Union Supporters Rally At State House

By Phillip Martin

Feb. 28, 2011

Union workers and supporters rallied at the State House Saturday, in solidarity with pro-union demonstrations across the country. (Phillip Martin/WGBH)

BOSTON — Tens of thousands of people rallied in cities across the United States over the weekend in support of Wisconsin’s public sector unions, which are in a standoff with Republican elected officials in that state over the right to bargain collectively.  Labor groups including the Service Employees International Union organized a rally in Boston. 

A large crowd gathered at the State House Saturday to show support for union rights. (Phillip Martin/WGBH)

The crowd included ironworkers, pipe fitters, hotel housekeepers, teachers and nurses. Protesters like Steve Kirschbaum, a school-bus driver and union organizer, said the legislation in Wisconsin -- aimed ostensibly at easing budget woes — was a thinly veiled effort to weaken the labor movement.

"We fought decades, decades to win our union rights and right now, they’re in jeopardy," Kirschbaum said. "All throughout the country there is a virtual class war against out benefits, against our wages, against our very existence with the right to collectively bargain."

Three tea party members bearing signs “Don’t Tread on Me” counter-protested across the street as the rally began, but quickly dispersed.

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