Our annual Human Rights Dinner is this Sunday! We’ll have fabulous Latin American food, powerful stories, and a silent auction of local art. We’ll also be remembering our exciting victories over the last year, celebrating the winners of this year’s Human Rights Champion Awards, and honoring the latest graduate from our Poverty Scholars program. We hope you can be there. If you have not yet purchased tickets you can do so here, RSVP to email@example.com, or pay at the door.
The dinner will take place on Sunday, May 19th, 6-8pm at Faith Presbyterian Church (5400 Loch Raven Blvd, Baltimore, MD, 21239).
The menu will include chips with guacamole and six different types of homemade salsa, mixiotes with Spanish rice and salad, horchata, hibiscus tea, and tres leches cake.
Our silent auction already has over a dozen pieces donated by local artists. To see pictures of some of the art, visit our 2013 Human Rights Dinner Facebook page.
Leadership development is at the heart of our work. This year we’ll be celebrating Raquel Rojas’s graduation from our three-year university level Poverty Scholars program. Raquel is a United Workers member and leader, and a restaurant worker that has witnessed systemic abuses of workers’s rights at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Below Raquel explains what it has meant for her to be a member of the United Workers and the Poverty Scholars program.
I’ve been in the United Workers Poverty Scholars program for three years and I have learned how to organize and identify new leaders. I have learned about our rights as people, and how to stand up for them. Before joining the United Workers I didn’t know that we had human rights. I thought that if our bosses yelled at us, it was just part of life, just a reality of working. But that’s not true. We, as workers, should not be treated with discrimination and disrespect.
The United Workers fights for workers rights, for us to have work with dignity, healthcare, the right to study and to also spend time with our families. I want to continue to fight to educate more people, identify more leaders, and also help others to know that as human beings we have rights, although a lot of people don’t realize it.
Folks should come out to the human rights dinner and learn more about the United Workers, our achievements over the last year, and plans to continue in the struggle to end poverty. Leadership is important because, with unity we can lift our voices and fight. Not just for us, but for the elderly and also our children. The next generation has an uncertain future, with so much delinquency and corruption, and we need to stand up and make a change for everyone.
Baltimore City is looking to move a West Baltimore fire engine to the East Side to make up for two fire companies that were closed last year. Due to last year’s closures, response times have risen on the East Side, where companies have seen a 50% increase in calls. However, moving a fire engine across the city will not solve the problem, it’ll just spread it around. Last year’s closures were a bad decision and the increased response times are a direct result. We need to hold the city accountable. Everyone has a right to life. No one’s safety should be sacrificed.
This issue is a prime example of Baltimore’s failed development policies. The city continues to subsidize big developers, while it closes fire stations and rec centers. There is enough to go around, it’s an issue of our priorities.
We have the power to make change. Last year, Truck 10 in Harlem Park, was also slatted to be closed, alongside East Baltimore’s Truck 15 and Southeast Baltimore’s Squad 11. Community groups got organized. The United Workers’ West Side Committee held community events and rallies, and collected over 3,000 signatures. After an extensive community effort, in early October, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake agreed to keep the fire truck open.
We cannot take from Peter to pay Paul. Everyone has a right to life. No one’s safety should be sacrificed. We demand that Engine 8 and other West Baltimore fire trucks stay where they are and the East Side Firehouses be reopened. Next week, the United Workers West Side Committee will begin petitioning the local community. To get involved or find out more, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 410.230.1998.
Date: May 19th, 6-8pm
Location: Faith Presbyterian Church 5400 Loch Raven Blvd, Baltimore, MD, 21239
Tickets: $10 and can be purchased online here.
RSVP: email@example.com or pay at the door.
Donate: If you can’t make the event, you still donate here.
Our annual Human Rights Dinner is a time for highlighting our accomplishments, celebrating leadership, and fundraising for our growing movement. Members graduating from our leadership development programs, particularly our Poverty Scholars and New Organizers program, will receive certificates acknowledging their scholarship and leadership. This year, Raquel Rojas is graduating from the full three-year university level Poverty Scholars program. We will also be presenting two leaders with Human Rights Champion Awards. The event will include a silent art auction of fabulous local artwork and Guatemalan, Mexican, and Peruvian food!
