WHAT IS EDDIE FEST?
Eddie Fest, formerly known as Friends of Labor Fest, celebrates workers and the Chicago labor movement. Chicago has brought forth some of the greatest labor activists in the world – among them, Ed Sadlowski. Through the work of activists like Sadlowski and others throughout history, Chicago has been the driving force behind changes that have improved the lives of working people across generations. The eight-hour work day five-day work-week were born at Chicago’s Haymarket. The struggle at Chicago’s Pullman factory town gave us the Labor Day holiday we celebrate every September. The seeds of the laws like the NLRA and FLSA, and, policies that brought about living wages, workplace health and safety, social, security, and the benefits people enjoy today were first planted in Chicago. And in 2022, labor went all out to pass the Workers’ Rights Amendment, protecting the right to organize and collectively bargain in Illinois, preventing the threat of so-called Right-to-Work laws from coming to our state.
Not resting on history, the Labor Movement continues to protect the hard-earned workplace rights, wages, and benefits of working families. Through apprentice and training programs, it’s preparing young people for jobs that will build a secure future. Through organizing, the labor movement is growing to lift up union and non-union workers alike. Eddie Fest honoring the legacy of Ed Sadlowski celebrates more than 135 years of the labor movement in Chicago. A movement that has lifted up families, and built a path to a better life for workers and the middle class. A movement that today is made up of more than half a million union members across Chicago and Cook County. A movement that has strengthened families for stronger communities.
In 2023, Eddie Fest is moving to the Historic Pullman District. On Saturday September 2, the Chicago Labor Day Parade will kick off at noon and run from 103rd to 108th Streets along Cottage Grove Ave. Eddie Fest will immediately follow, and be spread across Arcade Park and Pullman (George) Park. We hope to see you there!
108th St. & Cottage Grove Ave., marching south toward 108th St.
SATURDAY, SEPT. 2
1 pm to 6 pm
Food trucks and vendors
Live Music featuring "Union Rules" and DJ Jazzz
Inflatable bounce houses
O gauge model railroad track and switches you can design and configure into a small operating layout, with a steam locomotive, Pullman freight cars, and Pullman presidential observation cars similar to the State Historic Site’s real 1911, 82-foot-long Pullman presidential car “The Advance”
A mobile exhibit of Illinois outdoor recreation at Illinois Department of Natural Resources state parks, state forests, and state wildlife areas.
A chance to “touch a truck” and meet Illinois Department of Natural Resources conservation officers (a part of the mobile exhibit)
Small prizes and other souvenirs
Two “dry land” fishing clinics for beginners and children
Archery instruction by an Illinois Department of Natural Resources professional
A limited supply of grilled copi fish burgers provided by Chicago’s own Dirk’s Fish Market
A limited supply of collectible Pullman State Historic Site commemorative Labor Day t-shirts
A “sneak peek” at exciting plans for the Pullman State Historic Site’s recent hidden work and imminent restoration and development
Edward Sadlowski was nicknamed “OILCAN” because
he carried one on his first job in the steel mill.
Eddie became a strong voice for the working class. He helped democratize union elections and oust entrenched officers who had cozied up to management and lost touch with the rank and file.
Eddie, a third-generation steelworker, dropped out of high school in 11th grade to become an apprentice machinist. He rose meteorically through the ranks of the United Steelworkers Union by echoing the confrontational voices of his labor heroes. John L. Lewis who led the Miners’ Strike and Victor Reuther, one of the three brothers who transformed the Autoworkers Union into a labor power. In the mid-1960s at age 26, Eddie became the youngest president of a Steelworkers Union, LOCAL 65 representing 23,000 workers. He served as District Director at age 30. He represented the union's largest district, covering mills from Chicago to Gary, Indiana. He sat on the Illinois State Labor Board for twenty-one years.
Eddie never forgot where he came from or whom he represented, The Working Class! Eddie died on June 10, 2018. He would be the first guy to tell you, “DON’T MOURN, ORGANIZE!”
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