United Steel Workers Made Me Feel Cheap Today…

Each time a union pulls-out a video camera at an Occupy event it leaves me feeling used. Not a good kind of used either- more the kind of used a prisoner would feel after dropping the soap in Coalinga State Hospital.

We had a similar incident in Vancouver during CUPE‘s national convention. There was a direct action called outside of the camp that most people went to. And, coincidentally, just at the same time, 2000+ members of the union showed-up to film another promotional video. In this case, they play-acted as if they were holding a General Assembly- only, there were 100’s of them and there are only three occupiers in the video. And, of course, there was a homeless man I don’t recognize getting high-fives from CUPE members!


Tentmonster made a relevant point to me a couple of months ago. She(?) said that the Occupy movement must be careful having relationships with external organizations. This is one smart piece of camping equipment too- her flashmobs get Global attention!

I feel bad for the Occupiers who put all of their time into this project and got taken advantage of like this. United Steel Workers– I believe you owe us all an explanation, and an apology. At the minimum, don’t you think it would be fair to give us a healthy donation? Perhaps cover the price for a couple Livestream USB data sticks for the next year?

Show us what solidarity really means…

Permanent link to this article: http://www.genuinewitty.com/2012/02/14/united-steel-workers-made-me-feel-cheap-today/


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    • Morgan Finch on February 14, 2012 at 17:38
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    I love how, in this persons conception. occupy OWNS general assemblies. Sorry whoever you are, but workers have been doing general assemblies for centuries. Why do you think that only you are occupy and you own the movement? The unions don’t own it, but occupy as it exists organizationally at the movement doesn’t own it either. What kind of bullshit inclusivity is this? Also, unions (at least in Toronto) donated a shit ton of money to occupy. I’m not saying that unions don’t have their problems, but if we can give a little horizontality, people power and initiative to them we can take them back.

    1. Morgan, you are a bit too quick to come to conclusions here I think. I never said we OWN anything- however, it is undeniable that CUPE was chanting Occupy memes like ‘we are the 99%’.And this is not what I was talking about regardless.

      The camp was our’s though, and we were not told that the union members were coming, and were herded off to another action at the same time. Curiously, this was arranged by an occupier who also belonged to CUPE. It was underhanded and broke the trust of many people. So, that in itself was worth discussing. Equally, none of us were told the who/what/why of the Steelworker’s action before it happened- despite the fact it was discussed in the Action committee meeting. I understand withholding the where and the when for security reasons- but, the political intention should have been discussed beforehand. Transparency is important…

      My parents were active in unions, and both took leadership roles at their workplaces- and I owe much of my privilege to this. So, I’m not anti-union one bit. That said, it is undeniable that unions are special interest groups, is it not?

      My concern is that by taking the majority of our support and funding we inevitably become clients to the unions. I learned this while bringing my primary issue to Occupy- “Take Corporate Money out of Politics.” Most people agreed with this statement, but some insisted we expand that to unions and other special interest groups. After listening to them I now agree entirely. But then came the issue of of being careful not to offend the hand that feeds us…

      I’m gravitating to the belief that we should only take donations when they are 100% anonymous. This way we are less subject to restricting ourselves to their interests. Does that sound reasonable? Additionally, we probably shouldn’t work for their specific causes unless there is consensus inside occupy- fair?

  1. Who writes this? Why don’t you identify yourself?

    1. I am he as you are….

      Sorry, couldn’t resist. My name is Greg, my picture is posted here, and if you Google me you’ll see I’ve made no effort to hide my identity…

      Who are you?

  2. Greg Renouf what statement do you get from this video? what are you seeing I don’t? I see unions encouraging their members to support Occupy and I only see their added numbers as a positive. Unions aren’t perfect, but they were formed and have been working for the 99% long before Occupy was ever envisioned. They were the original Occupiers” “Solidarity”was their call, does no one remember Lech Walesa.? To lump them in with the 1% is to me ludicrous. Who is making these “I feel cheap comments?” Is this a thin veiled Theo-Con “Divide and Conquer” tactic?

