Thousands of members from many MTD affiliated unions were among the more than 40,000 people who marched and rallied in Philadelphia on August 11 calling for a “Second Bill of Rights.”
Union members and allies from New England, the Midwest and the South joined their sisters and brothers from the Mid-Atlantic states in launching a long-term campaign for economic justice. Under the banner “Workers Stand for America,” the rally called upon the middle class and their supporters to endorse the ideals laid out by President Franklin Roosevelt in his 1944 State of the Union address, according to IBEW President (and MTD Executive Board Member) Ed Hill.
As envisioned by Roosevelt and espoused in a document that was being signed at the rally itself as well as online, the Second Bill of Rights calls for:
- The Right to Full Employment and a Living Wage;
- The Right to Full Participation in the Electoral Process;
- The Right to a Voice at Work;
- The Right to a Quality Education; and
- The Right to a Secure, Healthy Future.
Speaking at the rally, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declared, “Hard work alone has never led to decent wages and benefits and retirement for every American. It’s hard work and activism!”
Trumka stated the rally is a kickoff to an extended drive to push for these rights for all working people. The fight will continue long after the November elections because “anyone who says America can’t afford retirement security, or health care, or decent pay for honest work, or great schools, or a postal service, or cops or fire fighters and teachers and nurses – well, they don’t know what they’re talking about and we won’t accept their defeatism.”
Among the other speakers during the Saturday rally were union officers, elected officials and rank-and-filers, including a CWA member who was fired illegally by Verizon last year after workers struck the company for several weeks to force resumption of contract talks.
Also participating in the rally were members from Maritime Port Councils in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Norfolk.
Following the gathering, Plasterers and Cement Masons President Patrick Finley discussed with Mark Gruenberg of Press Associates how the ongoing economic crisis has affected his membership specifically and all workers in general.
“I can confirm eight suicides among my members and I can’t confirm how many we’ve had who have lost their houses, lost their health benefits and have their kids uprooted from school,” noted Finley, who also serves on the MTD Executive Board.
To sign the Second Bill of Rights and see video of the rally, please go to www.workersstandforamerica.com .