By Mike DeNardo

COLLINGSWOOD, N.J. (CBS) — South Jersey union leaders and politicians gathered this morning in Collingswood for their annual Labor Day ceremony.

The ceremony brought labor leaders and elected officials together in the name of Peter J. McGuire, a onetime Camden resident and the founder of Labor Day.

New Jersey state labor commissioner Harold Wirths said this holiday finds Garden State workers struggling through the slow economy.

“New Jersey lost 250,000 jobs in the last recession.  Two-hundred fifty thousand New Jerseyans were out of work,” he said today.  “We’ve recouped about 30 percent of the folks, or about 80,000 people have returned to work.”

The observance was part scholarship ceremony, and — with an election two months away — a mostly Democratic campaign rally.

“On Labor Day, the most important thing for labor is to protect themselves.  And the way you do it is by electing people that support you,” said Steve Sweeney, president of the New Jersey state senate.

The ceremony ended with a wreath-laying at the McGuire memorial in Pennsauken.


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