Nearly 5,000 New Jersey Verizon workers went out on strike 19 days ago; on the East Coast almost 40,000. This strike is big, and the issues at its heart are now in the narrative of the Democratic primary – Sanders and Clinton both. If you want to help get the strikers’ back, like I do, this Wednesday is a great time to show up, and show solidarity. You won’t believe the difference you can make. The where, when and how you can, below in red. – Rosi
On May 2, 1933 – 83 years ago today – Adolf Hitler’s storm troopers raided all trade union headquarters across Germany, seizing assets, confiscating the union funds – the workers’ combined money – arresting union leaders, torturing some, sending others to prison or concentration camps. Strikes were outlawed, collective bargaining abolished. Shopped in, was the German Labor Front, subordinating the class solidarity of organized workers with nationalist solidarity and the selling of mass industrialization behind Hitler’s war effort. He began this one day after May Day – 83 days ago yesterday – which he’d made a paid national holiday, lulling working-class Germans to think they were being celebrated. In The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William Shirer called this “an elaborate piece of trickery” – genius propaganda and misdirection to dispatch with a force that might rise up against him. A key in Hitler’s recreation of Germany as both a corporatist and fascist state.
Yeah. America isn’t Germany. And 2016 isn’t 1933. Stipulated.
And the massive, current Verizon strike is its own thing. The issue of income inequality galvanized the Bernie Sanders campaign, and even briefly drew in former Walmart board member Hillary Clinton – and Bill. And no matter who’s left standing, the concerns of the 99% must be a Democratic priority, or the party’s platform is worth nothing. The push-pull of huge corporate power against ordinary working people, that show goes on and on and on. The skullduggery is more subtle, and nobody’s hauled away in a truck. America is already corporatist; we can argue about whether it has its own scary fascist tendencies some other time. And working people have lost a lot of battles – but things may be looking up.
This past weekend, Newsweek asked the question: Does the Verizon strike signal a resurgence of labor? Their short answer was Yes. Newsweek plows easily through Verizon’s tactics, as this enormously profitable company seeks to whittle away hard-won benefits and shift good jobs overseas to lower-wage workers. So did this Star-Ledger editorial, coming down against Verizon. Newsweek goes farther, finding in the Verizon strike and the #FightFor15 movement new energy standing up to corporate power, tackling the gap between company profits and what the workers who drive those profits take home. Want to help?
Show striking Verizon workers you’ve got their backs – these suggestions come from striking workers at CWA:
1. Visit a picket line! Stay for as long as you can, but at least half an hour so you have time to talk to the workers on the line and encourage them. Here are some picket lines at Verizon Wireless stores that you can join on Wednesday, May 4th – plus the best times, and addresses.
2. Bring things, if you can, that comfort and encourage and entertain:
- Food – really appreciated: healthy fruit & snacks, homemade food or desserts, water, hot coffee, pizza, ice cream, sandwiches.
- Music – nothing loud, but your iPod, guitar, or anything, music makes the line fun.
- Your family – Tired strikers would love to see your kids. The little ones all the way up to teens. And your grandmother.
- Your local politician. Call the mayor, council, Freeholder, school board member. Ask them to come with.
3. Hey, Verizon: After you’ve been to the picketline – tell Verizon to stop trying to destroy middle-class jobs. You can do that like this:
- Sign this petition to Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams.
- Write a letter to the editor saying you support the striking workers and won’t be buying Verizon Wireless products till the strike is settled.
- Post photos of yourself & family at the picket line. Strike supporters are using hashtag #StandUp2Vz
Observe the rules, protect the line:
Strikers don’t block the entrance to the store, that’s important. You can talk to people, and ask them to respect the line and not go in and buy Verizon products – but observe good manners. Don’t block people, be respectful if they disagree. They usually keep about 10 people, or fewer picketing in front of the store. And if there are more, congregate together where the public can see them. In most places, local police have been fantastic. But if the store manager tells them the strikers are blocking the entrance, police have to move them. Verizon actually developed an app to record picket action, so be mindful and don’t do anything that puts strikers at risk. Your own respectful nature and common sense should do it. And your smiling face works wonders to striking workers on their feet, tired and fighting the good fight. On Wednesday, let’s go get their backs.