Unionists Rally for Democracy in D.C.


Union members joined a mass rally in the nation’s capital earlier this week, capping a week of pro-democracy protests with several hundred more peaceful arrests on the U.S. Capitol’s steps on Monday.  That brought total arrests for the week to over 1,200.

The last demonstration, by Democracy Awakening, followed a weekend of seminars and teach-ins on the baleful influence of money – and the one percent – on U.S. politics, along with voter suppression. Protesters from Democracy Spring, who had spent from April 11-15 on their own marches and peaceful arrests, sounded the same themes.

AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, Communications Workers President Chris Shelton, dozens of CWAers, American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox, plus AFGE members, were among leaders and big groups at the April 18 march.

Marchers demanded Congress approve legislation, and/or a constitutional amendment, to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-year-old Citizens United ruling. That decision, by the court’s 5-man GOP-nominated majority, opened the floodgates for the tsunami of corporate cash and additional millions from the rich, now flooding the U.S. political system. Faith leaders compared the mega-millions to the Biblical story about dancing around the Golden Calf.

But the Republican-run 114th Congress gives no sign of response. Legislation to restore the strength of the Voting Rights Act is marooned in the GOP-controlled U.S. House and the Senate’s ruling Republicans were the ones who helped push Citizens United in the first place.

“The AFL-CIO is proud to be part of this Democracy Awakening. The unions of the AFL-CIO are committed to broadening our democracy – to having the voices and votes of working people heard. That’s why we will continue to fight the corrupting influence of corporate cash,” Gebre told the crowd.

 Shelton added: “We know that on our own, CWA cannot restore workers’ rights or win the financial reforms we need to put working families back on track. The same is true for the critical issues facing environmental groups, consumer advocates and social justice activists. We can’t go it alone.”