Labor Day picnic brings reminders of purpose of holiday

MAGNA, Utah - Utah used to be a hot spot for labor activism with the execution of organizer and songwriter Joe Hill as one of the landmark moments of the movement.

However, modern-day Utah is one of the nation’s most ardently right-to-work states, with limited union membership.

On the holiday founded to honor workers and their right to organize for better conditions, Utah AFL-CIO President Dale Cox said unions are at a low point, painted with a broad brush as a drag on a strong free-market economy.

“What we are and what people think we are two different things,” Cox said.

Cox was one of a few hundred union workers attending the traditional Labor Day picnic held every year in Magna. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams was also there.

“You know I think this is a great time to spend time with family, to take time and have a barbecue and while you're doing that remember that this holiday and weekends and the benefits that we receive as working families are brought to us by labor unions that really worked to create these rights and preserve them for us,” McAdams said.