By Tiffany Finck-Haynes, International Labor Rights Forum
Car horns honking to demonstrate their support of marchers chanting, “The people united will never be divided” walking along 16th Street, rhythmic sounds of drumming in Malcolm X Park coined by a chorus of, “we are the 99%” and the call and response of the people’s mike, are all moments that illustrate my involvement in Occupy DC over the past few weeks. Talking and collaborating with others in McPherson Square, united by mutual frustration with the current state of the global economy, leaves me hopeful that as we continue to act on our mutual frustration, through education and collective action, we will make positive and forward reaching changes in our global system.
The initial occupy movement began on September 17th, 2011 as a small encampment in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District. Similar to New York, the initial encampment of Occupy DC, marked by sleeping bags and bikes, has grown to encompass a large gathering of tents and sleepers. The growth of Occupy DC is only an example of the growth of the larger movement. Thousands of occupations have been initiated throughout the United States and across the world. As my friends from Colombia, Bolivia, Italy and Japan write to me in support of the movement and encampments in their own countries, I’m moved and my faith growths that global dissatisfaction with our unfair global economy, controlled by major banks, multinational corporations and elites, will be stopped as the underrepresented: the students, the parents, the teachers, the unemployed, the underpaid, the professionals, the voters and all who encompass the inadequately served of our society, the 99%, unite to collectively ensure that the balance of power between corruption and democracy is restored.
Utilizing revolutionary Arab Spring tactics, people from all walks of life regardless of their color, gender, beliefs or backgrounds are welcome and encouraged to participate in the resistance movement to end the corruption and greed imposed on the 99% by the 1% of our society. Through non-violent resistance and collective decision making known as the “people’s assembly”, people are uniting through a variety of events and facilitating discussions to create change from the bottom up, the people, to cultivate and uphold social, environmental and economic justice.
Larger than a single issue, occupations throughout the world are serving as the foundation for communities to address any and all issues that are called upon for discussion. I’m moved by Occupy DC as each member of the encampment brings their own backgrounds and personal reasons for participating to the movement, striving to create a better city, nation and world. Through collaboration, important connections are being drawn between our own specific issues and the crimes on Wall Street while bridging larger interconnections with our society’s largest problems.
I have a number of personal reasons for participating in the Occupy movement. One of my primary reasons is due to my frustrations with the injustice present in the system of our global market supply chain. I view this injustice as a result of our globalized economy, where corporations from developed countries exploit workers and disregard environmental protections, often, in developing countries, to produce consumer goods with the goal of maximizing profits. I believe corporate-controlled globalization is responsible for the unjust and oppressive conditions in our labor industry where workers, including young children, work long hours for poverty wages under unsafe working conditions, where basic, if any labor law is enforced and workers are discouraged from organizing to protect their basic human rights.
It is imperative that advocacy and protections for these workers is achieved to ensure an end to inhumane working conditions. Workers should not have to fight for the right to a safe working environment where they are treated with dignity and respect and where they can organize freely to defend and promote their basic human rights and interests. To achieve these working conditions, it is important that our current oppressive, corporate-controlled workplaces are transformed into an industry that no longer reflects only the interests of the 1%, but reflects in a more significant way the values and beliefs of the working people and communities themselves, the 99%.
Putting an end to the powerlessness and submission that corporate globalization is designed to foster can be achieved when ordinary people unite through local action and grassroots efforts to demand a global economy built on justice and equity. I view the occupy movement as a new opportunity for us to collectively end corporate greed and a labor industry that reflects corporate interests. The occupy movement can serve as an opportunity for us to work together, to shift power away from the 1% and back into the hands of workers in our global economy.