NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Thousands of people filled City Hall Park Saturday morning in a show of solidarity with union workers in Wisconsin.

As they waived signs reading “tax the rich” and “save the middle class,” New Yorkers rallied in support of those protesting a Wisconsin bill that would strip nearly all public employees of their collective bargaining rights.

RELATED STORY: NJ Unions Rally At Statehouse For Wisconsin Public Workers

Keith Henderson, a city maintenance worker, told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg that unions have always given back.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg hears from a woman at the rally who blames the bailouts

“We’re willing to make sacrifices as long as everybody else makes sacrifices,” he said. Others went as far as to say they believed the situation was a case of class warfare.

(Photo/Steve Sandberg, 1010 WINS)

The demonstrators said they feared the end of collective bargaining for all workers if Wisconsin’s governor succeeds in an effort to weaken unions for public servants.

“We’re reducing American workers’ wages to a global, Third World wage,” one woman said, “and it makes the people at the top wealthier.”

“Industry, business — they don’t want to help us. They want to keep us down. I believe it is class warfare,” another man said.

Congressman Anthony Weiner was among a group of lawmakers at Saturday’s rally. Weiner proclaimed that labor unions were “under siege” and that “the middle class is disappearing in this country.”

“This really is a fight for the future of our country,” he said.

“We owe it to America…unions make us strong and we’re not going to take this lying down,” Congressman Charles Rangel said.

And although many of those at the rally had never been to Wisconsin, they wanted the world to know they stood hand-in-hand with union workers there.

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“We’re here to rally to save the American dream. The ability of average people to work for a living and earn…that allows them to live a dignified life. We’re here to save that because it is fast stripping away,” Arlene Geiger told WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall.

WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall speaks with the President of the Utility Workers Union of America

Another woman, who was not a union worker, said New Yorkers should stand with those in Wisconsin as a matter of principle.

“Collective rights, I mean, it’s the basis of our democracy in a lot of ways. But democracy is of the people, by the people and for the people and that’s what the unions stand for,” she said.

Those at the rally take to the mic to voice their solidarity (Photo/Steve Sandberg, 1010 WINS)

John Duffy, the President of the Utility Workers Union of America, said the whole situation was “outrageous” and “all about politics.”

“It’s not about the budget…when you create phony budget shortfalls by giving tax breaks to the rich,” he said.

“If the unions go — that’s it for this country. That’s it. There will be no worker protection. There will be nothing,” Sharon Cacioppo told CBS 2’s Christine Sloan.

The Wisconsin protests began Feb. 15, and the crowds peaked at 70,000 last Saturday, a few thousand of which were tea party counter-demonstrators. Smaller sympathy demonstrations have sprouted elsewhere nationwide, including one in Trenton on Friday.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Comments (33)
  1. hamilton says:

    our message was not abstract. we (unions members) mean business. a peaceful / meaningful and lovely rally.

    [ i’m looking for heather / my picture ]

  2. jaypee says:

    These people should be fired for missing so much time at work

    1. BadgerBacker says:

      It was on a Saturday. And thanks to unions, most people have weekends off. The rest of the people there lost their jobs when the economy collapsed.

  3. MK Chang says:

    Thank you for your support of Wisconsin workers. I’m from Wisconsin and attended the protest at our state capitol yesterday, where more than 100,000 people showed up to protest. It means a lot to us that there were thousands of you supporting us over there in NY too!

  4. American Dream says:

    Stop blaming Republicans. When people take a Government job they lose the right to hold, WE THE PROPLE HOSTAGE to their demand for more pay, greater benifits. You don’t like your chosen proffession, go out into the business world and see how far you get. You took the Government job thinking you would get a free ride. Get real jobs and stop trying to hold the taxpayer hostage.

    1. near retirement and earned it says:

      No, I took my job knowing I was making less money than the private sector and knew if we were in a recession that job security was the trade off. Why now are people who had been saying we made the choice to make the salary we were making when the economy was doing well and I could not afford the luxuries they could ((second car, boat, and roof for my house!) told me to suck it up it was a choice I made. I cannot hep but think there is a socialist vein running though the country. We are all not equal. We all make decisions are there are trade offs. I did without for so long and now that I have 20 years in the system I am making too much! What happen to years of making less than 30k and having to pay a portion of my student loans. What happened to the experience I have being worth something? It seems there is more resentment for what I could not control. Politicians who mismanaged money and used the pension money for other projects.

