Transport Workers Union Votes Unanimously to Support Occupy Wall Street
Occupy Wall Street is in its 13th day, with support growing among factions veering from the "grungy unemployed hippie stereotype." There's the event led by two CUNY professors to protest the treatment of the protesters at the hands of the NYPD (Critical Mass has written they'll join in this rally, which may be preceded by a feeder march from Zuccotti Park consisting of other groups as well). Michael Moore, who's been involved for days now, is doing a book signing at St. Marks Bookshop (another cause!) with royalties on sales to go to support Occupy Wall Street. And last night, the Transport Workers Union voted to support Occupy Wall Street. We hear that the UAW will be showing support as well.
We spoke to TWU Local 100's spokesman Jim Gannon, who told us that the executive board voted unanimously last night at their regular monthly business meeting to support Occupy Wall Street. TWU Local 100 has 38,000 members, the vast majority of whom work in New York City transit. (TWU has 200,000 members in 22 states.) Gannon said, "A motion was brought up to endorse the protests' goals; I don't know why it took us so long to do it. Right now we're going to be involved in a march and rally on the 5th of October. We'll gather at City Hall at 4:30 and march to Zuccotti Park."
Why did they join? "Well, actually, the protesters, it's pretty courageous what they're doing," he said, "and it's brought a new public focus in a different way to what we've been saying along. While Wall Street and the banks and the corporations are the ones that caused the mess that's flowed down into the states and cities, it seems there's no shared sacrifice. It's the workers having to sacrifice while the wealthy get away scot-free. It's kind of a natural alliance with the young people and the students -- they're voicing our message, why not join them? On many levels, our workers feel an affinity with the kids. They just seem to be hanging out there getting the crap beaten out of them, and maybe union support will help them out a little bit."
Via Animal NY, here's a video of a woman who identifies herself as a TWU 100 member talking about support for the demonstrators.
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Marvin Holland, TWU 100's political director, told us that individual union members have been supporting the movement and down at Zuccotti Park since day one, and that this was "a natural fit for us." He'll be meeting with some of the protesters tomorrow to talk about what kind of support they need. Will this help OWS focus their still rather undefined goals? "I don't think it's our job to tell them what their demands should be," he said.
TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen added, "We plan to be down there from now on. Previously there were individual rank and filers, but now there will be a coordinated presence from the Transport Union; we'll be joining the protest, standing in agreement and solidarity. One of the things that drew the issue to my attention is the fact that no one can get away from the fact that the richest and wealthiest folks have received a significant tax break and there have been ongoing efforts to extract concessions from public sector workers. Their formula is to give tax breaks to the rich and balance the budget on people making 50 grand a year. These folks down at Wall Street are singing the same tune as we are."
Meanwhile, Critical Mass writes,
We are bringing Critical Mass back to its glory days, and bringing it to Liberty Plaza, where the police have been surprisingly bike friendly! Join us for a rally against police brutality at 1 Police Plaza first, at 5:30pm, then ride with us to Union Square, where we will once again have the sound bike and we will be joining forces with the radical activists of Liberty Plaza. They have liberated a public place, much like Critical Mass did with the streets of New York, and we will revel in this space and this freedom with them.
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