It’s an all too familiar tale. Company makes record profits and then attempts to slash pay and benefits. That’s what happened to the forty plus Teamsters from local 814 at Sothebys. For the last three months they have been locked out. And we are seeing this amazing blending of organized labor, students, and the greater Occupy Wall Street movement working together. Here’s a report back on tonight’s action.
Approximately 20 people met at Liberty Square and then took the subway up to Hunter College where we met with another contingent of students who want to help the Teamsters. In our group was a mish mosh of people. We had rank and file union members: Carpenters, Teamsters, Musicians. We had students and artists and other long-time activists. Old and young. People of color. For all intents and purposes a good mix of the 99%.
On the train ride up we used the peoples mic to let people know who we were and where we were going and why. We passed out flyers not only about the action to help the Teamsters but also about the Occupy Wall Street movement. We sang old labor songs on the platform as we waited for our trains. And we arrived at Hunter College in high spirits.
Once at Hunter College we met up with the student contingent and then headed East to Sothebys to meet up with our brothers and sisters on the picket line. A giant inflatable rat on one side of the door and a giant “Fat Cat” with a worker squeezed in his fat paw on the other side. Teamsters were there in force and happy to see us. We chanted and sang. We hissed and booed at the .01% who were attending this uber-rich event; chastised them, scolded them, and basically made the event as uncomfortable as possible for the participants.
Then, at an agreed upon time, a few OWS people crossed the barricades in an act of civil disobedience and sat on the ground in front of the doors of Sothebys. Two young men used bicycle locks to lock their necks together, making it very difficult for the police to move them. In the end at least three people were arrested, possibly more.
I can’t help but be impressed by what’s happening. The rank and file of organized labor, labor leadership, students, people across the political spectrum both young and old are coming together in bold and dynamic ways to stop business as usual. The sense of community is palatable. People seem to really get it that we’re all in this together. And the Sothebys action is a great sign of things to come.