MASSENA –– Labor Day 2014 is in the books, and it was another large turnout for the 34th annual Solidarity Day Parade, both in terms of marching units and spectators.
The streets in downtown Massena were lined with spectators as approximately 43 units marched from the Willow and Center street area to Springs Park.
As many as 2,000 marchers were expected for the parade. In addition to union members, participants included Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor; Rep. William Owens and congressional candidate Aaron Woolf, a Democrat; state Sens. Joseph Griffo and Patricia Ritchie; and Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell and her opponent, John Byrne.
Massena Mayor James F. Hidy and his challenger, Timmy J. Currier, also marched with local unions.
For some for of the spectators, it was an opportunity to reflect on the meaning of Labor Day.
“It’s to recognize all the hard work union labor does building up the country. They’re responsible for a healthy middle class, which is the backbone of this country,” Paul McCarthy said as he sat on a bench outside of Rosario’s Pizzeria and waited for the parade to begin.
He said because of organized labor workers are now getting “fair pay for a fair day’s labor.”
McCarthy said he hopes organized labor continues to fight for workers’ rights.
“Hopefully they’ll preserve those traditions,” he said.
Tom Fiacco said organized labor has and continues to represent the working class in the country.
“It gives us good working conditions. We have to do what we can to keep what we have,” he said.
Fiacco, who called himself a “jack of all trades,” said he has seen first-hand how effective unions can be in getting jobs done.
“I think labor is better here than anywhere in the world,” he said.
Jerry Grennon, who has been employed at Alcoa since 1997, said organized labor is still strong in the region.
“We lost GM. The carpenters and laborers unions are a little weaker, but Alcoa is still strong,” he said.
Once the parade was complete, judges Penny Pullmain, Scott Wilson and Albert “Herb” Deshaies, who had scored floats based on their originality and theme, compared notes to come up with winners. This year’s theme was “Unions: United We are One - Divided We are Done: Solidarity.”
When the numbers were tallied, the first-place winner was the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 2032, followed by American Federation of Government Employees Local 1968 and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers No. 1249.
A raffle was also held by the Solidarity Day Parade Committee, with the first-place winner taking home $10,000. Michael Ortman, a 20-year-old Marine Reserve lance corporal from Brasher Falls, drew the winning tickets.
Jay Hebert of Heuvelton took home the $10,000 top prize. David Thompson of Winthrop won $5,000, Ryan Lannis of Massena won $1,000, Robin Debien of Massena won $500, Melissa Prescott of Massena won $400, Bob Leboeuf of Massena won $300, Joanna Russell of Potsdam won $200 and Jacqueline Cole of Heuvelton won $100.
Money raised through the raffle helps underwrite the costs associated with the parade and gathering at Springs Park.