by Erick Sanchez | January 24, 2013
Philadelphia – AFSCME Pres. Lee Saunders, District Council 33 Pres. Pete Matthews and District Council 47 Pres. Cathy Scott were joined on Saturday by other labor leaders to fire up thousands of city workers in Independence Park, calling on Mayor Michael Nutter to respect workers’ rights and think about working families, not corporate profits.
This was one day after 500 protested Nutter’s harmful policies outside of the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Washington, DC, where Nutter was chairing the meeting.
On the holiday weekend honoring Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Saunders spoke of the slain civil rights leader and called for a better Philadelphia for all workers. King’s dream of a just society that protected the rights of working families is under attack in the City of Brotherly Love.
Since taking office, Nutter has gone out of his way to cut taxes for the wealthy while asking for more and more sacrifices from the city’s public workforce. He’s demanded that workers exchange their retirement security for a tiny wage increase, while at the same time demanding that they give the city more power to put them out of work for weeks on end without pay.
“How can he pretend to tell other Mayors how to run their city when he can’t even negotiate contracts with City workers here in Philadelphia,” Scott asked.
Matthews added: “This mayor continues to disrespect the hard work city workers do. He refuses to treat them with the dignity they deserve and honor the words he campaigned on.”
Saunders told the gathered crowd about King paying the ultimate price for standing with workers, the men of AFSCME Local 1733 in Memphis, where he was slain while speaking out for sanitation workers’ rights.
“Mayor Nutter considers himself a man of the people – but in reality, he’s a man of only certain people: the top 1 percent,” President Saunders said. “He advocates for the wealthy, not the workers. He supports the corporations, not the cops. He champions the people with a lot, not the folks with too little. Dr. Martin Luther King knew that civil rights and workers’ rights were connected.”