Weingarten celebrates Labor Day in Pittsburgh

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AFT president Randi Weingarten marched with 60,000 union members and their families in the city's annual Labor Day parade on Sept. 3.

The day began with an 8 a.m. Labor Day mass at St. Benedict the Moor Church. The message to worshipers: The dignity of work, and every person who does it, deserves respect.

AFT president Randi Weingarten in Pittsburgh on Labor Day 2012

After the mass, Weingarten, Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers president Nina Esposito-Visgitis, and more than 200 members of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, the Bethel Park Federation of Teachers, the Carlynton Federation of Teachers, and the Community College of Allegheny Federation of Teachers, Local 2067, marched from Consol Energy Center to the corner of Boulevard of the Allies and Stanwix Street downtown. As the educators walked through the streets of the Steel City, parents cheered and shouted out words of thanks and encouragement.

"Here in Pittsburgh, you see it on the street," Weingarten said. "People still understand not just what the labor movement did yesterday, but what its potential is for tomorrow."

After the parade, Weingarten joined members at PFT headquarters for a picnic of hamburgers, hot dogs and corn on the cob. She was joined by U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who thanked the educators for everything they do and encouraged them to get out the vote this November.

"When we win, the middle class wins, children win, seniors win, and I believe the future of our country wins," Casey told the crowd.

Weingarten said that despite furloughs and program cuts, PFT members continue to do outstanding work every day on behalf of their students and their community. She said the AFT local embodies the AFT's commitment to solution-driven unionism that connects members with the communities they serve—a connection that is essential to reinvigorating the American middle class.

"When the labor movement was stronger, the middle class was stronger," she said. "Labor unions are the only institution that fights for working people at the ballot box and at the bargaining table." [Scott Stephens/Photo: Tom Bell/video by Matthew Jones and Brett Sherman]

September 5, 2012