Prepare for Action on May 1st!
May Day (May 1st) is an important day in working class history dating all the way back to the 19th century, when several workers were murdered for protesting against harsh work conditions during the Haymarket Affair in Chicago.
This year, May Day has the potential to go down in history once again as workers across the United States and around the world prepare to launch strikes and other actions in response to severe mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic by wealthy elites who are giving their profits priority over preserving human life.
At GenStrike.org, we are dedicated to supporting, protecting, and strengthening the working class, and so we are pledging our support for workers engaging in demonstrations, strikes, and protests starting on May 1st.
One of the best ways to support striking workers is to join the strike. Solidarity and sympathy strikes have long been well-established as an effective measure for effecting radical change in the workplace, and we believe that by uniting workers across industries and in every type of workplace we can build towards a coordinated general strike that will force our leaders to provide the relief which so many of us desperately need right now.
We are working in solidarity with a number of worker organizations, unions, mutual aid networks, and other groups committed to liberating the working class and the most vulnerable in our society. Some groups we are working with closely include Corona Strike, Black Socialists in America, Cooperation Jackson, and many more. At the end of this article we will be including links to many such organizations. We encourage you to follow them on social media and reach out to them for more information and guidance! The more connected and coordinated we are, the more powerful we become!
Our Long-Term Plan
May 1st is just the beginning. Moving forward, we will be planning major actions on the first day of every month, indefinitely, until our demands are met. As we build momentum, we will work towards a constant campaign of rolling strikes: by geography and by industry, we will carry out rent, debt, and labor strikes in a coordinated manner.
By working together in a distributed, decentralized, but highly organized manner, we will be able to keep pressure on the wealthy elites who rule our society without putting undue stress on any one group of workers.
In order to get there, we need YOU! We need workers everywhere joining our movement and helping us organize. The faster we organize, the faster we can change the world!
How to Join the May Day Movement
We understand that different workers have different strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats that need to be considered. That’s why we have developed this guide to offer some guidance and advice on how you might best be able to support our movement.
We will be presenting options for supporting the May Day Movement in order from most to least challenging. We do not expect any individual worker to participate in every activity listed in this guide. But if we all participate as much as we are able then we are confident that our movement will quickly become a radical force that will liberate and save lives.
Do Not Act Alone
At GenStrike.org, our watch-words are: “Do Not Act Alone.”
A worker acting as an individual is less than powerless – you are likely to endanger yourself and your livelihood if you act on your own without support and coordination. If you have questions or need help, do not hesitate to contact us and other organizations. At the end of this article we will provide a list our contact information as well as links to other organizations who might be able to offer the help that you need.
Your fellow workers here to help – you are not alone!
Don’t Cross the Picket Lines!
The most important rule of striking is to NEVER CROSS THE PICKET LINE. If you go to work during a strike, you aren’t just hurting your fellow workers. You’re hurting yourself. Strikes depend on every worker standing firm and sticking it out together through thick and thin. If you need help dealing with pressure from your employers or if you’re struggling financially, reach out to GenStrike.org and we will do what we can to help you.
As consumers, we must also stand in solidarity with striking workers. NEVER shop or pay money to a company where workers are striking, and let the company know why they aren’t getting your business. Let them know that as a customer, you value workers’ rights, and that you won’t be paying until the employees’ demands have been met in full.
- Signal Boosting
Even if you can’t strike, demonstrate, donate, or volunteer, there are still ways you can help! Signal boost this movement by sharing it on social media, writing articles, making videos, live streaming, podcasting, or just talking to your friends and coworkers as you are able.
Link to articles from genstrike.org and other organizations listed below. Follow hashtags #GeneralStrike, #GeneralStrike2020, #RentStrike, #RentStrike2020, #CareStrike, and #CoronaStrike.
If you are concerned you may be targeted by your employer or if you feel unsafe publicly associating with our movement for any reason, you can consider setting up an alternative account for sharing your political views on Twitter, Instagram, or other social media platforms. Just make sure to practice good security hygiene so you don’t get doxed!
