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Occupy Wall Street finally takes a stand: Capitalism has to go!by Danielle Boone
March 6, 2012, Washington, DC — Occupy Wall Street finally has a cause: Eliminate capitalism. That's what OWS protesters are saying now that labor unions have stepped into the movement's leadership void.
"For months nobody wanted to lead, said labor organizer Seymour Dews. "OWS didn't even have an agenda until the unions came to the rescue. "Now we have a list of demands, and first on that list is to replace capitalism with a fair system to share the wealth."
Dews and Stephen Lerner, formerly a labor organizer for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) have been meeting with protesters to help them focus their efforts.
"The problem with capitalism is that some people get more than their fair share," Lerner said. "Just look at almost any company. The president or the CEO makes more than anybody else, and the managers get paid more than the laborers, who are the only employees who do any real work."
Dews said OWS under union leadership is ideally situated to draw attention to the inequities of the current political and financial system.
"We know a thing or two about protests," he said. "Why shut down just a couple of streets when you can shut down an entire city."
SEIU Supervisor Lee D. Guys said capitalism and true democracy cannot coexist and encouraged protesters to support President Obama's efforts to accomplish fundamental change.
"If we can switch from a representative republic to a true democracy," he said, "then we all can decide where the money goes. Most people pay no income tax anymore, and that money should go to what the majority wants, not what the taxpayers want."
OWS Cofounder Sharon Nall said that while she might support true democracy in government, it is not suitable for governing the movement she helped start.
"The problem with democracy in Occupy is that the members want a say in everything," she said. "Me and some of the other original Occupy people like the way we used to run things. We could spend our donations the way we wanted and let everybody protest whatever they wanted."
Some OWS members are not happy with increased organization.
"I joined Occupy because I wanted to protest things I care about, and there was nobody to tell me what to do," said Maude E. Rivers, a former environmental scientist who quit her job in November to join OWS protests in Maryland and Virginia. "I don't want people telling me what to do."
Some members are unhappy with the union influence.
Lifelong protestor Hawes Style said he is not happy about the current leadership's proposal to make OWS a union shop.
"If the union takes over," he said, "I'll be forced to pay dues, and then it will be like any other union shop where the money goes to the union and the ownership and everybody else gets stiffed."