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Originally published September 2, 2013 at 8:59 PM | Page modified September 2, 2013 at 11:02 PM

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Labor recharges with annual picnic

For some local workers, Monday’s annual Labor Day picnic was a day of respite — a time to relax and recharge after wage protests, boycotts and other labor-related issues that have made news in recent weeks.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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After weeks of hearing about the $15 minimum-wage initiative, the fast-food worker strikes, the pending contract vote by Seattle teachers, the union boycotts of downtown hotels — whew — Joe Warren was content to just perch under a canopy on Labor Day near the hot-dog grilling station.

“Can we just take a breather?” Warren said during the annual Martin Luther King County Labor Council’s picnic at Woodland Park.

A retired administrator for several unions, Warren figured for just this “one day, Labor Day, I just want to recharge. It’s been a few busy weeks and we have a big push coming up with the November election.”

There were plenty of labor issues to be discussed over hot dogs and ice cream at this year’s picnic — more so than many union members could recall in recent memory. “It just seems like the perfect storm,” said Keith Weir, an electrician from Burien.

About 500 union members — from roofers to mail carriers — attended the annual picnic along with a dozen politicians and candidates for a variety of local races, including for the Seattle School Board and the Metropolitan King County Council.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and his challenger, state Sen. Ed Murray, shook hands and answered questions about the minimum-wage proposal.

U.S. Reps. Jim McDermott and Suzan DelBene talked about possible cuts to Medicare and Social Security.

Many union members, though, were content to just hang back, pitch horseshoes and watch their kids dance to live fiddling music.

Warren was attending his 30th or 35th Labor Day picnic. He lost track after the 25th one, he said.

Still, it never gets old, the retired Kent resident said, as he greeted old friends.

Tan Vinh: 206-515-5656 or tvinh@seattletimes.com2

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