The Washington Times - October 7, 2011, 05:08PM

Occupy Wall Street protesters are angered about the bank bailouts, but do they realize their own protest is a beneficiary of a bailout too?

While many can agree that General Motors should not have received a taxpayer bailout and questioned why General Electric got away without paying  federal taxes last year, Occupy Wall Street protesters enjoy the support from the same labor union, the United Auto Workers Union,  who financially benefited from the General Motors bailout - (MLIVE - “UAW President Bob King: GM agreement possible thanks to Obama, auto bailout”)


OWS protesters are beneficiaries from the $14 billion auto bailout (h/t Michael Barone). After all, money is fungible here. The United Auto Worker’s Union threw their financial support behind OWS this week. According to the Village Voice: (bolding is mine)

​This morning the UAW — the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America — issued an official endorsement of Occupy Wall Street, which they deem “a movement for economic and political justice.” They’ve said they’ll commit resources to the movement and also activate their membership nationally “in support of reclaiming the American economy on behalf of working men and women, the poor, the elderly, the unemployed and our nation’s youth.” UAW members have already been showing solidarity at Occupy Wall Street protests and rallies in New York and in Boston on an individual level; this announcement puts the full support of another union behind the protesters at Zuccotti Park.

As long as any union that received money from the stimulus and is financially supporting OWS, it is difficult for the protesters to complain that bailouts are negatively affecting them right now. 

Julien Harrison, an Occupy Wall Street protester from Oregon, joined the OWS crowd this week and spoke to me about why he flew across the country to join the demonstration in Manhattan. While he spoke about the wealthy buying political power, Harrison, like many Occupy Wall Street protesters is more than happy to have the support of the labor unions. 

“You know, I don’t think we know yet what’s going to come out of this but what a lot of us feel right here, and I’m speaking for myself, is that we don’t have a Democratic society right now. We are alienated from the political process,” he told me.

 “Basically, the wealthy have appropriated not only our economy but also our political process. It’s one that wealth buys you political power. So whatI think we all have in common here is that we are saying that we want to have a voice. We want to have a say in our government. We don’t want to be represented by lobbyists,” he added. 

Harrison was confident about the political capitol corporations could use to wield power in Washington, but when I asked about the political and financial power the labor unions have as well, he saw it differently. 

“I think the labor movement historically has been extremely important in getting us to where we are and into developing the middle class. We owe that to the labor struggles. Over the last thirty years we know there has been a concerted attack on the labor movement. Now, sure, within that they have had their own organizational problems…right? And often times certain…labor unions have decided to maybe cooperate and maybe they should have taken a stand or something like that, but the labor movement is so important,” he said.

“I personally believe in re-establishing a Democratic society in which workers have a say in the work places—in the government—in the democracy. As far as their leaders go…the decisions they’ve made, I can’t speak to that.”


I interviewed another older protester (video below) on Tuesday night who believed that as long as the unions were supporting OWS movement, Americans would have to take them seriously. Like, Harrison, however, he did not know exactly how to come to terms with the power, wealth, and political capitol of the labor union leadership either. “There are leaders that sell out, but we’re dealing with the rank and file. Forget the leaders,” he said.

Forget the leaders, indeed. For all the talk about supporting the rank and file members, the UAW rank and file members were shafted despite the auto bailout. According to a July 31, 2011 piece from

When automakers made billions of dollars of profit in labor contract negotiations each year, it meant “cha-ching” for unionized autoworkers.Not this year.Even though automakers are printing money, the 111,000 members of the United Auto Workers union likely won’t reap a bonanza from the contract talks that began Monday.There are just too many forces today working against labor, which used to pretty much dictate wage and benefit levels at General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group LLC.

Hey, at least in the minds of leftist demonstrators, the UAW had enough dough to give resources to the OWS protesters to hang out on Wall Street and scream about how awful the bank bailouts were.