The spirit of Labor Day extended well beyond President Obama’s Milwaukee visit on Monday. Over the holiday weekend, Wisconsin communities large and small honored the hard work of local men and women while drawing attention to the need for solidarity and stimulus in the midst of this brutal economy.
“The same economic situation and jobs crisis is evident in every Midwest state,” said Philip J. Gruber, General Vice President for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers Midwest territory.
Gruber helped highlight the priorities of working families as part of the JOBS NOW rally at Janesville Laborfest on Sunday. “The Midwest states have lost over 1 million manufacturing jobs in just the last 10 years. The job loss numbers triple, if you include the states of Michigan, Ohio, Kansas and Colorado.”
The guest speakers at the Janesville event included IAMAW International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger, U.S. Senator Russ Feingold, Milwaukee Mayor and candidate for Wisconsin Governor Tom Barrett, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO President David Newby, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Secretary Treasurer Phil Neuenfeldt, and Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly Mike Sheridan.
Read more about the JOBS NOW rally on the IAMAW blog:
Elsewhere around the state, AFL-CIO endorsed congressional candidate Julie Lassa walked in the Wausau Labor Day Parade, and Rep. Steve Kagen joined in festivities in Green Bay. Rep. Ron Kind appeared at both La Crosse Laborfest and the Eau Claire Labor Day Picnic, and Rep. Tammy Baldwin participated in Madison Laborfest.
“Some of the people at our picnic have been out of work for six months or more, so as we celebrated labor we were also talking about how to keep and create jobs,” says Jeff Knaus, Assistant Business Manager for UA Local 400 in Green Bay. “Union members, nonunion workers and the unemployed face a lot of the same challenges and insecurities right now. Labor Day was an opportunity to build solidarity among all of these groups.”
Racine Laborfest enjoyed an unexpected visit from Milwaukee Mayor and endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. State Rep. Bob Turner, State Rep. Cory Mason and State Sen. John Lehman also spoke in Racine on Monday.
“It's clear from their remarks that these candidates recognize the weaknesses of our economy and are motivated to get middle-class job creation on track,” reports Richard D. Hinderholtz, CWA Local 4611 retiree and Chairperson of the Racine Laborfest. “Personally, I am concerned about the trend towards low-wage service jobs that can't really support a family.”
Of course, it wasn’t all about the dire economy. Labor Day is also a time for community members to connect with one another and enjoy a hard earned break. The occasion was marked by both parades and picnics. Entertainment around the state ranged from bingo to live music, and from to raffles to clowns. Burgers, brats and hot dogs were plentiful, and at most celebrations union-made beer was also on hand.
“We went through about 100 pounds of hamburger, and we plan to donate the leftover sausages and hot dogs to a local homeless shelter,” said Jim Ridderbush, Vice President of UFCW Local 1473. Ridderbush helped supply food at the Green Bay picnic, and he manned the grills the day of the event. “We made sure to buy union-made products or solicit donations from unionized companies, such as Klements.”
The Fond du Lac County Labor Council; the Fox Valley Area Labor Council; the Greater West Central Area Labor Council; the Greater Green Bay Area Labor Council; the Kenosha AFL-CIO Central Labor Council; the Marathon County Central Labor Council; the Milwaukee Area Labor Council; the Racine AFL-CIO Council; the Rock County Central Labor Council; the South Central Federation of Labor; the Western Wisconsin AFL-CIO; the Winnebago County Labor Council; and the Wood County Central Labor Council each hosted local Labor Day events.
Now that we are well-fed, well-rested, and inspired let’s move forward together and put Wisconsin back to work! Contact your local Service Area Organizer to volunteer with the Labor 2010 political program today.
To learn about the history of Labor Day, visit: http://www.dol.gov/opa/aboutdol/laborday.htm
(Top Photo: IAMAW International President R. Thomas Buffenbarger speaking at the JOBS NOW rally in Janesville. Photo Credit: Justin Geiger. Top Right Photo: Rita Haudinger of OPEIU Local 277 in Eau Claire signs up to volunteer with Labor 2010. Photo Credit: Andy Thompson. Middle Right Photo: IRON Local 383 marches in the La Crosse Labor Day Parade. Photo Credit: Andy Thompson. Top Left Photo: USW Local 224 President Steve Meyer and AFL-CIO endorsed Congressional candidate Julie Lassa at the Wausau Labor Day Parade. Photo Credit: Scott Wright. Center Photo: Milwaukee Mayor and AFL-CIO endorsed gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett speaking at Racine Laborfest. State Rep. Bob Turner, State Sen. John Lehman and State Rep. Cory Mason are also pictured. Photo Credit: Justin Geiger. Bottom Right Photo: Angela Vellardita and Amy Kerwin of AFSCME Local 60 celebrate Labor Day in Madison. Photo Credit: Peter Singler. Second Left Photo: Members of UA Local 434 selling refreshments at the Wisconsin Rapids Labor Day Picnic. Photo Credit: Scott Wright. Third Left Photo: Family fun at the Greater Green Bay Area Labor Council’s Labor Day Picnic. Photo Credit: Greg Hinds. Bottom Left Photo: Steve Masar of AFT Local 3732 and Tim Hintz of SMWIA Local 565 preparing brats in Madison. Photo Credit: Peter Singler. Bottom Photo: Members of IBEW Local 1791 lining up for the Wausau Labor Day Parade. Photo Credit: Scott Wright. To view dozens of pictures from Labor Day 2010, visit http://www.flickr.com/photos/wisaflcio/collections/72157624888890222/.)