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Date: Mon, 27 Oct 97 08:45:09 CST
From: scott@rednet.org (Peoples Weekly World)
Subject: Rallies boost Martinez jobs bill
Organization: Scott Marshall
Article: 20716

Rallies boost Martinez jobs bill

Evelina Alarcon, in People's Weekly World
25 October 1997

LOS ANGELES - Spirited rallies, marches and lobbying actions took place in over 20 cities across the country on Oct. 18 to demand Congress pass the Martinez Jobs Bill (HR- 950), a $250 billion public works jobs-creation bill.

Whether in response to welfare reform, NAFTA, downsizing or deteriorating cities, the determination to pass HR-950 - as a part of the fight to take back the Congress in 1998 from the Republican ultra-right - echoed from New York City to Los Angeles on this National Day of Action.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Ill.), Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Dolores Huerta, national secretary-treasurer of the United Farm Workers Union, were among those who addressed the rallies.

HR-950, the Jobs Creation and Infrastructure Restoration Act, was introduced into Congress by Rep. Matthew Martinez (D-Calif.). A campaign in support of the legislation is being organized by the National Labor Community Coalition for Public Works Jobs which initiated the Day of Action.

Speaking from the steps of City Hall, Waters said, "We've got to stand with Marty Martinez and say we don't care what the atmosphere is in Washington. We want to change the atmosphere!"

To the cheers of hundreds of Los Angelenos, including more than 50 labor, community and religious leaders, Waters said that with HR-950 "we are going to do to Newt Gingrich what we did to him when they didn't want to increase the minimum wage - we beat him!"

Waters called HR-950 a platform for organizing. "I am going to stand with Marty Martinez and all the co-sponsors to sing the praises of this living wage jobs bill in the Halls of Congress, but not only that," she pledged. "I organize better than I legislate, and I am going to organize rallies and marches among the young, seniors, women and all of labor."

"When we come together, we have the power to change the course," Rev. Jesse Jackson told the crowd. "What I like about this rally is that there is a time for us not to talk about it, but to fight about it!"

Jackson connected his support for HR-950 to the fight to win back affirmative action in California and the Oct. 27 "Save the Dream" rally in Sacramento.

"The dream is not for a chicken in every pot or a car in every garage," he said. "The dream Dr. Martin Luther King marched for was not just about self esteem, the content of one's character or the color of one's skin. It is about public policy. Dr. King marched to shift public policy for jobs and justice ... He marched for the right to vote!"

Dolores Huerta, who described the horror of farm workers who have been cut off of food stamps altogether because they are not citizens, called rally organizers and participants "the visionaries who are giving voice to the Martinez Jobs Bill."

She criticized Congress for not addressing HR-950. "You would think that with welfare 'deform' that a public works jobs bill would be a priority ... but it's not! Congress and President Clinton should be putting this bill first instead of last!"

Joining the Los Angeles speakers was City Councilman Richard Alarcon who had introduced into the council the unanimously-passed motion to endorse HR-950. He commended Rep. Martinez for "his vision which is at the fundamental root of what we should stand for in America."

Alarcon said, "It is not easy to be [in the] vanguard of a movement and a bill which requires an investment when the government is downsizing, but [he] recognizes that we must preserve our infrastructure and in so doing we preserve the dignity of working class people which makes America strong."

Twenty leaders spoke at the Los Angeles rally including Alejandro Ahumada, president of Utility Workers Union of America Local 132, who announced that his national executive board just voted to affiliate with the national coalition organizing for HR-950. Alejandro Stevens, president of Service Employees International Union Local 660, representing the largest local in L.A., also spoke on behalf of his International, a national co-sponsor of the rally.

Art Rodriguez, coordinator of the National Coalition which initiated HR-950, opened the rally in Los Angeles. Rodriguez told the World that the actions all over the country set the stage for passing HR-950.

"These rallies established a long-range commitment by members of Congress, state legislators, local elected officials and hundreds of leaders across the country," he said, "that they will fight for passage of the bill no matter how long it takes."

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