Freedom of Speech for Labor Unions?
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) marched with the PSC on September 8, 2012 in the unions’ Labor Day Parade. We had had a more disturbing experience on September 3, 2012, at the West Indian Day Parade, where we had been invited to march with the Transit Workers Union (TWU) Local 100 – but the police tried to throw us out.
OWS marchers were standing in the street next to TWU when the police surrounded us, threatened us with arrest and began unwinding the orange netting they’ve used to arrest large numbers of demonstrators in the past.
After John Samuelson, the president of Local 100, confirmed to police that we had been invited to join them, the police commander allowed us to march – after we had been delayed and separated from the union. However, he would not let us carry any banners or signs that said Occupy Wall Street.
This was a serious violation of the rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association. Since when can the police decide who can be in the TWU’s contingent, or what signs they can carry? Do political messages now have to be approved by the police?
Our problems that day were not unique: the police prevented an anti-stop-and-frisk group from marching in the West Indian Day Parade, despite their authorization to participate from the parade’s organizing committee.
Jackie DiSalvo, Baruch (emerita)
Democrats & Republicans: Clash of Conventions
While the Republicans’ convention spent three days concealing their political philosophy, the Democrats’ convention boldly affirmed their agenda.
Republicans fundamentally do not believe in entitlements, such as Social Security, food stamps, veterans’ benefits, Medicare, Medicaid or public support for education. Neither do they believe in women’s issues, including the right to abortion, support for day care, paid maternity leave, equal pay for equal work or the minimum wage (and most minimum-wage workers are women). The GOP wants to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. Public investment in infrastructure is seen as “socialist.” Their solution on immigration? Deportation.
At the Democratic convention, however, the Republican philosophy was exposed and demolished. Are we better off now than we were four years ago? Absolutely. We were in a recession, and now, thanks to President Barack Obama, we are not. The auto industry and banks were failing and now, not. Jobs are being created, not lost. The Dow has doubled. Osama Bin Laden was threatening us, and now, not. We are no longer at war in Iraq.
So why is the economy still sluggish? Because Tea Party Republicans have blocked every Obama initiative to make it better. Mitt Romney’s only hope now is to buy the election and suppress the vote. At the conventions, each party tried to present its most effective arguments – and the Republican agenda has been shredded.
K.J. Walters, Lehman College