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Rochester celebrates Labor Day

Caitlin Whyte

Union workers, politicians and other supporters of the union movement gathered before the Labor Day parade Monday morning. Many said regardless of whether a worker is in a union or not, all workers have benefited from the movement.

Senator Joe Robach said it is worth the fight to keep these rights going.

"Organizing labor is as American as apple pie, baseball, hotdogs. Everything American."

Red carnations were passed out in memory of former CSEA region president Flo Tripi who died in July. Many remembered the late Louise Slaughter, a fierce advocate for labor rights as well.

As is often the case at Labor Day events, a number of speeches were quite political, reminding people to bring their opinions out to the polls in November.

Tom Gillette was the Grand Marshall of this year’s parade.

“As Grand Marshal, my most official act this year is to establish Labor Day 2.0. And I hope this year, and every year going forward will be celebrated on that Tuesday in early November, Election Day." 

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News
Labor Day Parade Grand Marshall Tom Gillette

David Young is with the Rochester area building trades, he said today is a day to recognize people who took a stand.

"No amount of money can take our dignity, our strength, our brotherhood, our sisterhood. When we’re defending our rights for a decent living, the right to care for our family members in need and our right to bargain collectively."

Young said that while some call it a celebration, he sees it as a memorial.

Barbara Kuntz was in the parade with her husband Ray; she said the unions have been a big part of their family.

"My husband’s very big in the union so is my daughter. That’s why we have weekends, that’s why we have vacations, that’s why there’s no child has to work, there’s labor laws. Means a lot to me, it’s a very important day."

Ray Kuntz Jr. said he started working with a union almost 50 years ago.

Credit Caitlin Whyte / WXXI News

"You could get a decent job with good benefits without having to have a degree. You could make a good living with your back. You still had to be smart too but you had to have a degree. So it’s been very good to me, that’s why I've been about to retire with a traditional pension."

Kuntz worked in construction.

The parade marched down East Avenue to Main Street.