LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56/WKYT) – Monday afternoon, the Bluegrass Central Labor Council held a Labor Day picnic at Masterson Station Park. It’s a way to honor workers, especially those frontline and essential, as COVID-19 cases continue to climb.
“They’re heroes,” said Robert Akin, president of the Bluegrass Central Labor Council. “The nurses, the doctors, the truck drivers, the construction workers who still go to work every day to provide things we take for granted.”
“But it’s nice that the unions set this up, thanked their people all year long,” union worker Amy Beasley said.
Beasley, her husband Matthew, and two daughters Chastity and Cali all work at Kroger under the same union.
“And when my other son is old enough to work in two years, he’ll be a UFCW member as well,” Beasley said.
Beasley is a pharmacy tech at the grocery store—a frontline worker serving others’ needs—but worries about catching the virus.
“Every day we’re in contact with someone who could potentially have COVID, whether someone in the drive-through or the receiving line when I drop the prescription off,” Beasley said.
But she says she’s glad a union has been there for her through the pandemic.
“They went to bat for us,” Beasley said. “They went to our employers like Kroger and Meijer to make sure we had all the PPE we needed when we went to work every day.”
Although Amy and her family are pro-union, that may not be the case throughout the state. Union members in the commonwealth are declining. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, membership peaked at 14% in 1989 and hit its lowest mark at 7.5% in 2020.
“Unions will always be needed as we move from an industrial society to a more service oriented,” Akin said.
On this Labor Day, the Beasley family and other frontline workers like them recognize they are essential to everyone.
“Just thankful that during the pandemic my family and I were able to supply a demand and be able to work at Kroger and make sure the shelves are stocked,” Beasley said.