labor New York Unions Are Packed And Ready For Women’s March On Washington
New York unions are packing up and heading to D.C. for the Women’s March on Washington.
The historic gathering — expected to bring in more than 200,000 participants on Saturday — will take place the day after Donald Trump is sworn in as America’s 45th President.
The march could draw more people than the President-elect’s party. Roughly 1,200 bus permits were issued for the Jan. 21 event — far more than the 200 requested for the inauguration.
Some of New York’s Bravest will be making the trek to D.C.
Pioneering FDNY firefighter Brenda Berkman is organizing a group of women smoke-eaters to march together. But any other allies — men included — are welcome, she said.
“Women police officers, women in the trades, military women and anyone who is supportive of women’s equality and inclusiveness,” Berkman said.
A retired FDNY captain, Berkman sued the Fire Department in the late 1970s for discriminating against women in its hiring practices. In 1982, she was among a trailblazing crew of 41 women who broke the gender barrier in the city’s firehouses.
Now she hopes some of her pals — and other firefighters she’s met across the country over the years — will join her.
Berkman will be accompanied by two current members of New York’s Bravest, Sarinya Srisakul and Regina Wilson.
Srisakul, president of the city’s chapter of United Women Firefighters, is the only Asian woman in the FDNY rank-and-file.
Wilson, former president of the women firefighters, is the first woman leader of the Vulcan Society, the FDNY’s association of black firefighters.
Wilson said some Vulcan firefighters — including men — will attend New York’s version of the Women’s March on Washington.
But Wilson wants to be in D.C., she said.
“A lot of us are fighting for women’s equality and women’s rights and we see a definite threat to that, as well as to unions and basic unity,” Wilson said. “We’re fighting for our rights and diversity and inclusion in this country.”
Linda Willing, a retired firefighter from Boulder, Colo., is attending in honor of her mother.
“She told me how access to birth control changed her life. I can still remember her fight to be able to get a credit card in her own name, without my father’s permission,” said Willing. “It is a reality we could see on some level again.”
Patricia Doler, a retired firefighter from Santa Cruz, Calif., said she’s marching to make sure women’s voices are heard.
Linda Willing, retired Boulder, Colo., firefighter is attending the march in honor of her mother.
“We women firefighters are an excellent group to peacefully combat the issues facing this country. We know specifically what it is like to be marginalized,” she said.
“We also know how important it is to have a work force that truly represents and reflects the diverse country,” she added.
Other unions traveling from New York include District Council 37, the United Federation of Teachers, the New York State Nurses Association, the National Writers Union, Writers Guild of America East, United Food and Commercial Workers 1500, New York State United Teachers and 32BJ SEIU.
SEIU 1199, the largest health care union in the nation, is sending a large contingent — mainly of home health aides and nurses who are extremely worried about Trump’s push to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
“We can’t let politicians divide us the way they’ve done among themselves,” said Patricia O’Hara, a health care provider in Queens. “We must be united.”