About 150 strikers and supporters sang, danced and munched on latkes in front of The Seattle Times building on Dec. 21, day 31 of the Newspaper Guild strike and the first night of Hanukkah.
The Seattle Times had announced two days prior to the celebration that they would permanently replace the workers. “We are going to stand united,” said striker Jane Hadley in response.
She said the replacement went against Jewish ethics and that the strikers would have fun and be festive that evening in their fight to succeed as the Maccabees did. The newspaper strike ended this week.
Pamela Brown-Lavitt of the Jewish Labor Committee led the crowd in singing rewritten Hanukkah songs, tailored to the newspaper strike. Rabbi David Fine, regional director of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, led the candle lighting ceremony. Fine said the candles were lit to bring brightness and hope to the strikers.
Rebekah Denn, a Jewish Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter, said it was a shame to be on strike during Hanukkah, but she remembered that the Jews of old won their battle and so could they. She said with the burn barrels still lit, it was their own Hanukkah miracle. Striker Sara Jean Green also spoke about the importance of community solidarity in supporting the month-long strike.
Rabbi David Seidenberg taught the crowd a dancing song, saying “When you want to overcome a tyrant, you dance.” He taught the crowd the “Yeshiva Shuffle,” which he said was really easy because “Yeshiva guys can’t dance.” Then the crowd joined hands and danced in circles.
Storyteller D’vorah Kost portrayed her grandmother visiting from Detroit. She told a story about some candles that flew out of her menorah and refused to be lit because they were on strike.
“There’s a spirit on the picket line you can’t get anywhere else,” said Stan Sorscher, a former striker at Boeing. Hats were then passed around to the crowd to get financial support for the strikers.
The evening ended with the crowd holding hands and singing “Solidarity Forever.”
“With The Seattle Times threatening on [Dec. 19] to permanently replace workers, the fight has escalated considerably. Now, more than ever, community support is needed to help the newspaper workers win. In doing so, we are supporting the rights of workers throughout our community,” said Jonathan Rosenblum, a member of the Jewish Labor Committee.
Seattle P-I employees officially ended their strike and returned to work on Jan. 2 as The Seattle Times strike continued. On Jan. 5, a tentative agreement was made in the strike against The Seattle Times. The Seattle Times agreed to take half of the striking workers back within 90 days and all within six months. However, due to the financial losses caused by the strike, the work force would have to be cut by at least 10 percent, or 250 jobs. The Seattle Times also agreed to shift all recently hired replacement workers out of Guild jobs within about eight weeks.
To find out more about the Seattle Jewish Labor Committee, contact Rosenblum at 206-956-0494 ext. 11, or Pamela and Rob at 206-328-8898.