August 29, 2018

Labor and United Way: Standing together for more than 75 years

Detroit Labor Day parade

United Way staff march in Detroit’s Labor Day parade every year.

Together, United Way and labor have made a difference together in Southeastern Michigan for more than 75 years. From feeding children to hosting school supply drives, labor keeps the community going strong.

Labor Day is a perfect time to celebrate that partnership.

To thank labor for its partnership throughout the years, United Way staff and their families march alongside our union partners in the annual Labor Day parade in downtown Detroit. This Monday, expect to see dozens of United Way employees sporting “United Way Loves Labor” T-shirts and carrying signs bearing the same slogan.

This will be our CEO Dr. Darienne Driver’s first Labor Day parade marching with United Way. She joined United Way in July and is committed to the same issues that matter to our labor partners—like supporting our region’s children and families through access to education, health and financial supports.

“For more than 75 years, United Way and labor have worked side by side to make our community better,” said Dr. Driver. “We’re so grateful to our labor partners and their commitment to children and families in our region.”

Labor workers support United Way.

Labor Day: A time to celebrate labor

Because of labor support, United Way is able to empower every family to succeed. Together, we’re giving kids the right start in life, making sure they have healthy meals and also preparing them for college or a career right out of high school.

“I’m excited about the relationship between United Way and labor, and I just want to continue strengthening it and moving it forward,” said Rick Blocker, president, Metro Detroit AFL-CIO. “I’m just a firm believer that you’ve got to give back. I think it’s society’s responsibility to try to help people.”

United Way’s early childhood development work—our Bib to Backpack initiative—is of particular interest to Blocker.

“People don’t have a real understanding of how important ages 1 to 5 are for a child,” he said. “If their brain is not properly stimulated when they are young, think of how far behind they may be once they get to kindergarten.”

Labor union volunteers at United Way Meet Up and Eat Up Block Party

Impactful support

Labor’s support helps fund United Way’s efforts to prepare kids for kindergarten. Because of that funding, we can provide parents and caregivers with the tools and supportive networks they need to help their children learn. For example, Early Learning Communities allow parents to participate in workshops and borrow books from lending libraries.

The organization also connects people who are struggling with needed resources through its 2-1-1 referral service, and it helps connect families to free summer meal sites so that children have access to healthy lunches all summer long through the Meet Up and Eat Up program.

United Way hosts neighborhood Meet Up and Eat Up block parties each summer to spread the word about the program. Labor has offered up volunteers year after year to help staff the events.

“The support labor shows for United Way is incredible,” said Tiffany Bush, director of labor participation at United Way. “Our partnership is a meaningful one, focusing on philanthropy, advocacy and volunteerism. Together, we’re improving the quality of life for families throughout Southeastern Michigan.”