We have momentum. Something is happening in Baltimore City and across Maryland—a palpable sense is growing that change is possible, that we are not alone in building a movement for basic economic human rights, that historic divisions around race, class, geography, language, and culture can be overcome. We saw it at our April 20 Fair Development Rally; at our Human Rights Dialogue in January; and at the launch of the Healthcare is a Human Right Campaign and our 10 Year Anniversary Celebration, both in December. Hundreds of leaders have joined us at these events and more are stepping into the light, joining hands, telling their stories, and standing up for justice. We are seizing the moment and winning significant victories—most recently the former workers of Baltimore’s ESPN Zone won their two-year-long class action lawsuit against ESPN and Disney for violating the Federal Warn Act when they shutdown their Inner Harbor restaurant without giving workers any notice. More and more there is a renewed spirit to fight for Fair Development—public benefits for all public projects, living wage jobs, affordable housing, and community resources to meet community needs. The April 20th Fair Development Rally was a huge first step in the right direction. Across Maryland, county-wide organizing committees are hard at work in the fight for Healthcare as a Human Right!
It has been an incredible year for the United Workers. Please help spread the word and join us for our annual Human Rights Dinner on May 19, where we will celebrate the victories, community, and powerful leaders in our movement.
The United Workers is a founding member of the Maryland Healthcare Is a Human Right Campaign. This Saturday, May 4, the Carroll County chapter of the campaign will kick off the first of several speakouts for healthcare throughout Maryland. The event will take place 2-5pm at St. Paul’s UCC, 17 Bond St., Westminster, MD. Hope you can make it! For more on the day and the state-wide organizing, you can check out this flier and this excellent front page article in the Carroll County Times.
“Just because you’re rich doesn’t mean that you are allowed to be healthy, and that the guy who’s busting his butt with two or three jobs or the woman who’s doing that can’t afford to have their children raised with goodhealth care. It’s just — it’s immoral. That’s the whole point of the campaign,” said Carroll County chapter member Frank Reitemeyer, in the article.
Above is a short video we have just produced about the Maryland Health Care Is a Human Right Campaign, particularly focused on Carroll County. In it, Carroll County resident Patricia Hollinger tells her experience within the medical field and having to fight to ensure her son receives the insurance he paid for.
Dates and locations of upcoming Speakouts across Maryland are below. Hope you can make them and share your story.
June 22nd – Frederick County
1-4 pm, All Saint’s Episcopal Church
July 13th – Calvert County
and more on the Way!
The Health Care Is a Human Right Campaign needs your participation! Email us at HealthcareisaHumanRightMD@
Last week’s Fair Development Rally, on April 20, was a huge success. Over 400 people came out. We had an amazing diversity of local musicians, performers, and speakers from across Baltimore. The unity of so many groups and issues under the banner of Fair Development was powerful.
Rich Armstrong, from Community Churches United, kicked the day off as the MC.
“What we’re here to do today is to let Caesars know, let the mayor know, and any other politician know, that we will not stand to be disrespected any more in Baltimore city,” he said.
The rally was held just a block from the site of Caesars’ future Horseshoe Casino. The Fair Development Campaign has been calling on the casino to hire locally, pay a living wage, and respect workers’ right to organize. An agreement for a fair process for unionization is expected any day between Caesars and UNITE HERE, which would be an important first step toward ensuring good jobs at the casino for Baltimore residents.
“This casino is going in – that’s clear! Maryland voters voted for it last November. But they did so, in part, because of the promise of good jobs. Good, full-time jobs,” said Rev. Roger Powers, of Light Street Presbyterian, at the rally. “Our hope is that this project will be a showcase of what fair development looks like, and not just another example of development that fails our community.”
At the rally, hip-hop artists from Benjamin Franklin High School performed alongside low-wage workers who testified about Baltimore’s current development model.
“It’s not fair that we work on publically owned property, paid for by tax dollars, our tax dollars, but we are paid barely above minimum wage,” said Yaseen Abdul-Malik, a restaurant employee at BWI airport. “Our employers benefit from massive public assistance, assistance that comes off of our pay checks and off of our backs, but what is the benefit to our community?”
The rally closed with a lively street theatre performance with singing and people-size playing cards, made by members of the campaign. The crowd then marched to McKeldin Square, in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, where city and state officials have handed over more than $2 billion in subsidies and tax breaks to big developers since the 1970s, while workers are left struggling to survive in low-wage and temporary jobs. This is failed development.
