REMEMBER SEATTLE – MARCH TO MIAMI ASJE’s March to Miami was a series of 30 educational events, rallies and protest marches against the FTAA in 23 cities and 15 states covering 5500 miles from September to November, 2003. We wanted to show the strength of blue/green alliances in communities across the country.We started in Seattle on the “Blue-Green Machine”, a 1974 Crown bus driven and owned by Rick Fellows of Olympia. There were seven of us and we were joined by two more “bus people” in Spokane. I produced and wrote this slide show so that all those of us who participated in the March to Miami will remember and build on the strength we felt as we organized together. Dan Leahy firstname.lastname@example.org June, 2004
Rick Fellows from Olympia had a blue/green bus and was a 20 year veteran driver for Pastors for Peace caravans in Mexico, Central America and Cuba. He said going across the US would be easy.
Chris Preucil, on the ladder painting the bus, was a founder of the Alliance. Chris joined the bus people as an organizer and advance person. She stayed with us all the way to Miami driving her own Volvo station wagon.
The Blue-Green Machine had four single bunks, two doubles, a stove, refrigerator and a Cummins turbo-diesel that wouldn’t quit. We burned bio-diesel fuel whenever we could find it.
Jeanne Passarelli, a union organizer on loan to the USWA, helped us organize our first event up in Seattle. Jeanne lives in Olympia and after the March went to work for the Alliance.
Our first stop was the Seattle Labor Temple on Friday September 26th for an evening teach-in on the FTAA. It was sponsored by the Washington Education Association, the PNW Sierra Club and the Longview ILWU local.
Olympia’s Citizens Band opened the educational forum. Friday evening, Jim Cubbage, Grace Cox and Harry Levine. Harry stayed with us all the way to Miami as part of our Blue/Green duo with Melissa Roberts.
Vance Lelli, President of the Pierce County Central Labor Council in Tacoma, Washington and a member of Tacoma’s ILWU Local, joined the Citizens Band for a few songs.
On Saturday morning, we marched from the Seattle Labor Temple to Pier 61 on the Seattle waterfront. Al Link, Secretary Treasurer of the State Labor Council, Lynn Dodson from Seattle Jobs with Justice and Steve Kofahl from AFGE led the march.
Melissa Roberts, out front with the “Stop the FTAA!” sign, led us down Alaska Way to Pier 61. Melissa stayed with us to Miami as part of the “Blue/Green Duo” with Harry Levine.
The sub-district office of the USWA and SPEEA sponsored the rally on the Pier. We all performed our first “FTAA – No Way” song – soon to be heard all across the country. Jessica Bone- Bright, a SPEEA staff person, (center, right) led the aerobics.
Faculty member, Glen Cosby and the Student Association for Nature and the Environment (SANE) sponsored our presentations to three different classes. We met 600 students this day.
Sharon Closson, staff member with the Washington Education Association and Bob Kenyon, a member of the USWA, helped organize our rally at Spokane’s waterfront park.
Laura Brunell, a Gonzaga University Professor, brought members of Gonzaga’s Justice Club to our rally.
John Goodman, an original founder of the Alliance and a member of the USWA local in Spokane, spoke to us about dangers to American democracy and the need to fight back. It was an honor to have John with us in Spokane.
Stephanie Smith and Ellen Picken participated in the “readers theater” play, “Race to the Bottom.” The play demonstrates how “free trade” agreements pit one worker against another in an international scheme to lower wages.
The Not Ready for Free Trade Players, led by Harry Levine and Melissa Roberts, always ended Bill Carey’s Race to the Bottom skit with a rendition of Mike Prokosch’s song: FTAA No Way! -- “Workers! Is your job headed south? Well soon…”
After Spokane, we stopped in Coeur d’Alene to help Barbara Harris collect signatures to repeal Idaho’s Right to Work law. Later we held a rally in Kellogg, Idaho, at the USWA Hall. Barbara Miller (above), head of the Silver Valley Community Coalition, spoke about getting the EPA to clean up her town.
In 1972, 172 miners were killed in the Sunshine Mine disaster. The company, however, still wanted more silver. They kept the mine running even though the scrubbers had been destroyed by the fire. This led to the largest, recorded heavy metal poisoning.
Cathy Gunderson, from a USWA Local introduced Cass Davis, who was a boy of 12 when the mine dumped lead poisoning on him and the communities of western Idaho. Steve Powers, business representative from the USWA sub-district office, helped organize the rally.
After Kellogg, we drove to Missoula for an educational forum at St. Paul’s Lutheran church. The “Not Ready for Free Trade Players” struck again with another skit performance
Mo O’Brien (on the right), a member of the Montana Medics Collective, helped prepare food for the Friday evening educational forum. We met up with Mo again on the Root Cause march into Miami. Her collective kept us all healthy, even our tired feet.
Thanks to Mark Anderlik and the Montana Community Labor Alliance we entered the University of Montana’s Homecoming Parade. Darla Torrez, from the Montana Medics Collective and her daughter Autumn, guided the March to Miami through the Missoula streets.
