BALTIMORE - With unemployed people crowding the council chamber, the Baltimore City Council voted unanimously, Sept. 20, to endorse the Oct. 2 "One Nation Working Together" march on Washington for jobs.
Councilmember Carl Stokes read aloud his resolution calling on the council to "support ... the goals of the One Nation movement to reorder the nation's priorities and to address unemployment, immigration, and economic issues and encouraging Baltimore residents to attend the Oct. 2 rally at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C."
The council suspended its rules to pass the resolution immediately without hearings or other delays. A broad coalition, led by the Maryland-D.C. AFL-CIO, the Maryland NAACP, and La Raza, is working to fill 100 buses to attend the Oct. 2 rally in the nation's capital.
Just moments before the vote, Councilwoman Mary Pat Clarke, a co-sponsor of the resolution, announced that her Education Committee will convene a hearing on "deficient city school facilities" and how to "raise the $2.8 billion needed to implement the school system's Facilities Master Plan."
Clarke hailed recent repairs and new school construction, much of it funded by President Obama's $789 billion economic stimulus package.
Yet decades of under-funding mean "that we have $2.8 billion of fixing up to be done for which there is no money," Clarke said. Pending in Congress is a $100 billion Local Jobs for America Act that would provide much of those funds. It is being blocked by Republican lawmakers,
Glenn Middleton, executive director of District Council 67 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, was in the chamber to applaud the endorsement. "This vote is very important," he told the People's World. "There is a big economic crisis. The October 2 march is about solving that crisis. It's about saving our cities, saving our states, saving our nation. To have the City Council and the council president on board sends an important message about the need to create jobs. I believe this march is going to help us mobilize voters for the November 2 elections."
Earlier, a crowd of Baltimore residents rallied outside City Hall holding placards proclaiming, "A job is a right! Fight to get one, fight to keep one!" Others held signs with a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the message, "His Dream ... Jobs for All!"
Terence Cooper, a representative of the American Federation of Teachers in Maryland, led the crowd in chanting, "What are we going to do October 2?" The crowd shouted back, "March!" "What are we going to do Nov. 2?" "Vote!"
Edwin Cottman, a disabled worker, said he will attend the Oct. 2 rally "because people out here need jobs to support their families. They have bills they must pay. The economy is so bad people are losing their homes, their health, their businesses. I'm going to vote November 2 because the president recognizes that we need jobs but he hasn't been able to fulfill all that he promised. We need to tell Congress to stop blocking his proposals."
The Baltimore Teachers Union, AFT Local 340, has reserved 20 buses for the Oct. 2 march. A leaflet widely circulated by BTU members charges, "The right-wing and anti-Obama forces have made their voices heard! They want to return to the programs and policies of the Bush administration, policies that resulted in an unnecessary war, an unregulated Wall Street, and the near financial collapse of our nation's economy."
Republicans in Congress, it adds, "block any initiative President Obama puts forth in the hopes that by making things worse, working people will blame the president and call for a return to the policies that almost bankrupted America."
The massive rally Oct. 2, the teachers' leaflet says, will "show the obstructionists in Congress that the majority of Americans are united in our fight to preserve and protect the American dream - livable wages, affordable housing, job security, and a robust and stable economy."
Photo: PW/Tim Wheeler