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Is It Time for America’s Industries To Strike? - And, ‘All At Once?’

Published Monday, January 28, 2019
by Kim Kelly/No Class Column Via Teen Vogue
Is It Time for America’s Industries To Strike? - And, ‘All At Once?’ Editor’s Note: No Class is an Op-Ed Column by Writer and Radical Organizer Kim Kelly that connects Worker struggles and the current state of the American Labor Movement with its storied - and sometimes bloodied - past.


The word - Strike - seems to be on everyone’s lips these days.

Workers across the world have been striking to protest poor working conditions, to speak out against sexual harassment, and to jumpstart stalled Union negotiations.

And as we just saw with the Los Angeles Teachers’ successful large-scale Strike, which spanned six school days, Strikers have been winning.

Despite the shot of energy that organized Strikes have injected into the Labor Movement, many people aren’t content with run-of-the-mill work stoppages or even with more militant wildcat Strikes.

As Republican President Donald Trump’s scandal-plagued government shutdown stretched into its fourth week and more than 800,000 Federal Workers struggled to survive sans paychecks, the words General Strike have begun appearing with increasing frequency on social media and in a spate of articles.

On January 20th, Association of Flight Attendants-Communications Workers of America President (AFA-CWA)Sara Nelson suggested a General Strike could potentially end the government shutdown before Trump caved and reopened the government that he has initially shut down.

The fact that a Labor Union Official is speaking about such drastic action now is very significant, for one thing because there has not been a major U.S. General Strike since the government cracked down on Labor following 1946’s Oakland General Strike.

Also, a General Strike is an incredibly massive undertaking

While many organized industry-specific Strikes can comprise hundreds or even thousands of Workers, a General Strike could potentially involve millions.

So what does it all mean?

How is a General Strike different from a planned, industry-specific work stoppage?

Why are people interested in the idea now and what would one look like in 2019?

General Strike is a Labor Action in which a significant amount of Workers from a number of different industries who comprise a majority of the total Labor Force within a particular city, region, or country come together to take collective action.

Organized Strikes are generally called by Labor Union Leadership, but they impact more than just those in the Union.

For example, imagine the scenario if thousands in your town or city - no matter what their job was or whether or not they were in a Union - got together and decided to go on Strike to protest police brutality, as happened in Oakland, California, in 2011, after Iraq veteran Scott Olsen was critically wounded by local police when they stormed the Occupy Oakland encampment.

The community declared a day-long General Strike that ultimately saw thousands of people shut down the Port of Oakland (which was more of a symbolic protest, but still it got the job done).

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