Philadelphia Inquirer

New Jersey Holds Its Largest Labor Day Celebration

Fox 29 News WTXF (Philadelphia) – Friday, August 31, 2007

By Shawnette Wilson

New Jersey held its largest Labor Day celebration in the state Friday in Camden. The ceremony held on the Battleship New Jersey honored those who fight for family rights and labor laws. Union members and elected officials packed the ceremony and said the state really has a reason to celebrate Labor Day.

Commissioner David Socolow, President of the NJ Dept. of Labor said, "It is not a coincidence that New Jersey is consistently among the states with the highest median income and the highest union concentration that's because there is a union advantage, that those unions provide that high skill labor."

State lawmakers took turns talking about accomplishments.

"We've passed legislation with respect to pre-notification of plant closings so that people who are working hard don't have the rug pulled from under them when a company decides to leave New Jersey and we've done a number of other things," said Assemblyman Joseph Roberts (D-5th District).

A number of things including minimum wage said Roberts. Lawmakers said when the federal government refused to confront the issue, they did it in New Jersey but the ceremony didn't conceal the fact that there is a to-do-list.

"Paid family leave which is something we have to make a reality in New Jersey," said Roberts. Donald Norcross, President of the Southern NJ AFL-CIO Central Labor Council added, "There's still too many deaths on the job, too many injuries." And Congressman Robert Andrews (D-1st District) said, "If they want to have a union, they don't get fired or threatened."

Unions also celebrated by rewarding 29 students with 1000 dollar scholarships and honoring Donna Pearson with a humanitarian award. Protestors though wouldn't be ignored. Signs lined the room and chanting broke out during Governor Jon Corzine's remarks.

"No justice, no peace, no justice, no peace."

The ceremony also paid tribute to a man known as the forgotten giant. Peter McGuire co-founder of Labor Day buried in Pennsauken.

That's where the ceremony ended at Arlington Cemetery with the annual laying of the wreath at the McGuire memorial.

Top Top | NJCA in the News | NJCA Homepage