Celebrating individual achievements, strength of unions in N.J.

To help mark Labor Day, politicians gathered Friday in Collingswood, New Jersey, to show support for the New Jersey AFL-CIO and other unions.

U.S. Rep. Rob Andrews, D-N.J.,  says today’s workers benefit from the union movement’s driving principles.

“It was years ago that our grandmothers and grandfathers and great-grandmothers and great-grandfathers said, ‘You know what? We are good enough to have a couple of days off with our family to help teach our children and worship our God and live our lives.’ And that’s how we got the 40-hour work week,” Andrews said.

State Sen. Barbara Buono, the Democratic candidate for governor, said when people complain about unions, she thinks of her father who emigrated from Italy as a young man.

“He became a butcher, part of the Amalgamated Meat Cutters. And I’ll never forget, my father used to come home at the end of the day dead tired. And he would fall asleep on the couch,” she said. “But you know what? He fell asleep with the sense of security and knowing that he had a job that had a living wage because of a union.”

Buono said the union helped her father earn more than just a paycheck. She said he he acquired dignity with  the ability to support his family.

“Let us honor that legacy this Labor Day. Let us honor that legacy,” she said. “But you know what? Next weekend when all the parades are over and the sales are gone, we must continue that celebration because now is not the time to reduce celebrating the progress that labor has made, to one Monday in September.”

In the big picture, Buono said, the unions helped build the middle class. State Senate President Steve Sweeney, a trained ironworker, called on the crowd of union supporters to make their voices heard by voting.

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