PHILADELPHIA – A spirited lunchtime crowd of some 2000 workers heard local, state and national leaders slam Wall Street and urge action and large-scale investment for jobs. Surveying the crowd and noting its diversity and the many unions represented, Philadelphia Labor Council President Pat Eiding opened the rally by saying, “This crowd looks like the Philadelphia that I know. We don’t want hand outs; we want to go to work!”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka told the crowd that “Wall Street bankers gorged themselves on taxpayer dollars and made money pushing meaningless piles of paper around; they destroyed millions of jobs, they can pay to create them!” He called for investment in “green jobs, good jobs, local governments and communities and small business.” He continued that “It isn’t going to be easy; that’s where we come in; we’re here to make Congress listen to us. We’re not going to stop until we create jobs and rebuild the middle class.”
Pennsylvania AFL-CIO President William George said that of the 1.1 million Pennsylvanians without health insurance, 500,000 were working a year ago and lost their insurance along with their jobs. He told his listeners, “We’re here to start a revolution in this country. Don’t be scared to take it to the streets and do civil disobedience!”
Kelly Sillard, a laid off Verizon technician, CWA member and an African American woman told the crowd that she had done everything “by the book” when she trained for her job, got health insurance and purchased her first home, then saw everything she had worked for lost or at risk when she was laid off last year.
After the program, the crowd marched two blocks to the Bank of America building where the plan was to send a delegation inside to deliver a message to bank management. When the delegation entered, other workers followed and the entire crowd took a noisy walk through the bank’s first floor, then came out the other side and blocked traffic on 16th Street as the chants of “Jobs Now!” continued.