Workers Stand for America
Union members will gather in Philadelphia for a summit and rally on Aug. 11 at Eakins Oval to draft a new "workers' bill of rights' that may be delivered to the 2012 political conventions.
Philadelphia union leaders expect "tens of thousands" may attend a labor summit and rally in the city on Sat., Aug. 11.
The Workers Stand for America rally will kick off at Eakins Oval on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway at 11 a.m. Union members from Philadelphia, the tri-state region and beyond are expected to attend.
Philadelphia Council AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz McElroy says there’s no better place to convene a labor gathering and craft a platform focusing on working families, than in the city where the original Bill of Rights was written.
"Labor history started here [in Philadelphia],” McElroy said. Labor historians point to a group of journeymen shoemakers who came together in Philadelphia in 1794 as a spark for trade unionism in America that endures today.
The Philadelphia summit will take place before the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Aug. 27-30 and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, Sept. 3-6. The workers new “bill of rights’ may be carried to one or both of those conventions.
The goal of the summit is to bring attention to the basic principles of organized labor – decent pay and benefits, a secure retirement and the right to collectively bargain. McElroy says while workers, benefits and bargaining rights are coming under attack, workers are coming together and speaking out.
“The labor movement has not lost its way,” said McElroy.
The Associated Press reported that the union gathering in Philadelphia on Aug. 11 was inspired by the anger many labor officials felt after Democrats decided to stage their nominating convention in North Carolina, a right-to-work state that is the least unionized in the country.
"Having the convention in Charlotte was kind of a wakeup call to that fact that really no one's paying attention to the middle class and to working people in this country," said Ed Hill, president of the Electrical Workers union.
Some Democrats see the Philadelphia summit as an unwanted distraction that highlights divisions among traditional political allies, but Hill says unions remain committed to reelecting President Barack Obama.
About a quarter of Democratic convention delegates come from unions.