The Million Worker and Student Strike to Save Our Lives
A revolutionary act of protest to enact change in the U.S. and beyond starts with bringing capitalism to its knees.
When we think of our identities, we often think of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, etc. Under capitalism, however, our primary identity is ‘worker.’ This identity influences and dictates so much of our life, yet we rarely reflect on it; we simply accept it as inevitable and inescapable. Stagnant wages and a drastic increase in costs of living make our daily lives a struggle for survival and sanity.
The system of capitalism in which we live allows greed-filled, power-hungry people, specifically white men, to exploit and funnel money to themselves through price gouging, wage theft, and government handouts. Our elected officials no longer answer to the citizens they are meant to represent. Instead, they follow the money that funds their campaigns and fills their pockets, and the stipulations that come with it.
This setup was exposed by COVID when the world stopped briefly in the U.S., millions lost their lives worldwide in two years (and counting), and we were expected to return to work as if nothing happened. The callous inhumanity of government officials, white men, and capitalists was put plainly by the Texas Lieutenant Governor, Dan Patrick, when he proclaimed that grandparents would be willing to die for the US economy. Meanwhile, numerous companies posted record profits during COVID as they raised prices claiming “inflation,” further imposing financial burden, hardship, and pressure for people to work. If you have recently felt despair and questioned the point of life as you watch all of this unfold before your eyes, you are not alone.
There are millions of us who are tired of seeing things go from bad to worse, our work earnings afford us less and less, and watch more and more people die preventable deaths. It is all by design and we will continue to be exploited and taken out unless we do something unified and seemingly drastic.
In the middle of writing this article, 18 children and 2 adults (as of now) were murdered in a mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, TX. A similar event happened while writing my last article 10 days prior when innocent elderly Black people were gunned down by a white supremacist mass shooter at a grocery store. Around that same time, churchgoers at an Asian American church in Southern California were killed by a mass shooter. These shootings happened and will continue to happen because white men in power refuse to allow gun control laws to be enacted. They are invested in keeping this chaotic system running as is because they gain funds, profits, and power from it.
Individually, we may not have much power, but collectively, we do. A mass strike is the only way we’ll see any significant change happen. This is my idea of what a strike of this magnitude could look like.
What we’re fighting for
The Million Worker and Student Strike demands may take root in our financial frustration and government inaction, but they go way beyond that. Through unchecked capitalism and greed by the wealthy few, our planet is at the brink of climate and ecological collapse. Unless we wield our power as the working class to implement change, we do not stand a chance against the inevitable environmental catastrophic events that are to unfold.
If we are to organize and strike, we must have our priorities in line. Below are some of the changes we must work to have our government take action on immediately:
- Implement a universal basic income program
- Reduce the full-time workweek, from 5 days to 4 days and from 8 hours a day to 6 hours, without a reduction in pay.
- Divert funds away from police and toward community resources.
- Implement and enforce a tax on the rich and corporations, and remove tax loopholes.
- Charge, prosecute, and remove government officials who conspired against this country leading up to the January 6th, 2021 insurrection.
- Charge and prosecute people in the media who promote white supremacist ideology that directly and indirectly results in mass shootings by white supremacists.
- Ban public access to automatic weapons and implement comprehensive gun control.
- Impose a cap on the salary and other earnings CEOs and heads of corporations can earn compared to their lowest paid employee.
- Implement an affordable housing program and prevent property owners from raising rent/housing costs.
- Increase the minimum wage to where a full-time job can afford housing and basic needs and permanently tie it to raise along with inflation.
- Reinstate funds to public education and away from charter school systems.
- Create laws that require corporations to manage and pay for the processing of the waste their products create during manufacturing and post-consumption. Impose financial penalties and revocation of business permits if they fail to do so.
- Place climate scientists and community leaders from low-income areas and from Native, Black, and other communities of color at the forefront of climate planning and action, with full access to monetary and other resources.
- Make voting accessible to all citizens and reinstate voting rights to people who have been imprisoned.
- Simplify voter registration and voting, make election days on the weekend, and/or designate them as a paid holiday off from work.
- Remove private money from election fundraising and put a cap on how much money any one candidate is allowed to raise.
- Create a pool of tax dollars that can be accessed by official candidates for their campaign.
- Undo the gerrymandered voting districts, ban gerrymandering, and impose real sanctions and removal of official government posts to anyone who is found to have committed gerrymandering.
- Abolish the private insurance healthcare model and enact universal healthcare.
- Fully fund public transportation expansion and non-motorized vehicle passageways in major cities to reduce the use of and need for vehicles.
- End our dependence on fossil fuels, coal, and natural gas and increase the generation of renewable energy.
- Halt funding for wars and remove military presence outside of the U.S.
- Return Native lands to tribes and provide them with financial reparations and proper resources.
- Provide reparations to African Americans and provide comprehensive mental health and financial support to Black people in the United States regardless of citizenship and family lineage in this country.
- Release all migrants from cages and holding facilities, and provide them with comprehensive mental health support and financial resources due to the trauma imposed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U. S. government.
- Dismantle ICE.
- Make abortions legal and have them covered under universal healthcare.
- Remove all discriminatory laws against trans people and trans youth. Cover trans medical treatment under universal healthcare.
- Abolish the incarceration system and strengthen community support programs in its place.
This list is only the beginning. There are more changes that need to be made to completely change this inequitable, violent, and inhumane society that white men have created through capitalism.
The Million Worker and Student Strike model
The only way to get any sort of reaction from the rich who run this capitalistic society is to hit them where it hurts — their money. Their wealth comes from the exploitation of workers, and they don’t think twice about it. As I lay out The Million Worker and Student Strike model, keep in mind that whatever guilt you feel for not showing up to work is not reciprocated by billionaires and those who run this country as they deny us a living wage, disenfranchise voters, fund police to suppress the public, do absolutely nothing to protect children and the elderly from being victims of mass shootings, and more.
With the COVID lockdown, we experienced life when most of us stopped working for several days. Essential workers, emergency personnel, and medical professionals continued to work while the rest of the country did its best to survive. During that time, I saw neighbors and people come together to help one another. That’s the kind of community-based support that is needed throughout a journey like this. In this strike, anyone whose work is not directly tied to the immediate survival of another is encouraged to participate.
- The Million Worker and Student Strike will begin by not showing up to work or school on the first Monday of a set month out of protest and demand for change by our government.
- Everyone is encouraged to share the The Million Worker and Student Strike list of demands to their social media, sent to their employer, and elected officials.
- Workers will return to work the following day to ensure that they can continue to earn a paycheck and to prepare the general public for a longer strike as it builds.
- The following week, workers and students will strike on Monday and Tuesday and continue to post/share The Million Worker and Student Strike list of demands to social media.
- Each week that follows, another weekday will be added to the strike until all 7 days become a strike.
- The strike will continue until the government takes action toward the items on the list.
The government and heads of capitalism would most likely retaliate to something like this. This is why it’s important for folks to build a community of support and prepare for the strike to go on for weeks, perhaps months. The message, however, needs to be loud and clear to the white men who have entrapped us in this capitalist hellscape — they need us; we do not need them.
We will have to go without some luxuries and comforts we’ve been accustomed to. However, those luxuries and comforts come at a steep cost to other people, living beings, and the environment, which is what we’re trying to change. We must be prepared to take the hit now so that we can have a fighting chance in the future before the inevitable hits come to us.
In order to change this oppressive, violent, and deadly reality white men have created for us, we must all stand united and act as one.