WA Union groups gather at Longview Civic Center in solidation as local contracts near

WA Union groups gather at Longview Civic Center in solidation as local contracts near

Bill Wagner / The Daily News
Steve Hawkins of Washington State Nurses Association Peace Health southwest local unit came up from Vancouver to voice support for local nurses in their contract negotiations.
22 hours ago • By Brooks Johnson(9) Comments
Area union workers lifted their voices Saturday to practice a little workplace democracy in the sun.

About 200 local union members and supporters gathered on Longview’s Civic Center facing the post office on the first day of summer for two hours of solidarity in stories and songs.

A dozen speakers representing as many unions took to the stage and told of successes and struggles in organized labor’s long local history.

“The working class is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” retired Portland letter carrier Jamie Partridge said to applause.

The rally was put on by the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Central Labor Council and emceed by its president, Kyle Mackey. He said the majority of Cowlitz County union members are nearing contract negotiations and wanted all unions to have each other’s backs.

Weyerhauser, KapStone and PeaceHealth will be in talks this summer with their respective unions — the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers and Washington State Nurses Association, respectively — and if the rally had a theme, it was that there will be no backing down.

“Especially with the young guys they’ve hired in the past several years, they need to understand that you don’t give up anything because they’ll never get it back,” said Brian Lovingfoss, a 20-year Weyerhauser veteran in a red shirt matching other Weyerhauser there. “(The company) is making way too much money to make us make concessions.”

His 21-year-old son Evan came to the rally in orange, KapStone’s solidarity shirts with “Our values: Keep our Kaiser / Wages / 401K / Safety” written on the back.

Though much of the crowd was close to retirement, plenty of younger workers did their part in the park.

“It’s about a living wage,” said Kyle Darby 33. “I tried to support a family on $9 an hour and it got me nowhere.”

Seattle longshoreman Leith Kahl picked his banjo and extended his mighty vocal timber after every few speakers, and the folksy labor songs kept many from wandering off, though the crowd did dwindle after an hour.

A brief exodus happened early, when the post office called tow trucks to clear some of the attendees’ vehicles from an unmarked area, but a crisis seemed to be averted.

Toward the end, a union member from Los Angeles, in town on unrelated business, taught the crowd a new rally cry.

“Si, se peude!” Vivian Malauulu said, a saying started by Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers that translates to “Yes, it is possible.”

To end the day’s calls to action, the crowd marched a block on Broadway to 15th Avenue and back to call attention to labor’s cause.

“Rallies like this aren’t just about individual unions, it’s community.” said Jim Anderson, the southern Washington representative for AWPPW. “We work hard, have our kids play baseball together,” and when it comes time to fight “massive” corporate greed, he said, they stand together.

Brooks Johnson covers Longview city government, Cowlitz PUD and Lower Columbia College for The Daily News. Reach him at 360-577-7828 or bjohnson@tdn.com.

(9) Comments
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skyler - 18 hours ago
Thank you TDN for covering the rally. This is about all workers coming together to support one another. If they suffer losses of wages and benefits at the bargaining table, the community as a whole suffers. These union members are your family, friends and neighbors and what they want is a living wage, adequate benefits, and safe working conditions for every worker. Corporate tax abuses and greed prevent that, and they have no choice but to stand up, fight back.
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skibowlruler - 16 hours ago
L3 needs to strike.. ole tim and his right to work views will strip the pension, call times, whats left of the health care and everything else they can get.. still sending new hires to fibreline.. contracts are almost meaningless
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Mayn - 13 hours ago
Way to go guys. This is awesome!!! Stay strong.
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DW111 - 13 hours ago
“The working class is under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” retired Portland letter carrier Jamie Partridge said to applause.

And this is the unions battle cry? Why do they think they are under attack? I'm a union member and I'm not under attack. My experience with the union I belong to is that they cater to the lowest common denominator. Instead of taking union members who's work ethic is not up to par, and helping them by holding them accountable, the union defends them every time they are disciplined for not performing work as required. Maybe the reason I don't feel I'm under attack is, I show up on time, perform work as required and a little more, earned the trust of my management team and vice versa, and don't complain when I am assigned a task I might not like. I see more union members spending more time trying to get out of doing something they don't want to do, rather than just doing it.
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cakemaker2000 - 12 hours ago
Unions are the key reason most manufacturing jobs have moved over seas. Unions are job killers. Ask a man who is chronically unemployed if he would take a job for minimum wage over having no job . Unions had a purpose once. They have stayed long past their prime. Time to go.. Less than 11% of jobs in America are now union and it shrinks every year.
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loretta - 11 hours ago
Kapstone workers have already lost much of their pension benefits and need to stand their ground.
Fibre used to be a good place to work, but after it was sold the new owners made things so unpleasant a lot of the experienced workforce left. Now Kapstone is suffering from a lack of experienced mechanics because of this.
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KEHarold - 11 hours ago
Post office wouldn't have had to call Carl's if the people at the rally would have not only paid attention to the "postal customers only" signs and listened the the person who came over and asked them to move their vehicles. Thankfully, they came and moved them when the trucks arrived. Can only imagine what the news would say about the post office and Carl's if some of the cars had been towed.
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Transplant - 9 hours ago
ILWU laborers make $130,000 a year with nearly zero health care costs and $1 prescriptions. An ILWU foreman makes $210,000. For what? So they can hold guards hostage and disable trains? The group as a whole is willing to break the law and endanger peoples' lives. Their contract is set to expire at the end of the month and just wait... they'll end up in another walk out that disrupts the movement of billions of dollars in goods. The effect? Other workers will suffer loses at their expense.
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skyler - 6 hours ago
The reality is that ALL workers are under attack. Koch Brothers and others put big $ into ALEC, PAC's and politicians so they can pay as little as possible and have no safety accountability to their workers. Corporate tax abuse, tax loopholes leave the working family with less as they foot more of the bill. If you can't see that, I dont know what else to say. Post office was closed, so they parked there, including an elderly retired postal worker. They moved as soon as they were asked to.