Raleigh News & Observer: Rally-goers call for passage of Obama plan

RALEIGH - Two dozen people gathered in front of the Employment Security Commission’s Raleigh headquarters today to encourage Congress to support president-elect Obama’s economic recovery plan.

Waving signs with messages like “We won’t relax until Congress acts” and “No jobs, no justice,” the people assembled listened to presentations from a series of speakers.

“All across our state, people are hurting,” said MayBe McMillan, secretary of the N.C. AFL-CIO. “Most of all, we want good jobs that pay a family sustainable wage and offers benefits. ... This moment in history is a prime opportunity to rebuild the middle class.”

The rally was a joint effort between community activist group Acorn, the AFL--CIO, the Black Workers for Justice and several other community groups.

Other speakers called for increases in specific benefits such as food stamps.

Durham resident Patricia Evans-Carpenter said her food stamps were cut from $152 a month to $14 a month after she saw a 5 percent increase in her disability check.

The 61-year-old retiree said her overall benefits are less than they used to be, and she is finding it difficult to keep up with rising food costs.

“There are a lot of people in the same situation,” she said. “Congress needs to increase the funding for food stamps by at least 20 percent.”

Following the rally, the protesers proceeded to the corner of Wade Avenue and St. Mary’s Street, in front of the ESC offices, where they waved signs and chanted “No jobs, no justice” and “No time to fuss! Stimulate us!”

Members of the national group -- calling their effort the Campaign for Jobs and Economic Recovery Now -- include such organizations as the Service Employees International Union.