BUTTE – The Mining City celebrated unions on Monday the same way the city does each year, with a picnic. This year, however, it was at a new location.
In the past, the picnic has always been held at Butte’s Stodden Park but because of construction, the Southwestern Montana Central Labor Council moved it to Father Sheehan.
Even though the picnic took place at a different venue, the message stayed the same: come celebrate Butte and the miners who formed one of the nation’s first unions.
“If unions hadn’t been established here in Butte, Butte wouldn’t be what it is today,” said Council President Derek Harvey.
Back in 1878, the Butte Workingmen’s Union was created because of the tough conditions miners faced when risking their lives down in the mines. This union, which would later become the Butte Miners Union, fought for the miners’ best interest when it came to wages and hours worked.
“There is lots of sacrifice that came to establish the unions here in Butte, many men and women lost their lives on the hill. Lots of blood was shed, and so it is really to honor them and to carry on with this tradition because this is what they fought for,” said Harvey. “They fought for the weekend. They fought for Labor Laws so this is just a good celebration of remembering those folks who paved the way for us.”
Local resident and retired plumber Rick LaBreche showed his gratitude for union workers who paved the way for the benefits he receives today, like his pension, by helping cook hotdogs and beans for the picnic. He hopes the younger generation realizes the sacrafices the workers made in the past to make the working world a better place.
“Yeah, just everybody take five and think about what came before us and how we got here, and appreciate the sacrifices that were made. To me, that’s very important,” said LaBreche.
By the amount of people who showed up and the love he has seen over the years for the Butte community, Harvey said it is evident that here in Butte it’s one big family.
“It is kinda bred into us in Butte, at least I think it is to take care of each other. To treat each other with respect and that is the big thing,” said LaBreche.
Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News