Union members march proudly in Labor Day parade

By Chad Weber

September 3, 2012 Updated Oct 26, 2013 at 12:55 AM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- For some, the annual Labor day parade means a good time with friends and family.

For others, it means the kick-off to campaign season.

"We look forward to the election, " said State Senator Dave Koehler, " and, you know ,hopefully I'll be able to go back to Springfield."

"We feel real good," said challenger Pat Sullivan. "We're right where we want to be."

But for the over 100 trade unions participating in the parade, it is an accumulation of years of hard work.

"Labor Day's a celebration of everything we've accomplished over the past 100 years as unions," said Executive Assistant of Mid Central Regional Council of Carpenters Nathan German. "You look back, I tell my children. You had children in factories. You had people working 60 hours a week, 12 hour days. Most of the laws that you see today, the eight hour workday, your Medicaids and Medicares and social security and stuff. A lot of that stuff was fought for and helped to be sponsored by unions.

Fought for by union members who now feel they are misunderstood.

"Some of the challenges facing unions today is the stigma that unions are bad and that they are expensive," said Associate Director of West Central Illinois Building & Construction Trade Council Clint Drury. "What we want for our members is a safe working condition and a living wage."

A living wage that is unfortunately increasing in today's economy.

"A lot of people don't realize what the standard of living is and what it cost to have health insurance, what it cost to retire and such," said Nathan German. "A lot of people look for someone to blame."

Union members said they will continue to stand together in solidarity and fight for their rights.

"We are still alive and kicking," said Plumbers Local 63 union member Zack Dbizac. "We are here for the fight for the working class of this country and the betterment of the whole country."

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