The far Southeast Side of Chicago has always had a strong connection to the labor movement, unions, and its values. At one point the region was the largest steel producer in the world, providing the iron and steel that helped build this City. Chicago’s Southeast Side is where the Chicago Labor Day Parade first began its journey. In 1959 the first Chicago Labor Day Parade, then referred to as the East Side Labor Day Parade became the prideful icon of the neighborhood.
With the steel mills in operations and working families employed at U.S, Wisconsin, Republic, and Pressed Steel, the booming economy of the neighborhood gave rise to the celebration of union and labor achievements. The parade ran strongly for over 30 years until its decline in 1993. Now, years later the tradition was revived by 10th Ward Alderwoman Susan Sadlowski Garza in September of 2015 with the support of local businesses, unions, and community members.
One may think of Labor Day as the end of summer fun or the start of a new school year; however, Labor Day is an American holiday that celebrates and honors the contributions of working-class people. Residents of the far Southeast Side know this all too well, thanks to local labor heroes like Edward ‘Oilcan’ Sadlowski, who fought for fair wages, safe working conditions, and aid for workers who were injured or retired.
As such, we mark this important holiday with the 2022 Chicago Labor Day Parade, which occurs annually every Saturday of Labor Day Weekend. Organized and ran by the Chicago Federation of Labor and 10th Ward Office staff, the parade seeks to celebrate union pride, solidarity, and community togetherness. We look forward to hosting another successful event that families can enjoy for for years to come.