BALTIMORE – As part of the national “We Are One” campaign, Young Trade Unionists held an April 5, attracting a crowd of some 200, mostly young workers.
Mary Pat Clarke, councilwoman from Baltimore City Council’s 14th District and past president of the Baltimore City Council, keynoted the event. Her remarks centered on the success of Baltimore’s “Living Wage” law and how it was passed and the current difficulty of protecting public workers benefits and services to Baltimore residents.
She read a proclamation from Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake declaring April 5, 2011, as We Are One Day in Baltimore City.
As Councilwoman Clarke read the resolution, at each “Whereas” she shot her fist up, and the crowd yelled out “WHEREAS!,” a good way to get people fired up and participating. (Story continues after slideshow.)
Someone in the crowd asked, “What can be done about all the ‘illegals’ taking our jobs and our money.”
As Clarke tried to answer the question, a worker from UFCW Local 27 stood up and said that we are all descended from immigrants, and furthermore, immigrants, illegal or otherwise, are not the problem. “The greedy corporate bosses are the problem!” he said.
His comments elicited a rousing response from the audience. It was clear that the majority of the crowd didn’t buy into the phony effort by the right wing to divide workers against each other when things are tough.
It should be noted that Ernie Grecco, president of the Baltimore CLC, has on several occasions sent out email blasts defending immigrant workers against the right-wing onslaught with the intent to unify, rather than divide, the area’s labor movement..
The last speaker was Fred Mason, Jr., president of the Maryland and DC AFL-CIO, who introduced a showing of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1968 “I’ve been to the Mountain Top” speech, which King delivered in Memphis, Tenn., just before he was assassinated.
Mason declared that the “We Are One” theme is crucial in this period of unrelenting attack on public and all workers, and “if we don’t unite and defeat the attack, we will lose.”
Mason’s sharp presentation following King’s speech was enthusiastically received.
Many in attendance have participated in one or more of the labor-led rallies in Annapolis, in support of the Wisconsin workers and workers all around the country.
Photo: New Haven, Conn. We Are One march. (Art Perlo/PW)