AS UNEMPLOYMENT RISES: Momentum grows for national jobs march in Pittsburgh

“We’ve seen 20 consecutive months of job losses,” said Larry Holmes, a national organizer with the Bail Out the People Movement. “That’s more than any other time since the last Great Depression, and the official number doesn’t count those who are underemployed, incarcerated, or who have just given up looking for work.

With the Sept. 4 announcement that unemployment in the U.S. has hit an official high of 9.7 percent, organizing for the National March for Jobs on Sept. 20 in Pittsburgh and the Tent City in Solidarity with the Unemployed has reached a critical stage. Unemployed workers and their allies will be in Pittsburgh at the same time the G-20 Group of major capitalist countries will be holding their summit in that city.

“The unemployed, the homeless, the hungry and the poor must no longer be invisible and silent. On Sunday, Sept. 20, a National March for Jobs will step off from the historic Hill District in Pittsburgh just prior to the G-20 summit demand a real jobs program. Community activists from across the country are organizing buses, vans and caravans to come to Pittsburgh,” said Holmes.

Below is a sampling of some of the organizing being done around the U.S. to bring poor and working people, including the unemployed, to Pittsburgh for the jobs march and tent city.


California activists are busy organizing a bus to Pittsburgh for the Sept. 20 jobs march and tent city.

“Why am I organizing a bus to Pittsburgh? Because we have no choice. It’s a matter of survival,” said one of the many activists building California’s participation in the jobs march at the G-20 Summit. Because California is now reeling from the fourth largest unemployment rate in the country while legislators continue to cut basic services, this enthusiasm and determination is widespread.

In San Francisco, a resolution supporting the demonstration was unanimously passed by the San Francisco Labor Council, as well as by the S.F. Letter Carrier’s union Local 214 and Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse union.

Dave Welsh, a retired letter carrier and organizer for the jobs march, spoke about the sentiments of autoworkers in the northern California town of Fremont. He was at a protest outside a Toyota plant threatened with closure. “We went there with leaflets about the jobs march. There were about 1,000 people out there and this seemed to be the only leaflet being passed out. It got a very good response. People would look and point to it and say, ‘Right on!’’’ said Welsh.

In Los Angeles organizers are receiving calls from Riverside to San Diego asking about the bus to Pittsburgh. John Parker, an organizer with the Bail Out the People Movement, stated: “Although providing transportation to go across the country, especially for unemployed workers, is an expensive venture, we must make it happen. We want to have a delegation of participants who travel great lengths and make stops along the way to highlight California’s growing jobless and homeless plight.

“This is very important since the worsening trend in California’s economy has become a crystal ball showing the bleak future for working people in the entire country and an example of how politicians refuse to address the needs of working and poor people and instead cater to the needs of the superrich monopoly banks and corporations.”

For information about the bus from California to Pittsburgh call 323-306-6240.


Activists in the Ohio cities of Cleveland, Akron, Warren and Youngstown are organizing to send a strong delegation to the Sept. 20 March for Jobs. Geographically they are less than a three-hour drive away. Economically they have seen the same devastation wrought by almost three decades of restructuring in steel, auto, rubber and other manufacturing industries. In all of these cities a disproportionate share of the hardship is being borne by the African-American community and all communities of color.

Recently a number of key activists came to meetings organized by the Cleveland Bail Out the People Movement chapter that featured Sharon Black, the national labor outreach coordinator for the jobs march. Attending the meetings were representatives of the New Black Panther Party, the American Friends Service Committee, Cleveland FIST (Fight Imperialism, Stand Together) and the Family Connection Center, which advocates for women receiving or losing public assistance. Joining these student and community organizers were members of the Teamsters, the United Auto Workers, the Amalgamated Transit union and the American Federation of Government Employees.

The meetings generated tremendous excitement for the march—excitement that proved contagious when Cleveland BOPM distributed leaflets at the annual Labor Day parade sponsored by the AFL-CIO. Contingents of airline workers indicated that they were already aware of the march and members of the United Steelworkers said they had started organizing transportation from Cleveland to Pittsburgh. A Cleveland high school marching band expressed interest in being part of the march.


Organizers with the Moratorium NOW! Coalition to Stop Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shutoffs have been in the streets and neighborhoods getting out the word about the Sept. 20 jobs march. Activists distributed thousands of leaflets at the African World Festival in downtown Detroit, at citywide protests against cuts in bus services, and at the annual Labor Day parade. Organizers report that interest was high at the Labor Day event, with many unionists expressing interest and enthusiasm. Detroit FIST activists have also been doing outreach to youth and students.

New England

Organizing is going strong in the greater Boston area and in Massachusetts in general and Rhode Island. Buses to the Sept. 20 jobs march in Pittsburgh are being organized from Boston, western Massachusetts and Rhode Island. A strong labor/community coalition is being built. Steelworkers Local 8751, the Boston School Bus Drivers union, is a member of the coalition and is subsidizing bus seats for members.

Members of the No Layoffs Campaign at Harvard University, including members of UNITE-HERE Local 26 and the Harvard Union of Clerical and Technical Workers, are participating and organizing. Community organizers from local neighborhood health centers and youth programs are also taking part. The Women’s Fightback Network and Boston FIST are playing a strong role.


A convergence of events has led to a decision to set up a tent city in solidarity with Pittsburgh on Sept. 20 on the grounds of the city hall complex in Atlanta. The Task Force for the Homeless, which has been under an escalating siege by the city administration and major downtown developers and corporations, is bringing a lawsuit against certain officials and business groups, charging them with “tortuous interference” in the financial support for their homeless shelter. Loss of funds has caused the Task Force to have its water cut off and to be on the brink of bankruptcy.

As a result of this lawsuit, they have gotten lots of documentation of collaboration between members of the mayor’s staff and Chamber of Commerce-types about planting false stories in the press, having direct contact with funders to strongly suggest they sever ties with the Task Force, etc. The lawsuit will reveal the behind-the-scenes operations of the power structure that controls Atlanta. The opening day of the lawsuit is Sept. 21.

The Task Force is initiating a tent city to be set up at noon on Sept. 20 in solidarity with the jobs march and tent city in Pittsburgh. It will include an evening cultural event and rally and a march from the tent city to the courthouse the next day for the hearing.

New York-New Jersey

The Peoples Organization for Progress recently hosted a delegation in Newark, N.J., from the Bail Out the People Movement that included Brenda Stokely and Sara Flounders. Names were gathered of POP members that plan to go to Pittsburgh.

The enthusiasm in Newark reflects the growing interest in the region. Because of this, another bus has been ordered. New York groups building for Pittsburgh or new endorsers include Picture the Homeless, the Rebel Diaz hip-hop group, Katrina/Rita survivors, the May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Workers and the Iglesia San Romero in the Washington Heights area.

A leader of the Stella D’Oro strike in the Bronx, Mike Filippou, also became a convener of the jobs march and agreed to provide a speaker. Stella D’Oro workers went out on strike in August 2008 and stayed on strike until July 7, when the National Labor Relations Board voted favorably. Now the owners of Stella D’Oro, Brynwood Partners, are threatening to close the plant and move it elsewhere.

Organizers of the Pittsburgh march for jobs hope to elevate the Stella D’Oro struggle to a national level by inviting the workers to participate at events around the G-20.

Dozens of BOPM volunteers blitzed Caribbean Day in Brooklyn to get the word out for Sept. 20. Paste-ups and other visibility activities are going strong. Organizers from BOPM joined the Stella D’Oro contingent on Labor Day in New York City on Sept. 12, when thousands of leaflets were distributed.