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Monday, January 30, 2012

City Transportation Workers Protest Cuts

Posted by Sarah Mirk on Mon, Jan 30, 2012 at 5:20 PM

About a hundred union city transportation workers and supporters took to the streets of NE Portland today, marching to protest the $16 million budget cut that could cut 100 jobs and numerous basic projects, like street cleaning. "Sam! Sam! Where are you? You say you're mayor, but you cut your crew!" the crowd shouted, as it headed from North Stanton to Dishman Community Center.

A couple photos of the protest, attended by Democrat House Leader Tina Kotek and City Council candidate Mary Nolan, are below the cut. But the one that sums up the workers' sentiment best is a snapshot below of the two buttons worn by 20-year city veteran Garth Rand: Vote for change, but... aw, shit.

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Rand is a "CSI"—no, not a flashy TV show crime scene dude, but a humble sewer investigator. "They have all these grandiose projects, but they don't budget for maintenance," says Rand. "It's coming back to haunt us."

"Do you think your job is on the chopping block?" I asked, but before Rand could answer, another worker shouted back, "Mayor Adams is on the chopping block!"

Union outrage over cuts is unlikely to actually stay the city's axe. The bureau is looking at a giant budget hole for several reasons and at least some cuts seem inevitable.

Jessica Peill-Meininghaus, a mother of four whose husband works as a city carpenter, is optimistic that turning out for the protest can at least make the impact of job cuts clear. She brought her kids to a city council meeting in December and had them occupy the front row, all holding signs saying, "Mr. Mayor, this is an emergency." "You may just see his name on a piece of paper, but there are five people who rely on him," says Peill-Meininghaus, who adds her family would likely have to move if her husband loses his job. "We need to find a long term solution, not a short term cut."

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Rep Tina Kotek (in red) at the head of the march.
  • Rep Tina Kotek (in red) at the head of the march.

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