According to Local 8 News, nearly 10,000 people attended the Labor Rally at the Capitol to protest against the “war on workers” and unite with those feeling the impact of the recent union-busting legislature in Wisconsin.
The rally was organized by the Washington State Labor Council with the help of several other pro-union groups, such as The Teamsters and the Washington Federation of State Employees. According to a Teamster organizer, their message and goal was to “Stand together in Solidarity.”
“There were school teachers, electric workers, technicians, and all sorts of different people there,” said stagehand for The Washington Center Dan Book. “It was amazing to see so many different people come together for the same reason.”
People from all over Washington state came together at the steps of the Capitol building to show legislators that they do not want a repeat of what happened in Wisconsin and to stand united as one. The protesters of the rally shouted in agreement for the exposure of tax loopholes, the end of corporate tax breaks, and the hopeful solution to budget cuts to necessary programs.
Included in the fight for deficit solution were representatives for Planned Parenthood, sporting their “Title X” banner and shouting for reproductive rights. A medium-sized crew came from Olympia’s clinic to join with the union workers to show their support, and hope to get support reciprocated, said a local representative.
Local musician Pederson (from the bands Romanteek and the Greta Jane Quartet) said, “Today we’re here to show our support for Title X funding and to support the workers. We’re all in this together.”
Others showing their support for Planned Parenthood included Dumpster Values’ Sarah Adams and Tim McLeod, the Thurston County Teen Council Facilitator.
According to speaker Greg Parker, since Washington State’s recession (which officially ended in 2009), programs have been cut severely, and the thing being most picked on (as always) is education. Teachers are losing their jobs, taking pay cuts, and class sizes are getting bigger.
School teacher of Shelton High School Jeff Parker, age 29, said he attended the event in the hopes that legislators would listen if and when more people arrived to show support for their cause.
“Every year, I’m doubting whether or not I’m going to have a job waiting for me,” he said. “Our social services are having problems. It all comes down to corporate greed versus [people’s] need.”
Speakers at the rally included (but were not limited to) Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, Greg Parker, WPEA president, and Spencer Coggs, 6th Senate District official. Each of these people had a message about taxes, legislature, and their hopes for the future of Washington State.
While the speeches were being made, a sign language translator was on stage, signing everything that was being said, including chants from the crowd. While Johnson was able to excite the crowd by enticing them to chant “We are one,” Coggs chose to relate to the audience more by verbally trivializing his role as a politician and making light-hearted jokes.
Parker, member of WSLC addressed the issue of community colleges and the inevitable cuts in programs and rise in tuition.
“Community Colleges are over-capacity and their (Washington State’s) solution is to raise tuition!”
As Jeff Johnson said during his speech, “We have a deficit of leadership.”