August 25, 2011

CHICAGO (Aug. 25)–Attending a union-sponsored Labor Day celebration should be no problem for UTU members in Illinois this year: Parades, picnics and protests will be held in 13 cities across the state (and one of them will even include free Ben & Jerry’s ice cream).

The free ice cream will be served in Grant Park on Chicago’s lakefront at the conclusion of a monster rally to protest the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that labor leaders say threatens American jobs.

Sponsored by the Chicago Federation of Labor and a series of citizen advocacy groups, the Sept. 5 Labor Day Rally for Jobs, Affordable Medicine and a Healthy Environment will mass in Grant Park between 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. and then march to the site where business and government leaders will be discussing a new round of corporate-friendly trade agreements between the U.S. and Pacific Rim nations.

“We’ve already lost millions of jobs to NAFTA-style ‘free trade,’” said a CFL statement that denounced the agreement as “the new NAFTA.”

“Big corporations and financial interests are the big players in these negotiations and plan to use the TPP to take even more money away from struggling families,” the CFL said. “Join us to demand a fair deal that stops corporations from reaping big bucks by sending good manufacturing and service jobs overseas.”

“The UTU Illinois Legislative Board urges our members in the Chicago area to join this important demonstration,” said Illinois Legislative Director Robert W. Guy. “As railroad crew members, we are fortunate: The nature of our jobs is such that they cannot be transferred to lower-paid workers in other countries. But our brothers and sisters in other trades are not so lucky. They and their families are extremely vulnerable to offshore competition, and as union members we need to stand with them, save their jobs and promote policies that will generate more American jobs.”

Also going on in Chicago on Sept. 5 will be the annual Labor Day celebration in Chicago’s Historic Pullman neighborhood at 111th and Cottage Grove on the far South Side. Site of the legendary Pullman strike of 1894, Pullman is a shrine dedicated to thousands of railroad-car builders whose walkout helped launch and legitimize the American labor movement. It’s also a beautiful planned community with period architecture that provides the perfect backdrop for a real American picnic. Contact (773) 370-3305 or

Family-friendly union-sponsored Labor Day events also will be held in 12 Downstate cities:

Belleville will hold a Sept. 5 parade and picnic open to union members and their families only. Contact Terry Knoth at (618) 233-8441.

Bloomington-Normal will hold a Sept. 5 “We Are One” parade followed by a chicken dinner for union families only in Miller Park in downtown Bloomington. Contact Gary Leake (309) 828-7383.

Champaign-Urbana will hold a Sept. 5 Labor Day Parade through downtown followed by a picnic and softball tournament at Prairie Park. Contact (217) 352-5151.

Decatur will hold a Sept. 5 “We Are One” Labor Day parade downtown beginning at 10 a.m. Contact Bill Francisco (217) 428-3013.

Also in Decatur on Sept. 17 will be a Community Labor Celebration at the Macon County Fairgrounds, Maltis Building, from Noon to 4 p.m. Contact UTU’s very own Carl Draper (217) 791-1279.

DuQuoin will hold a Sept. 5 free barbecue, music and rides for union families at the State Fair Grounds. Contact (618) 932-2102.

Galesburg will hold a Sept. 5 parade down Main Street followed by a picnic at Storey Park. This is the longest continuously running Labor Day parade in the U.S., now in its 120th year. Contact Randy Ryan (309) 696-7649.

Granite City will hold a Sept. 5 parade downtown followed by a picnic in Wilson Park. Contact Dean Webb (618) 259-7011

Peoria will hold a Sept. 5 “We Are One” parade downtown followed by a party on the riverfront. Amalgamated Transit Union will provide free bus rides between downtown and riverfront. Contact Michael Everett (309) 673-3691.

Quad Cities will hold a Sept. 5 parade. Contact Robyn Ferraro (563) 324-9414.

Quincy will hold a Sept. 5 picnic free to all union members and their families at Machinists Lodge,2929 N. 5th St. Contact (217) 222-0394.

Rockford will hold a Sept. 5 parade “Unions Standing Strong together” followed by a “We Are One” picnic. Contact Trisha Welte (815) 986-4822.

Streator will hold its parade Sept. 4 starting at the Santa Fe depot on Illinois Street. Contact Dan Mercer (815) 725-0402.

“I urge all our members to take their families to the nearest celebration,” said Guy. “You’ll have lots of fun, and you’ll get to bond with fellow members of organized labor at a time when worker solidarity has never been more important.”