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Standing room only for Sue Sadlowski Garza, Karen Lewis, Chuy Garcia, and U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders... Jammed Steelworkers union hall as the 10th Ward turns out in celebration, determination to elect Garza alderman on April 7....

An announced rally in Chicagos 10th Ward in the Southeast corner of the city filled to standing room only as people of the 10th Ward strongly turned out to support the aldermanic campaign of Sue Sadlowski Garza on April 2, 2015. Garza had forced incumbent Alderman, John Pope, into an April 7th run-off that she is obviously determined to win.

Tenth Ward aldermanic candidate Sue Sadlowski Garza (left) and Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis (right) were among those who spoke to the standing room only crowd at the rally to elect Garza on April 2, 2015. Substance photo by Kim Scipes.The old United Steelworkers of America Local 1033 Hall on South Avenue O was filled to capacity, and the energy was crackling. The crowd started coming in a little after 6 pm, but before long, it was clear the hall was going to fill. This is a pretty solid working class area of Chicago, and people have long lived in the neighborhoods, so people recognized friends and met new ones as they came in. This was a crowd of all ages from World War II veterans down to infants and was mostly white and Latino, but pretty mixed between women and men. But people kept streaming in. Soon, there was an announcement, asking people to save the chairs for seniors, and there were a lot of them! The rally got started a little after 7 pm.

John Nichols, a National Writers Union member and The Nation journalist, chaired the meeting. Nichols knew his audience and was in fine form.

First to speakand this reporter unfortunately did not get his name was a religious leader, who started the rally off with a kick by quoting Frederick Douglass: Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never has, and it never will. He continued, striking a demand that was heard throughout the evening: We need a movement; we want a movement.

As might be expected on the evening before Good Friday, he talked about Holy Week, 2000 years ago: It was a time of corruption. He argued that Jesusthe one of Palestine, not the Mexican of Pilsencame to build the beloved community. He said Jesus came Not looking to be served; he came to serve. And then he put it together: The time is ripe for a movement to emerge and change everything!

Some of the huge crowd that packed the Steelworkers Union hall for the April 2, 2015 rally to elect Sue Garza. Substance photo by Kim Scipes.John Nichols came back, and stated as a trade unionist, he was proud to be among so many good unionists! And he celebrated the diversity in the room.

Scott Marshall of SOAR (Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees) reminded the audience of the Memorial Day massacre in 1937. It happened just across the road, where 10 men were killed and over a hundred wounded, including women and children. A peaceful march to urge men still in the mill to come out and join the Little Steel strike was attacked by the Chicago Police Department, with over 250 cops having been mobilized to protect Republic Steel, which had been stockpiling machine guns and other weapons inside the mill.

As the picketers approached the mill, someone threw something, and the cops started firing into the crowd with deadly results. (A memorial that has not been well-kept stands outside the Hall, with the name of the 10 killed listed on it. The best account of the massacre is Michael Dennis 2010 book, The Memorial Day Massacre and the Movement for Industrial Democracy, published by Palgrave Macmillan.) Marshall invited the crowd to return on Memorial Day to commemorate the massacre, and announced that AFL-CIO President, Rich Trumka, would be the keynote speaker.

After Marshall sat down, Nichols retuned to the podium and announced, in awe: Incredible mobilization! He then named off 15 or more organizations that had helped build the rally, and which were present in the hall.

Another photograph of the standing room only crowd on April 2 at the Steelworkers union hall on South Ave. O. Substance photo by Kim Scipes.Nichols then gave credit where it was due. We need to honor the woman who cleared the space for Chuy Garcia to run for mayor: Karen Lewis! The crowd exploded in tribute, giving Karen a standing ovation. They began that familiar chant: Karen, Karen, Karen!

Lewis spoke to the crowd: This is the start of a movement. No matter what happens on Tuesday, this is the start of a movement. She pointed out that democracy is the best way to do things better. She said the elites of Chicago are not going to like it, but progress beings by moving an inch forward, a foot forward. She said she had met a lot of officialsnot impressed. She pointed out that this was an opportunity to change Chicago, to change the national landscape. She said, But we need someone of real integrity, real strength and introduced someone who had always had Lewis back: Sue Sadlowski Garza!

And after Nichols said Lewis was the most courageous trade union leader in the country, the crowd gave her another standing ovation as she left the hall.

