This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
On October 2 the AFL-CIO, NAACP, and a broad coalition of progressive organizations are holding a rally in Washington. The AFT is one of the unions actively organzing for the action. Termed “One Nation…Working Together,” marchers will demand:
- an economy that works for all;
- more good jobs, fair jobs, safe jobs;
- reform of Wall Street;
- repair of our immigration system;
- a quality education for every child;
- giving everyone in America the opportunity to contribute to and strengthen our country; and
- restoring workers’ freedom to form unions and bargain collectively.
All I can say is it’s about time.
The poverty rate is now higher than it’s been since 1959, when the Census Bureau started publishing estimates of poverty. Unemployment is at record levels. Foreclosures and homelessness spiral. Working people see their wages and living standards fall. Detroit, once the symbol of robust industry that delivered good union jobs, is a city of empty lots and desperate people. Pension funds totter on the edge. More children go to school hungry.
But this is not the big story in the mainstream media.
They are fixated on the Tea Party supporters who want to slash government spending on human needs (except for the Pentagon), subsidize the rich with more tax cuts, and give corporate power freer rein. Quran burners and the controversy over a Muslim community center near ground zero are also big news. A well-funded right-wing movement flames xenophobia and racism, seeking to pit White against Black and Brown, young against old, native born against immigrant, straight against gay. Pundits are predicting a Republican tsunami in November.
So a massive demonstration that will bring into focus the plight of millions of people across the country and challenge the Tea Party narrative is overdue. The president and the Democrats in Congress need to understand the people that put them there want action. Organizers clearly hope the march will put some spine in the Democratic leadership and help mobilize voters for November.
The PFT has buses going from 3 locations and you can sign up online. Hope to see you on the Mall.