Labor and liberal groups to hold Oct. 2 rally on Mall to counter Beck, Tea Party

Jon Ward Contributor
Font Size:

Labor leaders, liberal religious leaders and the NAACP will hold a rally on the National Mall on October 2, one month before the fall midterm elections, in an attempt to show they too have political clout and momentum in response to last Saturday’s massive gathering of Tea Party types led by Fox News host Glenn Beck.

“The AFL-CIO is determined that the Tea Party and its corporate backers are not going to get the final word,” said AFL-CIO executive vice president Arlene Holt Baker. “We will expect tens of thousands of union families to come.”

“We are fueled by hope and not hate,” Holt Baker said.

The AFL-CIO announced the rally Wednesday as part of an advertising blitz they are launching this coming Labor Day weekend, though AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka declined to say how much the organization is spending on the TV ads.

Trumka will be joined by President Obama Monday in Milwaukee at a Labor Day event, and other top AFL-CIO officials will appear at political rallies in California and Ohio. Trumka did say that the TV ad running this weekend is not political, and showed the ad to reporters.

The ad shows pictures of workers, accompanied by upbeat music, and ends with the tag line: “Happy Labor Day America. You have a voice. Make it heard.”

Holt Baker said that the Oct. 2 rally would also be apolitical, which is similar to how Beck, who gathered a crowd estimated to be between 100,000 and 300,000, described his event.

“I don’t believe there will be very many politicians there,” Holt Baker said. “It will be the stories told of people.”

Besides the NAACP, the Oct. 2 rally will be supported and organized by other labor organizations such as the SEIU and the American Federation of Teachers.

And Jim Wallis, a liberal evangelical leader who is CEO of Sojourners, will lend a religious flavor to the event.

“As people of all faiths, backgrounds, beliefs, orientations and heritages, we must move this country forward beyond divisiveness and hate, to rebuild and reclaim our destiny,” Wallis said in a press release put out by the group formed to promote the rally, One Nation Working Together.

Email Jon Ward and follow him on Twitter