© 2020 WKSU
Public Radio News for Northeast Ohio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Economy

A Celebration of Labor at Barberton Parade

a photo of a Barberton labor day parade
SARAH TAYLOR
/
WKSU
Members of Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 219 parade down W. Lake Ave. in Barberton

From politicians to princesses, the Labor Day parade in Barberton is an annual tradition that people line the streets to see. There are plenty of labor representatives there--and one statewide officeholder who’s support for labor is atypical.

a photo of Frank LaRose driving a tractor
Credit SARAH TAYLOR / WKSU
/
WKSU
Secretary of State Frank LaRose drives a tractor into place for the Barberton Labor Day parade

Amid pickup trucks with loud speakers, youth football and cheer teams, a show choir and a Teamsters semi, there was a vintage tractor from a Copley farm. Secretary of State Frank LaRose drove it from the community pancake breakfast to his spot in the parade lineup on 18th street.

“I operated that tractor when I was a high school kid,” LaRose said. He is a Republican and a supporter of business but also labor unions. “I’m proud to be a pro-labor Republican and proud to be walking with these men and women in the parade.”

That included members of the AFL-CIO, the food and commercial workers and sheet metal unions. The plumbers and pipefitters wore shirts declaring “Skilled Labor isn’t cheap, and cheap labor isn’t skilled.” Tim Stem is the business manager for Plumbers and Pipefitters local 219.

a photo of Tim Stem
Credit SARAH TAYLOR / WKSU
/
WKSU
Tim Stem is the business manager for Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 219.

“Apprenticeship program is going strong, we’re about 70 guys now. That’s what we’re about is the training. That’s what makes us skilled labor is the training.”

Stem says they have about 550 members in Portage, Summit, and Medina Counties and that’s growing. “We’ve got people comin’ to the door all the time," he said.