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The Second Bill of Rights

As preparations are finalized for the Democratic and GOP National Conventions, some labor unions and their progressive allies have decided to host a rallying event of their own in Philadelphia to “refocus the national political debate on economic opportunity and middle class rights.”

That’s news to too many Americans.

A “Workers Stand for America” rally is scheduled to occur next Saturday, August 11, when working people from all walks of life, union and non-union alike, will come together to have their voices heard during the election campaign.

Their voices not only face a shroud of silence imposed over too much of what regular folks do, the volume may have to be cranked up to overcome a virtual news blackout in the corporate media.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and others have called for a “Second Bill of Rights” to combat corporate profits at record highs and wages at record lows. The idea builds on the civil liberties guaranteed in the original Bill of Rights – promoting economic opportunity as first envisioned by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in his State of the Union address in January 1944, when he said, “America’s Second Bill of Rights is a broad-based statement of what the American people need and deserve. If some of it sounds redundant, it is because we once took some of these rights for granted.”

As announced in a July 12 press conference largely ignored by major media – much less Fox News or right-wing radio – this “Second Bill of Rights” will be delivered to delegates during both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions.

The day before, August 10, union officials and members from various unions all plan to meet at Philadelphia’s Independence Hall to sign the document.

Trumka said, “This is not a union bill of rights. And our campaign and rally on Aug. 11 is not just for union members. As the largest body of organized working people in America, the labor movement is leading the way, but we invite all who share our goals and values to sign on in support of America’s Second Bill of Rights.”

Pointing to the nation’s disappearing middle class, jobs that pay less and less, debt that’s threatening working families and students, all while enormous corporate profits, like executive pay, go to the 1%, regular Americans demand rights:

* to work and jobs that pay a living wage

* to a voice at work

* to a good education

* to full participation in voting, and

* to a secure and healthy future

Ed Mooney, a Vice President of the Communications Workers of America, said, “The voices of working families will be heard in the birthplace of American democracy, at the convention and beyond, and we’re asking elected officials, leaders on both sides of the aisle, and people around the country to stand with us. We’re determined to create economic growth and prosperity for all – not just the elite few.”

It will take volume as well as determination to break the stillness imposed by Big Media, but Trumka is confident.

He said, “We plan to put new energy behind insisting that the power structure in America pay attention to the needs of the men and women whose labor drives this country.”

Bill Knight is a freelance writer. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Western Illinois University or Tri States Public Radio