About 2,000 people turned out for a “Save Our Space Exploration” rally in Titusville, Florida on Saturday. Organized by union leaders, the event focused on preserving jobs at Kennedy Space Center, vital to the economy on the Space Coast. “Canceling the Constellation program is a movement away from what we Floridians know that we made happen,” said Brian Dempsey Secretary/Treasurer of Florida AFL/CIO. “Space Coast, space travel — that’s Florida. That’s what we’re known for. This is not a small matter. This is a huge fight that we’re going to have to buckle down to win. It’s going to take serious dedication and determination.”
No NASA officials spoke, but shuttle launch director Mike Leinbach was in attendance.
Speakers included union and community leaders, and each began with the words, “I’m one of the faces of the Space Coast, my family is worth fighting for, my community is worth fighting for, my job is worth fighting for.”
Any mention of commercial space companies or Russian space vehicles brought boos from the crowd. At the entrance at the Brevard County Community College, where the rally was held, people held signs that said “Impeach Obama.”
“We need to send a message to Congress and our President that what was announced a few weeks ago was not the last word,” said Glenda Linton, the National Secretary Treasurer of the Federation of Public and Private Employees. “We are here to send a message We will keep our jobs here in the United States and not give them to the likes of Russia and China. This is about lives, schools, businesses and everything that goes along with it.”
“I want to remind the President what he said right in that building over there, that he was going to save our jobs,” said Robin Fisher a Brevard county commissioner. He encouraged everyone to contact their legislators with the following words: “We urge you to call for endorsement for Constellation for a bold direction, and extension of the shuttle. We urge you to hold up all votes until Florida is taken care of. If that stops Washington, that’s OK. We want to stop Washington. Tell your legislators to cast no votes until the President gets it, that we must set a direction that is right for the US to preserve our leadership as a world economic superpower and military leadership that can only be achieved through space exploration.”
Organizers were expecting up to 5,000 people, but cold, rainy weather may have kept some at home. Many were bundled up in coats and blankets, but held signs that said “Jobs Now” or “We Believe in Space.”
The Save Our Space group is organizing a video message campaign to send to members of Congress that will tell the personal stories of what will happen with the projected job losses, which could reach upwards 20,000, according to some sources. “Your face is the only one that can tell your story,” one speaker said.
“This is a time to build, a time to be innovative, a time to keep people working in the jobs they were trained to do,” he continued. “We are here today on this raining, cloudy and misty day to remind our leaders in Congress that this community is worth fighting for and these jobs are worth holding onto. We are not here to lay blame on anyone but to value the pride of this community and the work that we do in it. This is an example that we are willing to do to whatever we can to save our community and save our jobs.”
“This isn’t a crisis for just NASA workers, or union members,” said Executive Vice President of AFL/CIO Arleen Holt Baker. “This is a crisis of an entire community, and there are millions of brothers and sisters across America that are standing shoulder to shoulder with you, and they share your anger at the short-sighted decisions that are short changing your future. ”