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Port Councils Show Union Pride on Labor Day 2023

long beach parade (1)

For some, Labor Day is merely one last day to splash in the pool or fire up the grill. For the Maritime Trades Department and its network of Port Maritime Councils, it’s a prime opportunity to display our strong union values to the community. MTD Executive Secretary-Treasurer Mark Clements hit the road to see how two very different PMCs chose to mark the occasion.

MTD Exec. Sec-Treas Clements poses with Toledo PMC officers and members.

His first stop was the Toledo PMC’s annual Labor Day Weekend kickoff banquet. Attendees were treated to a night of good food, good music, and fellowship with each other. Over 60 union members and their families, along with local elected officials, were present in The Premier Banquet Hall on Friday, September 5th. PMC President John Clemons addressed the crowd, remarking on Toledo’s prominence as a Great Lakes port and the continued regional revitalization efforts spearheaded by union labor. Exec. Sec-Treas. Clements also spoke, stressing his commitment to elevate the concerns of Great Lakes maritime workers to a national audience. 

The banquet was just the beginning of the holiday weekend for the Toledo PMC, who later marched in the city’s Labor Day parade. The Toledo PMC has been a mainstay in the city’s Labor Day observance for decades; once more, they took to the streets in their matching Port Council tees.

Clements addresses LA-LB Harbor Labor Coalition Parade attendees.

Meanwhile, Exec. Sec-Treas. Clements stood shoulder to shoulder with his fellow maritime trade unionists thousands of miles away in Southern California at the 44th annual Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach Harbor Labor Coalition parade and picnic. The event, billed as the largest Labor Day parade west of the Mississippi, attracts thousands of workers from maritime and allied trades each year.

This year’s parade was particularly notable given the headline-grabbing labor actions in Southern California that had taken place over the summer. The ILWU had just finalized a six-year contract with the Pacific Maritime Association, which administers most West Coast ports. Hotel workers in UNITE-HERE Local 11, actors in SAG-AFTRA, and writers in WGA-West had all been on strike for months. As Clements noted in his remarks to assembled parade-goers, one could feel all the solidarity in the air. 

Actor and SAG-AFTRA Negotiating Committee Member Sean Astin with Southern California PMC member Gerret Jarman.

The Chairman of the Harbor Labor Coalition, Southern California PMC President Larry Barragan, treated the marchers to a full day of programming once the parade turned into a picnic. In addition to live music, face-painting, puppet shows and giveaways from union vendors, attendees were also treated to speeches from a wide array of unionists from every background. One such speaker was the actor (and member of the SAG-AFTRA negotiating committee) Sean Astin, known for his work in the Lord of the Rings series and films such as Rudy and Goonies. Astin also marched with the Maritime Trades contingent in the parade. 

PMC President Barragan and Secretary-Treasurer Louie Diaz observed that attendance had gone up considerably from the following year, when the event first resumed following a COVID pandemic hiatus. 

Whether on the Great Lakes or the Pacific coast, our PMCs reminded their communities of the strong union values they represent. The Maritime Trades Department hopes that workers across the maritime sector spent their holiday weekend reflecting not just on the sacrifices of past workers, but their own efforts to further our movement. 


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