Proposal for Saturday 12/17 General Assembly: Anne Rettenberg

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

Whereas, events organized by West Coast occupations shut down or disrupted port operations at several major ports on Dec. 12,

These actions led to lost wages for longshoremen and truck drivers,

These actions were not planned in conjunction with representation from longshoremen and truck drivers,

Few if any longshoremen or truck drivers participated in a consensus decision-making process organizing these port strikes, although they are the main workers at the ports,

Occupy Wall Street, although it did not fund or formally endorse the actions, effectively endorsed the actions by publicizing a solidarity action in New York (thus bypassing the consensus process of our own General Assembly in endorsement of actions),

When workers strike in an authorized union strike, they typically receive “strike pay” from the union in lieu of the wages they would have received,

Be it resolved that NYCGA of Occupy Wall Street authorize the disbursement of up to $30,000 to West Coast longshoremen and truck drivers who were directly affected by the Dec. 12 actions, in accordance with the following process:

The Finance Committee will concur with representatives from the longshoremen’s union and representatives from port truck drivers on a method to fairly and transparently disburse these funds to affected workers. This may take place as checks distributed to individual workers, the placement of the funds in general union funds, or the placement of the funds in a charitable fund as designated by the workers themselves.

Submitted by Anne Rettenberg, Dec. 14, 2011

50 Responses to “Proposal for Saturday 12/17 General Assembly: Anne Rettenberg”

  1. Robert Segal

    Absolutely opposed. Any such disbursement would need to have been approved PRIOR to the action.

    The explicit purpose of the port shutdown action was to disrupt economic activity. The precedent set by this proposal would be horrendous.

  2. Yoni Miller

    Also opposed. It’s quiete a bit of money, and people would take advantage of this. I sincerely appreciate your kind intentions and absolutely agree that they shouldn’t bear brunt of the raw deal, however this action is done way to rashly and without enough communication beforehand.

    • David Heatherly

      Is Occupy Oakland required to get permission from #OWS before we take an action? We urged other West Coast cities to take part and they did. Even #OWS took part in solidarity actions. Did you guys not know what we were doing here? Did you not pay attention on 11/2?

  3. Urbaned

    This is quite astounding. This brings up so many questions. Is this in a sense a way for Anne and Leo to point out that the port-shutdown group co-opted OWS? I kind of feel they did. But I did not think of seeking financial restitution. Why would the nycga pay Oakland? Isn’t the nycga in the process of separating out from other GAs (although I don’t like that idea…). And, did you contact anyone in Oakland or the West Coast Port Shut Down about their response?

    • David Heatherly

      What do you mean “separate out”? All the GAs and Occupy groups are already stand-alone independent entities. This is some disturbing stuff I’m reading here. Why don’t you clean up your own house before criticizing others? Like the fact that there is political censorship on “occupywallst.org.”

      • Tom Gillis

        occupywallst.org is a blog that operates under a domain with “occupy wall st” in the name. otherwise it has nothing to do with the nycga. they’re an idependent group – they dont’ particpate in the GA and the GA isn’t responsible for what they do. They were ahead of the curve in setting up a site under the OWS name, but they’re essentially lucky domain squatters.

        • David Heatherly

          Yeah, that’s the sense I get of it too, sorry…. does your media committee have its own website? It just seems like there’s a lot of official Occupy Wall St. business that takes place on that board, and it even has a link to this site. So it creates the impression that the NYCGA could be condoning or responsible for the political censorship on that site’s forums.

    • Dallas

      Co-opted? OccupyOakland requested funding from the NYCGA to support the wast coast port actions, and they were given far less than the originally requested amount. Anyone at that GA who had a problem with shutting down a port certainly has ample time and proper forum to express this.

      This was not in any sense a surprise or misrepesented action… anyone feeling that Occupy Wall Street needed to distance ourselves from the port blockade had plenty of time to propose at GA that we officially wash our hands of the entire action, and outline their reasoning in a bid to reach consensus.

  4. Anne

    This money would not be sent to the Oakland Occupy movement; it would go to the longshoremen and truck drivers. I was referring to our Finance Committee here in NYC.

