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Laborfest comes to downtown Indy to celebrate workers for ninth year

Ninth annual Laborfest comes to downtown Indy
Posted at 9:36 PM, Sep 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-03 23:21:13-04

INDIANAPOLIS — It's Labor Day weekend, and that means that Indy Laborfest returned to Monument Circle for its ninth year.

"Today's event is honoring workers throughout the city of Indianapolis. We appreciate what everyone does to build our community, to bring quality of life to our community. So the whole idea today is to celebrate those workers," Central Indiana American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) treasury secretary Joanne Sanders said.

"A lot of times jobs don't want to pay you more and stuff like that, so events like this highlight them, and we appreciate them because they're the ones who kept the world going when everything was stopped,'' Indy resident Desiree Morris, who came to the festival looking for a union apprenticeship program, said.

The labor market has been volatile over the last two years. Pandemic layoffs, the Great Resignation, labor shortages, and now quiet quitting have dominated the news cycle.

"I think what's happening with a lot of folks, especially after the pandemic, they're realizing they need balance. They can't do mandatory overtime just because it's necessary to keep their job," Sanders said.

"You do have some employers that really do appreciate their workers, and you feel that love, but there are plenty of them that don't," Indy resident and union member La Salle Morris said.

Labor union popularity has reached a historic high nationwide. Gallup released a new poll this week, just in time for Labor Day.

It shows that 71% of Americans approve of unions. That's the highest approval rating since 1965.

"We're getting a lot of calls from folks in occupations that wouldn't normally call us about being represented. Because they realize they have rights, and if they want to protect those rights, it's best to form a union," Sanders said.

Union reps say high inflation, stagnant wages, and poor conditions have workers exasperated. The Gallup poll shows that 50% of non-union and 43% of unionized workers are actively looking for a better job.

During the Great Resignation, many workers left their jobs in search of greener pastures, only to find their new boss was no better. Now, they're turning to unions.

"Working collectively makes them much more strong than working individually," Sanders said.

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