Prepare for One Day Strike on May Day
Unfortunately, time is running out to build for such a successful protest on March 8 without organizations like the AFL-CIO, bigger women’s organizations, or other organizations with the resources and ability to reach millions of people by taking it up and promoting it.
The millions in the streets on January 21 and mass civil disobedience in the days after demonstrate that people want to fight back. That these organizations have not put out the call with clear next steps that escalate the struggle shows that successful collective action will require pressure from below, from ordinary people, to move the more hesitant leaders into action.
The next possible date to prepare massive collective resistance is May Day, known and celebrated around the world as International Worker’s Day. For more than 100 years, this day is celebrated to remind the world of the Haymarket martyrs who were fighting for an 8-hour day, and to defend workers’ and unions’ rights. Since May Day 2006, when strike action for immigrant rights (“A day without an immigrant”) succeeded in pushing back attacks from the Bush administration, this day has been also linked to the struggle against racism and for immigrant rights.
This May Day can be turned into a first major rally of resistance by the unions against “right to work” (for less) legislation, to defend wages and working conditions, and to build the struggle for equal pay and equal rights for all workers, no matter of race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, or immigration status.
Already nurses and teachers in labor unions are preparing the way. However, unfortunately, it’s not enough to call on the labor leaders to organize workplace action and use the power they undoubtedly have. The labor movement is about to receive a major blow and still too many conservative labor leaders believe they can try and collaborate with Trump rather than going all out to build resistance. Other union leaders hope to be saved in the 2018 or 2020 elections by the Democratic Party with all its Wall Street ties and dismal track record fighting for union rights. We cannot wait two years to defend ourselves and history shows us that labor unions will not be saved by anyone except the workers themselves.
To increase the pressure from below on labor leaders and use the power of activists in different movements, decentralized protests, workplace action, lunch break teach-ins, sickouts, citywide strike action, and student walkouts could be prepared for May Day, always linked to the call on the leaders of the labor movement, the women’s movement, and the environmental movement to use their power to connect and escalate these protests into a joint, powerful day of action.
If you can, move a motion in your union or activist group as the Seattle teachers did. Activists should not leave work on these days of protest if there is not strong enough support to avoid retaliation, but instead organize different protests – from handing out leaflets before work, a lunch break action, calling in sick, taking the day off, or more if possible – with the aim to overcome the hesitancy by most of the nationwide labor leaders.
Such a day of mass protest linked to significant strike action would be a big step towards even larger and more organized strikes. With Trump not backing down we will need to build towards citywide and even a national one-day general strike to shut down Trump’s agenda and defend workers’ rights and the right to live in dignity without racism, sexism, or fear of deportation.
If masses of working class people withhold their labor, it will hit the billionaire class where it hurts: their profits. This is the language that they understand. A one day strike all across the U.S. will not solve all of the problems we have with Trump and the billionaire class, but it will show the power of working people – not the least to the working class ourselves.
By Stephan Kimmerle