Josh Eidelson

Josh Eidelson is a freelance writer and a former union organizer. Check out his blog here.

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Advocates of Keystone Pipeline Try to Co-Opt OWS

This week, the Occupy Wall Street spokes council—a recently created decision-making body composed of people from the movement's various working groups—met for the first time; the OWS General Assembly voted to denounce “Jobs for the 99%,” a website backed by the energy industry and unions marshalling OWS language against opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline; and a dozen New York occupiers set out on a 300-mile march to Washington, D.C., planning to reach the capital in time for a Super Committee meeting November 23.

In other OWS news across the country:

  • Thousands participated in Bank Transfer Day on November 5, closing their accounts with big banks in favor of local credit unions.

In Case You Haven't Been Watching

A primer on the #OWS movement

Welcome to The Occupied Weekly, the Prospect's roundup of #OccupyWallStreet news and analysis.  Each week, we'll review the news from Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park and other Occupy movements across the country. For the inaugural edition, we've put together the five key pieces that have helped shape our understanding of what OWS is, where it comes from, and where it could be headed. Think of it as an #OWS for Dummies guide:

The NYPD: A Movement's Best Friend

Occupy Wall Street's confrontations with police and politicians have only fueled the protest's growth.

NYPD clashes with Occupy Wall Street protesters have made the demonstration a national story. AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Tensions at Zuccotti Park in lower Manhattan mounted last week after New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Occupy Wall Street activists would need to vacate the premises temporarily for cleaning. In response to the threat, occupiers cleaned the park themselves and said that, come morning, they would hold brooms, link arms, and peacefully refuse to leave. Bloomberg backed down, and once more, Occupy Wall Street confirmed that it could endure in the face of resistance from politicians and police.  A better question is whether the movement could have endured without the attention and momentum it's gained from confrontation.

That's RICO

Corporations are increasingly using anti-racketeering laws to keep employees from unionizing.

(Sipa via AP Images) Sodexo President Pierre Bellon speaks with company CEO Michel Landel at the company's general meeting of shareholders.

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the country's largest unions, recently announced that it was ending a publicity campaign intended to pressure Sodexo, one of the world's largest food-service companies, to make it easier for workers to unionize. Starting in 2009, SEIU's "Clean Up Sodexo" campaign took the company to task by criticizing its food-safety record and opposing its attempts to win new food-service contracts. But the union dropped its campaign in order to settle a lawsuit Sodexo filed against it under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

The Fall NLRB Season

What the labor board can do in its last months before paralysis

(Flickr/Tony Case)

The raft of recent pro-union decisions from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) garnered praise from workers' rights advocates, including the Prospect's Harold Meyerson. But don't expect the board's pro-union streak to last long enough to undo years of Bush-era rulings making it risky for workers to organize.

Last week also marked the end of Chair Wilma Liebman's tenure, bringing the board, which typically comprises five members but currently has a vacancy, down to three members. In January, another Democratic appointee, Craig Becker, will step down, leaving a deadlocked board that can't do much of anything anyway (according to a 2010 Supreme Court ruling, New Process Steel v. NLRB, a two-member NLRB can't make decisions even if both members agree).