National Coalition Visits Phoenix, Endorses Occupy
‘We Are One’ National Coalition Of Unions Ends Phoenix Meeting With A Visit To Occupy Phoenix
Arizona Sen. Steve Gallardo at Cesar Chavez plaza in Phoenix, Ariz.
By John Guzzon
Modern Times Magazine
Dec. 5, 2011 — More than 300 filled the streets of downtown Phoenix again on Sunday in a march led by Occupy Phoenix, but supported by the We Are One coalition, a national group of unions and civil rights groups formed earlier this year to “change the landscape of politics and the conscientiousness in our collective communities.”
After the march, several members of the coalition and some Arizona notables assembled in Cesar Chavez plaza and called attention to the similar goals of We Are One and unions to the goals of the Occupy movement.
“We are here by our very presence to say that it is our belief that there is no rational reason or moral justification for the continued maldistribution (sic) of the natural resources of this nation where the rich have everything and the 99 percent must struggle,” said Bill Lucy, president of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists. “I have (admiration) for those that are out here, night after day. It is you, the occupiers, who have whipped the consciousness of this nation and this world to realize this system, that maintains that those that produce the wealth will struggle to just get out of poverty — that is wrong.”
The organizations that are part of the We Are One coalition are: Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Service Employees International Union, A. Philip Randolph Institute, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Coalition of Labor Union Women, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, Pride at Work, Black Caucus of State Legislators, Congressional Black Caucus, National Caucus of Black Mayors, National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, National Policy Alliance, Rainbow PUSH, Arizona AFL-CIO, Labor Council for African American Advancement, National AFL-CIO, National Black Caucus of State Legislators, National Domestic Workers Alliance, National Heritage Foundation, New York State AFL-CIO, Pride At Work, 1199 SEIU UHWE.
Visit the We Are One website
The coalition was launched this spring and held meetings Thursday to Sunday at the Phoenix Convention Center. The purpose of the gathering, according to We Are One, was to, “implement a plan to change the landscape of politics and the conscientiousness in our collective communities. An agenda will be presented addressing issues on immigration, voter education, voter suppression, voter registration, voter turnout, human rights, jobs, education, housing, health care, trade, and trade agreements.”
The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who made a highly public visit to Occupy Phoenix Thursday, was the keynote speaker and his Rainbow Coalition is a supporter of We Are One, although he was not part of Sunday’s march. George Gresham, president of 1199 SEIU in New York, who attended with Jackson Thursday, was at the Sunday march and said the Occupy movement is a bell-weather moment for the nation and the world.
“I’m here to send a message to all of you, not just the 1 percent, to those elected officials who think that it is their jobs to protect the 1 percent, that we as the 99 percent have awakened at this point. We are coming together,” Gresham said. “There is a moment in time when history reflects that change took place and I am telling you, this is that moment. I can feel it in the air, I can feel the determination whether that is Occupy Phoenix or Occupy Lancaster (Pa.).”
Arizona Sen. Steve Gallardo, district 13, also spoke in support of Occupy Phoenix and warned those slow to realize that the political landscape of the state has changed.
“I am an Arizona State Senator and I stand with the 99 percent,” Gallardo said. “No more corporate greed and no more to those elected officials, those politicians — and some of them are my colleagues — who support legislation that do not support working families.”
Diane D’Angelo, who serves as a media contact for Occupy Phoenix while also sitting on the city of Phoenix’s Human Relations Commission and on City Manager David Cavazos’ Community Engagement & Outreach Implementation Team, also spoke Sunday. D’Angelo made sure to settle “legal” issues by stating she was speaking as a private citizen. She then went on to talk about a form of modern “bigotry.”
“I want to talk to you this morning about bigotry. But I am not going to talk to you about bigotry from all of the lazy cliches that we have become used to, but I want to talk about the bigotries that live inside all of us. When I say Occupy Phoenix, what comes to your mind. When I say union member, what comes to your mind. When I say democrat, does your heart open, or does it close? Can you see how the fear imposed on us by the 1 percent threatens to destroy this movement? This great awakening that we have all waited so long to see?” she said. “We are human. Blaming each other is a sneaky way to avoid looking at our own prejudices and a justification for not getting out of our comfortable ruts. And at the bottom of it all is fear. Fear is what keeps people on their couches or staring at their computer monitors. Fear is what keeps people from voting. Fear is what keeps people away from Cesar Chavez plaza.”
When asked if unions will be taking a more active role in supporting the Occupy movement across the nation, Terry Melvin, secretary/treasurer of the New York AFL-CIO said since the two groups have similar goals, it simply makes sense that the established unions would provide emotional and other forms of support.
Those also speaking Sunday morning included the Rev. Oscar Tillman, Phoenix City Councilman Michael Johnson and Rebekah Friend, executive director of the Arizona AFL-CIO.
John Guzzon is editor of Modern Times Magazine.