    1. Hi Donna,

      I really wish people would refrain from making assumptions before getting all angry and accusative. Our world would be much happier this way. As I don’t know you, I’ll refrain from making judgement- but, your assumptions and ad-hominem attacks disappoint me.

      If you believe that this video shows the union encouraging members to join occupy, perhaps we are watching a different version- because, I cannot see one part of it that does. In fact, I see quite the opposite- that the union may have decided to minimise mentions of Occupy because it may have negative connotations. Perhaps a good analogy would be that it is like a guy who dates someone, but refuses to be seen outside in public with her. But, I won’t make this assumption that’s true until someone can confirm,

      My parents were both union workers who took leadership positions in their offices. A lot of my personal privilege is reliant on the security and quality of life they received from their unions. So, I am most certainly not anti-union. Your assumption is not only wrong, but it is obsurd.

      Equally obsurd are the accusations of my being a neocon and/or a person who joined the movement to subvert it. A professor who specialises in studying activist movements once told me that if you want to find the saboteurs, simply look for those who rely on ad-hominem attacks to shut down people’s point of view.

      Outside of rhetoric, you’d have to give me examples of how unions support the 99% in cases where it does nothing to help their membership – because their primary function is to support their members. They are, by definition, special interest groups. I have no issues with this, the only intention I have in making this statement is to be sure we are understanding each other.

      I’m glad you brought up the Solidarity movement, because theirs is a vision I wholeheartedly agree with. Solidarity is a union/social movement that breaks the mold of traditional models-this is precisely why they were so successful. They are the opposite of a trade union, meaning that they don’t discriminate by the place where one works. The only requirement was that you lived in Poland, and you were still breathing. And, I believe they waived fees for those who couldn’t afford.

      In fact, I brought this idea to Occupy Vancouver- that we organise ourselves into a union for the 99%. It was quite well received by many- and, offered us a way to officiate ourselves as well as bringing legal protections we are so sorely missing. But, there was one major objection from some- that it would cause tension in our relationships with the trade unions. I discussed this idea with someone at Occupy Toronto today who is deeply involved in their union- they confirmed that union leaders would not be amused- they’d see it as a threat.

      We faced a similar issue with the concept of cleaning up government through campaign financing reform. If you to take corporate money out of politics, you’d also have to remove money from unions and all other special interest groups. Do you see where I’m going with this? What other issues do you imagine could cause tension with unions? I’m sure there are many…

      Now this has been cleared-up, do you have any opinions on the question I asked? What does our movement have to do to ensure we stay independent from those who support us?

      My main thought on this matter is that we should have anonymity when taking donations. This way we can be sure they come without expectations- ensuring we make objective decisions.

      Additionally, I’d propose we have greater transparency in our communications too- restrict 1-on-1 meetings with all 3rd parties, full disclosure on conflict of interest (you’d have to explain your connection to the Pipefitter’s union), and to document minutes of all communications and immediately publish them on our websites. By doing this we will protect ourselves from the many incidents of mistrust and misunderstandings that have hindered most every occupation.

      What do you think? Is this a fair proposal? What else could we do to improve?

    • Rob Chamberland on February 19, 2012 at 10:46
    • Reply

    I was there and am in the CUPE video. This article is a complete misrepresentation and has made up my mind about Greg’s unreliability and dishonesty. Simply, at the CUPE national convention that morning we decided to mass outside the convention and march through the streets in support of Occupy, rallying at Occupy Vancouver. There were plenty of local Occupiers on hand to welcome us and we were filling their buckets with $20 bills. Greg makes it out to be a conspiracy, intimating that certain people “in the know” knew in advance about the rally. Truth is, it was a spontaneous outpouring of support, at most it was probably organized that morning. Someone went out and brought back a few of the local Occupiers who helped lead the way back to the camp. If there was a diirect action held elsewehre that morning which meant many were absent from the camp, it was a coincindence and means nothing.

    We’re all familiar with the general assembly and were under no allusions that it was a general assembly, as Greg makes out here. So at no point were we playacting that it was.

    This is just a very dishonest piece by someone with questionable integrity and ethics when it comes to writing.

    1. Hi Rob,

      Good to see you are #KeepingItClassy with this comment. My official response can be found here:


      Solidarity Oh Ye Brother!

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