With little in the way of fanfare, it was announced over the weekend that there would be a “strike” today by a variety of union members and participants in various social justice groups. The scare quotes around the word “strike” are something of a requirement because not all of the participants will actually be, er… “striking.” (More on that in a moment.) The stated purpose of this walkout, predicted to include up to “tens of thousands” of workers, is to combat racism and police violence against persons of color. Since the rationale offered by the organizers is a bit on the sketchy side to say the least, there’s probably something else going on here. Some details from the Associated Press follow.
Organizers of a national workers strike say tens of thousands are set to walk off the job Monday in more than two dozen U.S. cities to protest systemic racism and economic inequality that has only worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.
Dubbed the “Strike for Black Lives,” labor unions, along with social and racial justice organizations from New York City to Los Angeles, will participate in a range of planned actions. Where work stoppages are not possible for a full day, participants will either picket during a lunch break or observe moments of silence to honor Black lives lost to police violence, organizers said.
“We are … building a country where Black lives matter in every aspect of society — including in the workplace,” said Ash-Lee Henderson, an organizer with the Movement for Black Lives, a coalition of over 150 organizations that make up the Black Lives Matter movement.
As noted above, not everyone participating in the event will be walking off of their jobs. Some will picket during their lunch break while others will conduct a “moment of silence.” That should teach those oppressive employers a thing or two.
Here are the glaring cracks in the armor of this proposal, just in case they weren’t obvious already. First of all, when workers go on strike, it’s done to apply leverage and get something out of the employer. If this is a protest against police violence toward Black suspects, are they implying that the employers are somehow in cahoots with the cops? Obviously not. One of the organizers offers a bit of clarity by describing the strike as “a moment of reckoning for corporations that have long ignored the concerns of their Black workforce and denied them better working conditions, living wages and healthcare.”
By this point, you should have a light bulb beginning to illuminate over your head. To fill in the picture more completely, let’s take a look at the list of organizations that are putting this shindig together. They include the SEIU, the Teamsters, the American Federation of Teachers, United Farm Workers and the Fight for $15. Are you seeing what’s going on now?
Even leaving aside the question of what instances of police brutality have to do with this, the rest of the supposed rationale for this “strike” is just as nonsensical. None of those employers have different pay scales or benefit plans for white workers and their colleagues of color. Why? Because if they did they would be in jail. The minimum wage is not $15 for white workers and something lower for everyone else. It’s the minimum wage for everyone. If you want to continue to debate what the minimum wage should be, that’s fine. We can have that debate all day long. But stop trying to pretend this has something to do with use of force incidents by the police.
This is the usual list of suspects we regularly see fighting against right to work laws and in favor of forced unionization and dues collection. This “strike” has absolutely nothing to do with George Floyd or any sort of police reform or defunding or what have you. It’s the same old song and dance we always hear from the labor unions. The only difference is that these obvious opportunists are trying to glom onto the backs of the ongoing protests and riots, sensing a “moment” where perhaps they can force their agenda forward by draping the Black Lives Matter movement over their collective shoulders.
Hold your walkout if you like. It’s certainly your right. But consider calling it what it is. It’s a strike for forced unionization and it has nothing to do with the value placed on Black lives. The hypocrisy on display here is simply nauseating.