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Jun-05-2009 07:05printcomments

'United Oregon' March Dominates the Weekend in Portland (AUDIO)

The march is Sunday in Portland at 1:00 p.m., beginning from the Eastbank Esplanade near SE Main. The rally will follow at 2:00 p.m. at Terry Schrunk Plaza.

Salem-News.com
Members of SEIU Local 503
File photo courtesy: seiu503.localsonline.org

(PORTLAND, Ore. ONS) - Several thousand front-line workers and other Oregonians concerned about budget cuts affecting services, safety nets and infrastructure are taking to the streets of Portland Sunday.

Roads will be blocked off to handle the crowds. SEIU Local 503 initially organized the rally to focus on public worker issues, and it quickly grew when people got word of the event.

Union member Phil Newton will emcee the rally.

"It's encouraging because it's morphed from being a public employees' rally to being a get-together of various interests, like from AARP."

The state budget is estimated to be about $4 billion short. Many legislators are reluctant to raise revenue to reduce the shortfall, saying budget cuts are the only way to balance the bottom line.

Oregon Action organizer Ron Williams says, while some call budget cuts "across-the-board," research has shown they don't affect everyone equally, and the inequality is amplified when the economy is bad.

"African-Americans and people of color are always the hardest-impacted in an economic downturn. We're the first ones to be laid off."

Karen Miller, a state human services employee, is frustrated state worker paychecks have become a budget-cutting target again - even after state and university workers already agreed to salary freezes and unpaid leave.

"We shouldn't be punished for doing the work that Oregon needs to have done. This is a revenue problem and it would be really nice if we finally found a revenue solution."

The march is Sunday in Portland at 1:00 p.m., beginning from the Eastbank Esplanade near SE Main. The rally will follow at 2:00 p.m. at Terry Schrunk Plaza.

Special thanks to Oregon News Service
Producer: Deb Courson
Reporter: Deborah Smith


Audio

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