Huge Wall Street Rally Calls for Financial Reforms

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Thousands of union members and their allies gathered in New York City for a "Good Jobs Now!" rally calling for Wall Street reforms that make the economy work for everyone and not just the big banks.

Following a short rally, the estimated crowd of 15,000 marched to Wall Street and filled up two streets during rush hour. "The message we bring is this," AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said. "Wall Street, fix the mess you made. America lost 8.5 million jobs because of the financial crisis created by Wall Street, and now is 11 million jobs in the hole. We need to go back to basics, where good jobs, not bad debts, drive our growth—an economy where Wall Street is the servant, and not the master, of Main Street."

Potentially damaging cuts to education and other public services was one theme of the rally, which came as the AFT is launching its "Pink Hearts, Not Pink Slips" campaign to draw attention to the impact of those cuts. United Federation of Teachers member Sean Blanks, a teacher at I.S. 392 in Brooklyn, said it's more important than ever to invest in children. "This is a tough job," he said, "and what's happening now is making it even tougher." UFT president and AFT vice president Michael Mulgrew also spoke at the rally.

Student activist Adolpho Abreau told the crowd how layoffs, deteriorating school conditions and the prospect of huge student loans for college pose daunting challenges for even the most motivated students. "What kind of message are we getting? That we are not important?"

The AFL-CIO website has video clips from the rally, as well as messages and comments from hundreds of people who watched the event online. [AFL-CIO Now, Dan Gursky,video by Matthew Jones]

April 30, 2010