1/21/17 Three members of Local 304 attended the Women’s March on Washington in DC--Diane Hennessey, John Rose, and Rebekah Padgett.
For each of us, it was inspiring and affirming. Here are a few remembrances and thoughts that we wanted to share with WFSE members:
My plane to DC was filled with almost 100% people (mostly women) who were going to the Women's march in DC. I sat next to an AFL-CIO organizer from Detroit who had been
organizing for 20 years. She gave me hope that even if Trump tries to move towards right-to-work measures in each state, that there are ways around that, but it will take work and vigilance.
The people on the plane cheered and were energized to stand up for what we believe to be democracy. We all cheered when we touched down in DC - a truly inspiring moment and then that feeling just kept going through the weekend.
The march was empowering, inspiring, and energizing. A primary take away from the march for me was that we cannot give up the fight and we are not alone because millions of people feel the same way we do. Unions will continue to be pivotal in the fight to improve (or at least maintain) fair labor practices and safe working conditions. It was very impressive that there were no fights or arrests even with a huge crowd of 800,000 to 1 million people, even with protesters against the march within the same space as us.
What stands out in my mind is the attitude of the people involved in the rally. Everyone was clearly worried, upset, and frustrated regarding the election results and Mr. Trump's actions and behavior, but at the same time there was a positive feel amongst everyone that the American People could and would stand by our core values of tolerance, equality, common sense and the belief that we the people were sovereign, and that in the end the voice of the common good would prevail.
In contrast to inauguration day, the Metro train cars were packed. The mood was enthusiastic and warm. There were so many women, many bringing children with hand-made, thoughtful signs. Once downtown, we streamed from all directions to the rally site near the National Mall where we joined up into a sea of pink and passion.
The participants were diverse, from across this nation and many other countries, a wide variety of cultures, ages, shapes, and interests. We met sisters and brothers from the AFL-CIO, including AFSCME, who were watching, listening, and ready to resist. This was not about partisan politics, this was women (and supporters) standing up for ourselves and our families--for reproductive health, health insurance, education, a healthy environment, and against racism, misogyny, xenophobia, sexual assault, and more. We heard a range of speakers that included union members and leaders, actresses, politicians, organizers, and activists such as Gloria Steinem and Michael Moore. We stood shoulder to shoulder, listening, talking, chanting, singing, and marching. So many encouraging smiles and greetings. It was joyous and inspirational. And now we are returned to our towns and cities to join arms within our communities.
More than ever before, the unions will need to work hard to build membership and find opportunities to collaborate with other organizations and groups. We need to find common ground and not lose any more ground. Each of us needs to recommit to our communities and find ways to take action.