February 22, 2011 in City

Rallies show union solidarity, seek school funding support

Associated Press
Associated Press photo

Chanting “protect our future, protect higher ed,” Washington State University junior Tim Kirima, center, joins a group of about 150 students from other state colleges on the steps of the Capitol in Olympia on Monday as part of “Coug Day at the Capitol,” organized by WSU students.
(Full-size photo)

OLYMPIA – Union members, students, parents and even former presidential candidate U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich rallied in Olympia on Monday, taking advantage of the holiday to lobby against budget cuts and to show solidarity with Wisconsin’s embattled union for state employees.

Hundreds of Washington state employees chanted, sang and waved signs in the Capitol Rotunda in a rally supporting unions and state employees in Wisconsin. Ohio Democratic congressman Dennis Kucinich addressed the group wearing a union T-shirt from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

“You cannot have a democracy if you don’t have people in a position to be able to negotiate for their wages and to have decent benefits,” Kucinich said, lauding Washington as being a “bastion for workers’ rights,” where people have the capacity to push back.

Washington is one of the most-unionized states in the country, according to a January U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics report.

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, reminded the crowd that collective bargaining ended child labor and created the 40-hour workweek. “Collective bargaining is not the problem.”

Several other groups took advantage of the Presidents Day holiday to demonstrate – college students urging funding for higher education and the Washington State PTA asking legislators to protect students from budget cuts.

Washington State University students participating in an annual “Coug Day at the Capitol” marched to the Statehouse, then met with their individual legislators to urge continued funding support for higher education.

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