    • David Heatherly

      Nice — Occupy Oakland sent $4,000 to other Occupy groups on the West Coast to provide mutual aid for our common struggle. You guys are talking about sending mutual aid to somebody else so that you can embarrass us? I’m starting to see why a lot of radicals around the country consider Occupy Oakland more important than #OWS.

      • Lopi

        Why would you make sweeping generalizations about a movement based on one or two people’s proposal? This is simply a proposal, it was not passed and now the proposer has dropped the proposal due to lack of support for it in nyc.
        OWS is in solidarity with Occupy Oakland. We had a day of action on D12 where many got arrested here in solidarity.
        Trying to make this movement into some kind of contest or competition of who is the more radical or more effective is counter-solidarity. One might wonder, upon reading your comment, what your motivation is. Do you want unity? Or do you want to have inner fighting so the feds can take us down easier.

        • David Heatherly

          I know that it hasn’t passed, I was just criticizing the intent of the framers of the proposition. But truly, I probably have no place doing that since I’m not a member of the NYCGA. Of course I do want unity, that’s why I didn’t like this proposal. I guess on the internet it’s easy to get too entrenched in your position, there’s not the space for negotiation and eye-to-eye empathy.

          You’re right that it was out of hand for me to talk about who is “more important.” Shit, the people who are starting little Occupy groups in all sorts of places all over the country, just counties and small towns we’ve never heard of in Idaho or Kansas, are maybe more important than either of us. Who’s gonna say? Let’s let historians figure it out later. And in truth, I don’t want the movement to be characterized just by radicalism.

    • Steve Scher

      I’m curious.
      How would it go to them?
      Individual checks?
      How would you secure their names?
      Would someone have to be hired to run such an operation?
      What about the businesses here in NYC?
      ******************************************************
      I’m sure you’re not make the proposal just to posture.

      I am also sure than when one cooks, eggs get broken.

      or

      If you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen?

      :)

      see you tommorrow at 6th and canal —noon !!!!

  5. Anne

    Leo was not involved in this proposal.
    Unclear about “taking advantage.” Do not understand what this phrase is supposed to refer to.

  6. Sally Marks

    Why would money be sent to California to compensate people for lost wages due to the port blocking?

    Were the guys (or Brookfield) whose job it was to maintain Liberty Park get paid because they did not have access to he park? Were the people who were unable to use the Bridges during the marches, get compensated for their losses? Of course not. In any protest, there can be suffering. Both by the active participants and those that are collateral.

  7. Anne

    I don’t think there’s any comparison between the port blocking and the Brooklyn Bridge demo. There are many bridges between Brooklyn and Manhattan, traffic was only blocked for a few hours and the action took place on a Saturday. Probably some small business people were inconvenienced, but it’s unlikely many people lost wages. I doubt more than a couple of Brookfield workers lost wages; they were probably just reassigned…”maintenance” of Zucotti Park was not a full-time job. The main point however is not the amount of money, but that the actions that were supposedly done on behalf of workers did not include the main affected workers in the decision-making process. I think it’s quite obvious what went wrong here. Again, regarding the Brooklyn Bridge demo, it would not have been possible to get all residents of Brooklyn and Manhattan to a General Assembly to decide on this action that involved a public structure, the Brooklyn Bridge… Let’s not compare apples and oranges.

    • Sally Marks

      But those small business owners and the maintenance workers for Brookfield are the 99%!

      What is the difference between a small business owner (say a Wall Street push cart vendor, one guy, wife, four kids) being denied a days work, food spoilage and a driver of a truck who also has a wife, four kids and is responsible for his load perishing?

      If the port workers are on the side of the movement, then they should be willing to accept the loss as a ‘donation’. Same goes for anyone else whose income was affected by our actions. Just as not all of the port workers decided by the GA in Portland to be blocked.

      ‘Not many’ matters a lot if you are one of the few in that group of ‘Not Many’.

    • Lopi

      perhaps it would have been wiser for occupy oakland to include the workers who would be most affected by the blockade in the decision making process. Perhaps not. It is not for us to decide. They are an autonomous group, separate from OWS. We are in SOLIDARITY with them, but we do not have sway over their consensus process, and rightly so.
      When there were massive arrests in OAKtown, we sent, I think it was $20,000 in jail support to them. That was the swiftest consensus in a GA I have ever had the pleasure of being at. Of course we would support them, of course we would send monetary resources.
      But, sending money to a third party, is not our place. It would have the potential of undermining Oaktown’s action and also, who are we? OWS is not a philanthropy group.