The more voices we have sharing our stories and struggles the more support we will get, so share loudly and often!
- Don’t Buy Anything!
As a sign of solidarity to workers everywhere, whether they’re able to strike or not, we are asking everyone to stay home and not to buy ANYTHING on the first of the month. If you can possibly avoid it, don’t buy anything online, don’t go to any stores, don’t order takeout or delivery. Plan ahead so you have everything you need for the entire day. The wealthy elites want to “open up the economy” well before it’s time, so for at least one day, let’s shut it down. Let’s prove to them that the economy will only open back up when we, the working class, say it can!
- Donating Money, Goods, and services to Striking Workers
If you can’t strike or demonstrate directly, you can donate money to striking worker relief and hardship funds. Find a union that is striking near you and ask them if you can donate to their relief fund. You can also contact the IWW and ask if any local chapters have a hardship fund you can contribute to.
The longer strikes go on, the more workers need money and support to survive while they aren’t working. Your support could buy these workers desperately needed extra time which can have real impact on their chances at getting demands met!
- Support Mutual Aid Networks
There are people in every community who are desperately in need of money, food, and other goods and services right now. Mutual Aid networks have been springing up everywhere to provide this relief. And they could use your help!
Before you donate or volunteer, make sure the organization will support workers, disabled people, the elderly, and other vulnerable people directly, and make sure the values of the organization line up with your own. You might want to make sure that the organization is not affiliated with any for-profit entities and that they are grounded in inclusive and humanitarian principles.
If you are involved with a Mutual Aid organization, get in touch with us at GenStrike.org – we are trying to unite and coordinate efforts of Mutual Aid networks everywhere to exchange and distribute resources. By working together, we all become stronger!
Slowdowns are actions where workers intentionally reduce productivity to limit the amount of money an employer brings in with the intention of reducing or eliminating the amount of profits that are made off of our labor.
Just like sick-outs and strikes, these actions require organization and planning, so get help! Don’t act alone!
Some workers are unable to mount a formal strike, but still manage to deliver a potent message to their employers by calling for a mass sick-out. This involves as many workers as possible calling in sick from work at the same time, with the aim of shutting down business operations.
Sick-outs need careful planning and organizing just like strikes, so if you don’t have experience with workplace organizing be sure to find experienced guidance. We can offer you information and advising here at GenStrike.org or you can go through the excellent training provided by the IWW. Just make sure you don’t act alone!
- Demonstrate At Work
Some workers are unable to demonstrate at work but are able to demonstrate and show their support for the movement to various degrees. If you believe you can safely do so without getting fired or punished, consider showing support for striking workers by wearing a T-shirt, hat, badge, or pin.
We recommend a red Stop Sign as a symbol of solidarity. You could consider adding the words “STOP WORK” inside the Stop Sign. Another longstanding symbol of striking is the Black Cat. Again, you can consider adding text such as “STOP WORK” or “I SUPPORT STRIKING WORKERS” or “ASK ME ABOUT THE GENERAL STRIKE” to the design.
You can also use well-established hashtags written on articles of clothing, stickers, or badges such as #GeneralStrike2020.
If you can’t wear any such articles, you could consider putting a small poster or index card at your workstation displaying your support for the strike.
You will have to use your own judgment about what you can get away with at work. Some workplaces may not care or notice if you prominently display your support for striking workers, others may require you to be more subtle. And of course, if you think such displays might lead to you getting fired or punished at work, it’s probably best to support our movement in other ways unless/until you can better organize your coworkers.
- Labor Striking
In general, we only encourage workers to strike on May 1st if you already have an organized workplace and coworkers who are willing to strike with you. Workplace organization is an established science, with many tried-and-true techniques and protocols which you should know about. One of the best organizations for receiving workplace organization training, with a long track-record in organizing workers in nearly every field, is the Industrial Workers of the World. The IWW is likely to have a chapter near you, and, if not, you can either become an at-large member or form a chapter of your own. You may also consider an established trade union in your field, or starting a union from scratch.
