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Labor Perspective On The Occupy Wall Street Movement: It’s Grown To Become Something Much Larger Than Just Tents Set Up In New York’s Zuccotti Park/The Movement Is Becoming ‘The’ Major Catalyst For Change For The 99% In The U.S.

Published Thursday, November 17, 2011 4:00 pm
by Tom Campbell/Editor-Publisher
Labor Perspective On The Occupy Wall Street Movement: It’s Grown To Become Something Much Larger Than Just Tents Set Up In New York’s Zuccotti Park/The Movement Is Becoming ‘The’ Major Catalyst For Change For The 99% In The U.S.

All one had to do was turn on the TV today (Thursday, November 17th) to see how fast the Occupy Wall Movement has grown in just two short months.

From New York City to Los Angeles and across New York State, including the State Capitol in Albany, the 99% have ratcheted up their efforts in exercising their Constitutional Right to Free Speech and Peaceful Assembly.  But make no mistake about it, they are angry and frustrated and their growing numbers are telling this Nation that the 1% not only need to pay their fair share in taxes, but that things have to change – economically – for all Working Americans, who are seeing their hopes of achieving The American Dream disappear right in front of their very eyes.

According to Internet News Reports, Occupy Wall Street Organizers in New York City this morning distributed posters that stated: Shut Down Wall Street!, Occupy the Subways! and Take the Square!, and at one point, they marched into various parts of the Financial District in an attempt to block the New York Stock Exchange from opening at 9:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, a host of Labor Organizers planned protests, which will take place at dozens of bridges across the United States today, as part of a campaign to highlight the need for increased spending on the Nation’s infrastructure.

These 200 or so Occupy Wall Street protests that are occurring from Coast to Coast comes just two days after Republican Mayor Michael Bloomberg ordered New York police to dismantle the epicenter of the Occupy Wall Street Movement at Zuccotti Park, while keeping journalists away so they could not specifically report what was occurring.  After a go-around with the courts, protesters were later allowed to return to Zuccotti, but without their tents, sleeping bags, tents and their musical instruments.

Based on the series of events that happened earlier this week in New York, I have to agree with National AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, who said after Bloomberg ordered the dismantling of the Occupy Wall Street encampment that “they can take away the tarps and the tents, but they can’t slow down the Occupy Wall Street Movement.”

“The ninety-nine percent is undaunted.  Occupy Wall Street's message has already created a new day.  This Movement has created a seismic shift in our national debate - from austerity and cuts to jobs, inequality and our broken economic system,” said Trumka in the wake of the raid on Occupy Wall Street in New York, as well as recent ordered closures by authorities of Occupy sites in Oakland, Portland, Denver, Albany, Burlington and Chapel Hill.

Since its inception a little less than eight weeks ago, the Occupy Wall Street Movement has been committed to peaceful, non-violent actions.  “It will keep spreading no matter what elected officials tell police to do, but that doesn’t mean these raids are acceptable.  In fact, they are inexcusable.  The AFL-CIO will do everything in our power to make sure the Free Speech Rights of these peaceful protesters are protected,” Trumka said.

Looking back at this just short of an amazing two-month anniversary, the Occupy Wall Street Movement cannot and will not be defined by tent cities that have and are continuing to spring up across our Nation faster than Spring flowers. 

Powered by Social Networking on Facebook and Twitter, the Occupy Wall Street Movement is generated by the 99% of Americans who don’t have what the 1% have, but have made their cry for fairer tax rates and the need to create good-paying jobs heard loud and clear from Coast to Coast.

Even here in Western New York, the Movement has captured the attention of the have nots and given them a purpose to get up off the couch and involve themselves in something that really matters in their lives – fighting for a Middle Class existence and preserving The American Dream. 

From Buffalo to Fredonia, everyday people are getting together and making a commitment to stand together as one, and it doesn’t matter who or whom looks to physically destroy their peaceful encampments – their actions only work to grow the Movement.  That’s why a number of Occupy Buffalo participants got on the bus to travel down to Albany for today’s actions.

