when the dust clears

Words about and images of matters political, social, and military

Organized labor demonstration for jobs and fairness, Union Square, December 1, 2011

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Union members—teachers, electricians, building cleaners, and many others—plus supporters, and hangers-on marched from Herald Square at 34th Street down Broadway to Union Square. The New York City Central Labor Council, an umbrella group, called for the Occupy Wall Street-inspired rally, “The March for Jobs and Economic Fairness.” The objective: “Fill the street from curb to curb so government and big business get our message: enough is enough,” said the press release. “It’s time to end the unfair economic policies in this country that benefit too few, and leave everyone else behind.”

And fill the streets they did, blocking traffic at one point. From what I saw at Union Square, though, it was a supremely orderly and low-key affair. After marchers flowed into the area around Union Square Park, some waving placards and banners, things kind of went coffee-klatchy, at least from my vantage points. Folks gathered in clusters and chatted. Sporadic, low-volume chanting emanated from the odd clump of people. The ubiquitous drum circle—sigh—did its percussive thing in one corner of the square. I did observe one less-than-low-key moment: a gentleman with unruly gray hair harangued a Fox News TV camera for the network’s anti-union bias. “They’re the worst!” he shouted, among other unkind things. Problem: there was no one behind or in front of the camera, only the lonely high technology device sitting atop a tripod. I assume the man was rehearsing for the arrival of the Foxians.

The rally also offered a boost to members of 32BJ SEIU, which voted today to give a bargaining committee strike authority. The union represents 22,000 office cleaners and commercial building workers who are resisting property owners’ conditions for a new contract. The union is negotiating with the Real Estate Advisory Board on Labor Relations, which represents commercial building owners and big cleaning companies, says 32BJ is asking for unrealistic wage hikes. Follow the links to read both sides of the conflict.

Union members march on Union Square

James, a retired union worker, at the end of the march. Tired.

"Rough on Rats"

Traffic, pedestrians, and union bagpipers


Written by bxpnyc

2011/12/01 at 21:35

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