This piece by Kim Moody was first published in the September/October 2012 issue of Against the Current.
Strikers surround a mail truck, Oakland General Strike, 1946.
Inspired by the boldness of the movement, activists of Occupy Oakland issued a “call for a general strike” in that city for November 2 — a sign of the movement’s radicalism and its sense of where social power lies.
One criticism of the Occupy activists was that they had not consulted the unions. Had they done so, however, it is very unlikely that very many union leaders would have agreed to jointly “call” such an action. But what’s more important, as I will argue, is that general strikes or mass strikes are seldom simply “called” from above, if at all, or until they are well underway — and those that are “called” tend to be called off just as easily.
This piece first appeared in Against The Current.
The media story in the days following the 2016 election was that a huge defection of angry, white, blue-collar workers in the Rust Belt from their traditional Democratic voting patterns put Donald J. Trump in the White House in a grand slap at the nation’s “liberal” elite. But is that the real story?
In an article for Counterfire, Kim Moody writes that the recent waves of worker demonstrations across the Midwest are ‘putting new ideas about class politics and power on the trade union agenda.’ Charting the emergence of a revitalised union movement in reaction to fresh union-busting legislation being put forward by newly-elected Republican governors, Moody argues that:
The laws were put forth by recently elected Republican governors in those and other states designed to destroy the power of public worker unions. The attack on public sector workers, often focused on teachers, is long standing, sponsored by big business and embraced by many Democrats as well as Republicans, from the Whitehouse to state legislatures and town halls across the country. The recent Great Recession provided a further opportunity for state governments facing growing deficits to propose the final coup de grace to public worker rights. The first sign of worker resistance came on Monday, 14th February when some 400 Minnesota union members filled the hearing rooms of the state legislature to oppose a bill that would undermine union security and cut wages by 15 percent.