Economic Shutdown: The Power of General Strikes

How to Use a General Strike Sticker to Shut Down the Economy

A general strike is a way to shut down the economy. It was used in a variety of ways by workers from all sorts of sectors to demand better wages, conditions, and pay.

Thousands of railroad track workers strike for an eight hour work day, pay increases, overtime on Sundays and holidays, and no discrimination.

The Kalispell Brewery Strike

The workers were demanding higher wages and shorter hours. They also asked all IWW members to cease drinking Kalispell beer and for saloons not to buy it.

The brewery quickly halted production, creating a beer shortage in the city. The strike lasted until the brewery and workers agreed to new contracts that addressed their original concerns. The beer was finally released in November.

The Fortine River Strike

Workers on the Fortine River ceased work in a demand for higher wages and improved living conditions. Fellow IWW members have offered to help supply food for the strikers.

IWW members helped win a 15 cent raise in a smelting plant and an eight hour day for workers at a mining camp. A textile workers strike has lasted seven weeks. Many foreign strike breakers refuse to go back to work.

The Cascade Lumber Strike

Lumber workers in Northern Minnesota strike for a 25 cent raise and fair working conditions. *Not an IWW strike.

Ship yards in Aberdeen shut down as a result of the massive lumber strike.

Bird cage workers at a local factory go on strike. They ask waiters and store clerks to refuse service to anyone not in their union. They also demand shorter hours and better wages.

The San Diego Sewer Strike

The city dodged a bullet when water-quality control officials postponed a decision on whether to impose a growth-busting ban on sewer hookups in burgeoning North City West. The board will now consider an emergency plan to stop sewage spills from the Sorrento Valley pump station.

Sewer rates for most San Diego rate payers will increase by 5% in 2022, though single-family homes and nonresidential users will see a decrease.

The Italian Excavator Strike

Ester, a small excavator operator, is on strike for eight hour days. She is able to convince other workers to join her and are holding out against scabs.

A worker committee (commissioni interne) breaks with the union oligarchy at the plant. This action inspires others to walk out, as does a PCI leaflet calling for a general strike. This is the start of a major industrial strike in Italy.

The Sheridan Lumber Strike

The massive lumber strike spreads from North Dakota to the coast. It includes a large number of IWW mill and logging workers.

In Spokane 52 lumber workers stick together, without food, until they get their pay. This is a great show of solidarity. It also has implications for the sugar worker strikes. IWW longshoremen and seamen on sugar boats join the protest.

The Bethlehem Strike

Bethlehem Steel’s Lackawanna plant outside Buffalo, N.Y. went out on strike after the company refused to recognize a union at the plant. The strike lasted only 38 hours and ended with a settlement in which discharged workers were reinstated, grievance procedures were established and union recognition was granted.

The steel workers fought back by forming solid picket lines at seven gates that stretched for two miles. They taunted police, lured them into dark alley-ways and pelted them with rocks and broken bottles.

The United Engineering Company Strike

Skilled structural iron workers of Hansel & Ellcock Construction Company went on strike for a 30 cent/hour raise. They asked for funds from any and all IWW members.

USW members in City of Industry, Calif., ratify a new contract that includes wage increases and other improvements. The union also wins a trade case challenging millions of dumped and subsidized Chinese truck and bus tires.

The French Textile Workers Strike

Nov. 15 – Decree laws go into effect. Workers crash police lines to protest in factories.

French transport workers are on strike. Bus routes are not running and the Toulouse tram service is significantly reduced.

Two refineries are blockaded. Kerosene supplies at Charles De Gaulle airport are low. The IWW is soliciting funds to support the strikers. The strikers are also seeking shorter working hours.

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