LIMA — It was a beautiful Monday morning in downtown Lima as families gathered along Main Street to watch the annual Labor Day Parade.
For some, Labor Day is an opportunity to enjoy a long weekend, travel and celebrate not having to work on a Monday. For others, the holiday takes on a greater meaning, honoring and celebrating two centuries of work done by American laborers in the battle for fair wages and safer working conditions.
It’s a fight that still continues to this day, labor leaders say. They point a major topic of discussion in Lima over recent months that union members continue to push: the Ohio jobs for Ohio workers’ campaign.
“Labor Day is a celebration of the workers that came before me that had to spill blood and had to take the rights that we have today that we take for granted — like an 8-hour day, 40-hour workweek, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security,” said union member Taft Mangas, who marched with LIUNA Local 329 in the parade.
“Those things were all fought for. They were never given to us, and it’s a celebration of that legacy and the legacy that we’re trying to build now in Ohio.
Also walking with the workers on Monday was Morgan Harper, a U.S. Senate candidate, who said that the fight for workers’ rights was a big part of why she decided to run for office.
“I was raised by my mom. She was in the union, and that was the difference between totally going off the rails and being able to weather the storms that are inevitable for anyone,” Harper said. “We all have challenges that come up, but you have to have stability in your work life in order to be able to manage those.”
In the midst of a worker shortage that has stretched from Lima to all corners of the country, Labor Day 2021 served as a reminder for how important a healthy workforce is, something that Ohio House Speaker Bob Cupp emphasized at the parade on Monday.
“I think it’s important every year to recognize the contributions that men and women who work every day. They’re the ones that build our community, form our societies and create strong families,” he said. “In this particular year, where there is an abundance of jobs and a shortage of workers, I think it highlights how important it is for people to be able to have jobs, and also be in the labor market working jobs.”
The parade also recognized those who can’t always take a holiday off, like law enforcement, fire and military personnel, bringing the community together for a day to celebrate workers from all walks of life.
Reach Trevor Hubert at 567-242-0398