Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Occupy Portland - Labor joins in

It's no surprise, I suppose, that I am on Trent Luntz' email list. I've signed so many petitions, visited so many web sites and attended so many fora that my email address (, by the way) was bound to reach the office of the Executive Director of the Democratic Party of Oregon by any of a multitude of routes.

(Say what you want about national Democrats, including President Obama.  I'll probably agree with you.  But Oregon Democrats are a different breed altogether.  Much more fight to 'em.)

So that's how I heard about the planned march this evening. Trent sent email announcing that organized labor, as represented by the AFL-CIO of Portland, AFSCME, and other unions, would demonstrate in solidarity with the Occupy Portland movement.

Hurrah for the boisterous working class!

So, I went.

A rally in Director Park (dowtown on Yamhill) preceded the march.  As with most union events I've attended, there were many speakers and they went on at length.  I lost track of their number.  Jobs with Justice, the US Postal Service, and many (if not each) of the unions had a spokesperson on the playbill.

Vive le prolétariat

The principle demands that I heard repeated were these:  federal jobs legislation and increased taxes on corporations and top incomes.  I thought the USPS spokesman was rather eloquent as he urged people to rally to save the postal service.  (Alas, I don't recall his name.)

Statement of fact

This was a smaller demonstration than the big march that kicked off Occupy Portland.  But my inexpert estimate is that there were just over a thousand marchers.  Mostly union folks. Union support ought to lay to rest the absurd assertions by right-wing media outlets that the (now-international) demonstrations springing up everywhere are composed of mere hippies and Trustafarians.

KATU reporter speaks with a demonstrator

While at the rally, I noticed a bespectacled and sharply-hatted woman standing near me.  She was making notes on a notepad.  She saw me watching her, so I asked "Are you a reporter?"  She handed me her card:

Anne Saker
Staff Writer
The Oregonian

She asked me a few questions, and I suddenly felt bashful.  But I hope I gave her coherent answers.

Everyday folks

The march went from Director Park north for a few blocks, then turned west, then south on 4th, to go past the Occupy Portland camp and thence to Pioneer Square.  I dropped out at Madison.  That was my bus stop.  But I shot video as the marchers streamed past.  I raised my right fist in solidarity.

I have no idea where this movement is going. It is hard to be optimistic in times like these. But it is important to remember that this country has a long tradition of populist movements bringing about real change, real reform.

And more than that, it just feels good to be doing something.

1 comment:

Dan Binmore said...

Sadly it is going nowhere if it can't decide on a goal, come up with a plan to get there, and organize to achieve it.  The Tea Party goals were moronically stupid but they came up with a goal, organized to get people elected, and made a difference in the governing of the country.  They never had more than 35% national approval but they were organized.  I have asked those supporting the movement for what they want, what their plan is, what they particularly are doing about it, what rates of disparity are preferred.  As of yet not only have I not had a single answer, but usually the questions aren't even addressed.  I have even put in the necessary work to do something proactive that might make a difference (directly writing to elected officials) with zero response.  As far as I can tell not only does the movement not have a plan, it doesn't even want a plan.  If that's the case then the movement is only bitching and whining, and that's a damn shame.