Instead, we demand Fair Development, which produces living wage jobs and protects the workers’ right to organize. Development should prioritize communities most in need and provide public benefits and community resources. It should be transparent, accountable, and Baltimore residents need to be an active part of decisions made about their communities. Is this too much to ask? We don’t think so, and a movement is growing across the city to make it happen. The April 20 Fair Development Rally was the first joint action of the Fair Development Campaign, a collaboration between UNITE HERE, United Workers, and Community Churches United, that has been endorsed by AFSCME, IATSE, the NAACP, Interfaith Worker Justice, the Presbytery of Baltimore, and several other community groups.
If you missed the rally, you can still catch most of it here. By following the links in this article, you can check out longer testimony. Here are some links to the media coverage. A short video on the day is available above, two Flickr photosets are available here and here, and you can check out the complete audio from the stage here:
On April 20, the United Workers Action Team and many other people and groups put on this Fair Development Play, with people-sized playing cards, at the Rally for Fair Development in Baltimore city. Filmed and edited by the United Workers Media Team. For more on the Fair Development Campaign, visit Facebook.com/FairDevelopment
United Workers leader Emanuel McCray was one of over a dozen people that took the stage of the Fair Development Rally on April 20, 2013. He spoke of working at the Inner Harbor and the fight for justice of the former employees of the ESPN Zone. Below is an excerpt from his speech.
I’m a Leadership Council member from the United Workers. I hope next time we have all of Baltimore and the state together. Can I be myself for a minute? I was a former employee of ESPN Zone restaurant. Probably the highest grossing restaurant of the Inner Harbor. We made money. I was good. I didn’t have a problem, but I did have a problem when Disney decided that they wanted to shut down the Zone and didn’t tell nobody that they were gonna close. I had a problem with that. And on top of that, they not only locked the doors, but that had the nerve to give us a weak severance package as a restaurant employee. Everyone’s situation is different. Some people don’t have the education to go get a better job in the middle of the summer—in June, which come march/April most restaurant employee jobs are locked down. That’s tough. So me and my fellow co-workers, with United Workers, organized, fought a 2-year, 6-month, 20-day battle, and we beat Disney.
So I’m motivated. It’s all about Fair Development Now. That’s the problem, because Cordish, who owns the building. He could have said something. He knew they were going to shut down. They gave him a notice. He’s making money, he gets rent breaks.
I’m here. I’m still fighting. I still have my ups and downs, but I’m standing tall.
On Saturday, April 20, hundreds of people came out to the Fair Development Rally in Baltimore. One of them was Rich Armstrong, organizer with Community Churches United, who MC’d the rally. Below is a short audio clip and text of one of his speeches at the rally.
We came out here today because everybody in this crowd wants to make a difference in this movement. What we’re here to do today is to let Caesars know, let the mayor know, and any other politician know, that we will not stand to be disrespected any more in Baltimore city. Enough is enough. So today, we’re gonna make sure that Caesars understands: you will no longer continue to get the tax payers dollars. You will no longer benefit off the backs of Baltimore city residents and build big developments in this city without the community being a part of that development. We want to make sure that the jobs in construction go to Baltimore city resident. We have enough people living right here in Baltimore city that can get the job done on that construction site. We want to make sure that when those jobs inside that casino, the hotel workers, the food service workers, we want to make sure they get fair wages to where they can support their families, get health benefits, be supported, and good people and give back to their neighborhood. We want to make sure they understand that today and let them know that we’re here today to make a difference in this movement.
So after we leave here today we’re gonna make a movement throughout this city. We’re gonna let everybody in Baltimore city know that this city is unified and we’re gonna make a difference in Baltimore city.
I’m Roger Scott Powers, pastor of Light Street Presbyterian Church in Federal Hill, and a member of the Steering Committee of Interfaith Worker Justice of Maryland.
Interfaith Worker Justice of Maryland brings together faith, labor, and community leaders to raise awareness about the issues of the working poor and to support low-wage workers in their struggles to win better wages, benefits, and working conditions.
You know, the religious community isn’t very happy about casinos being built in our state, because they prey on seniors and poor, working people, who can least afford to lose what little money they have. Casinos lure people in with the promise of winning, when the truth is that most people lose. If they didn’t, the casinos wouldn’t make money and the state wouldn’t get its cut.
