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United Auto Workers, Rainbow/PUSH to Join for March in Detroit

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By Diane Bukowski, Special to the NNPA from the Michigan Citizen –

DETROIT (NNPA) — A rising tide of hope for the future has hit Detroit as Rainbow/PUSH leader Jesse Jackson and prominent union, church and community representatives kicked off a campaign to rebuild the nation’s cities, provide jobs and education, enact a moratorium on foreclosures, and end the wars in the Middle East.

United Auto Workers President Bob King and Jackson are the key leaders of the Jobs, Justice and Peace campaign, which was unveiled at a recent press conference. They announced that a march in Detroit on Aug. 28, the 47th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1963 march on Washington, D.C., will kick it off. King hosted a Freedom Walk of 125,000 in Detroit that June, where he first gave his historic “I Have a Dream” speech.

Jackson said Detroit is again “ground zero” for the crisis faced by the nation’s cities. In addition to the march in Detroit, Jackson said the coalition is calling on people across the nation to march at their local unemployment offices.

“It’s a good day to be alive in Detroit,” Rev. David Bullock said. Bullock, pastor of St. Matthews Church, is a Rainbow PUSH leader and also heads the Highland Park branch of the NAACP. He and King helped lead a march on Chase Bank sponsored by the U.S. Social Forum in June.

“I represent the Facebook, Twitter and hip hop generation, which sometimes says marches are out of style,” said Bullock. “But marches won civil rights laws and created the benefits we have in our world now. It is time to demand good-paying jobs, an end to seniors being held in bondage to the pharmaceutical companies and an end to people deciding whether to turn their lights on or eat. People must come out of their churches, union halls and homes to take the streets again.”

Speakers targeted the nation’s banks, corporations and war as the culprits responsible for the misery of its people.

“The government bailed out the banks with our tax dollars, but the banks never reinvested in our country,” Jackson said. “Instead, they say to urban American ‘austerity and deficit reduction,’ and have foreclosed four million more homes this year.

“The public sector is under attack, public education and public housing are being cut, but Congress just voted $6 billion more for the war in Afghanistan.

“The U.S. bailed out GM, but they are closing plants at home and shifting them overseas.

“Detroit has an unemployment rate of 35 percent and up. We need an urban policy, an economic recovery, reconstruction from the bottom up. We have millions of talented workers ready to rebuild our national infrastructure.”

King said, “We stand strongly with the local and national movements for moratoriums on foreclosures. We cannot stand by while people are thrown out of their homes because of the global economic situation created by the U.S., while bankers get billions of dollars in bonuses.”

Attorney Jerome Goldberg is a leader of Michigan’s Moratorium NOW! Coalition against Foreclosures, Evictions and Utility Shut-offs.

“It was exciting to hear the president of the UAW support a moratorium on foreclosures,” he said after the press conference. “Taxpayers have given the banks $400 billion to pay off the full cost of foreclosed mortgages through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. This campaign represents a fundamental change in the stance of the UAW, initiated by the election of leaders like Bob King and Cindy Estrada. This is a great time to begin as 400,000 unemployed people nationally are about to lose their unemployment benefits because Congress refused to extend them.”

King also expressed support for the public sector.

“How is America to be competitive if we lay off teachers and public workers?” King asked. “The UAW, AFSCME, SEIU, the Steelworkers and the Teamsters, all workers must come together to demand their First Amendment rights to organize into strong unions, which are the greatest anti-poverty tool of all.”

Al Garrett, president of Michigan AFSCME Council 25, which represents 60,000 state, county, and city workers, beamed during the press conference about the call for solidarity.

“The public workforce in Detroit and across Michigan has been decimated by this economy,” Garrett said. “But the silence has been deafening. We are elated to see the UAW and Rainbow Coalition recognize our plight. We pledge all our resources to make this campaign happen.”

For further information on the Jobs, Justice and Peace campaign, contact Michele Martin at UAW Solidarity House, 313.926.5292, or the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at 773.373.3366.

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