Organized labor marched in an hour-long parade through downtown Paducah on Labor Day. Floats, flatbeds, big trucks, fancy cars and the Shriners made a long line on a perfect September Monday.
The theme of this year's parade "Still Standing" was particularly appropriate considering legislation passed and signed into law in the 2017 General Assembly. Right to work which allows workers to enjoy union protection without paying union dues and the repeal of prevailing wage, which mandated state contracts pay union scale for public jobs passed on party lines and were signed into law by Republican Governor Matt Bevin.
Union members dressed in t-shirts of every hue brought children and families to the parade.
This year's grand marshall was Paducah native Kentucky Court of Appeals Judge Shea Nickell.
Judge Nickell joked that upon being asked to lead the parade, he said "I thought that job went to old guys." The answer was "It does. Next question."
Larry Sanderson, a fifty five year union member, stood at the corner of Broadway greeting each float and participant that went by. When asked about participation and the size of the parade, Sanderson said the parade looked bigger than other years and the crowd was friendlier.
Sanderson seemed puzzled by the General Assembly's attacks on labor. He said that union members are good people and unions help their communities.
Unions have gone from a high of 21 million trade union members in 1979 to 16.2 million this year. While their ranks have thinned, trade unionists displayed the same job pride as their fathers and grandfathers in their day.