Sunday, February 27, 2011

Labor Rally Last Friday

It was cold!

Two-hundred or so union members and their supporters showed up to wave signs at the triangle where Ruby, Division and North River Drive come together. I couldn't believe how many drivers honked horns and waved back. It was great!

It's easy to forget that Spokane has the labor movement entrenched in its founding and growth. No surprise that as union membership dwindled in Spokane, so did the general prosperity of the city. Mining, timber, the railroads, and of course, aluminum built a Spokane with a thriving middle class.

You can look it up for yourself. The overall prosperity of the individual in this country reached its peak coincidentally with the peak of union participation. Although, there weren't as many billionaires, failed banks, investment scams, unemployed, and medical bankruptcies either. Hmmmm.

The Wobbly Free Speech Movement put Spokane on the map for showing how much the authorities despised unions and how willing they were to persecute them. Look at some of the old newspapers from the time. The Spokesman-Review led the pack, calling for violence and worse against union members. The governor in Wisconsin is resurrecting this spirit, in a way that I don't think even the most fascist-leaning, turn-of-the-century Spokanite would have bought into.

Let's see Governor Walker, you give tax breaks to your benefactors to put the state budget into the hole. This deficit allows you to conveniently blame union employees and their meager pensions for the problem and go after their money, their rights and their political clout. Sad that so many who have been chewed up and spit out by these same forces continue to cheer on those who destroyed them and gleefully anticipate destruction for those who have fought on their behalf. Unbelievable that there are voters in Wisconsin who look to failing (education, health, employment, finances, standard of living) states in the south as their new model because it fits their Koch-brother-sponsored talk-radio, FOX News ideology.

Here in Spokane, the first gathering of firefighters to organize a union resulted in an instantaneous firing of those members, almost a hundred years ago. In fact, Local 29 - The Spokane Fire Fighters' Union celebrates its 93 year year birthday tomorrow. It was one of the original founding locals of the International Association of Firefighters, hence the low number of "29." They are now up to Local 4780.

There was a small article in the Spokesman-Review yesterday about the rally. Thank you SR!

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