MCCLELLANDTOWN, Pennsylvania -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson, along with other national and local labor organization leaders, visited Fayette County Monday to vow to "reinvest in America."
The Reinvest in America: Put America Back to Work is a bus tour which visited Pittsburgh on Sunday and is co-sponsored by Jackson's Rainbow/Push Coalition and other international labor organizations.
Monday's stop was part of the tour's four-day Appalachian wing, which includes Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.
While all of the speakers spent time criticizing the Bush Administration with issues from the war to tax cuts, they also informed the crowd at the Lakeside Party Center on the purpose of the tour, to bring jobs, health care and education to America as well as opposing the outsourcing of jobs to corporate greed.
According to the Reinvest in American Organization, the well-paying jobs that built the American middle class continue to be outsourced to cheap foreign labor markets, affordable health care is now out of reach for millions of Americans as corporations cut benefits, the federal government neglects its responsibility to ensure a healthy future for all citizens, and the cost of higher education is soaring while funding for primary and secondary schools plummets.
Cecil Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, stated that the three states on the Appalachian wing of the tour have lost a combined total of 334,000 manufacturing jobs, and 10 percent of the Pennsylvania population lacks health insurance.
Leon Lynch, of the United Steelworkers of America, screamed that he's mad, fed-up and nobody should take it anymore by sitting back to relax and figure the problem will fix itself.
"What can I do to help?" asked Lynch. "Get people aroused and inspired," he answered.
Roberts called everyone on the bus tour onto the stage and told the crowd that "all these people here support and stand with you 100 percent."
Roberts said the room was full of descendants from the original coal miners from Columbus, Ohio, who were segregated into groups and enslaved by the greedy mining companies; however, when a mine accident occurred, miners of all colors, ethnic backgrounds and religious beliefs were equally killed.
"We're going to fight," said Roberts. "We've been struggling for the past 40 years."
After a moment of silence and prayer for former President Ronald Reagan, Jackson said everyone arrived at the rally as a family along the lines that divided them, that slave labor has returned to undercut organized labor once again.
Jackson, as well as two other speakers, said the people should put workers' rights before other issues like gun control, abortion and flag burning when they vote in November.
"There will be peace in the valley when the lion and the lamb lie together," said Jackson. "The public majority needs the public minority."
Jackson said that since the unions representing steelworkers, mine workers, brick layers and other workers can find common ground on which to stand, then the lion and the lamb can lie together.
© 2004 by The Tribune-Review Publishing Co.