Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Nationwide Collective Bargaining Solidarity – Saturday, February 26

“Employers and employees alike have learned that in union there is strength, that a coordination of individual effort means an elimination of waste, a bettering of living conditions, and is in fact, the father of prosperity.”
— Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1929

For the past nine days, we have watched as teachers, students, nurses, state workers and others protested in Madison, Wisconsin. This week we understand that many of our own school district teachers showed their support for fellow teachers with the ‘wearing of red’. We now learn that this Saturday at noon, across the country, the protest and show of solidarity is going national. In cities from coast to coast, including every state capital, people will come together to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin.

Union leaders in Wisconsin agreed to Gov. Walker’s proposal to increase contributions to their health and retirement plans to help close a projected $3.6 billion budget gap. The move would cut the take-home pay of many union workers by about 7 percent. However, union leaders nationwide are incensed about Walker’s additional proposal to strip public employees of the collective bargaining power – the lifeblood of a union.

I received an email announcement from political action organization, about the ‘Rally to Save the American Dream’ offering details of Philadelphia’s planned solidarity rally at:

Love Park
Broad & JFK Streets
Philadelphia, PA 19101
Saturday, February 26
12 Noon

The invitation asked for us “. . . to stand in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin and for all the people of Pennsylvania to stand up as well. It is time we all speak out and demand an end to the attacks on worker’s rights and public services across the country. We demand investment, to create decent jobs for the millions of people who desperately want to work. And we demand that the rich and powerful pay their fair share. We are all Wisconsin. We are all Americans. Please join me at the rally and bring a friend!”

The announcement further suggested that if you believe in the middle class and the American Dream, you fight for collective bargaining rights. Declaring your support for the Wisconsin workers, attendees on Saturday are asked to show up wearing the Wisconsin Badger colors: red and white.

From Clarence Darrow in 1909, the words “With all their faults, trade unions have done more for humanity than any other organization of men that ever existed. They have done more for decency, for honesty, for education, for the betterment of the race, for the development of character in men.”

I think we can all agree — these are historic times in our country.

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