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Crowd of 200 chants 'jobs for all'

Protestors gathered on the corner of 78th Ave. S.E. and S.E. 28th Street Thursday morning near Rep. Dave Reichert
Protestors gathered on the corner of 78th Ave. S.E. and S.E. 28th Street Thursday morning near Rep. Dave Reichert's office. Protestors hosted a Depression-era unemployment line, with free soup for the unemployed to draw attention to the jobs issue, while members of the Tea-Party gathered across the street.
— image credit: Chad Coleman/Mercer Island Reporter

Several groups fed up with politicians’ lack of a clear plan to create jobs turned out for a Depression-era style soup line and demonstration in front of Rep. Dave Reichert's office on Mercer Island.

Representatives from Working Washington, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), MoveOn, Rebuild the Dream, Center for Community Change and FUSE Washington were present along with constituents and the last-minute appearance of Tea Party members across the street.

"Jobs for All," they shouted, while Carol Morris with SEIU 1199 and Francys Gaze with Working Washington served up tomato soup.

"We're looking to put the focus back on jobs in Washington communities," said Anne Martens, spokesperson for Working Washington. "Reichert hasn't been here for all of August. He should be listening to people — they need jobs.

"Functional employment is at almost 20 percent," Martens continued. "That includes the underemployed and people who have stopped looking."

The unemployed were filling out mock job applications stating how unemployment has hurt them, which Working Washington hoped to deliver to Reichert's staff, but Martens said Reichert's staff would not allow them to come into the office to deliver the messages.

Karie Castleberry of Mercer Island said she heard the commotion from her home and came out to join the group.

"It's my country and I vote," she said. Relatively new to the Island, she thought it was really positive that the citizens of Mercer Island were driving by honking and waving in support.

Macaria Madrid, who is employed, came all the way from Federal Way to join the demonstration.

"I'm here because people need jobs," she said. "People are losing houses, jobs — it's bad."

Jimmy Taylor is a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW). He said when he does get a call from the union hall the jobs are short-term, and they have to work harder, longer and faster.

"Cutting our pay doesn't solve the problem, because we're the ones paying the taxes," Taylor said. "They're always going to push us, but we're so hard up for work we do it."

He said workers need to stand up, but it's hard to do when you need the money.

Across the street, The Tea party was chanting "one-term president."

Woody Hertzog with the Sammamish Tea Party organized a group of Tea Party members in 17 hours to counter-demonstrate. They included members from Tacoma, Seattle, Renton and Issaquah.

"We're here to share our three core values — free markets, limited constitutional government and fiscal responsibility," Hertzog said. "We're not here to support Reichert — we're here to counter Planned Parenthood and MoveOn's messages."

Hertzog said both sides of the street were there to support job creation; they just disagree on how to do it.

"Jobs should be stimulated by businesses, instilling confidence and reducing regulations," Hertzog said. "American taxpayers should not pay to create jobs."

Mercer Island police were present and said there had been no trouble. In fact, they even held traffic for a flash mob of break dancers that appeared at 10 a.m.

 

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