For decades, American workers have resented, but forced to accept, the fact that corporation executives received huge salaries and bonuses, while they, who produced the owner's goods and services, (and his profits) had to struggle to earn a living wage.
Unions saw the gap between the rich and the poor widening, but had no plan to reform the system so that it would be fair and beneficial to all Americans.
Labor leaders were content if they could win wage increases and benefits for their members. There was hardly any talk about making the nation's economic structure more equitable.
Two months ago, workers found an outlet for their frustrations with the opening of "Occupy Wall Street," and its encampment in Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan, near the city's financial district.
The Occupy movement struck a responsive chord among people from all walks of life who felt they had been victimized by the big banks, greedy corporations and corrupt politicians.
The growth of the Occupy movement has been phenomenal. In its two months of existence, "Occupy Wall Street" sites have been set up in more than 1,000 cities in the United States. And there are 1,800 Occupy sites in major cities in foreign countries around the world.
Protesters Regroup After Police Arrest Thousands
Alarmed at the spectacular growth of Occupy sites and activities, New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg, himself a billionaire, ordered police on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 1 a.m. to shut down the Occupy encampment, an action that was duplicated in other cities where Occupy sites were functioning.
Undaunted, protesters planned a series of actions for Nov. 17, confident that the police crackdown would build more support for the Occupy movement.
What makes it virtually impossible to destroy the Occupy movement is that its demonstrations are intentionally leaderless, and protesters in different cities act independently of one another.
Each Occupy site makes its own decisions about what to protest although most appear to have coalesced around the growing gap between the rich and poor, the perceived greed of corporations and financial institutions, and high levels of unemployment.
The crackdown has been against the protesters, but Bloomberg and his allies have avoided attacking them on the issue of gross inequality, because he doesn't dare open, that for debate.
One thing is clear: The problem of economic inequality will not go away. It must be considered in any must now be considered in any serious debate about America's future.
"Occupy Wall Street" has written an important chapter in American history, as our nation moves forward in the struggle for freedom for everyone.
LaborTalk will be posted here on November 22, 2011 and on our two web sites www.laboreducator.org and on www.laborsvoiceforchange.org.