Support This Year’s Labor Day Festival
Editor: While some recognize Labor Day as the end of summer, the start of the school year, the start of football season, or a day off from work, in reality its birth came about in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland signed a bill to recognize and honor unions’ achievements, struggles and sacrifices that benefit “all workers.” The greater Wilkes-Barre area was part of early Labor Day celebrations due to successful efforts in organizing unions and bringing about social and economic justice. In the late 1890s, thousands of workers paraded through the streets of Wilkes-Barre on Labor Day and afterwards went to local parks to continue the celebration and listen to inspiring speeches by local labor leaders, including the labor icon John Joseph Casey, who went on to be a Pennsylvania state representative and congressman. Casey started working as a breaker boy in the mines at age 8 and later realized that his fights to obtain laws for better and safer working conditions for children and adults could best be obtained by his involvement in the political arena. Six years ago, Wayne Namey, a UFCW Local 1776 member, and myself, along with a group of union and non-union concerned citizens had a vision to continue what was started over a century ago by forming the NEPA Labor Day Celebration & Festival Committee. This year’s sixth Annual Labor Day Festival will be held in Kirby Park on Sept. 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be food, fun, games and special entertainment featuring young talented musicians. Admission is free with proceeds benefitting local veteran organizations and programs. The time, effort and sacrifices the committee has put toward this year’s festival can truly be labeled “a labor of love” and deserves your support. Walter J. Klepaski Jr. Retired AFL-CIO Community Services Liaison JENKINS TWP.