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.

G-20 or more G-money

Mumia Abu-Jamal

Mumia Abu-Jamal

From an Aug. 18 audio column which will be played at the Sept. 20 jobs march and rally for the unemployed in Pittsburgh.

As the G-20 gathers again, they assemble amidst the wreckage of their own creation.

Representatives of 20 of the alleged developed economies, they are instead representatives of casino capitalism: the use, misuse and grand theft of public wealth to fund the bonuses of financial pirates that have looted the treasury of billions.

A few months ago, as they gathered in London, the nations’ finance ministers talked about tax havens, but few had any real substantial solutions to the economic turmoil roiling in their own countries.

Much has been said about stimulus packages, and even about the enormous amounts of money being allocated for this purpose, but a modest amount has actually been spent, with the lion’s share being devoted to boosting the very banks and businesses that created this disaster.

And while banks and billionaires have been rewarded for their insatiable greed, average people, working people, families struggling in the worst economic environment since the 1930s, are on their own. Millions are jobless. Many are homeless. Many more are helpless.

And while they barely survive day after day, big buck bonuses are back on track at Goldman Sachs and other such entitles in the City.

Politicians, meanwhile, talk of a “jobless recovery.” If there are no jobs, who can really speak of a recovery? Wall Street is recovering—but are you?

Even the French conservative president, Nicolas Sarkozy, said the economic disaster of last fall spelled the end to laissez-faire (French for ‘let it be’) economic theory. Governments on both sides of the Atlantic are giving various stimulus packages to banks and businesses that look an awful lot like life support.

If this is free market, then slavery was free labor. Only a bold, unified people’s movement can put the people’s interests before that of big finance. It’s going to take protests—real protests—to break through this vampire’s bite on the wealth of nations.

For Immediate Release:

The first and largest PITTSBURGH G-20 Related protest
March for Jobs in Pittsburgh
Sunday, September 20
to be followed by week-long “Bail Out the Unemployed” Tent City

Thousands of protesters will be arriving in Pittsburgh next weekend to participate in the first and largest protest related to the G-20 summit. The March for Jobs will step off at 2:30 p.m. on Sun., Sept. 20 after an opening rally in front of Monumental Baptist Church at 2228 Wylie St. in the historic African-American Hill district of Pittsburgh. The marchers, coming into the city from every region of the country including as far away as California, will hold an end rally at Freedom Corner at Centre St. and Crawford St. Freedom Corner is a monument to civil rights activists which borders Pittsburgh’s downtown area.

After the rally, many of the marchers will return to a field near Monumental Baptist Church where they will live in a tent city dedicated to the unemployed of the world for the entire week of the G-20 summit. The tent city, which will house unemployed people and their supporters from Sun., Sept. 20 through Fri., Sept. 25, at the “Bail Out The Unemployed “tent city. More details about the tent city below. Speakers at the Jobs march and rally include Fred Redmond, Vice Pres. of the United Steel Workers Union; antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan; Allegheny County Commissioner Bill Robinson; Prof. Cornel West; Rep. John Conyers; Penn. State Sen. Jim Ferlo and Rev. Thomas Smith amongst others.

The central goal of the march for jobs is to revive Martin Luther King Jr.’s call for a second civil rights movement for the right of all to a job.

Before the G-20 countries open their summit, the march for jobs and tent city seeks to dramatize the reality that the unemployment and under-employment level is not only reaching depression level statistics, but that the unusual and unprecedented nature of the current worldwide economic crisis may usher in a new and permanent high unemployment economy.

The jobs march will highlight the need for a massive jobs program on par with the public works program that the Roosevelt Administration enacted during the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The tentative schedule of the Bail Out the Unemployed Tent City is as follows:

dedicated to the unemployed of the world
Sept 20 – 25, Pittsburgh

Daily Teach-ins – discussion groups, programs, films, music, etc.:
(All times and programs subject to last minute change; lunch and dinner provided daily)

(Note: This work in progress does not include music yet – updated Wed., Sept. 9)

Sun., Sept. 20 – Early meeting @ 10 a.m. to 12/1p.m. (Orientation: “What after Pittsburgh” & breakfast)
Pre-march rally @ 2 p.m. – march 4 Jobs @ 2:30 p.m. – rally @ 3:30 p.m. - 4:30/5p.m.

Sunday Eve TBA

Mon., Sept. 21
GLOBAL SOLIDARITY: Unions, communities & movements working togetheR
(10 a.m. – 12 p.m.)
Organizing the global struggle for jobs & workers rights
Global Solidarity: What does it mean?
Immigrant workers rights & global solidarity
The biggest global economic crisis since the 1930s
What is the G-20?: The roots of the global crisis
(Groups: USW, BAYAN, May 1st Coalition for Worker and Immigrant Rights and others)

Students and Youth Meeting 12 p.m. - 2 p.m.

Healthcare, Education, War – 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
A Moratorium on Foreclosure and Evictions
The Squatters Movement -The fight back is growing
We Remember Katrina (Groups: Picture the Homeless, Moratorium Now! Coalition Against Foreclosures and Evictions, Poor Peoples Human Rights Campaign, People’s Organization for Progress, NYC Coalition In Solidarity with Katrina/Rita Survivors)

Film on Mumia Abu-Jamal & Solidarity with Leonard Peltier 7 p.m. (Dinner)
(Group: Pittsburgh Mumia Coalition)

Tues., Sept. 22

(All events tentative unless noted otherwise)

Fulfilling King’s Dream: a Right to A job For All 10 a.m. –12 p.m.
The global joblessness crisis: how bad, how long?
What will it take start a jobs movement?
Needed: Jobs that pay a living wage
Needed: Jobs that help reconstruct society (Groups: Bail out the People Campaign, United Steel Workers, others)

Bring The Troops Home! Antiwar RALLY 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Money for jobs and education - not war and occupation
The war at home and abroad – connecting the issues
Fighting the Empire: Honduras, Palestine, Cuba, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan (groups TBA)

(Pennsylvanians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty)

Wed., Sept. 23
the struggle for the right to Healthcare/ discussion group 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. (groups TBA)

PanEl Discussion On the G-20 3 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Leo Gerard, Int. Pres. United Steel Workers
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate Economist
Emira Wood, Institute for Policy Studies
Berta Caceres, Coordinator, Consejo Civico de Organizaciones Populares e Indigenas de Honduras
Tammy Bang Liu, Labor/Community Strategy Center & Grassroots Global Justice Alliance
Carl Redwood Jr., Hill District consensus group
Rev. John Welsh, PIIN
(UE and Grassroots Global Justice alliance)

Rally for Clean Energy Jobs, Point State Park 6 p.m.

Thurs., Sept 24 (1st Day of G-20 summit)

Discussion groups and protests TBA

Fri.,Sept. 25 – Peoples March on G-20 – 12 p.m. (Tent city meeting other groups at Freedom Corner to march together)

Evening: Final tent city meetings and camp breakdown