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Joe Bidenis coming to CIncinnati today to attend the annual AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic at Coney Island. The annual celebration is the largest Labor Day union gathering of its kind in the country.   Jay Warren
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Vice President Joe Biden (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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VP in town for Labor Day picnic at Coney Island

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CINCINNATI - Vice President Joe Biden rallied the rank-and-file at the annual AFL-CIO Labor Day picnic at Coney Island. The annual celebration is the largest Labor Day union gathering of its kind in the country.

Biden described efforts by Republican governors and legislators to curtail collective bargaining rights as an "Onslaught."

He told the crowd of about 1,000 union members that they were the ones who could stop it.

"We've been through a lot of fights but this is a different fight," Biden said.

He likened the current battle between organized labor and conservative politicians to that of 50 years ago when workers fought for the right to organize.

"We won because of your collective will and strength," said Biden.

Thousands of union members and their families were there to recognize the working class and to encourage voters to vote "no" on Issue 2.

Issue 2 is a referendum on the Nov. 8 ballot that seeks to repeal the Ohio law that started as Senate Bill 5.  Voting "no" will repeal the law.

The event was expected to draw up to 20,000 people. Organizers say this is the 25th Labor Day picnic, a must-go event for Democratic politicians in southwest Ohio.

Political signs supporting one candidate or another were lined up along the entrance to Coney Island.  Politicians were meeting and greeting people inside and asking for their support for this year's elections.

The latest job report from the U.S. Labor Department is dismal.  In August, there was a zero net gain in jobs.  This is the first time that a zero-growth in jobs has happened since 1945.

For many people attending today's picnic, it is a chance for families to join together.  Some families include multiple generations of union workers. 

Burt Hughes is a letter carrier and a member of Branch 43.  He says the day is all about support for all unions. 

"Because it shows unity," said Huges.  "Not only within the letter carriers, but all the other class of workers. We're all united in one cause, being able to support our families and live happy lives."

Arnisecia Early brought her two sons to show their support of her mother who is a union worker.  She said she hopes her sons learn something from the experience, but they also take the time to have fun.

Early said, "Well now hopefully so they can understand what's going on and hopefully they grow up and get a good job and be able to understand about the union and see that different people come out and you get to meet different people."

President Obama spoke at the picnic two years ago while rallying support for his health care overhaul. Today he spoke at a similar Labor Day picnic in Detroit.

Copyright Copyright AP Modified, Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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