One Nation, For Good Jobs
Washington, DC—Dozens of UFCW Local 400 members took the metro from union headquarters to the Lincoln Memorial on October 2, 2010 to join forces with more than 400 other groups who endorsed the “One Nation Working Together” rally for jobs, equal justice, peace, and public education for all.
Mary Vines, a receiving clerk for Tyson Foods and shop steward for 31 years, was revved up before hopping on the metro.
The only other rally she had attended prior to One Nation was the 30-year march honoring Martin Luther King.
“I decided to attend this march because I believe in supporting my union,” said Vines. “We want to take our country back and we want to move forward.”
Over 150,000 people from across the nation flooded the Lincoln Memorial steps and continued well past the Reflecting Pool on the National Mall; all rallying for the change they voted for back in 2008.
“If you have 10 people, not much is going to happen but if you have 10,000 or more, there is more of a chance,” said Samantha Powell, Local 400 member and cashier at Kroger #507 “Strength in numbers, that’s why we came.”
Though the march encompassed several high-profile causes, Local 400 members and staff focused on rallying for good jobs.
“By good jobs, we mean jobs that pay decent, respectable and livable wages, good healthcare benefits, and paid holidays,” said Mikki Harris, director of community growth strategies for Local 400. “We are talking about uplifting or bringing back the middle class.”
Local 400 member Todd Robinson, a stock clerk for Kroger #500, agreed with Harris. “We need better healthcare, better jobs and to solve the unemployment number because it’s way too high,” he said.
Local 400 members, clad in their signature gold shirts, steamrolled through the nation’s capital holding their rally posters high while taking in the sights and sounds of the movement.
At this march, there was not a keynote speaker, but instead several guests were afforded the opportunity to share their stories about why they were fighting for change. The speakers included teachers, unemployed workers, immigrants, war veterans, and small business owners.
UFCW had a table on the sidewalk parallel to the Reflecting Pool, a place were members could mingle with each other, the representatives in attendance, and other supporters of the labor movement.
Along the sidewalk lined with tables, organizations and individuals were handing out buttons and literature. A man dressed head to toe in bright-colored hand painted denim was a spectacle for those passing by eagerly whipping out their cameras to capture the moment. He held a peace sign made of wood with the words “say no to no.”
Harris worked to turn members out for the rally as soon as it was announced. “Part of getting involved was because this march fell on the heels of all of Local 400’s activist and steward trainings, which encouraged people to become involved,” said Harris. “So, this was an opportunity for members to take action.”
As the members and staff of Local 400 headed back to the metro, the speaker on the stage chanted, “ever forward, never backward.” This statement reflected the thoughts of Paula Mallory, a Local 400 member and Boar’s Head worker, who has been very active in marches in her hometown of Richmond. She noticed people seem to think the fight is over to enhance this country, to make it the people’s nation, but it’s never over. “We have to keep fighting,” she said.
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