Fairbanks community holds 2022 Labor Day parade, first since COVID

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 2:10 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In honor of Labor Day 2022, Fairbanks hosted its 38th annual parade and picnic honoring the fight for labor laws in the U.S.

Grier Hopkins, Alaska State Representative for District 4, marched in the parade, saying, “Labor Day to me means supporting the grassroots and the foundation of our economy. Those families, those working families here in Alaska are really what’s built us, since the pipeline and all the way through to today.”

Martin Duffy is a 47-year member of the Laborers Local 942. He said Labor Day means a lot to him because “it’s what we have, the houses that we have, the children that we’ve raised, the children we’ve put through college.”

This gathering represents a return to normal, as the parade has not operated since before the COVID-19 pandemic began. “We have an opportunity to show the community that we exist and we’re here to help them out as much as possible,” said Nicholas Bowen, a member of the Teamsters Local 959.

Unions from around the Interior gathered, their members and supporters wearing union attire. “Having all of these different trade unions come out and show their support and be able to be seen shows that we are able to be a unified people and get fair labor practices,” said Bowen.

Spectators could be seen along the route, which ran from Noel Wien Library down Airport Way and its access road, terminating at Pioneer Park. Said Bowen, “It’s great to see so many people getting together to show support and to walk our and really just let their colors fly.”

Hopkins agreed, explaining, “We’re one of the highest union-density states in the entire country, and you see that with a great turnout.”

To some participants, this event gives them an opportunity to show their pride in union membership. “It’s made me more than proud. It makes me kind of distinguished as being a working-class person. That’s so important these days, a person who gets up and makes an honest living,” Duffy said.