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Local Unions Celebrate Return of Labor Day Parade

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Local unions have always taken great pride in celebrating Labor Day with a big parade. But over the last two years there has been no AFL-CIO parade due to a lack of support from Erie County. Now, new sponsors have stepped up to the plate.

Western New York Area Labor Federation president Dan Boody says two years ago County Executive Joel Giambra blocked funding that was provided to the annual AFL-CIO Labor Day Parade in Cheektowaga. Since that time, there has been no union parade to celebrate labor.

"It is just a continued demonstration of how anti-union and anti-worker the County Executive is and that people that work with him," Boody said.

But now the parade will return. And this year it will be held in South Buffalo. The United Way has secured new parade sponsors. United Way's AFL-CIO community services liaison Mary Martino says a number of businesses and labor have signed on to support the event.

"Kaleida Health, Community Blue, Greater Buffalo Savings, the Catholic Health System, the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Communications Workers of American and National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians have all chipped in money for this years event," Martino said. "It is going to be a fun day."

Martino says the United Way and unions have shared a strong working relationship over the past 60 years. Local labor was thrilled to restore its annual celebration.

And Boody says there is no better time to show union unity as the national AFL-CIO struggles with an internal divide that has some major unions splitting from the organization.

"It will be a clear message that labor stands together regardless of the problems in Washington, and that we are going to continue to work together," Boody said.

Boody says it is important to note that Labor Day, which traces back to 1894, all started in the State of New York in New York City. He says with a high union concentration in the Buffalo region, it is appropriate that celebration continues.