CHARLOTTE, NC — A New York-based labor coalition of major unions paid for two buses for protesters to get from New York to Tampa, and then to Charlotte, where the bus made a stop and let off some protesters.
Three protesters at a demonstration outside the convention center in downtown Charlotte on Tuesday said that they had come from New York on a bus paid for by unions. One protester, Anthony Robledo, said he thought the bus was paid for by the United Federation of Teadhers; another, Yonni Miller, said that the buses came from UFT as well as the Service Employees International Union.
Another New York occupier named Aaron Black, who has held a large role in organizing the movement of protesters from that city to the convention cities, confirmed that two buses had been paid for by a coalition called Strong Economy for All, which is made up of various labor groups including SEIU 1199, a conglomerate of SEIU chapters on the east coast, UFT, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, and the Communications Workers of America. All four of those unions have endorsed President Obama for re-election, but they also have strong ties to an Occupy movement that has little use for either major political party.
"The Strong Economy For All Coalition paid for two buses from New York City to Tampa for activists," said spokesman Michael Kink in an email. "We did not pay for any buses to Charlotte."
But the buses did drop off over 40 protesters in Charlotte on the way back to New York from Tampa, according to Black.
"I made them drop the guys off," Black said. "We weren't going to deny them that."
Black was disappointed in the overall turnout at the DNC, regardless of busing.
"I expected more people at both conventions," he said. "At the RNC it’s understandable, it’s a hurricane. But there really is no excuse for the DNC. My only logical conclusion regarding that is most of us were not interesting in protesting Obama. If they were they would have been there."
New York protesters have been staying in the local occupy encampment near the convention center, and attended a protest near the center today where chants included "Obama is a fucking traitor!" and "Arrest Barack! Free Manning!"