The tour will include stops at Labor Day events in Portsmouth on September 4, Lorain on September 5, and Barberton on September 6.
Rugola will speak at all three events on the importance of the labor movement to the vitality of Ohio and the choices Ohio workers face
in this year’s election. Rugola will be joined by labor-endorsed candidate Governor Ted Strickland and AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka at the Lorain event.
Rugola told the Portsmouth Daily Times, Labor Day is important to the labor movement for two principal reasons. He first cited the element of the history of the Labor movement.
“Through a great deal of struggle, sacrifice, and in many instances, blood, and certainly a lot of sweat and tears, we built the American Labor movement over the last century-and-a-half, and as a result of that built an American middle class that gave working families an opportunity to share in this tremendous wealth that our nation generates,” Rugola said. “And we observe Labor Day in part to memorialize the sacrifices people made to get us in a position to get our fair share of America’s wealth.”
The second reason, Rugola said, is to look forward to the challenges in the future.
“Obviously those are legion in terms of continuing to hold our place for working families in the middle class, whether they are union members or not, in advancing the agenda that we hope will secure, for all working families, in the future, their fair share of the great American pie,” Rugola said.
Rugola was asked about the current state of the Labor movement in America.
“It’s not our best day, and anyone who says that it is, is dreaming,” Rugola said. “But we still have a great and strong trade union movement. People talk to me about this question all the time. I point out to them that folks shake in their boots when they talk about the National Rifle Association, and I happen to be, by the way, a tremendous Second Amendment advocate, but they shake in their boots when they talk about the National Rifle Association which has somewhere around three million members. We have 14 million members in the national labor movement. And we still know how to do the programs that made us a force to begin with.”
Rugola said that while the labor movement represents a lower percentage of the overall workforce in America, they still know how to “stand up and fight” for all working families.
Rugola will use the opportunity to stump for Democratic candidates.
“Ohioans face a choice to return to the failed Wall Street policies that created the economic disaster facing Ohio or to continue to move forward with candidates who will fight for workers in Ohio,” says Rugola. “We need candidates, like Governor Ted Strickland and Lee Fisher, who understand Ohio values and will continue to work to create jobs and build a positive economic future for our state.”
Fisher is seeking to fill the seat being vacated by Sen. George V. Voinovich. He is opposed by Republican candidate Rob Portman.
Rugola explained his message he will share with the rank and file during the Labor Day weekend.
“First, of course, I’ll be thanking the great leadership of the Central Labor Council, the Shawnee Labor Council, which represents working families in south-central Ohio,” Rugola said. “They have done a tremendous job of building an effective trade union movement down there. And our leadership and our members in that area deserve our respect.”
The President of the Shawnee Labor Council, Austin Keyser, said the labor movement is made up of a lot of crafts.
“We’re factory workers, prison guards, steelworkers and school employees, electricians and educators, plumbers and plant workers, municipal employees and many more,” Keyser said. “We try to stand together as one as the Shawnee Labor Council and work together to promote middle class values.”
According to Andy Richards of Ohio AFL-CIO, the
tour will celebrate the contributions of Ohio’s working families and highlight the need to “continue to move forward with candidates that
support Main Street, not Wall Street values”.
Rugola will join other union members at around 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Tracy Park after the River Days parade.
Frank Lewis may be reached at (740) 353-3101 Ext. 232 or firstname.lastname@example.org