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May 1, 2017

May Day 2017 general strike

Immigrants lead the way for all workers

It took guts for immigrants to mobilize for today’s general strike against the escalated attacks on their rights and those of all workers.

Union janitors outraged about ICE raids and the criminalization of the Black community voted first to walk out, followed by cafeteria workers and other unions. Immigrant women and radicals are playing a key role. But most strikers today are from unorganized workplaces — fields and food processing plants, restaurants and fast-food outlets, hotels and health centers.

The militant foreign-born workers and students who are key to this strike are inspiring those who are fearful and angry to roar “Say it loud, say it clear, immigrants and refugees are welcome here!”

Mixed response from labor leaders

Many unions mobilized their members to turn out and showed solidarity in other ways. The National Union of Healthcare Workers, for example, declared itself a “sanctuary union” ready to defend its ranks and the public they serve from ICE raids and deportation.

Some labor leaders, however, frightened by the general strike, held back the movement by refusing to follow the lead of their mainly non-union sisters and brothers. They used the rationale of “no strike” clauses in contracts as a justification for not walking out — and, in some cases, for not building the strike movement in any way. This leaves the low-paid and unrepresented workers who do walk off the job even more vulnerable.

The moment calls for boldness

Yes, defying no-strike clauses is a bold move. But nothing less than aggressive action has any hope of saving working people and unions from the fate that rapacious bosses and racist bigots have in store! Sustained, mass work stoppages are the strongest weapon we have. They flex our collective power and land an economic and political blow against the capitalist system built on our misery. And they can embolden the international labor movement, linked in a common fight opposing austerity, nationalist reaction, assaults on Native sovereignty, and campaigns to destroy unions.

So what is next? Follow the lead of immigrant workers now planning a longer national strike! (see: movimientocosecha.com) This effort can point the way forward for the whole labor movement and bring together all races, all genders, all nationalities, and all ages in a challenge to the ruling class and its two parties. It’s time to go on the offense and demand:

  • • Full citizenship rights for those without papers!
  • • Money for social needs, not for war, walls, or a police state!
  • • Open the borders!

Este artículo en español / This article in Spanish