From a Political Junkie: Thousands Gather for International Labor Rally

By On

On April 2nd, over 1,500 people gathered at Peace Arch Park for a record setting international rally for worker’s rights. Public school teachers tired of being demonized stood shoulder to shoulder with laborers who were furious about their rights being stripped away. Speakers from Olympia to northern British Columbia talked about how the fight in Wisconsin is our wake-up call.

You would think, with that many people coming together for a common cause there would be some media coverage. But once again, KGMI, the Bellingham Herald and all the state media groups were completely AWOL. You know who covered it? Iranian television. Seriously, a great write up and video spot here. It is unconscionable to ignore a story this big. However you feel about labor unions or worker's rights, this is a big story. Class warfare is erupting in our country and around the world as people finally realize how economically oppressed our lives have become. Charlie Sheen can only occupy us for so long, eventually we wake up and realize the bread and circuses for what they are.

Back to my reporting. Mark Lowry, Whatcom Democrats Vice-Chair and Amalgamated Transit Union president spoke. “We have worked long and hard to get where we are today and the price has been paid in blood by those who have gone before us.” Many spoke about the need to prevent the continued advance of corporate interests at the expense of many hard working Americans trying to get by.

The 42nd LD Democrats were there, registering voters and standing arm in arm with fellow organizers from Canada and the States. Washington State Northwest Labor Council President Dave Warren gave my favorite quote of the event, publicly thanking Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. “Thank you Scott Walker, you scum-sucking, bottom-dwelling, loathsome Toad, for getting us fired up. I have never seen the working people of this country so energized and organized.”

Jeff Johnson, Washington State Labor Council president, spoke about the plight of the Washington ferry workers, whose bargaining rights are under attack by our state legislature. He talked about the need to band together, that we all are in this together. As the reoccurring chant went: “We are Union! We are One!”

About Riley Sweeney

Citizen Journalist • Member since Aug 10, 2009

Riley Sweeney, raised in the Pacific Northwest, moved to Bellingham during the Bush years, worked on a cross-section of political campaigns during the Obama years, and then fled to the [...]

Comments by Readers

John Servais

Apr 04, 2011

No media coverage of people demonstrating for their rights?  Sound like a foreign country?  Naw.  Our American corporate media also work to hide common folks practicing democracy.  Our media are careful not to encourage people to speak out, demonstrate or protest in public.  Covering such activities in the news would just encourage more. 

And then you have to factor in that the Herald probably can no longer afford to send a reporter to anything on a weekend.  The Herald is a slow train wreck.

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Rob Stratton

Apr 05, 2011

I am for the right of these people to gather and protest and speak their mind. But personally I don’t feel bad for them at all as a private self employed person who has gone through hard times and had to make many sacrifices, I really think public sector workers need to take a reality pill and realize the rest of us are not willing to continue to pay for their benefits when we are struggling to pay for our very own necessities.

I am also for restructuring much of government and privatizing much of it. Private companies do a better job and cost us much less money.

I agree totally though that the Herald along with much other mainstream media are on a steady decline, in both reporting and financially.

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Todd Granger

Apr 07, 2011

And the Wisconsin version of the Amalgamated Transit Union?

“...let facts be submitted to a candid world…”

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt_and_politics/article_24af32d4-13f4-11df-86b2-001cc4c002e0.html

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John Servais

Apr 07, 2011

OK, so I know of a guy who beat his wife.  Terrible.  So should we abolish the institution of marriage? 

We should work to fix stupid and corrupt practices.  Unions leaders do tend to be thugs - including local Bellingham ones.  In Bellingham the WTA is practically run by the unions and Dan Pike and Pete Kremen allow themselves to be held hostage to this.  Unions, like any private or public organization, are run by humans and are easily corrupted if allowed by laws to be corrupt.  We need secret votes by workers - to become unions and for all other decisions.  That is just for starters. 

But abolish them?  Do that and we return to the dark ages of slavery - defacto if not in name.  Government employees unions are vital to preventing far worse abuses and waste of our tax dollars. 

Cheap shots like noting some bus driver who makes too much money are of no help to improving our government services and modern society.

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Riley Sweeney

Apr 07, 2011

Cheap shots like . . . calling the WTA thugs? I don’t think that Dan Pike, Pete Kremen or the WTA are run by Unions or held hostage. I think that Unions ensure that those who are doing the work have a seat at the table, and the WTA is no different.

