Occupy Wall Street seemingly appeared out of nowhere. But is it a grassroots movement? If you were to ask any protestor, they would assure you they are. In addition they would also ensure you understood they are leaderless and have no demands. While on the exterior Occupy Wall Street appears to be grassroots but is it?
OWS protestors are unified under an anti-capitalist message aimed at banks that hold their student loans and mortgages. Once you get passed the slogans, they have mixed messages for their protest. An anti-capitalist theme under the guise of “its for the people.” Just the premise of that statement is an oxymoron.
During the initial weeks of OWS, a list of demands arose that proposed The Living Wage.
The Living Wage is a campaign that trains people in how to collective bargain. This extracurricular activity is taught in universities across the nation. Students pursue goals and gather public support in protest against universities. They use the bully pulpit or mob mentality to ensure their demands are heard and eventually met. The Living Wage Campaign (LWC) concentrates on increasing wages for housekeepers, dining facility workers and other similar union occupations. This is different from minimal wage because if an employee works a 40-hour week, their employer must pay them a wage they can maintain their predetermined life style. This amount is determined by a university, visit the PSU website to calculate what is perceived to be a living wage in your area.
Our education system has been crumbling for a couple of decades, as more pay for teachers seems to be the fix to the symptoms. While most universities have replaced the U.S. Constitution with U.N. Declarations, Property Right with Agenda 21 and individual contributions with collective mentalities, it seems universities have taken up the art of teachning collective bargaining.
In 2001, Ed Childs, with the Harvard Dining Hall Workers Union, explains that they advocate for The Living Wage campaign where sit-ins are a part of the process. After a 21-day, sit-in, the Harvard community, including SEIU, gathered to celebrate the demands being met for a pay increase for over 2,000 Harvard workers. The Harvard Occupation Clips that was uploaded Oct 17, 2009 explains the whole movement in more details. Ten years later, they are still practicing the art of collective bargaining.
According to a 2003 Georgetown Living Wage Report, “students and workers are campaigning for a living wage on more than 35 campuses, including Notre Dame, Princeton, Yale American, UVA and the University of Michigan.”
In 2008, the University of Virginia conducted a four-day sit-in protest where 17 students were arrested.
As seen with Occupying Wall Street, students appear to have a genuine emotion toward their cause. It is more about being a part of the cause, rather than the cause. To say that this is a grass roots effort is a stretch. There is no coherent reason for the buildup; no student has even stated a consistent message below the cool slogans of evil Wall Street bankers and fancy chants of 99 percent. Their anti-capitalism message appears to resonant like a “Hope and Change” slogan.
As some eyeball this leaderless movement, could professional collective bargainers provide the direction this movement needs? After all, they were instrumental in the training. It seems that a generation of kids have decided to pick up the 1960s example of how to get their point across but you do not have to go far to see the influence of the professor in our children’s lives.
It’s time to stop discussing teacher’s pay, school supplies or vouchers and look at the schools and their curriculum…because it may not be in the best interest of our youth. Hopefully, it isn’t too late because I have a feeling their message is going to come across loud and clear. There is one clear thing they were taught well and that’s the art of collective bargaining…whether unions are involved or not.