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Celebrating Labor Day — And Gender Equality



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Within three years of Oregon becoming first in the nation to pass a law recognizing Labor Day in 1887, Connecticut followed suit according to the US Dept of Labor, making our state among the pioneers recognizing the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.

Four years later, national legislation passed making the first Monday in September a legal holiday.

As pointed out in previous years, on September 5, 1882, New York City hosted the first major Labor Day Parade in the nation. But it was 80 years later, to the day, that your Newtown Bee reported that 4,000 spectators gathered along Newtown’s Main Street to celebrate the community’s first Labor Day Parade.

Credit goes to the Newtown Rotary Club for coming up with the idea to host a Labor Day parade here, but it was Lee Glover who took charge of the program (and two subsequent parades), the first featuring five divisions and 41 units. In more recent years, our parade has made its circuitous way down Main Street to Glover Avenue and then up Queen Street. But our first parade wound its way down South Main Street and ended at Dickinson Park.

With very occasional breaks to account for storm-related hazards and a global pandemic, our beloved and well-attended Labor Day Parade will step off Monday at 10 am sharp from the same location where it has always begun — at the Liberty and Peace monument. And much like its inaugural predecessor, we know this year’s parade will feature many floats, spirited bands and marching units, political party candidates, clowns, decorated vehicles, mounted riders, dancers, martial arts and gymnastics troupes, a healthy representation of municipal organizations, nonprofits, service groups, scout troops — and, of course, tractors!

As we welcome all Newtowners along with countless out-of-towners to celebrate all our parade participants, we hope every single person along the parade route does the same — restricting any inclination to negatively express one’s personal sentiments, intolerance, or political partisanship to those marching.

On a related note, since Labor Day involves feting our diverse workforce, it should not be lost on anyone that we currently live in the top state in the nation when it comes to parity in compensation for one’s work whether you are female or male, at least according to the latest survey mounted by our colleagues at US News & World Report.

Although we’ve got work to do, as that survey ranks Connecticut as the seventh best state overall in terms of gender equality, it does put our state in the #1 position when it comes to having America’s smallest pay disparity in weekly pay with Connecticut women earning 97% of what men earned.

We must continue striving to achieve perfection in that regard — hopefully as soon as next year. But on this Labor Day we can still be proud to represent a state that, at least on paper, compensates almost all working women the same wage for doing the same job as a man. This in comparison to Utah (7.9%), Indiana (9.9%), and Idaho, which curiously registered zero in that category.

With that latest labor-related achievement to consider — we’ll see you at the parade!

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