An estimated 20,000 union members and supporters rallied at Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin Parkway Saturday afternoon.
Rally speakers called for a “Second Bill of Rights” for American workers, including full employment, collective bargaining, voting rights, education, healthcare and unemployment benefits.
AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka, says the “Second Bill of Rights” is part of labor’s organizing strategy in a presidential election year.
“We’ll be talking about shared prosperity and the ‘Second Bill of Rights,’ saying do you or don’t you support it?” said Trumka. “Those that support it will get a lot of resources from us because we’re going to have 400,000 volunteers this year in the battleground states.”
Jeff Gilliam, the business agent for an AFSCME local which represents Philadelphia Water Department employees, says he hopes the rally shows Americans that the labor movement still has clout. “Well I mean, we’re not as powerful as we were in years past, but we’re still here and we’re a force to be reckoned with, and that is what this day is all about,” said Gilliam. “To let the politicians know you can’t just take us for granted and that’s for the White House on down.”
The event was organized after Democrats chose to hold their national convention in North Carolina, not known for being union friendly.
An earlier “Second Bill of Rights” was a part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s State of the Union address in 1944, but remained largely an obscure document.