By Mary Ann Kader
Report back from the “We Are One” rally in Daley Plaza, Chicago Illinois, on Saturday, April 9, 2011
Last month, workers gathered together around the country to show unity in the face of anti-union backlash in states like Wisconsin. Chicago had its own rally on a beautiful day downtown. I was interested in attending this rally for several reasons. For one, I am a teacher and a member of the IFT. I indeed wanted to stand in solidarity with teachers in Wisconsin and other states where collective bargaining rights are being threatened. This rally was a coming together of workers from many unions standing together to express their gratitude and belief how their union supports them. Of course the speeches were eloquent, but more inspiring were the stories of the workers who attended. Some were recent immigrants and spoke only in their native language. Others told of how their parents or grandparents had immigrated and the unions had been there to assist them and their families. I proudly stood holding a placard for Arise Chicago, a workers’ rights organization. It bore the words FAITH, FE, WIARA, LABOR, PRACA, LABOR and ACTION, AKCJA, ACCION in English, Polish and Spanish. I stood with a Polish-speaking electrician and a Spanish-speaking laborer. Although these people are skilled professionals, educated and literate in their native language, they have had issues of unfair workplace practices and wage theft, because their employers took advantage of their limited English skills. There were several thousand people present at the rally. There was a full spectrum of ages and ethnicities represented. I felt the unity of spirit present in the workers. I felt the acknowledgment of myself as a worker and a commitment to my vocation as a teacher.
-Mary Ann is a proud pre-school teacher and member of IFT Local 571.
-Photo courtesy of Gary Stephen Hopmayer, http://www.standingalonetogether.com/