Building Our Movement: CWA and Occupy:
‘Now is the time to help grow this movement’
Madelyn Elder is president of CWA Local 7901 and an at-large executive board member.
About 23 of us, from CWA, Letter Carriers, Laborers, SEIU, and retired teachers led the march of about 400 people. We sat down on the east side of the Steel Bridge behind the police lines and chanted slogans like “Hey hey, ho ho, Corporate Greed has got to go.”
Police started arresting the 23 of us, while the rest of the demonstrators marched across the Burnside Bridge to meet up with the Portland State University and Occupy Portland marchers.
I got a citation and was released on my own recognizance, so it was on to Shut Down the Banks Day.
Among the thousands demonstrating were Teamsters and Jobs with Justice activists alongside grandparents, children, clowns and so many others. We went to Wells Fargo, US Bank, Chase Bank, and Bank of America, all of which were bailed out while the 99% were laid off and sold out.
I volunteered to be arrested because now is the time to participate and help grow this movement. The 99% are taking back what we have lost in terms of the working class in this country. We can change it all now if we just commit ourselves to keeping the Occupy movement growing.
‘At the end, I really didn't want to stop’
Patti Cumo is a retired member of CWA Local 1118.
We had so much support during our march against corporate greed. Verizon thinks that what we did was “theatrics,” but all along the 156 miles, we had people opening up their windows in their homes, rolling down their car windows, and yelling, “Thank you, guys.”
The march was strenuous. Being 60, not an athlete, and having a really short gait, I had to push myself to keep up my pace with the others.
I really learned about myself on the march, and the biggest joy was getting to know each other. At the end, I really didn't want to stop, but remain with our group of eight.
‘I experienced a sense of community that I will never forget’
Mike Gendron is a member of Local 1108
After a rally and march on Verizon and Verizon Wireless, I joined with about 18 CWA members who spent the night in Zuccotti Park with the Occupy Wall Street activists. It really was unifying experience for me. I experienced a sense of community that I will never forget.
Some people have gotten the wrong idea about the Occupy activists and their movement. Back in the park, they carved out a space for us, their union guests for the night. I’d brought a few layers of clothing, a sleeping bag and a blanket, but it was many hours before I wanted to go to sleep. There was so much to talk about. The people I talked with really understood our issues, and I heard many positive comments about labor unions. They have many issues that they’re concerned with — student loans, finding jobs, facing foreclosure. We all want the same thing: fairness and the opportunity to advance and provide for ourselves and our families. All of us are fighting for economic justice.