But I didn’t come here this morning to rehash old arguments. That’s not why we’re here today. No, this casino is going in – that’s clear! Maryland voters voted for it last November. But they did so, in part, because of the promise of good jobs. Good, full-time jobs, not part-time, temp work! Voters were promised good jobs! Jobs that pay a living wage. Jobs that can support families. Not low-wage jobs that keep people in poverty. Good jobs! Jobs with benefits. Jobs with health insurance. Jobs with paid sick leave. Jobs with retirement plans. Good jobs in which workers are treated with respect and dignity.
We’re here today to make sure that the promise made to the voters of Maryland is kept. We want to see this new development bring good jobs to Baltimore – full-time jobs that pay a living wage and provide good benefits. Our hope is that this project will be a showcase of what fair development looks like, and not just another example of development that fails our community.
Too often we’ve seen developers take millions in public funds, promising that their development will create good jobs for people in the community. But at the end of the day, most of the new jobs created are part-time, low-wage jobs with no benefits. We’ve seen it at the Inner Harbor. And we’ve seen it at the Hyatt Regency. We don’t want to see that failed development model repeated here.
Why are we so concerned about this development bringing good jobs to Baltimore? Because unemployment and low wages are two of the principle causes of poverty in our country. And poverty in the United States is the highest it has been in fifty years! According to the U.S. Census Bureau more than 46 million people are living in poverty in our country. That’s one in seven Americans. One in five are children! Child poverty in the U.S. has gotten so bad that among the 35 most economically advanced countries in the world, the United States ranks 34th in terms of child poverty, just a little better than Romania, which ranks 35th.
That’s why we’re here today. Because we need to turn our country’s economy around. We can no longer accept an economic system that allows wealth and power to be concentrated into the hands of a few at the expense of everyone else. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, once said: “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
His sense of justice and fairness was Biblical. He was doing what the Bible calls all of us to do: “Speak out for those who cannot speak, for the rights of all the destitute. Speak out, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy.” That’s what Moses did. That’s what the Hebrew prophets did. That’s what Jesus did. And that’s what God calls us to do as well.
So, we are here today to speak out, to make our voices heard. We are no longer willing to give our consent and cooperation to a development model that helps the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.
This past week marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In it he wrote: “History is the long and tragic story of the fact that privileged groups seldom give up their privileges voluntarily. . . . We know through painful experience that freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.”
King’s words echo those of the 19th-century abolitionist Frederick Douglass: “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one, or it may be a physical one, or it may be both moral and physical, but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
So, we are here today to demand fair development. What do we want? Fair development! When do we want it? Now!
Below are links to some of the coverage of Saturday’s Fair Development Rally
- “Workers Seek Overhaul of Labor Industry in Baltimore,” Afro, by Krishana Davis, April 17, 2013
- “Baltimore Activists Plan Rally Saturday For Fair Development at Horseshoe Casino,” DClabor.org, by Mariya Strauss, April 19, 2013
- “Potential Casino Employees Rally For Workers’ Rights” (video), WJZ, by Gigi Barnett, April 20, 2013
- “Baltimore Activists Call On Caesar’s Horseshoe Casino to Hire Local Residents,” Baltimore Post-Examiner, by Bill Hughes, April 21, 2013
- “Hundreds Rally for ‘Fair Development’,” The Baltimore Brew, by Mark Reutter, April 22, 2013
- “A BWI Worker Speaks Out About How ‘Failed Development’ Hurts Him,” The Baltimore Brew, by Yaseen Adul-Malik, April 22, 2013
- “The United Workers Bring Over 400 to Rally for Fair Development,” The Indyreader, by Casey McKeel & Corey Reidy, April 22, 2013
- “United Workers Scores a Win for Baltimore Casino Employees a Year Before the Casino Is Set to Open,” The Baltimore Fishbowl, by Robert OBrien, April 22, 2013
- “Casino Workers Win,” DCLabor.org, by Mariya Strauss, April 23, 2013
- “Local Unions Notch a Victory at Baltimore’s New Casino,” In These Times, by Bruce Vail, April 23, 2013
- “Workers, Labor Leaders Rally in Baltimore for Fair Wages and Right to Unionize at Area Casino” (radio), FSRN, April 23, 2013
- “Baltimoreans Press Casino for Real Local Benefits,” Labor Notes, by Michael Fox, April 26, 2013
The Fair Development Rally, the first action of the new Fair Development Campaign, was a huge success. Thanks to everyone that made it out! Together with UNITE HERE Local 7 and Community Churches United, we rallied with signs and banners, produced by local high school students and Fair Development Campaign members. Amazing local musicians performed alongside speakers. The crowd of over 400 then marched to McKeldin Square. Below are two Flickr slideshows of pictures taken by our media team at the event. The first includes pictures from the rally, the second is of pictures from the march to the Inner Harbor. Stay tuned for more media and a longer recap. Also, don’t forget to check us out at Twitter @unitedworkers and Facebook.com/unitedworkers and Facebook.com/FairDevelopment for more on the day.
