A Strike Is Not a Protest

May Day for a New Millennium

If you are part of a labor union, striking is straightforward: Don’t go to work.

What about those of us who are freelancers and contract workers, who cobble together part-time jobs, who have clients rather than bosses? Do I renegotiate deadlines, or miss them altogether? Set didactic out-of-office autoreply messages? Stop writing for the day? Not wipe my child’s nose?

How, in short, does my work fit into the world? Who depends on my work? Who is harmed if I withdraw it?

This May Day, I can demonstrate in support of workers and immigrants — and I will. I can refrain from buying food out for the day — and I will.

But this isn’t a strike. A strike is not a protest or a boycott.

When workers strike en masse, they demonstrate their power. They remind the ruling classes that their work is indispensable and that without their foundation, power structures will wither and collapse.

A strike is not a protest. A strike is a threat.

Like what you read? Give Kira B. Hamilton a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.