MASON CITY | Gerald Miller says he never truly appreciated Labor Day.
That was until recent years when his co-workers at Canadian Pacific decided to unionize and he decided to educate himself on the matter.
"I have a better understanding of the labor movement in general," said the Mason City resident, during a picnic hosted by the Iowa Federation of Labor and North Iowa Nine Labor Council on Monday.
"Labor Day is a good opportunity for us to get together. We all have the same fight," he said.
Miller is a member of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers. Noting that he used to be anti-union, he said he has changed his opinion on the topic.
"It's a very eye-opening thing," he said. "It's not about greed. It's about trying to get people what they deserve."
Miller said unions are trying to bridge the gap between how much money CEOs and workers make.
Bob Wymore, Mason City, a member of International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 204, agreed about the importance of bridging the gap.
"It's very important we respect the middle class working people," he said. "They have made America what it is. It's unfortunately the 1 percent of the wealthy, along with corporate America, that are taking away our wages and benefits over the past 30 years."
Charlie Wishman, secretary/treasurer of the Iowa Federation of Labor, said organized labor has been under attack the last few years, which makes events like the picnic especially important.
"It's important that people of organized labor come together and show solidarity," he said.
Dozens of people from a wide variety of occupations and backgrounds attended the picnic in Georgia Hanford Park, Mason City. The event was open to anyone interested in the labor movement, even anti-union people, Wishman said.
"It's important to bring people together," he said.