Union leaders are expecting 30,000 at a rally in front of the Art Museum on Saturday, and their message should clear to local politicians: Don’t take us for granted.
That was the phrase repeated often at International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 headquarters on Spring Garden Street during a Monday news conference to promote the Aug. 11 Workers Stand for America rally.
“The days of taking the labor movement for granted are over,” said Local 98 business manager John J. Dougherty.
The leaders of several Philadelphia area union locals joined Dougherty in making comments aimed pointedly at the Democratic Party, although the party was never named. Democrats were just referred to as “our friends,” and sometimes, not in a particularly friendly way.
Speakers included Elizabeth McElroy, Philadelphia AFL-CIO Council secretary-treasurer; Pat Gillespie, Philadelphia Building Trades Council business manager; Jerry Jordan, Philadelphia Federation of Teachers president; Frank Snyder, Pennsylvania AFL-CIO secretary-treasurer; Henry Nicholas, National Union of Hospital & Health Care Employees president; and City Councilman Bobby Henon, (D-6th dist.), Local 98’s former political director.
Saturday’s rally, they said, is the kickoff of a national campaign to refocus national attention on jobs.
It’s no accident that the rally is being held before both the Republican and Democratic national conventions, union leaders said, and that Philly was picked because the city is home to the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
Unionists have crafted their own “second bill of rights:”
• Right to full employment and a living wage
• Right to full participation in the electoral process
• Right to a voice at work
• Right to a quality education
• Right to a secure healthy future.
Union leaders said that they want working people to endorse before it is presented to the two major parities at their conventions.
And Dougherty warned politicians who don’t sign might get an empty feeling.
Those who don’t “will never get another dollar from Local 98.”
Saturday’s rally will begin at 11 a.m. at Eakins Oval, across from the Art Museum. ••EndFragment