TWU members from local 234 and a contingent from Local 100 joined nearly 30,000 of their brothers and sisters from other unions on Aug. 11 in Philadelphia to bring forth America’s Second Bill of Rights for the middle class and to rebuild the American Dream at the Workers Stand For America Rally.
“This rally brought solidarity to another level,” said TWU International President James C. Little. “ It brought us a platform where we spoke as one against the attacks government officials have brought on us. We will continue to fight now and after the election to ensure the rights we have do not weaken or die at the hands of those who neglect to invest in us and by those who have ignored our role in building this nation.”
TWU Local 234 welcomed and hosted TWU Local 100 and the TWU New York State Conference representing Locals 501, 2001, 504, and 101, along with the state of Delaware AFL-CIO staff and the Wilmington ILA and Coalition of Black Trade Unionists.
“The Workers Stand for America Rally is the re-emergence of the labor movement strength as the true protector of the middle class,” said John Johnson, President of Local 234.
Union members proudly wore their local unions shirts as they chanted ‘Union, Union’ while holding signs that read ‘Americans deserve employment and a living wage’ as they heard from labor leaders, politicians and workers at the Workers Stand for America rally.
They, along with others, addressed the Second Bill of Rights for rebuilding the middle class and our nation by addressing principles that should guide the government, business leaders, organizations and individuals in a common goal of a just and fair society.
“This is a new beginning for the labor movement that’s needed now more than ever,” said John Gilchrist, TWU 234 member.
Gilchrist joined thousands of others in signing the Second Bill of Rights 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 quality education and the right a secure and healthy future.
Under the summer sun in Eakins Oval, the crowd heard from people who each represented one of the rights in the bill.
One in particular, Katrina Forman, a worker at SugarHouse Casino and member of UNITE HERE, drew cheers of ‘Never Give Up’ as she explained her organizing efforts, the intimidation by management and even the firing of her pro-union co-workers.
“Not many know this, but there is a law in this country that you have the right to organize and collectively bargain, you have the right to have a voice on the job without fear or intimidation,” said Forman. “Employers have to respect employees wishes to join a union of their choice, but too many employers think this law doesn’t apply to them.”
Forman’s sentiment was shared with the 30,000 in the crowd as union members have faced numerous attacks on their fundamental right to collectively bargain across the country.
President Obama also spoke about the strength of the middle class and the importance of investing in them via a video message.
But, an even more important message was shared by everyone there that day- keep fighting.
The signatures collected for American’s Second Bill of Rights will be delivered to delegates at both the Democratic Convention and Republican Convention.
You can sign the bill here: http://www.workersstandforamerica.com/
America's Second Bill of Rights
The Right to Full Employment and a Living Wage:
All Americans willing and able to work have the right to safe, gainful employment at a fair and livable wage. We call on the public and private sectors to invest in America’s infrastructure and promote industrial development, maintaining job creation as a top policy priority.
The Right to Full Participation in the Electoral Process:
Recent initiatives to disenfranchise citizens seek to reduce the rolls of eligible voters and empower money instead of people. We believe these actions constitute an assault on our nation’s democracy and history of heroic struggle against voting restrictions based upon property ownership, religion, race and gender and call for reinforcing our fundamental right to vote.
The Right to a Voice at Work:
All workers have the right of freedom of association in the workplace, including the right to collectively bargain with their employer to improve wages, benefits and working conditions.
The Right to a Quality Education:
Education is a fundamental bedrock of our democracy, vital to America’s competitive position in the world and the principal means by which citizens empower themselves to participate in our nation's economic and political systems. Quality, affordable education should be universally available from pre-kindergarten to college level, including an expanded use of apprenticeships and specialty skills training to prepare Americans for the workplace.
The Right to a Secure, Healthy Future:
Americans have the right to a baseline level of health care, unemployment insurance and retirement security, all of which have been badly eroded by the disruption of the social compact that served the nation well for decades. We call on government and private industry together to confront the issues of declining access to health care especially for children, weakening of unemployment coverage, and inadequate pension plans that undermine the ability of working men and women to retire in dignity, even as Social Security and Medicare are under strain and threatened with cutbacks.