September 5, 2023
UUP celebrates Labor Day parades in Syracuse, statewide
uupdate 09-05-23

An August Gallup poll found that more than two thirds of Americans support organized labor, and that strong support was easy to spot on Labor Day at the New York State Fair in Syracuse.

Fairgoers lined each side of a paved road that ran through the middle of the fair’s midway, waving and taking cell phone videos as hundreds of unionists from across Central New York—including more than 40 from UUP—marched proudly in the annual Labor Day parade.

It was easy to spot UUP members, who were dressed in red shirts with UUP in white letters across the front and carrying signs that said “Proud to be UUP” and “UUP 50,” which references UUP’s 50th anniversary this year. Some UUPers brought their young children and marched while pushing their kids in strollers.

For the first time, the parade started and ended at the Expo Center, where a huge rally was held following the parade. More than 500 unionists marched in the parade and stayed for the rally, despite high humidity and temperatures in the mid-80s.

“This is breathtaking the amount of people here today, that are out to show that unions matter, that unions are growing and that together we can make absolutely anything happen,” said Statewide Secretary-Treasurer Jeri O’Bryan-Losee.

Also at the parade was statewide Executive Board and Cortland Chapter member Bekkie Bryan, ESF Chapter President Matt Smith, Morrisville Chapter President Steve Hinkle and UMU Chapter President Rich Veenstra.

“This is an important day for all labor unions because well, we wouldn’t have this holiday if it weren’t for the labor union,” said Veenstra. “We take for granted all the things we have now; 40-hour weeks, weekends off, health benefits, vacation time. But these all exist because of the labor movement in the U.S.“

Veenstra also noted a number of younger unionists at the event, and said he’s been seeing more young people at his chapter signing up to join UUP.

“I think young people are recognizing the importance of collective bargaining and realize that they wouldn’t be getting all of the things that they’re getting without the collective bargaining process,” he said.

That’s true at UUP, which last month ratified a new contract with the state that provided across-the-board raises, retention awards and paid parental leave. You can read more about the new contract HERE.

UUP members took part in parades across the state, including in Albany, Buffalo, Massena and Rochester. At the Massena parade, Plattsburgh Chapter members Dave Curry and Kim Hartshorn posed for photos with state Assemblymember Billy Jones and Steven Holden, who’s running for the 21st Congressional District as a Democrat.

On Sept. 9, UUP members will march in the 2023 New York City Labor Day Parade. All UUP members are welcome to march.

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