Labor Day

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Labor Day is the unofficial end of Summer.

For politicians, Labor Day is also seen as the unofficial beginning of the final campaign stretch toward the November election.   The election is little more than two months away.     

Many Michigan politicians spent the Labor Day holiday walking in parades and shaking a lot of hands.        

For Democrats, the place to be Monday was in or around the annual Labor Day parade in Detroit.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Vice President Joe Biden repeatedly raised the issue of income inequality during a speech before the start of today’s Labor Day parade in Detroit.

Thousands of union workers packed the grounds of Old Tiger Stadium at Michigan and Trumbull to hear the Vice President speak. Biden was flanked on stage by  Teamsters President James P. Hoffa and United Auto Workers president Dennis Williams.  

Biden lashed out at corporations and the wealthy who make millions of dollars while union workers continue to struggle.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Thousands of union workers marched down Michigan Avenue today as part of Detroit’s annual Labor Day parade.

Just as the parade was getting started, a heavy downpour drenched the marchers as they stepped off from Michigan Avenue and Trumbull Street.

But the crowd’s passions remained enflamed by speeches from state union leaders, like SEIU president Marge Robinson, who attacked Governor Rick Snyder for signing Right to Work legislation.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan State Police troopers are putting special emphasis on dangerous driving behaviors over Labor Day weekend.

In a news release, the state police say troopers are joining their counterparts from across the country in a traffic safety initiative called Operation C.A.R.E.

Operation C.A.R.E. was formed to deter three causes of highway fatalities: aggressive driving, impaired driving and failure to use restraints.

A Detroit Jazz Festival float.
Maia C / Flickr

The 35th annual Detroit Jazz Festival is this Labor Day weekend. It is the largest free jazz festival in the world, and it will be held in downtown Detroit at Campus Martius and Hart Plaza.

Chris Collins, the artistic director, and Jim Gallert, jazz broadcaster, writer and researcher, joined Stateside today to talk about the history of this festival and of jazz in Detroit.

“The Detroit Jazz Festival celebrates not only the greater jazz landscape, but, in particular, this amazing legacy of the city of Detroit,” Collins said.

Detroit came into the jazz scene in the early 1920s. Gallert said Detroit was an important feeder city. A lot of Detroit bands set the style for bands in New York.

“Many of us think of Detroit as the New Orleans of the north,” Gallert said.

The Detroit Jazz Festival is a year round effort to spread the gospel of jazz and support jazz artists. They work with students in Detroit Public Schools in what is called the "Jazz Infusion" where professional jazz artists work with the students to teach jazz, form bands, and put on shows.

The Detroit Jazz Festival runs this Labor Day weekend in downtown Detroit. You can get schedules, artists and all the information at their website.

*Listen to the full interview with Chris Collins and Jim Gallert on Stateside at 3:00 pm. Audio for this story will be added by 4:30 pm. 

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

 Machinists, teachers, police were among the many unionized workers to hit the streets of downtown Detroit Monday morning.

The city’s annual Labor Day parade draws thousands of union members from across southeast Michigan each year.

It’s typically a time for union workers to flex some muscle. But this year’s parade was as much about re-grouping after a year of setbacks.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) - A call to raise the minimum wage has returned in the run-up to Labor Day.

It's come in the form of worker rallies and a report finding Michigan ranks second-to-worst among states for wage growth during the past 30 years.

Fast-food workers in Detroit, Flint, Lansing and elsewhere protested Thursday demanding higher wages. They seek $15 an hour - more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

AAA predicts that 1.2 million Michiganders will travel this Labor Day weekend.  

More than 90 percent will be driving. 

Gasoline prices took their usual pre-holiday weekend jump earlier this week in Michigan.   The statewide average is about $3.75.

But Patrick DeHaan with GasBuddy.com says that’s not too bad.

“Keep in mind last year…prices were north of four dollars a gallon,” says DeHaan, “So prices this year are about 30 cents per gallon than where they were last year at this time.”

This has been a below-average summer for wildfires in Michigan.  Though parts of the Lower and Upper Peninsulas have been under a ‘high fire danger’ warning for much of August.

Jim Fisher is with the Department of Natural Resources.  He says three-day weekends can add to the problem.

“Usually on three-day weekends there’s many more people out and about in the woods doing things, including having campfires…it does usually cause more fires on those weekends when its drier,” says Fisher.

The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives

As we prepare to mark the end of summer with Monday's Labor Day holiday, we wanted to take a look back at this holiday because its roots -- at least in Detroit -- reach all the way back to before the Civil War.

Joining us is our favorite source for these moments when we look back in time - writer Bill Loomis.

Listen to the audio above.

Charcoal produces more CO2 emissions than gas, but that carbon can be absorbed by new trees when making new briquets.
Magnus Manske / wikimedia commons

(Editor's note: This story was originally published in July 2009)

Neal Fisher thinks he’s an environmentally friendly kind of guy. He and his wife recycle, they use compact fluorescent light bulbs in the house, they walk most places and hardly ever use their car.

