BLOG: #OccupyWallStreet Update: Professional Agitators and Labor Groups Join Anti-Capitalism Protests
Posted on October 2, 2011 at 12:30 AM EST
LaborUnionReport tweeted a very interesting query Friday night to #OccupyWallSt, the allegedly leader-less, agenda-less group that encamped September 17 in New York City, America’s financial center, to launch a #globalrevolution by tens or hundreds of thousands of
willing stooges anti-capitalists:
“Since your goal is to seize property & ‘de-privatize everything,’ may I ask a question? What will U do when people say ‘No?’”
Yesterday, blogger TexasGalt added at Unified Patriots:
Now, all this may seem comical, but let‚Äôs get serious for a moment. The union bosses are beginning to throw in to support these anticapitalist thugs. Ex Obama Czar and Communist Van Jones is promising an Arab Fall to ‚Äúsave the middle class.‚ÄĚ If all these bad actors throw in together, what has been a joke so far could turn into a big and potentially violent showdown.
Just today, 700 protesters were arrested for blocking the Brooklyn Bridge. Someone on twitter said today, ‚ÄúWhere‚Äôs the Ohio National Guard when we need them.‚ÄĚ Now, a Kent State solution is a little extreme, but the New York authorities had better get a grip on this and fast.
Where are you Mayor Bloomberg? Are you going to let the unions and these know nothing punks strangle New York?
#OccupyWallStreet Gets ACORN’d
Daniel Massey at Crain’s New York reported that, while until now the “city’s most experienced agitators‚ÄĒthe labor and community groups that typically organize local marches, rallies and sit-ins‚ÄĒhave been largely missing from the Occupy Wall Street protest that is in its 13th day at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan,” that’s about to change.
Next week, on Wednesday October 5, a “loose coalition of labor and community groups” are joining the protest in a solidarity march “expected to start at City Hall and finish a few blocks south at Zuccotti Park,” Massey wrote.
‚ÄúIt’s a responsibility for the progressive organizations in town to show their support and connect Occupy Wall Street to some of the struggles that are real in the city today,‚ÄĚ said Jon Kest, executive director of New York Communities for Change, which is helping to organize the march. ‚ÄúThey’re speaking about issues we’re trying to speak about.‚ÄĚ
Jon Kest, by the way, was identified in 2009, in the midst of the ACORN scandal, as not only the younger brother of ACORN National Executive Director Steven Kest but also as the chief organizer for the local ACORN chapter in New Orleans.
Jon Kest also then served as the chief organizer for ACORN front group, the New York Agency for Community Affairs, or NYACA.
The National Legal and Policy Center reported in September 2009:
A recent probe by a consortium of New York City newspapers shows NYACA thus far in this year alone has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from New York state and local taxpayers for political campaign services. In many cases, the lawmakers who earmarked the funds had been locked in close re-election campaigns that used NYACA volunteers. …
The group’s avowed purpose is assisting homeowners facing foreclosure and renters seeking to buy a home. But in practice it is a cleverly-disguised conduit for ACORN to contribute money to left-of-center New York politicians in tight re-election races. …
Examining tax forms, lobbying records, campaign finance reports, and contracts, researchers found that in 2009, NYACA has received $175,000 from eight state senators, $240,500 from 10 state assemblymen, and $85,000 from four New York City Council members. For 2006, NYACA reported a little over $1.3 million in revenues, almost all from government. That same year, the group paid out nearly $1.2 million for “contractual services” to ACORN and another $67,000 in direct grants. And in 2007, NYACA received more than $730,000 in government support, sending $711,152 of that to ACORN.
#OccupyWallStreet Gets Union- and Community-Organized
Last Wednesday, the executive committee of the 38,000-member Transit Workers Union Local 100, “which oversees the organization of subway and bus workers, voted unanimously” to support #OccupyWallStreet, Matt Sledge reported at Huffington Post.
TWU “orchestrated a large May 12 march on Wall Street” and is planning a rally on October 5 “in explicit support.”
