A Pennsylvania AFL-CIO representative told a group of "Occupy Harrisburg" participants that the unions stand with them and are prepared to provide resources for the protesters, including lawyers and meeting space.
Michael Fedor, the AFL-CIO's director for the central Pennsylvania area, told attendees at an organizational meeting Wednesday that the pledge comes directly from AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.
"The president of the AFL-CIO was on a call with us tonight and said I want you to communicate to "Occupy" groups that we are with them, and he's directing local labor movements to put resources on the ground to help, including lawyers, including meeting spaces, including whatever we need," Fedor said.
At the same time Fedor said top union brass warned local leaders to "not be heavy-handed" and "do not come in and try to take over this."
"Let the local movement and young people who are there feed this energy," Fedor said he was told.
Fedor compared the "Occupy" movement to the Arab Spring, and said he was prepared to get arrested alongside his fellow demonstrators.
"We've got to be willing to stay in the streets and when the clashes break out, that's when we've got to be willing to really understand what we're getting into here," he said. "If we see the cops coming, you know, we've got to hold hands and we know what we're in for. Get arrested, get out of jail, right back down."
Trumka himself made a similar statement praising the demonstrations earlier this week, telling reporters the labor movement backs the protesters in New York City and elsewhere and will work with them "to make the top 1 percent pay their fair share."
“These demonstrations are truly spontaneous,” Trumka said, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We intend to be supportive of them.... We are going to support them in any way we can. We’re not going to try to usurp them in any way.”