by Jacob Jones
Regional union members packed the county fairgrounds with banners and barbecue Wednesday night for the 2013 Spokane Labor Rally, bringing together union leaders, city officials and community activists to celebrate Inland Northwest workers.
Hundreds of workers and their families filled an immense event building at the Spokane County Fair and Expo Center. Local city council candidates and labor officials emphasized the importance of community engagement as the crowd munched burgers and brats.
Beth Thew, with the Spokane Regional Labor Council, says the event allows political leaders to mingle with rank-and-file workers and listen to their concerns.
"It's a chance for people to … just meet and greet," she says. "This is your chance to shake hands, kiss babies, meet your constituents."
Workers crowded long tables, stretching the length of the room. A bluesy rock band played in between speeches. Spokane City Council members Jon Snyder and Amber Waldref, both up for re-election, made appearances along with other candidates and representatives.
While national election years usually draw the biggest turnout, Thew says she was very pleased with the number of people who came out this year to discuss and support local races.
"It's pretty amazing," she says.
Labor officials also recognized the first anniversary of the Spokane chapter of the Young Emerging Labor Leaders group. We wrote about the group as part of our September story on the evolution of local labor.