By DIANE S. WILLIAMS
Answering a groundswell call to action, DC 37 activists joined hundreds of thousands of pink-hatted protesters at the Women’s March on Washington, D.C. on Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration.
The march was the largest ever in the United States, drawing over 500,000 people in Washington and 3.3 million around the country. Hundreds of thousands gathered in Manhattan and in 500 cities from Boston to Honolulu, and on all seven continents.
“This historic Women’s March advances human rights for all and dignity and equality for women, minorities and immigrants,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido. “We are vigilant and we are watching Trump and his cabinet to ensure that our freedoms, rights and protections are not eroded or violated.”
Women came from across the nation to the capital and sister rallies were held in Paris, France, Auckland, New Zealand and beyond in response to the uneasiness and fear Trump and his cabinet choices evoke. DC 37 Political Action bused retirees and members in Locals 372, 374, 375, 420, 768, 1359, and 1549 and other volunteers to Washington. They marched alongside their daughters, families, friends and strangers to stand for women’s rights, workers’ rights and reproductive rights, as well as to protect the Affordable Care Act, immigrants, climate justice and the U.S. Constitution– and to demand respect, diplomacy and dignity from Mr. Trump.
Much at stake
“As a woman I had to show that I cannot be taken for granted. Too much is at stake — pay equity, sexual harassment, the right to organize,” said Judy Ortiz, a member of Rent Regulations Services Employees Local 1359. “We cannot go backwards.”
“This president has shown his attitude towards women,” said Local 768 member Ann Munroe. “And we are standing up to him. That’s the power of our democracy.”
The idea for a women’s march started on social media after stunning election results last November. Planned Parenthood, Amnesty International USA, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the NAACP, Oxfam, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Organization for Women, and other grassroots groups organized the Jan. 21 event with Gloria Steinem and Harry Belafonte as honorary co-chairs.
“It’s amazing to see so many people of all ages and colors come together and show our strength,” said Samantha Rappa-Giovagnoli of Civil Service Technical Guild Local 375.
“We stand for dignity and justice and are here to tell the new administration and Congress we expect them to protect everyone’s human rights,” said Walthene Primus, DC 37 secretary, Women’s Committee chair and Local 957 president.
“There’s so much energy and momentum here,” said Local 768 President Fitz Reid. “Labor has to capture this moment and stay at the forefront to make sure Trump gets it: Women’s rights are workers’ rights.”
This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Public Employee Press.