Union Workers Come to Washington to ‘Demand Justice,’ ‘Show Congress What Democracy Looks Like’

December 7, 2011 - 10:54 AM

(CNSNews.com) – Busloads of union workers from Boston, Miami, Detroit, Chicago and elsewhere have made their way to Washington, D.C., this week to “Take Back the Capitol,” as they have titled their protest.

“Thousands will converge on the nation’s capital to show Congress what democracy looks like, shine a light on corporate greed and the human suffering it has caused, and demand justice for the 99%,” says the protest Web site. “Our goal is to remind Congress to represent all Americans—not just the richest 1%.”

Although the “Take-Backs” are separate from the “Occupiers,” they have similar grievances and the same slogan. “We are the 99 percent,” the Take-Backs chanted on Tuesday, borrowing the phrase made famous by the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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Union workers without an appointment wait in the hallway of a congressional office building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 6, 2011, as part of their 'Take Back the Capitol' protest. (CNSNews.com/Elizabeth Harrington)

The “Take Back the Capitol” protest -- organized by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – whose political action committee made more than $27 million in independent expenditures to help elect Barack Obama president in 2008- is sending teams to congressional offices to press for an extension of unemployment insurance – and “jobs, not cuts for the 99 percent.”

The demonstrators attempted to “occupy” the offices of Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio), Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) and others, but were turned away because they didn’t have appointments. That didn’t go over well with some of the protesters:

Lola Scott, a protester from Muskeegan who identified herself as a union worker, a precinct delegate, and "part of the 99%," spoke with CNSNews.com after her attempt to "occupy" Sen. Scott Brown's office.

"I'm a taxpayer, I'm a voter, and I come to the Senator's building, and we had to sit in the hall for a couple hours and we don't see anybody, and that's not fair," she said.

When asked for a solution to the country's economic problems, another protester told CNSNews.com, "Well, to get this budget thing that Obama has proposed -- the jobs budget.  Tax the one percent."

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'Take Back the Capitol' protesters. (CNSNews.com/Elizabeth Harrington)

"The one percent, if you took all their wealth, it would only fund the government for about two months.  Do you think that makes sense?" a CNSNews.com reporter asked the protester.

"It's a start," the protester replied.  "Then they can figure out what to do."

As a part of “Take Back the Capitol,” SEIU has set up a “tent city,” or a “people’s camp,” where protesters will hold teach-ins, “imagination workshops” and write poetry and music when they’re not out protesting.

On Tuesday, after their trip to Capitol Hill, demonstrators were asked to “tally up support for the 1% versus the 99%.” That was followed by dinner and entertainment.

The union protest began on Monday, Dec. 5, and runs through Friday.

The SEIU’s political action committee gave more than $27 million in independent expenditures toward the election of Barack Obama in 2008, according to the Federal Elections Commission, and it has endorsed the president for a second term.