Letter to Baltimore and DC Mayors, from Fred Mason, State Chairman, MD/DC AFL-CIO
November 22, 2011
Mayor Stephanie Rawlings – Blake
City Hall, Room 250
100 North Holliday Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Mayor Vincent C. Gray
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Suite 316
Washington, DC 20004
Thank you, for all that you do on behalf of the people of our cities. I have a great appreciation for the awesome responsibility that comes with leadership. Oftentimes you are challenged to make decisions in areas for which there are no recent or timely precedents. I suggest that such is the case with OCCUPY BALTIMORE and OCCUPY DC.
These Occupy movements are doing an enormous service by focusing our attention on the conditions and people who destroyed our economy. They are focusing on the urgent need to stop the bleeding and begin to repair the enormous damage this economic collapse has done to all but the very wealthiest among us.
The Occupy movements in our cities continue to be overwhelmingly peaceful and committed to non-violent protest. There is anger, but being angry is not a fringe emotion – it is the natural response to an economy that works for shockingly few people. Workers can’t find work. People have lost their homes and the equity in their homes. And, every single night, the homeless among us can be found sleeping on our streets and in vacant houses, many of them veterans and children.
Yet, to date, not a single person has gone to jail for crashing our economy, creating a massive jobs crisis and pushing millions of people out of their homes. There has been little exhibition of concern about where displaced, unemployed and homeless people will spend their days and nights.
What’s happening is real, in cities and towns all over our country. Americans want ‘Wall Street’ held accountable for what they did to our economy. We want good jobs and an end to raging inequality. We want our democracy back. That's why working people are part of these protests. We are all the 99 percent and we are standing together to restore our voices and enhance our democracy.
While confrontation and armed force might appear to be the traditional way of dealing with protest and unsure situations, such should not be the case in our cities. I urge you to act with great restraint and responsibility. Rather than act on any calls to remove these peaceful and nonviolent protesters, you are called upon to deliberate and act on behalf of the 99% and respect the people’s right to freedom of assembly.
I am attaching copies of a resolution – “Support for the Occupy Movement,” that was adopted at the 28th Biennial Convention of the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO on Saturday, November 20, 2011. Additionally, I am attaching a copy of a resolution “In Support of Non-Violent Civil Disobedience” that was adopted by our Executive Board on May 24th, 2011. These resolutions and others serve as signposts and guides for our political and legislative work.
Should you have questions or comments, please contact me at: (410) 318-8507 or on my cell at (410) 340-0949
Fred D. Mason, Jr.
Attachments: Resolution- “Support for the Occupy Movement”
Resolution- “In Support of Non-Violent Civil Disobedience”
Cc: Baltimore City Council Members
District of Columbia Council Member
F.O.P. District of Columbia
Maryland and District of Columbia AFL-CIO Affiliates
SUPPORT FOR THE “OCCUPY MOVEMENT”
WHEREAS, the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO recognizes the rights of all people to living wage jobs with affordable health care, quality education, a voice on the job, fair housing and a well-funded public sector, and
WHEREAS, Unemployment is the highest it has been since the Great Depression, and people are staying unemployed longer now than in the Great Depression, an unacceptable number of Maryland and District of Columbia homes are underwater, and foreclosures continue to increase.
WHEREAS, Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Manhattan's Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and the Wisconsin protests earlier this year, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future, and
WHEREAS, the Occupy Movement started at Occupy Wall Street has galvanized public sentiment and a broad-based movement protesting the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations, and
WHEREAS, the National AFL-CIO and Change to Win have endorsed Occupy Wall Street, a growing number of union activists have joined this movement, both as individual workers, and as part of an increasing number of International and Local union contingents connecting their own fights to the larger demands of the movement for economic justice and fairness, and
WHEREAS, in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Baltimore and Occupy DC has steadily developed an encampment and public interest in our areas, and
WHEREAS, Union and Community organizations together have been working in coalition since the crash of the economy to force Banks to pay their fair share of taxes, and renegotiate predatory loans with home owners, governments, and non-profit agencies, and
WHEREAS, it's time to take action against the greed and corruption of the wealthiest 1% of America, who control the vast majority of our nation's wealth and of the wealth of the world, and
WHEREAS, while the rest of us struggle, surviving on less and less, the big banks profit more and more. They are getting rich by taking all we have. We have paid with our lives and livelihoods so that a select few can be the richest in the world.
WHEREAS, all around the country, people are standing up and demanding accountability from banks, corporations, and from our governments, we recognize that we are not alone, and that together we have power.
WHEREAS, the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO values the importance of peaceful civil disobedience as a continuing foundation for our work, and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO supports the Occupy movement and encourages union members and Local unions to participate in the movement, will actively support any unionized or non-unionized worker who refuses to break up, "raid," or confiscate the belongings of protesters, and calls on unions representing Public Works and public safety workers to not participate in such activity as to deny the rights of the ‘occupiers’, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Maryland and District of Columbia labor movement and its allies stand with our sisters and brothers of Occupy movements in the cities and towns across the country who are fed up with an unfair economy that works for 1% of Americans while the vast majority of people struggle to pay the bills, get an education and raise their families, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO recognizes that protest movements, like strike lines and organizing campaigns, do not have curfews, are not 9-5 activities, and in doing so we recognize and will work to protect the right for “occupiers” to protest 24 hours a day, on-site and with proper protection including food, medical supplies, water, and tents, and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO forward this Resolution to the AFL-CIO, International Unions, local unions and central labor bodies and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO will contribute $3000 both the OCCUPY BALTIMORE and the OCCUPY DC actions.
Submitted by: Executive board
Convention Action: ADOPTED
RESOLUTION IN SUPPORT OF NON-VIOLENT CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE
Whereas: American families struggle everyday to exist on wages that have remained flat for 30 years, despite the rise in costs of their health care, energy, utilities and housing; and have watched the money they sacrifice to put away for retirement in savings, 401ks, and pension plans squandered and lost by banks; and have seen unemployment at record numbers for long periods of time.
Whereas: Today, international corporations hold considerable power over America and its citizens. Many corporations, including General Electric, Exxon, and Citicorp, do not pay their fair share of taxes or no taxes at all; and the Bush Administration’s tax cuts for the wealthy, extended under the Obama Administration – has led to the deterioration of America’s infrastructure, a decline in public education, and a massive increase in the U.S. debt.
Whereas: The under-funding of education has led to the decline of America’s economic competitiveness; the under-funding of America’s infrastructure has led to loss of jobs and put citizens in danger; and the high cost of gasoline has put an even greater strain on working families.
Whereas: All of these issues have led to the shrinking of the middle class that is essential to maintaining America’s democracy.
Whereas: Many elected officials are set on eliminating unions and disenfranchising workers and robbing them of their right to organize and bargain collectively; and are increasingly siding with corporations who provide the necessary money to run their campaigns to drive down the living standards of workers.
Whereas: The working families of America can no longer “patiently adjust to [this] injustice.” We must “be a counter friction to stop the machine.”
Whereas: Workers on every continent are leading the resistance to oppressive and unjust ideas and ways of governing, and employing the tactics of no-violent civil disobedience in demanding a better way of life.
Whereas: Nonviolent Civil Disobedience proved to be an effective tactic in the Civil Rights Movement and the Women Rights movement in this country.
Be It Resolved: That the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO will advocate for and support working families across the country in the use of non-violent civil disobedience to counter the power of corporations and all forces that seek to put America, the American way of life, and our very democracy in danger.
Passed by Maryland and District of Columbia Executive Board, Tuesday, May 24, 2011