The Labor Day holiday brought the usual special observance on the closing day of the New York State Fair. YNN's Bill Carey says it is an annual celebration of workers and an airing of labor issues still to be resolved.
NEW YORK STATE FAIR -- For a state fair that traditionally ends on Labor Day, there has always been a strong connection between New York State's annual exhibition and the organized labor movement.
This year, they're remembering a fair appearance and a speech delivered by a President 110 years ago. A President named Roosevelt.
"Teddy Roosevelt. About the plight of workers. And the issues back then are really similar to the issues today," said Dennis Nave, Greater Syracuse Labor Council President.
Each year, representatives of the unions stage a parade through the grounds of the fair, hoping they remind all workers of the gains they've made and the challenges still to come.
"Without labor unions, all of us, literally, would be serfs tilling the land, including management. And I think the recent fast food uprising for a higher wage is evidence of how much more can we take of low wages, no jobs. And then when you get a job, because there's high unemployment, you're taken advantage of on the shop floor," said Ann Marie Taliercio, CNY Labor Federation President.
The major goal of the unions continues to be the push for a so-called living wage, setting a floor for pay that would be adequate to meet the cost of living, a rate far above the current minimum wage. But that is not the only concern.
As 2014 draws closer, the unions find themselves facing uncertainty over an issue that they thought they had resolved.
There are growing worries among labor organizations over the plans of employers when the new Affordable Health Care Act takes full effect. Just how those companies plan to meet the new law's requirements.
Nave said, "Are people going to be able to keep the health care that they have now? Or are a lot of companies just going to pay a fine, pay the nominal fee and let people go out and get their own health care through these new health care exchanges?"
The battles ahead are long term.
For this day, labor focuses on its accomplishments and celebrates a day set aside to remember the contributions of all workers.