At Occupy Wall St., unions say, for a fair economy, tax the rich

It was quite a sight. Thousands of people stood along either side of Wall Street as thousands more met up with them after marching from New York City Hall in the largest demonstration yet of Occupy Wall Street, now entering its fourth week.

The march, which took place on Wednesday, October 5, was called by a coalition of labor and community groups fighting for a fairer economy,  and it was a statement by the labor movement that unions were going to stand with those occupying Wall Street in order to expose corporate greed and demand a change in national priorities so that jobs, health care, education, and retirement security become more important than protecting the bottom line for bankers and millionaires.

At a rally preceding the march, union leaders told the crowd, that in order to make the US economy more just, a tax on millionaires is needed to reclaim money siphoned off by corporate greed. “We want a country that’s fair, that gives every child the right to have a good life, that gives every family the ability to live and do the right thing,” said Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, one of the unions that belongs to Strong Economy for All. “In order to do that, we’re going to have to tax the rich, close their loopholes, and hold all financial institution on Wall Street accountable.”

Mulgrew’s message was echoed by CWA Vice-president for District 1 Chris Shelton. “Every one of us is here because of corporate greed,” Shelton said.  “It’s time not to occupy Wall Street, but to take back Wall Street.”

National Nurses United, the country’s largest organization of registered nurses, announced its support for Occupy Wall Street and called for a tax on speculative financial activity such as trades on stocks, derivatives, and future options.  NNU estimates that such tax could generate billions that could be used to make public investments that would put people back to work.

“What we are now seeing is an unprecedented opportunity for a transnational alliance to generate revenue from those who created the economic debacle, and to restore Wall Street and global finance to its proper role of serving the real economy,” read a statement issued by NNU in support of Occupy Wall Street.

Swelling the ranks of the marchers were rank-and-file members of Transport Workers Union Local 100, AFSCME, SEIU, the postal workers unions, CWA, AFT, Amalgamated Transit Union, and many others.

The October 5 action was just the beginning of other actions planned by unions to support Occupy Wall Street. The Michigan Messenger reports that Michigan state workers are organizing a convoy to Wall Street on Saturday, October 8.

Ray Holman, legislative liaison for UAW Local 6000, which represents some state workers in Michigan, said that the convoy would be leaving from the local’s headquarters and travel 600 miles to Wall Street to tell their story about how the Wall Street crash and resulting recession has affected state services in Michigan.

“When banks, and the gambling that was going on, crashed the economy and devastated the manufacturing and automobile sector, it took away (Michigan’s) revenue source,” Holman said. “Services had to be cut and the needy went without. The people on Wall Street. are doing fine and the CEOs are doing fine but all the responsibilities are being shoved down on states and local governments.”

“Millionaires need to be asked to do their fair share (to restore these services),” Holman added.

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