Sunday, March 17, 2013

We're Ba-ack

Occupy Astoria LIC walked and stood with the locked out butchers of Trade Fair, today. We easily doubled their numbers, and added fresh voices to the fight. I handed out 7 flyers to passersby, give or take. ProtestKid, in his persistent way, handed out over 100. (He even successfully pursued the grocery guy who was hand-trucking produce through our picket line.)

But, my sore throat will attest, no one-- whether or not they took a flyer-- could be in shouting distance and not hear us shout, "Trade Fair, Unfair!"

R composed a new chant, in honor of Local 342: "Hey Hey!" "What what?" "342 deserves a cut!"

The butchers and meat carvers can't even claim to be on strike-- after getting their hours slashed from 34 to 24 hours, they were locked out of negotiations. Scabs have been hired to replace them, and I've heard an unsubstantiated but plausible report that these unqualified replacements are putting "halal" stickers on meat that isn't.

That's a problem.

Besides being all solidarityish, just increasing the numbers of the group really did help them-- people in cars rolled down their windows and asked what was going on and took flyers.When I mentioned this to K, a union organizer who has been there several days, she said it was the first day that had happened. Because we were such a big group, more people were paying attention. Success!

I was cold, and my throat hurt-- but helping people get their story heard... that was awesome.

Some people were curious, some didn't stop-- several people said they had stopped shopping at TradeFair because of the way they were treating their workers. One passerby approached in her walker: she grinned at me and started shaking her booty in time to our chant. That was even more awesome.

I took up the challenge and danced up and down the picket line for a couple of rounds. The folks standing still grinned and pumped their fists in the air. (Moral of the story: Next time you want to show solidarity with an action-- I highly recommend shaking your booty.)

As ProtestKid and I waited for our train home, we could still hear the lilting call and response of the folks down on the street. They have one shift that stands out there from 7 am to 7 pm, and then another twelve hour shift that covers the quiet evening hours. Despite their exhaustion, they didn't stop making noise, making their presence known and their grievances aired.

As the union guy with the bullhorn called as loudly as his abused voice could, "Trade Fair!" ProtestKid and I grinned at each other and shouted to our confused fellow travelers,  "Unfair!"