Activists march to Senate offices for jobs

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Trying to build on the success they achieved in delivering the vote for President Obama, two days earlier, a collection of union and community activists demanded Pennsylvania Senators Robert Casey Jr. and Pat Toomey take action on jobs, wages and taxes.

Waving signs that read “The 99 Percent Needs A Raise,” “Corporations: Pay Your Fair Share” and “We want jobs not cuts,” approximately 100 marchers clogged the sidewalk in front of Casey’s office Nov. 9.

JobsNotCuts
JOBS, NOT CUTS—Reverend David Thornton rallies a group of labor and community activists outside U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey’s office, Nov. 9, calling for jobs and for the rich to “pay their fair share.” (Photo by J.L. Martello)

“We’re here to get Casey’s attention,” said Robert Bell of One Pittsburgh. “We’re looking at possible cuts to Social Security, SNAP (food stamps), Medicare and Pell Grants. We want him to support legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour, close loopholes and have the wealthy pay their fair share.”

In addition to One Pittsburgh, the crowd also boasted members from the Service Employees International Union, the United Steelworkers, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Allegheny County Labor Council, PA Working With Families, the Sierra Club and the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network.

Over a loudspeaker, Rev. David Thornton of PIIN told the marchers that while winning the election was great, the fight goes on.

“We congratulate Sen. Casey, but during this lame duck session we need him to renegotiate,” he said. “We want relief from anything that resembles a recession. We need relief. No Cuts More Jobs.”

As the crowd chanted and sang, most began marching from Casey’s office at the Regional Enterprise Tower to Smithfield Street, then across the bridge to Toomey’s South Side offices at Station Square where they repeated their demands in front of the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks building.

Stephanie Marshall, part of the group from PA Working Families, said her primary concern is jobs.

“I just want to tell them my story about how hard it is to get a job out here,” she said. “I’m a graduate of the Culinary Arts program at the Bidwell Training Center. Thank God my father is working, but he’s the only one.”

In a release prior to the event, One Pittsburgh spokesman Kendall Mason said the march was about delivering a “mandate for the middle class.”

“We didn’t toil away these last few months just to win an election,” she said. “We are working to take back our economy.”

Chris Chapman, who works at U.S. Steel’s Clairton Works, said he didn’t expect a reply from either senator’s office because neither was in town. But that didn’t matter because the response he wants to see will come from Washington, D.C.

“We are just making sure they keep their promises down in Washington,” he said. “No rest.”

(Send comments to cmorrow@newpitts­burgh­courier.com.)

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