KANSAS CITY, Mo. - In the midst of heated organized labor battles as recent as the Hostess Company's bankruptcy, a local labor advocate says labor leaders need to keep working on their public image.
"They're the janitors, they're the police officers, the firefighters, the pipe fitters and they all work within their community. But nobody realizes they're union," Kevin O'Neill, publisher of the Labor Beacon, said.
The Labor Beacon, an independent newspaper, has been covering organized labor for almost 60 years. O'Neill said it is one of few newspapers of its kind left in the country.
The first issue of the newspaper from 1954 shows headlines that have echoed throughout the decades, covering issues like the battle over firefighter pensions.
O'Neill believes the new battle on the horizon for organized labor will be the impending retirement of baby boomers. The issue is especially pressing in Kansas City as big projects like Cerner's plans for the former Bannister Mall site loom on the horizon.
"You've got billions of dollars in construction coming up and who's going to man it? Pretty much, organized labor is going to have to so we've got to build our ranks,” O’Neill said. “Now is the time to convince younger people that maybe don't want to go to college that this is an honorable field and this is a great way to make a living.”
O’Neill said his paper serves 25,000 local laborers, but there are about 80,000 in the Kansas City area.
For more information on the Labor Beacon, visit their website : http://www.kclaborbeacon.com/
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