Friday, March 30, 2012

All Out May Day 2012: A Day Without the 99% -General Strike Occupy Boston Working Group

Markin comment:

This draft report from GSOB was passed to me. GSOB is looking for May Day actions endorsements and, more importantly, mass participation by working groups, collectives, affinity groups and organizations.
All Out May Day 2012: A Day Without the 99% -General Strike Occupy Boston Working Group

In late December 2011 the General Assembly (GA) of Occupy Los Angeles, in the aftermath of the stirring and successful November 2nd Oakland General Strike and December 12th West Coast Port Shutdown, issued a call for a national and international general strike centered on immigrant rights, environmental sustainability, a moratorium on foreclosures, an end to the wars, and jobs for all. These and other political issues such as transparency and horizontal democracy that have become associated with the Occupy movement are to be featured in the actions set for May Day 2012.

May Day is the historic international working class holiday that has been celebrated each year in many parts of the world since the time of the Haymarket Martyrs in Chicago in 1886 and the struggle for the eight-hour work day. More recently it has been a time for the hard-pressed immigrant communities here in America to join together in the fight against deportations and other discriminatory aspects of governmental immigration policy.

Some political activists here in Boston, mainly connected with Occupy Boston (OB), decided just after the new year to support that general strike call and formed the General Strike Occupy Boston working group (GSOB). GSOB has met, more or less weekly, since then to plan our own May Day actions. The first step in that process was to bring a resolution incorporating the Occupy Los Angeles issues before the GA of Occupy Boston for approval. That resolution was approved by GA OB on January 8, 2012.

Early discussions within the working group centered on drawing the lessons of the West Coast actions last fall. Above all what is and what isn’t a general strike. Traditionally a general strike, as witness the recent actions in Greece and other countries, is called by workers’ organizations and/or parties for a specified period of time in order to shut down substantial parts of the capitalist economy over some set of immediate demands. A close analysis of the West Coast actions showed a slightly different model: one based on community pickets of specified industrial targets, downtown mass street actions, and scattered individual and collective acts of solidarity like student support strikes and sick-outs. Additionally, small businesses and other allies were asked to close and some did close in solidarity.

That latter model seemed more appropriate to the tasks at hand in Boston given its sparse recent militant labor history and that it is a regional financial, technological and educational hub rather than an industrial center. GSOB also came to a realization that successful actions in Boston on May Day 2012 would not necessarily exactly follow the long established radical and labor traditions of the West Coast. Our focus will be actions and activities that respond and reflect the Boston political situation as we attempt to create, re-create really, an on-going May Day tradition beyond the observance of the day by labor radicals and the immigrant communities.

Over the past several years, starting with the nation-wide actions in 2006, the Latin and other immigrant communities in and around Boston have been celebrating May Day as a day of action on the very pressing problem of immigration status as well as the traditional working class solidarity holiday. It was no accident that Los Angeles, scene of massive immigration actions in the past and currently one of the areas facing the brunt of the deportation drives by the Obama administration, would be in the lead to call for national actions this year. One of the first steps GSOB took was to try to reach out to the already existing Boston May Day Coalition (BMDC), which has spearheaded the annual marches and rallies in the immigrant communities, in order to learn of their experiences and to coordinate actions. After making such efforts GSOB has joined forces with BMDC in order to coordinate the over-all May Day actions.

Taking our cue from the developing Occupy May Day movement, especially the broader and more inclusive messages coming out of Occupy Wall Street, GSOB has centered our slogans on the theme of “Occupy May First - A Day Without the 99%” in order to highlight the fact that in capitalist America labor, of one kind or another, has created all the wealth but has not shared in the accumulated profits. Highlighting the increasing economic gap, political voiceless-ness, and social issues related to race, class, sexual inequality, gender and the myriad other oppressions we face under capitalism is in keeping with the efforts initiated by Occupy Boston last fall.

On May Day GSOB is calling on the 99% to strike, skip work, walk out of school, and refrain from shopping, banking and business in order to implement that general slogan. We encourage working people to request the day off, or to call in sick. Small businesses are encouraged to close for the day and join the rest of the 99% in the streets.

For students at all levels GSOB is calling for a walk-out of classes. Further we call on college students to occupy the universities. With a huge student population of over 250,000 in the Boston area no-one-size-fits- all strategy seems appropriate. Each kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, high school, college, graduate school and wayward think tank should plan its own strike actions and GSOB suggests at some point in the day that all meet at a central location in downtown Boston.

In the early hours on May 1st members of the 99% will converge on the Boston Financial District for a day of direct action to demand an end to corporate rule and a shift of power to the people. The Financial District Block Party will start at 7:00 AM on the corner of Federal Street & Franklin Street in downtown Boston. Banks and corporations are strongly encouraged to close down for the day.

At noon there will be a permit-approved May Day rally at Boston City Hall Plaza jointly sponsored by BMDC and GSOB. Following the rally participants are encouraged to head to East Boston for solidarity marches centered on the immigrant communities that will start at approximately 2:00 PM and move from East Boston, Chelsea, and Revere to Everett for a rally at 4:00 PM. Other activities that afternoon for those who chose not to go to East Boston will be scheduled in and around the downtown area.

That evening, for those who cannot for whatever reasons participate in the daytime actions, there will be a “Funeral March” for the banks forming at 7:00 PM at Copley Square that steps off at 8:00 PM and will march throughout the downtown area.

The GSOB is urging the following slogans for May 1st. - No work. No school. No chores. No shopping. No banking. Let’s show the 1% that we have the power. Let’s show the world what a day without the 99% really means. And let’s return to the old traditions of May Day as a day of international solidarity with our working and oppressed sisters and brothers around the world. GSOB urges -All Out For May Day 2012!

GSOB meets every Thursday at Encuentro 5, 33 Harrison Avenue, Boston (Chinatown) from 5:15-6:45 PM. April 26th will be an all-inclusive final planning meeting sponsored by BMDC-GSOB. Check us out on Facebook and the Facebook event page-!/Occupy.May1.Boston

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