Reverend Middleton Reflects on San Francisco Street Action


by: Ed Middleton
Having grown up in the “Work to Right” south, I’ve hardly ever been privileged to see mass actions by workers who actually get supported by other workers. Today, July 22, 2010 I saw at least 3,000 workers, clergy, people who simply believe in justice for workers turn out and shut down the 300 block of Stockton Street in San Francisco.

The precision with which this action was carried out, its choreography and organization was a wonder to behold, indeed. I saw representatives from Unite Here, Jobs with Justice, local unions, and religious leaders join together in solidarity to stand up against the Hyatt Hotel chain and the wealthy majority stockholders who run it with little concern for the people, their families, or the common good.

This action was called in various cities across the nation and in Canada: Vancouver, Honolulu, Chicago, San Francisco, Miami, San Diego, Rosemont, Santa Clara, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Long Beach, Boston, Indianapolis, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and Sacramento. These workers are fighting for the right to fair treatment, including the right to choose whether to form a union without fear of intimidation or harassment.

Police moved in after it became obvious that these workers, indeed, like “trees planted by the water,” they could not be moved. One by one the workers exercised passive resistance and were loaded into shuttle buses brought in to haul them to lock up. I am increasingly convinced that we, people of faith, who believe in God’s great work of restorative justice must no longer sit on the side lines and watch while workers find their voice against an unfair market system that uses people and discards them as if they were an unprofitable commodity stock.

Where are the prophets? Where are the members of the press and media who have been so co-opted by the principalities and powers? Where are the decent people of our nation, whom we have been told are what make our country great? I wonder this afternoon in my state of anger and indignation, where?