The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

CU Labor Day Parade promotes solidarity among workers

On Monday, Champaign County held its annual Labor Day parade in downtown Champaign.

Starting at 10 a.m., several floats accompanied unions as they marched through the streets, throwing fistfuls of candy to children sitting on the curb. Marching bands from Urbana High School and Rantoul Township High School joined the festivities.

Soon after the parade, people went to West Side Park for a picnic. More than 250 people lined up for a meal provided by the city of Champaign.

At the picnic, there were bouncy houses and games for children as well as a live performance by The KTel’s, a Champaign-based band.

“We’re having a Labor Day parade to celebrate the hard-working people in Champaign County and everywhere else in the community,” said Matt Kelly, president of the Champaign County branch of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations.

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Kelly said he organized the event with the help of AFL-CIO’s vice president and executive board.

“We put the whole parade together,” Kelly said. “We got the food squared away, we got inflatables for the kids over at the park, we’ve got a band. We do all the outreach and coordination.”

According to Kelly, this is the largest event of the year for the labor community in Champaign County. The AFL-CIO president said people inside and outside of the labor community get excited for the parade, waiting to show their support for each other.

“That’s why there are so many folks that will be on the parade route cheering us on,” Kelly said. “And we cheer them on for cheering us on.”

During his 10-year tenure as president of AFL-CIO, Kelly said he has seen an increase in the public’s support for laborers.

“I think we’re seeing a renaissance now,” Kelly said. “People are starting to pay attention.”

Apathy and complacency still create issues within the labor community, according to Kelly. The president said some workers do not engage with the community at large, creating small groups that lack communication between each other.

“We get in our own little silos,” Kelly explained.

Kelly said the labor community must be diligent in order to maintain the wages and benefits that they have won over the years. 

“If you’re in labor, you’re constantly fighting against the pressures in society that want to minimize, take advantage of or minimize the work we do,” said Mike Sitch, co-president of the Champaign Federation of Teachers.

The Champaign County AFL-CIO invites the teacher’s union to participate in the parade every year, Sitch said. For each parade, the union tries to get as many members as it can to show up and demonstrate their solidarity.

“We’re here to show people that America’s made by working class people,” Sitch said.


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About the Contributor
Piotr Fedczuk
Hi, I’m Piotr! I am a sophomore majoring in journalism. I have been at The DI since fall 2022, starting off as a staff writer in news. In my spare time, which I am sometimes lucky enough to have, I enjoy rollerblading, crocheting, hanging out with my older sister and annoying my little brother.
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