. MEA President Paula Herbart explains that the MEA plays a crucial role in protecting and advancing the wages, benefits and conditions for all who work in Michigan’s public schools. She adds that it is these educators who create the next generation of American professionals.

“Whether they are educators in the classroom, educators in the kitchen, the buses, paraprofessionals or secretaries that greet our students when they first come to school on that very first day; these are our members,” Herbart said. “These are people in the community who live and work here and want to ensure that every student in Michigan has the opportunity for success.”

Unions like the MEA and AFSCME say they will continue working to advance the rights of employees across Michigan.