By Sara Belsole. CREATED Sep 2, 2013 - UPDATED: Sep 2, 2013
CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Sometimes it's easy to make Labor Day all about barbecue and the beaches, but today at the Cape Coral Yacht Club, business leaders and union leaders are coming together to celebrate the true meaning of Labor Day.
"I retired at 54 years old, I have a good pension, I have got dental, I have got medical," Jim Getts said.
For retired auto worker Jim Getts, life is pretty good.
"If it wasn't for the benefits, I wouldn't be here today," Getts said.
Getts is part of the United Auto Workers union. The UAW was just one of the unions honored at Monday's Labor Day picnic, sponsored by the Central Labor Council of Southwest Florida.
"It's a way to rejoice in it and say thank you to all those people that you normally wouldn't, you garbage men, you painters, your plumbers, your police officers," Mark Potter, Executive Board Member for SWFL Central Labor Council, said.
It's also a day to push harder for a better job front. Guest speaker Larry Aguilar said we are losing the American Dream.
"If we look at the average worker, you can see how the incomes have come down and we need to be number one again, and we can," Aguilar said.
Aguilar thinks immigration reform is the answer.
"In so many ways it will help our economy, it would help our county, our schools," Aguilar said.
But what's most important is preserving workers' rights. Getts said he knows things would be much worse without unions like the UAW.
"The work force would work all their lives for nothing," Getts said.
Laborers have started a petition to push for immigration reform. You can sign up at go.aflcio.org/letthemvote