      1. Joe says:

        Man you guys really know how to spread it thin don’t you

  5. RUSA says:

    What don’t the unions in WI and elsewhere understand? The broader public doesn’t support you or your agenda.

    1. Marianne says:

      you are NOT the broader public!
      Why do you think yhe demonstration does not stop and spread over to the BROADER public in 50 states!
      Walke’s approcval rating has dropped significanltly in a matter of a couple of weeks and he has been in office in only for a few weeks.
      He is finished!

    2. jay says:

      What is happening to unions is an absolute tragedy. Republilcans and others who attack unions and blame public workers for the economic problems of this nation is absolutely ignorant. Stripping public workers of these important basic rights will result in absolute discrimination and the marginalization of people in so many forms… Before you know it, America workers will be treated like those of the late 19th century….call out because you’re sick and you find out the next day that you’ve been fired…

    3. what is happening in the USA - Media telling you how to think says:

      If that is so, why is there support throughout the country? You do not support the agenda….

  6. zeppel mudder says:

    Just who does the mayor think he is. I believe, when he gets uo in the morning, he put’s his pants on , like every other man, that sets out to make, an honest days pay, for an honest days work. Let hiis daughter go seek a job, and be told ” You just started, we’re downsizing, and we have to let you go” He would be the first one to say, That’s not fair” If you can remember, our glorious, VP Agnew, made a national speech, to take back the power of the unions, and give the power back to the employer. He was a republican, and since that time every republican in office, has set his sights, on breaking the unions, doomsberg included. His only loyalty is to himself, and his fat cat cronies. He could give a rat’s but, about the working man. Did he think of the difficulty of a delivery man trying to make a stop at a storefront, when he shut down Times Square. Now he has to walk a block, through snow, rain, and ice, when he used to walk 20 or 30′ to make the delivery. What type of man, makes the statement, “My job is to provide services, not jobs” I have been around a long time, from Wagner, thru this person, that want’s to be known as the greatest mayor. I could go on, but I will save some for later on. As they say,”you get what you pay for, or you’ll pay for what you get.

  7. VINNY says:


    1. zeppel mudder says:

      Vinny, I’m sorry to say, that if it wasn’t for unions, you wouldn’t you wouldn’t be making half of what your making today. You fail to realize, that they fought for all workers, which is what set the standard in the labor movement today. Perhaps, you were never in a union, so you don’t know what it’s like to be dismissed from a job, and nobody to stand up for your rights. Don’t be like all the others, who think unions caused the situation that we’re in now. Don’t let doomsberg, and the media, distort the facts. He says $700,00. slipped thru the cracks. How long do you think you would have your job, if you let $700,000 slip out the door. Well, that’s all for now. Vinny, I want you to sleep well tonite, as doomsberg closes fire houses, reduces manning on trucks, lays off pavers to fill pot holes, and outsource your job, like his blowfish goldsmith

  8. Milo Velimirovic says:

    This unionized Wisconsin public employee thanks you for your support! (Member of AFT local #4848 – WPEC)

  9. Ellen says:

    I have a rather conservative cousin who always voted Republican no matter what, Yes, she’s a teacher, and now I’m wondering what her feelings are now about the Republican party trying it’s best to out law unions.

  10. M,Robie McMann says:

    The Republican’s( fat cat$ that they are) will now have
    started a worker against worker fight if not
    a massacre ,disgusting, and yes welcome to the new
    economic segregated America.
    Be nice if other Unions that have real power would
    start supporting the Wisconsin/NJ Unions.
    Where are the airline pilots,Police & Entertainment/Media Unions?
    Perhaps they are afraid too?

  11. The New Reality says:

    Welcome comrades to the new USSR, socialist, collectivist state, where the producers, or whom the unions call the “RICH” have the fruits of their labor or ideas stripped from them so that they can be given to those who only lay claim to those fruits with no reason WHATSOEVER. I work in the private sector and I do not receive FREE HEALTH CARE or a FREE PENSION when I retire at age 55. Get real unions and all of you idiots who blindly follow them. You will now have to join the rest of us working stiffs who have to pay for these benefits out of our paychecks.

    1. John says:

      Oops, Mr. New Reality:

      What you don’t understand is that union workers dont’ receive free health care or free pensions, either. Instead, what they do is BARGAIN collectively with their employers–whether in the public sector or the private sector–about how much compensation they will get in wages, and how much they will defer as pensions and health insurance. So it’s deferred compensation, not anything free. That shouldn’t be too hard a distinction to understand.

