SAN FRANCISCO: Some 2,000 demonstrators made a human chain surrounding San-Francisco-based Charles Schwab home office March 31. Demonstrators also demanded that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger drop his proposal to privatize pensions for all new public workers.

Schwab has given $400,000 to the Republican agenda in California, and its executives were among guests at a recent fundraiser to promote Schwarzenegger’s objectives, which include state pension privatization.

“The only thing that is broken is the trust that Social Security will be there when we need it,” California Labor Federation head Art Pulaski said, as he pointed out the parallels between Bush’s and Schwarzenegger’s plans.

“Young workers stand to lose over $150,000 in benefits over their lifetime if Social Security is privatized!” declared Young Workers United leader Chris Jackson.

Betty Muruato, a member of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 265 in San Jose, was joined at the protest by her two young nieces, Julia and Amanda Summers. Their participation was important, Muruato said, because “it’s the next generation that will be hurt the most.”

— Marilyn Bechtel

HOUSTON: We held a small noontime picket line in front of the local Schwab office, in an upscale shopping center, located in a heavily Republican congressional district.
They told us there had never been a protest in that shopping center before. There were a lot of people in their shiny Mercedes who drove by and shot us the finger or gave us thumbs down. However, there were also a lot of people who drove by and gave us thumbs up. One pretty young woman came out of the Schwab office and got in her shiny, new, black Mercedes and as she drove off (from the safety of her high performance vehicle) yelled, “Why don’t you get a f—— job?” One of the workers shot back to her, “I’ve got one, do you?” As I stood by the street holding my sign, an old woman pulled up to me and rolled her window down. I looked inside and could see a wheelchair. She said, “Thank you so much for doing this.” I gave her a leaflet and told her, “We all have to work together on this.”

— Paul Hill

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y.: The “In This Together” coalition held a town hall meeting at the CUNY college here, attracting hundreds of people. Rep. Vito Fosella (R-N.Y.), the only congressperson from NYC who supports Bush’s privatization plan, was slated to come but failed to show. Worried about cuts to the program, Staten Island resident Sue Macananama told the audience that her family had only been able to survive after her father passed away because of the dependents’ benefits offered by Social Security.
“Every month,” Macananama said, “my mother would show us the check, and say ‘Thank God for Social Security.’”

— Dan Margolis

BATAVIA, Ill.: They were young and old; male and female; Black, Hispanic and white; and dressed in everything from a tuxedo to jeans.
But the message was the same from about 300 people who stood along River Street in downtown Batavia, April 2, in front of the office of Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert: Do not privatize Social Security.

“This is about our children and grandchildren,” said Auroran Art Velasquez, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens Council 5218. “That’s what we’re here about — to protect their rights.”

— Steve Lord
(Aurora Beacon-News)