What we are beginning to see now, I believe, is what we’ve watched take place overseas in foreign lands – people fighting for their rights and Democracy. 

But while those in foreign lands who do so are showered with congratulations in their battle for Democracy, those who are taking part in the Occupy Wall Street Movement are being vilified because of some sporadic displays of violence and reports of unsanitary encampments that include drug-users and the homeless.

But anyone who’s smarter than those who unfortunately buy the malarkey that’s being peddled by some, including the Fox News Network, truly knows that this is not the case. 

There are indeed articulate and educated Americans who are unemployed and who can’t find a job, and who’ve made the decision to get off their couches and take part in the Occupy Wall Street Movement. 

Here in Buffalo, 26-year-old Jamie Popp went to college and has a degree in social work, but can’t find a job.  She works an $8-and-hour overnight shift at a gas station in Suburban Lancaster and spends her daylight hours down in Niagara Square in the shadow of Buffalo’s City Hall in support of Occupy Buffalo. 

Popp, like so many others, are the Americans that Fox and others don’t want you to know about, but they do indeed legitimize what the Movement is all about and what it really stands for.

“Occupy Wall Street's message cannot be silenced.  No one can evict an idea whose time has come,” said Communications Workers of America (CWA) District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton, as he issued a strong condemnation after Bloomberg ordered Police to forcibly remove Occupy Wall Street Protesters from Zuccotti Park. 

“It’s about calling attention to unacceptable forms of economic inequality and injustice in this city, around the country and throughout the world.  It’s about allowing long-ignored voices to speak out,” offered Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) President Stuart Appelbaum, who described Bloomberg’s action an “illegal eviction” that were both “cowardly and irresponsible.”

As time marches by, we’ve all become more than upset with what’s gone on – especially with our Elected Leaders in Washington, which was heightened over the weekend after a CBS News' 60 Minutes report that placed a spotlight on members of Congress who can legally make trades on non-public information they obtain during their official duties. 

According to Businessinsider.com, the 60 Minutes report branded it as honest graft, as Lawmakers use market-moving information that they learn in Congressional Committees to trade on the stock market and make millions of dollars - actions that likely would carry stiff jail and civil penalties if they did not hold public office.  (To watch the video, visit: http://www.businessinsider.com/congressional-insider-trading-revealed-on-60-minutes-2011-11)

In one example, 60 Minutes reported that U.S. Representative Spencer Bachus (Republican-Alabama), who serves as the Chair of the House Financial Services Committee, bet against the market in the days before the 2008 Financial Crisis hit - after getting apocalyptic briefings from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and then-Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson.

60 Minutes also raised questions about the trading patterns of Speaker of the House John Boehner and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi - and the real estate purchases of other Senators and Representatives.

Public outcry was so swift that as a result, just yesterday, the media was reporting that after six Lawmakers had initially signed on to support a proposed law that would outlaw the practice, now more than 50 in Congress had jumped on the bandwagon.

And if you don’t believe the pressure being brought about by the Occupy Wall Street Movement on the 1% didn’t have anything to do with those Congressional Representatives suddenly changing their minds and signing on – then think again.

However, what I personally hope is that the Occupy Wall Street Movement begins to branch out into getting those who are currently unregistered, registered to vote. 

I would also like to see them attempt to educate the uneducated in terms of the political landscape, the issues and just who and who does not really support the 99%. 

On another note, the just kicked-off recall effort of anti-Worker/anti-Union, Republican Governor Scott Walker has begun in Wisconsin and is quickly gaining momentum – and there is more than a good chance those participating will get enough signed petitions to have it placed on an upcoming ballot. 

It would appear that an hourglass has indeed been turned upside down across this country, with some big help from the Occupy Wall Street Movement, which has become a major catalyst for change.

Combine that with a very possible victory that would oust such a notorious Elected Official such as Governor Walker – and it would literally send political shock waves across the land, not only to those who are elected to serve, but those who pay more attention to the 1% than the 99%.

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