No matter what you do, make sure you get advice and guidance from an experienced workplace organizer. There is a lot that can go wrong when trying to organize your workplace, up to and including losing your job. So do not act alone! Get help and get organized!
Once your workplace is organized and you have coworkers committed to joining the strike, get in touch with us at GenStrike.org and we can help you coordinate with other unions and orgs to maximize the impact of your strike. The more workers we can bring together, the more effective we all become!
- Tenant Organizing and Rent Striking
Labor Striking is not the only way to make the wealthy elites pay attention to our demands! Right now renters everywhere are forming Tenants’ Unions and organizing rent strikes to demand a freeze on rent collection and shelter for the homeless during this dangerous pandemic.
Do NOT act alone when it comes to rent striking – organize with other tenants in your building or area to maximize the impact of your efforts. Acting alone and working without a proper plan could end with you getting evicted, so if you need help or guidance contact us at GenStrike or at a local Tenants’ Union or another organization like Housing Justice For All.
- Debt Striking
In the USA, the average adult has $6,000 in credit card debt. 32% of American workers have medical debt, and over half have defaulted on it. During the pandemic, the pressure of debt is building on the working class, and the last thing any of us should be worrying about is paying off debt when many of us are fighting just to survive. As if that weren’t bad enough, we are already seeing workers having their stimulus checks stolen from them by debt collectors.
Now is the time to consider joining the Debt Strike movement! Contact StrikeDebt.org or get in touch with us at GenStrike and we will help you get involved!
- Other Demonstration and Organizing Options
There are countless ways you can demonstrate and organize outside of the workplace. For starters, you could volunteer with us at GenStrike! Or you can pick from a variety of other organizations that are here to support and empower the working class.
You can also consider supporting prisoners’ rights groups, immigrant detainee liberation groups, indigenous groups, homeless advocate groups, community food banks, disabled rights groups, LGTBQ+ rights groups, and other organizations that support the most vulnerable who are suffering the most through this pandemic.
Not Everyone Can Help, and That’s Okay!
We hear from a lot of people who are disabled, unemployed, mentally ill, or in precarious circumstances that do not allow them to participate. That’s perfectly okay! The guiding principle of worker solidarity is:
From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.
Your first priority should be surviving and taking care of your own health. If you need support through these trying times, get in touch with us or a local Mutual Aid network and we will do what we can to help you out.
Together, We WILL Change the World
We are living in unprecedented times. There is no doubt that the decisions we make now will have tremendous impact on the future. By standing together, we can change the world. But only if we stand together.
If you need help, ask for help! If you need advice, ask for advice! If you need support, get support! That’s why we’re here. Do not act alone. Trust your fellow workers. And know that the actions you take in the weeks and months to come matter. If we can get organized and stay strong through these tough times, we can make history!
Stay safe, and solidarity!
Do you have other ideas for how workers can get involved with our May Day Movement? Do you work with an organization that could use our support and coordination services? Are you looking to get organized but not sure where to begin?
Get in touch with us at GenStrike.org – and check out the other organizations and resources below!
Organizations and Resources:
We work in solidarity with the following organizations:
- Corona Strike – Partner Organization also committed to working towards a general strike for Pandemic relief.
- Cooperation Jackson – Building a solidarity economy anchored by a network of cooperatives and other types of worker owned and democratically self-managed enterprises.
- Black Socialists in America – A coalition of anticapitalist, internationalist Black Americans who believe that the workers should control the means of production in a democratic and decentralized fashion.
- Care Strike – “No Rent, No Work, No Shopping starting May 1 until the US government implements universal healthcare + shelter in response to COVID19”
Unions and Worker Associations:
- IWW – Industrial Workers of the World (membership open to all workers everywhere, even the unemployed)
- Target Workers Unite! – a Workers’ Committee dedicated to empowering workers at Target stores and other companies across the USA.
Rent and Debt Striking Organizations:
- Strike Debt! – Debt Strike Solidarity Organization
- Housing Justice For All – Rent Strike and Tenant Organizing Group