    2. Robert says:

      Every public employee pension system I’m familiar with has folks paying a percentage of their pay into it, with the idea that the employer also agrees to pay into it with matching funds. What has happened in states like NJ is subsequent politcal leaders OF BOTH PARTIES have failed to pay their share or have appointed cronies to no show jobs that have left the systems on the brink of insolvency. No free rides wanted by most public employees, just their fair share.

    3. Kaye says:

      Not to mention, Mr. New Reality, that if you could stand up to your boss and bargain with more than the power of one individual, you would probably have some of these benefits that you have given up because you didn’t have the option of bargaining collectively.

    4. Adam says:

      I bet the owner of your company makes about 100x what you do, If he or she would not be so greedy you would have healthcare, pensions, and other benefits or it is your right to start a union so your voice can be heard.

    5. America the Beautiful says:

      fre health care? Last time I checked I pay a portion of my salary. And teachers who make money for the summer? Last time I checked they are salary workers who are paid for 10 months and the salary is held back for the pay over the summer – in other words, teachers salary is withheld to pay give pay and keep teachers who are excessed from collecting unemployment. A condition of the work environment that the media misleads the public into believing the money comes from no work. When you are commenting you need to do your research – educate yourself! Beyond what Fox or another network tells you – America you are better than this!

  12. Robert Mann says:

    The lack of national news coverage of 50-plus rallies around the nation raises questions, especially in view of the lavish coverage of tea party rallies. It’s as though no one at the networks today has any news judgment.

  13. Robert Mann says:

    There were rallies scheduled today in all 50 state capitals.
    Also in many other cities.
    Video was live streamed on MoveOn’s web site. Locations in included Los Angeles and Chicago.

  14. NY Teacher says:

    No Jerry, the rich do not pay 41% on their income. If they did, we wouldn’t need demonstrations. The coffers would be full.
    The Republicans in Wisconsin are pouncing on unions now because they think that the time is right, Americans don’t care.
    They are in for a real surprise. This high handed action in Wisconsin is just what the real American public(not paid political activists) needs to get them aroused.
    American labor created this great country and American labor will make sure that all Americans have justice, decent wages, health care and good working conditions.

  15. Jerry says:

    Such a sad excuse for the unions to ask for higher taxes for the rich who already pay 41% on their income.
    These muni unions are an albatross around the neck of all taxpayers. They work at best 180 days annually, receive unconscionable salaries and perks on the taxpayers buck. We are now 24th on the world scale of education and falling fast particularly in math and sciences.
    What company in the private sector would pay such salaries while they are losing money. What private enterprise would pay for only 180 days a year many less than 4 hours a day??
    What company would pay double for summer as the teacher contracts say, upwards of $50 hourly just for answering phones???
    These demonstrations are laughable, a perfect example of why our kids can’t read of write? These demonstrations are for wants and needs for their own self interests disguised as for the needs of the kids. Hog wash… and it’s about time we read them the riot act, maybe now we can avoid third world status.

  16. Archer says:

    Well thats no surprise is it? I’ll bet the latest fate of Lindsey Lohan has met the ears of every news listener today though. One reason our nation is faltering is the failure of our journalists to cover all side of the truth.

  17. John says:

    We Need to send shoes to the White House

    1. scott says:

      comfortable shoes as he promised during his campaigning….

  18. Anna Ofbanana says:

    I find it very sad.. AND VERY TELLING that the big networks have decided not to cover the rallies that are occuring at EVERY STATE CAPITAL, coast to coast today. If it weren’t for the internet and traffic cams, Americans would be in the dark.

    1. Gwendolyn Jordan says:

      I agree 100%!! Furthermore, why is the media not asking the governor to respond to the claim that the reason Wisconsin has such a deficit is because of the huge tax breaks he gave to businesses??!! It seems as though the Repbublicans have paid the media not to ask this and other key questions. GO WISCONSIN UNIONS!!

      1. Bry says:

        Please. for the love of God (or science or nature or Allah or whatever! Lol!) go watch the movie Zeitgeist: Addendum & Zeitgeist: Moving Forward full-length on YouTube. They explain how we will never break free of the monetary system until WE, as people, stand together and take OUR planet, OUR rights back. Just a thought, the rest is in your hands, my friends =)

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