  8. Urbaned

    Absolutely. The main affected workers were not included in the decision-making process. It’s very nice of you to ask for wages for them, but there are many many more people involved whose day was disrupted. Why not ask for the money for the homeless or disenfranchised instead? Their lives have been disrupted by the 1%. Shall OWS pay them all in $$, too?

    When you say, “Traffic was only blocked for a few hours?” I have heard of a baby dying in a traffic jam. Strikes, unauthorized strikes, etc. should not be sanctioned by OWS, as should not Constitutional Conventions, etc. OWS is only a few months old. And also, putting in a financial receipt in for real $$ is assuming a hierarchical financial system like the one we are living in now. I thought we were going to change that.

  9. David Heatherly

    Uh…. so basically, you want to stab us at Occupy Oakland in the back. Nice show of solidarity. Have you actually bothered to talk to any of us, or anybody at Occupy Longview, about the reasons why this action took place? Or do you trust the corporate media that fucking much? This is messed up.

    • Sally Marks

      Not at all.

      Everyone must be treated the same, no one is better than the other.

      If NYGA decides it is going to compensate workers who lost wages due to an activity of an OWS protest, then all workers affected by an OWS protest have the right to claim lost wages. That will take all the money in the NYCGA accounts several times over. How you propose NYCGA come up with the funds?

      What makes the port blockage any different from any of the other (and future ) Occupations?

      • Brendan

        Sally, dont say “Everybody must be treated the same”. This whole movement is about treating people differently. The Mic. Checkers don’t treat their targets “the same” as they treat their applauders, or themselves. The GA doesn’t treat $19k for tents “the same” as $30k for a trip to egypt. The average new yorker wasnt treated “the same” as the occupiers when it came to enjoying Zuccotti park. This movement is about dividing people and making noise so that a strongly distilled message gets heard even when people dont want to hear it.

        I recommend that OWS actually reach out to people and help them find their voice and help them be heard.But that would take control away from the GA and give it to the people.

        • Urbaned

          There has got to be some hierarchy. It’s not possible to live life without someone “being in charge.” One day, I hope that phrase becomes “serving their fellow man,” but that will take a massive shift in consciousness.

          People are always in charge. For example, someone runs and monitors this forum. Does that “divide” them from the people using it? You could say that. People cook and feed others in the kitchen. Does that “divide” them from the people being served? Yes.

          I thought Mic Check was brilliant because it put “listeners” on the same page. Repeating back with a group of people is more horizontal than listening passively to one person. And, the fact that anyone could take the mic was great. If people wanted to take the mic and couldn’t hopefully there are other venues for their voices to be heard.

          Hopefully, OWS isn’t rushing in to things so fast that voices are not heard. Will it take a long time? Yes. I daresay that many people were not all that inconvenienced by having to walk around Zucotti Park. If so, they could speak up. And, apparently, they have, so the encampments are ending.

          You know it’s not that simplistic, Brendan. But, there is a difference between doing Mic Checks in public places and shutting down the West Coast. Many people lost hundreds of dollars in pay, and not just in Oakland. I hope that the next time Oakland decides to take such as massive action that they collaborate closely with NY and not just come back after the fact and ask to reimburse the people they inconvenienced. This request is not sensible or fair.

    • Urbaned

      Other ports were also closed up and down the West Coast. Will they also be compensated?

  10. Brendan

    yes, just like Occupy Oakland stabbed workers in the back with the typical arrogance of this movement that self righteously beleives it speaks and acts on behalf of others when in reality it is a narrow minded group of left wing activists that can’t make their case heard without being noisy and disrputive and has hijacked what could have been a true voice of the people agains injustice.

    • Urbaned

      Brendan. It sounds like you have a lot of opinions and feelings about this issue. For the purpose of transparency, it’s a lot better to explain what they are than just sounding angry and bad-mouthing people. Please explain what your perspective is. Maybe we can come to the root cause of some of the issues and even help OWS progress as a new, hopeful movement. I’m really curious about hearing your pov. Thanks

      • Brendan

        Thank you Urbaned for the correction. Let me articulate politely. OWS started as a spontaneous response of people to various injustices which those people felt in common. OWS was poised to continue being a method for such expression. Then OWS set up rules of participation which very quickly limited participation to a very small group of people who pretty much think the same way. Then the already shrunken and narrowed OWS began accepting online donations and using those donations amplify certain aspects of OWS over other aspects OWS.

