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Worker: I'd be out with protesters if I could

Jim Seida / msnbc.com

Union port worker Austin Sheely sits in his car trying to leave the Port of Seattle on Monday. He's sympathetic with the protesters, but his budget is too tight to join them.

Unions have not joined Occupy activists to shut down the ports, even though these old-guard labor activists have expressed sympathy with the new movement's causes. Unions have not prohibited their members from taking part in the protests as individuals -- and some do -- but there's a cost to that, said unionized port worker Austin Sheely.

"I'd be out here with them if I could be," said Sheely as he sat in his car trying to leave the Port of Seattle on Monday. "I have to work every minute of every day to try to pick up every bit of overtime I can to try to pay our mortgage."


"I've got a wife and a kid on the way," he said. "I wholeheartedly support the movement, but I can't afford to take the time off to join it."

Sheely is a crane operator for Vigor Shipyards. His wife was recently laid off from Starbucks, and he's gone from making $35/hr to $26/hr as the economy deteriorated.  The exit to the port was blocked by a barricade built by Occupy Seattle protestors who were trying to shut down the port.

Occupy disrupts West Coast Ports; arrests in Seattle, Houston