Unions Endorse Wall Street Protests, Numbers Swell

The 99% are growing louder. Wednesday saw numbers at the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ protests grow to their largest numbers yet, after local unions pledged support for the goals of protestors.

The demonstrations against income inequality, corporate greed, corruption and several other social ills are now in their third week.

While the protestors remain leaderless and their aims are scattered, there is no doubt that momentum is being gained. Protestors yesterday trekked from lower Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park to Foley Square near City Hall, the crowd reportedly stretching across a dozen city blocks.

The fresh endorsement of several unions saw thousands join the protesters’ street theater on Wednesday, according to labor leaders. The Amalgamated Transit Union is one such union. It boasts 20,000 members in the New York area, and international president Larry Hanley had this to say to CNN:

“It’s really simple. These young people on Wall Street are giving voice to many of the problems that working people in America have been confronting over the last several years. These young people are speaking for the vast majority of Americans who are frustrated by the bankers and brokers who have profited on the backs of hard-working people. While we battle it out day after day, month after month, the millionaires and billionaires on Wall Street sit by – untouched – and lecture us on the level of our sacrifice.”

Other unions have suggested that they and the Wall Street protestors have shared aims. According to Transport Workers Union Local 100 spokesman Jim Gannon:

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“Their goals are our goals. They brought a spotlight on issues that we’ve believed in for quite some time now. Wall Street caused the implosion in the first place and is getting away scot-free while workers, transit workers, everybody, is forced to pay for their excesses.”

Due to the somewhat amorphous structure and movement of the protests, tracking the numbers involved is difficult, but there is little doubt Wednesday saw the biggest body of protestors to date.

Meanwhile, following a string of arrests, protestors are pursuing a class action lawsuit against the New York Police Department and Mayor Michael Bloomberg for their “unconstitutional effort to disrupt and suppress” demonstrations.

The lawsuits follow a September 24 pepper spray incident (video below) involving apparently innocent, non-violent protestors and police officer NYPD Deputy Inspector Anthony Bologna.