what went wrong blog

Tag: Occupy Movement

Day of action in Oakland

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 

Oakland strike poster

Occupy Oakland has gained national attention because of contentious exchanges between protestors and police. While labor unions expressed solidarity with the movement through a “mass day of action”, some labor contracts contain no-strike clauses.  Vanessa Rancano writes in the Oakland Local:

Richard Mead, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, says his organization has supported the Occupy Movement from its inception, but while Local 10 members will be demonstrating tomorrow they will not be striking.

A general strike is much different from a protest,” Mead said. “In our constitution we have language that says before any strike can be called for we must have consent of two thirds of membership.” The ILWU’s contract with employers also includes a no-strike clause. “We just can’t take that one step."

With or without a strike, ILWU support is a powerful tool. 

“People seek our endorsement for a reason. When there’s something we can do we will do it," Mead said. "The powers that be in the global economy know this. The fact that we can’t call for a general strike is not to say that other support we give would be lip service."

As for the proposed march on the port, Mead supports the move. 

“The port is an absolutely appropriate target for a protest. That is where these global conglomerates do business,” he said. But Local 10 members will keep working through the demonstration.

Other organizations, while not using the language of “strike”, are allowing flexibility for worker participation.

The SEIU 1021 Executive Board is encouraging members to participate in a “peaceful day of action.” SEIU makes a clear distinction between this endorsement and a union-sanctioned strike:  

“Occupy Oakland has called for a 'general strike,' but SEIU 1021 is not asking any members to 'go on strike' - that would be a violation of many SEIU 1021 contracts,” announced the organization. Instead, the union is asking members to use “legitimate time off” to participate in the day’s events. 

The city of Oakland has agreed that workers may use a day of comp time, vacation time, a floating holiday or leave without pay in order to participate.

The Oakland Education Association, the Peralta Federation of Teachers and the Berkeley Federation of Teachers are urging members to participate in a number of ways, including taking personal leave to join actions, doing informational picketing at schools and holding teach-ins on the history of general strikes and organizing for economic justice.

A large mobilization is expected outside City Hall at 5:00pm. Read more about the November 2nd day of action in the Oakland Local.


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Donald Barlett and James Steele are revisiting America: What Went Wrong, their landmark 1991 newspaper series, in a new project with the Investigative Reporting Workshop. Over the next year, the project team will examine how four decades of public policy has shaped America's ongoing economic crisis.


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