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August 13, 2022

Bernie Sanders to hold pro-union rally in Philadelphia

The demonstration on Independence Mall will also include the presidents of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will hold a rally in support of the labor movement on Independence Mall next weekend.

He will be joined by two union presidents – Sean O'Brien of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Sara Nelson of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

"Workers in this country are organizing against outrageous levels of corporate greed," the senator tweeted on Friday.

"We will only succeed by standing together." The rally will happen at 4 p.m. in front of the Independence Visitor Center at 599 Market St. 

To promote the event, Sanders put out a flyer based on the logo for Rita's Italian Ice, a company based in Bensalem.

"We must say to the billionaire class: You can't have it all," Sanders tweeted on Saturday.

"They will argue. They will insist that we can't do better, that we can't have the same basic rights as citizens of other countries. It's time to ask them, and ourselves, a simple but very important question: Why not?"

While many on Twitter were excited about the rally, there were others who pointed out that Sanders is a millionaire himself.

The labor movement, which has long been particularly strong in Philadelphia, has gotten a lot done in the city this year.

Four Starbucks locations in the city voted to unionize in May. Then, most of the employees at the 12th and Market streets location participated in a day-long strike last month. They said they faced intimidation, retaliation and poor working conditions after they voted to unionize and wanted the store's manager fired.

The union representing workers at three of the region's biggest beer distributors threatened to strike ahead of the Fourth of July weekend. Management relented and agreed to a new contract which included a 10.5% wage increase and reduced working hours.

The workers at the Philadelphia Museum of Art voted to unionize two years ago, but they're still trying to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement with the institution's senior management. Hundreds turned out for a rally at the museum last month to demand a new contract.

But there have been setbacks for organized labor, as well.

John Dougherty, a powerful Philadelphia political boss who ran the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 for three decades, was forced to step down after he was convicted on federal corruption charges last November.

Prosecutors say he bribed former Councilman Bobby Henon, who was a union electrician before he took office, to vote in line with Dougherty's agenda. In exchange, the councilman got a $70,000 annual salary and other perks like Eagles tickets.

Henon was also convicted in November but didn't resign from City Council until January.