Local 2-21 uses holiday parade as organizing opportunity

Nursing home and rehab center workers at Bishop Noa Home (BNH) have been in a tough fight with their employer for a first fair contract, and on December 6, the local and their greater community came together for a massive and jovial display of solidarity. 

The new members of amalgamated Local 2-21 in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan organized a huge turnout and exhibition for the annual Escanaba Christmas Parade, all under the banner of the United Steelworkers (USW).

Debbie Lyle, a Bishop Noa employee for 38 years, works in environmental services and sits on the unit’s negotiating committee. After she and a small group of workers marched in the Labor Day parade, they decided to do it again in the winter, using it as an opportunity to showcase their solidarity to the community.

“Everyone had a ball,” said Lyle. “We had a lot of support.”

The group paraded through town in a USW and holiday-themed float decorated with lights, garland, and banners reading “Be Fair to Those Who Care.” They also shone a “Bat-Signal” onto buildings and structures they passed along the route that read “Bishop Noa Unfair.” A man from the crowd even came up to the trailer, took the group’s photo, and told them, “Don’t give up.”

“Seeing that kind of support makes it really worth it,” Lyle said.

Other members of Local 2-21 joined the parade as well, bringing the delegation’s size to about 46 people, far larger than the Labor Day turnout. Part of that, Lyle said, is in their growing connections.

“We’re only getting stronger,” said Lyle. “I almost feel like it’s brought us all closer together. We’re all fighting for the same thing.”

You can see more photos from the parade and stay up-to-date on the workers’ campaign by visiting and liking the We Support Bishop Noa Workers page on Facebook.

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