In late December 2011 the General Assembly (GA) of Occupy Los Angeles issued a call for a national and international general strike. The strike, planned for May 1, 2012, would demand immigrant rights, environmental sustainability, a moratorium on foreclosures, the end of current wars, and jobs for all. Occupy LA issued the call in the aftermath of stirring and largely successful West Coast actions in the months before, including the Oakland General Strike on November 2 and the West Coast Port Shut-down on December 12.
May Day is an international workers’ holiday, celebrating labor movements and progressive causes. At present it is an official national holiday in more than eighty countries. Its first celebration was in 1890, commemorating the “Haymarket Martyrs,” killed when Chicago police opened fire on workers who were striking for an eight-hour work day. More recently in the United States, May Day has been the occasion for
Occupy LA’s call for a general strike found ready listeners in Boston. Shortly after the new year, a new working group took shape, General Strike Occupy Boston (GSOB), which began planning Boston-area May Day actions. On January 8 the group brought a resolution before the Occupy Boston GA, and the resolution was approved: Occupy Boston was ready to strike.
Traditionally, a general strike refers to the halting of work in a multitude of workplaces for a certain period of time. General strikes are usually called by unions for a combination of political and economic ends. GSOB is also inspired by the West Coast general strikes of late 2011, which were characterized by community pickets of specific industrial targets, by massive urban street actions, and by scattered individual and collective acts of solidarity, like student support strikes and sick-outs. Additionally, small businesses were asked to close shop, and many did so in solidarity.
However, GSOB did not want to adopt recent West Coast strike methods wholesale and unchanged. Instead, activists sought to build a day of protest-actions responsive to the local political and social contexts of Boston.
To accomplish this, one of GSOB’s first steps was to reach out to the already-existing Boston May Day Coalition (BMDC). In recent years BMDC has spearheaded the annual marches and rallies taking place in local immigrant communities. Starting with the nation-wide actions in 2006, immigrant communities in and around Boston have been celebrating May Day as a day of action addressing the urgent problems of immigrant life, as well as the holiday’s traditional significance for working-class solidarity.
As a result of these discussions, GSOB has developed a full program of actions for Boston this May First.
The day’s events will start early: a Financial District Block Party is scheduled to start at 7 am on the corner of Federal Street & Franklin Street in downtown Boston.
BMDC and GSOB will hold a permit-approved May Day rally at Boston City Hall Plaza. Following the rally participants are encouraged to head to East Boston to march in solidarity with immigrant communities. These marches are planned to start at approximately 2 pm and move from East Boston, Chelsea, and Revere to Everett for a rally at 4 pm.
Later in the evening, there will be a “Funeral March” for the banks
Taking its cue from the developing “Occupy May Day” movement,
GSOB has adopted the theme “Occupy May First – A Day Without the 99%.” This May Day GSOB urges the 99% to strike, skip work, walk out of school, and refrain from shopping, banking and business. If GSOB’s plans are successful, then, for one day, a significant portion of the 99% will disappear from the capitalist economic machine.
To find out more about upcoming May Day actions check out the Facebook event page- .