Unions Join “Occupy Wall Street”: Interview with Mike Elk

Mike Elk: There are a number of comparisons between the two [the “Arab Spring” and Occupy Wall Street].  In the protests in the Middle East you had people protesting for a number of reasons. . . .  They are driven largely by social media, and then institutional actors like unions and other groups start joining in.  So, we’re seeing that [in Occupy Wall Street], but you’re not seeing what really broke the camel’s back [in Tunisia and Egypt] . . . which was the unions going out on strike.  Right now, these protesters are certainly . . . changing their public image, but they are not creating much leverage.  They are certainly shaping public dialogue.  They are not creating leverage that really puts corporations in a crisis where they feel like they have to settle. . . .  It could be the beginning of a real change, it could also just be a false start.  The key is . . . : Is this just gonna be a public statement or are we gonna really start taking on corporate power in specific ways?

Mike Elk is a labor journalist for In These Times.  This video was released by Russia Today on 5 October 2011.  The text above is an edited partial transcript of the interview.

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