Wednesday, April 06, 2011

‘We Are One—And Ready to Fight Back!’

Beaver County Union & Community Activists

Hold April 4th Solidarity Rally at Courthouse


By Carl Davidson and Tina Shannon
Beaver County Blue

Even though thunderstorms and downpours had swept through Beaver County all afternoon, close to 200 concerned citizens showed up for a candlelight vigil in front of the Beaver County Courthouse on Monday evening.

"Are you fired up?" shouted Roni Hamiel of SEIU Local 668 headquarters in Harrisburg, "Are you sick of this mess? The rich are getting richer and we're struggling every day, barely getting by. We want fairness, we want our bargaining rights, and we want a decent future."

Photo: Commissioner Joe Spanik at Vigil

Local members of SEIU 668 spearheaded the vigil, with others joining in to organize a broadly supported event. Throughout PA, events scheduled around the anniversary of Dr. King's assassination were organized by CLEAR (Coalition for Labor Engagement and Accountable Revenues). CLEAR is a coalition of public and private sector unions involved in protecting labor rights and public services from impending budget cuts.

"We are standing beside you in solidarity," said Willie Sallis, president of the Beaver County NAACP, from the podium. "Not behind you, but beside you. We are partners in this struggle."

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Fighting for Our Future & Honoring Martin Luther King With Solidarity

April 4 'We Are One' Events:

Uniting Labor and Community

For an Upsurge in Class War

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

Working-class solidarity actions involving thousands of workers were among the lead news items in the headlines in nearly 1200 cities and town around the country over the April 4 weekend. The Western Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Eastern Ohio 'rust belt' region was no exception.

The occasion commemorated the anniversary of the April 4, 1968 assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during his effort to help striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee win union recognition. The entire U.S. labor movement seized the time to organize public protest against the outrageous rightwing attacks on worker rights in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. The AFL-CIO knows full well that more attacks are coming, and its 'We Are One' campaign for the day was a grassroots dress rehearsal and consciousness-raising effort to prepare both its troops and its community-based allies for more battles to come.

"We are one! We are one!' and 'What's Disgusting? Union busting!' were among the chants echoing off the concrete and glass walls of downtown Pittsburgh. Somewhere between 500 and 1000 marchers waved V-signs at passersby in cars and buses--but more often than in a long time, one saw a sea of the more militant clenched fist salutes as well. As usual, different contingents of workers wore their color coded T-Shirts for the day-camouflage for the UMWA, dark blue for the Steelworkers, red for Unite Here! hotel workers, and purple for SEIU service workers.

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