Friday, March 19, 2010

Seattle Construction Workers Demand ‘Jobs Now!’

Photo credit: David Groves

David Groves at the Washington State Labor Council reports on the area union movement’s second Make Wall Street Pay rally in Seattle this week.

More than 600 building and construction trades workers from the Seattle metropolitan area rallied downtown on St. Patrick’s Day to demand the “green-lighting” of major job-creating public-works investments being delayed by political wrangling.

“We want jobs NOW!” chanted the workers the same day that new Washington State unemployment numbers showed construction payrolls fell by another 3,200 jobs in February and have dropped 32 percent in the past 20 months. The Seattle-area construction industry is suffering from unprecedented unemployment rates of 35 percent—even higher in some trades.

New Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, an environmental advocate who has frustrated both business and labor interests with his proposals to change, review or otherwise delay major infrastructure projects, addressed the crowd. As he discussed his support for good family-wage jobs, union members repeatedly interrupted him by shouting:

But we need jobs NOW!

King County Executive Dow Constantine got it right. He talked about the need to immediately start major projects, including replacement of the Highway 520 floating bridge across Lake Washington, replacement of the crumbling Alaskan Way viaduct along Seattle’s waterfront and expansion of the Washington State Convention Center downtown.

Our economy cannot afford years of job-stopping delays. We need jobs now! It is time to get past the delays and hand-wringing. Let’s get this job done!

Washington State Labor Council President Rick Bender reminded all who is to blame for our economic problems.

We have a jobs crisis in America, it was caused by the big Wall Street banks and they should have to pay to create jobs!

After accepting hundreds of billions of taxpayers’ dollars to bail them out, Bender said,

They handed out $145 billion in bonuses last year, and now they are lobbying against legislation to set some rules to keep this from ever happening again.

Wednesday’s rally was sponsored by the Seattle-King County Building and Construction Trades Council and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council.

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