by Allison Kilkenny
Occupy Wall Street hopes to capture headlines once again next week with the May 1 “General Strike”, long-advertised by the group as an event that will prove to the public and media that OWS is currently experiencing a resurgence. Whether workers, students, or banking customers, OWS is calling on all Americans to stop offering their labor and money to corporations for one day and join their local Occupy chapter for a day of resistance.
(Artist : Josh MacPhee. Commons not Capitalism – Occupy Together)The plan initially drew the ire of some labor leaders who quickly declared their members would not participate in the so-called strike.
“It won’t happen,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union flatly told Buzzfeed. “They are not working with the unions in a serious way yet; nor are the unions working with them in a serious way. And it is the wrong strategy.”
Under the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, a general strike in support of other workers is illegal. Furthermore, individual unions must call for a strike, so the participation of workers in a protest does not constitute a general strike.
The official OWS press release about May Day mentions the phrase “general strike” twice: once in the headline, and once in quotation marks in the first paragraph. Perhaps keenly aware of the likelihood that an across the board labor strike is not only unlikely but illegal, the day is now being described by organizers as a nationwide protest with themes of economic non-compliance. (Poster by Nina Montenegro, via Occuprint.)Continue reading