Detroit’s annual Labor Day parade attracted the usual mix of union members, activists and political candidates this year.
Those candidates included three of the Democrats running for governor.
Former state Senate minority leader Gretchen Whitmer has lined up most of the big labor support statewide. She met and marched with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, among others.
Whitmer says workers are now “under attack” by Republicans at both the state and national levels. But she says labor’s past successes show it — and other social movements — a way forward.
“One of the most interesting things I think is in this climate, we are learning the lessons of the labor movement. And that is when we speak with one voice, we set the agenda,” Whitmer said.
Whitmer says she believes a “strong governor” can make important strides for labor in Michigan, even if Republicans continue to dominate state and national politics.
Former Detroit health department director Abdul El-Sayed was also there supporting unions and union hopefuls, including fast food workers and others fighting for a $15 per hour minimum wage.
“I’m honored to be here standing in solidarity with my brothers and sisters in labor, because we have common cause, building the kind of world that is equitable to everybody.”
El-Sayed says he thinks Democrats have “given up a lot of fights” when it comes to issues affecting workers. He vowed to take on everything from protecting the rights of contract workers, to fighting for universal health care.
“I’m not giving up on anything,” El-Sayd said. “We will go everyone, talk to everyone, have the kind of conversations that unite us around the kind of challenges that we all face together.”
Scientist-turned-entrepreneur Shri Thanedar also attended the parade and met with different labor groups “to show solidarity for worker’s rights and support of a $15 minimum wage,” according to his campaign.
Other Democrats in the midst of campaigns also appeared at the parade. They included U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow, who’s up for re-election in 2018.
So did Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan and challenger Coleman Young II. They face off in a general election this November.