‘It’s great to see the community’, Labor Day parade returns to Bloomington

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BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) – The largest parade in the Twin Cities made its triumphant return on Monday.

On Monday, the Bloomington-Normal community welcomed back its annual Labor Day parade after COVID-19 cancelled the event in 2020.

“It’s great to see the community. They’ve been strong supporters for labor and this parade is the biggest for the year,” said John Penn, vice president of Laborers’ International Union of North America.

While the parade provided a morning of fun, Penn said the holiday is also a time to recognize the efforts of American workers and unions.

“It’s about safety on the job. It talks about voices on the job, it talks about the eight hour day. So, a lot of your labor laws are tied to Labor Day,” Penn said.

For some union leaders, the 2021 parade holds special significance, as more than the past year and a half have been marked by a pandemic.

“A lot of the jobs and the duties that we perform on a daily basis, we can’t be socially distanced, we can’t do it from a Zoom conference,” said Mike Raikes, business manager of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 197.

Raikes said despite COVID-19, union workers still completed their tasks at hand.

“We’ve minimized the risks as far as we could on the health and safety issue of it, but we have shown up and continue to build our county and build the community,” Raikes said.

Penn said he is glad that he once again had the chance to be surrounded by his labor family.

“It brings solidarity. That’s a word we don’t use enough is solidarity. We see people we haven’t seen for years. We’ve got retirees out here, we got our young members out here, we’ve for their children out here,” Penn said.

More than 33 unions and organizations were represented during this year’s parade.

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