        Now the movement is fundamentally compromised because it says it is one thing, and may beleive that but it really something differenty. The Declaration, Principals of Solidarity, and Statement of Autonomy are filled with internal contradictions and they contradict each other and they contradict the true nature of OWS as that is defined by OWS actions. It is a mess and the 99% moved on weeks ago.

        OWS has two choices.

        It should openly declare itself for what it currently is: a political party using tools techniwues and money to foist its opinion on others. At least this would be honest and eliminate the compromise.

        Or it should limit its activities to hearing and expressing the voices of the people. This would require spending no money to advance any causes over other causes eliminating the GA’s as the quaint yet respectable sparks, and stop doing things that are guaranteed to polarize the voices, like Mic checks and blocking ports.

        • David Heatherly

          So, you’re saying we stop doing everything that is at the core of Occupy? No mic check, no general assembly, no direct action? We should just be another ineffective protest organization? You’re saying we should not do anything, but just be a venue for people to ineffectually complain on a soapbox.

          • Brendan

            You already are an ineffective protest organization. What you should do is help the people be more effective at finding and expressing a common voice.

    • David Heatherly

      I would like for this movement to be more than just progressive activism. It should be a popular movement, not a progressive movement.

      But, that does not mean we should turn our backs on labor. Nor should we obey union leaders when we are trying to act on behalf of the workers. Many ILWU members were among our group that planned this port action. We are NOT stabbing workers in the back.

      The real question for Occupy is: are we just a bunch of people who used to have priviledge, and who are demanding that the authorities give us all the stuff we used to have in the 1990s? Or are we a radical group dedicated to changing this country in a fundamental way? If it is the latter, we are not going to be able to achieve that just by non-confrontational protest.

      • Brendan

        if it is the latter it will fail because there is no measure or poll or temperature check or indicaiton of any kind that people want or will tolerate a radical subset determining their futures.

        • David Heatherly

          Just depends on how long the struggle lasts. If we fail, years from now the American people will blame us if we didn’t do everything possible to save them from the holocaust to come. That’s not to say we should be violent, but confrontational yes. Isn’t camping in Liberty Square a confrontational tactic?

          • Brendan

            The narrowing of OWS and the gulf between OWS started when OWS stayed in Liberty square when it was obvious to all that the vibe should have been taken to the people at large via social and even mainstream media. Instead OWS kept the vibe for itelf and distorted it into what it is today…. a small group of noisy acivists not really interested in compromise or dialogue with whom they oppose.

          • Urbaned

            Brendan, I feel like you are on the opposite side of the coin. I see hope and promise for this movement, and I’m remain fascinated to see how it develops. Additionally, I feed personally empowered every time I leave a reply or respond to an email. With an audience of thousands, that’s a lot of press.

            You have many valid points about the problems with OWS. It takes a lot of patience to contribute to its evolution and improvement. Please don’t write it off yet; please help.

  11. Urbaned

    David, I live in Richmond, CA, have gone to many local GAs, and know how the call for the strike happened. What I’d like you to tell us is who’s idea was the Port Blockade? What are the exact names of the comrades who called for this strike. It seems to be kind of hard to connect with the people who are running the Occupy Oakland website. I was at a meeting last night where we all said that very same thing.

    I was 1/2 block away from Scott during the march when he was injured, and watched the livestreams intently on Nov. 3 when a riot broke out at the Traveler’s. I have met our livestreamers in person and supported them with donations. So, don’t assume that anyone here who is trying to have a rational discussion about this issue is “trusting the corporate media.” And, don’t underestimate why we are asking such questions. Many of us are concerned about OWS and how to keep it transparent, non-hierarchical, and non-violent. Thanks

    • David Heatherly

      OK, fair enough — I don’t want to shut down the dialog. It’s good to rap about this. But for the NYCGA to take some action that implies a censure of #OO would be extremely divisive, especially considering all the people up and down the coast who took part in this action.

