From today’s Peoples World
Blaine-Washington. Union members from Canada and the United States rallied at Peace Arch Park on the U.S.-Canada border, April 2, cheering calls to defend collective bargaining rights and booing every mention of union-busters like Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Canada’s Tory Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
The crowd held small placards emblazoned with U.S. and the Canadian flags and the words, “Working Families Standing Together. We are ONE!”
Jeff Johnson, president of the Washington State Labor Council, told the crowd,
“Corporate America has declared war on the labor movement all across the United States.”
Wall Street banks and firms sit on $7 trillion in deposits, refusing to invest in job creation while whining that the nation is “broke” and must accept cutbacks, layoffs and austerity, he charged.
Jabbing his fist in the air, Johnson added, “He was talking about union rights. We must torque on that arc! We’ve got to bend it down!”
He led the crowd in a chant: “We are union! We are one!”
Jim Sinclair, president of the B.C. Federation of Labor, said Canadian workers are facing a similar nightmare of unionbusting attacks by the B.C. provincial government and Harper. Canada is in the midst of a national election set for May 2 with Harper, now heading a minority government seeking to win majority control of parliament.
“Stephen Harper with a majority is our Scott Walker,” Sinclair said, as the crowd erupted in boos. “We can’t let it happen!”
“We can’t fund our schools and hospitals. That’s upside down. You’ve got to increase taxes on corporations. No one gave us anything we didn’t fight for. Not one thing! Are you ready to fight?”
The crowd roared, “Yes!”
Susan Lambert, president of the British Columbia Federation of Teachers, said organized labor is “building a movement that is global in scope.”
“We stand here in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin,” she said. “Governor Walker is targeting teachers. Why? Because they know an educated population will not tolerate these huge disparities in income.”
Dale Anderson, a member of the Amalgamated Transit Workers Local 519 in Wisconsin, said, “Scott Walker awoke a sleeping giant. Hundreds of thousands of union members and their supporters have joined the fight. We will not be denied victory.”
He announced that the grassroots movement just filed 21,700 signatures to force a recall election of his state senator, Republican Dan Kapanke, a supporter of Walker’s union-busting law now blocked by a judge’s restraining order. “He’s the first to go!” Anderson shouted.
Barbara Byrd, sec.-treas. of the Oregon AFL-CIO, came with 40 other union members on a bus from Portland. “This is a pivotal time when we have the opportunity to seize the initiative,” she told the World.
“Scott Walker could be a great gift in terms of our political effort if we can harness the anger of our members” in the 2012 elections.
Stephen Von Sychowski, a member of the Young Communist League of Canada, said “It showed that for the working class there are no borders…They attack workers on both sides of the border so we must stand together.”