Workers, Mayor Discuss Labor In Jax

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Dozens of people celebrated Labor Day at an International Longshoremen's Association picnic at Metropolitan Park on Monday, but they also talked about jobs in Jacksonville.

Resident Bruce Jackson said he thinks the state of labor in the River City isn't good as it stands. It appears he's right. Jacksonville is experiencing some of its highest unemployment with a rate of more than 11 percent.

The longshoremen, who load and unload ships at the port, have a very strong union in Jacksonville, and they addressed the city's jobs situation.

"We were the last one to feel the effect and the first ones to go back to work," said Romia Johnson, of the ILA. "We sympathize with the public. We are doing anything we can to enhance the community as far as jobs are concerned."

In fact, the proceeds from the picnic go to the union's scholarship fund.

Those on hand said they understand what others are going through.

"Keep your heads up. It's going to get better," worker Jann Clark said. "Jobs are going to come in. It's going to get better."

One person who really believes that is Mayor Alvin Brown, who was also at the picnic.

"One thing we are going to let them know is we are going to work hard to put Jacksonville back to work," Brown said. "We know that working families and people are struggling out there. We know they have lost their homes and cars, and as mayor I am going to do everything I can to put Jacksonville back to work."

One big contributor to the recent rise in unemployment is government, with city workers being laid off all across the country. The same thing is happening in Jacksonville.

"The good news is they are very skilled individuals and they can go out and get a job in the private sector," Brown said. "A lot of them have good experience, and it should not be a challenge for them."

Even though the mayor says there will be layoffs at City Hall, he believes Jacksonville will come out ahead in the end.

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