      As far as the Occupy Oakland website, I find it pretty worthless. Check out the new website for the Media Committee: “hellaoccupyoakland.org.” At least those people are at the GAs and they are accountable.

      This action was an emergency proposal brought to us, if I remember, by the President of the Longview ILWU. I don’t remember who sponsored it among our group. I felt an inclination to vote against the action; I don’t like to see us marching in lock-step with union leaders. However, my wife was there and she reminded me that it’s one thing to question the union’s practices and its electoral power, and yet another thing to allow union-busting to take place. If we are a movement for working people and the 99%, then unions are part of that. They aren’t the whole picture, but certainly they are part of the picture.

      I apologize if I made any unfair assumptions…. I simply don’t feel that it’s possible that people here understand the situation in Longview if they want to censure us. I can post a link to some footage of the ILWU members being attacked and pepper-sprayed by police, if anyone needs to see what their struggle is like up there. Do we only stand up for public service unions like teachers, or also for private sector unions? I agree this is complex and it gives media a tool to attack us with, but that’s not the same as the reality any more than “smelly hippie taking a dump in the park” is the reality.

      • Brendan

        Thisis another a consequence of OWS accepting online donations thus inviting the world to petition for reilef and fundamentally changing the nature of the movement. Money is like bile, you only need a little bit and in a little place or els eit is poison.

        • David Heatherly

          Well, we don’t get all our donations online. Just earlier this week, Occupy Oakland was given the chance by the local owner of the Grand Lake Theater to host a fundraiser at his theater (a screening of “V for Vendetta”). #OO made $6200 from the fundraiser. Is it a bad thing if it enables us to feed more people and fund more audacious actions? But, there are some at #OO who agree with you, that we should just let our account go to zero and then only take direct donations of goods and services and not any money. It has definitely caused some hurt feelings about which actions get funded to what extent.

          • Brendan

            The problem with money is that it comes with immediate power to amplify some things over other things and thereby distorts the validation of ideas.

  12. Frances MA

    “thus bypassing the consensus process of our own General Assembly in endorsement of actions”
    This is false information. Direct Action does not need consensus from the GA. They were authorized by the GA in the very early days of the occupation to organize direct actions when and where they see fit. They do not need GA consensus for every individual action. Also, I think this proposal is ludicrous. Have you been to a GA lately? You are lucky to get $300 passed. Forget about $30,000.

  13. Anne

    Perhaps there’s a larger issue here of who speaks for the movement? The “OccupyWallst.org” site is looked upon by the general public as an official site, and in fact it is run by a small group of people who make editorial decisions on their own, without any consensus process, yet these articles and blog posts appear to be general statements and press releases typical to those commonly distributed/released/produced by an organization as official statements. I see three possible solutions to this problem: 1. Take down “OccupyWallSt.org” and also the Facebook page, 2. Make “OccupyWallst.org” just a public forum without official-looking statements and press releases and turn the Facebook page into a Facebook group where anyone can post, or 3. Create a disclaimer stamp on every single OccupyWallst.org post stating “this is the opinion of the author and not of the movement as a whole.”

    • David Heatherly

      Those are all good points and I’m glad that this conversation is beginning at least. It is indeed a problem, because when I was first searching out to try to get in touch with people who are associated with Occupy, that was the site that looked official. But they’ve already made some very poor decisions. Decisions that could never pass through a consensus process.

  14. Brendan

    Everybody should read this 99D argument. It exposes the lie of OWS, which was stillborn from the start. The bickering is at odds with the Declaration, Principles of Solidarity, and Statement of Autonomy. It is patently obvious that OWS is no different from a party, PACs, and lobbyist and will fail for the same basic reason…. they refuse to incporporate and listen to people who disagree and to make up for that they just get louder.

    OWS spends all of its time arguing shades of green in a Kaleidescope world.

  15. A. Talut El-Amin

    Wow, this thread reminds me of the formation of America; how wonderful! However, I must say that it’s all internal; we, who are on the outside, for all that you’re doing, love you!

  16. Anne

    I am withdrawing this proposal at this time, as it appears there are too many people who would block any attempt to take away money that they want for their personal needs. There is a larger issue here, the issue of the persons who are using OWS as a welfare program. There are also other issues that may be more generally important regarding transparency and accountability. I don’t want this to be an argument about money.