Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Union workers, supporters march near RNC

By Elizabeth Johnson
Herald reporter

About 500 union workers and supporters marched along a mile-long route Wednesday evening near the RNC in Tampa. | Photos by Elizabeth Johnson/Bradenton Herald

TAMPA - Municipal workers, trade laborers, educators and postal employees made up a group of approximately 500 who marched along a mile-long route at 6 p.m. Wednesday with the west central Florida AFL-CIO.

Police riding along bicycles directed the march. Other authorities were on standby atop buildings and overpasses as the group wound its way through streets near the Tampa Bay Times Forum chanting “Stand up. Fight back.” The group made five stops along the way, performing skits about “America’s Second Bill of Rights.” Protesters signed a large copy of the document as the march ended.
The skits portrayed the rights to full employment and a living wage, full participation in the electoral process, a voice at work, a quality education and secure and healthy future. The skits showed how those rights would be violated in “Romney’s America.”
A man leading the march with a megaphone and the crowd participated in call and response remarks.
“Why do Romney and Ryan care more about their CEO friends?” the man asked.
“Because it’s all about money,” the marchers replied.
“Is it right that Romney cares more about CEOs than the middle class?” he followed.
“No!” they yelled.
Marchers held signs and yelled that they want to be employed instead of jobs being outsourced to other countries.

“The GOP wants to ignore global warming, evolution, and they don’t understand how women’s reproductive systems work,” said Mark Klutho, 63, of Largo.
Klutho carried a large white poster with the words "Greedy Old Party” all written in capital letters. The letters GOP stood out written in red ink.
Corey Fernandez, with Pipefitters local 123,
signs "America's Second Bill of Rights."
Jim Schuckel, of North Port, attended the march because he wants workers rights and opinions respected in the workplace, he said.
“We want to have a voice in the workplace, to be treated equally,” Schuckel, 48, said. “We have to have some sort of protection in the workplace.”
Toward the front of the march a woman carried a sign saying “CWA fighting the 1%.” Next to her a group of people held a red banner describing themselves as the Communications Workers of America Local 3108 union.
Donna Turuc, who has worked for the USPS for 18 years, said she took a vacation day to attend the march.
“My biggest problem is we are an excellent organization and they want to dismantle our union,” Turuc said.
Three buses of postal workers attended Wednesday’s events, she said. Those workers held signs reading, "Save Saturday delivery."
“There’s this talk about us being inefficient,” she said. “Republicans are trying to destroy the postal service.”
Turuc is a single mother to three children. She said USPS is replacing veteran works with young staff for half the wages.
“They’re trying to get us all to retire. They’ve changed my shift,” Turuc said. “That’s age discrimination. I’m 50. I cannot retire.”
JoAnn Valenti, a retired educator from Tampa attended the march because she believes “the working class, the middle class, is being railroaded.”
“If this crew (Romney/Ryan) gets elected, we will have the most undereducated and misinformed generation in the world,” Valenti said, adding American schools have been “dumbed down” for decades. “We owe our students a decent education and we owe our teachers fair pay and respect.”

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