BFT members are active in the Occupy Wall Street movement in Oakland, Berkeley and San Francisco and statewide CFT members are active in the movement in Los Angeles and San Diego. The support of unions for Occupy Wall Street means greater strength for the OWS movement, and heightened political consciousness for union members. OWS creates a more favorable environment for the success of the CFT-led coalition to pass a progressive tax initiative in California to support schools and services. As we are getting close to placing an initiative in circulation for the November 2012 ballot, a statement by BFT in support of the OWS movement will position to maintain and extend our leadership in community and regional coalitions and raise our profile in this effort with the public.
The Berkeley Federation of Teachers endorses the “Occupy Wall Street” movement. Occupy Wall Street, and its local iterations, represent the legitimate response of the 99% of us adversely affected by growing wealth and income inequality in America. The richest one percent of the population has doubled its share of the nation’s income over the past twenty years. Yet during this time the wealthy received massive tax cuts, a major cause of public budget shortfalls that hurt students, make our streets less safe, and harm the health of children and seniors.
Instead of investing its newfound wealth in productive enterprises in the United States, the top 1% moved it offshore or into financial speculation, which ultimately crashed the economy. The 1% also took large amounts of this money and poured it into a public relations effort to blame teachers and other public servants for the economic problems the 1% created.
Occupy Wall Street redirects the attention of the public to the actual causes and parties responsible for the economic crash and recession. The Berkeley Federation of Teachers embraces the call of Occupy Wall Street to restore higher taxes on the rich, to re-regulate the banks, and to enact a financial speculation tax. We encourage our members to participate in the OWS actions in their cities. These actions will help restore public budgets for schools and other vital services, and set our state and our country back on the right path.