At least 1,000 people gathered at Los Angeles City Hall Friday to rally for job growth in California. Among the masses were members of several labor unions from L.A. and from across the country.
“We're here because presence has power,” said Steven Pasillas, 31 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11. “We want jobs to open up because the economy is in bad state right now.”
A sea of signs displaying “I Want To Work”, “Paychecks Pay The Bills”, “Equality Justice” and more filled the south lawn of City Hall. Workers chanted, “We want work.”
Members of the National Association of Letter Carriers comprised the majority of people at the rally, with members having traveled from the union's national convention in Anaheim. They were at the rally, in part, to protest a proposal to cut Saturday delivery of U.S. mail, which would amount to one less work day for letter carriers.
“We're trying to show support for the labor movement to create jobs,” said Brian Koppin, 52, of the NALC. “We want to help L.A. and the entire country get back to work.”
Speakers included Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Sen. Barbara Boxer, and other elected officials and labor leaders.
All the speakers passionately touted the “30/10” initiative, Mayor Villaraigosa's proposal to complete a dozen transportation projects in 10 years instead of 30. Money collected from Measure R, a 2008 voter-approved, half-cent sales tax, would be used as collateral to obtain additional federal funding to speed up the projects.
“We're here to represent those that lost jobs”, said Maria Elena Durazo of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. ” We need good jobs that would be created by building 12 major, mass-transit projects in L.A.”
As Villaraigosa took the stage, there were cheers — and a few boos.
“You laid off city employees!”, said one woman in the crowd. “What about the furloughs!”
“These jobs will bring in revenue so that we won't have to furlough workers in the city of Los Angeles,” Villaraigosa said to the crowd, referring to his proposed “30/10” initiative.
The initiative would be the best way to bring people back to work, Villaraigosa said.
Sen. Barbara Boxer then took the stage and acknowledged California's bad economy and the benefits of the “30/10” initiative.
“It will reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Boxer said of the initiative.
L.A.-area U.S. representatives Judy Chu and Jane Harmon also pledged to support the initiative.
“30/10'” will be my number one priority in Congress,” Harmon said.
At the close of the rally, many union members seemed energized by the speakers they heard.
“I think it was great,” said Carolina Simmons, 26 of Unite Here Local 11. “We have a lot of people losing jobs and we need to have each others' backs.”