Activists Protest Outrageous Un-, Under-Employment Rates With "Pink Slip" Line in NYC
Tuesday morning marked the second "The Line" protest, an action that brings together activists holding pink pieces of paper (representing pink slips) in a striking "unemployment line" that winds down Broadway. The action got its start during the 2004 Republican National Convention to draw attention to the nation's unemployment rate -- 8 million, at the time. Nearly eight years later, jobs numbers are even worse -- 14 million, officially, with many millions more underemployed. Organizers (from a number of groups, including HERE, the Working Theater, and several unions) chose Super Tuesday for the latest action to highlight the need for government action on the unemployment crisis. Participants stood in line for 14 minutes -- one minute for each million unemployed Americans.
At the lower Manhattan end of the protest, several dozen protesters, including a good showing of United Federation of Teachers members, gathered near the intersection of Broadway and Wall Street.
UFT member Joe Cluny said he and his fellow members have seen first-hand the devastating effects of the unemployment crisis. "A lot of our colleagues have lost their jobs. There's constant threats from the mayor of teacher layoffs," he said. "We're seeing a lot of students whose parents have been laid off, and the stress in the classroom that that causes. It's not just someone being laid off -- there's a ripple effect."
The Occupy movement was also well represented at the action. "We're demanding that corporations reinvest in America and call[ing] for a tax on the wealthiest Americans to put us back to work, fix our infrastructure, fix our crumbling cities, our devastated social structures," said Occupy protester Emily Reynolds. "We're here to show all the candidates, since it's Super Tuesday, that this crisis is no longer acceptable, and we're not going to take it, and America's rising up."
Another Occupy supporter, Ina Bransome, said she participated in The Line to show her support for younger Americans, who are facing even higher un- and under-employment rates than the general population. "I'm meeting so many young people who are hopeless, and it's not just that they want a job -- they want a meaningful life," said Bransome, a lactation consultant. "I have a busy day today, but who doesn't have 14 or 15 minutes to say that [there are] 14 million unemployed Americans, plus 15 million underemployed? I'm not an investment banker, but I can add: that's nearly 30 million people."
Also at the protest was a group of guys dressed as foreclosed houses, with a 1% banker in tow. Below, the houses sing for the Line activists and the media:
Below are a few additional photos from the action. See the full set of photos and videos at the AlterNet Flickr page.