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Todd Granger

Apr 07, 2011

But beating the wife is not a cheap shot, unless you missed out on Madison

“AMONG the numerous advantages promised by a well constructed Union, none deserves to be more accurately developed than its tendency to break and control the violence of faction…

By a faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or a minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adversed to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community.

In the extent and proper structure of the Union, therefore, we behold a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government. And according to the degree of pleasure and pride we feel in being republicans, ought to be our zeal in cherishing the spirit and supporting the character of Federalists.

PUBLIUS #10 Go! Madison???


http://www.constitution.org/fed/federa10.htm

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Rob Stratton

Apr 09, 2011

Marriage shouldn’t be a government issue in my mind either. I don’t believe the government should have the right to give permission to anyone who wants to marry or live in “union” with anyone they choose.

That being said using your example the wife of the abused should be able to terminate her marriage or alliance with the abusive person. Same with public unions if they have become abusive of the public who they serve we should be able to terminate our relationship with them and not be held hostage by their demands.

I am not a fan of unions, but in the private sector have no problem with a group of local workers getting together and deciding what they will or will not tolerate. But in a public union you are not unionizing against a “greedy” corporation or entrepreneur, you are unionizing against people struggling to pay their bills. The people should have the option to choose a non-union shop just like they can in the private sector.

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Todd Granger

Apr 09, 2011

And the marrage between the Queen, and the Inland Boatmen?
Definitions of a Divorce, and the classic “vomit pay” from State Ferry Contracts?

http://images.bimedia.net/documents/Ferry+Employee+Benefits+comparison.pdf

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Todd Granger

Apr 09, 2011

And another political junkie’s definition of the body politic, Junis Brutus, writing for the majority in the year 1660.

“...But let us suppose, that in this our ship of state, the pilot is drunk, the most of his associates are asleep, or after large and unreasonable tippling together, they regard their eminent danger in approaching a rock with idle and negligent jollity; the ship in the mean season instead of following her right course, that might serve for the best advantage of the owners’ profit, is ready rather to split herself. What should then a master’s mate, or some other under officer do, who is vigilant and careful to perform his duty? Shall it be thought sufficient for him to pinch or punch them who are asleep, without daring in the meantime to put his helping hand to preserve the vessel which runs on a course to destruction, lest he should be thought to intermeddle with that which he has no authority nor warrant to do? What mad discretion, nay, rather notorious impiety were this? Seeing then that tyranny, as Plato says, “is a drunken frenzy or frantic drunkenness,” if the prince endeavour to ruin the commonwealth, and the principal officers concur with him in his bad purposes, or at the least are lulled in a dull and drowsy dream of security, and the people (being indeed the true and absolute owner and lord of the state) be, through the pernicious negligence and fraudulent connivency of those officers, brought to the very brim of danger and destruction, and that there be, notwithstanding, amongst those unworthy ministers of state, some one who does studiously observe the deceitful and dangerous encroachments of tyranny, and from his soul detests it, what opposition do we suppose best befits such a one to make against it? Shall he consent himself to admonish his associates of their duty, who to their utmost ability endeavour the contrary? Besides, that such an advertisement is commonly accompanied with too much danger, and the condition of the times considered, the very soliciting of reformation will be held as a capital crime: so that in so doing he may be not unfitly resembled to one, who, being in the midst of a desert, environed with thieves, should neglect all means of defence, and after he had cast away his arms, in an eloquent and learned discourse commend justice, and extol the worth and dignity of the laws. This would be truly according to the proverb, “To run mad with reason.” What then? Shall he be dull and deaf to the groans and cries of the people? Shall he stand still and be silent when he sees the thieves enter? Shall he only hold his hands in his bosom, and with a demure countenance, idly bewail the miserable condition of the times? If the laws worthily condemn a soldier, who, for fear of the enemies, counterfeits sickness, because in so doing he expresses both disloyalty and treachery, what punishment can we invent sufficient for him, who either maliciously or basely betrays those whose protection and defence he has absolutely undertaken and sworn? Nay, rather than let such a one cheerfully call one and command the mariners to the performance of their duty: let him carefully and constantly take order that the commonwealth be not endamaged, and if need so require, even in despite of the king, preserve the kingdom, without which the kingly title were idle and frivolous, and if by no other means it can be affected, let him take the king and bind him hand and foot, that so he may be more conveniently cured of his frenzy and madness…


http://heraldnet.com/article/20110320/NEWS01/703209926

The (D) party shown best at WSF!

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