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Billings unions celebrate with Labor Day picnic at Rose Park

Posted at 6:08 PM, Sep 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-05 20:08:30-04

Labor Day brings about a tradition in Billings with all the unions coming together for the annual picnic.

They missed it for the last two years, but this year, they say that that brotherhood, sisterhood and the bond is that much greater.

Workers from about 15 unions in Billings met at Rose Park on Monday.

Union leaders say it's a tradition that dates back to the early 1900s.

"Our unions have over 100 years of history here," said Austin Rogers, Central Labor Council president. "You know, there have been unions, my local specifically 532, has existed since 1906 here in Billings."

COVID forced the cancellation of the picnic in 2020 and 2021.

In the past, the picnic has brought out about 2,000 people. This year, the estimate is about 1,000.

"Over COVID, we've held back on it you know and it's been kind of tough getting it started back up," Rogers said. "But it's been really nice. It's been fun to be around all the solidarity with our brothers and sisters."

And they say the picnic can be a special time for workers.

"We come here every year with our grandpa," said George Forstner, an apprentice in the carpenters union. "He was a union member for a long time at the railroad. So we just come out here to support him."

"Mostly, it's just us having a nice summer day with with each other and celebrating the Labor Day holiday," said Captain Alan Lohof of the Billngs Fire Department.

"To have someone in your corner and to know that people got your back when you're out there working, that is a huge part of what we got going," Rogers said. "And that's one of the huge benefits of being in a union."