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Thousands Attend Labor Day Celebrations, Local Leaders Cite Need For Unions

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Jericka Duncan reports

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Philadelphia’s annual Labor Day parade and picnic drew a large and mixed crowd — celebrating the movement that gave the holiday its name.

Organizers say as many as 10,000 turned out — but whatever the actual number, the event drew an enthusiastic crowd of union members and their families, decked out in a rainbow of tee shirts proclaiming union affiliation and local. The purpose of Labor Day is to recognize the achievements of American workers, who’ve fought to ensure people are treated fairly on the job.

One little girl was dressed in a tee shirt turned full length gown.

Wearing a more appropriately sized shirt, retired Police Dispatcher and District Council 33 member Reginald Thompson said without unions, Americans’ work lives would be very different.

“That’s how most of the middle class got where they are, with the help of unions. Gave them the 40 hour weeks, wages, health care.”

Thompson said the way to get America back on its feet, is for union members and supporters to get involved, and raise their voices in solidarity.

“America has got to stay together,” said President of Local 16 Joe Inemer.

This holiday, honoring the workforce isn’t an exciting time for everyone. Gina Marie Scorsone says she is reminded of the job she used to have.

“Today is bitter sweet,” said Scorsone who is working as a part-time server at Gigi’s Restaurant in Old City. By trade, the 40-year-old is an insurance broker. Last fall, she says she was laid off. “When you go from a six-figure salary, to unemployment, it’s an eye-opener and it’s difficult.”

nutter Thousands Attend Labor Day Celebrations, Local Leaders Cite Need For Unions

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter speaks to a crowd during the 2011 Philadelphia Labor Day Parade (credit: Mike DeNardo)

Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who received some boos during an address to parade goers, marched in solidarity with the city’s unions, despite not having long-term contracts with three out of four municipal unions.

“Unlike many other cities across America that had massive layoffs, thousands of people losing their jobs, we didn’t have that here in Philadelphia,” said Mayor Nutter. “I’d love to have full, multi-year contracts with the other three unions and we’re working toward that.”

Reported By Molly Daly, KYW Newsradio; Jericka Duncan, CBS 3; Ben Bowens, CBSPhilly.com

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