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Festival celebrates workers, unions.

Byline: Jim Feehan The Register-Guard

PLEASANT HILL - Laughing children with brightly painted faces stood in stark contrast to photographs on display Monday of children working in garment factories and coal mines.

The photos, reproductions from the George Meany Memorial Archives, were on display during Laborpalooza, a three-day celebration of America's working families.

"Those images are a big reason why we're here to honor workers and the hard-fought wins of unions," said Carol Berg of Pleasant Hill, Laborpalooza organizer.

Laborpalooza featured arts and crafts, games for children, information booths about organized labor, storytelling and a yard sale.

The event was held at the intersection of Highway 58 and Parkway Road near Pleasant Hill Junior High.

While the number of workers represented by labor unions has declined from its peak in the mid-1950s, Berg said unions continue to play a

vital role in worker rights and safety issues.

Unions are needed now more than ever, Berg said, because workers' rights have come under assault from the Bush administration and the Republican Congress.

"Congress is pushing comp time instead of paying overtime for working over 40 hours. A lot of families need that money from overtime pay to get by," Berg said.

Angie Hazelton of Blue River was at the fair selling T-shirts and sweatshirts.

As a shop steward representing park workers and home health care workers, Hazelton is an avid supporter of workers' rights. Just last week, senior disabled services workers overcame the first hurdle to become part of the Oregon Public Employees Union.

"We now have our foot in the door," she said. "It may be a little baby step, but we have health benefits, workers compensation and one vacation day."

Visitors walked past blown-up photos of labor advocates such as Martin Luther King Jr., Caesar Chavez and slain union organizer Joe Hill.

Mother Kali, a feminist bookstore located near the University of Oregon campus, also had a booth. In the spring, workers at the bookstore joined the Industrial Workers of the World (the Wobblies) union.

Berg said she hopes to make Laborpalooza an annual event honoring workers and labor union officials who fought for passage of the 40-hour work week, safer working conditions, overtime pay, and retirement and health benefits.

CAPTION(S):

Carol Berg, who organized the first-ever Laborpalooza, plays a traffic fairy at the festival site in Pleasant Hill on Monday. "We now have our foot in the door." - ANGIE HAZELTON, SHOP STEWARD FOR PARK WORKERS AND HOME HEALTH CARE WORKERS Used items for sale tempt bargain hunters at the yard sale portion of Laborpalooza. The festival also featured arts and crafts and games. The Associated Press L a b o r D a y
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Title Annotation:Organizers hope that the three-day Laborpalooza becomes an annual event; General News
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Sep 2, 2003
Words:446
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