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News / Clark County News

Hundreds march across I-5 Bridge in ‘Jobs for Justice’ demonstration

By Ray Legendre
Published: October 21, 2011, 5:00pm

Hundreds marched across the Interstate 5 Bridge on Saturday morning to protest labor practices in Portland and Vancouver.

Portland Jobs With Justice, a 90-member nonprofit organization, organized the rally, which started in Portland near Jantzen Beach, included a two-mile walk across I-5 North to Vancouver and finished at Esther Short Park in downtown Vancouver.

The march and subsequent rally drew between 150 to 200 participants, the Vancouver Police Department said. There were no incidents involved with the march, according to police.

The march, themed “Good Jobs for All! No Cuts!” highlighted concerns over labor struggles involving the Hilton Vancouver Washington, Georgia-Pacific in Portland and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in Longview, among others, said organizer Chris Ferlazzo.

“I thought it was exciting to connect the communities and their struggles,” Ferlazzo said, estimating that around 500 people participated, including people involved in Occupy Vancouver and Occupy Portland.

Saturday’s march and rally was the third in a series of events organized as part of Portland Rising. The other two were an April march in Portland and a June bus tour of seven locations, including the Hilton Vancouver Washington.

While Ferlazzo labeled Saturday’s march across the bridge a success, he said there were no immediate plans to hold a similar event again. He did not rule it out, however.

Peaceful protest events involving Portland Jobs With Justice will continue as long as there are “threats to social safety nets,” he added.

The Hilton Vancouver Washington wage dispute remains unsettled.

Workers received an “inadequate” contract proposal in October, said Karly Edwards, a Portland-based lead organizer of Unite Here, a national organization that supports unions for various industries, including hotel workers.

Eric Walters, general manager for Hilton Vancouver Washington, emailed the Columbian a copy of his written response to the union. In the letter dated Oct. 8, Walters described why he believed the union’s demands were too steep for the hotel, given how the recession had negatively impacted its business.

Unite Here will have representatives at Monday’s Vancouver City Council meeting, Edwards said.

“Both City Hall and the Vancouver Hilton can expect that, if they’re not going to treat workers right, there will be no labor peace in Vancouver from this point forward,” Edwards said.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517; http://facebook.com/raylegend; http://twitter.com/col_smallcities; ray.legendre@columbian.com.