Why Participate in Today’s Women’s Strike by Social Movements Scholar Jen Schradie
“Caminante, no hay puentes, se hace puentes al andar,” writes Gloria Anzaldua.
This translates to “Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks.”
Today, March 8, is International Women’s Day. There are gatherings, marches, protests, art shows, and other events around the world today to honor the contributions of women, including this installation of this brave girl facing the stock market bull on Wall Street in NYC.
Because of recent political events and actions by the current Republican administration, a call went out for a General Strike– a day to walk out on the job.
Women’s March organizers encourage us to take the day off and avoid spending money as part of “A Day Without a Woman,” to show the impact women have on the economy and society. Through walking out, as Anzaldua points out, we build bridges.
What should you do? Should you strike? How can you participate? Ventura County events below and Bay Area events below..
How to participate:
Don’t go to work.
Refrain from purchases except from local, woman and POC owned businesses.
Attend an event. (list of Bay Area events here)
My friend Jen Schradie, PhD from UC Berkeley, is in France doing a post-doc on the subject of social media, social movements, and labor. When she saw that people who would like to participate and/or support the Strike had reservations, she shared this FAQ from her perspective as a social movement and labor scholar:
1. “I’m privileged (e.g. white and/or have a job where there will be no repercussions), why should I strike if others can’t?”
Historically white privileged people have not gone on strike as much as working class people of color. But because of their risky union struggles, we have all benefited (40 hour/week, minimum wage, no child labor). One does not help the working class and/or people of color by not striking. And many working class women will go on strike. Show solidarity.
2. “If I go on strike, it may prevent other women to go on strike and participate in actions (e.g. if one is a teacher, child care worker, librarian, etc.), so why would I want to hurt other women in the process of my striking?”
The short answer is without struggle, there is no progress. It is a struggle, and that’s the point. Yes, there will be some negative impacts, but in the larger effort of helping those same women. Also, historically, strikes have had support committees to address these challenges – whether union, church or community organized. Tie in with an existing group or start your own. Organization matters.
3. “If I go on strike, it may disrupt (Fill in the Blank – traffic, local commerce, education).”
Yep, again, that’s the point. Without disruption, change does not occur – civil rights legislation, women’s right-to-vote, labor legislation, etc. did not happen because nice politicians voted it in. It happened because people organized and conducted civil disobedience.
4. “Will one day of going on strike really make a difference?”
Um, no. But strikes do not happen in isolation. Organized and sustained actions make a difference, and the strike is part of that broader movement. Also, contrary to popular Internet myth, this did not come out of thin air or simply online. Organizations and activists with a long history have endorsed this strike.
And it is on March 8 for a reason – it’s International *Working* Women’s Day – it has labor union roots for 100 years.
5. “How will people know I’m on strike? What do I do?”
Ask local unions – find local union activists and ask them how to get involved. Talk to your co-workers. Attend local events on March 8. As the clichéd but very relevant saying goes: “Well-behaved women never made history.”
I asked my union rep about the Women’s Strike on March 8, and learned that “it is illegal in the US for unions to call for strikes, except in the case of contract negotiations that have gone through mediation, arbitration, and a court hearing. We gave up the right to wildcat strike in the 1930s with the establishment of the National Labor Relations Act, which made labor unions legal, but took away the right to call wildcat strikes. Some people think it was a good deal, others say unions died that day. This is why you sometimes see unions call for “sickouts” instead. Calling for a sickout is very serious, and is only done when all other methods of negotiating have failed.
Although many union members will be “striking” on Wednesday, they are not doing it as union members, but rather as individuals.
If you need to take a personal necessity day for any reason, the union suggests that when you fill out your absentee report, under “reason” you write “personal business of a compelling nature.” That is the language from the contract. You are expected to give 48 hours notice if possible to your dean: tell them you have personal business of a compelling nature.”
Because I didn’t give notice, and because I had already scheduled a midterm in class essay exam and made arrangements for use of the computer lab, I have decided for myself to: refrain from spending money, wear red, give the exam but not grade, refrain from cleaning house, and instead, write and publish this 1000 word blog post plus work on another blog post about New Zealand wine maker and owner Erica Crawford of Lovelock Wine as well as organize a series of blog posts about women in the wine business for Wine Predator (go over there and subscribe!).
Speaking of women who made history, check out this event tonight in Thousand Oaks:
Other events tonight include an event to call attention to Human Trafficking and Sexual Slavery which largely impacts women and children.
So what are you doing today??