PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — What’s a parade without politicians, especially on Labor Day, the traditional kick-off to the fall political campaign.
“Every year is a political year, but this year is probably one of the most important years to win back the House for the Democrats,” former Vice President Joe Biden said in Pittsburgh on Monday.
Biden walked in the traditional Labor Day parade, one of the largest in the nation, and then pressed the flesh at the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers picnic on the Southside.
Like Biden, organized labor is taking this year’s election quite seriously.
“I’ve never been more excited about the field of candidates,” Nina Esposito-Visgitis, president of the Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers, said. “We’re so honored to have so many of them here today.”
At the Federation of Teachers picnic, the nexus between picnics and politics was pretty obvious.
And labor-endorsed candidates say a lot is at stake in the 2018 elections.
“In this campaign, unlike a lot of campaigns that I’ve been a part of in the past, the rights of working men and women have never been more at risk,” U.S. Sen. Bob Casey told KDKA political editor Jon Delano.
Of course, the free food is the draw for thousands of families to turn out at the many union picnics held around town on Labor Day.
But that’s not the reason politicians show up.
Forget about all the great food at these union picnics, it’s really all about politics and how politicians can win votes.
U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb, a Mt. Lebanon Democrat, credits organized labor for his narrow win last March.
He says unions deserve greater appreciation.
“A lot of politicians in power have not appreciated labor. They have not respected the unions. They’ve tried to take things away from them at every turn, and I don’t think that’s right,” Lamb told KDKA’s Jon Delano. “These people are asking for basic good working conditions, good pay — you know, the things anyone deserves for a hard day’s work.”
With Biden hugging kids and working the crowds for several hours, you can’t help wondering if he’s running for president in 2020.
“If I were to run for president, I’d be here a lot,” laughs Biden, who already has a reputation for being here a lot.