NYC Labor Day parade returns to Fifth Avenue

Carrying the banner: Local 361 iron worker and Brooklynite Robert Farula carries an American flag during the 2012 parade.
Associated Press / Mary Altaffer

Thousands of working men and women from 150 unions and labor groups will march in this year’s annual New York City Labor Day Parade on Sept. 7.

The grand procession honors blue-collar American’s laboring as teachers, firefighters, nurses, postal workers, road builders, those in construction, garment and retail workers, bakers, taxi drivers, flight attendants, pilots, bricklayers, carpenters, and countless other professionals, who dedicate their lives to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country.

This year’s parade will be led by Grand Marshal Elizabeth Shuler — secretary-treasurer of the American Federation of Labor and the highest ranking woman in the U.S. Labor movement — and Parade Chair Ernest Logan — president of the American Federation of School Administrators.

“This is such an exciting time for working people all across the country who are joining together and mobilizing on a scale that I’ve never seen,” says Shuler. “From teachers and hotel works, to video game developers, and grocery store workers, the power of the working people is rising. It will be such an honor to be in New York City with workers who lead this charge, and make lives better for all working families every day.”

City and state elected officials are expected to join the march, as are New York City Central Labor Council President Vincent Alvarez, Secretary-Treasurer Janella T. Hinds, and the council’s Executive Board.

The parade will be led by the Patriot Brass Ensemble, members of the American Federation of Musicians Local 802. The Ensemble is known to perform for thousands of veterans in long-term care facilities, enriching their lives through music.

The event marks the 125th anniversary of Labor Day, and kicks off at Fifth Avenue and 44th Street in Manhattan, with marchers heading uptown to 66th Street. A mass will be held at 8:30 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, located at Fifth Avenue and 50th Street.

And at 10 a.m., bands, floats, flag twirlers, dancers, banners, classic cars, motorcycles and buses will set out along Fifth Avenue.

Since its inception in 1882, the parade has become a signature event for the labor movement not only in the city, but across America.

Alvarez claims that, while the parade takes on a festive atmosphere, it’s also an expression of political will, and demonstrates the strength and numbers of organized labor groups.

“Even though it’s a parade, it’s a march — it’s a march for rights,” he said.

One of the messages the parade’s organizers would like to demonstrate this year is that, despite recent attacks by well-funded anti-worker forces, New York City is “Building Worker Power Together.” The parade shows the public that there are many people fighting for them.

In the 1800s, participants marched down Broadway, but that changed in 1959 when the parade moved to Fifth Avenue. A permit for that stretch is almost impossible to secure now, but an existing agreement between the Labor Council and the city allows the parade to continue on that route.

Get out there and become part of this time-honored New York City tradition!

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