Political action tops Clevelands Labor Day

CLEVELAND – “Only 100 percent union is acceptable!” said Laborers’ International President Terrence O’Sullivan, grand marshal for Cleveland’s Labor Day Parade, Aug. 31, the largest parade ever.

O’Sullivan, followed by a huge contingent of Laborers Local 310 members and hundreds of other parade contingents, wound through the streets of Warrensville Heights.

O’Sullivan addressed the post-parade rally, “Ninety percent of construction laborers in Northeast Ohio are organized, and anything less than 100 percent is unacceptable,” he said.

Warrensville Heights’ Mayor Marcia Fudge, who is African American, greeted the parade contingents from the reviewing stand. The unions were joined by “plenty of pro-worker politicians,” she said.

O’Sullivan denounced the corrupt practices of Wall Street, especially moving company offices offshore to avoid paying taxes and compliance with U.S. laws. “The voice of working men and women is being and will be heard,” he said. He cited the escalating percentage of total votes cast in elections coming from union households. He foresees a rate well over 30 percent in some November election races. The Laborers, along with other AFL-CIO unions, are targeting six governors’ races, 40 House seats, and 10 in the Senate. Included among these and hundreds of local campaigns are union members running for election throughout the country.

“We need money pumped into our nation’s crumbling infrastructure,” he said, pointing to the need for more work opportunities. He called for “immigration reform,” speaking of the growing Mexican and Latino workforce in construction and their need to be in unions. Already one third of the Laborers Union’s membership is Latino.

Gaily decorated floats depicting craftsmanship and pride in work were joined by school marching bands, giving a joyous atmosphere to labor’s holiday parade. Firefighters riding their trucks, sirens blaring, intermingled with classic vintage cars, Teamster trailer trucks, and huge construction machinery.

A large contingent of airline pilots were roundly applauded as they marched by. They were among steelworkers, government and service workers, building trades and a large number of other union workers.

AFL-CIO affiliates A. Phillip Randolph Institute and United Labor Agency, along with Jobs with Justice, were in the parade. The People’s Weekly World was the 39th parade contingent, with the slogan: “People’s Weekly World – Labor creates all wealth” on two red, white and blue banners, with a truck full of young people colorfully clad in T-shirts stating “PWW: The workers’ newspaper.”

The author can be reached at wallyk@ncweb.com