CWAers Lead Marathon Marches in NY, DC, to Decry Corporate Greed

In Rain and Shine, Protesters Carry On to Deliver '99 Percent' Message

Albany March Kickoff

CWA District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton fires up the crowd Nov. 10 in Albany as CWA members prepare to begin a 150-mile march to New York City in the fight to stop corporate greed at Verizon and other companies.

Below: In Silver Spring, Md, CWAers get ready Nov. 16 to begin a two-day march into Washington, D.C.

DC OWS March

East Coast CWA members collectively put thousands of miles on their sneakers this week as they led multi-day marches to denounce the greed that is driving Verizon Communications and other hugely profitable corporations to destroy good jobs and, with them, America's middle class.

Joined by Occupy protesters, fellow union members and other progressive allies along the way, CWA members set out Nov. 10 in Albany, N.Y., for a week-long march to New York City, more than 150 miles away. In Silver Spring, Md., CWA members began a two-day, 25-mile march on Wednesday, ending Thursday with rallies in Washington, D.C.

"It's been fantastic," Local 1115 Vice President Tom Oakley said by cell phone Nov. 16, six days after taking off in Albany and walking roughly 20 miles a day. "Every time we come into town, we've got a group of people waiting for us — CWA members, local politicians, other unions."

Oakley is among a core group of eight marchers, two women and six men ages 25 to 60, who walked the entire New York route. They enjoyed glorious sunshine the first five days. "The weather's been gorgeous," he said. "We've heard people say it lots of times: 'God loves the CWA.'"

With other CWA members and allies joining for stretches in New York and Washington area, about 15 to 20 marchers and their signs could be seen alongside area roads at any given time. In towns along the way, they met with local leaders, did media interviews and leafleted outside Verizon Wireless stores.

As the CWA Newsletter was published, marchers were participating in huge rallies and demonstrations taking place in both cities, marking the two-month anniversary of the Occupy/99 Percent movement.

Naomi Bolden, vice president of CWA Local 2204, made a four-hour trip from Roanoke, Va., to march in Washington, beginning the day the weather turned. Ten miles into the rainy trek, Bolden's feet were soaking wet and she'd dropped her cell phone in a puddle. Even so, she described high spirits and "lots of honks, people yelling out their windows, cheering us on."

Bolden came further than anyone else for the march. "I wouldn't have felt right if I didn't do it," she said. "I look at it this way, I'm a leader and I want to lead by example. I want my members to get involved, and so I need to show that I'm willing to do whatever it takes."

Local 1105 Chief Shop Steward Dominic Renda joined the New York march on Monday, November 14. Though his feet ached, he said the cause and the camaraderie were well worth it. "We've had people ask what we're doing and when we explain that we're fighting to stop the corporate greed, that we're part of the 99 percent, people are really supportive," he said. "The way I see it, if companies like Verizon with all their profits don't want to hire people and pay them decent wages, who will?"

NY March

In the final miles of their trek, CWA marchers pass through the Bronx before marching from the north end of Manhattan to Wall Street.

Phil Griffith of Local 1118, marched the full week, fueled by outrage about what's happened to America's working families. "When we talk about the 99 percent we are talking about the millions of people who are out of work because their jobs have been sent overseas, the millions that still don't have affordable health care, the millions that are losing their homes...The 99 percenters are the heart of America and we're marching to Wall Street to tell the corporations to bring those jobs back and get the country back on its feet."

Along the march route, local TV stations and newspapers did stories on the passing visitors. In a community about 40 miles outside New York City, a high school newspaper reporter approached Local 1103 Business Agent Joe Mayhew.

"He asked a question I didn't expect, which was 'What do you think of how they cleared out Zuccotti Park,'" Mayhew said. "I told him, 'You can't evict an idea.'"