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Parades and rallies mark Labor Day observances

LOS ANGELES — Labor Day was marked by rallies and marches in Wilmington and downtown Los Angeles and a music festival in Grand Park.

The theme of the Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Labor Coalition’s 38th annual Labor Solidarity Parade was “Union Proud. Union Strong.”

Thousands of union members, their families, supporters and friends participated in the march, which was followed by a rally and barbecue at Banning Park.

A rally organized by the Service Employees International Union seeking a nationwide $15 hourly minimum wage was held at Grand and Cesar E. Chavez avenues. Participants then marched to Main and First streets for a second rally.

The sixth annual Nightshift Labor Day Music Fest was billed by organizers as “L.A.’s party for working people.”

Rocker Grace Potter was the headliner for a lineup that also consisted of The Revolution, the late artist Prince’s band; Latin jazz musician Poncho Sanchez; the Noladelic power funk band Big Sam’s Funky Nation; the Latin, hip-hop and rock band Ozomatli; and the Southern California-based Latin funk band B-Side Players.

To Rusty Hicks, the executive secretary-treasurer of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, Labor Day is “a time to reflect on the battles fought and victories won by our sisters and brothers before us.”

“Many of the rights and protections we enjoy today are the direct result of those battles and victories,” Hicks told City News Service. “It’s also a time to honor and thank all workers of today, no matter your background, who you are, or where you come from. You keep our country moving.”

In his Labor Day proclamation, Gov. Jerry Brown wrote that Californians “should remember how much progress has allowed us to celebrate this Labor Day.”

Brown also urged all Californians “to take this opportunity to appreciate not only the vast contribution of labor to our economy, but also the privilege of living under a fair and well-regulated system of industrial
relations.”

The proclamation made reference to the 1894 Pullman Strike that shut down most of the nation’s railroads west of Detroit; the deaths of two men participating in a longshoremen’s strike in San Francisco in 1934 by police gunfire that came to be known as “Bloody Thursday;” and the 1935 passage of the National Labor Relations Act that guaranteed the rights of private sector workers to organize into unions.

The White House issued the traditional presidential Labor Day proclamation today, tweeting: “Today we honor the hard work and ethic of the American people who have forged a nation of strength and opportunity.”

Earlier, President Donald Trump tweeted: “We are building our future with American hands, American labor, American iron, aluminum and steel. Happy #LaborDay!”

Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said in a statement, “Today we celebrate and honor the force that drives our country forward: the American worker. We owe our strong economy to Americans tireless work ethic and commitment to family, community, and country.”

Labor Day, a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity and well-being of the nation, was first celebrated in the United States on Sept. 5, 1882 in New York City.

In 1887, Oregon became the first state to formally recognize Labor Day.

By 1894, 31 of the then-44 states had made Labor Day a holiday when Congress passed a bill designating the first Monday in September a legal holiday in the District of Columbia and territories.

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