In what may have been the largest labor or global justice protests in Portland in decades, nearly 3,000 people took to the streets today to say No to the WTO and YES to the right to organize!
The day started with a brief rally denouncing the WTO and the corporate trade agenda at Gordon Smith's office, with speeches from PCUN's Ramon Ramirez and others. Despite the cold weather, thousands of people gathered for the rally, then the large crowd took to the streets. The march stopped outside the National Labor Relations Board office, where Stewart Acuff, organizing director of the national AFL-CIO, gave a rowsing speech, urging the crowd to support the right to organize unions.
The march passed by the Forest Service building, then headed up to Broadway, filling up all three lanes of traffic, and stretching back at least a block and a half.
At one point, a a small group broke away from the main march to take over the lobby of the Benson Condominium Tower sales office. They have been using non-union labor to build the Benson Tower, and several people have been fired for union organizing. Apparently, one person was arrested at this time.
The march went by several other sites of struggle, then ended at the Federal Building, where several workers, including an immigrant day laborer, spoke out about the needs for workers' rights.
More stories and photos will be up shortly at the Jobs with Justice website: www.jwjpdx.org