FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - Thousands of people celebrated Labor Day at Headwaters Park enjoying free food and fellowship, while also looking at the current state of unions and the labor workforce.
"All of the unions and all of those who are not union, but work in the labor field, we need to have a day to recognize their efforts," Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry said. "Without them, our country would be nowhere... anywhere near where it is today."
Those workers were celebrated Monday, with many workers having the day off, able to relax with their families. They enjoyed free food and drink with live music and games.
"A lot of times the union gets a bad name," Darryl Esterline, President of the Northeast Indiana Building and Construction Trades, explained. "This is our gift back to the community, and is a positive impact, I hope to the city of Fort Wayne."
The event was hosted by unions, for union members and non-union workers alike. Volunteers from some 30 unions were represented, working months to get it up and running.
Lawmakers were there campaigning and thanking workers.
"There are so many things that people don't realize that we got because of labor unions," Congressional Candidate Courtney Tritch added. "The 40 hour work week, or paid vacations or child labor laws. All those things we take for granted that came about because people were willing to fight for them."
NewsChannel 15 asked what those people are fighting for these days.
"There's not too much that's supporting and advertising livable wage incomes," Esterline said. "That's what unions do, as well as the collective bargaining agreements representing wages, fringe benefits packages as well as working conditions, so that's very important to us. It's been a long time since one wage could support a household here in northeast Indiana, but we still can do that."
Terra Brantley featured the volunteer effort the picnic in a Positively Fort Wayne report. You can find that here: https://www.wane.com/news/local-news/organized-labor-s-annual-labor-day-picnic-is-positively-fort-wayne/1409855298
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