April 23, 2011
CHICO — Hundreds of locals gathered at City Plaza on Saturday to show solidarity with the workers in the Wisconsin protests and to educate people on the importance of unions.
Among the many groups gathered were the Brotherhood of Teamsters, Brotherhood of Carpenters, American Civil Liberties Union, The Central Labor Council of Butte and Glenn Counties, and the California Teachers’ Association.
“It’s a rally for America workers and workers’ rights,” said David Welch, director of Region 8, California Nurses Association and a nurse at Enloe Medical Center. “We wanted to recognize the importance that workers have in the middle class and how we all benefit from workers.”
Unions have helped put into place child labor laws, 8-hour work days, 40-hour work weeks and vacations.
“What today is about is workers standing together and working together,” Welch said.
Signs at the rally had slogans such as “United we bargain, divided we beg,” and “If it can happen in Wisconsin, it can happen here.”
“People from all walks of life benefit from unions,” said Paul
Ellcessor, a business representative with Teamsters Local No. 137.
“We want to raise awareness and the history out about labor and how it affects everybody’s life.”
Among his complaints was the Democratic Party, which Ellcessor said has historically been the labor party, but he believes isn’t any more. “No real change has ever happened in this country without people taking to the streets and demanding it,” he said.
Supporters in the crowd began to chant, “We are one.”
Tami Orr, of Redding, is the vice chair of the California United Home Care Workers of Shasta.
She has been supporting her brother Tom Hayden, who has seizures, for 46 years.
“We support rights for all workers,” Orr said. “And unless you’re upper management or an owner, you’re a worker.”
Orr is against any additional cuts to the In-Home Support Services, which pays her to care for her brother as a full-time job.
“The IHSS program is not an entitlement program,” she said.”
I save the state $180,000 a year by caring for (Tom) at home. We’re actually doing the state a favor.”
Those at the rally also called for a boycott of Koch products, who they said funded the “devolution of collective bargaining and workers’ rights” in Wisconsin.
Koch products include Brawny paper towels, Georgia Pacific Building supplies and the Dixie brand of disposable dishware, among others.
Staff writer Robin Epley can be reached at 896-7761 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ellcessor was one of several speakers at the rally, which also included musical performances.
“If we’re on the ropes, then now’s the time to come out swingin’,” he said to large, cheering crowd.
Among his complaints was the Democratic