The Congress Hotel strikers in Chicago have already been highlighted with a photo of the day, but today, November 2, is a significant day in Oakland as a number of unions have signed on in support of a “General Strike.” So, here is what this man has written about his struggle (translated):
I am on strike against the Congress Hotel. I have been on strike for eight years. The economy affected me greatly. With what I earn I don’t have enough for my house payment, the payment is too high. The rich want to be richer and more powerful at the cost of the humble and working class. I consider myself the 99%.
The Congress Hotel strike is the only strike mentioned on the “We are the 99 Percent” Tumblr, where you can find more photos like this.
The Oakland Longshoremen have come out in support. An article by Gabriel Thompson for The Nation also includes a summary on support received thus far:
…Each day brings news of another union joining the cause. An organizer with Unite-Here, which represents restaurant workers, spoke of union members preparing a giant feast for strikers. The Executive Board of the Oakland Educational Association, whose 2700 members teach in the city’s schools, has endorsed the day of action, with teachers at one elementary school telling parents the school will be closed for the day. Meanwhile, SEIU Local 1021, which represents 1,750 city workers, has encouraged its members to take a leave of absence for the day and come to the protest.
Now, what is important to note is the Taft-Hartley Act that was passed against unions to diminish the possibility of actions like a general strike. From labor journalist Mike Elk:
Under the Taft-Hartley Act a general strike in support of other workers is illegal; therefore the key word is the phrase “begin educating affiliates and members on the organization and function of a general strike”. In addition, only individual unions, not the central labor federation has the ability to call a strike.
There are virtually no political leaders willing to talk about this act and its current implications on union organizing in America. But, it is why many unions hesitate to join calls for general strikes.
Barack Obama, as a candidate, said nothing of Taft-Hartley. Of course, neither did John McCain. Possibly the only presidential candidate in 2008 to draw attention to the act was Ralph Nader, whose campaign took a clear stance against the act and called for its repeal.
It is taboo politically to support any type of workers’ revolt against corporate dominance in America, which is what people in Oakland are attempting today.
Today will likely be more akin to a “no work” day then the beginning of some general strike, however, if it continues on for a second and third day, that would be tremendous. It would show just how hopeful and unafraid Americans have become thanks to the Occupy movement.