Tomorrow we will we rally for Fair Development in Baltimore! We’ll be posting to Facebook and live tweeting @unitedworkers with the hashtag #fairdev. Join the rally and the conversation, and we hope to see you tomorrow!
Saturday, April 20, 11am – 2pm
We will meet in the parking lot behind 1405 Russell St., Baltimore, MD 21230 for an exciting program of speakers, music, and street theater. Then, we will march along Pratt Street to end the rally at McKeldin Square (corner of Light St. and Pratt St).
Bring your walking shoes! There will be vans available to transport people who cannot march.
Getting to 1405 Russell St. by Car:
Going South on Russell Street: turn left at Bayard at the Holiday Inn Express.
Going North on Russell Street: turn right at Bayard St at the Holiday Inn Express. Then, go one block to Warner, make a left on Warner, pass Worcester St., next is Alluvion St, go left. Rally is at the end of the block on the right.
Parking on the Casino side (ie the east side) of Russell Street – where the rally is – is limited. It is possible to park on the north side of 2000 block of Worcester St. We recommend parking in Pigtown on the other (west) side of Russell. Many streets are posted, but try these: 1500 – 1700 block of Ridgely, 1900-1700 blocks of Bayard, 1900-1700 blocks of Bush, 1900-1800 block Worcester and 1400 block of Severn. Depending on where, either a 4 – 7 block walk. If you park in Pigtown: Walk to Russell Street via Bush or Bayard Streets, and cross over Russell at Bayard St light – there is a crosswalk at the intersection on the north side near the Royal Farms. Then follow driving directions above.
Getting to the Site by Public Transportation:
MTA Bus: MTA Bus #27 goes to the Greyhound terminal (Haines and Warner), 4 blocks away from the rally site. Ask if you can get off at Worcester and Warner near the casino construction.
See you this Saturday! We’ll be there rain or shine. If you need help with directions or if you have any questions, you can contact Betty Robinson at 410-245-2868.
In January, Baltimore’s former ESPN Zone workers won their class action lawsuit against their former employer—a subsidiary of the Walt Disney Co—for violating the federal WARN, Act. It was a powerful victory that represented ever more evidence that the current economic development model in Baltimore is broken. On Saturday, we rally for Fair Development across the city of Baltimore. United Workers member Emanuel McCray will be there. Below, he explains why.
I’ve learned first hand from being an employee at ESPN Zone; from being at a company where the majority of the employees were overworked and underpaid. I’ve learned that the developers have the power to force venders to take care of the people that they hire at establishments, but they allow these companies to violate human rights on a daily basis. The fact is, if a developer is getting money from tax payers dollars, employees should be well taken are of. We’re human beings. We’re not robots and we help generate the millions of dollars that these vendors and developers make, while they receive these public subsidies. If everyone is fully aware of what’s going on with failed development, it makes more people get involved to hold these developers accountable. We have the power to make change. We need to force the developers to change their policies, demand public benefits from development, and hold the city and government accountable!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Michael Fox, 646-499-1484
When: Saturday, April 20, 11am
Where: 1405 Russell Street parking lot, Baltimore, MD 21230
Hundreds to Rally for Fair Development in Baltimore
No More FAILED Development, We Demand FAIR Development!
On Saturday, April 20, hundreds will rally for Fair Development a block from the future site of Caesars’s new Horseshoe casino in South Baltimore.
Last Fall Maryland voters were told that legalizing table games would bring good jobs to our communities. Demonstrators are calling on Caesars to make good on this promise by hiring Baltimore residents, paying living wages, respecting workers’ rights to unionize, and addressing the community’s concerns about environmental hazards at the site.
The rally is being organized by the Campaign for Fair Development, a joint project of UNITE HERE Local 7, United Workers, and Community Churches United, that has been endorsed by AFSCME, IATSE, NAACP, Interfaith Worker Justice, and several other organizations and community groups. Speakers will include D. Taylor, the International President of UNITE HERE, Fred Mason, president of the DC and Maryland AFL-CIO, local community leaders, and workers from across Baltimore.
