Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Union Power. Occupy Atlanta.

The following unions (rank and file members, shop stewards, organizers and union presidents) came out to Woodruff Park (Troy Davis Park) yesterday to stand up against arrests:
  • American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Local 1644 (AFSCME)
  • Amalgamated Transit Union Local 732 (ATU)
  • Communication Workers of America Local 3204 and District members (CWA)
  • The International Union of Painters and Allied Trades
  • The Teamsters Local 728
  • Fulton County Teachers
  • Atlanta North Georgia Labor Council
  • The AFL-CIO
  • Atlanta Jobs with Justice
  • Senator Vincent Fort
When it was clear that arrests were not going to take place, we had the chance to hear from each union member about why they came out to Troy Davis Park. Sam Howell from the ATU said that "Unions stand for unity. We must come together as a people for good jobs and respect." Eric Richardson from the CWA said, "These corporations have been outsourcing our jobs to other nations, slashing wages and benefits at home while receiving huge tax breaks and record profits. Corporations must be held accountable to our local communities, it's time we come together." Ben Speight from Teamsters Local 728 said that "if Kasim Reed sent in the police he would have to drag out the hard working union members that got him elected." Charlie Fleming President of the Atlanta North Georgia Labor Council said, "Labor stands with Occupy Atlanta. Labor stands with the community."

Union members were eager to support Occupy Atlanta and engage with the people organizing at the park while Occupy Atlanta folks were overjoyed to feel union support. It was easy to see that corporate greed impacts all of the 99% and we must come together to get some justice in this city. Folks began discussing a unifying event to combine the power of Occupy Atlanta and labor. Details TBA.

Vicious anti-union campaigns and the outsourcing of good union jobs encouraged by a lack of governmental protections for working people have contributed to Georgia having the second lowest union density in the country at just 4% of employed workers. It comes as no surprise that Georgia also has the third highest poverty rate in the country at 18.7% or 1.83 million people. Our community needs good jobs now. Our local and state governments cannot cut budgets and lay off public sector workers that largely support jobs for communities of color. The USPS must not lay off 120,000 union workers that largely represent communities of color. JOBS NOT CUTS.