[frame src="https://labortribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Laborers20422.jpeg" width="250" height="150" align="left" style="2" linkstyle="none" title="Laborers Local 42 Business Representative Jeff O’Connell (right) led a group of his members during the Occupy St. Louis march through downtown to the Martin Luther King Bridge on Nov. 17. Labor Tribune photo"]St. Louis — Union members and leaders here marched with about 800 Occupy St. Louis protesters on Nov. 17 during a national day of demonstrations to call attention to a national “economic emergency for the 99 percent” of U.S. citizens.
A total of 14 persons including two union leaders were arrested by city police during a peaceful sit-in at the entrance to Martin Luther King Bridge as part of a coordinated national Occupy protest.
Occupy demonstrators called attention to the need to create jobs and to avoid cuts to programs including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
The two St. Louis union leaders — Shannon Duffy, business representative with the United Media Guild, and Gary Elliott, business manager of the Eastern Missouri Laborers’ District Council — were arrested and put in plastic handcuffs at the bridge Friday afternoon and released early the next day.
Occupy marchers in St. Louis and in dozens of cities from New York City to Los Angeles held sit-ins at bridges and other sites to call attention to the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.
The message: Thousands could be put to work immediately to repair old and crumbling bridges and to improve roads and highways.
The nationwide protests called attention to policies that have enriched the 1 percent and impoverished the 99 percent of U.S. citizens, said a statement from Occupy St. Louis organizers.
The Occupy St. Louis marchers included union members and leaders from UFCW Local 655 and building trades such as Laborers Local 42, as well as Carpenters, Service Employees, Teamsters and United Auto Workers.
“We’re calling for an end to the war on the workers,” Gary Elliott of the Eastern Missouri Laborers’ District Council, said during a rally at Kiener Plaza before the march began.
“We’re going to say — from Wall Street to Market Street to Main Street — that we will not be still until justice is done,” said Elliott, who was among several speakers that included unemployed workers, students and community activists.
“Three years after Wall Street wrecked our economy, 25 million people are still unable to find full-time work, and the gap between the 1 percent and the 99 percent continues to grow, and racial minority communities in particular continue to suffer, with 18 million African Americans out of work in 2010,” the Occupy St. Louis statement said.
“But instead of creating jobs, Congress continues to ignore the concerns of the 99 percent, and focuses on job-killing budget cuts and tax giveaways for the rich,” the statement said.