FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Everyone was invited to the free family picnic at Headwaters Park on Monday – union members, their families, friends, employed, unemployed, anxiously employed and others.
The Organized Labor’s Free Labor Day Picnic is paid for by voluntary donations from local unions and worker friendly businesses. In addition to free chili, hot dogs, and chips, there will be samples of Burmese, Mexican, and Colombian foods available. There were also networking opportunities for those who needed to find work.
“We want to make sure that some of those who are looking for work are going to be successful here in the next year or so,” said Geoff Paddock, Fort Wayne city council member.
Tom Lewandowski is the organizer of the event. He said organized labor took a huge hit this year with collective bargaining being stripped away from some city workers. But, he said that’s not stopping them from moving forward and celebrating what they do for the working class.
“This is a testimony to the real power that’s out there, the real importance of working people having a voice,” Lewandowski said.
There was bingo and a performance by union Fort Wayne Philharmonic musicians. There was also be entertainment for the kiddos such as face painting, kiddie rides, and the Headwaters Park splash-pad.
The 2014 picnic marks 125 years since the first northeast Indiana Labor Day honoring labor and solidarity. The Labor Day picnic continues to become a bigger and bigger celebration in Fort Wayne. In 2013, more than 7,000 people attended making it one of the largest Labor Day celebrations in the mid-west.
In recent years, this picnic has become a community celebration of solidarity. Last year an estimated 7,000 plus attend making this one of the biggest Labor Day celebrations in the midwest.