Occupy Wall Street Brings Unions Out In Force As Conservatives Cry Class Warfare
As the movement of protests in New York City grows rapidly through its third week, workers and representatives from major labor unions and social activist groups will join Occupy Wall Street to demand fair treatment from corporations.
The unions, which include AFL-CIO, United NY, United Auto Workers and about a dozen others will join Occupy at Foley Square at 4:30 p.m. EDT and march to the Financial District. The unions are protesting layoffs and cuts to pay, benefits and pensions that have slammed organized labor since the financial crisis of 2008 plunged the U.S. economy into a persistent recession.
Over the past few weeks, though, courageous men and women have been occupying Wall Street—not just the place but the starring role Wall Street likes to play in our public discourse, a point that much of the mainstream news coverage and editorializing has not fully appreciated.
After hearing the top 1% lie for so long, they 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. When Wall Street wields so much power and influence, we are fundamentally worse off.
Though the aims of the protests have never been clear or completely unified, those gathered have carried a decidedly anti-capitalist message, decrying increasing corporate profits while the average family suffers and unemployment remains stuck above 9 percent. “I think a good deal of the banker should be in jail,” protester Andrew Cole told Andrew Ross Sorkin of the New York Times, who argues that the movement is maturing.
Wall Street traders, often seen as the face of corporate greed, appear to empathize with the protesters, according to Talking Points Memo and CNN, saying they understand the frustrations. Traders have been laid off in droves since the economic slowdown began.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is calling the protests “class warfare,” a common conservative response proposals to raise taxes on the wealthy, such as the “Buffett Rule,” which President Barack Obama endorsed in his September jobs speech.
Many liberals are hoping the Occupy Wall Street can become the left-wing equivalent of the Tea Party, which also had its beginnings as a fringe, unorganized protest. Ezra Klein of the Washington Post writes that the organizers must take the next steps to become a true political movement.
Some commentators who support the activists in spirit are saying that Wall Street is not the problem; it’s the Washington lawmakers who allow abuses of capitalism to occur.