Monday celebrated the great strides the labor movement made in ensuring fair conditions for American workers.
The 40-hour work week, sick pay, and family medical leave all were born from the efforts of early unions.
But unions have gotten a bad rap lately, much to the dismay of members.
Labor Day morning was all about local union chapters in Rapid City, as they marched through the streets of downtown.
"It's just a time to celebrate the labor we put in all year long," said Randy Stainbrook, business manager for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers local 1250.
The celebration comes in the midst of mounting challenges.
"There's a lot of people that are out to get rid of unions," seen recently in the failed recall vote of anti-union Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Stainbrook said.
But there are other, non-political issues bringing unions down.
"Shrinking overall membership seems to be a big problem," said IBEW local 1250 member Doug Zastrow.
The U.S. Labor Department reports 2011 union membership at 11.9 percent, down from more than 20 percent in 1983, the first year they collected the data.
"The fewer people that represent labor, the harder it is to negotiate a contract," said National Association of Letter-Carriers 30-year member Robert Sukut.
"If everyone was part of the labor movement or unions," added Zastrow, "we'd have a better position to bargain."
The organized labor situation is even more dire in South Dakota.
As a right to work state where union membership is not required, only about 5 percent of workers pay dues, down half a percent from 2010.
"We're here for everybody," Stainbrook said, "whether you're a union member or not."
That gets costly when building rent comes due and contracts get re-negotiated.
"Somebody has to pay the bill," said Zastrow.
Some argue unions have served their purpose, but union members say there's still work to be done.
"You have to maintain what you've gained," Zastrow said.
"I think South Dakota has a long ways to go before they recognize how important the working people here in South Dakota are to this stat," said Sukut.
Union members also say the fight for better wages and benefits is not over.
They warn the power balance between corporations and their workers is still a sensitive issue.