Protesters ‘occupy’ Rubio offices

Over a dozen dissenters gathered in front of Republican Senator Marco Rubio’s office in downtown Orlando Nov. 4 in a call to action sponsored by the Occupy Orlando affiliated Unemployment Action Team. Their purpose was to present fake job applications filled out by Central Floridians to Rubio’s office to protest his vote against the American Job’s Act.
The modest-sized crowd formed up before the building on Orange Ave and Church Street by one o’clock that Friday, as chilling gales turned the area into a wind tunnel amid chants of “Marco Rubio hear our call!”
The Unemployment Action Team, a mixed coalition of Occupy Orlando regulars and labor groups like AFLCIO affiliated Working America, was eventually engaged by Todd Reid, Rubio’s State Director. Reid met with each individual protester to accept applications and hear grievances.
“We are not against Rubio,” Ada Carrion, a business-dressed member of the Unemployment Action Team said to Reid. “We are Democrats, Republicans – we just want him to look to our best interests and listen. The way we’ve seen it, Rubio has not played the ball the right way to us.”
David Fernandez is member coordinator for Working America and was one of the gathering’s lead voices. “We’re here today to hand in these application petitions in light that Senator Rubio voted against the American Jobs Act and co-sponsored a bill that would eliminate one in ten federal jobs,” he said. “We see that as a concern and we want to put a physical face to all the people that are unemployed and underemployed here in this community.”
Reid listened in an attentive and concerned manner. “You’re going to see, in the next week or so, the Senator putting out a bipartisan jobs package,” he said. “He’s working with Democrats and Republicans, and they’re putting together a package of things they’re all going to agree on.”
“We hope to see that,” said Fernandez, in response to Reid. “Not only that, but if we don’t see change, we’re going to be here every first Friday of the month – if not here than at other local institutions and elected leader’s offices – to commemorate the day employment statistics come out,” he said. “It’s extremely important that we focus on this. We want to see our economy grow.”
According to the applications being passed around, the American Jobs Act could have created 20,500 highway and transit modernization jobs, 25,900 educator and first responder jobs and 16,600 public school infrastructure jobs – and that’s just in the Sunshine State.
“We’ve got to find a way to get spending under control,” Reid said, responding to an inquiry from an applicant who noted Rubio’s sponsorship of a bill that would eliminate ten percent of federal jobs by 2015, called the Reducing the Size of The Federal Government Through Attrition Act of 2011. “We’re 14 trillion dollars in debt; we spend one-and -a-half million dollars more than we take in every year. It wouldn’t be unthinkable that we could reduce the size of the federal work force.”
Dennis MaClareN expressed passionate disdain when his turn in line came. “I’ve lost count over the last three years of the amount of job application I’ve put out.  I know for a fact when there’s an open job call – where I’ve gone to apply for washing dishes – it’s not five people looking for that job. It’s hundreds of people that show up,” he said. “I want to work; I want to pay my taxes. I’m sick of being called a loser.”
One applicant asked what in particular from President Obama’s Jobs Act was opposed by Sen. Rubio, “The senator believes it’s more spending in the sense that it’s much like the stimulus that came before it,” Reid answered. “There were a lot of promises, and it hasn’t lived up to them. It would be foolish to do the same thing again and expect different results.”
“We cannot afford to be bailing out local governments,” Rubio has said of the American Jobs Act, calling it “stimulus 2.0.”
“I respect the fact that he came down here and is listening to every person,” said Fernandez of Reid, after most finished turning in their mock applications. Over 60 had been filled out on previous days, according to Fernandez, and at least a dozen more were added that day. Commenting on Rubio’s bipartisan package in lieu of the Jobs Act, he said, “Noticing the stalemate we’ve had in government so long, I’m doubtful of the possibility of something actually passing.  If it doesn’t — like I said before, we’ll still be out here.”