Portland march for climate and worker justice

By Katheryn Brooks

PORTLAND, Ore--While over 1,000 people rallied in Pioneer Square at the Portland Rising rally for jobs, a group of more than 70 climate justice activists and advocates gathered in the North Park blocks to participate in a feeder march to the rally.

Those in attendance were demonstrating to demand radical solutions to the linked problems of climate change and the economic crisis, and also celebrating the birth of a new organization, the Climate Justice Coalition of Portland, which hopes to link the struggle for workers' justice to climate justice.

Speakers offered solutions like creating 1 million living-wage green jobs and making dirty energy companies create new jobs to replace the jobs lost when they are shut down in favor of cleaner energy.

Ian, an unemployed carpenter, stressed that we can no longer rely on an economy driven by the profit motive, where the goal is to enrich a few people, not to save the environment. Multiple speakers echoed this sentiment--that the same government, corporations and systems that got us into this mess can't present the solutions, only we can.

The final speaker, Andrea, a member of the Climate Justice Coalition, summed up the goals of the march as connecting the struggle for climate justice to other struggles being fought for by the left, and also showing solidarity with the fights for workers' rights, women's rights, immigrants, and rights of all oppressed people.

Departing from the park, marchers and bikers chanted, "System change, not climate change" and "What do we want? Green Jobs! When do we want them? Now!" Another crowd favorite was "Ain't no power like the power of the sun (wind/tide/people), 'cause the power of the sun don't stop!"

Protesters stopped along the way for a brief picket at a 76 gas station to highlight the environmental degradation cause by its parent company's investment in the Alberta tar sands project.

They then moved on to the U.S. Bank building to meet up with the larger Portland Rising march, where the united groups called on U.S. Bank to stop profiting from the misery of the poor and unemployed. U.S. Bank has contracted with the state of Oregon to dispense state aid such as unemployment and charges fees after the first two transactions of the month.

Within the larger march, climate justice activists continued to call for green jobs and carbon emission cuts--demands that were quickly taken up by others. As the marchers left the streets to gather for the final rally, the back half of the march enthusiastically took up the call of "Climate justice is worker justice!"