Even during the Homecoming Parade in Missoula, Montana, Emiliano Zapata, a great leader of the Mexican revolution, is present. We heard the Mexican chant, “Zapata Vive! La Lucha Sigue!” in cities all across the U.S. We were still shouting it when we arrived in Miami. Emilian O’Zapata is also a member of the Batallon de San Patricio.
We drove from Missoula to Butte, Montana to see the Nation’s largest superfund site, the Berkeley Pit. The Anaconda Copper Mining Company and its successor, ARCO, left a 600 acre toxic lake holding 28 billion gallons of toxic water. The water is acidic enough to liquefy a motorboat’s steel propeller.
ARCO had mined the Pit below the water table. When it stopped operations in 1983 and shut down the water pumps, water continued to flow into the pit creating more toxic water at the rate of two to three million gallons per day.
We headed out of Butte for West Yellowstone where we planned to visit the Buffalo Fields Campaign, about 100 miles south.
This is the headquarters of the Buffalo Field Campaign when people from around the world come to help save the Buffalo from slaughter when they wander off the Park.
We kept this slide in because it was just too beautiful to leave out, plus it was Dan’s 60th birthday.
We drove to Billings for an educational forum with the Northern Plains Resource Council and then landed in Bismarck, North Dakota. Here, Mark Trechock from the Dakota Resource Council, lead another educational forum focused on free trade and sustaining family farms.
The Dakota Resource Council held a press conference and rally at the Capitol’s steps in Bismarck, North Dakota. Dave Kemnitz, President of the North Dakota AFL-CIO, hosted the rally along with Jeri Lynn Bakken from WORC and others.
On our way up to the Northeast corner of North Dakota we stopped at Finley, North Dakota and talked with soybean farmers unloading their crop at the grain elevators.
Bill Tuttle and Mark Froemke from the Grain Millers union in Drayton, North Dakota organized a rally, picnic and teach in to oppose the FTAA. As you can see from the front row, some could not stop doing the “FTAA-No Way” song.
The Grain Millers put black flags on the hill top to signify Job loss due to NAFTA in North Dakota and northern Minnesota. Each flag represents a 1000 lost jobs. All told, corporations have eliminated 166,000 jobs since the advent of NAFTA.
After Drayton, we crossed northern Minnesota to reach Eveleth on the Iron Range. We rallied and marched there and met up there with a contingent of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR). We saw them again in the streets of Miami.
As usual, we marched to a closed plant to highlight the disastrous effects of trade agreements, like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).
After staying with the Laney family in Colfax, Wisconsin, we headed into Minneapolis for a teach-in organized by Tara Widner at Macalester College. While in Minneapolis, we stayed at the home of Chrysta, Maya Yul, Marilyn Thompson and Diane.
Pete Putney, from the USWA local, was our guide to the Des Moines, Iowa rally. We set up a literature table and listened to the speakers which included Denise O’Brien from the Women’s Agricultural Network and former USWA International President, George Becker.
We could not resist doing “the song”, however. Here we are from left to right: Harry at the podium, Bethany Weidner, Chris “the voice” Preucil, Dan Leahy, Mary Oleri and Patrick Starnes. Rachel Hicks was filming and Melissa was too far left.
One of the greatest parts of the March was meeting the people who put us up in their homes. In Des Moines, John Campbell, Jr. and Judy Lowe welcomed us to their homes. Here Bethany tries to get Judy to come with us.
We traveled southeast out of Des Moines, camped on the Mississippi south of Hannibal, Missouri and then crossed rhe river on this ferry to the Illinois side and headed to Granite City.
We were greeted at the Granite City USWA local by Dennis Barker and Brad Mullen, the two guys in the March to Miami shirts.
Dennis and Brad took us on a history tour of Granite City’s famous labor history. They also showed us the Labor Temple where the great socialist party Presidential candidate and labor leader, Eugene Victor Debs, once spoke.
On Thursday evening, October 16th, Bob Soutier, Secretary Treasurer of the St. Louis Labor Council, opened up a Town Hall Discussion entitled, “Revitalizing American Manufacturing.” Bob Baugh, Executive Director of the AFL-CIO’s Industrial Union Council (on the left) and Rodney Grim (on the right), Executive Director of the St. Louis Development Corporation were among the speakers.
Next day, the St. Louis Jobs with Justice, led by Lara Granich, organized a rally at Kiener Plaza in downtown St. Louis. Here we gathered our forces for a march through the center of town.
District 7 of the USWA, based in Gary, Indiana, brought busloads of members to participate in the rally. This local union officer asked us to take his “Missouri Says No to The FTAA” poster to Miami.
Lara Granich gives us our marching orders as we made four stops in the downtown to emphasize how trade agreements effect our work life, our communities and our environment.
As in many places along the March to Miami, the local Sierra Club chapter participated in the St. Louis March. The Sierra Club in conjunction with UNITE is battling the CINTAS corporation, the largest laundry in the United States.
We left St. Louis at night to get to Kansas City the next morning where we joined another march and rally against the FTAA. Here ASJE’s Chris Preucil , speaks at one of the stops along the march.
At another stop in the Kansas City march, we protested the closing of a former non-profit hospital that used to serve a primarily poor section of town. The hospital had been bought by the profiteering HCA corporation and shut down.