Pushing for immigration reform and improved minimum wages and strengthening the middle class are part of organized labor's next steps, said labor leaders and politicians at Monday's annual Labor Day celebration breakfast.
More than 300 people met up for the free pancake breakfast and union pep rally at the Carpenters' Labor Center on Corby Avenue. The event is annually sponsored by the North Bay Labor Council and the AFL-CIO.
As well as politicians and labor organizers, Monday's crowd included a wide range of union workers, including teachers, nurses, construction workers, hotel employees and county prosecutors.
North Bay Labor Council's Labor Day Pancake Breakfast
For Alicia Sanchez, it was a celebration of another year of union efforts to better the lives of workers.
"The wonderful thing about it is it brings together so many people....with the same mind, same heart, same concerns," said Sanchez, a retired longtime local union organizer. "It's a day of rejoicing."
The event featured about a dozen speakers — labor leaders and politicians who rallied the crowd with pledges of support and requests of support.
While last year's event included politician's warning of the ongoing attack on unions, this year the talk was more on the improving economy and improving times ahead for workers, many of whom have seen slips in pay and benefits in recent years.
"We are coming out of the recession... We have to push forward with middle-class jobs in Sonoma County," Sonoma County Supervisor Mike McGuire told the crowd.
Possible positive labor news included a promising jump in local membership in the next year with the opening of the Graton Rancheria casino in Rohnert Park, said Wei-Ling Huber, president of Unite Here local 2850.
Under an arrangement between the tribe and the city, the union will begin talking to about 2,000 casino employees. The union represents service employees, including hotel, food service and casino workers.