The logistics of actually pulling this thing off.

by Hamilton Nolan, How Things Work

After winning a nationwide strike against the Big Three automakers last year, the UAW said, “We invite unions around the country to align your contract expirations with our own so that together we can begin to flex our collective muscles.” That contract expiration date is May 1, 2028. It was a call to prepare for a May Day general strike, a perpetual dream of many labor radicals. But coming from the UAW—a major union, with major resources, with a crusading new president, which had just won a strike and plunged into a big national organizing drive and which appears to be very serious about everything it says—it instantly became a uniquely plausible dream.

Since that public call six months ago, I and many others have been musing over what it would actually take to pull such an audacious coordinated action together. A few days ago at the Labor Notes Conference in Chicago, we got some good hints. Inside a small meeting room that was so packed that the door couldn’t be opened without pushing people who were sitting on the floor, the UAW’s Chris Brooks and Greg Nammacher from SEIU Local 26 in Minneapolis talked to a room full of union activists and officials about the nuts and bolts of this thing. It is still much too early to know how real these plans will become, but the conversation in that room at least showed what the contours of a May Day 2028 General Strike might look like.

strike signs lying on the ground

First of all, it must be said that the UAW has other shit to do right now. It’s not like they’re dedicating all their time to organizing a general strike. They’re in the midst of trying to organize the South. Their contract expiration dates are already set. They want other unions to figure out how to set themselves up for a coordinated action. A number of people in the room told Brooks that it would be helpful if their union leaders could have a set contact point at UAW who would help them coordinate, and he appeared to take that in in good faith, but the UAW doesn’t seem to have any sort of big ongoing staffed effort to coordinate this thing right now. They are in the “inspire others to do this thing which is a collective effort” phase, which is fine.

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