From a Nobody to the Leaders of America's Unions:
Unless you're local to Oakland, you probably weren't there, marching on the Port. So let me tell you a bit about what I saw. Not as I was marching in the afternoon vanguard, but coming back. I think you'll be interested. (I'm not so young any more and when it became obvious that the march might go on forever I turned back, knowing that the day was already ours.) This is what I saw:
As I walked back I passed through a thousand people in a second wave, a mile behind the first. And then a third.
As I walked back I saw every skin color that humans come in. I saw young and old and in-between. I saw people on bicycles and skateboards, with banners and without.
As I walked back there was Angela Davis, right out of the history books, with her dog, determined to make her way to the assembly. She's twelve years older than I am. I admit it, I'm a wuss.
As I walked back I saw mothers wheeling strollers with two-year olds in them, pushing onward towards the gates.
As I was walking back, I saw an older man with a cane, struggling along far behind all the rest, yet eager and passionate.
As I was walking back, now in darkness and the temperature rapidly going down, I saw an older woman with a cane literally hobbling along with a grim determination on her face. (I stopped to tell her how far she had yet to go, intending to be kind. Perhaps my message ended up being cruel. She kept going).
Why did those people come out? What brought them to an overpass over a freeway leading into a desolate port -- a place that no one without business therein would have any reason to go otherwise?
In solidarity with the struggles of Longshoremen against EGT & Port Truckers against Goldman Sachs
Sure, people came out for Scott Olsen, and for Oscar Grant. And against Jean Quan and the Oakland Police. Each of us is different. But mostly they came out in solidarity for workers against the 1%. Because that's what this day was about.
The Longshoremen shut down the Port of Oakland in the 1980's in solidarity with those suffering under apartheid in South Africa. They shut it down in solidarity with those opposed to the Iraq War in 2003. In solidarity with others they've taken many actions over the course of the last fifty years. Labor union members were out in force on November 2nd, 2011, participating in our marches and general strike.
I know that kids on bikes and retirees walking with canes aren't going to win labor's legislative victories by and of themselves. It will take far more than that to to maintain your right to collectively bargain, keep a semblance of health care benefits and protect your pensions from the one percent. I know that. And I know that sometimes it seems #Occupiers and their supporters can barely get it together, let alone get it done.
And yet, and yet, on December 12th...
To be honest, it was a bit disheartening hearing many of your statements (perhaps, admittedly, misrepresentative and twisted by the press) about the Port Shutdown. But then I listened to some of your rank-and-file from a number of different unions at our organizing meetings saying "No, No! The workers are with you!" and I took heart again.
When I woke up on December 12th and read that 1500 people had marched on the Port in the wee hours of a cold and rainy morning, I was giddy. And then as I was able to announce that the Port was closed, I almost broke down in tears of joy.
So I just want to ask, mostly for those mothers I saw, and that older gentleman, and that determined lady (whom I hope is all right)
We're With You. Are You Still With Us?
Japanese worker 12/12 in solidarity
I have a hunch the answer is yes. Thanks for listening.
The 99% marching to the Port -- Kossack Smellybeast
The Japanese worker: Japan action in solidarity with Occupy the Ports!