This article was originally published in The Notebook. In August 2020, The Notebook became Chalkbeat Philadelphia.
Labor flexed its muscle all across the country this April 4, the anniversary of the slaying of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as he stood with striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn.
The “We Are One” demonstrations throughout the country demanded an end to the attacks on collective bargaining and the living standards of working people by right wing politicians and corporations.
Here in Philadelphia hundreds of workers rallied on the steps of the Liacouras Center on the Temple Campus. The Corbett administration’s cuts to both the K-12 school budget and higher education were denounced by union leaders. “We are not going to let them take a wrecking ball to schools,” AFT president Randy Weingarten told the crowd.
Both Weingarten and AFL-CIO central labor council president Pat Eiding took up the theme of building unity with the community. “Labor can’t do it alone,” Eiding said. “We have to be talking to the community.” Some students, ex-offenders in prison jumpsuits, and at least one community organization, ACTION United, joined trade unionists.
Public school and university workers made up a large part of the crowd. Among the unions who turned out were 1199 Hospital Workers; SEIU; UNITE HERE; PASNAP, the nurses and hospital techs union; and AFT, both its public school and university affiliates. Jobs With Justice, a labor and community coalition, was also a major presence.
As the rally ended, the crowd, instead of dispersing, marched down Broad Street chanting and waving signs to rush hour traffic. Judging from the cars beeping horns in solidarity, marchers are not alone in their opposition to the Corbett budget.