More than a dozen calls have been issued for a general strike in the U.S. on May 1, International Workers Day. These have come from a wide range of organizations of migrant workers, women, prisoners, socialist revolutionaries and others.
Big media is sending up flares of alarm by covering May 1 as a “story.” Big business itself is starting to worry, while broadcasting strategies on how to “neutralize” a rising of workers and oppressed power on May Day.
Since Trump’s inauguration, there have been two national strike days involving thousands. There was the Day Without an Immigrant on Feb. 16 and the Day Without a Woman on March 8. Other local strike actions are multiplying, like the New York Taxi Workers Alliance’s refusal to pick up airport passengers in a show of solidarity with protests of the anti-Muslim travel ban.
There has been some support in labor unions for workers “shutting it down.” For instance, SEIU United Service Workers West, representing over 40,000 California workers, said in a statement: “It’s time to stand up as a people against fascism and autocratic leadership.”
A general strike, as traditionally called by organized labor unions, is a flexing of working-class power against capital and the bosses. Such a strike demonstrates powerful class consciousness that there is an “all of us” stretching far beyond a local.
Working and oppressed people right now know that Trump & Company are trying to smash the working class into pieces, to wreck our solidarity, to split us along lines of oppression. The ruling class is trying to make us fight each other instead of capitalism and imperialism.
A mass May Day strike could be not just unionized workers, but all of us being targeted — people of color, migrants and immigrants, temp and low-wage workers, unemployed and underemployed, LGBTQ+ people, prisoners, women working inside and outside the home, young people and students, people with disabilities who are working or want to and are denied that chance, people who are losing health care, environmental protection and so much more.
A mass strike of all workers and oppressed people would militantly and directly counter the capitalist war being waged against us through racist, anti-worker, woman-hating nationalism and imperialism.
A call by the unions for a mass or general strike would assert solidarity of organized labor with the entirety of working-class and oppressed people. Such a call should include protection for those who risk themselves and their jobs by participating in May Day actions.
On March 13, the San Francisco Labor Council “enthusiastically endorsed worker solidarity actions planned for May 1, International Workers Day … to protest the recent attacks on immigrants, health care, and the right to a voice at work.” The resolution called for “NO RETALIATION against any worker — union or non-union” who participates in that day.
We need more of this unity as a stepping-stone to turning May 1 into a mass strike against an ever more repressive state that showers money on the super-rich while targeting workers and the oppressed. And as a stepping-stone toward socialism and workers’ power!
And we need a global mass strike, because capitalism in its highly globalized form cannot be successfully fought city-by-city or region-by-region or country-by-country.
Can there be such a strike? As the great communist revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg wrote about the mass strike: “The rigid, mechanical-bureaucratic conception cannot conceive of the struggle save as the product of organization at a certain stage of its strength. On the contrary, the living, dialectical explanation makes the organization arise as a product of the struggle.” (tinyurl.com/hw4wlgl)
Let us struggle, and in that struggle let us build what we need to win.
Onward to the May Day strike!