Portland Rising! Rally and March to Demand Jobs, Not Cuts!

Portland Rising! Rally and March to Demand Jobs, Not Cuts!

When: April 16, 2011 at 12:00 noon.

Where: Pioneer Courthouse Square

In response to the passage of the law in Wisconsin that stripped its state’s public workers of their collective bargaining rights, the Oregon AFL-CIO posted the following on their website:

“The America working class experienced an attack today. To quote a Japanese Admiral speaking of the American peoples’ response after the attack on Pearl Harbor: “I fear all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve”.

It is this resolve that will be mobilized in Portland on April 16.

While Portland Jobs with Justice initiated this event, they have now been joined by a coalition of both public and private unions as well as community organizations under the title “Portland Rising.” By taking to the streets in a massive way on April 16th, Portland Rising will be putting workers’ and community needs on the political scales in an undeniable display of positive uplifting strength.

Why Now

Why is this extraordinary effort necessary? Current unemployment rates are officially estimated to be 8.9 percent nationally, 10.4 percent statewide. If uncounted discouraged workers were included, the unemployment rate would be around 16 percent, and this number is growing. By the end of 2011 the number of workers cut off from unemployment benefits and, therefore, not counted in official statistics, is expected to reach four million.

There is no significant improvement on the horizon. In order for the official unemployment rate to get down to 6 percent by 2014, 300,000 new jobs would have to be added each month, a feat that current job growth is not even coming close to providing.

In spite of this enormous jobs crisis, the response of our nationally elected politicians has been, in effect, to sit on their hands and leave it to the private sector to create jobs. While the corporations have $2.4 trillion in their reserve, they are hoarding this vast amount rather than investing it into job creation.

Clearly what is needed is federal funding to create jobs. The money for this exists. It’s in the hands of the corporations. However, the corporations base their investment decisions on what makes a small handful of stockholders profit rather then what workers and America needs.

If our elected representatives are truly interested in representing the majority of American people, they should demand that Wall Street pay for the damage it has done to Main Street. They would do this by demanding that Wall Street fund jobs to eliminate unemployment, rebuild our infrastructure, retool our productive capacity on an enviromentally sound basis, strengthen our education and healthcare systems, etc.

If the rich were paying their fair share, Americans would be optimistically looking towards the future. Instead, Wall Street gets enormous tax breaks. For instance, in 2009 Bank of America not only paid no US Federal tax on their $4.4 billion in profits, they received $119 million in tax credits.

Outrageously, not only are the politicians not demanding the rich pay their fair share to fund job creation, they are insisting that working people tighten their belts! On the chopping block are Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, heating oil assistance for low income people, public housing, and more. This is not to mention cuts to public workers’ benefits, wages, and attacks on their collective bargaining rights. Workers and the entire economy will pay dearly now and in the future for such austerity measures. The corporations and economic elite will be left off the hook while they luxuriate in bail outs and tax cuts – that is, unless Main Street is heard.

Raising Our Voice

Wall Street’s voice is currently determining the national political dialog. It’s power resides in its money and political connections. Labor’s power lies in its ability to fight for Main Street’s interests. Labor and the community members can begin to exercise their voice by taking to the streets in a clear display of massive unity behind such demands as for a federally funded jobs program and no cuts to the social safety net.

The outpouring of people in Madison Wisconsin in opposition to Governor Walker’s anti-union legislation has had a powerful impact on public opinion. On April 16th Portland Rising will build on these inspiring developments and set an example of the resolve that is needed nationally. By raising our voice behind all workers’ and community members’ collective needs, we can shift the current political dialog in favor of policies that benefit the great majority rather than the wealthy few.


Mark Vorpahl

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