This Labor Day will be especially meaningful for art teacher Sally Purchase, and she hopes her colleagues and their families from Muskegon Community Schools turn out to make a big statement at the holiday parade and community celebration.
MEA members will be donning their union gear and participating in festivities in Muskegon and elsewhere on Monday, Sept. 4, including the annual Mackinac Bridge Walk and events in Ishpeming, Grand Rapids, and Detroit.
In addition to being a Muskegon High School art teacher, Purchase is chief negotiator for her association, and she expects difficult bargaining this year with contracts expiring in July. The district has recently cut teaching positions while adding administrators to the payroll.
“We’ve become top-heavy at the same time we’ve lost quite a few teachers,” the 30-year teaching veteran said. “We didn’t even have a high school choir this year!”
School employees need to be visible alongside other labor groups to show they’re committed and concerned, Purchase said.
“It’s important to show up and send the message to the community that we care—we care about our communities, our schools and our students,” she said. “We need to be seen, especially with all the teacher bashing that’s been going on.”
The Muskegon Labor Day Parade starts on the corner of 4th and Western Ave. at 11 a.m., followed by a community celebration at Hackley Park.
In Ishpeming, the parade starts at 11 a.m. on Euclid St., with a picnic from noon to 4 p.m. at Lake Bancroft Park and Cliff’s Shaft Museum.
Anyone interested in attending the Mackinac Bridge Walk can meet up with other MEA members in the pavilion on the St. Ignace side of the bridge.
In Detroit, our members will join MEA President Paula Herbart and our AFT Michigan brothers and sisters in the Detroit Labor Day parade. Staging will take place at the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Wabash beginning at 7:00 a.m.
The Detroit parade steps off at 9:30 a.m. with participants marching south on Washington Blvd. past Cobo Hall and the UAW Ford Program Center to the Labor Legacy Monument at Hart Plaza.
In Grand Rapids, instead of a parade, Labor groups have joined together to organize the ninth annual West Michigan Labor Fest – a day of entertainment from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. with free admission to the Gerald R. Ford Museum, plus food, beer, entertainment and activities for the kids at Ah-Nab-Awen Park. MEA members from west Michigan will have an exhibition table, and various labor groups will be handing out school supplies to visitors.
Anyone in need of more information can contact MEA’s Andy Neumann at ANeumann@mea.org.