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20 years ago, Flat Stanley did WTO-Seattle


(Nov. 20, 2019) — The following correspondences were exchanged about 20 years ago between The Entire Staff of The Stand and our nephew, P.J. Scott of Pennsylvania:

Dear Uncle David,

How are you? I need your help with a class project. We read a book called Flat Stanley. In the story, Stanley was flattened by a bulletin board and had many adventures while he was flat. He even mailed himself to a friend’s house! And I’m mailing one to you! Go on a day-long adventure with Stanley and take pictures. Then mail the pictures and Stanley back to me and tell what you and Stanley did together! Have fun!


Dear P.J.,

Thanks for the opportunity to hang out with Flat Stanley for a day. Sorry it took me so long to do it, but there was a special day I had in mind, and it was Tuesday, November 30, 1999.

Flat Stanley and I joined about 40,000 other people in Seattle who peacefully protested a group called the World Trade Organization, which was meeting in town that day. The WTO establishes the rules that countries must follow when they trade products, materials and services. Many people, like myself, are mad that the WTO refuses to consider the impact that international trade policies have on our environment and the people who actually make the products.

So on Nov. 30, the first day of the WTO meetings, Stanley and I went to a giant rally and march organized by the AFL-CIO, which is the largest union organization in the United States. (Unions are working people who form groups so they have a better chance of negotiating for more pay and improved working conditions than they would as individuals.) I work at the Washington state offices of the AFL-CIO, so I was involved in organizing the big rally and march on Nov. 30.

The rally was lots of fun and Flat Stanley met a lot of people. Here’s a description of each picture: (Click on the photos to enlarge.)

1. Flat Stanley and I started the day at this rally at the Seattle Center Memorial Stadium.

2. Flat Stanley and James P. Hoffa, the President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, a union that represents hundreds of thousands of workers, including lots of truck drivers like the ones at UPS. He’s pretty famous. There’s even a movie called Hoffa about his father who used to be a Teamsters President, too.

3. Flat Stanley is held by John Sweeney, the President of the AFL-CIO, the biggest union organization in the country, representing more than 13.2 million people! Also pictured is my boss, Rick Bender, President of the Washington State Labor Council.

4. Flat Stanley meets Dave Ross, a talk show host on KIRO Radio in Seattle. His show is the highest rated one in Seattle from 9 a.m. to noon. He was broadcasting live from the rally.

5. Flat Stanley with a TV reporter from channel 7. I’m not sure what her name is, but she was flirting with your Uncle David so I let her hold Stanley. I guess she didn’t see my wedding ring.

6. Flat Stanley and me in downtown Seattle, where all of the people from the rally marched after it was all over. (Nice hat on Uncle David, huh?)

In picture #6, you’ll notice the spray paint on the wall behind me. Unfortunately, there was a small number of people who were at the march who did a very bad thing. About 30 or 40 people wearing masks broke some store windows, wrote with spray paint on buildings, and generally made a big mess of what was a peaceful demonstration.

In the days that followed, the police were much more strict about letting people protest because they didn’t want any more damage downtown. I’ve also enclosed some newspapers so you can read all about what happened if you want to.

Thanks again for letting me hang out with Flat Stanley. We had a great time!


David Groves is Editor of The Stand.

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