Wednesday, March 2, 2011

JWJ's first "First Friday" action draws more than 150

Detroit: On March 4, more than 150 people, chanting and carrying signs including ones that read "Money for jobs, not the banks," rallied at the Michigan Labor Legacy Monument near Hart Plaza in Downtown Detroit to call attention to the city's high unemployment.

This First Friday for Full Employment rally, the first one in Detroit, was organized by Southeast Michigan Jobs With Justice (JWJ) and its Jobs Committee along with support from the UAW, Metro Detroit AFL-CIO, SEIU, two postal workers locals, Detroit Federation of Musicians, Moratorium NOW, OPEIU, and AFSCME. First Friday actions also took place in Chicago, New York City, Dayton, Ohio, Portland, Oregon and other cities where there are JWJ chapters.

First Friday actions correspond monthly with the release of the federal government's Bureau of Labor Statistics latest unemployment data. Despite the slight dip in unemployment nationally, First Friday actions serve as a reminder that a jobs deficit still exists and the unemployed still need a safety net to help them survive these tough economic times.

Rep. John Conyers (D-14th District) spoke to the crowd, emphasizing the need for a federal jobs program like the one he is sponsoring in Congress. Detroit Councilwoman Brenda Jones, a CWA member, echoed Detroiters' desperate needs for jobs. OPEIU member and JWJ activist, Maria Catalfio, gave a first-hand account of her bus trip to Wisconsin where she and other OPEIU members joined the massive protests against the proposed union-busting bill submitted by Republican governor, Scott Walker.

The next First Friday action will actually be held on Monday, April 4, in order to help build a rally at the Detroit Federal Building, Cass and Michigan, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., that has been called by the Communications Workers union (CWA) and the Metro Detroit AFL-CIO to support all public employees.

Cynthia Peele is a freelance writer living and working in Detroit, Michigan. 

She also serves as SEM-JWJ Public Relations Director.