FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, January 20, 2012
Alex Tom, 510-449-1172 (Chinese)
Shaw San Liu, 415-999-8447 (English)
Occupy San Francisco Sweeps Out the Greed of Wage Theft and Wall Street: Welcomes in the New Year of the Dragon, New Year of the 99%
Today, hundreds of community members from the Chinese Progressive Association and the Progressive Workers Alliance (PWA) took part in a national Day of Action with Occupy Wall Street West, which aimed to shut down San Francisco’s Financial District. The day is significant because it is the eve of the two year anniversary of the infamous Citizens United ruling that recognized corporations as “people,” and gave them new rights to spend unlimited amounts of money to influence political campaigns. This ruling by the Supreme Court effectively allows corporations to buy our elections and our politicians, and influences American politics to benefit the 1%. As a result of Citizens United, outside groups spent more than four times as much money to influence the 2010 elections as they did in 2006, the last mid-term cycle.
With the Lunar New Year on Monday, the Chinese community welcomed the Year of the Dragon by cleaning out the greed of the 1%, and marking 2012 as a year for the 99% in our country. As immigrants, we came to America for opportunity and a better education for our children, but Wall Street’s policies and tax evasions have caused huge budget deficits resulting in unemployment and education cuts for the 99%. With tuition increasing for the CSU and UC systems, young people can’t even attend public university without getting buried in student debt.
Action today targeted a variety of “bad actors” of the 1%, including big banks, corporations, and bad bosses who are attacking the American Dream. In the afternoon, members of the Progressive Workers Alliance had a rally and delegation to Citi Funding Group, a corporation that owes one worker over $40,000 in unpaid wages.
Shaw San Liu, a worker rights organizer at the Chinese Progressive Association says, “Corporations like Citi Funding Group are part of the 1% who created our recession through the housing bubble, and now they are evading their responsibility by crying bankruptcy, resulting in more unemployment and stealing workers’ wages. This type of corporate behavior is unacceptable in our city, and they must do their fair share.”
Another action today highlighted the need for public services in the face of looming budget cuts on the state and local level. POWER, a member of PWA, lead members to perform skits on MUNI buses and hand out leaflets advocating for free MUNI youth passes. While MUNI service lines are being cut and fare increases continue year after year, corporations continue to avoid paying their fair share of taxes. Governor Brown also proposed $4.2 billion in budget cuts this year for healthcare, education, and programs for low-income kids. $301.7 million of the cuts would be to the Cal Grant Program, which provides financial aid to lower-income students pursuing post-secondary education.
Xinyu Zhu, a high school student in San Francisco says, “I’m worried that with UC tuition increasing and cuts to Cal Grants that I won’t be able to get a higher education. My parents both work hard but they still don’t make enough to cover basic needs like health care and college tuition.”
It’s families like Xinyu’s who are forced to make the hard decision to pay for healthcare or pay for college, that make up the 99% in San Francisco. Corporations’ profits are at record highs, but many like Exxon Mobile and General Electric don’t pay any taxes at all. At 5 PM, thousands marched through the Financial District with signs and banners that called for corporations to pay their fair share so that all families can achieve the American Dream.