Join the Labor Day parade

Guild members and their families joined in the 2013 AFL-CIO Labor Day Parade in South Buffalo.
Guild members and their families joined in the 2013 AFL-CIO Labor Day Parade in South Buffalo.

August, 2015 — Please join us as the Buffalo Newspaper Guild once again marches in the annual AFL- CIO Labor Day Parade and Picnic on Monday, Sept. 7. The free event welcomes all Guild members, spouses, kids and well-behaved pets.

Even if you haven’t been to the Labor Day Parade in recent years, we hope you’ll make time for this fun event that celebrates workers and their achievements. The parade will head down Abbott Road in South Buffalo to Cazenovia Park, where free hotdogs, hamburgers, snacks and drinks will be provided to all.

Sign-up sheets will be on the Guild bulletin boards in all departments, as well as on the newsroom assignment table. We ask all participants to wear their Guild shirts if they have them.

When: Line up between 11 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Monday. Parade begins at noon.

Where: Guild members will gather at the corner of Abbott Road and Melrose Street. Park at either end of the parade route. Consider coordinating with another person to prevent having to walk back to your vehicle.

Why a parade?

Labor Day stems from a chapter of history during which the average American worked long hours seven days a week for minuscule pay. Even young children worked in factories and mines.

Labor unions began to form and organize strikes to improve pay, hours and unsafe working conditions. Among many actions, on Sept. 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history.

The idea of a workingman’s holiday caught on in other cities, and states passed legislation recognizing it. A turning point occurred in the late 1890s when tens of thousands of workers nationwide employed by the Pullman railroad company went on strike to protest wage cuts. President Grover Cleveland ordered a harsh response by sending troops to Chicago, an action that led to riots in which workers were killed and injured.

After the strike ended, Cleveland and Congress in 1894 designated Labor Day a national holiday as a conciliatory gesture to labor.

In the years since, the labor movement brought us the 40-hour, five-day workweek, overtime pay, paid holidays, pensions, health insurance, an end to child labor, safer working conditions, the right to organize and bargain collectively, and many other workplace rights.

Here’s what Samuel Gompers, founder of the American Federation of Labor, said in 1898 about Labor Day: It’s “the day for which the toilers in past centuries looked forward, when their rights and their wrongs would be discussed…that the workers of our day may not only lay down their tools of labor for a holiday, but upon which they may touch shoulders in marching phalanx and feel the stronger for it.”