On Monday afternoon, August 17, following two very busy sessions conducting the business oif the convention, UE Convention delegates marched to Baltimore City Hall to rally for Black Lives Matter, the Fight for 15 and a Union, and in support of hotel workers at the Baltimore Hilton, where the convention is being held, who are fighting for a fair contract through their union, UNITE HERE. Hotel workers joined UE in the march.
UE delegates were joined by members of other Baltimore unions and social justice organization. The march was led by Baltimore UE Locals 120 and 121. After UE members and allies arrived at the grounds of city hall, labor singers performed to set the tone. They were Anne Feeney of Pittsburgh, and the Fruit of Labor, composed of UE Local 150 delegates Nathanette Mayo, Angaza Laughinghouse and Darrion Smith.
In his remarks, Kingsley said, “Something is wrong when an unarmed black man is seven time more likely to die by police gunfire than an unarmed white man. Something is wrong when African American members of my union are twice as likely to be arrested and four times as likely to experience physical violence in the hands of the police. And something is wrong when in community after community we are militarizing our police forces.”
The other reason we are here, said Kingsley, is because workers in Baltimore and across America need a raise. “It’s time to Fight for $15 and a Union. We know it’s time because something is wrong when the federal minimum wage is worth less today than it was back in 1968… And something is wrong when workers wanting to form a union to improve their lot confront a minefield of trouble from employers and union busters willing to break the law to break their will.”
Kingsley noted that UE’s members in Baltimore, Local 120 at Locke Insulator and Loca1 121 at Clendenin Brothers, “helped us conceive and organize today’s rally. They were our inspiration for bringing our national convention to Baltimore.”
The next speaker was James Cook, president of UE Local 120, who talked about the commitment of his local to fight to make Baltimore a better place for all working people. He was followed by Leticia Lyles, an airport worker active in a union organizing committee with UNITE HERE Local 7. John Holmes, a shop steward in AFSCME Local 44, described his union’s current fight with the administration of the Baltimore public schools.
Rev. Grayland Hagler, the minister/organizer from Washington who inspired and thrilled delegates with his speech to the convention on Sunday, gave a brief by rousing address at the rally, urging participants to “Don’t back down” in the face of government repression and oppressive bosses. Angaza Laughinghouse, vice president of UE Local 150, also spoke. The rally concluded with songs by the Baltimore’s Charm City Labor Chorus.
Thanks to UE Field Organizer Dennis Orton and the leaders of Locals 120 and 121, who worked to reach out to other Baltimore unions and social justice organizations in order to connect UE’s convention with ongoing struggles of Baltimore working people.
You can see many more photos from the march and rally, and from the UE Convention and related events, on UE's Facebook page.