Working America is the affiliate of the AFL-CIO that organizes workers from non-union workplaces. The group is now reporting that they’ve signed up about 25,000 new recruits in the last week alone, largely due to the Occupy Wall Street protests. The protests have been taking place all over the country, of course.
This is more people than they recruited in a month during labor protests in Wisconsin earlier this year, according to the executive director of Working America, Karen Nussbaum.
Occupy Wall Street seems to be inspiring a lot of people who are said to have little in common with those out protesting. “Beltway wisdom would have it that Occupy Wall Street protesters are pierced, pot-smoking hippies reviled by heartland Americans,” says Greg Sargent, who blogs at the Washington Post. (It’s actually not just inside the Beltway where you’ll hear people saying this.) But many of those signing up for Working America express support for the protests.
Working America reports that among the people who join:
- 88% are White
- 12% are people of color
- 33% own guns
- 33% are weekly churchgoers
- 60% are moderate or conservative
“Our members are often not part of the progressive movement until they join Working America,” as they put it.
And according to Greg Sargent:
The cultural fault line and tensions between blue collar Whites and liberal activists is a well established storyline in American history. But Working America – which organizes in industrial battlegrounds like Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other swing states – is having a new burst of success among precisely the sort of working class voters who are supposed to be culturally alienated by the excesses of the Occupy Wall Street protesters.
Laura Clawson, who writes for Working America, says that Occupy Wall Street is just expressing anger the majority of Americans share at how unequal and imbalanced our economy is – and how our economy and politics seem to work for Wall Street no matter what damage Wall Street inflicts on the rest of us.