IMC Portland [correction: and KBOO] was the only media to join the walkers at their events today. |
This afternoon the walkers marched from the Unitarian church in Salem to the Pictsweet factory, which is known for bad working conditions and for firing people who attempted to unionize. The walkers were joined by a surprise guest: the Mayor of Salem.
The Pictsweet factory is surrounded by a very bad smell, like fish. As the group reached the factory, the Mayor stood up in the back of a truck to talk through a bull horn.
"Si se Puede!" were the first words out of his mouth. He continued his speech with the following powerful message that was translated into Spanish as he spoke. [Though these are not his exact words, they are very close--this report was called in by cell from the side of the road where the speech took place. A video of the march will be available on this site soon.]
"For years I have driven by this factory and been offended by the smell. Now I know that the offensive thing about it is the management. I believe, and my [city] council believes, that the workers here deserve respect and a living wage. The workers here are no different than workers any place else it's an embarrassment to have these conditions here it's an abomination it's something we need to do something about.
So I want United Food and Pictsweet to know that their dirty little secret is out... I will continue to say more and more about this situation until the whole state knows what goes on behind these closed doors.
...A disadvantage for one is a disadvantage for all. It would be a blot on our souls if we allowed this to continue to happen. I want to say to the people who work here: I know you're brave people. I know some of you have been fired for speaking up. I hope that doesn't happen here now. No matter what, we've got to keep the faith. We've got to continue the fight. Si se puede!"
The Mayor recieved roars of applause from the pleased crowd. Such support from city government is refreshing in this age of bought-and-paid-for politicians, and might even allow the farmworkers and their allies to hold out hope.
[ Watch the video of this speech ]