Sunday, August 31, 2003

Labor Day picnic draws thousands

What started as a union softball tournament 17 years ago has grown into what organized labor calls its largest Labor Day observance in the country.

The Cincinnati AFL-CIO Labor Council picnic at Coney Island typically draws about 20,000 workers, retirees and their families.

The picnic, which also features bingo and children's games, has served as the unofficial kickoff of the fall political season and typically draws a horde of politicians.

This year's event Monday will feature AFL-CIO president John Sweeney's first visit to the picnic. He will lead a rally with UNITE president Bruce Raynor and Teamsters president James Hoffa, which could bring even larger crowds.

The 1:30 p.m. rally is the first large protest in Cincinnati in support of UNITE's six-month campaign to organize workers at Cintas Corp., the Mason uniform supplier. The picnic is open to the public. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 a carload for children. The parking fee is $3. The picnic runs from noon to 5 p.m., although park gates are open from 9 a.m. to sundown.

Mike Boyer

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