Thursday was the main business and public outreach day at the ongoing Alaska AFL-CIO convention, being held at the union worker friendly Captain Cook Hotel, created by the late Wally Hickel. Two big events were planned to reinforce the outreach message.
One, well publicized, was AFL-CIO chief Richard Trumka's evening keynote speech, in which he was to criticize the radical and hateful environment that has spawned the elevation of Sarah Palin to national prominence. The other was to gather convention attendees, local union workers and their supporters, to march on two Anchorage hotels that are in violation of labor agreements.
At about 3:00 p.m. union workers started gathering on 6th Avenue in front of the hotel, picking up signs, instructions and safety equipment for the mile-long march.
Some 2010 political candidates showed up. In front of the green utility case is AK-AL U.S. House Democratic Party candidate, Harry Crawford, talking to a supporter.
Here's Vince, independent commentator Shannyn Moore and Rich, smiling in the warmth of a vibrant late summer day and the even more powerful warmth of so many union members being stirred to political action.
The march, scheduled for 3:30 p.m, is forming up.
Union brothers and sisters, talking, laughing, sharing stories.
Rich and Vince, leading the way, singing a song of solidarity and defiance.
Ray Metcalfe, 2007 Alaska Muckraker of the Year, and the guy who insitgated the Veco corruption investigations, doing his blackberry. He's not into singing.
The Anchorage Laborors local, in their orange solidarity garb.
A panorama of about half of the marchers as they headed toward the Anchorage Sheraton Hotel.
I had to leave to attend a rehearsal and to teach my next class.
Later in the afternoon, Richard Trumka gave a speech that riveted the overflow crowd in the Captain Cook ballroom. I was teaching, so couldn't attend. Here's part of what Mr. Trumka had to say to American workers:
Palinism will become an ugly word. Who is this woman, anyway? What happened to her?
She used to have a job, your governor. You knew her. ... Or thought you did. ... I know I thought I did. She seemed like a decent person, an outdoorswoman. Her husband’s a steelworker. She seemed to take some OK stands for working families.
And then things got weird. After she tied herself to John McCain and they lost, she blew off Alaska. I guess she figured she’d trade up … shoot for a national stage. Alaska was too far from the Fox TV spotlight.
“nstead, she’s hanging out on cable TV, almost a parody of herself, coming out with conspiracy theories about Obama and his ‘death panels.’ ... Talking about ‘the real America.’ Talking about building schools in ‘our neighboring country of Afghanistan.’ Writing speech notes to herself on her hands.
Sometimes — about Sarah Palin — you just have to laugh. ... But it’s not really funny.
In this charged political environment, her kind of talk gets dangerous. ‘Don’t retreat … reload’ may seem clever, the kind of bull you hear all the time, but put it in context. She’s using crosshairs to illustrate targeted legislators. She’s on the wrong side of the line there. She’s getting close to calling for violence. And some of her fans take that stuff seriously. We’ve got legislators in America who have been living with death threats since the health care votes.
It is interesting that this important speech took place in the classiest hotel in Alaska, created by a man once enamored with Palin - as had been Trumka - but eventually disgusted. A hotel created by a man whose funeral Palin almost seemed to be crashing, as she showed distasteful body language to draw attention to herself at one of our state's most solemn events. (At least she learned enough from that so that when she appeared at Ted Stevens' funeral, she meekly accepted being quietly shunned)
Here's a link to Richard Trumka's entire speech. I'm not going to link to Palin's tweets or facebook crap. Tomorrow, I'll take them up when addressing her upcoming defilement of Dr. Martin Luther King.
all images - PA