From Freedom Plaza to the US Capitol, the foot of the Martin Luther King Jr. monument, and into Virginia, the nation’s capital was alive with worker protest on Wednesday. Early in the morning, activists blocked a bus carrying restaurant lobbyists in downtown DC in an event organized by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United and Good Jobs Nation who accused the National Restaurant Association of keeping low-wage workers “in poverty for decades.” Click here for photos and videos on DC-ROC’s Facebook page. A few hours later, over a thousand trade unionists, along with allies from the environmental and other movements, rallied at the US Capitol against Fast Track. “We are NOT going to accept a deal that sells out American workers!” thundered Rep. Donna Edwards (D, MD). “Enough is enough with these rotten trade agreements,” said AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre. Exhorted by the Blue Green Alliance – a coalition of unions and environmental groups – and fiery speeches by Steelworkers President Leo Gerard and other leaders, 1,200-plus people lobbied lawmakers on the two allied issues on April 15. The lobbying continued through the week, with a nationwide Day of Action planned for Saturday, on April 18. Their descent on Congress was timely: With the support of President Barack Obama (D), who backs fast-track, three of the four leaders of Congress’ two panels that deal with trade had planned to introduce fast-track legislation, but rising opposition forced a postponement to Thursday (see Fast Track Bill Introduced—Join the Drive to Stop Fast Track). Click here for the AFL-CIO Now blog report. And as fast food workers took action all across the country, low-wage federal contract workers – organizing under the banner of Good Jobs Nation – testified at a special hearing on Capitol Hill convened by the Congressional Progressive Caucus. “I’ve been a fast food worker at the Pentagon for 8 years, but I only make $8.75 an hour,” Robyn Law told Members of Congress. “I have to tell my son that ‘mommy can’t afford to buy you new shoes’ because I don’t make enough to pay our rent. It breaks my heart.” Click here for photos and videos on the Good Jobs Nation Facebook page. Later in the day, the action continued in Virginia, where Fight for $15 activists rallied outside a Richmond McDonalds as well as inside the statehouse, and at the Martin Luther King., Jr memorial in DC. The historic wave of protests for higher pay and the freedom to join unions stretched across industries and around the globe.
- includes reporting by PAI, the AFL-CIO, and Good Jobs Nation