December 2, 2011: Greedy Wall Street banks and their risky investment schemes drove the economy over the cliff. The big banks got bailed out. Profits and executive compensation are back to record levels.
But working people, including Teamster members, remain behind the eight ball.
Employers have taken advantage of the bad economy to come after our contracts and benefits. Corporate politicians and the media have tried to blame unions for the country’s economic problems and state budget deficits.
Now unions are joining forces with a new movement that is starting to shift the debate to the problem of runaway corporate greed.
Unions & Occupy Wall Street
What began as mostly young people occupying a park near Wall Street has turned into a nationwide protest movement against corporate power and growing income inequality.
Union fights have gotten a boost from the growing anti-corporate mood.
The media is paying attention to corporate greed and growing income inequality for a change—problems the labor movement wrestles with every day. Encouraged, some unions are adopting the slogan, “We are the 99%” and teaming up with grassroots activists in demonstrations, picket lines and contract fights.
Members of Teamsters Local 814 have joined forces with Occupy Wall Street protesters in a series of spirited protests—and even civil disobedience—at Sotheby’s, the auction house for the super-rich that has locked out dozens of Teamsters since August.
The International Union and New York Joint Council 16 have supported the fight which has drawn sympathetic press coverage and popular support.
Other unions are also adopting the “We are the 99%” slogan and mobilizing with public supporters who share the same concerns.
President Hoffa has spoken out in support of Occupy Wall Street and praised the movement for shifting the national debate.
One year ago, the focus was attacks on unions, especially in the public sector. The new movement and its inclusive “We are the 99%” slogan have helped steer the debate back to income inequality, jobs, and corporate greed.
Teamster members’ contracts, jobs and benefits remain under attack.
The challenge for our Teamsters Union, and the entire labor movement, is to tap the shifting public sentiment, find allies and fight back.
The unions that are having success are moving beyond “We are the 99%” as a slogan and starting to mobilize with the 99% in front of workplaces and in the streets.