Only endorsed candidates can march, the group told the Republican candidate for Congress.
WARREN -- Ann Womer Benjamin, the Republican candidate in the 17th Congressional District race, says her First Amendment rights are being violated by the Trumbull County Federation of Labor's refusal to let her march in their Labor Day parade Saturday.
"This parade is a community parade on public streets using public money," said Womer Benjamin, of Aurora. "This action to lock me out of participation shows complete and utter disregard for upholding the vision and goal of a labor organization."
Womer Benjamin was initially allowed to participate, but was then told that because she is not the endorsed candidate in the congressional race, she would have to march at the end of the parade.
Glenn Wilson Sr., parade co-chairman, said the federation then changed its mind about allowing nonendorsed candidates in the parade, even at the end. He told Womer Benjamin's staff about the latest decision Wednesday.
"Having unendorsed candidates in the parade sends a mixed message," he said. "She's welcome to campaign in downtown Warren during the parade."
Deborah Bindas, the federation's president, said the issue is not about Democrats or Republicans, but one centering around who the federation supports.
Democrat Timothy J. Ryan of Niles, the federation's endorsed candidate, will march in the parade.
Womer Benjamin sent letters to Bindas, other federation officials, Warren Mayor Hank Angelo, and William Burga, Ohio AFL-CIO president, complaining about her exclusion from the parade and asking if she can participate in the event.