I wanted share a few of the early images that are surfacing as the ‘Black Friday Boycott’ has begun. There is no way of knowing how many people actually walked out or protested outside of their local Walmart but here are a few of the best images I have found so far. (Special thanks to all the sites where I borrowed images from)
There was a time in this country – not that long ago – when almost one-third of all workers belonged to a union. More than three-quarters of Americans supported labor unions. And two-thirds of American families had a place in the “middle class.”
But not today.
Today, less than 12% of U.S. workers are members of a union, and public approval of unions is at a record low.
Today, our “middle class” has fallen apart so completely… that no one even knows what it is, anymore.
Today, as we mark the first anniversary of the Occupy movement, we also need to take stock of new economic and political realities facing the Labor movement.
Why happened to America’s support for unions? Have people already forgotten that workers died in the fight for fair wages? That the families were torn apart – and children’s innocence sacrificed – in the fight for 40-hour workweeks?
So many workplace rights and benefits are taken for granted these days. Have we forgotten the price that was paid by the union members who fought to win those rights?
Minimum wage, overtime, lunch breaks, sick leave, workplace safety. None of these rights were given to employees. All of our workplace rights had to be fought for and won – one by one – and most of these rights were paid for in workers’ blood.
Does America remember that?
We must work together to take back our workplaces and our political system. We need to change the minds of people who have made unions into scapegoats. We must organize and grow our organizations. We must fight back against the corporate greed (and money) that has destroyed our state legislatures and Congress. We need to STOP the “race to the bottom” where everyone is losing wages and benefits.
This will not be an easy task, but we are union members, right? We are not afraid to stand up for what is right. We have never been afraid of hard work. We have our entire nation at stake.
We already have some victories. In Ohio, we helped to gather 1.2 million signatures to overturn SB 5 – and on voting day Ohio repealed SB5 by an overwhelming 61%. In Wisconsin, Governor Scott Walker tried to steal away bargaining rights – and the country noticed – and now a judge has ruled Walker’s law unconstitutional. Last year, hundreds of thousands of people came together at Occupy events, screaming “we are the 99%” and protesting for economic justice.
Are we winning the fight? When the fight is over, we will know who won.
Are we making progress? Absolutely!
Only together can we fight back against the attacks on labor. Together we can make America the country it used to be – and what we want it be again.
Watch Father Cletus Kiley address the National Building and Construction Trades conference here.
The recent Supreme Court ruling on “Citizens United” just about slams the door on free speech for those who can’t afford it. As Bill Moyers so succinctly put it “this gives ordinary citizens laryngitis”. That goes for unions too. You now need a super pac to be heard. Super pacs will drown out any other voice.
A recent example of that was a story out of California rallying against a public sector worker who retired at 62 with a $272.000 dollar a year pension. Public sector workers came under immediate attack as having had too generous a pension system when in fact the pension system was way underfunded. Unfortunately what was missed by the reporter was that this worker didn’t even belong to the union and was actually a state executive. They created a perception that union pensions were destroying our towns. The truth was never reported. Unions will continue to be the whipping boy in this upcoming election by the right wing super pacs so hold onto your hat. Politicians cow tow to the corporate connected conservative base who, secretively, fund these pacs.
The surge of the union movement in this country was not a political movement but a social movement. There was little help from Washington. It does not appear now that we are going to be able to vote our way out of this mess we find ourselves in. There is a tiny percentage of Americans sitting at the top who are pillaging America. The unions need to identify them and go after them. They have pitted private sector workers against public sector workers by crushing private sector unions. Unions held the moral high ground when they were the champions of economic justice. When a strike occurred nobody crossed that picket line because the workers were right. Public sector unions, who are the strength of the labor movement right now, have to show that demonizing public sector workers is now the final goal for corporate America.
Washington is not going to save the labor movement. We can go out with a roar and possibly rebuild the labor movement through massive demonstrations very much like Occupy Wall Street has done to show financial irresponsibility on the part of the banking industry. People not politicians built the labor movement. I was recently in Minneapolis and participated in a spontaneous demonstration of thousands of letter carriers marching on Verizon. We were protesting Verizon for not bargaining in good faith with their workers. You did not need press coverage. Every worker in downtown Minneapolis was cheering and hooting in appreciation of outside workers supporting Verizon workers in their plight. That has to happen everywhere!
Fact: The Labor movement will be vastly outspent by the conservative right in opposing any gains working stiffs like you and me deserve for all our hard labor.
OK, now that we have that out of the way, what can we do?
Activism today is a very daunting task. In the sixties mass movements, like the anti-war movement were pretty much reported on by the main stream media, by and large, as a noble cause. Today’s media is a different entity. Most of corporate media is either owned outright by conservatives or is bought outright through ads dominated by these people and groups. It runs along the lines of “total information dominance” as is asserted by some propaganda theorists. It’s based on a military theory that we’ve been hearing about called “full spectrum dominance”. This is when one force exercises not only superiority, which means they will win the battle, but dominance, which renders the battle obsolete. We are not at total media dominance yet as witnessed by you being able to read this blog, but we are damned close.
