Labor unions hard at work at Pinellas HOPE on Labor Day weekend


Many Americans marked Labor Day weekend as a start to the football season, a day to fire up the barbeque, and enjoy a national holiday away from work. But the holiday began to honor labor unions that fought for 8 hour work days, a minimum wage, and an end to child labor. Last Saturday the executive vice president of the labor union visited Pinellas Park, calling on local labor unions to help some of Florida’s unemployed get back to work.

Many people join unions as a way to prevent what they perceive to be injustice in the workplace. Arlene Holt Baker is the executive vice president for the AFL-CIO, an 11 million member federation that represents nearly all unionized workers in the US.

Pinellas Hope is a temporary emergency shelter and a transitional program for homeless individuals who want to return to a normal life. Nick is one of the several hundred residents.

With some free meals and lodging, Nick has finally scored a job at a big-box store, which he hopes will allow him to move into one of the 80 apartments also situated on the 20 acre property. About 250 homeless men and women stay at Pinellas Hope. Some stay in tents placed upon wooden pallets in a fenced-in field of mulch and dirt. Telephone union member Chris Regalado volunteered by remulching the ground, which has become marshy and soft with recent rainfall.

Nick was also provided with toiletries like shampoo, a toothbrush, deodorant, and a tent that he can sleep in. He is able to volunteer time folding donated clothes, which are available for the residents. Retired Verizon worker and telephone union member George Guthrie said the facility is not just any shelter.

Now Guthrie works at Pinellas part-time, after having volunteered for so long. While some people lump unions in with special interests dominating Washington, Arlene Holt Baker said that the AFL-CIO even has programs to help non-unionized workers.

Lynne Webb is the president of the Central Labor Council in Tampa. She spent her day bagging up toiletries for the residents. She noted that by helping programs like Pinellas Hope, she is helping people who are on the path to rejoining the workforce, by giving Hope residents a hand up, not a handout.

About 56% of residents who enter Pinellas Hope will go on to transition into a normal life. Arlene Holt Baker continued her Florida tour all through the Labor Day weekend.

George Guthrie said he hopes that by volunteering on Labor Day, that they may honor not only labor unions, and America’s workforce, but also the millions of Americans who are ready to work once again.

You may also like

The Scoop: Weds. July 17th, 2024 Tampa Bay and Florida headlines by WMNF

Florida lawmakers from both parties raise concerns about security issues...

Eco Construction with Bryan Roberts and Saucha Atma Ananda

Join Anni & Tanja as they talk green building with...

Vote By Mail sign, Florida
Florida Republicans approach a 1 million voter registration edge

The voter registration gap between the Republican Party of Florida...

JD Vance (vice presidential nominee)
Rust Belt roots aided JD Vance, Eric Trump tells the Florida delegation

Eric Trump described Vance’s policies as “directly in line with”...

Ways to listen

WMNF is listener-supported. That means we don't advertise like a commercial station, and we're not part of a university.

Ways to support

WMNF volunteers have fun providing a variety of needed services to keep your community radio station alive and kickin'.

Follow us on Instagram

The Conversation
Player position: