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Toledo labor unifies for parade

Several thousand union members and supporters will parade through downtown Toledo beginning at 9 a.m. Monday as part of a Toledo Labor Day tradition dating to the late 1890s.

The two-hour parade, which begins at Summit and Monroe streets, will include high school marching bands, antique cars, and unicyclists. More than 100 union locals will participate, said Sandy Smith, office manager for the Toledo area AFL-CIO, a sponsor. Bill Copeland, Lucas County commissioner, will be grand marshal. Toledo has one of the highest concentrations of unionized workers in the country, and organized labor is a potent political force.

A campaign spokesman confirmed that Gov. Bob Taft will march with Teamsters Local 20. The union expects more than 1,000 members to join the parade, all wearing union shirts and some driving work trucks. Like many unions, the Teamsters will host a gathering afterward. Members will get free admission and lunch at the Toledo Zoo, a spokesman said.

Local 12 of the United Auto Workers hopes for 750 members from 44 firms whose work forces are represented by the local, said Paul Rickman, financial secretary. Also included will be member-built Jeep Liberty and Wranglers and a model of the Life Flight helicopter at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where the union represents many employees. Local 12 will serve hot dogs, beer, and snacks at its Ashland Avenue union hall after the parade.

Local 87 of the United Steelworkers of America, which represents about 100 beer delivery drivers and warehouse workers, will participate after an absence of several years, said representative Dan Smith. Employees of Metropolitan Distributing Co., local Miller Brewing wholesaler, will carry picket signs to draw attention to their two-month old strike against the firm.

The route differs slightly from last year's. From Summit and Monroe, marchers will head down Summit to Adams, Adams to Huron, and Huron to Monroe. The parade originated in the late 1890s but was dropped for many years until its revival in 1983.

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