Workers look into the changing face of Labor Day
Last Updated: 99 days ago
ANDERSON, Ind. - Monday we celebrate the American worker, but some have little reason to feel good on Labor Day. They watched factories shut down in Indiana and high-paying jobs leave with them. Now, they’re worried about the next generation of American workers.
It was once a tradition in America: union-sponsored Labor Day picnics. But there are fewer every year as small towns struggle with unemployment while trying to attract new industries.
Many of these retirees were former United Auto Workers (UAW) employees in Anderson who watched the city’s manufacturing jobs slowly go away. Empty factories are now padlocked or bulldozed over.
At a Labor Council-sponsored picnic, there is concern about the future of the American worker. Dave Tierney is former president of the UAW’s local 662.
"We had Anaconda here. We had Lynch Machinery. We had Delco. We had Guide. What do we have now in Anderson? A lot of empty buildings and a lot of empty promises," Tierney said.
Just last week, Indianapolis fast food workers staged protests against low wages, part of a nationwide effort to increase those workers’ hourly pay. And in many former manufacturing towns, there can be few job prospects.
“We had our hard hits. We had our unemployment,” Alexandria, Ind., City Council member Bob Stinson said. “We had empty houses, but we're starting to turn it around."
Cities and towns are trying to re-package empty factories and idled workers into green manufacturing jobs.
“We're saying, ‘Look, we as unions want to help you create new jobs in this community,’ and in essence, telling employers, ‘We want you to come here, but we also want you to pay good wages and provide a good place to work for our people,’” Madison County Solidarity Labor Council’s Patrick Hill said.
This Labor Day, workers said there is reason to celebrate the creation of jobs and their anger over many of the jobs once here, is gone.
Anderson’s unemployment rate in July held steady at 9.7 percent. That’s above the national average of 7.4 percent.
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