The Call is Out for a Nationwide STRIKE in U.S.A. on March 31, 2011–Consider joining!

This is a collection of information and links indicating why a Nationwide Strike in the USA is being called out on March 31, 2011.

March 31 is set as the date for a Nationwide Strike in the USA. You may go to this link to see how you might join in your state.


If you’re just catching up with what’s happening, here are some suggested essential and basic readings on the Walker government’s attacks on bargaining rights of teachers and librarians and trash collectors and other public employees in Wisconsin that started this, what is happening nationally, and how to fight back on a number of fronts.

We’re aware that no “introductory” piece is perfect and that every commentator on Wisconsin, strikes, the USA, politics has an “angle” that leaves out other perspectives. However, we think that these are all at least very informative.

If you have good readings that are appropriate for this section, please suggest them in this discussion thread if you’d like them to be added here. (In the interests of time, we may organize another way of doing this, so you can add links yourselves. We also reserve the right not to include them, as we want to keep this list short and essential. Thanks!)


What’s Happening in Wisconsin, Explained

Basics of what’s happening in Wisconsin, from Mother Jones magazine.
Plutocracy Now: What Wisconsin is Really All About
More background on Wisconsin, and the real reasons the Walker government attacked public workers by removing their bargaining rights. (Recent history starts on page 3 of this 5-page article.) Another one from Mother Jones mag.
Naomi Klein: The “Shock Doctrine” Unleashed by Right Wingers in Wisconsin and Throughout the Country

What state governments across the USA are getting out of recent legislative attacks on bargaining rights of public workers. An interview with Naomi Klein on Alternet.
General Strikes: Frequently Asked Questions and a brief history of what they have accomplished!/notes/call-for-a-nationwide-general-strike/general-strikes-frequently-asked-questions-and-a-brief-history-of-what-they-have/153810911347066

F.A.Q. and a brief history. Created by the Madison South Central Federation of Labor.

See our discussion forum thread here.

Please suggest readings and see other people’s recommendations in this discussion thread. Thanks!


About eslkevin

I am a peace educator who has taken time to teach and work in countries such as the USA, Germany, Japan, Nicaragua, Mexico, the UAE, Kuwait, Oman over the past 4 decades.
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13 Responses to The Call is Out for a Nationwide STRIKE in U.S.A. on March 31, 2011–Consider joining!

  1. eslkevin says:

    General Strikes: Frequently Asked Questions, and a brief history of what they have accomplished
    by Call for a Nationwide General Strike on Thursday, March 17, 2011 at 9:49am

    This was created by the South Central Federation of Labour ( in Madison, who have called for a general strike in Wisconsin. It’s a brief intro to what general strikes are and what they’ve accomplished in US history. It was based on a paper based by Prof. Peter Rachleff, Macalester College.

    General Strikes: A Brief History

    Although you may not have heard about them, general strikes have played an important role in American labor history. They have carved out key turning points, marking the emergence of a new kind of organization, a breakthrough in contesting political power, a new level of class consciousness, setting a tone for years of struggle to come. Legal or not, sanctioned or not, praised or demonized by the media, dramatized or ignored by history books, these strikes have been central to our history.

    What are general strikes?

    A general strike has usually involved workers from a broad range of occupations and industries, though with some geographic focus, such as a city or a state. While unionized workers have typically been at the core of general strikes, non-union workers, families, neighbors, students, and the unemployed have often joined in. These strikes have often started with economic demands, but they tend to move quickly to issues of procedure, rights, and justice. They might have begun as a solidarity/support action on behalf of a particular group of workers, but, in response to the behaviors of the authorities (repression by the police or militia, the recruitment of strikebreakers by employers, public disrespect by government officials), other unions, workers, and community organizations have extended the issues and demands of the strike to their own situations. That is, these strikes are about solidarity and self-expression at the same time. Above all, they are about power.

    A general strike has usually included enough participants to shut down most production, transportation, and even government functions. Once they have shut down most business, general strikes have put workers and their organizations in the position of having to decide how to “manage” society – which services should continue, how their delivery should be structured, who should receive these services, etc. This “management” has necessitated the creation of new kinds of labor organizations, linking the economic and the political, creating a more direct voice than usual for rank-and-file members, as well as a voice for service recipients, consumers, and citizens. In short, general strikes are not only expressions of class power, but they can call into existence new vehicles of class power.

