by Nate Jackson
Cle Elum, Wash.—Waving American flags, over 150 Washingtonians greeted CEOs and business leaders as they sped into the swanky Suncadia resort on Wednesday, avoiding eye contact. They didn’t want to face up to the fact that their bottom-line-only decisions hurt working families.
Those rich CEOs were out in rural Washington to attend the annual meeting of the Association of Washington Businesses. We crashed their party because the business leaders were discussing how they were going to get more money from working families while avoiding taxes, stripping workers’ rights and focusing only on the bottom line.
They had a selfish agenda, but we have our own ideas on how to make this economy work again. It’s simple: working families need good jobs and respect.
Truck drivers, janitorial workers, land maintenance crew and other workers who were on their way to work at Suncadia honked and waved in support. Even the sheriffs that barred our way told us they were on our side. They knew that the decisions being made behind closed doors would hurt them.
We don’t want to keep hurting. We’ve taken enough hits. We’ve sacrificed every time they cut budgets, laid us off or ship our jobs overseas. It’s time we, the working people, set the agenda.
What we want are good jobs, fair treatment and a seat at the table when decisions about our economic future are being decided. Working people are the ones who create the wealth and we want to see that hard work rewarded with full time work, good American benefits and a voice in real decision making.
Governor Chris Gregoire was in attendance to give a “pretty please with sugar on top” speech to the CEOs and business leaders who broke our economy. The governor snuck into Suncadia around us, ignoring the people she should be talking to, and then sent out a staffer to parrot talking points.
The staffer talked about shared sacrifice, everyone doing their part and some other claptrap we’ve heard over and over again, but he never answered our real questions. “Will the governor make corporations and CEOs pay taxes? Will she close tax loopholes that are bankrupting our economy?” we asked. He stuck to his rehearsed statements and we sent him on his way.
We wanted to hear something true, so we shared our own stories of how the greedy CEOs have lost all credibility. They couldn’t be trusted with such important decisions.
Dixie Mitchell told us how she had been taken advantaged of by Chase Bank, one of the many corporations represented in Suncadia. Mitchell is 71-years-old and has owned her house that Chase is trying to snatch away for over 20 years.
“I’m still in foreclosure, but I’m still fighting,” she said grasping a microphone. “I ain’t going out without a fight.”
Greedy CEOs and big corporations are scared of a fight. They hide behind their closed gates and pretend that working people will just take whatever they hand out. No more. We know that the only way to get a more fair economy, where people are treated with the respect they deserve, is to get louder, to get out of our homes, into the streets and take the fight to them.
We’re not going away. We’re not shutting up and we’re just getting started.