Downtown Denver, lunchtime mid-week. People rushing around, office workers heading for the eateries, business suited types from the convention center, name tags round their necks, something to do with the oil business. Sunny day, chill in the air, few leaves blowing down the street.
Wait a minute. Down there on the corner there’s something happening. Some sort of noise. People in a line, forty or fifty of them. Blowing whistles, handing out leaflets, marching down the street. Mainly black people, Hispanics, three or four white guys. Someone with a megaphone, shouting through it, switching it to sound like a siren, then shouting again. Lots of noise, lots of enthusiasm – these people are serious. People stopped to look, taking the leaflets, reading them. Construction workers, shop workers, passers-by. Friendly, interested. Admiring even. Four black women office workers walking by. The guy with the megaphone shouts “What do we want?” “Freedom!” shouts one of the women, fist in the air.
This is what he wants – this is what the leaflets say:
“Tell Brookfield Properties to clean up its act and do the right thing by hiring responsible contractors who pay area standard wages and health benefits when performing construction work in their buildings. Tell them to award contracts to companies that uphold community standards and provide health benefits for their workers! E-mail your concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.”
“The members of the Mountain West Regional Council of Carpenters are involved in a labor dispute with M D Interiors. Our dispute is about providing area standard wages, health benefits, and craft training to workers in our community. Brookfield properties has no regard for our community by hiring irresponsible contractors that fail to meet area standards.”
Some small print down at the bottom: “This is not a boycott nor are we asking you not to do business with Brookfield properties. This is to inform the public about the practices of Brookfield Properties. Please do not litter.”
Some legal problem here. Went through that, in Britain, a long time ago. Built the Labour Party. Something happening here in America. More than just an election. You can feel it. You know it when you talk to people.
And there’s just no finer sight than seeing people stand up and fight for what’s rightfully theirs. No finer sight in the whole world.