Activists, labor unions, and community leaders rallied in the city and across the country for workers' rights Saturday ahead of a pivotal Supreme Court case some say could damage unions.
"If the Supreme Court carries Donald Trump's political water, and if the Supreme Court tries to end organized labor, this state will do everything in its power to protect it," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at Manhattan rally, which several elected officials attended, including Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The demonstrations Saturday were part of a nationwide movement, the "Working People's Day of Action," that called for an end to policies activists say attack unions and rig the economy and political system against working people.
The New York protest in Foley Square came two days before the Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments in a case, Janus vs. American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, that could jeopardize unions.
The court on Monday will hear a challenge to an Illinois law that allows government employee unions to collect fees from workers who choose not to join. The unions say the outcome could affect more than 5 million government workers in 24 states and the District of Columbia.
Organizers of the rallies say the strength of important unions could be undermined if the court strikes down mandatory fair share fees, while opponents of the fees argue they are unconstitutional.
People rallying in Manhattan, like teacher Thomas Budryk, also said they were worried the case could threaten their ability to collectively bargain.
"It makes it hard to stand up for what's right without the protection of the union behind you, especially because there's a lot of people in politics who don't spend a lot of time in public schools, they don't know the things that we're up against," Budryk said.
New York is one of 28 cities, including Washington D.C., Chicago, and Philadelphia, that held demonstrations supporting unions and workers' rights Saturday.
Demonstrators in Foley Square also demanded increased protections like Paid Family Leave, equal pay, and tax breaks.
According to the Labor Department, there are 14 million union members in the public and private sectors in the New York — the highest union membership rate in the United States.