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Occupy Wall Street: Protesters arrested 900--Bankers 0. We are the 1%

by Facts For Working People Friday, Oct. 07, 2011 at 11:03 AM

The Labor hierarchy is concerned about the influence the Occupy movement might have on the Unions' rank and file and will enter the Occupy movement in order to temper it, derail it and send it in to the Democratic Party as they did with the Madison events. The Occupy movement should beware the hierarchy and Labor's "official" representatives and welcome the rank and file worker.

The Occupy Wall Street movement is spreading and already showing results in that it is pushing Obama and the Democrats to make more public statements about increasing taxes on the rich. As we said, the OWS movement will have an effect on the 2012 elections here in the US.

We have also argued on this blog that given the stifling bureaucratic grip the Labor hierarchy has on the trade Union apparatus, it would be most likely that resistance to the capitalist offensive from workers and youth would arise outside of these structures and this is what we are witnessing.

The fact that Unions like Local 100 in New York City are openly supporting the movement is extremely positive. In response to the OWS movement Richard Trumka, the head of the AFL-CIO said that the Union movement “will open our union halls and community centers as well as our arms and our hearts to those with the courage to stand up and demand a better America.”

The Labor hierarchy is extremely concerned about these developments. Steven Greenhouse and Cara Buckley writing in today’s New York Times reveal the level of concern atop organized Labor. They describe how Stuart Applebaum, the president of the retail and department store arm of the UFCW has cut off a visit to Tunisia after receiving a “flurry” of e mails and phone calls about the spreading occupation movement. Applebaum was in Tunisia according to the NYT, “advising the fledgling labor movement there.”

Considering the dismal failure of the Union hierarchy’s policies here at home one would have to question what advice a person like Stuart Applebaum could give to Tunisians about Labor struggles. For those of us with some history of struggle in these organizations the answer is pretty clear; he is there to ensure that Tunisian Unions develop along AFL-CIO lines; bureaucratic business-friendly organization with pro market policies. He is there representing the interests of US capitalism.

According to the Times Applebaum recalls asking one of the callers from back home about the movement here. Who is behind the movement? Is it “hippies” “troublemakers” and whether it will “quickly fade”

Some of the young people involved in the Occupy movement may not remember the shutting down of the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999. This took the US capitalist class and the Labor hierarchy completely by surprise. The Unions had a strong presence there and a section of Labor’s rank and file were influenced by the militancy and courage of the youth as opposed to the prayer and candlelight vigils that are the official strategy of the bureaucracy. This influence on their members’ worried the Labor hierarchy and in movement that followed the aftermath of the Seattle events, they sent in to that movement its full time staff in order to temper the movement it and direct it in to the Democratic party where it would be rendered harmless.

Trade Union leaders have complained that the OWS movement gets lots of press yet they turn out many more people like the 100,000 in the rally in Washington. But the 1% that the OWS movement talks about are confident that the trade Union leaders will not threaten their privileges, that Labor’s ranks will remain firmly under their control and any movement from below that threatens their policies and wants to democratize the movement will be suppressed. Both the Labor leaders and the Democratic Party fear this movement will get out of hand and will seek to control it.

The rank and file of organized Labor has been betrayed time and time again through the policies of leaders like Applebaum and Trumka. Applebaum says that the OWS movement is “Reaching a lot of people and exciting a lot of people that the labor movement has been struggling to reach for years.”

It is not accurate to say that the Labor movement has been “trying”. The hierarchy doesn’t even try to reach their own members never mind the millions of workers outside the ranks of organized Labor. (Look under “Labor” or “Public Sector” on this blog to read examples of this). When rank and file Union members have attempted to resist the bosses’ offensive, the heads of organized Labor, from the UAW to the public sector Unions and folks like Trumka have moved against them, have suppressed any movement from below that threatens their relationship with the employers that is based on cooperation and Labor peace. Many a rank and file Union activist like this author can relate to the local leader who said that if her international fought the bosses as hard as they fought upstart locals or militancy within their ranks she’d be in good shape.

If we buy in to Applebaum’s argument that the hierarchy has been “trying” to reach people then we can only come to the conclusion that the rank and file in the Unions and the millions outside of organized Labor are to blame. The AFL-CIO leadership has been carrying out campaigns that have been a disastrous failure. They had 100,000 workers on the streets in Madison and what did they do with them? Hey sent them home and told them to get involved in an electoral campaign to elect candidates from the other Wall Street party. In that struggle, the entire AFL-CIO leadership supported concessions.

So while it is very positive the Unions are becoming involved we need to be clear that there is a significant difference between the rank and file of organized Labor and its leadership who will try to control and disarm the OWS movement. Who should be welcomed in to the movement as representatives of organized Labor is not the lawyers, full time staffers and paid professional and other hangers on who help the present Union hierarchy maintain control of the movement and continue their business as usual polices but the rank and file member, the worker, the dues payer of the Labor organization. When “official” representatives of organized Labor become more involved as they will, the General Assemblies should ask if they are rank and file dues paying members and if they were elected by their co-workers or from their local Union halls.

All unemployed workers, shift workers those who have time and resources should, as those resources allow, join the Wall Street Occupy movement and help it grow stronger. It has a great slogan that hits the nail right on the head: We are the 99%------they are the 1%. The movement demands that the banks and the rich pay, all workers can support this. Those of us that support this blog offer for discussion to all workers in the movement some demands that we think would appeal to the vast majority of working class people.

We are against the dictatorship of the profit addicted corporations over American society.

We are for at least a .00 minimum wage or a .00 wage increase for all whichever is the greater.

We are for equal pay for equal work.

We are for jobs for all

We are for free education and free healthcare for all.

We are against racism and for working class unity.

We are for the building of a working peoples' party to end the monopoly of American politics by the bosses' parties, the Republicans and the Democrats.

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