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Published: Monday, 9/2/2013 - Updated: 2 years ago

Labor Day parade shakes off rain, marches through downtown


The Toledo Labor Day Parade and the rain both started right on time Monday. The rain ended quickly, but the parade went on, with spectators lining much of the parade route through downtown Toledo.

A drenching downpour caught the parade marchers getting ready to step out on the parade in downtown Toledo at 9 a.m., but then it passed within about 15 minutes.

"It'll take more than a little bit of rain to dampen the spirits of our Labor Day," said Mark Sobczak, vice president of Teamsters Local 20, as the parade kicked off.

Liz Shuler, the second-ranking official of the National AFL-CIO, was on the reviewing stand and then later addressed labor supporters at a picnic hosted by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 8 union in Rossford.

"We are always on Labor Day talking about how to make life better for workers, and the challenges we're facing in the economy right now where we have a few at the top benefiting quite a lot and those at the middle getting squeezed, and those at the bottom actually not sharing in any of the wealth, said Ms. Shuler, who is secretary-treasurer of the labor federation.

"Our message this Labor Day is let's find a way to inject some fairness into this economy."

The AFL-CIO is an umbrella organization of 57 unions that advocates in the legislative and political arena. Its unions number about 12 million members.

Parade attendees included at least four of the mayoral candidates. Democrat Lucas County Auditor Anita Lopez stood at the reviewing stand, which she said is her custom. Ms. Lopez's support was evident among Teamsters, AFSCME, and unions representing electrical, sheet metal, painters, and other construction unions as many carried her red campaign signs.

Democratic Councilman Joe McNamara and a contingent of his volunteers marched in the parade with a group from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen. Councilman D. Michael Collins, a political independent and a former president of the Toledo Police Patrolman's Association, walked in the parade with Toledo police and fire unions that have endorsed him. And Alan Cox, a political independent candidate for mayor, walked with AFSCME Local 2058, a city of employee union of technical and supervisory workers, of which he is president.

John Boellner, parade chairman, estimated participation at 8,000 to 10,000 people, with an estimated 100 units, including marching bands and union groups. The annual parade is sponsored by the United Labor Committee, which includes the AFL-CIO, the United Auto Workers, and other unions.

A group protesting possible American military action in Syria took up a position across from the viewing stand with signs such as, "If you ask us, stay out of Damascus." U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) spoke to the protesters and said she shares some of their skepticism about the need for American intervention.

"I want to see evidence that it was the [Syrian President Bashar] Assad government [behind the recent apparent chemical weapons attacks]," Miss Kaptur said. "Even if they are responsible, whose role is it to hold them accountable?" She said she hasn't decided whether to support military action because President Obama hasn't presented the case yet to Congress.

"We have yet to be briefed. I can't vote on a hypothetical," Miss Kaptur said.

Contact Tom Troy at tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058.

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