Movement on the march

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in New York.

Tess Vigeland: Labor unions and consumer watchdogs are starting to lend their support to the growing "Occupy Wall Street" movement. At least 1,000 people crowded into New York's Foley Square this afternoon for a rally and march.

Mike Neggie: I live in Patterson, N.Y.; I work in Westchester. I'm a Verizon employee; a CWA 1103 member. Personally, I'd like to see more responsible legislation passed on a federal level. Hopefully make the corporations and the wealthy people pay their fair share of income tax and maybe give back to the society that has helped them come up for what they have.

One of the voices from the Occupy Wall Street rally in Manhattan today. We asked Marketplace's John Dimsdale to look at what might be next for the movement.

John Dimsdale: The Occupy Wall Street movement has yet to unite behind one set of demands.

Brayden King studies social movements at the Kellogg School of Management. He says the movement has to find leaders, create a structure and identify villains.

Brayden King: Maybe it'll be a corporation or a set of corporations. If they want to have influence, they have to have something they're going after.

He says progressive organizations like MoveOn are already backing the movement. Today, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka endorsed the protests as a powerful force for pressuring lawmakers to vote for job-creating legislation.

Richard Trumka: There's a groundswell happening. People across the country declaring that we are the 99 percent and we need a voice.

But Prof. King says there's a risk in labor's embrace of the Occupy movement.

King: The danger for them is there's a tension between maintaining this grassroots capacity that they've set up, and then setting up objectives that are clear but that also allow them to be co-opted by bigger players.

More established progressives, like Maryland Congresswoman Donna Edwards, say labor's money and structure is important.

Donna Edwards: The increased attention and participation by organized movements are gonna to help them turn those concerns about the economy and their circumstance into real demands for the system.

It worked for the Tea Party, she says. Now it's the progressive movement's turn.

In Washington, I'm John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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Yes Bill, you cannot trust the corporate media to give fair coverage to this situation which I pray will become our "American Spring" in 2012. I see the momentum building by then in early next spring and we should see more groups join together in the effort. Hopefully, the parents of the youth, more unions, and returning vets among many other groups will join. President Obama had an ideal opportunity to deal with this but he let it slip. He waivered. I would like to ask folks where on this earth would capital escape to if the President would have subjected the financial schemers to more "walls" around our wealth. And yes, I know that this wealth is part of the "new world order" but if these same entities want to keep scheming and leaving we definitely need to "tweek" capitalism by the vote of the people, who I might add have the most to lose, not the uber wealthy.

I am a regular Marketplace listener, and I was livid to hear you describe the attendance as "at least 1,000." I was there yesterday, and I estimate that the attendance was at least ten times that high! I stood with two friends watching the march go by for roughly 20 minutes of what must have been at least two hours for the crowds to get from Foley Square back to Zuccotti Park/Liberty Square. We counted over 100 people going by every minute. Multiply that by 120 minutes, and you get over 12,000 people. Conservatively, that means 10,000 people or more.

The distance from New York to San Francisco is at least 300 miles, but reporting it that way would be a reckless understatement. The same goes for the mammoth size of this growing social movement.

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