Workers’ power

 
October 26, 2020

Around the world workers and labor organizations have been crucial for popular movements to resist coups. According to Zunes, “general strikes played an important role” in Bolivia,...

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Around the world workers and labor organizations have been crucial for popular movements to resist coups. According to Zunes, “general strikes played an important role” in Bolivia, Burkina Faso, France, Argentina, Mali, Sudan, and Egypt and in resisting the 1920 Kapp Putsch in Germany. But there is no tradition of using general strikes for political purposes in the US.

Ten percent of US workers are organized in unions – that’s about 14 million people. Many millions more are organized in professional associations of one kind or another. Most of the rest are in frequent contact with co-workers and are often organized in informal networks that share information and cooperate in other ways. However organized, workers are an essential part of every social institution; they are positioned to organize themselves and make the institutions they work in “omnipresent resistance organizations” against illegal Trump rule. Resistance to a Trump usurpation needs participation of both unionized and non-unionized workers. This section examines what all workers can do; the next section addresses what unionized workers in particular can do.

Talk with co-workers: All workers can start by talking with the people they work with and the people they know through various networks to discuss the danger and what to do about it. A starting question might simply be, what do you think people should do if Trump loses but refuses to leave the White House? Those who think action is necessary can simply form their own informal or formal “election protection” group.

There are several steps workers can take before election day. They can get in touch with youth and other groups in their community and offer support and cooperation with what they are planning. They can participate in voter education and anti-voter-suppression activities.

On election day: Besides voting yourself, you can participate in get-out-the-vote efforts with your co-workers, neighbors, and the wider public. Youth will be showing up to help protect voters against misinformation, denied access, intimidation, and violence. They need workers and the entire population to show up and support their efforts to preserve democracy for all of us. These efforts need to continue for as many days as necessary until all the votes are counted and valid results announced.

Join the strike: If vote counting is interrupted or interfered with or Trump loses but refuses to concede, major youth organizations have already pledged a youth strike in schools and workplaces. There are likely to be significant efforts to break their strike, ranging from school and employer retaliation to arrests to vigilante violence. Supporting and protecting youth strikers will be necessary for preserving democracy against brutal authoritarianism. That means joining the strike, getting out in the streets, and participating in active interventions that show the people reject the coup.

Excerpted: ‘How Workers Can Help Defeat a Trump Coup’

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