Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Labor Working Group Draft Letter to Occupy Philly

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 Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia labor community has been overwhelmingly in its support of the Philadelphia occupation. However, we are concerned by developments that may compromise our ability to unanimously defend Occupy Philadelphia 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 Mayor 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. We stand strongly in solidarity with the Occupiers and strongly support their right to occupy a public space. In order to successfully continue our support and defense of Occupy Philly, however, the 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