Planting Seed for Strikes in the Trump Era, #Strike4Democracy Sweeps Nation

Planting the seed for future large-scale walk-outs, hundreds of events are taking place coast-to-coast on Friday as part of a national “strike for democracy.”

Tweets about #F17 OR #F17strike OR strike4democracy

Heavy has a state-by-state list of strike-related events, as does the Strike4Democracy website.

Strike4Democracy describes itself as “a broad umbrella for coordinated national actions on Friday, 2/17, which will serve as an opening blow in a campaign to stand up for America’s democratic principles.”

Galvanized in response to the Trump administration’s attacks on immigrants, women, the LGBTQ community, and the environment, Friday’s action “amplifies a new chapter of nonviolent resistance ushered in over the last six weeks by calling for strikes that grow in number and power,” the statement reads, pointing to other strike actions planned for March 8 and May 1, as well as “a heightening resistance throughout the summer.”

The #F17Strike, as it was being called, also came on the heels of Thursday’s national “Day Without Immigrants,” as well as more localized walk-out actions in Wisconsin and New York.

And in a piece published this week at YES! Magazine, senior editor James Trimarco posited that “Feb. 17 is just the beginning.”

While “[i]t’s not the American way for workers across industries to stage a one-day walkout to make a statement,” as columnist Shirley Leung wrote in Friday’s Boston Globe, she wondered: “Could that change in the Trump era?”

After all, as Rutgers University professor of labor studies Janice Fine told the Globe, “It’s a moment we’re in, where all the typical rules don’t entirely apply.”

Indeed, whereas such large-scale strikes used to depend on union organizing with clear workplace-oriented demands, the new wave of strikes is being organized outside those traditional channels and with different, broader aims. As Andrew Thornebrooke, a graduate student at Fordham who is involved in organizing the February 17 event in New York, told the Village Voice this week, “We’re redefining our demands to be targeted toward [New York] senators and representatives to reaffirm that their office will uphold the Constitution and actively oppose any attempt by [the Trump] administration that contradicts that.”

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Reporter Alexandra Neason wrote for the Voice:

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Tithi Battacharya, a professor at Purdue University and one of the co-authors of the March 8 call to strike, told Trimarco that she “doesn’t call it a ‘general strike’ because anti-striking laws and low union density currently block that possibility—and retaliation against strikers would likely hit vulnerable women of color the hardest.”

“She prefers the term ‘mass strike,’ a notion that’s designed to be more inclusive,” Trimarco wrote.

“We are calling for demonstrations, walk-outs, sex strikes: a range of actions that will be a show of collective resistance by women, which will take different forms depending on the local context,” Battacharya told him, calling to mind other recent women’s strikes in Argentina, Poland, and Iceland.

In this Democracy Now! segment, watch Liberian Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee speak on how a sex strike effectively propelled “silent men into action”:

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