New Orleans There are few organizations anywhere that are better at pure and simple communications than MoveOn.org and the Service Employees International Union, but they just about met their match in trying to turn up the heat with a demonstration culminating SEIU’s Fight for a Fair Economy campaign in DC. To the media this was just another action signifying nothing and went unnoticed in the Times and on the wire services. I was able to find a piece in the Washington Post, but the message was garbled between the Take Back program and the ongoing tensions and conflicts in the Capitol with the Occupy forces. To the message the media seems to have gotten is that this was just another salvo of many from the Occupy movement albeit with more high powered support from SEIU and MoveOn.org.
One of the dangers of organizing work is that sometimes the tactic can swallow the strategy, and this seems to have happened in DC. The news was all about 60 to 70 arrests for this and that and a lot of attention was paid to the street blocking and traffic delays as folks tried to gum up the works.
The press may have thought that this was all Occupy all the way, which speaks to the power and impact of a legitimate movement and the savvy of SEIU and others to attach themselves to something with traction, but seeing the following quote from one of the arrestees was labor all the way:
“K Street is the place to be if you’re going to stop the moneybags who are corrupting our government,” said Jim Sessions, 75, a Methodist minister from Tennessee who was arrested Wednesday. He and eight others from Texas, Massachusetts and Washington state had linked arms across K and 16th streets and refused to move.
I couldn’t help smiling seeing my old friend and comrade (and Labor Neighbor Training and Research Center board member!), Rev. Jim Sessions, whose history and credentials within the labor movement and many other progressive causes is blue ribbon all the way from his time supporting the Pittston Strike to his directorship of the Highlander Center and then his efforts to build the Union Community Fund for the AFL-CIO until returning to Knoxville, taking one for the team and staying on message. Nonetheless this was all run as Occupy.
Another article looked extensively at whether or not the street blockings and arrests advanced the 99% cause or not, which is always the argument when message gets consumed in the tactics. Given that this was really the hard paws of labor sending a message to the Capitol, I hope the message was not lost on the White House, even if it is likely to end up as hours of debate before the Occupy DC general assembly in coming days.
No question we took a shot. Just unclear if it came within a mile of the real targets.