“We are uniting across color lines, our organizations, and our issues to hold Caesars and city leaders accountable,” says United Workers member Doreen Hicks. “We demand Fair Development.”
At the rally, demonstrators will carry colorful art, signs, and banners produced by local high school students and Fair Development Campaign members. Local musicians will perform alongside speakers. The rally will close with a lively street theatre performance with singing and life-size playing cards. After the rally, participants will march to McKeldin Square.
The Casino is the latest in a long string of projects that have received public economic aid, with the expectation of good jobs, and yet often failed to deliver. Developer David Cordish pays virtually no rent on his Inner Harbor Power Plant development where jobs are unstable, temporary, and low-wage.
“The Hyatt Regency received the benefit of public subsidies with the expectation that development would bring good jobs, yet today many of my coworkers work as temps for years, making barely more than minimum wage, with no hope of a permanent job,” says Mike Jones, a steward at the Hyatt Regency Baltimore. Community Churches United, which has trained 1500 Baltimore men and women in construction over the last three years has seen few of their members hired.
“I’m qualified, but can’t get a job, because they are not hiring Baltimore residents,” says CCU member Curtis Green. “We need local hiring and living wages.”
Meanwhile, Baltimore city leaders continue to subsidize developers while they cut funds for necessary neighborhood resources like fire stations, recreational centers, schools, and libraries, causing a disastrous effect on local communities. The Fair Development Campaign calls for development projects that benefit the communities most in need, provide living wage jobs for Baltimore residents, and respect workers’ rights to unionize. In addition, the development process should be transparent, accountable, and have meaningful participation of the local community.
The Fair Development Campaign is uniting across color lines, issues, geography, and languages to transform development in Baltimore. It is a joint project of UNITE HERE local 7, United Workers, and Community Churches United.
We’re in high gear, organizing for our big April 20 Fair Development Rally. We hope you can join us! Baltimore City leaders and state officials continue to use public funds to support development projects that ultimately create more poverty, reduce access to affordable housing, and cut back on support for schools and other public necessities. This is failed development. We demand Fair Development that produces good union jobs for Baltimore residents, well-funded schools for our children, and strong communities for everyone. If anyone is interested in helping to prepare over the next few weeks, we can still use support with canvassing, phone banking, data entry, and making signs, banners, and other art. Please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org or 410.230.1998.
We’ve been gearing up to this day for several months. Since January, we’ve attended city council meetings to demand that Caesars hire locally, union, and pay a living wage at its new Baltimore Horseshoe casino (set to open in 2014), and that decisions over potential road closures are made with adequate community input and participation. Since February, we’ve been canvassing the neighborhoods that will be impacted by the new casino and holding community meetings and presentations about fair development and what we want for the city.
On February 27, we attended a community event held by Community Churches United, a close ally and member of the Fair Development Campaign, where, among many things, we are fighting for good union jobs for Baltimore residents (currently city residents make up less than 3% of the workforce on many development projects across the city). The event was held at Simmons Memorial Baptist Church in Baltimore. Pastor Duane Simmons kicked it off with a powerful call to organize from below.
“Now is the time where change has to come from the bottom to the top,” said Pastor Simmons. “And when we get the bottom together, guess what will happen to the top. The top ain’t listening. The top is so capitalistic and everyone is always so capitalistic minded to see what they can line their pockets with. They don’t care about you. Make them care!”
“We’re gonna make city hall listen. We’re gonna make Annapolis listen. We’re gonna make Washington listen. Right here. This grassroots movement,” said Pastor Simmons. A clip from his speech is below, filmed and edited by the United Workers media team.
We had a great Leadership Retreat last weekend! We strategized, did workshops on economic inequality and the fiancialization of the economy, and planned for upcoming actions, including the April 20 Fair Development March (unitedworkers.org/2013/03/15/fair-development-march-april) and a fall action for the Health Care Is a Human Right campaign. We also roasted marshmallows. Thanks to everyone who came out! A slideshow of pictures from the weekend is below.
The retreat came on the heels of our Leadership Day, held on February 24. During the day, United Workers members elected the newest members of the Leadership Council, the governing body of the United Workers. After the election we held a dialogue with community members about the fight to keep the rec centers and fire stations open and the larger struggle for Fair Development. It was the last meeting at our old offices on Hollins Street.