Annual Labor Day Picnic at Hawkeye Downs Monday

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (KCRG-TV9) -- The annual Labor Day picnic took place today at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids. Union workers from across Eastern Iowa gathered to enjoy live music, eat food, and enter raffles to win prizes.

There was also a push to get people to register to vote in November’s elections.

IBEW Local 405 worker Mike Olson spent the event walking around, and trying to get people to register.

Olson said, "There's always a battle going on and we got to be a part of that battle."

He says unions are fighting an uphill battle against people wanting to get rid of them.

He added, "Two years ago, down in Des Moines one particular (political) party got rid of collective bargaining for state workers. That's the type of issue that we have to fight."

To him, the biggest challenge they're facing is not always having a seat at the table.

Olson said, "I wish I could fix the way one party always votes against labor. That's what I wish we could fix. We seem to have friends in one party and no friends in the other party."

Some other issues union workers say they are fighting for are worker's comp and erasing a stigma that's been bothering them.

IBEW Local 405 member Kent McNally says, "We get paid a lot of money to do nothing. That's a false statement. We work hard for our money."

Regardless of the midterm results, Olson hopes Democrats and Republicans can find a way to work together to give union workers a better life.

Olson said, "At least have a dialogue with us. To see what we want. That's all."

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