With the backdrop of Oakland’s extremely successful General Strike (not successful in that we destroyed state and capital, but that Oakland was fucking shut down: many banks and businesses shut down not in support of the occupy movement, but for fear of retaliation, not to mention the always militant longshoremen union shutting down the port), on Wednesday a cluster of some 30 people from OccupySTL, participated in a show of strike support at two separate workplaces places that happened to be mere 6 blocks away from one another. This is one participant’s account of that day.
The first place we visited was the state social services building at 3101 Chouteau where 74 out of the 110 workers had called in sick the day before (Tuesday), since it is illegal for state workers in Missouri to strike – ain’t that a damn shame? [Local news report on the “massive sick-out”]
Small groups of us filed into the building at different intervals to not draw attention to ourselves. After everyone was in, several people loudly announced:
“We are here to support the workers who called in sick yesterday. We — some of us workers, students, unemployed, food stamp recipients — from Occupy St. Louis, believe the your grievance is ours. Together we are strong. Today in California workers are striking, encouraged by the actions of Occupy Oakland. Today, just down the street, machinists at F&C Truck Sales and Service are striking. You’re not alone. The time to strike is now! Strike, Strike, Occupy!”
Others handed out fliers of that announcement to both people in the waiting area and to workers in their rows of cubicles. Two other fliers were also handed out: one, a list of successful wildcat strikes in the St. Louis area over the past decade, and the other, OccupySTL’s official statement of support for all strikes and student walkouts – intending most of all, to encourage them.
Others of us unfurled banners: one reading, “In case of emergency – strike, occupy, takeover!” and another reading, “Be not afraid to strike” which was hung outside across the street immediately after we left the office so the workers (and others) would see it when they left work in an hour.
After the announcement, people chanted “STRIKE, STRIKE, OCCUPY!” for a few minutes – enough time to get our message across, and not long enough to warrant arrest or repercussions from the smiling security guards. Many caseworkers clapped and cheered and others came out to the waiting area to smile and thank us. We had a lot of positive feedback & cheers. We heard later that some of the workers were emboldened by this and challenged each other to walk out with us. One of the main purposes of the strike support was to encourage and embolden each other, to let them know they are not alone and that we have their back.
Then we walked a few blocks down to F&C Truck Sales and Service, where all 30 mechanics had been on strike for almost a week, and joined their picket with a couple banners of ours: the remaining banner from the social services building and another with the Cardinals logo (who just won the world series) and the word “Classwar” instead of Cardinals on it.
We let the mechanics know what had just happened, and had a fun time hanging out occupying the corner of Jefferson & Chouteau holding banners and signs and handing out the previously mentioned fliers to passing motorists for an hour. Then we headed back to the occupation.