From Michigan to St. Louis and many cities in between, the "Keep It Made in America" bus tour kicked off with one common theme: Auto and other manufacturing jobs are the foundation of the American Dream, and the American Dream is under assault.
USW International President Leo W. Gerard and the Rev. Jesse Jackson told crowds at every stop that workers need to be prepared to march on Washington to defend the American Dream.
"The reality is this: If we're silent, we will be crushed. If we don't stand up and fight, we will be crushed," Gerard told a cheering crowd in Hamtramck, Mich., just outside Detroit. "I'm not going to tell you today that if we fight we're guaranteed to win, but I will tell you this: if we don't fight for our kids' futures and our grandkids' futures, we're going to lose. We've been silent for too long. Manufacturing is the backbone of this country."
Click here to sign our petition to save the 7.2 million jobs that are dependent on the auto industry.
The four-day, 30-plus city bus tour will go through 11 states to bring the message to the public and our elected officials that 7.2 million jobs are connected to the domestic auto industry and our nation can't afford to see the industry fail. Click here for more info about the tour.
In Merrillville, Indiana, near Gary, about 200 Steelworker activists were in the crowd to hear several speakers, including USW International Vice President Tom Conway, District 7 Director Jim Robinson, US Steel’s Public Policy Manager and Senator Lonnie Randolph. As the bus departed for its next stop and headed toward Interstate 65, chants of "Buy it here, build it here" could be heard.
Jackson joined Gerard, Alliance for American Manufacturing leader Scott Paul, several politicians and others at rallies in Michigan and in St. Louis. Click here to see a complete schedule of the bus tour, which runs through Thursday.
Jackson and Gerard fired up crowds at every stop, where workers said they were ready to take to the streets to draw attention to the loss of good, Middle Class jobs across the country in auto and other industries.
"There are those in the government who seem to have little regard for the impact of inducing the closing of these plants. We need to defend our capacity to compete in the world by having a fair playing field," Jackson said in Michigan.
In St. Louis, Jackson led the crowd - which included many USW brothers and sisters laid off from US Steel Corp.'s Granite City Works - in many chants, including "save the worker, save the family," "reindustrialize America" and his famous, "keep hope alive."
"This is America's fight. This is your fight," said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero in Dearborn, Mich. "This is the fight for our future."