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Saturday, February 26, 2011

Chicago Rallies For Union Rights

Feb 26th, 2011

by F. Grey Parker with Nicole Zimmerer

Chicago - Despite the snow, cold and bitter winds, thousands turned out in downtown Chicago today to show solidarity for Wisconsin's beleaguered public sector unions and, more broadly, for the principles of organized labor nationwide.

photo © copyright 2011 Nicole Zimmerer
We talked to citizens, union and non-union alike, some from as far away as W. Virginia and Oregon. They ranged in age from those too young to labor to those long out of the workforce.Their message was clear: collective bargaining is a right and not a privilege.

One attendee, Joe Nowak, said, "I'm retired. I come from three generations of union. We were a coal family. What these guys in Wisconsin are doing reminds me of the stories my dad used to tell me from before I was born." Another rally participant, a young woman who would only identify herself as Carolyn said, "if everyone had fought harder for unions 30 years ago we might not have to be here."

It was more difficult to get a large number of those in attendance to go on the record than we had expected. Often we were asked "who are you with?" Clearly, the fear of provocateurs and plants from right wing organizations was on the minds of the demonstrators.

Sen. Durbin Speaks To The Crowd
Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin (D) spoke to the crowd early and affirmed his support. He discussed the expanding scope of the attack on labor rights and the departure from Wisconsin by that state's 14 Democratic State Senators to buy time for compromise and draw attention. He quipped, "to our friends who have joined us today from Indiana, your senators are welcome here too." There was tremendous applause.

Only days ago, Indiana shelved the first of what are likely to be numerous attempts to model legislation after the Wisconsin bill. We met with Sen. Durbin after his speech to discuss the event and asked him about the "sanctuary" remark.

"This is not about one state or another state. This about the future of the rights of workers nationwide. If we don't stand with them today who will stand with us tomorrow?" 

He went on to reiterate that it is not a local issue but "has implications all across America and in Washington D.C."

The full photo galleries of our coverage will be available soon.
Please SIGN THE PETITION to recall Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.


  1. There is a bright side to Scott Walker - He has finally woken up workers who have been slouching through life thinking that they had "won" the labor war. As the private sector jobs were decimated - the big unions just sat back and did nothing - except ask for more pay hikes. Sadly, this earned them the ire of the private sector and allowed the Scott Walkers of the world to gain a foothold.

    Now that these sleeping giant have been attacked - they have awakened the entire nation. I am hoping that they will also help the private sector to organize themselves.

    I wanted to go out on Sat and attend a rally in NYC - but sadly that is a working day for me!

  2. I was at this rally. It was a great experience. Whatever way this bill goes, I hope the Democrats keep the fire in their belly. We have many more fights ahead of us.

  3. Indeed. We are the beginning of the middle of this nation's fight for labor rights.