Sledge also reported that SEIU 32BJ, “which represents doormen, security guards and maintenance workers,” planned to use a rally scheduled for October 12 “to express solidarity with the Zuccotti Park protesters.”
That plan has apparently changed, as indicated from the report by Daniel Massey at Crain’s New York.
“Some of the biggest players in organized labor are actively involved in planning for Wednesday’s demonstration, either directly or through coalitions that they are a part of,” Massey wrote.
Among the unions expected to show up, he stated, are United Federation of Teachers, SEIU 32BJ, SEIU 1199, Workers United, and the TWU.
Although Sledge indicated the New York Metro Area Postal Union might join, there is no report yet that it will.
The ACORN-affiliated Working Families Party is “helping to organize the protest.” The George Soros-funded MoveOn.org is “expected to mobilize its extensive online regional networks to drum up support for the effort.”
Massey wrote that the groups don’t plan to take over the Wall Street protest:
Organizers of the march said they aren’t looking to take control of the Occupy Wall Street protest, which has captured headlines since it began nearly two weeks ago, but add to it.
‚ÄúWe’re not trying to grab the steering wheel or to control it,‚ÄĚ said Michael Kink, executive director of the Strong Economy For All coalition. ‚ÄúWe’re looking to find common cause and support the effort. It’s the right fight at the right time and we want to be part of it.‚ÄĚ
Strong Economy for All held its first public event March 8, 2011, “to press for continuing the millionaire‚Äôs tax.”
The coalition is a group dominated by big unions. It includes SEIU Local 1199 United Healthcare Workers East, United Federation of Teachers, Citizen Action (which is closely associated with ACORN and the Heather Booth-led Midwest Academy), New York State AFL-CIO, 32BJ SEIU (more than 120,000 members in eight states and Washington, DC. 32BJ is the largest property service workers union in the country), CWA (Communication Workers of America), and the Municipal Labor Committee (an umbrella group representing 99 unions covering more than 300,000 New York City employees).
“With these actions‚ÄĒespecially with the endorsement of the big man in the House of Labor‚ÄĒthe anarchists, socialists, and Communists who have occupied a New York City park have achieved something they had been craving for the last two weeks: Legitimacy in the House of Labor,” LaborUnionReport observed.
“While the topic of Trumka‚Äôs Friday talk [at the Brookings Institute] was ‘Addressing the Jobs Crisis’, as he has done so many times in the past, Trumka continued his Orwellian blame for America‚Äôs jobs crisis on Wall Street, Washington politics, Republicans and the Tea Party.”
Sledge also wrote at Huffington Post:
Jackie DiSalvo, an Occupy Wall Street organizer, says a series of public actions aimed at expressing support for labor — from disrupting a Sotheby’s auction on Sept. 22 to attending a postal workers’ rally on Tuesday — have convinced unions that the two groups’ struggles are one.
“Labor is up against the wall and they’re begging us to help them,” said DiSalvo, a retired professor at Baruch College in her late 60s who has emerged as a driving force in the effort to link up labor and the protests. DiSalvo is herself a member of the Professional Staff Congress, which represents teachers at the City University of New York.
Recent anti-labor actions like Scott Walker’s in Wisconsin “really shocked the unions and moved them into militant action,” DiSalvo said, and the inflammatory video of a NYPD deputy inspector pepper-spraying several protesters on Saturday also generated union sympathy.
#OccupySF Gets SEIU’d
On Friday #OccupySF (in Solidarity with #OccupyWallStreet) took to the streets of San Francisco, delivering “speeches, chants, signs, songs, interviews, and the petition handed to Chase Bank officials by a half-dozen protesters before their arrest,” Stephen P. Jones reported at the online San Franciso Bay Guardian.
“After all,” Jones wrote, “while rich corporations and individuals have been accruing ever more wealth, the vast majority of us have been falling behind.”