    What circumstances have set the stage for general strikes?

    Periods of economic difficulty have often provided the context for general strikes. Employers push wage cuts onto one group of workers, with intentions to generalize them to the next, and the next. The situation embodies that old maxim, tweaked by Anne Feeney: “United we bargain, divided we beg.” At key points, employers might challenge the very existence of workers’ organizations, determined to have the power to unilaterally impose new wage levels, work rules, job descriptions, even a new organization of work.

    When employers have found workers mobilizing resistance, they have turned to the government for assistance – the enforcement of laws which restrict picketing, an increased police presence to protect strikebreakers, the criminalization of protest, and the outright repression of labor organizations. In these situations, workers talk more and more in terms of their “rights” and they raise questions about “democracy” and “justice.” Such circumstances have given birth to general strikes.

    What have been the outcomes of general strikes?

    Few general strikes have succeeded in winning all of their articulated demands. Through these struggles, a wage cut has been restored, union recognition and collective bargaining have been won or preserved, and even a reduction in work hours has been realized. But such tangible victories have been difficult to achieve. In part, the circumstances which have set the stage for general strikes have been so severe that the other side has had a lot at stake, and has, therefore, been willing to put substantial resources into play. From the working class’s perspective, it has been the intangible gains which have been the most important. General strikes have been the birthplace of new labor organizations, new social and political movements, even new levels of consciousness, and they have provided the necessary foundation for new stages in working class advancement that were to come.

    General strikes in U.S. history. Some highlights.

    Looking over our history, it is clear that there have been two kinds of situations which have given rise to general strikes: (1) depressions, in which employers seek to place the burden of hard times on workers; (2) post-war periods, in which employers seek to take back the gains that workers have made. You can find terrific accounts of some of these struggles in Jeremy Brecher, Strike! (South End Press, 1997) and George Lipsitz, Rainbow at Midnight: Labor and Culture in the 1940s (University of Illinois Press, 1994, especially Part Two: “Reconversion and General Strikes, 1945-1946”). One of the most interesting features of general strikes has been the extent to which, although they usually start out as “defensive,” as resistance to employer/government pressure on workers, they turn “offensive,” with workers seeking to improve their work and living situations, to expand their power, and to imagine a better world.

    There were major general strikes in the last quarter of the 19th century – (1) The “Great Upheaval” in the summer of 1877, when railroad workers’ strikes against wage cuts spread from the east coast to Chicago and St. Louis, and entire communities joined in, challenging the power not only of railroads, but also of banks and manufacturing corporations and, ultimately, local and state governments. Only the force of federal troops, pulled out of the South at the end of Reconstruction, was able to defeat this series of general strikes.

    (2) The May Day struggles of 1886, in which workers, skilled and unskilled, immigrant and native born, union and non-union, struck for a uniform 8 Hour Day for all workers. It was in this struggle that thousands of unskilled Polish steel mill laborers in Milwaukee joined with building trades and railroad workers to shut virtually every factory in the city. The Wisconsin militia, ordered by the governor to shoot, killed seven strikers on May 5, 1886. Elsewhere in the country, armed force was also used against strikers.

    (3) The Pullman “Boycott” of 1894, in which on-the-road railroad workers provided solidarity for the shop workers who built sleeping cars. As in 1877 and 1886, the struggles of some workers inspired others to provide solidarity and join in the struggle (against wage cuts, against the corporate power manifested in company towns). Only the first ever federal injunction against a strike and lengthy prison sentences broke this strike, and, even then, it took weeks and months to do so.

    And there were major general strikes in the 20th century –

    (1) The Seattle General Strike in January 1919. In the wake of World War I, as the economy slowed down, employers sought to break the power and undermine the standards that unionized workers had gained during the war. In Seattle, they began with the shipyards workers. But, organized as the Metal Trades Council, these 35,000 workers gained the support of workers throughout the city, leading to a general strike. Some 60,000 workers left their jobs, organized through the Central Labor Union, and began to manage the city, from traffic flows to hospital deliveries, under their own control. In the aftermath of the strike, unions organized producers’ and consumer cooperatives which would last throughout the 1920s.

