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Public Employee Press

Working People’s Day of Action

PEP photos by Mike Lee and Alex Flores
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman addresssed the crowd at Foley Square on Feb. 24.


Fired up! Ready to roll!

This was the chant of thousands of protesters rallying at Manhattan’s Foley Square on Sat., Feb 24. At front and center were many DC 37 members standing up in support for working Americans at the Working Peoples Day of Action. The New York rally was the crown jewel of a number of rallies and protests held nationwide before oral arguments were heard in the U.S. Supreme Court in the Janus v. AFSCME case on Feb. 26.

Foley Square in Manhattan was packed with thousands of union members and supporters as part of a nationwide protest to defend workers’ freedoms.

Bill de Blasio
Mayor, NYC
Andrew Cuomo
Gov., New York
Lee Saunders
Henry Garrido
DC 37 Exec. Dir.

Scott Stringer
NYC Comptroller
Eric Schneiderman
NY State Att. Gen.
Baxter Leach
1968 Memphis striker
Letitia James
NYC Pub. Advocate

The rallies in support of workers’ struggles against the rigged economy and for a secure future sent a powerful message against the right wing forces attacking our hard-fought freedoms.

Joining the rally in support were New York City and state elected officials, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In his speech, Cuomo issued a promise of defiance if the Janus ruling threatens workers in the state.

“Here’s where I stand,” Cuomo said. “If the Supreme Court tries to end organized labor, this state will do everything in its power to protect it. When you attack labor, you attack the state of New York.”

Mayor de Blasio told the cheering crowd, “Are there more of us than there are of them?”

“New York City will stand with labor, and demand the Supreme Court respect the rights of unions all over this country,” he said.

DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido addressed the crowd, telling them, “The future of working people hang in the balance. Mobilization is our response. It is our resistance. Are we going to let them divide us? Today, we say enough!”

“We will not stand by and allow the 1 percent to take our rights from us,” he said.

Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), DC 37’s national union, said, “This is the time and this is the place where we take a stand today,” Saunders said. “We stand for power in numbers. We stand for unions!”

Baxter Leach, a veteran of the 1968 Memphis strike by AFSCME sanitation workers exhorted the audience. “If you want to get what you want, be right and stand up,” Leach said.

On Monday, Feb. 26, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in Janus v. AFSCME. Afterward, AFSCME President Lee Saunders spoke out about the case, which will be decided later this year.

“This case was brought by powerful corporations who want to rig the economy and destroy our ability to come together in a strong union,” he said. “But win or lose, we will continue to raise our voices as one and stand up to the wealthy special interests.”

DEFENDING OUR FREEDOMS: The thousands gathered at the rally demanded an end to the rigged economy and to turn back right-wing assaults on working families and labor unions.