February 28, 2018

Joel Mendelson

It’s About Freedom: Working People Rally Across the Country to Unrig the System

Thousands of working people braved the cold and rain in Columbus, Ohio to rally at the statehouse.

On February 24, tens of thousands of working people in 30 cities across the country assembled for the Working People’s Day of Action. Fifty years ago, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. walked side by side with Memphis sanitation workers as they declared “I AM A MAN.” This weekend, movement and faith leaders, working men and women, and elected officials honored their legacy, and also stood in solidarity with those who continue to fight for freedom and dignity in the workplace. Together we marched, chanted, and stood up for decent pay, affordable health care, quality schools, vibrant communities, as well as an end to a rigged system and economy.

As the Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 threatens to derail our ability to come together in union, it’s more important than ever to demonstrate what we can accomplish with a unified voice. Working people nationwide showed a resounding show of strength, freedom, and resolve at the events on Saturday. Though we may face challenges in a post-Janus world, we will no longer let a greedy few write the rules for our economy. We are ready to stand up to the forces rigging the system against us and pitting us against one another, and do what we can do to reclaim our freedom.

Jobs With Justice Executive Director Sarita Gupta reiterated that notion when she addressed the large crowds in New York City. “It’s all of us – connecting with each other across our communities and agendas – and acting together. Taking on Dr. King’s unfinished work for America to fulfill the promise of equality and equity and freedom for all.”

Jobs With Justice was proud to partner with AFSCME and other advocates and allies in this special moment. Our network of coalitions mobilized and helped organize events in cities around the country, including New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Memphis, Louisville, and Columbus, OH. Working people congregated in public squares, in front of state state capitols, and at churches from coast to coast to reaffirm our freedoms. Even as frigid temperatures and rain gripped many locations, working people showed up by the thousands. They wanted to have their voices heard. They were ready to rise up for freedom.

Jobs With Justice coalitions played an enormous role making February 24 a day to remember. Cleveland Jobs With Justice members organized multiple buses to head to the state capitol in Columbus, and joined an estimated 3,500 people rallying at the Statehouse. In New York City, Long Island Jobs With Justice and ALIGN helped assemble thousands of working New Yorkers who gathered in Foley Square. Even as heavy rain ravaged parts Louisville, Kentucky Jobs With Justice congregated with racial justice and faith leaders. They discussed Gov. Matt Bevin’s agenda to further fix the state’s economy in favor of wealthy corporations; hurting working people.

The Day of Action was but a first step towards securing a free and just future for us all. It continued the work of Dr. King, and so many brave men and women who came after him. Our journey won’t be easy and it won’t be short, but as Dr. King said, “We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” No matter the outcome of Janus vs. AFSCME, we will continue taking on Dr. King’s unfinished work for America to fulfill the promise of equality, equity and freedom for all.

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