On Tuesday, nearly 7,000 Pennsylvanians rode in more than 100 buses, cars, and trains to Harrisburg with a single purpose in mind – to demand a responsible budget from our state legislators. The atmosphere was friendly and hopeful, as it always is at these events, with lots of hugs, high fives, and good conversations with total strangers. Even the weather cooperated. On the capitol plaza, state employees, some of them legislators, rushed past the crowds on their way to lunch, studiously avoiding eye contact.
Members of dozens of groups attended together, including
Pennsylvania State Education Association, Service Employees International Union, Working America
United MineWorkers of America, National Education Association, United Steelworkers Union
United Food and Commercial Workers, American Transit Union, American Federation of Teachers
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, United Home Care Workers
American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, United Electrical Workers
UniteHERE (Hotel and Restaurant Employees), National Association of Letter Carriers
Keystone Progress, Pittsburgh United, American Federation of Government Employees
Communications Workers of America, Mon Valley Unemployed Committee, Sheet Metal Workers
Pennsylvanians United for Single-Payer Health Care, and of course, the AFL-CIO.
Many other church, community, and student groups organized their own members to attend.
Unfortunately, the only Ironworker that I saw in the crowd was my husband. WAKE UP, GUYS. THIS STUFF IS IMPORTANT.
The CLEAR Coalition (Coalition for Labor Engagement and Accountable Revenues) did an excellent job of promoting the event, arranging free buses, free box lunches, and shepherding the crowd throughout the day. Buses arrived in the city between 10:00 and 11:00 a.m. Participants had ample time to lobby their individual state legislators before the rally began at 1:00.
The participants belong to many different organizations, but united in their single purpose – to convince state legislators to adopt a budget that reflects Pennsylvanians’ priorities, not one that punishes working people and children. Pennsylvanians need and deserve a responsible budget. We want Marcellus Shale drillers and other corporations to be regulated and to pay their fair share of taxes. Governor Tom Corbett’s budget proposal is just one more event in the organized Republican attack on America’s middle class. It cuts more than a billion dollars from education alone, and about a quarter billion from social services, while giving ever more tax breaks to his corporate masters. My favorite sign of the day said “Tax the Fracking Gasholes”.
As usual, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s report didn’t do justice to the event. Reporter Tracie Mauriello called it “Dueling groups of private-school boosters and labor supporters demand to be heard at the state Capitol”. I guess she didn’t notice the title “Rally for a Responsible Budget” emblazoned on the bright orange T-shirts of the hundreds of rally organizers posted throughout the crowd. A single message on the thousands of signs, T-shirts, and 7,000 people shouting, “WE ARE ONE” should have been a clue. The tiniest bit of background research might have been useful. There were not “competing rallies”, dear.
The only picture published in the PG will elicit derision from the Republican crowd that they want to draw away from the Tribune-Review. The TR didn’t cover it at all, but at least they didn’t lie about it. Maybe our next event should be a rally for responsible journalism.
There will be more events like this. You don’t have to belong to a union to participate. For information and updates, contact the CLEAR Coalition or Working America.
If you want a responsible state budget, then say so. Right now. Click this link. It will take you to the Pennsylvania General Assembly page where you can find out who your state legislators are. They all have email contact forms. Contact them. Tell them what’s important to you. Tell them what you want. Spend five minutes to give your kids a better life.
Okay, Post-Gazette. Are you ready? Pay attention this time.
WE ARE ONE
For More Information
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Article
Pennsylvania’s Corbett Continues GOP Attack on the Middle Class
WATCH OUT AMERICA! They’re Coming for You Next
Pennsylvania General Assembly
Read the U.S. Constitution
On May 4, 1970, Ohio National Guardsmen shot 67 bullets into a crowd of Kent State University students protesting the Vietnam War. Four of them died. The struggle continues.