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Why I’m Striking

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Wed, May 2, 2012

Women Occupy

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By Janet Weil

My husband works in information technology for a large corporation. After a little encouragement from me when I mentioned the upcoming General Strike on May Day, he decided to take a “comp day” and join the action with me on May Day. Here’s why in his own words:  “I’m striking because I refuse to be part of a chastened and fearful American workforce and I am fed up with injustice … and I knew it would make you happy.”

His statement, and the “why I strike” tumblr (http://whyistrike.tumblr.com), inspired me to write my own reasons for striking:

  • Because war criminals go on book tours while their victims’ corpses rot, and the families grieve.
  • Because women bear the brunt of economic injustice.
  • Because 22-yr-olds leave college with heavy loads of debt and few job prospects.
  • Because men and women (and yes, even children) roll themselves in blankets and sleep in doorways, night after night.
  • Because my friend – a professor – got a police baton in the chest when she tried to protect UC students from violent cops at Occupy Cal.
  • Because “there aren’t enough funds” for childcare or shelters, but there are always enough funds for the Pentagon and the increasingly militarized police forces.
  • Because financial crooks hedge their funds and shield their income from taxes and play games with the global economy.
  • Because poor people have to pay large fees to cash their small paychecks.
  • Because women do so much emotional labor, mostly unpaid and unthanked.
  • Because 22-yr-olds leave college with heavy loads of debt and few job prospects.
  • Because my friend the professor got a police baton in the chest when she tried to protect UC students from violent cops.
  • Because November 2’s General Strike in Oakland was one of the most free and joyous days of my life.
  • Because December 12’s West Coast Port Shutdown was filled wtih solidarity and love. Because people are counting on me to show up and speak out with them.
  • Because I know I’ll have a good time. Because I know we’ll make a difference. Because I want to.
  • Because I am part of the 99%. Because I’m not waiting any longer for someone else to do something to “save” us. Because the 1% need to see us in action, and I am part of that.
  • Because of Mary “Mother” Jones the widowed, childless, brilliant labor organizer. Because of Malallai Joya, the Afghan woman leader. Because of women everywhere who risk their lives to go on strike, to support their men on strike, to refuse sex to men in their own form of strikes that aren’t in history books (yet).
  • Because of my son. Because of my young friends and colleagues. Because of children. Because of the grandchild I hope someday to hold in my arms.
  • Because I’m sick of the way things are, and because I know we can make another way, many other ways forward.

Thousands of people are taking today off work, leaving early or at least posting a sign in their window or cubicle wall showing solidarity.  I was inspired to see a May Pole go up in Union Square today.

May Day started as a struggle for the 8-hour work day in Chicago in 1886. Many people have suffered and died over the past decade of economic injustice and wars. Let’s remember the words of labor organizer Mary “Mother” Jones, who lived in Chicago in 1886: “Pray for the dead, and work like hell for the living!”

Janet Weil is the national grassroots coordinator at CODEPINK Women for Peace (www.codepink.org), and is an activist with Occupy Oakland and Women Occupy (www.womenoccupy.org).  She lives in the Bay Area, CA and can be reached at info[at]codepink.org.

 

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