Thursday, October 06, 2011

AFL-CIO Chief Richard Trumka backs Occupy Wall Street protests

LATimes | The U.S. labor movement will support demonstrations around the country by anti-Wall Street protesters, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Wednesday.

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.