Crowds turn out to celebrate Labor Day in Rochester

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – For many, Labor Day is just an extra day off from work.

Or it is the unofficial end of summer.

But Labor Day has a deeper meaning for many. The holiday commemorates the sacrifices made by people who fought for, and continue to fight for, better working conditions.

More than 1,000 people marched in Monday’s Labor Day parade up East Avenue. The holiday is celebrated on the first Monday in September.

It got its start in New York City, where it became a holiday in 1882. Labor Day became a federal holiday in 1894.

Monday, union workers and their non-union supporters honored and recognized the American Labor Movement, created to protect workers and their rights.

Dan Maloney, president of the Rochester Labor Council, says the unionization of workers in all different types of industries helped usher in the types of benefits we see today.

“The weekends, the 40-hour work week, health care, pensions with dignity, retirements with dignity: all those things brought to you by the labor movement, and we’re just here to keep it going and help make it better for future generations,” Maloney said.

Paradegoers said the day’s meaning is important to remember.

“It’s the birth of America, if you want to say something like that, you know? What built America. If it wasn’t for working hard people we won’t be where we are today,” Joseph Torees said.

“Oddly enough, I’m an attorney in town. I represent a lot of these unions. I’m really, you know, passionate about the work that they do on behalf of their members and the services they provide, and I think they’re a true asset to our community,” Nolan Laffler said.

“Labor Day means to me that I’m going to have a family in the future that I can support, and give back to all the other families that are doing the same,” Phoebe Sheehan said.