But when it comes to outdoor grilling... it’s charcoal all the way.

“It may be a little decadent when you’re taking the environment into consideration, but I do it.”

Once upon a time, it was an enormous deal whenever a President came to town. I know a woman who was a little girl of six in Pontiac sixty-three years ago, when President Harry Truman came to make a Labor Day speech in Detroit. There was a motorcade along Woodward, and she still has a vivid memory of standing along the curb and hoping for a glimpse of the President on his car.

Incidentally, her parents were Republicans. They didn’t vote for Truman that fall, when he won re-election in a stunning upset. But that didn’t matter. He was the President of the United States, and if you had a chance to see him, you took it.

These days, however, presidents are always on the move. Mr. Obama visited a battery factory in Ottawa County barely three weeks ago. True, an estimated 12,000 people braved crowds and traffic to pack into a parking lot on Detroit’s riverfront to see President Obama yesterday. But 42,000 had come downtown the night before, to pay money see the Detroit Tigers annihilate Obama’s Chicago White Sox.

The comparison isn’t fair, in a way. These days, almost everybody had the ability to watch the President on TV or the internet, which certainly wasn’t true in the days of Harry Truman.

However, Truman started something that Labor Day long ago that still continues today: The tradition that Democrats running for election or reelection as President kick off their campaigns with a Labor Day speech in Detroit. Campaigns start a lot earlier these days, and that was part of what was going on here.

Pete Souza / Official White House photo

Speaking to union members and supporters at a Labor Day rally in Detroit, President Obama says his biggest concern is to “fully restore” the country’s middle class.

The President will outline a jobs agenda to Congress on Thursday. He drew a disbelieving groan from the crowd when he said he still believes “both parties can work together.”

But Mr. Obama also said he “won’t wait around for” Republicans in Congress.

Labor Day

Sep 5, 2011

I hope you are out on a boat listening to this. Or getting ready for a barbecue, or working in the garden, or doing something you feel like doing. Depending on the weather, I may be playing soccer with my Australian Shepherd right now.

He, by the way, will win easily. But while I hope you are relaxing, I hope even more that you have a job to go back to tomorrow. Far too many people don’t.

True, the unemployment rate is down from last year, but it is still over ten percent in Michigan, which is far too high. And there’s something that worries me more than the numbers.

And that’s the number of adults in the prime of life who have been unemployed for a long time -- six months or more. That’s the most on record, according to the Michigan League for Human Services, and they should know. They’ve been trying to help folks in difficult circumstances for almost a century.

The U.S. Army / Flickr

President Obama travels to Detroit today to attend Detroit's annual Labor Day parade. He'll address thousands of labor union members about his ideas to create jobs and help grow the economy, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

Obama's speech at a rally sponsored by the Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO may serve as a dry run for the jobs speech he'll deliver before a joint session of Congress Thursday night...In the speech to Congress, Obama is expected to outline a mix of tax credits and public works spending and press lawmakers to act quickly on the proposals.

Michigan Radio's Detroit reporter Sarah Cwiek will be at the President's speech. As she notes:

The President is looking to shore up support among organized labor, a key part of his base...

Speaking in the shadow of General Motors headquarters, it's likely the President will tout his administration's role in reviving the American auto industry. Publicly, Michigan's union leaders have generally praised Mr. Obama for rescuing U.S. automakers.

But, there are signs the President's support among union members has eroded, especially as unemployment remains high, and collective bargaining rights for public employees are under attack in many states.

This will be the President's second visit to Michigan in the past month. Mr. Obama toured an advanced battery plant in Holland in August.

The Kheel Center for Labor-Management Documentation & Archives

This Friday many of us head into a three day weekend that marks the unofficial end of summer. We might mark Labor Day with a family picnic, one last summer visit to the beach, or maybe with a mad scramble to get that last bit of school preparation done. But what is Labor Day really for? Joining us to take a look is Michigan Radio’s Political Analyst, Jack Lessenberry.

Fire Officer Randy McKenzie / MIDNR

Want to roast some marshmallows this weekend? 

Natural resource officials in the state have a message for you - "with the romance, comes responsibility":

The Associated Press reports that campfires account for about one in 10 wildfires. From the AP:

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources says warm summer temperatures and a lack of rain have combined to make the risk of wildfires especially high.

The agency says the highest risk is in the western half of the Upper Peninsula and in the central counties of northern lower Michigan, areas that are especially dry.

There's only a slight chance of rain over the weekend to lessen the danger.

The DNR recommends taking precautions to keep campfires under control and extinguishing them by dousing them with water before leaving.

The U.S Army / Flickr

President Obama will travel to Detroit on September 5th to speak at the city's annual Labor Day festivities, the Associated Press reports. From the AP:

The White House says Obama will speak at a Labor Day event sponsored by the Metro Detroit Central Labor Council... Obama has touted his administration's work to rescue General Motors and Chrysler, which are both headquartered in the Detroit area.

President Obama was in Michigan earlier this month, when he toured an advanced battery manufacturing plant in Holland.