Activists use political theater to warn about 'Romney's America' and sign a Second Bill of Rights
During some speeches at the Republican convention unions have been a punching bag. In contrast, yesterday labor rights groups in Tampa used theater to demonstrate what the workforce might look like if Mitt Romney is elected as president. Protesters signed what they call Americaâs Second Bill of Rights.
Two to three hundred protesters rumbled through the sanctioned parade route in downtown Tampa, shouting âStand up, fight back.â Protestors held signs. One read: âIf you can read this, thank a teacher.â A woman wearing a black union of pipe fitters t-shirt held a sign reading âWeâre your neighbors, not your enemy!â John Carr works with the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations or AFL-CIO. Carr said citizens shouldnât vote based on a single issue.
âThe country wasnât built on the 2nd Amendment; the country wasnât built on Roe v Wade. But, truly, for all Americans from the very, very most wealthy to the poorest of the poor, the one thing that they all share in common is the economy. They all buy bread, they all drink milk. And if the economy is not functioning, the people it hurts the most are the people who can afford it the least.â
Carr said the Republican version of âtrickle down economicsâ doesnât work.
âWe believe the economic model that says that government has a legitimate role to play in ensuring our economy functions. So that when necessary they step in with stimulus, when itâs not necessary they reign in taxes and reign in inflation and that has worked. And the economy is on its way back and we want to see that continue.â
The group stopped to act out a scene of what they called Romneyâs America. A man in a Mitt Romney mask held a suitcase full of giant money with the words âtax returnâ painted across it. He distributed paper money to people holding cans with âminimum wageâ written on them. The actor wearing the Mitt Romney mask was Bill Brooks, president of the Union for city public works employees in Bradenton. His wife Glenda Brooks is also a city employee.
âI do work for a county municipalityâa county myself. And you know we just want fair wages. And so many peopleâone of my co-workers sheâs been with us for 7 years and she just went over the poverty level of over $25,000.â *âWe donât hold it against Romney for being a billionaire. Weâll shake is hand. Weâre proud of you. But donât ask me to work for your for $10 an hour.â*
Postal workers had a significant presence at the event. Donna Turuc has worked for the postal service for 18 years. She said her organization gets a bad wrap due to the misconception that the post office is sustained for by tax payers.
âWeâreâpeople think weâre a government organizationâno, the governmentâtax dollars donât pay for us. The postageâif you donât want to go buy stamps, if you donât want to mail priority mail and you want to use UPS or FedEx, great! Do it! They get paid just as much as usâby the wayâbut theyâre not under siege.â
Turuc said Republicans expect people to live without public assistance, but refuse to pay a reasonable wage.
âWe have a union, but we are not allowed to strike. Thatâs part of our agreement with the government, so that we never, never stop the mail. We just negotiate our contract, and we sure negotiated a bad one last time for the benefit of the postal service where they brought in a bunch of people that get paid half the wage. And Iâm sure those people are going to need some assistance. Iâm a single mother of three I havenât had to have assistance my whole life. No free lunch, no nothing, I couldnât get a scholarship for my kid, because I made a decent wage.â
Other issues acted out by the political theater were having a voice at work, quality education and a secure and healthy future. Another was full participation in the electoral process. Voters approached a pretend poll worker. Numerous people were turned away for not having proper ID, including a student and a man with only a birth certificate.
âWho wants to try next?â âI vote, I vote.â âHello, sir. What is your name?â âHector Ramos.â âHector Ramos. Let me see your ID, pleaseâ¦ Hector Ramos, Hector Ramos. Iâm sorry, sir. You are no longer on the list. Youâve been purged. Iâm sorry, you should have checked.â
Protesters unfurled a giant banner printed with the five tenants of the groupâs Americaâs Second Bill of Rights. Attendees signed the banner at the conclusion of the march. Two helicopters circled overhead throughout the event. As activists left the parade route, they were met with a school bus sized paddy-wagon and a group of about 100 observing police officers. The protest ended peacefully without police interference.comments powered by Disqus