    (2) The Minneapolis, San Francisco, and Toledo general strikes of 1934. In the midst of the Great Depression, workers in particular industries began to organize, using new forms, such as industrial unions, and new tactics, such as sitdown strikes and roving pickets. When employers dug in against them and pressured local governments to mobilize the police to break strikes, workers of all sorts, unemployed as well as employed, offered solidarity to the strikers and, quickly, began to organize themselves into new unions. Not only did most of the strikers win their immediate battles and gain union recognition, but the militancy they manifested pushed Congress to pass the National Labor Relations Act in 1935, providing a peaceful path to union recognition, with worker access to collective bargaining.

    (3) In 1945-1946, the United States was wracked with strikes – industrywide strikes in auto, steel, meatpacking, coal mining, where workers and their unions fought to maintain the price controls of the wartime economy, and citywide strikes in Stamford, Connecticut, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Rochester, NY, Pittsburgh, Houston, and Oakland, where workers, unions, and community organizations fought to protect workers’ rights to organize, collectively bargain, and, through politics, have an independent voice in their cities. Unions, with the support of community organizations, shut down not only manufacturing production and transportation, but also brought government activities to a halt. These struggles were ultimately defeated by red-baiting, the use of police and National Guard, and the offering of raises to some of the workers involved. Most importantly, employers and their government allies responded with the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947, which outlawed two key expressions of solidarity, the sympathy strike and the secondary boycott. In its wake, the labor movement slid into a period of prolonged decline.

    Of course, the story does not end here. Workers in other countries have often used the general strike to advance our interests. In Ontario, Canada in the mid-1990’s, workers fought back against government attacks very similar to those we are now facing in Wisconsin. Workers have a rich history of standing together when assaults upon their futures are most severe. With clear and specific demands, workers have been able to achieve those goals. The Walker administration’s assault on the Wisconsin that our grandparents, parents, and we have made shapes the fight we have ahead of us – for not only those who have come and fought before us but for those generations of us to come; for our kids and for our kid’s kids. Judging by the over 300,000 people who have been in the streets over the last three weeks, it is that rich “living history” in Wisconsin that those forces opposing us have underestimated.

    Download this as a PDF:

  2. eslkevin says:







    From Cairo to Wisconsin the people have taken to the streets to demand justice. The grinding poverty under which too many of us are living has caused enough pain and we will join in solidarity with all those who are suffering to hold a GENERAL STRIKE ON MARCH 21st. SPRING BREAK FOR THE AMERICAN WORKER!

    We labor for wages that cannot support a family, while the super-rich are giving themselves billions in bonus money. The corporate machine lays us off and the government cuts our jobs, and now they even want to take away collective bargaining. They want to take away a hard won health care victory, they want to take away our homes, they want to take away our social security, and cut medicaid all for the sake of lower taxes for the rich. They have no idea of the pain they inflict upon the poor and the worker and now even on the middle class.

    NO MORE!


    If they won’t listen to us we do it again until they do.

    Again on April 14 and 15.

    Again on May 2, 3, 4.

    Then a week in June another in July, August.

    By Labor Day if not sooner they’ll beg us to the bargaining table, because we can shut down this country if they force us to.

    The General Strike has proved helpful in many places to improve the worker’s lot. Since they want to kill the unions and the union’s bargaining power, lets consider facebook as our new collective bargaining tool.


    1. Jobs and Job Security

    We demand full employment. Unemployment Bureau is a misnomer. It should be THE EMPLOYMENT BUREAU. Unemployment insurance should then be EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE. The government shall be the employer of last resort.

    We demand that all teachers, police, fire and EMT’s be rehired and that we beef

    up education and public safety. It is a matter of national security! We cannot afford not to do this at the very least.

    THERE SHALL BE UNION REPRESENTATION IN ALL WORKPLACES. The workers shall elect representatives from the workforce who will negotiate on behalf of the worker. THAT’S CALLED COLLECTIVE BARGAINING.

    No more layoffs or terminations without a review of elected workforce representation. Grievances shall be brought to the same representatives for mediation and negotiation. WE INSIST ON UNION PROTECTION FOR THE AMERICAN WORKER.

    Figure out how to bring our jobs home again. We want to buy American made products again.

    2. Wages

    We demand an immediate doubling of the minimum wage.

    We demand an immediate increase of 20% of all wages under $100,000. You can figure out how to pay for that but you can begin with a super-tax on the super-rich.

