Hundreds Of Union Workers Get Together For Labor Day Picnic

A massive get-together for hundreds of East Texas union workers was held in Tyler. Organizers say at least eight labor unions participated in the Labor Day picnic at the United Steel Workers facility in Tyler. The picnic gives workers and their family a chance to make friends and catch up with old ones.

"A lot of times, we work so much, we don't get to see each other. On Labor Day, we get to come out and see each other and get together," said Danny Hampton, who's worked at Goodyear for 15 years.

Those who attended the barbecue picnic say the event is a family affair. "To me it's like a family reunion where you meet all the old retirees, people that you don't get to see very often. It's just like a celebration," said Joanette Duncan, who's worked for Carrier Air Conditioning for 17 years.

Goodyear workers we spoke with, had more than a celebration in mind, however. The company has been reviewing its contract with the United Steel Workers since July.

"It makes you think about your job. You know, Labor Day, you celebrate labor. We just don't know whether we're going to have a job to come back to, maybe after all these negotiations are over," said United Steel Workers 746L contract coordinator Joe Wyatt.

Wyatt says he's been through at least two strikes over contract negotiations during his 34 years with the company. He says he hopes an agreement is reached soon.

Hampton, who also works at Goodyear says, he believes the situation will be resolved, and is looking at the bright side of things. "It could have been hot. It could have been raining but the good Lord up above blessed us with a beautiful day," said Hampton.

More than 20 volunteers spent the past week cooking and getting ready. And, their hard work apparently paid off.

"The best part is the eating. I guess that's just about everybody's part. They have all kinds of food," said Hampton.

Along with the food, prizes were raffled off. Lucky workers walked away from the picnic with gift cards, electronic items and even a television set.

The Smith County Central Labor Council sponsored the event. A number of political candidates on the November ballot addressed the crowd including democratic governor's candidate Chris Bell.

Oralia Ortega, Reporting.