AFL-CIO Chief Richard Trumka backs Occupy Wall Street protests
Speaking on a conference call with reporters, Trumka said the labor movement backs the goals of the Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York City and elsewhere and will work with such groups “to make the top 1% pay their share.”
“These demonstrations are truly spontaneous,” Trumka said. “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.”
Trumka spoke as unions and civic groups in New York were preparing to join with Occupy Wall Street protesters in a march from Foley Square in Lower Manhattan to the financial district. More than a dozen local unions are backing the march.
In his call, Trumka said the AFL-CIO has been pushing a similar agenda as that of the protesters, who blame Wall Street greed for the current sad state of the economy. Occupy Wall Street is a leaderless group whose demands have been as general as its membership.
But the labor leader was specific as he summarized his demands: make Wall Street invest in creating jobs for Americans, stop foreclosures and write down problem mortgages. Paying for government programs would come from a “very tiny” tax on speculation, he said.
The Occupy Wall Street protests have spread to a variety of cities in recent weeks, Trumka noted. In addition to the New York demonstrations, protests are scheduled in other cities, including in Washington, D.C., on Thursday.
Photo: Tevor Roulstin, center, 25, from Durango, Colo., stands with a sign at the Occupy Wall Street protest as police officers confer Wednesday at Zuccotti Park in New York. The protests started Sept. 17 with a few dozen demonstrators who tried to pitch tents in front of the New York Stock Exchange and has since grown to hundreds. Credit: Bebeto Matthews / Associated Press