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April 15: NYC took a bridge, Chicago & Seattle took the streets, Portland took Town Hall, and Denver took the cake

Photo by Laura Avant
DENVER, COLORADO- Yes, Denver’s FIGHT FOR FIFTEEN march kept to the sidewalks. When ISO members (organizing the local “15 NOW” group) pushed the boundaries, SEIU marshals criticized them not just for agitating, but for pushing their socialist agenda. Occupy Denver activists held a prominent banner which referenced reigning minimum wage champion Socialist Alternative. Most of the attendees were union members whose representatives have obviously failed to credit the SA party or Seattle Councilwoman Kshama Sawant for the nation’s first $15 minimum wage victory. We fielded questions all evening from marchers eager to know if an SA chapter was brewing in Colorado.

TO BE FAIR, Denver’s march did take an adventurous turn, by Denver standards, but the rally began as might be expected from an event dominated by the SEIU and other corporate unions and their immobile nonprofit cohorts. Denver’s 4-15 rally started in the middle of CU-Denver’s Auraria campus, invisible from any street and unseeable to even partipants arriving, until they turned the corner to find it, behind the Tivoli Center.

Then organizers had a lineup of speakers which stretched well past expectations, trimming the crowd by over a third as supporters opted to slip away due to the unexpected cold front. Next participants were admonished to stick to the sidewalk, even on campus grounds, and applaud the police who’d agreed to permit the march. We were heading to a neighboring McDonalds, at least we were taking the scenic route.

Throughout the rally and march, a brass band played, and members of the local band Flobots led chants and songs. This lent a fun energy but it did preclude ordinary marchers speaking out or centering the vocal messaging on anything more than the generic themes of financial discontent. Even as crowds lingered in front of McDonalds, the band played on, when poignant denunciations might have provided a suitable climax.

Fortunately, a “Silver Brigade” had been deployed to patronize the fast food monster beforehand, to prevent managers from being able to lock the doors when the marchers arrived. McDs managers did lock the doors and they discussed a number of interesting defensive tactics under the noses of our operatives, but the managers were ultimately unable to refuse senior citizens demanding they be allowed to exit. This exit was timed to allow the Fight-for-Fifteen procession to march straight up to the counter, demanding a living wage, etc. Their objections heard, the marchers left and eventually crossed the street and dissolved into shortcuts through the Auraria campus.

(Note: My account of our inside job may appear indiscrete, but I include it purposefully. One, because even with advance knowledge it’s a difficult tactic to prevent, and two, because organizers of successive protests of establishments such as McDs need to include this tactic if they don’t want to remain locked out.)

Photo by Laura Avant
The highlight for me was infusing the event theme with the S-word. Desperate as they were today to fight for a living wage, vowing “we’ll be back” or else to “shut it down”, these union adherants will shortly become the usual Democrats, waving the Hillary banners, as if there was no alternative.

Whose fault is it that America’s minimum wage has been allowed to lapse below the poverty level? Is the responsibility not in part that of the unions’? The SEIU is driving the official “Fight for Fifteen” campaign, but only after socialists have led the way, as they did whenever the labor movement made its gains.

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