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Labor Day in L.A.: Wilmington rally, Exposition Park music festival

Labor Day in L.A.: Wilmington rally, Exposition Park music festival
Members of the San Pedro High School Golden Pirate Regiment perform in a Labor Day parade in Wilmington. (Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

With hot rods and high school bands on display, Los Angeles soaked in a few more hours of summer relaxation Monday, celebrating Labor Day — and a last respite from work and school.

A parade and rally in Wilmington and a concert in Exposition Park were among the events across Los Angeles County that honored workers and attracted locals who chose not to skip town or head for the beach.

At the Los Angeles Long Beach Harbor Labor Coalition's parade, hundreds of local union workers, high school students and onlookers endured the sweltering heat to be part of a morning march in Wilmington. Cheerleaders sprang in the air, color guards carried flags and big-rigs tagged with Teamsters logos rumbled down Avalon Boulevard.

A rally at Banning Park that followed the march included speakers, music and a barbecue, organizers said.

On Monday afternoon, doors opened for a Labor Day music festival in Exposition Park. The event — which charged admission — was scheduled to feature a lineup that included Grammy-nominated jazz singer and percussionist Sheila E., a Jamaican reggae act and The James Andrews New Orleans All Star Band.

The performances benefited Working Californians, a labor-allied nonprofit political research and advocacy group which billed the event as "the biggest Southern California Labor Day concert celebration ever."

In a Labor Day message, Rusty Hicks, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, said "the Los Angeles labor movement is more dynamic than ever before."

"We continue to fight for the good of all workers — higher wages, access to quality healthcare, the promise of retirement security and the right to have a collective voice on the job," Hicks said. "We've come a long way, but there is still much to be done."

Local union leaders won several high-profile victories this summer.

In June, the Los Angeles City Council approved a landmark ordinance boosting the minimum wage in the city to $15 an hour by 2020. The law is expected to affect hundreds of thousands of workers and made Los Angeles the largest city in the country to mandate the higher pay.

About seven weeks later, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors similarly voted to increase the minimum wage to $15 in unincorporated communities.

Monday's festivities marked the end of the traditional summer season — even as temperatures refused to cool and were expected to head higher in the coming days.

Gov. Jerry Brown alluded to the gains by labor dating back more than a century.

"This year, as we enjoy traditions ranging from beach outings and barbecues to an annual change in the rules of high fashion," he said, "we should remember how much progress has allowed us to celebrate this Labor Day."

Follow @ByMattStevens for coverage of the California drought, the Westside and breaking news.

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Times staff photographer Barbara Davidson contributed to this report.

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