Unions and liberal groups to join ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protest

01/10/2011 20:00
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Labor unions and liberal activist groups plan to throw their weight behind the “Occupy Wall Street” protest in New York City that has now lasted 13 straight days, according to Crain’s New York.

A diverse coalition of people have pledged to occupy Wall Street until something is done about corporate greed and the financial system’s undemocratic influence on the U.S. government.

The protesters have been camped out in New York’s old Liberty Plaza, now called Zuccotti Park, since September 17.

Among unions, the United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United and Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 have said they will participate in the protest next Wednesday.

The Working Families Party, MoveOn.org, Make the Road New York, the Coalition for the Homeless, the Alliance for Quality Education, Community Voices Heard, United New York and Strong Economy For All also plan to support the demonstration.

“It’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,” Jon Kest, executive director of New York Communities for Change told Crain’s New York. “They’re speaking about issues we’re trying to speak about.”

The New York Times described the protest as a “noble but fractured and airy movement of rightly frustrated young people” whose purpose was “virtually impossible to decipher,” and many progressive and liberal groups did not initially embrace the protest.

The support of the “established left” has the potential to explode the numbers of people at the demonstration. TWU Local 100 alone has 38,000 members.

“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,” TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen told the Village Voice.

“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.”

Many have criticized the movement for not having any clear purpose or goals, but Salon.com’s Glenn Greenwald responded that most of those critiques were ludicrous.

“Does anyone really not know what the basic message is of this protest: that Wall Street is oozing corruption and criminality and its unrestrained political power — in the form of crony capitalism and ownership of political institutions — is destroying financial security for everyone else?” he wrote on Wednesday.

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