In this environment, activists and democracy itself is ridiculed and small demonstrations of political activism, with the help of local law enforcement, are harassed, threatened and even beaten as I have personally witnessed at peaceful Occupy Wall Street events. I am not talking about rioters, but peaceful protesters. It takes a really huge commitment to subject you to this humiliation.
But take to the streets and get involved we must. Congress has totally failed us. They are bought and paid for and totally indebted to their sponsors. The Supreme Court in 2010 nailed the coffin shut with their Citizens United Ruling allowing corporations and billionaires to dump unlimited amounts of money to candidates and “dark money” groups, spreading disinformation and out and out lies.
Even though these people can write checks for tens of millions of dollars they can’t put a million or twenty million feet on the ground. Labor can potentially still do that. I witnessed a demonstration last spring in Manhattan that was the width of Broadway and sixteen blocks long. Unfortunately the media said there were a few thousand. There had to be thirty thousand. Not bad for the middle of the week.
I do not condemn anyone for their apathy or despair. I understand their disengagement. But overcoming this we must. I witnessed a local spark last fall when four or five hundred Letter Carriers and Postal workers and some labor affiliates “Occupied” City Hall Plaza in Manchester one Thursday afternoon. It was a beautiful thing! The seed has been planted. My contribution to this blog will be how we can “Occupy” politics.
Over the past few months we have talked about the Occupy Wall Street events and how they relate to labor throughout the U.S. Now it is coming out that the Republican Party is afraid of the OWS movement and fears it will lead to a re-election of President Obama. A well known lobbying group connected to Speaker Boehner send out a memo to the American Banking Association, explaining how that need to stop OWS or they will loose support in Washington from both sides. Ultimately leading to a financial loss.
I encourage you all to read the article first and get an explanation as to what they are trying to accomplish and then read the Letter to ABA.
Yesterday started the Occupy New Hampshire movement. I wanted to share with you all the local media coverage on the OccupyNH events. If you are interested in attending they are currently at VICTORY Park. Mayor Gatas has told protesters that they can stay in Victory Park through the entire weekend and would have no trouble from city officials. The real question is how long the OccupyNH protesters will stay in Victory Park.
New Hampshire Labor News: We are the 99% here in New Hampshire!!!!!: “The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has caught on like a wildfire in Texas. What started as a group of out of work college students on facebook and twitter has become a nation wide phenomenon. Occupy events have popped up in Boston, Los Angeles, St Louis, and almost every major city in the U.S. Today marks the first day of the Occupy New Hampshire.” InZaneTimes: “More than 250 critics of corporate greed and extreme inequality gathered this afternoon in Manchester’s Veterans Park as the “Occupy” movement that started in New York reached the Granite State.”
A great video article from WMUR on Occupy New Hampshire ‘Occupy’ Movement Arrives In Manchester – New Hampshire News Story – WMUR New Hampshire: “The now-global movement involves people who identify themselves as “part of the 99 percent.” Updated with addtional message from Howling Hill of the Lakes Region’s personal account of the event in Manchester through this morning. OccupyNH « Howling Hill: “As I understand it, the City of Manchester and organizers for OccupyNH came to an agreement about the rally, march, and sleeping. It’s my understanding the Mayor of Manchester, Ted Gatsas, is very supportive of the goals of the Occupy Movement. If this information is wrong please politely correct me in the comments.
About 300 people were there at the peak.
After we marched down Elm Street twice, we made camp at Victory Park. We welcomed everyone who came in including many of Manchester’s homeless. Most were polite, accepting and supportive of our reasons for the occupation, and willing to help with clean up.”
The Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement has caught on like a wildfire in Texas. What started as a group of out of work college students on facebook and twitter has become a nation wide phenomenon. Occupy events have popped up in Boston, Los Angeles, St Louis, and almost every major city in the U.S. Today marks the first day of the Occupy New Hampshire.
At noon today over one hundred people showed up to Veterans Park in Manchester NH to show their support for the OWS and show that they are also part of the 99%. One of the people who help to organize this ONH event is Howling Hill (name unknown, she asked us to refer to her as Howling Hill). She is currently working a $12 job in Boston. She commutes from the Lakes Region to Boston, because there is now work. (http://howlinghill.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/occupy/)
Using social media as they did in New York Howling Hill and others have built a following of over 1000 people. They have already created a website (http://occupynh.org/) to help people gain information about why they protest and rules for public protesting. As I write this message over 100 people have already shown up.
