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Labor unions to join “Occupy” protests

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Labor Council says it will  join with various local versions of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests next week.

The council is in line with national labor leaders who are praising the protests from New York City to Seattle and Spokane for “capturing the imagination and passion of millions of Americans who have lost  hope that our nation's policymakers are speaking for them.”

Unions are planning a “Week of Action” starting next Monday, and want to hook up with Occupy demonstrations for some joint efforts. They haven't yet announced an agenda for their coming week.

Occupy Spokane protests have all been peaceful so far, but Occupy Seattle demonstrations at the Westlake Park resulted in 25 arrests Wednesday after protesters refused a city order to remove their tents. The tents have come down and but protesters remain in the downtown park…

…The alliance of labor unions and social progressives, who are among those involved in the Occupy protests, is not a new one. They marched together last spring in Olympia as the Legislature was considering how to cut the state's general operating budget to avoid a deficit.

They called for legislators and Gov. Chris Gregoire not to adopt an “all-cuts” budget but to find new revenue, possibly from closing tax exemptions for businesses, to keep programs going. At one point, a crowd estimated by the Washington State Patrol at about 7,000 demonstrated near the Capitol Building's North Steps and many marched into the building, through the Rotunda and around the hallways outside the legislative chambers. Handfulls of protesters also “occupied” the Capitol for several nights, refusing to leave the building at the normal closing time and setting out sleeping bags on the marble floors.

Despite the protests, the budget was cut and no significant tax exemptions were closed.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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