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United Workers’ Our Harbor Day May 1

April 30, 2010

The United Workers, a human rights organization of low-wage workers founded by homeless day laborers in 2002 (see: “Temporary Injustice: Union Tries to Organize Temp Laborers at Camden Yards”), takes its fight to the streets this week for its “Our Harbor Day,” series of street plays, neighborhood parades, and protests at the Inner Harbor. From the UW press release:

After more than a year of planning and preparation, hundreds of Baltimore’s low-wage workers and community allies will tell the “people’s history of the Inner Harbor” on May 1, 2010 through a series of elaborate storytelling performances to draw attention to poverty-wages and poor working conditions at Baltimore’s premiere tourist and entertainment district. The day, dubbed “Our Harbor Day,” will include street plays, giant puppets, neighbourhood parades, musical performances and a concluding rally and march from City Hall to the Inner Harbor.

To participate, people can gather at 2640 Space at 11 a.m. to take part in the parade, while the neighborhood plays start around 3 p.m. and will convene at City Hall (100 N. Holliday St.) at 4:15 p.m. The performances are an effort to:

draw attention to workers’ demands that Inner Harbor developers, Cordish Co. and General Growth Properties (GGP), enter into legally binding agreements with the United Workers that will ensure that the economic human rights of workers are respected by the employers at the development. The “fair development” agreements would require all vendors (such as national chains Cheesecake Factory and ESPN Zone and locally owned Phillip’s Seafood), [to] pay workers a living wage, which would be enforced through leases between the developers and their vendors. Workers are also demanding funding for education and health care.

Our Harbor Day isn’t UW’s first foray into the community art. It was one of the many local social justice grassroots organizations entangled into the Contemporary Museum’s 2006 exhibition Headquarters: Investigating the Creation of the Ghetto and the Prison Industrial Complex, and its multifaceted campaign efforts have been covered by the Indypendent Reader. For more information visit the “get involved” section at the United Workers’ web site.

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