Labor, Occupy uniting for May Day 

click to enlarge Protesters took over one vacant site earlier this month; Occupy plans to open another site this Tuesday. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo
  • Protesters took over one vacant site earlier this month; Occupy plans to open another site this Tuesday.

Pandemonium could reign Tuesday as the Occupy San Francisco movement conducts actions across The City in honor of May Day, internationally observed as a celebration of labor rights.

The movement appears to have called off its earlier vow to shut down the Golden Gate Bridge from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. But Occupiers still vow to join bridge workers who are unhappy about their wages and benefits. A “bike cavalry” and buses from both San Francisco City Hall and Oakland are expected to show up at the toll plaza of the bridge during the morning commute.

In a tactic borrowed from the homeless advocacy group Homes Not Jails, Occupy also plans to take over a vacant building in The City to create a “San Francisco Commune” to provide free food and medical care. Earlier this month, Occupy protesters took over a building owned by the Archdiocese of San Francisco, but were ejected a day later by police.

Occupy organizer Lisa Porchello said a building in The City has already been taken by Occupy protesters and will be “opened up” to others  Tuesday. She said May 1 could eclipse previous mass actions as demonstrators and activists celebrate their first May Day as a movement. Since police raids broke up the urban camps of Occupy factions in both San Francisco and Oakland last fall, the group has relied on large, coordinated protests involving a variety of activist groups and labor unions.

“Things are escalating because nothing has been done,” Porchello said. “Everyone is sick of the status quo. The government is corrupt, the corporations are too powerful and people have had it.”

Meanwhile, the largest union of city workers — Service Employees International Union Local 1021 — will petition Mayor Ed Lee inside City Hall for better wages and benefits from 4:30 p.m. “until they kick us out,” according to an email notification. The same union — which is currently in contract negotiations with The City — turned out in force last week with more than 1,000 members rallying outside City Hall after a hearing on the budgets of nonprofits under contract with San Francisco.

According to police, regulation of the Occupy movement has cost The City $1.3 million in officer overtime between its inception in September 2011 and last month. Sgt. Michael Andraychak, a police spokesman, declined to discuss specific tactics in how the protests will be regulated Tuesday, but he encouraged property owners to secure their buildings against any mass occupations.

“We do facilitate First Amendment activity, especially to the point that it doesn’t become illegal and doesn’t impact the rights of others,” Andraychak said.

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Dan Schreiber

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