CHICAGO (CBS) — Unions celebrated Labor Day with a parade the East Side neighborhood on Saturday, a longtime tradition the local aldermen revived three years ago.
Dozens of labor unions were represented in the parade up Ewing Avenue between 112th Street and 102nd Street, including steel workers, bricklayers, electrical workers, and teachers.
Mark Cutlak, of Bricklayers Local 21, was walking along with Scabby the Rat, the Greedy Pig, and the Fat Cat – giant inflatable characters used by unions during labor disputes, particularly with contractors that do not use union labor.
Cutlak said he “couldn’t be prouder.”
“Very proud of where we came from; and very, very proud of where we’re going to go,” he said.
Ald. Susan Sadlowski-Garza (10th) brought the Labor Day Parade and Festival back to the neighborhood three years ago. She said, when she was a kid, the East Side neighborhood always celebrated Labor Day with a parade. For more than 100 years, the community was home to the U.S. Steel South Works, before it shut down in 1992.
“This is something that was very important to me. This was a tradition that was in the 10th Ward for as long as I could remember growing up. Whether you’re a teacher, or a teamster, we’re all here today,” she said.
Sadlowski-Garza teared up as she looked out over all the union members assembled for the parade.
“This is so awesome. I wish my Dad could be here. You know, I really do, because this is what it’s all about. This is it, right now. This is what it’s all about,” she said.
Her Father, Ed Sadlowski, was an iconic labor leader and steel worker. She said people need to remember that things like the 8-hour workday, weekends, and other employee benefits came from the blood, sweat, tears, and sometimes the lives of those in the labor movement.
Some political figures, including Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, former Gov. Pat Quinn, and some of the Democratic candidates for governor marched in the parade.
Quinn and Garcia said labor is under fire, especially from the Trump administration.