West End Update – City of Negaunee
Labor Day celebrated in city of Negaunee
NEGAUNEE — This past Monday, I experienced my first real Labor Day celebration. Of course, I have seen many Labor Days in years past. It’s great, after all, you get to have an extra day off from work. But this Labor Day was different for me.
In fact, the real reason behind Labor Day hit me while I stood on Case Street in Negaunee. I watched many labor organization members who proudly represented workers throughout Marquette and Alger counties in a parade. It was truly an awesome sight!
I also took some time to reflect on what the labor movement has done for so many. Their efforts didn’t just benefit union members, but helped nearly every American in the workforce today. The standards they fought and won for themselves have become general work standards for all workers, union and non-union alike, across our state and nation.
Some of those standards include the eight-hour workday, two-day weekend, overtime pay, minimum wage, child labor laws, paid vacation, holidays, sick leave, and healthcare. We owe them all to unions who refused to back down from basic worker’s rights.
Labor Day is not just a day off, but a day that celebrates the social and economic achievements of American workers, and the sacrifices of those men and women who worked to improve the rights of every employee.
The labor movement has seen some of its roots here in the U.P. Early miners and their families fought and died in places like Calumet, and the Gossard Girls went on strike for better wages at a time when women were still required to ‘know their place.” The stories are inspiring, to say the least.
We had the honor of hosting the 34th annual Labor Day celebration — which was co-hosted by the Marquette Alger Community Labor Council, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations and the U.P. Regional Labor Federation — at Jackson Mine Park in Downtown Negaunee.
The celebration started with a parade. It was followed by a family-friendly picnic, including live music, a beer tent, lunch and a bounce house for the kids.
Negaunee was proud and privileged to be chosen as this year’s venue. We only hope that we met the expectations of the event organizers and those that attended. The city looks forward to being your venue of choice for Labor Day celebrations should we be considered in the future. We hope everyone enjoyed marking this special day in an extraordinary way.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Nate Heffron is city manager of the city of Negaunee.