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Downtown March for Workers' Rights

by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

Saturday, March 26, 2011

LOS ANGELES - Approximately 20,000 marchers demonstrated their support for unions and the right to collectively bargain.

Downtown March for W...
march_2011_082.jpg, image/jpeg, 540x720

LOS ANGELES - Approximately 20,000 marchers demonstrated their support for unions and the right to collectively bargain.

If it has seemed like labor is weak lately, taking one on the chin in Wisconsin in particular, the tone of the downtown march was defiant, focused, and morally outraged.

The Teamsters, SEIU, UFCW, LiUNA, steelworkers, education workers, farmworkers, hotel workers, immigrants, wobblies, workers from many other sectors, organized and unorganized, all took the streets of Los Angeles for the day.

Their solid-colored union t-shirts created a visual rainbow of worker power as they proceeded from the convention center to Pershing Square.

Their enormous banners, mass-produced signs, trucks and buses, water bottles were proof that despite only representing only 11.9 percent of the workforce1, they are still able to organize money when necessary.

Several unions crossed paths with their exploiters along the march route, including the food and commercial workers (UFCW), who faced down one of the Ralph's that is refusing to negotiate a contract, and hotel workers from Luxe. Workers took advantage of the opportunity to decry their bosses' abuses and lack of cooperation. Workers under the thumb of both corporations are currently working without contracts.2, 3

The march brought out the normal activist crowd, but the unions brought out many faces that don't generally take to the streets in political action. I ran into people I know I'd never see at a peace march or immigrant rights rally.

But imagine if their unions turned them out for those causes as well!

School marching bands played, many chants frilled the air, and some youngsters brought back some of the old union hymns.

The recent swearing in of Governor Jerry Brown, a Democrat, coupled with California's being the home to more of the nation's union workers than any other state, virtually guarantee that no anti-union action as overt as Scott Walker's in Wisconsin will take place here.

But unions are right to be worried. Declining membership, being squeezed out of the private sector, and anti-union attitudes have all contributed to the labor movement's deterioration since the McCarthyist 50s, but particularly since the Reagan era. A blow like Wisconsin could never have been struck without the last 40 years of the slow debilitation of the unions after the incredible build-up of the workers' movement in the first half of the 20th century.

The corporations have been fighting a century long war of attrition, while we organizers have been either too-focused on the day-to-day, too-focused on the distant Revolution, or too willing to believe the myth of our own weakness.

The economy is but one indication that the current system hangs by but a thread. The environment is another. It's time we realized our own potential, our own power, and took advantage of the perpetual crisis to make a lasting change through overcoming--or at least balancing out--the overconcentration of wealth and power in the hands of the few and redistributing them among the many.

1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Union Members Summary." January 21, 2011.

2. Hotel Workers Rising. "Luxe Hotel Workers Strike in Downtown Los Angeles." January 13, 2011.

3. Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. "March and Rally for Our Communites, Our Jobs."

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

march_2011_006.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x450

Capitalists love free labor

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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Marching band

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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ILWU, Steel workers

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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Democracy, no plutocracy

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

march_2011_073.jpg, image/jpeg, 540x720

UNITE HERE Luxe workers

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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IWW call for general strike

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by Rockero Wednesday, Mar. 30, 2011 at 5:30 AM

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