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Jacksonville Workers Rally Against Construction Bosses

By Fernando Figueroa |
January 31, 2010
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Workers rally at the City Hall steps in Jacksonville, FL
Workers rally at the City Hall steps in Jacksonville, FL to demand jobs from Turner Construction. (Fight Back! News / Fernando Figueroa)
Workers  protesting unjust treatment from Turner.
Workers are fenced off from the site of the Duval County Courthouse building project where they were once promised jobs, but that doesn't stop them from protesting this unjust treatment from Turner.

Jacksonville, FL - Over 200 supporters of Jobs for Jacksonville rallied to protest Turner Construction's unjust and unlawful labor practices, Jan. 26. Union members from the Carpenters, IBEW, Boilermakers, Sheet Metal Workers and the Teamsters are waging a campaign against Turner Construction. Turner refuses to hire out-of-work construction workers in Jacksonville for the Duval County Courthouse building project. This is a blatant breach of Turner Construction's contract, which promised to provide many jobs for the economically hurting building trades people in Jacksonville.

After the workers rallied at the construction site, they marched over to Jacksonville's City Hall chanting, “Mayor Peyton sold us out, Turner get the hell out!” They rallied one more time on the steps of City Hall before flooding the City Council Chambers with red shirts reading “Jobs for Jacksonville!” During the meeting of the Jacksonville City Council, workers from many backgrounds and nationalities spoke, denouncing the council's failure to take action against Turner's breach of contract and threatening to return to the chambers with hundreds more if justice did not prevail and the workers' right to jobs was not respected, as per the contract that managers of Turner Construction signed.

The workers were joined by members of Gainesville Area Students for a Democratic Society, who traveled to Jacksonville to support them. The students came armed with demands that money go towards building jobs and education, not wars and occupation. When asked for the reason why he supported the rally, SDS member Jared Hamil replied, “These workers work harder than most, aren't given a living wage and are the first to lose their jobs during an economic recession. To not support these workers would mean turning your back on people who are struggling for the same things we're all fighting for. Companies like Turner Construction want to divide people so they can get rich while we fight each other. That's why students and workers should support each other in their struggles."

While some of the workers present at the rally were led by the managers of Turner Construction to believe that it was immigrant labor that kept them from being hired for the building project, leaders of the rally were quick to point out that unions should organize workers of all nationalities if they wanted to win and be treated with respect by companies like Turner Construction. If there was a problem getting jobs, then it was a problem the bosses created, not other workers, leaders of the rally said. John Parker, President of the Sheet Metal Workers Union Local #435 in Jacksonville, proposed that unions should organize all workers regardless if they are immigrants, because that's the only way to make sure the bosses hire people fairly and pay a living wage to everybody.

Overall, the rally proved how powerful workers can be once they band together. The workers of Jacksonville are one step closer to justice because of it.

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