    And we want another 20% bonus for our work too on November so we can spend it on Black Friday and pump up the economy. They’ve been giving themselves billions in bonuses while we were losing our jobs and suffering from cutbacks, and losing our homes. You owe us!

    3. Universal Health Care

    We have fought long and hard for healthcare. It is unconscionable that in this country anyone should be deprived of good health care. Now you want to take away this modest advance on behalf of millions of folk in this nation! NO! We demand healthcare. We’re willing to negotiate how to pay for it. But we demand it and we demand it now. Hands off heath care!

    4. Two Year Moratorium on Foreclosures

    You made a huge mess and we bailed you out (Banks & Mortgage Companies, Finance Institutions.) Now its your turn to bail us out. No more foreclosures for two years while we secure the American worker with good jobs and good pay. Then you better be ready to cut a deal, or its back to the streets!

    5. Three Weeks Paid Vacation

    You keep preaching to us about family values. I’ll tell you about family values. We want a minimum of three weeks paid vacation, two weeks annual allowance for illness, and five personal days a year. We cannot afford what you have. The least you can do for us is give us time with those we love. Then, as a bonus we’ll take four weeks after five years working for you.


    Paul Bresnahan is a semi-retired Episcopal Priest living in Lynn, Massachusetts.

  3. eslkevin says:

    We’re calling for a day of NON-VIOLENT ACTION to show the thieving heartless corporations and the politicians they own that WE THE PEOPLE make this democracy work and this country great. If possible do not go to work or class and participate in this rally in solidarity with the General Strike called for in Wisconsin and now the Nationwide General Strike!!!

    Walker’s proposed budget bill strips most collective bargaining rights from Wisconsin public workers, putting Medicare and other health care directly in the hands of the Governor, and allowing DHS to enact emergency laws with no legislative oversight.

    The lower 98% in the U.S. are under attack in a way not seen in generations. From union busting to outsourcing to mass layoffs, the working people of this country are being assaulted by corporations and plutocrats. While we lose our jobs, our benefits, and take cuts in pay, the rich are awarded massive tax breaks and amass obscene amounts of wealth. They buy politicians to do their bidding and pull the strings of corporate media to tell us that WE have to make sacrifices.

    We believe that the workers, the unemployed, the underemployed, the students, the bottom 98% — have sacrificed ENOUGH and that it is time for us to say NO.

    March 31st is the birthday of César Chávez, one of the preeminent labor and civil rights leaders in the U.S. during the 20th century. César Chávez and his incredible work helped to build the US Labor movement.

    * Calendar
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  4. eslkevin says:

    Some AFL-CIO members will be strking.

    Why is the US Media not covering this???

  5. eslkevin says:

    Students are going to be on strike for education.

  6. eslkevin says:

    Pilots in India are going to strike on March 31, too.

    Air France is already on strike.

  7. eslkevin says:

    2011-03-31/9a-9p: Call for a Nationwide General Strike

    A call for a Nationwide General Strike!!
    Time Thursday, March 31 · 9:00am – 9:00pm
    Location From sea to shining sea…
    Created By Mike Benedict, Yuri Hall Keegstra
    [Page: Call for a Nationwide General Strike

    More Info We all know the time has come! If not
    now, when? March 31,(César Chávez’s birthday)
    will be a national day of marches, rallies,
    non-violent demonstrations, protests and I’ll bet
    a lot of people call in sick that day. This is a
    true grassroots movement and will depend on local
    organizing. The hard working men and women of
    this country are being attacked by corporate
    sponsored Republicans and must stand united.
    History is repeating itself. The idea of trickle
    down economics was tried back in the 1890’s under
    the name horse and sparrow theory. It worked
    great for the Rockefeller’s, Carnegie’s and
    robber barons (the top 2%) What happened? In 1892
    there was a steel workers strike in Homestead PA
    that started a string of nationwide protests.
    These ACTS OF SOLIDARITY created the modern
    working middle class. Today the fight is the same
    and MADISON IS THE NEW HOMESTEAD. It is up to us
    to fight for the middle class of tomorrow! SOLIDARITY FOREVER!

  8. Pingback: GENERAL STRIKE NEWS–USA, MARCH 31, 2011 « Eslkevin's Blog

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