BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — The Twin Cities celebrated the men and women of the workforce, during Bloomington’s Labor Day parade.
Monday, the streets of downtown Bloomington were lined with community members for the annual event.
“Samuel Gompers, the old labor leader always said that this was a day that was unique in its holiday status because this was a day for workers,” said Adam Heenan, president of Bloomington-Normal Trades and Labor Assembly.
In 2021, the parade highlighted the resiliency of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, the focus was the Workers’ Rights Amendment that would protect the right to collectively bargain. The measure will go to Illinois voters this November.
“It allows for workers to enforce safety and give themselves raises. If they want to organize a union, it would ensure their right to do so,” Heenan said.
Labor Day isn’t just about where workers’ rights are headed, some union leaders said it’s a reminder of how far they’ve come. Ronnie Paul, business manager of Laborer’s Local 362, said the progress is evident through conversations with longtime union members.
“To listen to them talk about how job site conditions were and the wages that they made, how there was no pension,” Paul said. “Where we’re at today, today is a celebration”.
Paul added that there’s no better time to get involved with the labor movement.
“There’s a definite need for more workers, we typically average about 10 apprentices a year, and we’re over 65 this year,” Paul said.
As thousands come out to Bloomington each year for the parade, union leaders said it says a lot about the community.
“People recognize that this community is built of working people,” Heenan said.
The Bloomington Labor Day parade is the largest parade in McLean County.