Raleigh protestors highlight unemployment

October 11, 2011 2:34:07 AM PDT
A protest at dusk Monday in the state capital drew attention to the unemployed and others who can only find part-time work.

Labor, church and liberal activists said they lit candles Monday evening to shine light "on the plight of North Carolina's 1.2 million jobless and low-wage workers."

About 70 people gathered on the Bicentennial Mall.

"Here in Raleigh they're focused on gay marriage," said MaryBe McMillan, AFL-CIO. "They're not focused on jobs, you know, these folks want to work. Each of the 500 luminaries around this mall represents 2400 unemployed or low-wage workers in North Carolina."

AFL-CIO labor union President James Andrews says the group's demand is that "Congress and the General Assembly take immediate action to fix it."

The labor union, which organized the vigil, says the profile of the jobless runs the gamut, and you don't have to look far from the crown of protestors to find them.

People like Hope Krehbiel, who has been unemployed for two years, attended the event and shared her story.

"I ended up this year not only being still unemployed, but I ended up being homeless," Krehbiel said.

Marcella Robinson is a mother of four who is facing foreclosure after losing work in the health field. After participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement, she's inspired to fight the top one percent.

"I just got back from Wall Street up in New York City," Robinson said. "The banks and Wall Street has our politicians in their back pockets."

"One of the problems is when you have a group like the AFL-CIO and other organized unions, they're sort of downplaying their own role in creating the problem," said Mitch Kokai of the Conservative John Locke Foundation.

Kokai says one of the reasons that NC has done well historically is because it's a right-to-work, no unions required state.

"I would tend to disagree with them," Robinson said. "I do believe that legislation is the answer for right now."

She says lower corporate taxes and less regulation and essentially less government, would help create jobs.

Speakers at the event included the pastor of Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh and the director of the left-leaning North Carolina Budget and Tax Center.

Organizers say Monday - Columbus Day - will be the start of a week of action they're calling "America Wants to Work." The AFL-CIO held vigils across the country Monday evening and says it will devote the entire week to draw attention to the jobless situation.

Protestors plan to pressure Congress and General Assembly members to do more to rebuild the national and state economies.

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