MARQUETTE, Mich., (WJMN)- The Upper Peninsula Regional Labor Federation has hosted a celebration every year on Labor Day, this year they took it online because of the pandemic.
Mike Thibault, president of the organization, says this year marked 31 years of Labor Day celebrations.
“Like every labor union I know, we didn’t want to give up or give in and so we wanted to keep our string alive and decided to do something virtually this year,” said Thibault. “I think it turned out well, Chris Wagner a delegate of ours used to be our recording secretary did an excellent job in piecing it together for us.”
The theme for this year’s celebration was “workers first.” Thibault says they picked the theme because the pandemic shows how without workers the economy would suffer.
“This pandemic has shown that without our essential workers, our frontline workers, our economy comes to a stop real quick,” said Thibault. “A lot of people don’t like to recognize that but it’s the truth. You take the workers out of the equation you don’t have any consumers either do you.”
Thibault says the national and state presidents of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) sent a message for the event as well as some government representatives from Michigan.
The Facebook lives included video of former years of celebrations and highlighted one group of workers that is negotiating for a contract with their employer.
“We tried to notice the workers from Bishop Noa down in Delta County who’ve been struggling for three years to get their first signed contract,” said Thibault.
In addition to recognizing workers on Labor Day, UP Regional Labor Federation volunteers their skills to the community. Thibault says they volunteer with the Ceder Tree Institute by planting trees as well as helping out other organizations in Marquette.
“I personally volunteered a lot when I was an iron worker working with the iron workers, volunteered my services to Bay Cliff,” said Thibault. “The building trades does a lot of work for Bay Cliff, a ton of work for the women’s center in Marquette, as well as the children’s museum when it was needed all on a volunteer basis.”