By Garrett Dicembre and Gerry Scoppettuolo
Boston — The $15-and-a-union struggle sweeping the country rolled through the streets of Boston on Gay Pride, June 14, as several union contingents paraded by hundreds of thousands of onlookers with banners and placards supporting the low-wage workers struggle and the Boston School Bus Drivers Union, United Steelworkers Local 8751.
The Stonewall Warriors float carried members of the embattled union and other rank and file from UNITE HERE Local 26 and Team Solidarity, with a banner paying tribute to the Bus Drivers Union: “Stonewall Warriors and the LGBTQ Community Support the Boston School Bus Drivers Union for 40 years of Support” and “$15 and a union!” For almost four decades the bus drivers’ union has secured many rights for their workers, years before these rights became law in Massachusetts. And Local 8751 has shown almost 40 years of support for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community.
Placards demanded the rehiring of the fired union leaders, along with a call to Boston’s Mayor Martin Walsh to do right by the bus drivers and stop the city’s racist attacks on Boston schools.
The crowds cheered as chants against poverty wages and union busting blared over the float’s sound system. Positive reception to the political messages sent by the contingent and its float showed support for raising the minimum wage, along with the right to organize a union. Hundreds signed petitions showing LGBTQ support for the bus drivers union and for rehiring the fired leaders. Signers of the petition addressed to Walsh expressed outrage at the city’s union-busting attempts. Flyers were passed out in mass for Solidarity Day III on June 30.
The Smedley Butler Brigade of the Vets for Peace marched in solidarity with the Stonewall Warriors with their own banner demanding justice for Chelsea Manning. In March, the Vets led their Annual St. Patrick’s Day Peace Parade in Boston, after being banned, along with all LGBTQ groups, from the official parade. The peace parade united the Stonewall Warriors, the Boston Pride Committee, Pride at Work AFL/CIO, the National Lavender Caucus of the Service Employees union and many other groups.
To sign the petition, go to ipetitions.com/petition/lgbtq-support-boston-school-bus-drivers.