The grand Labour Day spectacle unfolded in Sarnia, the city coloured purple and infused with pride as members of three CUPE unions proudly led the annual parade. It was a significant moment for these individuals, who just this previous November were education workers on strike.
Our victory lies in the defeat of the Doug Ford Bill 28, declared Michelle LaLonge-Davey, president of CUPE 1238. It was a move that threatened to strip away their fundamental right to negotiate and bargain. “Our triumph is a source of immense pride. We eagerly anticipate expressing our gratitude to the community for the invaluable support we received during this consequential struggle,” she said.
The streets of Sarnia, Ontario were teeming with thousands of spectators, paying witness to what is thought to be the oldest Labour Day parade in Canada. Brian White, a city councillor of Sarnia and one of the parade judges, depicted the city as labour driven. According to him, the raw energy and commitment on display demonstrated how labour has been elemental to the city’s prosperity.
As the sun showered the spectacle with a radiant light, a broad array of local workers made a grand entry. Their triumphant return to the workforce, post the pandemic, was heralded with vibrant cheers from the multitude present. “Our procession today includes about 3,300 participants and almost 32 groups,” said Nick Dochstader, president of the Sarnia and District Labour Council.
This represents a workforce of more than 1,000 locals, he emphasized. The city builders, school staff and healthcare workers form the backbone of Sarnia, and today was a day dedicated to celebrating their efforts and determination.
With the new academic year right around the corner, LaLonge-Davey confirmed that CUPE was all geared up for their return. Welcoming back ‘our 10-month friends,’ she also lauded the relentless efforts of the 12-month workers. “Our utilities, trades, custodians and clerical workers continued to work all summer to keep the schools operational. After a refreshing summer, it’s a pleasing anticipation to once again serve the young minds and families,” she added.