Union Members Rally For Labor Rights By City Hall
On the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., local union members rallied against budget cuts near City Hall Monday, during what they said were difficult times for organized labor. NY1's Grant Greenberg filed the following report.
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The goal was power in numbers, as more than 1,000 people -- most of them union members -- rallied for salaries and job security outside City Hall.
One demonstrator, TW Local 241 member Steve Jones, is a facilities worker at Columbia University trying to support a family of four.
"The prices going up, they want to pay us less money, we have to fight for our rights," he said.
The Downtown Manhattan rally, called "We Are One," mirrored demonstrations held all over the country Monday, to mark the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis.
At the time, King was supporting 1,300 sanitation workers who were striking over wages and the right to organize.
"A lot of people talk about racial justice that he helped bring about in this country, or at least get us closer to that day. At the end of his efforts, it was really about economic justice," said City Comptroller John Liu.
Many said with the battle over unions in Wisconsin and pending budget cuts in New York State, the fight goes on.
"We are here to fight for our jobs, it's the American way. All we want to do is work," said a demonstrator.
Joseph Colangelo, another protestor and the president of auto workers union Local 246, said a minimum wage of $7.25 an hour is not enough to live on.
"They want corporate style management, they want people in fear of their jobs every day," said Colangelo. "We're going to wind up with what we had 100 years ago, we're going to have the very rich and working poor, and nothing in the middle."
By standing as one, union members hoped they will eventually win out.
"They're not doing it here yet, but it could come here. That's why I'm here," said Jones.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said he is not opposed to a minimum wage but he does not want to see New York City price itself out of potentially lucrative projects that could bring in more jobs.