Grand Falls-Windsor workers mark 101st Labour Day parade anniversary, despite being locked out

·2 min read
Unionized workers in Grand Falls-Windsor paraded in the community Monday to celebrate Labour Day. More than 100 workers have been locked out of their jobs since July 15. (Valley Radio Grand Falls-Windsor/Facebook - image credit)
Unionized workers in Grand Falls-Windsor paraded in the community Monday to celebrate Labour Day. More than 100 workers have been locked out of their jobs since July 15. (Valley Radio Grand Falls-Windsor/Facebook - image credit)
Valley Radio Grand Falls-Windsor/Facebook
Valley Radio Grand Falls-Windsor/Facebook

Workers in Grand Falls-Windsor may be marking their seventh week on the picket line in a lockout against the town, but it isn't stopping them from continuing a century old Labour Day tradition in the community.

Dozens of workers came together Monday to walk in the town's annual Labour Day parade, which has been a part of the holiday weekend since 1920 celebrating the town's significance in Newfoundland's labour movement.

While this year's festivities featured all of the staple events, including a walk through the community, floats and a bike decorating contest, this year's parade was under new management.

The 2021 edition of the parade was organized by the unionized workers of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 1349, who have been locked out by the town since July 15 due to a disagreement involving the workers' medical plan.

Tammie Greening, the union local president, said the group felt it was important to continue the tradition of celebrating labour in Grand Falls-Windsor despite the labour dispute.

"We thought it was more important than ever to ensure that it goes ahead, so that people remember the labour movement here in the town. And recognize that we are the home of the labour movement," Greening said Monday.

Labour has done wonderful things over the years…It was important to remind people where our town came from."

Greening said the parade also serves as a way to boost morale among the nearly 100 workers who have been locked out for nearly two months.

"Our municipal workers are used to doing things for this town. They're involved in it. This is like two months now...locked out of a job," she said.

"They want to feel like they're doing something. And it was a project for them to take on and be proud of. And I got to say, they did a wonderful job."

As part of the parade, community members laid wreaths at the Grand Falls Windsor Forestry Workers Memorial, remembering the work done by people in the community through the community's paper mill.

Greening hopes continuing the festival in the future will continue to highlight the history of the labour movement in the community — and help future generations understand its importance.

"The younger generation is asking questions and learning and wanting to be informed and it's kind of educating people about the movement all over again," she said.

"Our town was built on unionism. It was built on the backs of the mill workers and the mills here…The mill is where it all began, I guess…It did build our town years ago"

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