News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 2, 2013

Labor Day: Working for the weekend

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — Terre Haute laborers celebrate their “day to shine” today with a parade, picnic and awards banquet.

“This is our celebration of working people,” said Bill Treash, president of the Wabash Valley Central Labor Council. “This is our day to shine.”

Treash and other volunteers have worked to organize the big parade, which is to be followed by a ham and bean dinner at Fairbanks Park and an awards banquet this evening.

The public is encouraged to watch the parade, which begins at 11th Street and Wabash Avenue.

Parade lineup is at 10 a.m. and the parade starts at 11 a.m.

The parade route will be west on Wabash to Fourth Street and then south on Fourth Street to Poplar Street. It will conclude at Fairbanks Park.

“It’s a big event,” said Ellen Reeves, a parade organizer and member of the Central Labor Council. About 2,700 people are expected to march in the parade, which is expected to have 41 entrants, she said.

“There’s a lot of working people here in the Wabash Valley,” Reeves said. “They’re all geared up for it. This is a really special day for the labor movement.”

Up to eight floats are expected in the parade, Reeves said. Union members also will be sporting new T-shirts for the parade this year, she said. The theme of the parade is: “The people who brought you the weekend.”

The parade is sponsored by the Central Wabash Valley Building and Construction Trades Council and the Wabash Valley Central Labor Council. The free ham and bean dinner is sponsored by the Vigo County Democratic Party.

It is an all-volunteer event, Reeves said.

The parade grand marshal will be John Gregg, the Indiana Democratic Party’s 2012 nominee for governor and former Indiana House Speaker.

Roughly 10 percent of the U.S. labor force is represented by labor unions, according to figures provided by the U.S. Census Bureau. There were about 155.7 million people 16 and older in the nation’s labor force as of May 2013. In 2012, 15.9 million wage and salary workers 16 and older were represented by unions. This group included both union members (14.4 million) and workers who report no union affiliation but whose jobs are covered by a union contract (1.6 million).

The largest occupations in the U.S. as of May 2012, according to the Census Bureau, were retail salespeople (4.3 million); cashiers (3.3 million); and combined food preparation and serving workers, including fast food, (2.9 million).

One hundred years ago, the three largest occupations were farmers (6.1 million); farm laborers and wageworkers (2.8 million); and farm laborers, unpaid family workers (2.5 million).

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or