THE STATE OF THE LABOR MOVEMENT IN THE TAMPA BAY AREA

08/31/06

     Next Monday is Labor day. The first Labor Day was  held on Sept. 5, 1882, when about 20,000 working people marched in New York City to demand an eight-hour workday and other labor law reforms. In a parade up Broadway, sponsored by New York's Central Labor Union, they carried banners reading, "Labor Creates All Wealth" and "Eight Hours for Work, Eight Hours for Rest, Eight Hours for Recreation." After a year of labor activism in which Pullman workers carried out a huge strike against the rail company; several workers were killed by U.S. soldiers that had been called in to break up the strike. In an election year effort to appease the growing labor movement- President Grover Cleveland declared Labor Day a national holiday in 1894-- but he lost the presidency in that year's election. 

On this program we were joined by five members of the local labor movement: Floyd Suggs President of West Central Florida Federation of labor, Ed Dees, President of the Gulf Coast Building and Construction Trades Council, Mike McCoy AFL-CIO Labor 2006 Co-ordinator for the Tampa Bay area, Cheryl Schroeder, director of the West Central Florida Federation of Labor and Robert Ingalls, PhD, professor at USF, and member of the faculty union.

They discussed the upcoming labor celebration at the Florida State Fairgrounds, the union apprenticeship program, organizing the unorganized, temporary workers, immigrant workers, the decline of pensions, the decline of wages and trade agreements such as NAFTA.

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