Want a day off? Don't like the president? Friday looks like your day.
A coalition of activist groups has called for a nationwide general strike Feb. 17, in response to Donald Trump's radical presidential decrees.
Back when radical unions could shut down the entire West Coast, the phrase "general strike" meant something big. This strike, however, is basically a consumer boycott like Buy Nothing Day combined with a pick-an-action protest buffet. Still, it's a sign of indignant times.
This local protest outfit aims to be a kind of umbrella organization linking disparate groups opposed to Trump. "All of us did learn a pretty good lesson from Occupy," DAA's Jacob Bureros says. "People are ready to fight back. What we learned is, we didn't provide something specific for them to achieve." Activists will hold a rally at Pioneer Courthouse Square at noon, followed by a "move your money" action targeting banks like Wells Fargo.
This Woodburn-based immigrant rights group hopes that withholding purchasing power will catch the attention of state and local elected officials. "They say, 'We love immigrants.' If I want love, I call my mother," political director Francisco Lopez tells WW. "They need to do their job. Their job is to protect and defend the residents of this state."
In December, a group of obscure Democratic staffer types published an online "Indivisible Guide" intended to reverse-engineer the Tea Party's successful effort to conquer the Republican Party. A representative of the largest Portland Indivisible group says it supports the strike because it shows resistance to Trump, but the group is mostly focused on pressuring members of Congress.
These are the people in green hats to call when you get arrested at a protest. "We see our role as to support the movement," says J. Ashlee Albies, former and acting chairwoman of NLG's Portland chapter. "If people are on the streets and demonstrating, we try to keep them safe."
The most notable exception to the strike: labor unions.
"There's no official statement" on the Feb. 17 protests, Oregon AFL-CIO spokesman Russell Sanders says. Participating in a strike would almost certainly violate various collective bargaining agreements, which would allow employers to sue unions for damages—and win. This is why you may see union members supporting the Feb. 17 actions, but you won't see any official union endorsement. At a packed Feb. 12 meeting of the Portland chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America, hosted at the Service Employees International Union Local 503 hall on Southeast Foster Road, skepticism also reigned regarding Friday's so-called strike.
The divide speaks to old tensions between labor and activist groups. "We're all learning as we go. Maybe the word 'strike' wasn't the best," Don't Shoot Portland activist Gregory McKelvey tells WW. "But maybe because of President Trump, strikes look different now. Everything else looks different now. We all have a shared goal in resisting President Trump."