Anti-Wall Street protesters march with Verizon workers

Reuters News
Posted: Oct 21, 2011 6:38 PM
Anti-Wall Street protesters march with Verizon workers

By Chris Francescani and Michelle Nichols

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Anti-Wall Street protesters joined with Verizon Communications workers on Friday to march against corporate greed amid negotiations between the company and 45,000 employees for a new labor contract.

The march by about 500 people to a Verizon store in Lower Manhattan coincided with the top U.S. mobile provider reporting a third quarter profit of $1.38 billion, more than double its profit for the same quarter last year.

Support from unions across the United States has helped boost the ranks of the Occupy Wall Street movement complaining about economic inequality, which began five weeks ago and has sparked protests nationwide and globally.

"We're all in this together," Verizon worker Steven Jackman, 53, from Long Island, said of joining forces with Occupy Wall Street.

The 45,000 Verizon workers negotiating a new contract, who went on strike for two weeks in August, represent roughly half Verizon's wireline workforce.

"Until we get money out of politics, nothing will change," said Occupy Wall Street protester Richard Fisher, 55, who joined the Verizon march. "I haven't had a job since 2008. My unemployment ran out. There are no jobs."

But some people are asking what will happen next with the Occupy Wall Street movement, which critics say does not have a clear message.

The protesters say they are upset that the billions of dollars in bank bailouts during the recession allowed banks to resume earning huge profits while average Americans have had no relief from high unemployment and job insecurity.

They also believe the richest 1 percent of Americans do not pay their fair share in taxes.

On Friday, "Parents for Occupy Wall Street" encouraged people to bring their children to sleep in the park.

"We've been wanting the boys to come down and see history in the making. I'd like them to tell their children that they were here for this," said Eric Alsager, 47, who brought his two boys, age 2 and 4, from Freehold, NJ, to spend the night.


New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said on Friday that Occupy Wall Street's camp headquarters -- set up in a privately owned, publicly accessible park in the city's financial district on September 17 -- had become a "tourist attraction."

Bloomberg told a local radio show that until the park owners, Brookfield Office Properties, made an official complaint there was little that the city could do about the protesters. His longtime girlfriend Diana Taylor is on the board of directors at Brookfield Office Properties.

Bloomberg said authorities would start enforcing a rule requiring protesters to have a city permit for any marches.

"There are businesses and people going to work and going to school. There's (protesters) drumming in the middle of the night. There's people just using the streets as bathrooms," Bloomberg said.

Last week a showdown between protesters and New York police was averted when Brookfield Office Properties postponed a cleanup, which demonstrators feared was a bid to remove them.

The protests have been driven by social media, culminating in global rallies last weekend which were mostly peaceful apart from Rome, where there were riots.

Nearly a thousand people have been arrested and police have used pepper spray at rallies in New York by Occupy Wall Street. Occupy Arrests, a Twitter feed compiling arrests related to Occupy Wall Street, said that so far nearly 2,000 people have been arrested around the world, including New York City.

Earlier on Friday Occupy Wall Street protesters were among a couple of hundred people who rallied in Harlem against the New York Police Department's "stop and frisk" policy, which critics said targets black and Latino New Yorkers.

About 30 of those protesters were arrested for disorderly conduct, said police.

In Cincinnati, police cleared a downtown park on Friday where protesters had been camping, arresting 23 people, while in Tampa, Florida, six protesters were arrested.

(Additional reporting by Sinead Carew and Joan Gralla in New York, Joe Wessels in Cincinatti and Ileana Morales in Tampa; Writing by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Greg McCune)