“Local 1000 members Ray Korona and Spook Handy sang labor songs at the AFL-CIO Unity Rally at theNew Jersey state house in Trenton on Friday, February 25, 2011. Over 4,000 people stood in the pouring rain to show solidarity with workers in Wisconsin, and to stand up for workers rights to organize and bargain collectively in New Jersey, where Governor Chris Christie is a threat to labor.” (from Amy Fix, Secretary-Treasurer, Local 1000)
New Jersey State AFL-CIO Unity Rally: We Were There, We Are One
The unity rally at the State House was a tremendous success, and you made it happen. Union members from across the state and nation, from all sectors of our labor movement, joined with our community partners and stood together – over 4,000 strong – to show solidarity for the Wisconsin workers.
Everyone who believes in solidarity and knows what’s at risk for the middle class was there. Although the rain started falling, a little downpour was not cause for hesitation; it simply meant that we were more determined than ever to stand together. Our signs were held higher, and a swell of umbrellas joined the concert of colors which swept across the crowd. Standing shoulder to shoulder at the rally were bakery workers and iron workers, teachers and laborers, nurses and electricians, firefighters and plumbers, painters and social workers, carpenters and grocery workers, teamsters and bus drivers, secretaries and steelworkers, professors and sheet metal workers, police officers and plasterers, toll collectors, and asbestos workers, retail workers and utility workers, a wide range of state workers, and the list goes on.
We were honored to welcome to New Jersey, national AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, national CWA President Larry Cohen, General IUPAT President James Williams, General OPCMIA President Patrick Finley, and NEA Vice President Lilly Eskelsen, who all joined together with our New Jersey partners from the NAACP, NJEA, and AFT/HPAE with a message of solidarity, emphasizing the need to stand in unity. We thank the union members who set up the sound system and sang the songs which reverberated to both ends of West State Street, sending a message for all to hear. We are proud of our unions which contributed so generously to the Wisconsin workers during the rally, proving once again that the New Jersey labor movement stands in solidarity.
Wisconsin State AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Stephanie Bloomingdale as well as two Wisconsin workers, Sue Blaustein and Arlyn Halvorson, inspired the crowd with their words of encouragement.
We will harness the energy from this rally to intensify voter registration and education as well as implementing an unprecedented grassroots mobilization program that will ensure that the voice of working families is heard in November.
This was not just a rally, but a new beginning, and despite the devices which seek to divide us, we are one. We still believe in one state, one voice, and one labor movement.
Source: New Jersey State AFL-CIO website: http://www.njaflcio.org/pages/news/357 Used with permission.