CHICAGO – At an open meeting on the streets of the financial district here this weekend Occupy Chicago protesters adopted two official demands: Repeal the Bush tax cuts for the rich and prosecute “Wall Street Criminals.”

At their meetings this week they say they will vote on proposals for forgiveness of student loans, reform of election campaign finance rules, increased regulatory power for the Securities and Exchange Commission and enactment of the so-called Buffet Rule, a White House proposal to prevent millionaires and billionaires from paying lower taxes than working class Americans.

The proposals adopted so were approved by over ninety percent of the 300 who cast their votes at the Saturday “general assembly. The assemblies are held daily at the gatherings, which started two weeks ago as solidarity actions with those in New York.

The demands adopted so far are ones that the labor movement in Chicago has no trouble embracing. The Service Employees, the Chicago Teachers Union and Jobs with Justice, among others, have turned out in support of the Occupy Chicago protesters, boosting their numbers each time.

On Friday, SEIU members showed up to join the Occupy Chicago group in an evening march through the streets of the Loop area. The result was a “student and worker march” that would its way past the numerous downtown college campuses. Students at those locations often joined the march.

The article continues after the video.

Only an hour before that march leaders of the Occupy Chicago group went to hear Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, who was speaking to law students at the Chicago-Kent Law School, several blocks from the center of their protest.

They heard Trumka urge support for the Occupy Wall Street protests and offer them use of union halls and other resources.

In his speech to the law students, Trumka used some of the language of the protesters, saying that he heard from them “the anger they have about the economy and about unemployment. We have an economy and a political process that isn’t serving the 99 percent,” he said.

When Trumka finished his speech he spoke for several minutes with one of the leaders of Occupy Chicago, who later met with leaders of the Chicago Federation of Labor, who were also present at the gathering. The talks were about how unions and Occupy Chicago can cooperate.

The seriousness with which the Occupy Chicago protesters treat the issues and their determination to work inn coalition with others is something completely lost on right wing politicians.

Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, this weekend, depicted the protesters as “growing mobs occupying our cities.”

White House spokesman Jay Carney said he sensed “a little hypocrisy unbound here,” adding, “What we’re seeing on the streets of New York and elsewhere is an expression of democracy. I think I remember how Mr. Cantor described protests of the tea party. I can’t understand how one man’s mob is another man’s democracy.”

“When members of the so-called tea party shouted down anyone who opposed them in congressional town hall meetings, Cantor said nary a word about a mob gone awry.” Writes Tula Connell on the AFL-CIO Blog. “In fact, he supported them.”

Video by John Bachtell/PW.



John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.