Garza got up, and staked her claim: Ive been in this ward for 55 years, and my family has been here for 140 years! She talked about generations of Chicagoans who have fought so hard just to have a voice. And she said her campaign had disrupted conversations, and had already disrupted conversations between Rahm Emanuel and John Popeand the audience roared its approval.

She pointed out that none of the mistreatment of the 10th Ward was by chance, None of this happened by accident. She further pointed out, It was not by accident that pet coke [petroleum cokea by-product of refining Canadian tar sands-based oil-KS] was put in the 10th Ward. It was not by accident that the mental health facilities in the Ward had been closed, that services were privatized. She said others did not have the 10th Wards interest at heart, and when she announced by John Pope had received a $61,000 donation from the Koch Brothers, the crowd erupted in lengthy booing.

Garza said she wanted to Build, recreate and unite the 10th Ward. She said she would fight for a complete ban on pet coke in the Ward. She stood for transparency, and participatory processes. She said shed fight to implement a La Salle Street tax. And I will vote NO on any bill that cuts pensions of Chicagos workers! She further announced that she supported an elected school board.

But she emphasized that Our destiny is tied to one another in the Ward. She said the 10th Ward was forged of steel. And she said, Its about us!

It was clear Garza had struck a nerve with the audience. They stood and cheered for minutes.

Nichols returned to the podium: Ordinary people want their city back. And then, he announced Chuy Garcia, the man who had forced Rahm Emanuel into a run-off.

One of the few photos of the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937. The massacre took place when Chicago police officers, paid by Republic Steel during the "Little Steel" strike, attacked workers during a picnic and murdered ten of them. A video of the massacre was suppressed for nearly a decade as Chicago's ruling class tried to continue to cover up its police department's complicity.Chuy Garcia enthusiastically came to the podium. Im here to support Sue! he announced. He said it was always important to treat working people with dignity and respect. When he said the mayoral run-off was the first in the citys history, the crowd erupted wildly. He said We need people who will fight for good jobs, who will fight to clean up the environment in the 10th Ward. He saluted Karen Lewis. He mentioned Bernie Sanders, and people stood up and cheered.

Chuy stated, The whole country is watching Chicago. When he said that, there was more cheering for him. And the crowd spontaneously started changing his name: Chuy, Chuy, Chuy!

Chuy stepped down from the stage, obviously enjoying himself and appreciating the adulation. This reporter, who had seen him earlier in the campaign, was impressed with his maturation as a candidate, and how he assertively took the fight to Mayor 1%.

Finally, the last speaker: US Senator Bernie Sanders. The crowd again exploded: Bernie, Bernie, Bernie!

Bernie didnt disappoint. He said he didnt just come to the 10th Ward to support Garza, although he did support her. He said he didnt just come to Chicago to support Garcia, although he did. He said he came to support building of a movement across the country, because When people stand together, nothing is impossible! And another standing ovation.

A photo of the plaque listing the ten USW members murdered during the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937.Sanders pointed out that the US had the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any industrialized country. He pointed out that the top tenth of the top 1% had more wealth than the bottom 90% of Americans. He said that over the last two years, the 14 richest Americans made $157 BILLION dollars, more wealth than the bottom 40% of the population COMBINED!

He talked about how the billionaire class and the Republican Party were trying to take away health care benefits of over 27 million Americans. To wide applause, he said, We need national health care for all!

He stated several other demands, such as for free college education. He said billionaires should pay their fair share. Sanders wants to invest in the infrastructure, and put millions of people to work. He also said its time to pay women the same amount as men: the 77 cents a woman makes to a mans $1 has got to end! He wants the minimum wage to be $15 an hour. He wants new trade policies, rejecting NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement, signed by Bill Clinton-KS] and the TPP [Trans-Pacific Partnership that President Obama is trying to fast track through Congress-KS]. He wants products built in the US.

He noted, climate change is real. He wants energy cuts, especially of carbon, and he wants our energy system to be rebuilt on the basis of sustainable energy.

And he wants to end the absurdity where billionaires can buy elections. He wants to overturn the Supreme Courts Citizens United decision. He wants public funding of elections.

He says the election of April 7 in Chicago has national significance. He said progressives arent giving up that easy. He said weve got to stand together, representing ordinary workers. He said the only way to win, was by millions of people standing up and saying, This country belongs to us!

The room exploded. More applause. More chanting.

