VIEW PHOTOS FROM YESTERDAY'S RALLY HERE!
STOP CUTS AT DOC - CALL 1-800-562-6000 NOW! Contact your State representatives at 1-800-562-6000 and tell them that closing and/or repurposing facilities and releasing prisoners early is bad public policy and will put our communities at risk! Tell them that the State must also develop a plan to generate more revenue to fund the DOC!
A confederation of thousands of working people converged on Olympia yesterday to denounce the Legislature’s plans to cut an additional $2 billion from the State budget and to demand that the State raise revenue to preserve essential services in education, health care, and public safety.
Dozens of members of Teamsters Local 117 joined forces with teachers, health care workers, students, community activists, and members of the Occupy movement for a rally and a peaceful march around the Capitol Building.
As they marched, people chanted, “We are the 99%!” and “Banks got bailed out, people got sold out!”
Afterwards, people streamed into the Capitol rotunda, where they demanded that the Governor and Legislators do more to help working families who are disproportionately suffering as a result of the economic crisis.
For the next several hours, people occupied the Capitol, engaging in protest, civic involvement, and democratic debate.
Hundreds sat down in the rotunda and brainstormed solutions to the State’s budget crisis; others gathered in front of the Governor’s office demanding to be heard; others filled the budget hearing rooms in an effort to disrupt the legislative proceedings.
Four members of Teamsters Local 117 from the Larch Corrections Center – Mark Francis, Sid Clark, Shaun Piliponis, and Robert Stricker - testified at budget hearings about the dangers of further cuts to the Department of Corrections and the early release of prisoners.
“You are looking at releasing sex offenders early into our neighborhoods. That is not an acceptable solution to the problem. Can we really put a price on public safety?” Sergeant Francis said.
Yesterday’s events coincided with the first day of the special session of the Legislature, during which Legislators are poised to make decisions that will impact our State for years to come. Over the last three years, Legislators have cut $10 billion dollars from the State budget.
Teamsters spoke about why they turned out for the event:
“A lot of things need to change in this country. Right now corporations are getting tax breaks for shipping jobs overseas,” said Andy Johnson, a Local 117 member at Safeway. Andy said his father had recently lost his job after working twenty years with the same company.
James Smith, a 9-year member from Alan Ritchey, had this to say: “Banks have been irresponsible in their fiscal and monetary policies. They took the taxpayers’ money and they used it for themselves.”
Becky Little, a Shop Steward at Pierce County, spoke about the need to preserve family-wage jobs for working people: “Not everyone can be a doctor or a scientist. We need more jobs with decent wages and health benefits so that people can support their families.”
Little said she had also participated in the DOC rallies last year. “Correctional workers shouldn’t be stationed alone, and we shouldn’t be letting the most dangerous people in our society out of prison early.”