2018 Labor Day Parade
Several hundred boisterous CSA members marched down Fifth Ave. on Sept. 8, one of many energized union contingents for the 2018 New York City Labor Day Parade.
The theme of this year’s historic event, “New York is a labor town,” was on full display, as union members, marching bands and floats made their way uptown from starting points just north of Times Square. Mayor Bill De Blasio, Governor Andrew Cuomo were there, as were a host of labor leaders including CSA’s Mark Cannizzaro, Michael Mulgrew of the UFT (who served as the parade marshal) and New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento.
Before the parade began, several hundred people attended a mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Monsignor Kevin Sullivan started by noting that Sept. 8 is said to mark the birth of Mary, and spoke of how she raised her son to be a carpenter, joking that Jesus might have joined the carpenter’s union. Monsignor Sullivan acknowledged Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, NY State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, and Vinny Alvarez, President of AFL-CIO New York City Central Labor Council.
“We know that the numbers of the labor movement are not what they were years ago,” he said. “There is a struggle, and there is a threat to labor in this country. And yet, just as the prophet Micah says in today’s reading, in the midst of threats, and in the midst of something small, look for smallness to produce greatness. We as a church need to stand with labor in this time of challenge. We need to recommit to communicating the value of labor, the contributions of collective bargaining, and fair wages, not just for unions but for all working men and women of this country.”
At the head of the parade was the Tottenville High School Marching Pirates Band, under the able direction of CSA member and Tottenville AP David La Morte. In past years, the band marched just in front of the CSA contigent.
“The organizers wanted public school kids to lead the parade,” said Mr. LaMorte. “It was quite an honor.”
A large contingent of the CSA Retiree Chapter marched and also rode in a double decker bus. There was a contingent of CSA’s recently formed veterans chapter as well. Many members traveled from afar to march.
“The union is important to me,” said Dawn Hemphill, who came down by bus from East Stroudsburg, Pa., just past the border with New Jersey. “I want for the other members coming up behind me to understand its importance. If I can travel here today from all the way where I live, maybe they’ll be motivated to attend in the future. The parade is always a nice bit of inspiration for the start of the school year.”
Scott Wolfson, an EA who works at 65 Court St., said the parade was a good way to reconnect with his union brethren. “I’ve had some opportunities recently that have made me reflect on the importance of getting more involved,” he said. “Hopefully my fellow EAs see me come out, and they’ll reflect on how important it as well.”
At a reception at the Lexington Club on the Upper East Side for President’s Club members, Mr. Cannizzaro said CSA members, despite well-organized efforts to harm labor, would remain loyal to the union. “We will never forget where we came from, how we got where we are, and where we are going,” he said. The crowd began chanting “Three more years! Three more years!,” in reference to upcoming union elections.
Labor Day became a national holiday in 1894, during the heart of what came to be known as the Gilded Age, and against a backdrop of labor unrest that was met with increasing violence by authorities.