This year’s 36th Annual Labor Day Picnic was a broadcast rather than an actual Picnic given the realities of the pandemic.
The theme for this year’s event was: “Essential Workers Deserve More than Gratitude,” recognized that our government and economy have put our hardest, and often least paid, workers in serious danger throughout the COVID pandemic. Our workplaces were already in crisis, with low wages, understaffing, and outdated equipment hindering workers’ ability to thrive. We deserve better — we demand better.
This year’s event was a joint project pulled off by the combined efforts of the Tompkins County Workers’ Center and the Ithaca Chapter of DSA (Democratic Socialists of America). In particular, David Foote, DSA activist as well as TCWC Member, played a yeoman’s role without which this broadcast would not have been possible. [See details of WHEN speakers speak in the broadcast at bottom of this post.]
Every year, a highlight of the event is the awards through which the Workers’ Center recognize the best amongst us. These Awards included the Mother Jones Award; the Joe Hill Award; and the Friend of Labor Award.
MOTHER JONES AWARDS: Named after legendary labor activist, Mother Jones (1837-1930), who once said: “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living. “Forced to support herself, when her husband and children all died, she became involved in the labor movement and helped to found the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or “Wobblies”), in 1905.]
This year’s Mother Jones Award were given to the Sciencecenter Union which voted unanimously to create a union in their workplace on October 24th, 2019.
JOE HILL AWARDS: Named after legendary labor activist, Joe Hill (1879-1915). Hill was a songwriter, itinerant laborer, and union organizer, Joe Hill became famous around the world after a Utah court convicted Hill of murder. Hill was then executed before the international campaign to exonerate him could play out.
The Joe Hill Award was given to all of the essential workers in Tompkins County as well as to all of the people in Tompkins County who lost their jobs or had hours reduced because of the pandemic.
The Friend of Labor Award
The Friend of Labor Award was given to Cinemapolis Theater and Brett Bossard for their for guaranteeing a Living Wage to all of its workers year round and CONTINUING to pay their workers a Living Wage for all the hours that they WOULD have worked had the pandemic not happened after having closed down.
Lineup of Speakers and Times:
- David Foote introducing the Broadcast (0:00-1:44)
- Pete Meyers talking about the work of the TCWC (1:45-21:55)
- David Foote on Ithaca DSA (21:55-24:45)
- Ellen David Friedman, TCWC Organizer and Labor Notes Board Member (24:45-1:15:15)
- Ian Greer of the ILR Ithaca Co-Lab on the study of Black and white workers in terms of wage disparities (1:15:15-1:28:30)
- Mother Jones, Joe Hill, and Friend of Labor Awards with Graciela Gutierrez and Pete Meyers (1:31:30-1:38:25)
- Yolanda Josephs Receiving the Joe Hill Award on Behalf of all essential workers in Tompkins County, as interviewed by Russell Rickford (1:38:30-1:46:40)
- Brett Bossard Receiving the Friend of Labor Award on Behalf of Cinemapolis Theater (1:47:35-1:54:00)
- Annie Gordon, Lucas Fredericks, and Lillian Tomik Receiving the Mother Jones Award for their successful union organizing at the Sciencecenter in Ithaca (1:55:00-1:59:20)
- Annie Gordon, Emily Belle, and Lucas Fredericks going into detail about how they started the union at the Sciencecenter (1:59:20-….2:33:40)
- Adam Piasecki, President of Ithaca Teachers Association (ITA), talking about safe schools in the age of COVID-19 and the work of the ITA (2:41:40-2:55:00)
- Rachel Fomalhaut and Tom Schneller of the Ithaca College Contingent Faculty Union (2:55:30-3:28:15)
- Sam Mason of the Gimme! Coffee Workers Union (3:29:00-3:40:25)
- Luis Jiminez, Alma (both farmworkers in upstate New York) and Carly Fox of Alianza Agricola speak about how COVID-19 has affected farmworkers, as well as about new legislation that has passed, but not fully implemented as specific to farmworkers (3:40:45-4:09:30)
- Shannon Gleeson of the Tompkins County Immigrant Rights Coalition on how to get involved supporting immigrants in the region (4:10:35-4:28:00)
- Laurie Konwinski of the Justice and Peace Ministry of Catholic Charities as well as the organizer of the Labor-Religion Coalition of the Finger Lakes (4:28:40-4:55:10)
- Alan Ginet,TCWC Member and UAW Local 2300 Union member, speaking about the history of the labor movement (4:55:40-5:20:00)