And then, John Nichols closed out the program. He pointed out Bea Lumpkin, who is 97 years old and who is in the hall! He said Bea wants everyone to be out knocking on peoples doors. She wasnt giving up, and she didnt want anyone else to do so either.

A couple of comments by this reporter. Progressives tend to glorify the working class, but often have no idea, much less understanding, of working people and their lives. Like most Americans, most workers can be passive, and not involved in politics or anything outside of their particular communities. They can be too immersed in sports, or too caught up with the Kardashians.

However, when working people decide to get involved, when they come together like they did last night, their hope, their determination and their caring for their people, their neighborhoods, their city and their country, is something beautiful to observe. This was evident in the hall. As one observer said, This Ward hasnt been this unified in years!

One other comment: the political scene has changed, although we wont know if its taken its first significant step or not until April 7th. But this crowd and it was not a crowd of young progressives, nor of nerds nor yuppies this crowd roared in support, again and again, for people who demand that they be treated with respect, that working people be treated with dignity. Interestingly, they didnt shy away from old bugaboos such as national health insurance. They want to work with people to make this a better world, and I think theres an opening that needs to be recognized, supported and joined.

[Kim Scipes is the Chair of the Chicago Chapter of the National Writers Union, UAW #1981.]



Comments:

April 3, 2015 at 7:02 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Proctology reports and anonymous comments...

One of the reasons why we monitor comments here at substancenews.net and reject any anonymous, pseudononymous, or otherwise stupid comments is that our readers deserve to know who is saying what about whom and what. Earlier this afternoon, some entity posted a comment here attacking the Chicago Teachers Union and leaving a nonsensical YOUR NAME and the following email address: omg@electionpool.com...

So we removed that comment, pending verification of the accuracy of the email address and the existence of a real person there. Naturally, the entity did not exist in the real world and only exists, apparently, to try and post silly obnoxious comments attacking unions.

April 3, 2015 at 7:08 PM

By: Bob Busch

none

abrakadabra\'s comment would have been met with the term troll by me two years ago.Since then \rcircumstances have conspired to make me think\rthere is a grain of truth in what she writes.\r A horrible situation occurred that I feel my union should have done more. But until the union can negotiate everything, and the Illinois immunity law are corrected you my union brothers and sisters are dead meat at the hands of the board.Our sainted union has been effectively denuded.

April 3, 2015 at 7:45 PM

By: George N. Schmidt

Use your name, you're in the game...

Had "she" given her name and a real email address her comment would still have been here. She tried to Troll, and we will continue to dump the trolls and their ilks out of the way here. It's as simple as standing up for what you believe and not hiding under the bridge and pretending (as classic trolls did, before the Internet) you are not really there -- until you jump out and attack people.

April 5, 2015 at 5:11 PM

By: Kim Scipes

April 2nd article and election coverage

I sent this out to the Logan Square list earlier today:

One of the problems of this election is the just the piss-poor coverage by the mainstream media of the issues, events. Im speaking of the Tribune, the Sun-Times, the electronic media as well as the NY Times. As could be expected, they have been doing all they can to help Mayor 1%, while minimizing Chuys efforts. To think that the media does not promote its own interestsalbeit defined slightly different by each outletis beyond stupid.

Saw this again Thursday night. I write for Substancenews.net.

Anyway, there was a huge rally for Susan Sadlowski Garza, Chuy Garia, Karen Lewis, and US Senator Bernie Sanders in the 10th Ward, which is in the southeast part of the City and the last part of Chicago that you go through on the Skyway before entering Indiana. My report from the event is below. I checked later that night, and the following day, to see how the mainstream print media covered the event. The Sun-Times had a poor account on line, but that had been removed the next morningI dont know if it was in the paper or not. As far as I could tell, the Trib didnt cover it on-line, although I dont know about the paper.

Anyway, thought Id share this so people can see how some of the rest of Chicago is reacting to progressive efforts in the election. (If you go to the link, you will find some pictures of the evening!)

Enjoy

Kim Scipes

http://www.substancenews.net/articles.php?page=5556§ion=Article

April 6, 2015 at 4:55 PM

By: Manny Bermudez

Unions

Unions are only strong when all members are united. If the members do not unite the union is weak. However in my experience being a delegate for teamsters and CTU. I could honestly say, every time I tried to unite the membership. Other union members tried to divide us and took sides with administration. As long as the union membership is divided the unions will always be weak. I always said what good is a contract if there is no one to enforce it.

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