“Banks get bailed out, we get sold out,” was one of those chants by the several hundred people who marched through the Financial District. …
They may be relatively small and easy to ignore, these ‚Äúoccupations‚ÄĚ of Wall Street and San Francisco and other cities that are entering their third week, but they’re being driven by a palpable anger and stirring critiques of economic and political systems that exploit the powerless. But as the foreclosures, layoffs, and other hardships continue, this nascent movement could have some staying power. …
[The young protesters are] angry watching their economic opportunities evaporate as more and more of the country’s wealth accumulates in fewer and fewer hands.
One sign read, ‚ÄúDon’t be afraid to say revolution!‚ÄĚ Jones wrote, adding “And many weren’t, with calls for revolution on the tips of many lips, albeit tempered with healthy doses of realism.”
‚ÄúEven if it isn’t at critical mass yet, it sets the stage for the next revolution,‚ÄĚ a sign holder told Jones.
Following a number of speeches, the San Francisco protesters were off in a march around the financial district led by off-duty city workers from SEIU Local 1021.
‚ÄúThis Wall Street thing is really spreading. The message of a small group of people in New York has really spread…Wall Street is a symbol of all this corruption, cronyism, and greed,‚ÄĚ Gabriel Haaland, an organizer with SEIU Local 1021, told me at the start of the march. ‚ÄúIt’s really resonated with our members…It’s been picking up steam as things have been unraveling over the last year.‚ÄĚ
An hour or so later, Haaland was one of six people who staged an occupation of the Chase branch at Market and 2nd streets, along with two women in his union who have been unsuccessfully battling bank foreclosures on their homes … and three other activists …
#OccupyWallStreet Gets Steel’s Support
According to a September 30 PRNewswire news release, Leo W. Gerard, International President of the United Steelworkers (USW), North America’s largest industrial union with 1.2 million active and retired members, issued the following statement “in support of the Occupy Wall Street protest movement.”
‚ÄúThe United Steelworkers (USW) union stands in solidarity with and strongly supports Occupy Wall Street. The brave men and women, many of them young people without jobs, who have been demonstrating around-the-clock for nearly two weeks in New York City are speaking out for the many in our world. We are fed up with the corporate greed, corruption and arrogance that have inflicted pain on far too many for far too long.
Our union has been standing up and fighting these captains of finance who promote Wall Street over Main Street. We know firsthand the devastation caused by a global economy where workers, their families, the environment and our futures are sacrificed so that a privileged few can make more money on everyone‚Äôs labor but their own.
Wall Street and its counterparts on Bay Street (Toronto), The City (London) and across the world tanked our economy in 2008. They caused a crisis that we‚Äôre still suffering from ‚Äď record job losses, home foreclosures, cuts to schools, public services, police, fire and so much more. They‚Äôve gambled with our pension funds and our futures for far too long.
They should have gone to jail. Instead, they got bailed out, while we got left out. And now they want us to go down the same path.
The Occupy Wall Street movement represents what most Americans believe: Enough is enough! It‚Äôs time to hold those who caused our economic crisis accountable, to ensure they don‚Äôt get away with it again, and to demand that everyone pay their fair share. It‚Äôs time to stand and fight for the creation of real wealth by focusing on making real things and creating family- and community-supporting jobs.
The USW is proud to join with the brothers and sisters of the Occupy Wall Street movement as we continue this important fight for a more just economy and a brighter tomorrow.‚ÄĚ
Mr. Gerard and his union strongly supports Occupy Wall Street, do they?
Have they bothered to read the ‚Äúdemands‚ÄĚ of the protesters the Steelworkers now so ‚Äústrongly‚ÄĚ support?
Are the Steelworkers now supporting the seizure of workplaces and schools?
We call for workers to not only strike, but seize their workplaces collectively, and to organize them democratically. We call for students and teachers to act together, to teach democracy, not merely the teachers to the students, but the students to the teachers. To seize the classrooms and free minds together.
Are the Steelworkers now advocating the de-privatization of everything?
Does that include their private property as well?
Mr. Gerard, would you care to walk back that support?‚Ä¶Even a little bit?
Unfortunately, I cannot embed the link to the #OccupyWallStreet site that contains the above demand as my computer’s security system informed me “Malicious Web Site Blocked.”
Perhaps it’s an omen.