Labor leaders celebrate Labor Day at Rent One Park - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Labor leaders celebrate Labor Day at Rent One Park

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MARION -- Local labor leaders got together in Marion to celebrate Labor Day.

Winnie Howell of Makanda brought her kids out to Rent One Park not only to have fun, but to stress the importance of unions.

"You have to start at the root of everything and you have to make sure that everybody understands that you've got to have a voice," Howell said. "And these are our friends and we're here to support them and make sure that the unions are strong."

Jason Woolard, president of the Southern Illinois Central Labor Council said that's the message he hoped to send.

"I reflect on a lot of the past and the things that people before me have done to provide a good, safe workplace with good training and good wages and benefits," Woolard said.

Woolard helped organize the picnic, which usually takes place at the Du Quoin State Fair.

"We thought it was in the best interest of the union membership to change locations and come to Marion," Woolard said. "We thought it would be a great location and it has turned out to be that."

Politicians got in on the fun, too.

Rep. Dave Severin (R-Benton) and Sen. Dale Fowler (R-Harrisburg) showed their support for organized labor.

"Sometimes people think 'Well, you're a Republican, you're anti-union' or whatever. That isn't true at all," Severin said. "What I am is a southern Illinois guy and we've got to all work together to make this puzzle stay together and work."

Fowler went a step further, saying he's against one of Gov. Bruce Rauner's key agenda items.

"I'm against right-to-work," Fowler said. "This is union country, and my district, it's a union district, and we have to work together and we need to create these jobs."

Both men believe unions play a key role in creating jobs and making southern Illinois more business-friendly.

Howell knows it's made her and her family's lives better.

"We try to make sure that our kids understand that you have to start and you have to vote and you have to be strong," Howell said.

Organizers said anywhere from 3,000 to 4,000 people attended Monday's event.

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