Columbus reestablishes Labor Day

COLUMBUS, Ohio — More than 200 unionists, retirees, family members and friends poured into the IBEW Picnic Grounds here for the first Labor Day event held there in recent memory.

“It’s been at least 25-30 years since organized labor held a real Labor Day event” here, said Dave Friesner, retired pipefitter and coordinator for the Alliance of Retired Americans (ARA).

A great time was had by all. A country band played, dozens and dozens of door prizes were given out, and nobody left hungry. Besides the great food and company, folks circulated, registering voters, numerous labor-endorsed candidates pressed flesh and a couple speakers urged everyone to talk to their family, friends and neighbors to get out a huge vote for change, electing Obama and a strong pro-labor majority in November.

Walt Workman, executive secretary of the Central Ohio Labor Council, told the revelers, “November is our time! It’s our time to win health care for all, our time win organizing rights for workers, our time to end the war and win back our pension rights! But it’s only our time if we work hard to make it so and vote our interests in November!”

Represented at the picnic were 19 unions, the Central Labor Council, Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) and the Columbus Organized Labor Retiree Council, as well as the universal health care movement, Upper Arlington Progressives and the local peace coalition.

“We were talking about a SOAR picnic, but I’m so glad we did it this way, with all the unions, all our friends involved. This is great,” said Don Coulter, president of Central Ohio SOAR.

As volunteers worked on cleaning up, others were talking about next year’s Labor Day event. “We’re going to set up an organizing committee and next year will be bigger and better,” said Barb Davis, president of the Organized Labor Retiree Council. “This is just the first of many, many more Columbus Labor Day celebrations.”