National labor rally to focus on middle class

Posted: August 10, 2012

Grammy award-winning country music star Lucinda Williams will headline a national labor rally on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway Saturday.

Starting at 11 a.m., the rally, Workers Stand for America, organized by the AFL-CIO, is intended to draw attention to issues involving the middle class.

"This is about changing the conversation in America," said Liz McElroy, secretary-treasurer of the Philadelphia AFL-CIO. "It's about making sure politicians of all stripes hear us."

Speakers will include Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. The DNC angered labor by choosing Charlotte, N.C., in a right-to-work state, for its convention.

Pennsylvania Democrats U.S. Rep. Bob Brady of Philadelphia and U.S. Sen. Bob Casey will also speak, as will AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka.

The rally is open to all, union or non-union. Organizers expect 20,000 to attend, most arriving on 300 buses from nearby states.

On Friday, union officials, including Trumka, signed the rally's centerpiece, America's Second Bill of Rights. Organizers will ask politicians to sign the five-point bill, which includes the right to obtain full employment, participate in the voting process, form unions, receive a quality education, and be able to count on retirement and health-care benefits.

The rally is drawing international media attention, including reporters from France, England and Japan.

Before joining the rally, 3,000 unionized Verizon Communications Inc. workers plan to protest at 10 a.m. at Ninth and Race Streets at the Verizon building. On strike for two weeks last August, 45,000 employees are working under terms of their former contract. Negotiations are now in federal mediation.


Contact staff writer Jane M. Von Bergen at 215-854-2769, jvonbergen@phillynews.com.

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