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  ·   By Molly Stieber, For Our Future

Working People and Allies Will Join Together in Philadelphia for Feb. 24 Working People's Day of Action, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka to Speak

Tens of thousands of people nationwide plan actions just days before Supreme Court will hear case meant to attack working people.

[PHILADELPHIA] – Leaders from the women’s and civil rights movements, labor unions, environmental justice groups, religious leaders and others recently announced plans to mobilize in Philadelphia as part of a massive nationwide day of action on February 24. The “Working People’s Day of Action,” convened by workers’ rights organization Jobs With Justice, will span events in dozens of cities across the country, with tens of thousands expected to join the call for an end to policies that rig the economy and political system against working people.

Inspired by Dr. King and the sanitation workers who went on strike in Memphis 50 years ago, the Working People’s Day of Action comes amid a resurgence in grassroots efforts to defend basic freedoms, including the right to join together in unions. In the past few weeks alone, the nation has witnessed transit equity actions honoring Rosa Parks, planned strikes by fast food workers across the South and the growth of movements calling attention to the intersection of economic and racial justice – including the I AM 2018 campaignand the Poor People’s Campaign. 

“The Working People’s Day of Action is about coming together to defend the freedoms that Dr. King fought and died for,” said Reverend Gregory Holston, executive director of POWER. “Freedom from want, freedom from hate, freedom to vote and freedom to join together in strong unions. These freedoms are under attack at a time when our voices are needed more than ever – at work, in our communities and at the ballot box.” 

The Working People’s Day of Action happens just days before the Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31, a case funded by billionaires and corporate interests to attack the rights of working people.

In Philadelphia, local leaders from unions across the region will be joining workers from a wide range of professions at Thomas Paine Plaza for the Working People’s Day of Action. The day of action is intended to advance the unfinished work of Dr. King and spark political momentum in Philadelphia and across the country heading into the 2018 elections and beyond. 

As billionaires and corporate special interests, aided by the Trump Administration and Republicans in Congress, ramp up efforts to scale back labor and voting rights and the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments in the Janus v. AFSCME Council 31 case, recent reports indicate that the economic and political systems continue to enrich only a few. Meanwhile, fewer than 40 percent of Americans can afford a minor emergency and more than 80 percent of the world’s wealth is going to the top 1 percent.

“If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the CEOs and special interest groups behind the Janus case, it will be easier for those in power to divide working people and limit our power in numbers,” said Pete Matthews, president, AFSCME District Council 33. “This country’s economic and political system has been rigged against working people for too long – especially women and people of color. Through unions, working people have a voice to win fair pay at work and defend their basic freedoms.”  

“Economic justice and security is a central rallying point for the scores of women who have been mobilizing across the country,” said Councilwoman Cherelle Parker, chair of Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Labor and Civil Service. “Women in unions are more likely to receive equitable pay for their work and to have health insurance, paving the way for economic advancement. We also have a voice when things go wrong or when we face harassment on the job.”

In addition to Philadelphia, events are already planned in San Diego, Memphis, Washington, DC, Miami, Chicago, Detroit, Saint Paul, New York and Columbus.

“My friends and neighbors are working harder than ever, however too many of us are struggling to get ahead here in Philadelphia and in the Delaware Valley,” said Bonnee Breese Bentum, who has taught at the School District of Philadelphia for over 16 years. “Standing together on February 24 is just as important today as it was 50 years ago. Therefore, I, alongside so many working people can win dignity, a decent living, and make our voices heard. What we can't do alone, we can do together, I stand!”

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