By Nancy Wood
What a great day on Friday. With a lot of planning, hard work, and the help of some fantastic people, everything went off without a hitch.
The SJ7 began preparations for the event at 8 a.m. Volunteers helped out with the BBQ while the 7 were on the picked.
We unveiled the new SJ7 logo, encouraging supporters to use the logo as their facebook profile picture. We also ordered SJ7 T-shirts which we sold at the event.
With the money raised from the shirts we’ve been able to place a larger order. We want to stock up for upcoming events such as the New Brunswick Federation of Labour’s 100th Anniversary Convention on May 26th to 29th in Saint John. We will also place an order for car window decals with the SJ7 logo.
The numbers on the picket line swelled to nearly 200 at 11 a.m, and we’re pretty sure the only person left in the MBS building during that time was the security guard they brought in for the day, who staid behind a closed fence. At about 11:45, the assembled masses stepped onto Union Street and followed Gary Stackhouse, one of the Saint John 7, and his bullhorn through the uptown streets to King Square. We were met by honks of support at the intersections as we chanted.
When we got to King Square, after a quick introduction, a few Union reps spoke about how this has become a fight for the whole labour movement, and what the local unions need to do to support the SJ7.
In his speech, Gary old the crowd that the owner of MBS is not just disrespecting the SJ7, but the entire community by providing a substandard radio service on the public airwaves; he said the dispute has now gone from being a strike to being a cause. Gary highlighted the fact that none of the Conservative MLAs we contacted about the rally showed up, nor did the Mayor or Deputy Mayor. New Brunswick NDP Leader Dominic Cardy attended the rally, and he spoke about respecting workers by paying them a living wage.
After the ceremony we kicked off the BBQ and continued to sell SJ7 shirts. The SJ7 shirts have proven effective: we’ve seen people wearing them over the pas few days and (including several at the Day of Mourning ceremonies on Sunday), and many supporters have commented on them.
We have also started to see supporters changing their facebook profile pictures to our SJ7 logo, including the Newsguild-CWA page.
The more than $300 raised from the BBQ were donated to the United Way. And the SJ7 received donations to our adopt-a-striker fund from some of the local unions.
The day gave us renewed hope, and reminded us we’ve got all of the local unions behind us. Allies promised to help us amp up the pressure on MBS and its advertisers, who were given a stern warning from CMG Staff Rep Gerry Whelan that if they were still advertising in 30 days, they could very well be seeing hundreds of NB Fed delegates picketing at their places of business. The unions pledged to help with third party information pickets at those businesses and a special meeting is being held this week to organize a schedule for these events. Our next major rally will be on Monday May 27th in conjunction with the NB Fed Convention.
-Nancy Wood, on behalf of the SJ7