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Sunday, February 12, 2017

National Strike Planned for February 17th

A general strike is when a substantial portion of the population refuses to work in order to pressure a change in government policy. The general strike on February 17th is intended to be a nationwide general strike (national strike) against unconstitutional and unethical policies advanced by federal government officials. This post covers its inspiration, purpose, and how to participate. Lastly, it closes with why a local movement is important and some links.

Please comment to suggest activities for people to participate in the general strike that would have a great impact in the community.


Inspiration

While the Occupy movement held general strikes in the past, Francine Prose’s opinion piece in The Guardian rekindled the idea for 2017. She writes, “Let’s designate a day on which no one (that is, anyone who can do so without being fired) goes to work, a day when no one shops or spends money, a day on which we truly make our economic and political power felt, a day when we make it clear: how many of us there are, how strong and committed we are, how much we can accomplish.”

A general strike is different from a rally or protest in that the target is economic. Occupy’s target was Wall Street. The goal is to send a message to government officials by disrupting business though acts of non-violent civil disobedience and demonstration. One of the main topics of 2016’s election was the economy and job. If elected officials do not deliver on improving the economy, their chances of reelection will be hurt. If the people’s wealth doesn’t go to powerful lobbying interests, their influence may be diminished.

Further, not participating in the economy for a day can demonstrate valuing people over profit. Your time could be used volunteering; your money could be contributed to a charity or to take a little off a burdensome debt, like a student loan; both could be used to build a community with a potluck, letter writing or calling campaign, fundraising drive, or just being present for someone.

Purpose

Strike4Democracy lists the reasons for the strike as upholding democracy, human rights, the environment, and ethics In public service. It is seeking progressive polices on issues that affect equality, workers’ rights, healthcare, education, energy, and the environment. Their purpose is somewhat nebulous, but a past iteration of f17strike.com listed the following more focus demands:
  • No Ban, No Wall. The Muslim ban is immoral, the wall is expensive and ineffectual. We will build bridges, not walls. 
  • Healthcare For All. Healthcare is a human right. Do not repeal the ACA. Improve it or enact Medicare for All. 
  • No Pipelines. Rescind approval for DAPL and Keystone XL and adopt meaningful policies to protect our environment. It's the only one we've got. 
  • End the Global Gag Rule. We cannot put the medical care of millions of women around the globe at risk. 
  • Disclose and Divest. Show us your taxes. Sell your company. Ethics rules exist for a reason and presidents should focus on the country, not their company.

How to Participate (from strike4democracy.com)

During official strike days you can do the following:
  • Don’t Work (If you can). Instead plan or take part in an event in your community: 
    • Plan/Participate in a Day of Service 
    • Join with other like-minded folks and occupy public space with positive messages of resistance and solidarity. 
    • Do not purchase anything. 
  • “#BreakLunch” Use your lunch break to disrupt and participate: 
    • Use social media to show how you #BreakLunch. Tweet, FB, Instagram, and Snapchat messages that support democracy. Include hashtags #BreakLunch, #GeneralStrike, #F17 
    • Donate your lunch money that day to cause you believe in. Post about it and use those same hashtags. 
    • Get creative and show the world how you #BreakLunch 
  • Reach out to your representatives in Washington DC or your state and tell them why you are “striking” today, and post about it using strike related hash tags. 
  • If you are a teacher or student, please consider participating in the Teach-In on Democracy. Keep your students engaged. 
  • This is not a National Day-Off; we’ve got work to do!! Get out and get busy!!! Be Peaceful! Have fun!

Get Local

While there are two state capitals within 125 miles, La Crosse area citizens can be a part of the larger strikes, protests, and rallies here. It doesn’t make sense to travel to St. Paul, Madison, or further, especially in opposition to fossil fuels that impact so much policy decision-making. Local events can have the impact of strengthening and deepening local ties, while still remaining connected by the larger movement via the internet. Coulee Progressives and its members have helped make that happen, and can build a network for a robust public discourse, not just for this general strike, but for future events. Where is the best place to demonstrate outside? Who’s got a PA system? Where can rallies be held indoors? What other groups may want to be involved? Who are the newspaper, radio, and television contacts that will get this on the air? These are questions that will be important for rapid response events and helping to keep action local.

Strike4Democracy’s group members compiled a list of local chapters participating in the general strike for people to reach out to. Coulee Progressives may not be directly aligned with their values, but can help guide interested strikers into taking meaningful action locally without having to travel far.

One general strike likely won’t be enough to change federal policy, so February 17th isn’t the end. The Women’s March is holding a general strike on March 8th. Some have suggested a strike on April 15th to pressure the release of tax documents. Occupy Wall Street held general strikes on May Day (or International Workers Day). Keep the pressure on in every way that is meaningful to you!

Again, please comment to suggest activities for people to participate in the general strike that would have a great impact in the community.


Links

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