Thousands attend annual AFL-CIO picnic

CALIFORNIA, OH (FOX19) - Thousands of workers celebrated the holiday at the annual AFL-CIO picnic at Coney Island on Monday.

"With all of the barbeques that are going on, and the cookouts and the things that people are doing on their day off, on their day off today, I want to make sure that people remember what Labor Day is truly all about," said Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory.

Labor Day is a day to celebrate America's workers. That's what brought an estimated 10,000 people to Coney Island, along with messages of support and hope for America's workforce.

Throughout the event's 27 years, the annual picnic has drawn the likes of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.  This year's speaker, new Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, brought with him a pledge from the Obama administration.

"Every day we will be focused on jobs, jobs, jobs. Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity.  Skills, skills, skills. Partnership, partnership, partnership," Perez chanted.

Perez also praised the creation of millions of jobs over the last few years, along with a call for a change in minimum wage and fixing infrastructure. He touted the President's plan to help the middle class.

"The economy is slowly and steadily healing. We have to do more. The President would be the first to say that. His better bargain for the middle class includes investments in infrastructure, investments in skills and other human capital. Things that could get the economy going immediately," Perez added.

However, Republican opponents disagree.

"Jobs get created in the free market by private enterprise, and this President and his administration have failed to understand how job creators create jobs. That's why we've seen a stagnant economy under his presidency," said Hamilton County GOP Chairman Alex Triantafilou.

Perez is new to his post in Washington D.C., having begun his position as Secretary of Labor in late July.

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