Rally for Jobs in Charleston

By: Michael Hyland Email
By: Michael Hyland Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Labor groups and others concerned about the unemployment situation in the country rallied downtown Wednesday night in an effort to send a message demanding change in Washington.

"What do we want? Good jobs! When do we want 'em? Now!"

That was the cry from the people who gathered outside the post office building along Washington Street East.

Many of these people just aren't seeing good jobs being created.

"Everybody's frustrated, especially when you don't have work," says Mike Matthews with the Kanawha Valley Labor Council. His organization along with the Communication Workers of America hosted the event, which was called “America Wants to Work.”

The AFL-CIO has been hosting similarly titled events across the country this week.

Troy LaHue, a postal worker from Charleston, was among the people who attended the rally. He says he worries about how long he’ll keep his job.

LaHue has "been here 16 years, have at least 13 to go, and I'd like to retire from here. But, right now it's in question."

Many people at the rally were worked up and tired of what's going on in Washington.

"We're garnering support to ensure Congress knows that there (are) millions of people who are unemployed, but there are millions of people who are concerned and will be fighting back," says Kenny Perdue, president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO.

Tuesday night, President Barack Obama’s jobs bill failed to pass an important vote in the Senate.

Republicans and some Democrats worry the bill would add to the nation’s debt and fail to boost the economy.

"Passing another stimulus and tax hike is a lousy idea," says Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on the Senate floor.

But, what the people at the rally see is their leaders failing to do anything, and they're demanding politicians get on the job and find some middle ground.

"They're tired of the status quo. It's not working. The economy's not working for the majority, for the 99 percent in this country," says Gary Zuckett, with West Virginia Citizen Action.

After Tuesday's vote, Congress will take up the president’s bill in pieces instead of in one big bill.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted to move the bill forward but warned he had a lot of concerns about it.

He worries there's too much spending with no serious tax reform.

“What we should be doing now is making sure that the money that's coming in, a large portion is going to offset the debt that we've already accrued. You can't continue to pass the debt on to future generations," Manchin says.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) supported the bill. He released a statement Tuesday evening saying, “It would enable us to invest in the future of West Virginia and the country by creating opportunities and helping out of work Americans find jobs – putting people back to work, allowing people to get the education and job training they need, and improving our infrastructure.

The people who rallied Wednesday night will be out again at 11:30 a.m. Thursday in front of the federal courthouse.

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