Who is the 99%? The Occupiers or Oakland Longshoremen?

December 14th, 2011

Following Todd Henderson’s piece about public choice and defining the 99% in different contexts is this story about how the Oakland Occupiers shut down the Port of Oakland, forcing unoinized longshoremen to go home without pay.

Long the most militant Occupy branch, Occupy Oakland has continued to push the movement’s campaign against the wealthiest 1 percent even after losing its perch in front of City Hall. It spearheaded a one-day action on Monday in which thousands of protesters rallied at West Coast ports from San Diego to Anchorage, effectively closing the Ports of Portland and Longview, Wash., and largely shutting the Port of Oakland.

In the process, Occupy Oakland has cast itself as the true champion of America’s workers, creating a potentially troublesome rift with the Occupy movement’s sometime allies in organized labor.

Several labor leaders criticized the plan to disrupt the ports, which cost many longshoremen and truck drivers a day’s pay. And union officials were irked by Occupy Oakland’s claim that it was advancing the cause of port workers even though several unions opposed the protests.

For example, several days before the disruptions, Robert McEllrath, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, issued a statement warning: “Support is one thing. Organizing from outside groups attempting to co-opt our struggle in order to advance a broader agenda is quite another.”

Organizers at Occupy Oakland shrugged off the criticism, saying many union leaders are afraid of bold action. The Occupy movement, they say, is doing more for working people than some unions and union leaders are.

This sentence just about sums it up:

“The Occupy movement is a union for the 99 percent, and certainly for the 89 percent of working people who are not in unions,” said Barucha Peller, 28, an unemployed writer who helped plan and rally support for the port shutdown.

Not only do they not understand economics, they also suck at math.