Connect with us

Local News

Billings unions host a picnic on Labor Day



Billings, Montana – Labor Day was first observed in 1882, before President Grover Cleveland officially declared it a national holiday in 1894, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

On Monday, unions in Montana and across the country observed the holiday.

The annual Labor Day picnic at Rose Park is a long-standing custom that provides union members with a chance to mingle, learn about some of the concerns, and meet the candidates.

The annual picnic, which attracts over 1,000 people from roughly 15 unions, has been taking place for almost 40 years.

However, it is a part of the 1906-starting union heritage in Billings.

“This is an opportunity for us to celebrate what we have and celebrate that solidarity,” said Austin Rogers, Greater Yellowstone Labor Council president.

Although union members have a variety of occupations, according to Rogers, they share some traits.

“We’re all fighting for the same things,” Rogers said. “We’re fighting for a living wage. We’re fighting for dignity in the workplace. And this is an opportunity for us to celebrate that.”

“There are 50,000 members in the (Montana) A.F.L.-C.I.O., said Jason Small, the Monana A.F.L.-C.I.O. executive secretary. “So I think we do a pretty good job of holding together and maintaining the line.”

Recently elected to the union job, Small is a state senator from Busby on the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation.

“I’m a Republican senator,” Small said. “Ran for (executive secretary) and got it and kind of staggered everybody a little bit. They were like, oh, this happened. Well, there’s a pretty good handful of us that are pro-labor Republicans too.”

“Small is a great brother,” Rogers said. “And Small has a 100% voting record with the AFL-CIO. He’s union through and through.”

At the picnic, candidates from both parties were there, and Roger claims his unions do not only support Democrats.

“That’s really not how it’s ever worked in my experience,” Rogers said. “Maybe years and years ago. But as long as I’ve been a part of this, it’s been about unions, and it’s been about what we’re building here.”

“We have Republican candidates and Democrat candidates we’re supporting which is probably different than years gone by,” Small said. “We’re transitioning. You can’t keep doing the same thing over and over and losing. So we’ve got to get ahead of the game here and get everything lined up.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *