The 1960s had their love-ins and sit-ins and the new millennium will now have its first soup-in. On Thursday, the group Working Washington will be performing their own brand of culinary street theater, staging what they call a “Depression-era unemployment line, with free soup for the unemployed” in the vicinity of Congressman Dave Reichert’s district office on Mercer Island. The flavor of the day? You guessed it: class warfare consommé.

Working Washington spokesperson Anne Martens is quoted at The Stranger’s Slog blog as saying, “We’ve had enough of Rep. Reichert’s support of Wall Street and the very rich at the expense of the rest of us. He’s our Congressman and his job is to stand up for us. Let’s tell him we need good jobs now.”

The group is organizing a similar protest targeting Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in Spokane, begging the question: How does a group of starving unemployed folks organize and coordinate on both sides of the state?

If you sense a larger hand may be pulling the strings, keep reading.

As a spokesperson for the concerns of the downtrodden, Martens herself has not spent much time living on the dole. According to her LinkedIn profile (screenshots are archived in case it magically disappears from the Interweb), her resume doing communications and media work for Democrats and progressives in Washington State is unbroken going back to 2008. Until June 2011, Martens worked communications for Seattle progressive locus Fuse, before which she was the Washington State Democratic Party’s communications director, before which she did independent work with the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. That takes us back to her role as messaging captain on the Yes on I-1000 Death with Dignity campaign in 2008.

But behind Martens and the façade of poverty her group projects is a familiar force in modern subversive politics. There are no disclosure and precious few clues on Working Washington’s Facebook page or their website to identify how the group is organized or funded, but a little investigative digging began to uncover bits and pieces about who and what is behind Working Washington.

Only one nonprofit is registered in the Washington State Corporations Division database using the name “Working Washington.” The organization’s directors are shown in state records as Sergio Salinas – president of SEIU Local 6 – and Ana Crapsey – listed on LinkedIn as being an administrator on the SEIU Washington State Council.

The Public Disclosure Commission also has received recent filings for a political committee calling itself “Working Washington PAC,” a group that registered on August 4th, 2011 after receiving an initial cash contribution of $1,000 from (wait for it) SEIU Healthcare 775NW. Adam Glickman is listed on PDC documents as chairman of Working Washington PAC; some guy named Adam Glickman-Flora also happens to sits on the executive board of SEIU Healthcare 775NW.

If those facts aren’t enough to satisfy your craving for a good Perry Mason reveal, a listing for Working Washington found on a Democratic grassroots networking website has links to the official Working Washington website, lists the group as a non-profit advocacy organization, and gives a contact email with an SEIU 775NW address.

Organized labor spent truckloads of money during this off-year cycle in the state of Wisconsin to fight Republican efforts to regain some ground in collective bargaining. The SEIU and AFL-CIO were looking for a knockout punch in the recall elections – a clean sweep of all six state senators they targeted for removal. After realizing only milquetoast results – only two seats changed hands – any political strategist might think about going underground and rebranding.

Similar weak outcomes were seen from the union’s full court press during the most recent legislative session in Olympia. Union reps marched, they screamed, they caused unrest, but they did not achieve measurable victories.

Off with the purple shirts and on with the Working Washington green.


[photo credit: flickr]