It’s that time of year once again. It’s the time of year where anarchists, communists, and various other labor radicals flood the streets in celebration of the labor movement, in remembrance of the Haymarket affair, and in protest of the oppression we still face as working class people. This May Day comes during the recent wave of teachers strikes which have swept across several states, including West Virginia, Oklahoma, Colorado, and Arizona. Most inspiring is the fact that this is a grassroots movement, with many of the strikes being called for by teachers themselves while some union leaders have attempted to dissuade teachers from striking. Despite union pleas and legal consequences, these teachers march on and continue to inspire teachers in other states to organize similarly. This is a tendency we should encourage and support in any way possible, including solidarity pickets, phone zaps, and providing food, childcare, legal funds, and other resources to those on strike.
In addition to celebrating the anniversary of the Haymarket affair, May 1st is also the anniversary of the Great American Boycott, the 2006 immigrant general strike when immigrants, primarily Latinx workers and students, boycotted all united states businesses and schools. So it is with that in mind that we stand in solidarity with working-class immigrants. This means standing behind the Dreamer movement, and groups such as the Coalition of Immokalee Workers and Madres Sin Fronteras in their battles against ICE, anti-immigrant racists, and bosses alike. This means actively hiding immigrants from the law, protesting and/or interfering in ICE raids and deportations, forming rapid response teams, fighting for and/or building sanctuary cities, campuses, churches, and houses, helping raise money for legal fees, providing regular education on immigration law to those who are most affected, supporting the Fair Food Program and boycotting Wendy’s, and doing anything else our fellow workers ask us to do that we are able to help with.
But beyond that, we must stand with other marginalized workers, especially prison slaves and sex workers. As Operation PUSH continues on and prisoners are getting ready to celebrate Juneteenth by giving the slave masters hell, we should show our support by writing to striking prisoners and asking what resources and help they need. Such aid can include various things including lawyers, solidarity pickets, rallies, and boycotts, commissary funds, legal funds, educational literature, delivery of demands to various officials, and so much more. Many groups are tackling the issue on various levels including the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons, Anarchist Black Cross, and the National Lawyers Guild.
With the recent passage of the Stop Enabling Sex Trafficking Act (SESTA) and the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), our fellow workers in the sex industry have come under attack under the guise of fighting sex trafficking. With sites such as Backpage coming under attack, many of our fellow workers in the sex trade are losing income, customers, and safety. Even legal sex work like porn has come under attack as social media sites have begun to censor accounts for fear of government action, thus taking away an important means of advertising for amateur pornstars and models. The worker’s rights movement has been sorely lacking when it comes to advocating for sex workers rights and this needs to change.
Currently, the IWW is one of the only unions which organizes with sex workers. In addition to the great work that Sex Trade Workers Industrial Union 690 accomplishes through the IWW, other groups such as the Sex Workers Outreach Project (SWOP), the Red Umbrella Project, and the Global Network of Sex Work Projects are all fighting for the rights and autonomy of sex workers worldwide. Other things you can do to help your sex worker friends is to fight the stigmatization of sex work, advocate and organize against laws that harm them and their clients, promote alternative social media such as Switter, and provide mutual aid and financial support to those who have lost income due to recent legal crackdowns. You can also support efforts to expose politicians who have voted against sex workers while employing them for their own personal pleasure. The Ethereum-based blockchain startup SpankChain is even offering a reward to any sex workers who can offer reliable information on political clients in order to aid the cause and expose these hypocritical politicians.
With all of this in mind we must remember to follow the lead of working-class teachers, immigrants, prisoners, and sex workers as they organize their own respective workplaces and provide as much physical, emotional, and material support as possible. As working class people we must remember that an injury to one is an injury to all and that none of us are truly free until all of us are truly free. That is why we stand together in solidarity with all working class peoples regardless of the public perception or legality of their job field. All workers deserve respect. So give the schools to the teachers, abolish the borders and unionize immigrants, abolish the prisons and the police who uphold that system, decriminalize sex work, and unite with workers worldwide in the spirit of freedom.
Long live the labor movement and happy May Day!