So why am I talking about this? Because if you are a laborer, a teacher, a firefighter, or street sweeper they are protesting for you. They want to restore the middle class. They want an America where people graduate from college with good jobs not $100,000 dollars in debt to Wall Street banks. The want to be able to get good paying jobs here in New Hampshire. They want healthcare for all Americans. They want to return to a time where Americans worked hard and retired happy, not to be forced to work until they die because they have no healthcare or retirements anymore. These are they same fights that Labor Unions have been fighting for since they began. This time it is not Labor is talking it is Labor who is standing in solidarity with these people. Many of them would like to have a good Union Job, but cannot find one.
Too long have millions of Americans watched idly by as wages continued to get lower and lower while the bosses get more and more. Too long have we stood there while companies take away our healthcare and retirements benefits. Too many times have we seen our friends and neighbors get laid off so a corporation can make a higher profit and pay better dividends on their stocks. America needs help and the wealth Wall Streets Executives have not done their part. Wall Street needs come out and help Main Street now. We bailed them out when banks were going under because of high foreclosure rates. Now they want us to reduce taxes because they have not created new jobs.
Watch the Occupy New Hampshire live here via Ustream.
Look for me, I will be there showing my support whenever I can. Follow all the news about Occupy New Hampshire by following @howlinghill on twitter as well as the #occupyNH (click link to view tweets on OccupyNH) or on facebook OccupyNH FB Page. You can also check here for more news on OccupyNH!!!
Many labor organizations (CWA statement) are starting to show their support to the young men and women who have started the Occupy Wall Street movement. It is good that finally the message that Wall Street has been hurting the rest of America is making it into the main stream media.
Wall Street Worry about Unemployment and Low Wages: “The Occupy Wall Street movement is starting to grab more mainstream media coverage. That’s what happens when police in the Big Apple decide that arresting 700 people, many of them unemployed youth, for trespassing is a good way to spend taxpayers’ money while the billionaires who nearly collapsed the world economy go to work unscathed in one of the world’s most powerful financial centers.”
Says International President Edwin D. Hill:
The demonstrators on Wall Street are right on target when they say they are part of the 99 percent of the American people who stand to lose if our economy doesn’t recover. Now even some wealthy citizens in the remaining 1 percent are realizing that, they too, could suffer the blowback from growing income inequality in the U.S. It’s high time for our leaders in Congress to listen real hard to what they are saying.
Thousands of protesters, including many in union T-shirts, filled lower Manhattan’s Foley Square on Wednesday and then marched to Zuccotti Park, where the protesters have been camping since Sept. 17. Labor leaders say they will continue to support the protests, both with manpower and donations of goods and services.”
News for Monday Oct 3rd. Most of todays post talks about National Politics around the First In The Nation primary and the comments made by the candidates. Also news and information on the USPS and their continual fight to fix their Over-Funding problems. Also news on the Occupy Wall street movement picking up steam. Romney‘s claim that ‘right to work’ states get more ‘good jobs’ – The Fact Checker – The Washington Post: “And the right course politically at this stage is to have states carry out their own right-to-work legislation. And as you know, right-to-work states, those 22, have created 3 million jobs over the last 10 years. The union states have lost about half a million jobs. So right to work is the way to go if you want good jobs.” – Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at American Principles Project Palmetto Freedom Forum in Columbia, S.C. on Sept. 5, 2011
Romney’s comments go to the heart of the right-to-work debate, so they deserve some scrutiny and analysis.”
Politics: Budget Cutting and the destroyer of workers Chris Christie could be running for President now.
Chris Christie could shake-up the Republican race if he runs – CBS News: “The budget-cutting Christie is the latest heartthrob of Republicans who have been looking for a more exciting candidate than Romney. The former Massachusetts governor ran in 2008 and has long been considered the one to beat for the Republican nomination given the party’s history of nominating candidates who lost once before.”
Ralph Nader: cutting postal services is “suicidal” for USPS: “Ralph Nader, the renowned consumer advocate and five-time candidate for President of the United States, has warned key US Congressmen that cutting postal services is a “suicidal prescription for further decline” at the US Postal Service.
Nader wrote to the chairmen of the US Senate and House government oversight committees last week declaring that the financial troubles at USPS were an “entirely manufactured crisis”.”
For the first time, the leading figures in postal reform from both political parties in both the US Senate and House of Representatives have signed a single letter, calling on the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to make a decision by the end of October.”
Many of the main stream media has been slowly catching on to the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Part of the reason people are finally starting to see and hear about Occupy Wall Street is in part the to Unions new support. Below is a Video from The Young Turks you tube network. It gives a good explanation of why people started this Occupy Wall Street, and why Labor Unions have been getting involved. From this video the USPS Unions are planning to join the fight by hosting a Rally on Wall Street in another week, as well as SEIU and many more. (side note the video has an advertisement at the end for a movie that has un-censured foul language)
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