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“We Have Come Together”: Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, Unions Join Activists for Historic March

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The Occupy Wall Street march was endorsed by a coalition of labor groups including the Transport Workers Union, National Nurses United, SEIU 1199, and the United Federation of Teachers. We hear the voices of union leaders addressing the boisterous crowd at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan before the march headed to the Financial District. [includes rush transcript]

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This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Earlier in the day [yesterday], tens of thousands of people marched from Foley Square to the site of Occupy Wall Street encampment. It was the largest rally since the protest began 20 days ago.

AMY GOODMAN: The march was endorsed by a coalition of labor groups including the Transport Workers Union, the National Nurses United, SEIU 1199, the United Federation of Teachers. Union leaders addressed the crowd before the march.

CALL: Wall Street, can’t you see?

RESPONSE: Wall Street, can’t you see?

CALL: We want a fair economy.

RESPONSE: We want a fair economy.

CALL: Ain’t no use in looking down.

RESPONSE: Ain’t no use in looking down.

CALL: ’Cause the union is around.

RESPONSE: ’Cause the union is around.

MC: Bob Masters, chair of the WFP and political director of CWA.

BOB MASTERS: Occupy Wall Street captured the spirit of our time. This is the spirit of our time. This is Madison. This is Cairo. This is Tunisia. You can’t see it, brothers and sisters, but back up the street they are still streaming in. We are here to say, no more to the bailouts of Wall Street and the disasters on Main Street, no more to tax cuts for the rich and no jobs for the rest of us. We need to turn our energy, take this spirit, and take this state and this country back. And we are going to do it. Occupy Wall Street has started a movement that we are all part of around the world. And together, we will win. Together, we will win.

MC: George Gresham, 1199, United Healthcare Workers East.

GEORGE GRESHAM: We need bailouts with jobs. We need bailouts with healthcare. We need bailouts in education. We need to know that our future generation will have a place in this country, not subservient to those who have more than they’ll ever need in this country.

MC: Now we have Karen Higgins. She is the president of National Nurses.

KAREN HIGGINS: As a result of Wall Street’s greed, healthcare services, now needed more than ever, are harder and harder to obtain. Insurance premiums are skyrocketing again. Vital health programs, cutbacks are being so-called budget problems, while that money sits on Wall Street. We’re talking about our children, our elderly. We’re talking about people delaying cancer treatments and screening. We’re talking about our elderly not taking their medications. The list can go on and on. Today we’re telling you, as nurses, we can fix that. Our caring extends beyond the bedside. We say, tax Wall Street and use the money—use the money for jobs, schools and healthcare.

MC: Chris Shelton, CWA.

CHRIS SHELTON: We’re here because of corporate—corporate greed. Every one of us is here because of corporate greed. Every one of us is here. There’s signs in the audience that say, “We are the 99 percent.” Well, we are the 99 percent, and it’s time that the one percent made the sacrifice that they’ve been telling us we have to make.

MC: Héctor Figueroa, Local 32BJ.

HÉCTOR FIGUEROA: Brothers and sisters, we are the ones who do the work in the City of New York and everywhere. We tend to the elderly. We take care of our childrens. We are the ones who make our buildings safe and secure. But we are under attack. And we are the students. We are the community organizers. We are the people fighting for immigration reform. And we are under attack.

MC: From Occupy Wall Street, David Suker.

DAVID SUKER: From the veterans of the U.S. Army and the whole military, thank you, Occupy Wall Street, and thank you, New York. And we should do like Greece is doing today: shut the country down!

MC: Lillian Roberts, the executive director of DC 37.

LILLIAN ROBERTS: I am just full with joy that we’ve found each other. We’ve been fighting our fight. You are fighting your fight. And we’ve come together, and that’s a hell of a force to deal with. Now, my union represents 125,000 municipal employees, 1,000 titles, and they are the lowest-paid people in this city. And there’s a threat to lay off 700 of them, and more and more and more, and we’ve had enough of it.

JOHN SAMUELSON: I’m John Samuelson. Brothers and sisters, I want to thank the folks from the Occupy Wall Street movement for sparking the labor movement and showing us—showing us—showing us the way to do it. The way to do it is not to have conversations with politicians in the corridors in Albany and the corridors of Washington, D.C. It’s to take it to the streets. And thank you for showing us how to do it. We’re here standing with you, and we’re going to move. Right now, we’re going to march on Wall Street, and we’re going to occupy Wall Street, right now.

JUAN GONZALEZ: Union leaders addressing tens of thousands of members and supporters of the Occupy Wall Street march on Foley Square yesterday.

AMY GOODMAN: And we’ll continue with our coverage after this break, but this break brought to you by Rebel Diaz in the streets of New York.

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