Four NYC Unions Explain Why They Are Marching in Solidarity with Occupy Wall Street on Wednesday

John Tarleton Oct 3, 2011

New York City labor unions will come out in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement this Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. when they plan to rally in front of City Hall and march down to Zuccotti Park. Here are statements from four of the unions that will play a large role in the protest:

Transit 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.

One out of six Americans lives in poverty today, and the richest one percent control more wealth than at any time since the Gilded Age of the 1920’s.

The TWU Local 100 Executive Board is united in our determination that this state of affairs is dangerous for America and destructive to its citizenry. 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.

Local 100 is a local (or chapter) of the Transport Workers Union of America, a union which represents transportation workers in bus and subway lines, and several airlines nationwide. It has about 38,000 members.

1199SEIU, United Healthcare Workers East

The 1199SEIU Executive Council voted unanimously on September 30 to give all-round support to the ongoing Wall Street occupation. Monday, October 3, marked the 17th day of the occupation which has picked up participants, supporters and media attention by the day.

Other labor support has come from the Transport Workers, United Steelworker and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka. A labor-community March on Wall Street is set to leave New York’s City Hall at 4:30 on Wednesday, October 5, and end at Zuccotti Park (renamed Liberty Park) which is the site of the occupation.

Sponsors of the Oct. 5 march include the Working Families Party, United New York, New York Communities of Change and the Strong Economy for All Coalition, which includes in addition to 1199SEIU, SEIU Local 32BJ, the New York AFL-CIO, United Federation of Teachers, Citizen Action, NYSUT, Communications Workers, and the NY Central Labor Council.

1199 members, families and friends are encouraged to take part.

Among those who have joined the occupation for periods are Nobel Laureate Joseph Stiglitz, NAACP leader Ben Jealous, Professor Cornel West, filmmaker Michael Moore, Def Jam impresario Russell Simmons, actors Susan Sarandon and Mark Ruffalo.

After the 1199 Executive Council heard a report on the Wall Street occupation by two of its young activists, President George Gresham offered the motion to support the action. Included in the motion, with friendly amendments, were the union’s agreement to reach other to the rest of the labor movement to build support for the occupation, to support future marches and actions that grow out of OccupyWallStreet, to feed the occupation participants for a week, to have 1199 nurses help train those staffing the first-aid care station at the occupation, and to set up an 1199 “task force” charged with help in whatever ways possible.

Representing more than 300,000 members and retirees in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Florida and Massachusetts, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East is the largest local union in the world.

Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union

Today Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), released the following statement of support and solidarity for the Occupy Wall Street resistance effort on behalf of the 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. But Wall Street won’t do it. Instead, the financial elite want to dictate the future of our entire economy and democracy in ways that will protect the wealthiest 1% at the expense of everyone else.

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.

Every hour that Occupy Wall Street continues, it can help revitalize a progressive movement nationally and globally that aims to achieve new victories for all working people and the unemployed. It’s up to us whether we harness their energy and commitment at the bargaining table, in the halls of government, and among the coalitions and alliances we try to sustain.

Too many of the occupiers have been arrested unnecessarily and unfairly. I urge Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to instruct the police force to show restraint, civility, and respect when dealing with the increasing number of peaceful people occupying Wall Street.

In the days ahead, the RWDSU will do everything it can to learn from and assist Occupy Wall Street as we fight to raise standards in the industries where we organize and represent workers; as we fight to pass living wage legislation that will create more good jobs; as we fight for the fairness and justice that all working people and the unemployed deserve.”

RWDSU represents 100,000 members in the U.S. and Canada who work in a wide variety of occupations that range from food processing to retail to manufacturing to service and health care.

Professional Staff Congress-CUNY

The PSC Executive Council voted Friday (September 30) to endorse the labor support rally for #OccupyWallStreet on Wednesday, October 5, joining several other unions, CUNY students and community groups.

In endorsing the labor support rally, the Executive Council cited the convergence between the PSC’s campaign for a progressive tax structure and #OccupyWallStreet’s focus on the huge economic inequities in this state. We hope that in bringing strong labor support to the October 5 rally we can elevate the statewide campaign not to give millionaires a tax break when schools are being starved of funds, CUNY students are paying more, thousands of state workers are facing layoffs, and hundreds of people across the state are in desperate need after massive floods.

PSC members will gather at the intersection of Warren St. and Broadway at 4:15 PM before joining the rally at City hall. After the rally at City Hall, the demonstrators will march over to Zuccotti Park, site of the #OccupyWallStreet protest. The event will run until about 7:30 PM. We look forward to seeing you there.

PSC-CUNY represent 24,000 faculty and staff who work at the City University of New York and at the CUNY Research Foundation.