Thousands rally for labor rights in Los Angeles

by Russell's Rants

Originally published February 26, 2011

I’ve just come from a rally on the steps of the Los Angeles City Hall in support of workers’ right to collectively bargaining. Several major labor unions and liberal advocacy groups organized the noon rally to show kinship with Wisconsin laborers who have been protesting in Madison for the last two weeks. They praised the 14 Democratic Wisconsin senators who have left the state to deny Governor Scott Walker a quorum to enact his union-busting legislation. Similar solidarity rallies were held in other major cities around the country, including New York, Chicago, Columbus and Austin.

Thousands of people attended the spirited rally in Los Angeles.

f9ae8e37464b8a318d26ecb97375d824Speakers included several local politicians (L.A. City Councilmembers Janice Hahn, José Huizar and Paul Krekorian and California Secretary of State Debra Bowen) labor union representatives and liberal activists. In addition, several union members from Wisconsin spoke, relaying their first-hand, unpleasant experiences with Scott Walker when he was the Milwaukee County executive. The common theme was that Governor Walker needs to be stopped in Wisconsin before his efforts to eliminate collective bargaining rights spread to other states with newly elected Republican governors who have similar regressive policy ideas on their minds.

Several speakers jokingly thanked Scott Walker for waking up the labor movement and American voters to the Republican’s true agenda: not balancing the budget (because the workers have already agreed to economic concessions) but settling scores with their political opponents. The billionaire Koch brothers were singled out as emblematic of the corrupting effect of big corporate money on the political process. “America has a Koch addiction” drew applause and laughter.

The rally was upbeat and high spirited. Only the handful of Lyndon LaRouche supporters at a table in the back seemed completely out of place with their “Impeach Obama” signs. They were getting an earful from rally attendees, although they were mostly ignored. When one speaker implored the crowd to reelect Barack Obama in 2012, she got a roaring approval.

I’ve never been to a labor rally before, but was inspired to attend this one due to Governor Walker’s obnoxious overreach in power. As the rally-cry went, “This is what democracy looks like!”