Teamsters

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Unions rally to restore, strengthen Voting Rights Act

Urged on by union leaders, civil rights leaders and sympathetic lawmakers, more than 1,000 people descended on Congress last week to demand lawmakers restore and strengthen the Voting Rights Act.

Voting rights is still a problem.

The lobbying followed a mass rally on Capitol Hill, organized by the Democracy Initiative. The rally was the culmination of a months-long march of unionists, civil rights activists, clergy, environmentalists and others from Selma, Ala., to D.C., demanding restoration and improvement of the law.

They all demanded lawmakers approve the Voting Rights Advancement Act, legislation introduced in June to overturn the two-year-old U.S. Supreme Court ruling that gutted the enforcement sections of the landmark 1965 Voting Rights Act.
 
Several of the speakers vowed that if Congress didn't act now, marchers would be back, with sit-ins and risking arrest, just as the original civil rights marchers crusaded, sat in and were arrested 50 or more years ago.

Larry Cohen, the former president of the Communications Workers of America, said:

We will continue to work, we will continue to fight, we will continue to march until we have justice, the right to vote and democracy in our country. We will mobilize millions. ... We care about workers’ rights, which are in a shambles and are a disgrace, but we can’t win these fights if 30 million people can’t vote. 

The legislation, introduced by top Democrats on committees that handle civil rights bills and Congressional Black Caucus members, just picked up its first GOP backer, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska. It also would outlaw voter suppression laws that curb or ban voting by African-Americans, women, Latinos, workers, students, the elderly and others.

  • Press Associates contributed to this report.