The city's most experienced agitators—the labor and community groups that typically organize local marches, rallies and sit-ins—have been largely missing from the Occupy Wall Street protest that is in its 13th day at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan.
But that's about to change.
A loose coalition of labor and community groups said Thursday that they would join the protest next week. They are organizing a solidarity march scheduled for Wednesday that is expected to start at City Hall and finish a few blocks south at Zuccotti Park.
“It's a responsibility for the progressive organizations in town to show their support and connect Occupy Wall Street to some of the struggles that are real in the city today,” said Jon Kest, executive director of New York Communities for Change, which is helping to organize the march. “They're speaking about issues we're trying to speak about.”
Some of the biggest players in organized labor are actively involved in planning for Wednesday's demonstration, either directly or through coalitions that they are a part of. The United Federation of Teachers, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU, Workers United and Transport Workers Union Local 100 are all expected to participate. The Working Families Party is helping to organize the protest and MoveOn.org is expected to mobilize its extensive online regional networks to drum up support for the effort.
Wow. I just did NOT see this coming.
My favorite spin on this story comes courtesy the taxpayer-subsidized NPR, which notes:
If you don't remember, the protesters in New York have taken inspiration from the protests in North Africa and the Middle East that make up the Arab Spring. They're camping out at Zucotti Park and, again in the spirit of the Arab Spring, "renamed it" Liberty Plaza.
It's like an Arab Spring in lower Manhattan -- you know, because the people who have suffered under the oppressive regimes of ruthless dictators like Muammar Gaddafi have soooo much in common with... New York City bus drivers:
"Well, actually, the protesters, it's pretty courageous what they're doing," says TWU Local 100's spokesman Jim Gannon, "and it's brought a new public focus in a different way to what we've been saying along. While Wall Street and the banks and the corporations are the ones that caused the mess that's flowed down into the states and cities, it seems there's no shared sacrifice. It's the workers having to sacrifice while the wealthy get away scot-free. It's kind of a natural alliance with the young people and the students -- they're voicing our message, why not join them? On many levels, our workers feel an affinity with the kids. They just seem to be hanging out there getting the crap beaten out of them, and maybe union support will help them out a little bit."