NEENAH, Wis. (WFRV) — Monday afternoon, a crowd gathered at the Neenah Labor Temple.
“We’re having a great time, we come every year,” Carrie Lehrer of Menasha said.
2021 marked the 38th Labor Festival hosted by the Fox Valley Area Labor Council.
For many in the Fox Cities, it’s a tradition.
“I like to see a lot of my friends and so forth, there’s a lot of nice people down here,” Robert Bolsin, a retired ironworker told Local 5.
The event was canceled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We know people missed it,” Mark Westphal, President of the Fox Valley Area Labor Council said of 2020’s canceled event.
This year, Jasmine Ewert said she was happy to be back volunteering behind the bar.
“It was weird not getting to interact with people because of coronavirus,” she said. “So I could definitely tell that everybody is super nice, super appreciative, and was anticipating that we were going to be able to open back up and have this because it’s really important.
Westphal explained why the event is important: “That’s what we’re here to do today,” he said. “Celebrate workers, let people know they make great contributions to their community, their economy, their employers, and we always like to say, we’re the people who get stuff done.”
The day is all about celebrating the rights that workers have won.
“These 40-hour weeks weren’t given to us,” Bolsin said. “We had to fight for them, and so many other things that are so important that weren’t given to us.”
Event organizers also took the opportunity to focus on the battles they’re still fighting.
“We need to bring the ProAct,” Westphal said. “It’s stuck right now in the US Senate. We need them to pass it and give people, workers, the opportunity they deserve not only to join unions but to have the protections that they need in the workplace.”
According to Westphal, there is still work to be done.
But Monday afternoon, the focus was fun.
“That’s what it’s about,” Lehrer said. “Everybody, all the working people, we all get together and have a great time.”