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Massena parade brings solidarity to labor union workers

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MASSENA — Laborers from across St. Lawrence County banded together in solidarity to march down Main Street in the 33rd annual Solidarity Day Parade.

Several labor unions, defined by floats and matching T-shirts, were represented in Monday’s parade, including a group of workers from the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center, Ogdensburg.

The group’s message was clear in neon green shirts and signs that said “SAVE SLPC.”

“We’re here to have solidarity with our fellow union members, but also to draw attention to the proposed closing of the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center,” said Edward J. Snow, executive board member representing the center’s professional employees. “We’re going to be doing a campaign across the state to point out the valuable services we provide to multiple types of people and stress how important it is to keep the services in the community and not move them to Utica or Syracuse.”

Mr. Snow said there are three sets of employees represented by unions at the center: the Professional Employees Federation, Civil Service Employees Association and New York State Correctional Officers and Police Benevolent Association.

Virginia E. Davey, Redwood, has been a PEF council leader at the center for almost 10 years.

“Labor Day is a time for standing up for what we believe in,” she said. “Part of our major concern with the changes that were proposed is the travel requirements to get mental health care. We want to be able to communicate to people that mental illness deserves a spot in the world of emergency care.”

Approximately 50 representatives of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 1968, one of the only federal unions in the area, with the St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp., also joined in the parade.

“We’re out here today to support all of labor,” said Fred J. Carter Jr., president of Local 1968. “The middle class is the engine that drives this country and it needs to be protected.”

The new regional staff director for New York State United Teachers, Fred C. Monaco, Watertown, spent his first day on the job marching in the parade with a group of supporters.

“It’s a celebration of labor’s contribution to this country and the celebration of the hard work of men and women who toil every day,” he said. “I’m excited that this is a long-standing tradition here in the north country and I’m excited to see the support from not only the local teachers and school employees but also all the union brothers and sisters in the area.”

Marching in front of the Massena Confederated School Employees’ Association group was Massena Central School’s marching band.

Jonathan L. Hunkins, Norwood, has been the school’s band director since 1999. He said the band members were excited that, after 10 weeks off, they were able to march in the Labor Day parade, one of four parades they march in during the year.

“For Labor Day, we try to support the teachers and the staff of the school and they all march right behind us,” he said. “It’s nice to support local business, commerce and the unionized side of Massena.”

Jerry L. Manor, Louisville, has been the announcer for the parade for years. He called the parade a “Massena tradition.”

“Union labor built the north country and it’s important to recognize their contributions to our community,” he said.





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