The majority of the demonstrators supported Wisconsin’s public workers, who were stripped of most of their collective bargaining rights by that state’s legislature earlier in the week. The measure was endorsed as cost-cutting measure by Wisconsin’s new Republican governor, Scott Walker, who had Tea Party support in last fall’s election.
Here’s what some of Sitka’s pro-union demonstrators were saying.
“What’s your name and why are you here? My name’s Kara, I’m here to support worker’s rights, and support non union-busting. Rob – Are you a union member? You know, I’m not. But if I belonged to a union I’d probably still have a job. My name’s Eric Jordan. I’m a fisherman out here supporting the workers, because all those people that work, the educators, the state workers, all the people that manage our fish and do research – they’re all union workers and they do a great job. My business is dependent on their excellent service, and the good high quality people we can recruit to those jobs by paying them adequately and paying them good pensions and medical service. (Sarah Jordan) It wasn’t too many years ago that a teacher would arrive in the bush in a village and the superintendent took one look at them and didn’t like them they’d live in a cardboard box in the back of the classroom. They didn’t get housing, no medical or anything. They had honey buckets, and still do. People have worked really hard for a decent wage and this is just taking us back to the Dark Ages. Rob – Tell me your name and what your hat says. I’m Cindy Litman, my hat says Government for the People, not the Corporations. I want to point out that corporations are not people, they don’t have hearts, consciences, they can’t teach our children, they can’t patrol our streets, they can’t put out fires. Hi, I’m Nick and I’m going to school to become a teacher to give back to my community for teaching me. And to see one of the states do this is appalling. I find it rude and offensive that America would turn on itself and do this to its own education system that teaches the future of other kids, to become our leaders, our presidents and everything else. Yeah, so that’s why I’m here.”
The demonstration in support of Wisconsin’s public workers was part of an organized national campaign scheduled for Friday afternoon. A school walkout was included in the event. The Sitka students participating said that the high school was dismissed at 2 PM by the administration.
Just a few feet away, local supporters of the Tea Party movement had set up shop. Marshall Albertson said he backed the action of the Wisconsin legislature. He was contemptuous of the pro-union demonstration.
“We’re tired of the lefty agenda and what they’re pushing and putting America through and everything else.”
Volney Smith also backed Wisconsin’s budget cutting efforts. His reasons for demonstrating were centered on the nation’s debt.
“I’m having a hard time paying my taxes this year. First time in forty years of working I’m struggling to pay my taxes. Rob – Struggling with your conscience? Yeah, because if I did business like the government is doing business, why would I pay taxes.”
Smith said pro-Tea Party supporters were planning a large rally in Sitka on April 15th in Totem Square, if work on the new park was completed.
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