Union leaders and members joined a mass rally in Washington, D.C., on Monday, capping a week of pro-democracy protests with several hundred more peaceful arrests on the U.S. Capitol’s steps that day.
The last demonstration, by Democracy Awakening, followed a weekend of seminars and teach-ins on the influence of money on U.S. politics. Protesters from Democracy Spring, who had spent from April 11-15 on their own marches and peaceful arrests, sounded the same themes.
AFL-CIO Executive Vice President Tefere Gebre, Communications Workers President Chris Shelton, dozens of CWAers, American Federation of Government Employees President J. David Cox, plus AFGE members, were among leaders and big groups at the April 18 march.
Marchers demanded Congress approve legislation to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-year-old Citizens United ruling. That decision, by the court’s five-man, GOP-nominated majority, opened the floodgates for the tsunami of corporate and billionaires’ cash now flooding the U.S. political system.
The GOP-controlled Congress is unlikely to act, despite pressure from citizens concerned about the ways that wealth is undermining democracy.
“The AFL-CIO is proud to be part of this Democracy Awakening. The unions of the AFL-CIO are committed to broadening our democracy – to having the voices and votes of working people heard. That’s why we will continue to fight the corrupting influence of corporate cash,” Gebre told the crowd.
Shelton, who was willing to be arrested, added: “We know that on our own, CWA cannot restore workers’ rights or win the financial reforms we need to put working families back on track. The same is true for the critical issues facing environmental groups, consumer advocates and social justice activists. We can’t go it alone.
“But when we join together, as we have in the past, we can move our democracy forward. We know this. When every organization makes restoring our democracy at least its second most important issue, we can succeed,” Shelton said. Besides Shelton, some 80 CWA members volunteered to be arrested.