Bluegrass Central Labor Council hosts annual Labor Day Picnic in Lexington

Bluegrass Central Labor Council hosts annual Labor Day Picnic in Lexington
Published: Sep. 5, 2022 at 12:06 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - People across the country are highlighting America’s work force with Labor Day celebrations. For labor unions, it’s a day of celebration and recognition for all they’ve done through the years.

The Bluegrass Central Labor Council has held a picnic for years now, and Governor Andy Beshear even made an appearance on Monday.

James Brant is the president of Teamsters Local 651, a local group among a national movement.

“People need a living wage, people need benefits that they can provide for the family, a retirement to look forward to… Labor unions give all that to them,” Brant said.

It’s a holiday created by unions like his, for workers like theirs.

“Being a part of organized labor is being part of a broader family. Having people that are looking out for you and overall ensuring everyone is treated fairly in a facility,” Gov. Beshear said.

Some members of the family still had to work on Labor Day, but Josh Martin says it’s not a problem when he’s helping deserving people.

“I don’t mind working for hard-working folks,” said Martin, a trustee of Teamsters Local 651.

As he served up some burgers made by union workers and sold at Kroger, he also served up some of his thoughts on being in a union.

“People are starting to realize how much some of these larger corporations are taking advantage of people,” Martin said.

While union membership has declined over the past three decades, Martin and other members believe it is on the rise in the present because of challenges caused by COVID and inflation.

“I think we’re seeing more people that are concerned not just about what they’re making, but about what their fellow coworker is making,” Beshear said.

They say that’s something worth recognizing.

“Your days off, your holiday pay, all of that was fought for by someday, and to take a day to appreciate all that is something you should do, whether you’re in a union or not,” Martin said.

Brant pointed to national movements within companies like Starbucks and Amazon as a sign of turning tides in the organized labor movement. Locally, he noted that they’re making an effort to organize workers at Woodford Reserve.