Faced with a threat from Donald Trump that he may not accept the will of the voters if he loses to former Vice President Joe Biden on November 3rd, union leaders across the country are making plans to call for a general strike that could spread to other movements -- such as Black Lives matter -- opposed to the president.
According to a report from the Guardian, the last general strike occurred in 1946 -- but that one was limited to Oakland, California over wages.
The report notes that Dan Maloney, president of the Rochester-Genesee Valley Area Labor Federation, started the ball rolling with a vote on a resolution calling for a general strike by all working people, "if necessary, to ensure a constitutionally mandated peaceful transition of power as a result of the 2020 presidential elections.”
Maloney stated that his 100,000-member group adopted the resolution to bring it to the forefront so other unions could weigh in.
As the Guardian reports, Maloney struck a nerve.
"Union federations in Seattle and in western Massachusetts have followed suit, approving resolutions saying a general strike should be considered if Trump seeks to subvert the election outcome," the Guardian's Steven Greenhouse wrote adding that the resolution explicitly stated, "The extreme risk currently posed to the historic institutions of democracy in our nation may require more widespread and vigorous resistance than at any time in recent history.”
In an interview Maloney stated, “The idea has gotten a lot more legs than I ever thought it would,” and that it has become a topic of conversation with national union leaders.
"Maloney said that in a 22 October call with labor leaders, Richard Trumka, the AFL-CIO’s president, stressed that until 3 November, unions should overwhelmingly focus on maximizing voter turnout for Biden. After that, Trumka said, unions can focus on what to do if Trump resists a peaceful transition," the report states.
Additionally, the AFL-CIO’s executive council approved a resolution on October 19 that proclaimed: “Democracies are not, in the last analysis, protected by judges or lawyers, reporters or publishers. The survival of democracy depends on the determination of working people to defend it. And America’s labor movement is indeed determined to defend our democratic republic.”
According to Nicole Grant, who heads MLK Labor, a Seattle-area federation of local unions representing over 200,000 members the threat of a general strike is a warning shot and not a plan -- at the moment.
With her federation issuing a statement saying, we “will take whatever nonviolent actions are necessary up to and including a general strike to protect our democracy, the constitution, the law and our nation’s democratic traditions,” Grant added a personal opinion stating, "This is a break-in-case-of-emergency kind of demand ... but at the same time, when we consider the potential of a coup, that’s not something we’re going to stand for."
Erik Loomis, a labor historian at the University of Rhode Island chimed in, "So much of the conversation on the left about general strikes in this country is kind of a romanticized, people are going to rise up. If there is ever any general strike in this country, it’s probably going to come out of the established labor movement. The only group capable of running the thing is the established labor movement,” before adding it could be supplemented by the highly influential Black Lives Matter movement and women's groups unhappy with the direction the country has taken under Trump.
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