New York, NY – On Saturday, September 10th, 2022, the New York City Labor Day Parade and March returned to Fifth Avenue for the first time since 2019. Hundreds of unions and tens of thousands of workers marched together in solidarity, on this, the 140th anniversary of the first Labor Day Parade in the United States, in 1882.

At that time, low-paying and physically demanding jobs, a lack of safety measures, as well as brutal conditions for children who were exploited in their so-called “employment,” among other grievances, gave rise to that Parade in New York City, where approximately 10,000 tradespeople showed up to give voice to their discontents, beginning the proud tradition which we know today.

The American labor movement was, at that time, already very strong, but the holiday we know today was not yet official across the nation. Various states and municipalities adopted the holiday in the years that came after the first parade, with New York adopting legislation that recognized the holiday in 1887.

The federal government only joined this trend when President Grover Cleveland officially made Labor Day a federal holiday by signing a bill into law on June 28, 1894, during the Pullman strike that took place that summer. When federal troops were called in to break the strike, the resulting high-profile crisis made Cleveland loath to lose the support of working-class voters.

America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being rests on the commitment and integrity that workers show year-round, as our many proud unions demonstrate every day. In this most recent celebration, the theme of the parade was Workers Leading, Workers Rising, and newly organized workers reflecting the surge of labor activism across the nation joined the parade. Thousands of essential workers, who risked their own lives and health, and who continue to do so, as they helped others through the pandemic, also swelled the ranks of those present, as did many others.

The Parade Grand Marshal was U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, and the Parade Chairs were AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond and NYS Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon, along with the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO NYC CLC.

Before the parade, Redmond said, “One hundred and forty years after the first New York City Labor Day parade, we will march again by the thousands once again to celebrate not just the union champions who came before us, but the working people across this country who are standing up, taking risks and fighting to organize their workplaces. This holiday is brought to you by the labor movement, and after the events of the last several years, it will be an honor to walk alongside the countless workers who have sacrificed so much to move our country forward.”


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