Occupy Seattle, We're With You

Hundreds stood with the 99 percent at Westlake Park to demand one thing: good jobs now. Susan Wilkinson speaks at Occupy Seattle in Westlake

Susan Wilkinson has worked her whole life. She never had trouble finding good work until policy makers, banks and greedy CEOs decided to change all the rules, not hire and ship jobs overseas.

Wilkinson is now two years unemployed and is on the verge of running out of the only support she has, but she is not going to take it sitting down. Wearing her green Working Washington T-shirt, she talked to the crowd about what she thought was a solution: passing the American Jobs Act.

“I’ve never not worked in my life,” she said. “We need good jobs now and the American Jobs Act will help get us back to work. I need to work!”

Susan had arrived back from Occupy Wall Street in New York to attend the event in Westlake.

“I see democracy in action at these Occupy events,” she said. “This is what democracy looks like. We don’t want handouts or gifts, we want good jobs and we want them now. We need to pass this American Jobs Act.”

The American Jobs Act is a bill supported by President Obama. It would get people working right now on the work that needs doing around the country. In fact, here in Washington, 9,600 people would be hired to build roads, repair bridges, upgrade schools and do more to invest in the country right now.

We need to let our Senators and Representatives know that we need to work and the American Jobs Act is a way to get us back to it.

Many of us have been part of the "99%" movement in Seattle for weeks. We were gathering to stand against corporate power that has rewarded layoffs, encouraged CEO greed and left the rest of us out in the cold, sometimes literally. We were staying and not backing down as we’ve seen the influence of greedy CEOs drive this economy into a ditch.

Imam Mohamed Sheikh Hassan of Masjid Afrique Mosque stood up to show his support. He wore a traditional fez hat and started his speech pointing to the large group of Somali immigrants standing at the front of the crowd.

“We work hard,” he said. “We work long hours and we never complain, but the airport is firing us for no reason.”

The Hertz rental car company had suspended 32 Somali workers for praying at the workplace even though they had negotiated permission to do so.

“How can we raise our families?” he said. “We need to change the culture and reward hard work, not fire us. We want to work! Put us back to work!”

Then, a five piece brass band playing songs as we danced our way into the night. We marched, sang and held lit candles as we rallied more people to get involved and call their Senators to pass the American Jobs Act.

Leonard Sims took the microphone his voice breaking as he described how his family had suffered from the corporations and CEOs sitting on money instead of investing in our communities.

“I tell my children to work hard,” he said. “Work hard and you’ll be rewarded, but I’m not seeing that. I can’t even get a job.”

He paused.

“Something is wrong,” he said. “Something is wrong when we can’t find work and we want to work. We need jobs right now! We’ve done our part. Now they need to do theirs.”

Even the Mayor of Seattle took to the stage to show his support for the 99 percent to keep fighting for their rights.

“Keep organizing,” he said into the microphone waving his fist. “Keep fighting for good jobs; keep fighting for justice.”

We need the work that the American Jobs Act could provide. We have the talent and the skills, we just need the opportunity. Won’t you call your Senator and ask them to stand up for good jobs right now?