PHILADELPHIA - A dense crowd of union members and community supporters packed the Thomas Paine Plaza across from City Hall here for a lunchtime rally Feb. 24 in support of embattled workers in Wisconsin, Indiana and Ohio. The demonstrators included members of a wide range of unions, including public sector workers, building trades and other private sector workers, and supporters from Jobs with Justice, United Action and others.
John Meyerson, political action director of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, struck a chord with the crowd when he said, "We get questions, not just from conservative talk show hosts, but from workers who don't have a union. They ask: ‘Why do you get a pension? I don't have one' or ‘Why do you have benefits? I don't have benefits." Or ‘Why do you have a job?'"
He said the answer is: "To get those things, get a union! That's why everybody needs one!"
Patrick Gillespie, president of the Philadelphia Building Trades Council, said after the rally that it was crucial for private sector workers to be in support when public workers are under attacked. He said, "Anytime anyone threatens the collective bargaining process it threatens all workers, anyone who works for wages, whether they are part of organized labor or not!"
Photo: Crowd packs Philadelphia's Thomas Paine Plaza, Feb. 24, to support Wisconsin workers. (PW/Ben Sears)