Organized Labor Stands Up


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Foley Square, October 5. Photo: Jen Ross

Labor organizers and unions across New York City and the United States have endorsed the occupation at Wall Street, promising continued support and backing of the movement of the 99%. The following are excerpts from their letters of solidarity:

TRANSPORT WORKERS UNION LOCAL 100
“The Transport Workers Union Local 100 applauds the courage of the young people on Wall Street who are dramatically demonstrating for what our position has been for some time: the shared sacrifice preached by government officials looks awfully like a one-way street. Workers and ordinary citizens are putting up all the sacrifice, and the financiers who imploded our economy are getting away scot-free, increasing their holdings and bonuses. Young people face a bleak future with high unemployment, and minimum wage jobs. Public sector workers face mayors and governors who demand massive wage and benefits givebacks, or face thousands of layoffs. That’s not bargaining. That’s blackmail. We support the Wall Street protesters and their goal to reduce inequality and support every American’s right to a decent job, health care, and retirement security.”

RETAIL, WHOLESALE AND DEPARTMENT STORE UNION
“Occupy Wall Street has brought into sharp focus a reality that cannot be denied: corporate greed is responsible for harming the lives of millions of working people and unemployed people. A small group of firms, banks, and corporations now hold trillions worth of our collective wealth and assets. That money should be invested in job creation on a massive scale and used to rebuild countless lives damaged by the recklessness that caused the recession. After hearing the top 1% lie for so long, the courageous men and women occupying Wall Street are speaking the truth known by the unheard 99%. That’s why their message resonates so widely. They offer a clear perspective that rarely generates this kind of attention but that millions of regular people, not just activists and unionists, share: Wall Street should not control our economy, our democracy, or our lives.”

NATIONAL NURSES UNITED
“National Nurses United, the nation’s largest registered nurse labor union representing 170,000 direct care RNs, stands in support of and in solidarity with the ongoing Occupy Wall Street protests and rallies. We applaud the commitment, savvy and sacrifice exhibited by the multitude of students, union members, clergy, and many others from all walks of life who have come together to loudly and clearly place the blame for the nation’s pain where it belongs. Wall Street caused the financial crisis and we share your demand that Wall Street pay us back. As nurses, our motto in this fight is simple. “Heal America. Make Wall Street Pay!”

INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD
The General Defense Committee of the IWW stands in solidarity with our brave brothers and sisters at Occupy Wall Street. We denounce and detest the intimidation, harassment, and brutality exhibited by the New York Police. The actions of the police lay bare the true nature of Wall Street and Capitalism. We call on all those that still retain a sense of humanity to show their support of the working class by refusing to engage in the brutal silencing of dissent. The only individuals who remain unaffected by the volatility of capitalism, globalization, and the stock market are those who are getting richer from furthering the disparity of all workers through calculated economic calamity. We support all of our brave fellow workers
on the front lines of this occupation throughout the United States, and those like it across the world. We recognize that the true occupying forces are the wealthy ruling classes, their institutions, and the States that legitimize their power. The police and military forces that protect their masters’ wealth and power are just as guilty as their masters. Only by uniting and standing together as a class can we take back our streets and our workplaces.”

AMERICAN FEDERATION OF STATE COUNTY AND MUNICIPAL EMPLOYEES, AFL-CIO (AFSCME)
“A clear message is now being sent to Wall Street: Priority # 1 should be rebuilding Main Street, not fueling the power of corporate CEOs and their marionette politicians. We stand in solidarity with those protesting Wall Street’s greed. The economy that has wrecked so many lives, obliterated jobs, and left millions of Americans homeless and hopeless is the fault of banks that gamble with our future. Their reckless pursuit of profits, at the expense of working families’ pursuit of the American Dream, must come to an end.”

LABORERS’ INTERNATIONAL UNION OF NORTH AMERICA
“The most valuable asset in America isn’t Wall Street, it is working people. Yet in America today, millions of working people are jobless and are losing their homes, their hopes and their dreams. Meanwhile, corporations are making record profits and the most profitable among them pay no taxes, shifting more wealth from the working and middle class to the rich… Wall Street caused our economic crisis, and yet corporations are attempting to force working people to pay for it. The only way to turn back the assault is to strengthen unions and build movements, such as Occupy Wall Street.”

AMALGAMATED TRANSIT UNION
“These young people are speaking for the vast majority of Americans who are frustrated by the bankers and brokers who have profited on the backs of hard working people… Transit riders have paid with record fare increases and service cuts. How dare they demand that we coddle the rich while poor people are losing their benefits and millions are becoming poor? ATU locals around the country plan to ramp up support by participating in similar Occupy events across the country.”

UNITED STEELWORKERS
“The United Steelworkers union, North America’s largest industrial union with 1.2 million active and retired members, 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 three 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’s labor but their own.”

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  • Karel Miro

    I am glad that people are fed up enough to start challenging the status quo. I feel, though, that in the end little will be accomplished without a clear, concise, achievable goal. Fortunately, in this case, one exists that would address the root of all of the concerns the Occupy movement is bringing to light: Get money out of politics. Without campaign finance reform, nothing will change. With serious campaign finance reform, including eliminating the rights of corportation and any organizations to give $$ to campaigns, everything will change. Everything. Can you imagine if legislators had to get their $$ from individuals like you and me? Can you imagine if corporate lobbyists weren’t writing laws that regulate their own industries? Can you imagine if the economy that legislators were worried about was our economy, and not the stockmarket/Wallstreet economy? Our legislators behave like they were purchased by companies and rich individuals because they literally were. With the obscene amounts of $ being spent on elections, they have no choice.

    The Occupy movement reprepresents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to harness deep public indignation and anger to finally get corporate and organized money out of American politics.

    If Occupy were to take on that mission, it could have a true and lasting impact.

    This means unions need to give up their puchasing of politicians as well.