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Scott Kleeb visits Labor Day picnicTell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Marie Gordon hands out information at the annual Labor Day picnic.
Photo by George Lauby
Scott Kleeb
Photo by George Lauby
Kevin Sheffield

Increasing costs of health care and fairness on the job are big concerns of today’s employees, workers said Monday as they relaxed at an annual Labor Day picnic in North Platte.

Members of the Midwest Nebraska Central Labor Council held the 17th annual Labor Day picnic at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds. Nearly 400 attended.

Scott Kleeb, the 35-year-old Democrat who battled Adrian Smith for Nebraska’s Third District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, was among the speakers.

Big issues -- health care, energy independence – haven’t gone away, Kleeb said, “They need a louder voice.”

Nebraska Sen. Tom Hansen of North Platte also spoke, and thanked the crowd for all they do.

Kleeb might challenge Smith in 2008 for the U.S. House. He has put out some feelers and said the response has been good. He will decide this fall.

“I’m still engaged, energized and excited about our district,” he said. “Unlike a lot of people predicted, I haven’t picked up and left Nebraska.”

Kleeb is teaching three college history and government courses at Hastings College. He also works with students to help them “servant-leadership” under a Hastings College program – helping them find ways to fix problems.

And, Kleeb sells Nebraska beef in Europe for the Morgan Ranch of Burwell. He and his wife have a new baby daughter.

Kleeb recently brought energy conservationists together with rural Nebraskans in Scottsbluff. He introduced members of the National Energy Defense Council from Washington, D.C. to businesspeople from Scottsbluff. They talked about ethanol and wind power.

The two groups share the desire to lessen the nation’s dependence on oil, but they come at it from different perspectives. Nebraskans want to boost the economy. The Washington group wants to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.

“The best coalitions come from people with different views and interests,” Kleeb said. “When they find common ground and a common goal, they can really get things done.”

If Kleeb runs again, he wants to engage more people in government and help them stay involved.

”The only way we win is by getting involved in the process,” he said. “It's about all of us participating in democracy.”

Major issues

Kevin Sheffield, the vice-president of the Midwest Labor Council and a car man at Bailey Yard, told the Bulletin that health care, minimum wage and job security are three big concerns.

Sheffield said health costs are “going way out of control.”

“Too many people don’t have medical insurance; too many employers cannot supply it,” he said. “A lot of people are recommending national health care, or at least more supplemental care for lower income people. Something needs to be done.”

“We just need to raise it without so many incremental increases." Sheffield said of the minimum wage. "With the risings costs of fuel and health care, $7-12 an hour would not be too high.”

Sheffield said workers are also concerned with job security, even though UP is hiring more workers. For instance, such companies need to be up front with new employees, and respect the abilities of veterans.

It boils down to fairness.

“We want to be treated with respect, not just as a number,” Sheffield said.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 9/3/2007
Copyright © 2007 northplattebulletin.com - All rights reserved.
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