‘We Are One’ Reverberates Across Nation and Globe

In Washington, D.C., more than 1,000 marched in solidarity with workers under attack in Wisconsin, Ohio and across the country.

From Pocatello, Idaho, to Paris, France, and in hundreds of big cities and small towns in between, workers and community, civil rights, student and faith activists yesterday said We Are One with workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and everywhere middle-class jobs are under attack.

The first wave of more than 1,200 events that ran through this week coincided with the 43rd anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination in Memphis, Tenn., where he was helping sanitation workers fight for justice, workers' rights and a voice with AFSCME.

In Memphis yesterday, more than 1,000-including veterans of the 1968 sanitation workers strike-braved a tornado watch and marched through the rain. AFSCME Secretary-Treasurer Lee Saunders led the march and said that Republican lawmakers such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ohio Gov. John Kasich are:

attempting to change the rules to silence workers so that corporate influences can go unchecked. Their actions have awakened a powerful movement and we will not allow them to steal our power or our future....Isn't it ironic that on April 4, 2011, we are fighting the same fight they were on April 4, 1968?

At a rally yesterday evening, Saundra Williams, president of Metropolitan Detroit AFL-CIO, told the hundreds who marched through downtown Detroit chanting, "Bankers got bailed out, workers got sold out," that:

there isn't anything that we can't do as long as we are one. We can accomplish anything.

Carl Peters, a Postal Workers (APWU) member, told the Detroit Free Press:

"This is a rally in support of the right to collective bargaining; the right to have unions....The workers have rights, too. We're tired of the banks being bailed out while the working people suffer."

In Missoula, Mont., where several anti-worker bills are under consideration by the legislature, more than 100 people rallied along a busy commuter route. Sierra Club member Bob Clark told the Missoulian:

"It means a lot to be here and for others to be here. We are part of a larger movement that is taking place nationally. This is happening in other communities across the country and to be here brings out the message that no matter where we are, we are one, whether we are doing this for workers' rights or environmental justice."

Meanwhile in Helena, Greg Rollins from Ironworkers Local 732 joined about 1,500 others for a "No Fooling with Our Future Rally." He called the event "awesome" and reports, "I plan on attending as many as I can to support my union brothers and sisters." Click here for photos and here for video.

Dan Mercer reports from Ottawa, Ill., "Several hundred workers, union and nonunion, gathered in Washington Square Park to stand up to attacks on workers' rights and support the idea of the American Dream." High school history teacher Bob Bradish told the crowd:

Workers deserve respect. Workers deserve dignity. Workers must support those who stand for our ideals. We have made sacrifices. It is time for others-the wealthy-to make sacrifices

Nadia Valentine, a 15-year-old high school sophomore, wowed the crowd with a fiery speech that supported unions and their cause, reports The Ottawa Times.

Valentine said she had been taught by family and teachers "every benefit that a worker receives today came from the struggles of a union member." She promised she would not let her generation forget that fact.

From Afghanistan, Mary Heslin reports that a rally in support for We Are One that was scheduled in Kabul was canceled for security reasons. Instead, supporters made get out the vote calls for Wisconsin state Supreme Court candidate JoAnne Kloppenburg, who is running against a Scott Walker ally in today's election and is endorsed by the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

AFL-CIO Now Blog, Tues Apr 5 2011
Byline: Mike Hall

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