Why the members of IATSE Local 22 should participate in the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs & Freedom
In 1963, the march was for civil rights, voting rights, jobs and freedom. Here we are fifty years later and while we do note some dramatic advances in civil rights, we see retractions in workers’ rights, non-equality in LGBT rights, voting rights, jobs, and reproductive freedoms for women. Brothers and Sisters this is not their fight this is our fight too.
In 1963, the minimum wage was $1.25. If you allow for inflation the minimum wage should be $9.25, today it is only $7.25 (not even a “living wage”)-we need to march.
In 1963, the private sector work force was over 15% unionized, today it is less than 7% unionized-we need to march.
In 1963, there were “poll taxes” intimidations and other impediments to voting, today the Supreme Court has rolled back a key portion of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, and states all over the country are passing restrictive, discriminatory laws designed to disenfranchise voters who are poor, who are students or minorities- we need to march.
In August of 1963 the unemployment rate was 5.4% in July 2013 the unemployment rate is 7.4% and twice that much for minorities and students-we need to march.
To address this high unemployment situation Congress has passed a repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)… for the 40th time-we need to march.
State after state are restricting and or eliminating women’s reproductive options and rights -we need to march.
While there is marriage equality in 13 states and the District, and while the Supreme Court did strike down DOMA, there are many, many states where discrimination against the LGBT community is not illegal and where there is not marriage equality-we need to march.
Brothers and Sisters, civil rights = human rights; and workers’ rights, women’s’ rights, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, and voting rights are all a part of the Human Rights equation.
What will marching on August 24th do? Standing in solidarity with your Union Brothers & Sisters, students, workers, and the LGBT community can demonstrate that we have had it, that we are “as mad as hell and not going to take it anymore,” that we will not let them divide and conquer us and pick our bones. Marching will show those who seek to destroy unions that there are consequences for their anti-worker & anti-union positions in their hiring practices and in their legislation. This is not just the other guy’s fight; this is our fight, our union action, and our march. Please come out August 24 and stand up.
-I. Chuck Clay
President, IATSE Local 22