No parade. No picnic. But rest assured, Kansas Citians will still find ways to mark their Labor Day holiday.
It means too much to let it skip by unnoticed.
“It’s a federally created holiday to celebrate the achievements of workers, the gains that workers have made over the decades,” said Terrance Wise, an area fast-food worker and member of the Workers Organizing Committee of Kansas City.
A parade put together by area labor groups has highlighted the holiday in Kansas City in recent years. Last year’s parade was held at the Liberty Memorial.
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But parade plans failed to come together this year.
And now even the Labor Day picnic that has followed past parades has been canceled, according to the Greater Kansas City AFL-CIO, which is an umbrella group for 50 affiliated union locals.
It was scheduled to be held at the Berkley Riverfront Park. But a nonunion job at the park has put off organizers, the area labor group said.
“We all feel bad about it,” said Chere Chaney, with Communications Workers of America Local 6450. “It’s a great, wonderful event.”
Berkley Riverfront Park is managed by Port KC, formerly called the Port Authority of Kansas City. It hired Emery Sapp & Sons Inc. to crush rock and concrete, much of which came from work on the city’s streetcar line, and is using the rock at the park.
Port KC’s Marissa Cleaver Wamble said the park had been reserved for the Labor Day picnic. She said the reservation was canceled but added that no reason was given nor was there any complaint about the rock crushing project.
Emery Sapp is an open shop, which means it uses nonunion labor. But project manager Scott Eason said it is paying the prevailing wage on the rock crushing project. The prevailing wage is set for Jackson County under state law and establishes the minimum wages to be paid on public contracts.
Labor unions pushed for a declared labor holiday with the first regional celebrations popping up in the early 1880s.
As the nation has come to enjoy a federal Labor Day break, labor union memberships have continued to decline. Missouri’s workforce is only 8.4 percent composed of union membership, down from 14.7 percent 20 years ago, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In Kansas, the numbers have slipped to 7.5 percent from 10.3 percent two decades ago.
The Star’s Diane Stafford contributed to this report.
To reach Mark Davis, call 816-234-4372 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @mdkcstar