Local unions, advocates celebrated in Muskegon’s Labor Day parade

MUSKEGON, Mich. -- In honor of all the men and women workers who have strengthened our country, we celebrate Labor Day.

Monday morning the pride throughout the annual Labor Day parade in Muskegon was palpable: from the union organizers to family members. This year, West Michigan United Labor organized at least 50 groups to participate in the parade, each highlighting the importance of workers across America.

"The working families of America are being represented here today," said Tim Smith, Michigan Education Association employee and advocate who helped organize the parade. "There’s all different nationalities, there’s all genders."

"We come every year, it’s kind of a big deal for us," said Jodi Paynter, Carpenters Local 100 member. "It’s nice to get everybody together and represent the local unions and let everybody know that we’re union strong."

Union members and advocates, carpenters to professors, this is a good slice of the working class of America, dedicated and proud, marching in Muskegon.

"It’s wonderful because unions actually help make America great the way it is now," said Rick Terrell, UAW Local 1243 member. "And if it wasn’t for unions, the pay scales for a lot of people would actually go down. We set the wage for a lot of folks."

Labor Day: the celebration of workers in America, their accomplishments and safeguards earned for employees nationwide.

"Our participation is twofold: to show solidarity with our fellow union workers, and the other thing is to make America aware that without unions people wouldn’t have the benefits they have today," said George Maniates, Muskegon Community College Faculty Association President and professor.

"Just simple things, like lunch breaks, coffee breaks, insurance, pension programs, all came out of the blood and sweat of union laborers."

From this celebration comes a reminder of workers’ strength in numbers, and then a call to action: to vote this November.

"I don’t care who you vote for: we really need to have a decent turn out in this midterm to really show the folks in D.C. and Lansing, and across the country, that we’re still involved in how this country is ran, and they need to take notice," said Smith.

Families and their pets, people of ages and in all points of their career celebrated throughout the day. Happy Labor Day!

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