Thursday, November 17, 2011

Occupy Philly Labor Working Group Statement on the Issue of Relocation from Dilworth Plaza

The Labor Working Group of Occupy Philly is issuing the following collaboratively written statement on the issue of relocation from Dilworth Plaza.

We, the members of the Labor Working Group, stand with Occupy Philly, and respect the decision-making process of the General Assembly.

The Labor Working Group aims to represent the broadest unity in the Philadelphia labor movement, and is comprised of a diverse representation of union organizers and labor activists who have been regularly involved with Occupy Philly. 

The Philadelphia labor community has overwhelmingly supported the Philadelphia occupation. However, we are concerned by developments that may compromise our ability to unanimously defend Occupy Philly at its current location, and wish to articulate a clear position on the question of relocation from a labor perspective. 

We support relocation for the following reasons:

1) Jobs. We recognize that the construction industry has been devastated by the current recession, and right now suffers from over 40% unemployment. This unemployment is creating great hardships for many working families.

2) Access. We recognize that many of our differently-abled brothers and sisters have advocated and fought for equal access to the public transportation hub at City Hall for decades, and are finally seeing their efforts come to fruition through the planned renovation of Dilworth Plaza.

3) Framing. We are concerned that the city has recently been able to use the issue of relocation to divide our movement and distract us from our core message of economic justice and democratic principles. The key issues for Occupy Philly must be movement-building, democratic process, and economic justice--not relocation. We have changed the national discourse; we must continue to do so.

4) Defensibility. The Labor Working Group stands strongly in solidarity with the rest of Occupiers and strongly supports our right to occupy a public space. In order to successfully continue our support and defense of Occupy Philly, however, the entire labor movement must be able to remain united on this issue. If Occupy Philly remains at its current location, the issues of job creation and accessibility issues will make it impossible for labor to sustain that unity. Further, we fear that should the General Assembly choose to stay at Dilworth Plaza, and should a police raid at that location occur, the Occupy Philly movement may be damaged irreparably.

We again reaffirm our commitment to the Occupy movement, and to the decision-making process of the General Assembly. We propose relocation as a strategic act of movement solidarity.

In solidarity,
The Labor Working Group

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Occupy Comcast! Tax the Rich!

On the day of the General Strike in solidarity with Occupy Oakland, local representatives of the 99% - including Gwen Snyder, Jobs with Justice Executive Director, and Diane Mohney, JwJ Community Co-chair - "occupied" the lobby of an icon of the 1%: Comcast Corporation headquarters in Philadelphia's financial district. The Occupiers were demanding that Comcast give back its abatement and pay its fair share of taxes. The rich and their institutions have become the direct targets of the ire of the 99%. See below pictures of the action, which resulted in the arrest of the protesters for "trespassing on private property". When a police officer lining the cordon where the arrested would be taken was asked if there was a contradiction between the rights of free public speech and private property, he remarked that the police were there to serve the private corporation. We were reminded that the Supreme Court recently reaffirmed the "human rights" of corporations in this country, and that it is apparent some "human rights" are more important than others. Today's civil disobedience showed what the 99% think about the justice system imbalance that favors the 1%.

Some of the Occupiers of Comcast HQ in Philly on November 2, in solidarity with the Occupy Oakland General Strike by the 99%. Diane Mohney and Gwen Snyder are seen at the left next to the "father and son" statue.

Many of the 99% were locked out by Comcast guards, but stayed to show their support for those who made it into the lobby.

Since Day One, Jobs with Justice, especially in the person of Gwen Snyder, the Executive Director, has been a steady and vocal presence at the Occupy Philly site at Dilworth Plaza next to City Hall.

As a result of acting in the long and cherished American tradition of civil disobedience, Diane Mohney and Gwen Snyder are arrested, handcuffed and led out of the Comcast HQ.

The Occupy Philly encampment at City Hall's Dilworth Plaza by the 99 percenters continues. Supporters of the cause of the 99% - against greed, corruption and the government's austerity measures imposed on the behalf of the richest 1% - are encouraged to visit and experience the occupation of public space to express the grievances of the 99%.