The line of people forming at the Spokane County Fairgrounds this morning constituted a small sea of green. About 20 of the people — waiting to get into the public hearing concerning the proposed increase of coal trains coming through Spokane — wore bright green shirts that read “Let’s Get Back To Work!”
They already were, in a way. Pro-coal groups had hired the people to stand in Tuesday morning’s wind and rain to serve as placeholders.
"I want a job," says Milly, a Spokane resident who declined to give her last name. Milly told The Inlander she's getting paid minimum wage to stand out in the wind and rain for "as long as they need us." In prior jobs for Labor Ready, Milly says she's done in-home care and housekeeping and worked at a plastics factory.
An activist report on Daily Kos last week about day laborers packing similar public hearings.
Lauri Hennessey, a spokesperson for the pro-coal Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports, says hiring day laborers is a necessity to combat environmentalists who have been showing up early to hearings.
"A lot of our people have jobs," said Hennessey, and could not show up early to get a place in line.
"Those people are definitely not testifying, they're not staying for the meeting," she added, referring to the day laborers.
The public hearing happens today from 4 pm to 7 pm at the Spokane County Fairgrounds. We wrote in March about concerns (health, environmental, traffic, etc.) over the trains, which are expected to pass through Spokane to as many as half a dozen new shipping facilities on the west coast.