Unionized workers from across a number of industries are parading through Buffalo to mark Labor Day.
Labor unions representing workers in the health care, building trades, manufacturing and public sector-including education, are marching down Abbott Road to their annual picnic in Cazenovia Park.
Organizers say the march recognizes the achievements of the broader labor movement that the public holiday is meant to celebrate.
Public Employee Federation representatives Stephanie McClean Beathley and David Chudy were selected as parade grand marshals to honor their role in successfully fighting against the now abandoned state effort to close the WNY Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca and re-locate those operations to the Buffalo Psychiatric Center at Elmwood and Forest Avenues in Buffalo.
The parade and picnic are also meant to show support for local Ironworkers negotiating their initial contract with the Wendt Corp., over a year after their organizing vote in June 2017, organizers say.
The event will also feature several politicians and while not targeting President Donald Trump specifically, WNY Area Labor Federation President Richard Lipsitz says the president's attacks on free speech are the biggest issue labor faces nationwide in 2018.
President Trump started his Labor Day with an attack on a top union leader, lashing out after criticism from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
Trump tweeted Monday that Trumka “represented his union poorly on television this weekend.” He added: “it is easy to see why unions are doing so poorly. A Dem!”
The president’s attack came after Trumka appeared on “Fox News Sunday” over the weekend where he said efforts to overhaul the North American Free Trade Agreement should include Canada. Trumka, whose organization is an umbrella group for most unions, said the economies of the United States, Canada and Mexico are “integrated” and “it’s pretty hard to see how that would work without having Canada in the deal.”
Trump said Saturday on Twitter that there was “no political necessity” to keep Canada in NAFTA. But it’s questionable whether Trump can unilaterally exclude Canada from a deal to replace the three-nation NAFTA agreement, without the approval of Congress. Any such move would likely face lengthy legal and congressional challenges.
Trump administration negotiations to keep Canada in the reimagined trade bloc are to resume this week as Washington and Ottawa try to break a deadlock over issues such as Canada’s dairy market and U.S. efforts to shield drug companies from generic competition.
Trump wants to get a trade deal finalized by Dec. 1.
Trumka also said of Trump: “the things that he’s done to hurt workers outpace what he’s done to help workers,” arguing that Trump has not come through with an infrastructure program and has overturned regulations that “will hurt us on the job.”
Asked about the low unemployment rate and economic growth, Trumka said “those are good, but wages have been down since the first of the year. Gas prices have been up since the first of the year. So, overall, workers aren’t doing as well.”
On Monday, Trump touted the economy, saying “Our country is doing better than ever before with unemployment setting record lows.” He added, “The Worker in America is doing better than ever before. Celebrate Labor Day!”