MASON CITY, Iowa -Those at Georgia Hanford Park in Mason City weren’t just having an average picnic. While there were hamburgers and side dishes for many to share, there was also a sense of comradery being passed around.
“Labor Day is a day that means a lot to organize labor, and it means a lot to workers both union and non-union,” said Charlie Wishman.
Wishman is with the Iowa Federation of Labor. There were people from all different work places coming together with their families to celebrate being a part of a labor union.
“Right now, it’s more important than ever that people have a voice on the job, and we feel some of the best ways to do that is to be able to form a union, and to have a collective bargaining agreement.”
Don Case has been working for the City of Mason City for more than a year now, and he says he loves being a part of a union. He feels they’re the ones that are there for the workers in their times of need.
“Its more, if you have an opinion of something, you can go talk to somebody, and then you find out maybe I’m not the only one who feels this way.”
In 2013, Iowa had more than a 140,000 people in a labor union, making up 10 percent of the workforce within the state.
That same year, Minnesota had more than 360,000 people in a labor union, which is 14 percent of the state’s workforce.
“You can’t get discriminated against, it’s a little easier to voice your opinion,” said Case.
Wishman says, that’s exactly what he wants to hear.
“It’s the very basic belief that collective power is what gives them the ability to demand that they have a safe work place.”
Even those involved with local politics stopped by the picnic. From city council members to Iowa legislators, they stopped to hear what’s being done in our area when it comes to labor unions.
Candidate, Laura Hubka, who’s running for District 51 in the State House, says events like these are always great to take part in.
“I think it stands for the basic worker, the people that are the back bone of our community. People that stand up for everyday working people,” said Hubka. The labor movement in the United States helped to stop child labor and is behind the push to provide health benefits for workers.