"It's a beautiful day, we're pumped" said Mary Long, President of the Hamilton and District Labour Council, as she wound her way through the crowds, shaking hands and greeting members of Hamilton's unions and labour organizations, moments before the annual Labour Day parade began.
Hamilton's teachers were represented in large numbers at the parade. It began at Queen and York streets. And the teachers were excited by the large attendance and the hot sunny weather.
"We have a great turnout" said Chantal Mancini, chair of the local Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federations local 21 bargaining unit.
"We're anticipating more because of what's going on and we're proud to stand in solidarity with our Hamilton brothers and sisters," she added.
Mancini called the teachers' recent battles with the Ontario government as an "unprecedented attack on our Charter Rights."
The Ontario government's controversial new bill would strip teachers of their collective bargaining rights, freeze wages for two years and cut benefits. For Hamilton teacher Dan Staples that made the day bitterswee
"I always look forward to Labour Day. I've been coming down here for years during good times and obviously this year is a bad time," said Staples. He marched today but tomorrow you can find him at Orchard Park Secondary School.
"I'm not happy with the way the government has been pushing through this legislation. I think it was a ploy for the by-election that's coming up."
He has a message for parents too. "We're going to do our jobs," he added. "We always do our jobs and we'll fight it in the courts."
"Teachers have been in school since last week," said Mancini. "We're back in schools, ready to teach."
Halton teacher Leo Petti, however, says the conflict has the potential to negatively affect some teachers' morale.
"We're doing a lot of work right now that's for free. People don't see it. We spend a lot of time after school working and in extracurricular activities. It's going to affect the classroom because a lot of teachers are going to be bitter."
Petti says parents shouldn't "be fooled by the politics."
"We want to work together as a team. We want to work with the government in the same way we work with our kids," he said. "Our objective is to do everything possible for the kids and their future."
Though he's discouraged by the government's actions, Dan Staples says he's encouraged by the public support he's received even in his own neighbourhood.
"I live in Tim Hudak's riding and they can't believe what they're doing to the teachers and the education workers in general," he said. "We agreed to a two-year pay freeze and the Liberals said No to that. [The public] is starting to realize that this is about a lot more than sick days and a pay freeze. This is about collective bargaining and we have the right and the Liberals and the Tories are trying to take that away."