Thousands march down Michigan Avenue in Detroit's Labor Day Parade

Unions represented by every color of the rainbow marched Monday in Detroit's Labor Day parade. It was truly a celebration of what has been a Michigan tradition -- the right to unionize. 

"The men and women of Michigan were the ones that really created the middle class by deciding that they were going to fight for safe working conditions, good wages," said Sen. Debbie Stabenow.

"Michigan has always been a focal point for labor, going all the way back to the 30's with the UAW sit-down strike," said John Duffy of MEA Local 1.

For public school teachers, it's also a great way to start a new school year.

"The school year starts tomorrow this is also a big launch for us - for all school teachers, for all educators throughout the state, just to say we're working together," Duffy said.

"It's about our students - we have children in these schools, in public schools, and we want the best possible future for them and the only way we're going to achieve that is to be unified," said Jeff Whittle of AFT Michigan.

It's not just teachers. The American Federation of State County and Municipal employees, or AFSCME, represents more than 50,000 members here in Michigan, working in every trade in every community from nurses to teachers to fire fighters to librarians.

"We may be under attack - people would like to see the labor movement disappear but that's not going to happen on our watch," said Lawrence Roehrig of AFSCME Countil 25.

Michigan may be a right to work state now, but it's the right to unionize, the accomplishments of organized labor on display and being celebrated Monday.

"Detroit exemplifies the middle class - the working men and women of this city - exemplify it," said Greg Scarborough of Local 614.

"These people work hard every day. The products and services they create are really what builds American pride and Detroit pride and Michigan pride so I'm always going to want to show solidarity with the labor movement," said Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist.

"It shows where we come from and where we're trying to get to as union people," Tim Davenport of UAW Local 1700 said. "Only thing that's going to keep us going is get the right people in office, and keep having days like this so we can celebrate what we achieve."