A Day FOR the 99 Percent!
by Monty Reed Kroopkin
The Occupy movement is rolling out a new tactic. It is building on several months of successes and aims to take it ‘up a notch’. May 1st — May Day — is the World Labor Day honoring the workers killed in Chicago in 1886, striking for the eight hour day. It is also the day each year that working class solidarity is reaffirmed and our demands for a better world renewed. Occupy is organizing for it, everywhere, as the next major step.
Last Fall, as the Occupy Wall Street movement spread to more than 2000 cities worldwide, SEIU International Union President Mary Kay Henry issued a statement of support. She said, in part:
“As part of a peaceful, united movement we can do so much more to demonstrate the increasing urgency of the crisis our country faces and shine a light on those responsible.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka also expressed support and said, in part: “We 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 .”
Here, at my SEIU Local 221, our 2011 General Membership Meeting voted to create The Local 221 Occupy San Diego Committee and adopted the resolution:
“The local SEIU chapter shall participate in organizing massive rallies, and otherwise coordinate with local and regional unions to support the local Occupy Wall Street efforts and also known as the 99% movement among other names”.
Our 221 Occupy Committee has joined with many other unions and workers to form the Occupy San Diego Labor Solidarity Committee.
When mayors and police chiefs in more than 20 major US cities conspired to silence the Occupy protests by shutting down the big urban Occupy encampments, the movement adapted and grew. Open public assemblies continue in thousands of towns and cities. And Occupy unveiled a new tactic: the port blockade in Oakland on November 2. With over 20,000 workers and community members turning out, the port was shut down for two shifts.
Then, on December 12, Occupy groups and labor activists organized a blockade of all West Coast Ports. Members of 221 Occupy participated here in San Diego . These port blockades were to support the contract fight of the longshore workers at ILWU Local 21, in Longview , Washington and the organizing drive of port truckers in Long Beach , and to show the world that the “Movement of the 99 Percent” will NOT be silenced.
ILWU members had gone nearly two years with no progress on a contract with Export Grain Terminal (EGT) and its high-powered Wall Street parent company, Bunge. Members of the ILWU and the labor community named the Occupy Movement as key to the settlement reached between Local 21 and EGT in February.
“This is a victory for Occupy in their involvement in forcing negotiations. Make no mistake – the solidarity and organization between the Occupy Movement and the Longshoremen won this contract,” said Jack Mulcahy, ILWU officer with Local 8.
This past year we’ve seen huge protests against corruption in Russia, many large strikes in China, revolution in the Middle East, perhaps the largest strike in world history in India, growing unrest in Europe, and the beginnings of a unified mass movement here in the USA, with the general strike and recall elections in Wisconsin and the outbreak of Occupy Wall Street. May Day 2012 is going to be big, worldwide.
Here in San Diego , there will be daytime activities and evening activities also. At noon we will rally at the Civic Center and march to demonstrate in front of the banks that have taken our homes, the ICE building that has deported and destroyed families, the state building for taking our medical care, and other places that have waged a war on working people!!
SAVE THE DATE and check for more event updates at
Monty Kroopkin is a union shop steward for SEIU Local 221, organizer for Movement for a Democratic Society (mds) and a very occasional writer for the OB Rag.