Note: This revised press release now contains a paragraph about a possible protest by medical transcriptionists, one of the most abused vocations in the industry.
Working people the world over will assert their power this International Workers’ Day, May 1, and Denver will be represented, according to the Denver General Strike Coordinating Committee.
The Committee, an offshoot of the Denver-Boulder Industrial Workers of the World union, is, along with Occupy Denver, coordinating a variety of activities to protest the subordination of workers and celebrate the holiday.
Leading up to May Day, the Committee has joined with post office workers, teachers and transportation workers in mass actions against cuts in funding, programs, services and jobs.
In metro neighborhoods, both the General Strike Committee and Occupy Denver are encouraging residents to meet in their common spaces or parks to create support and self-determining assemblies, as has been done especially in Spain and Greece in response to corporate and government austerity moves.
According to Denver General Strike Committee member Charlie May, the committee is raising funds to provide yard signs, brochures and window signs for the effort. “Our goal is to provide a platform for workers to stand up for their rights as the producers of value in society,” May said. “That may or may not take the form of withholding services—a form of general strike—at this time, but we are preparing for all expressions of working class power.”
New Paragraph: One possible national action is a protest by medical transcribers (MTs). For years, as with many other vocations, transcribers have been subjected to increasing pressure from boosts in workload, cuts in compensation, and more and more unpaid tasks (attending HR meetings, recording time worked, and reviewing email, are only a few examples). Some companies take advantage of MTs’ independent contractor status, which means workers do not get traditional benefits (including unemployment compensation), and do not have the rights that a worker with employee status has. Many who are home-based workers find it impossible to meet increased quotas and are not making minimum wage. Hospital MTs are increasingly being outsourced and finding that they cannot make a living at the companies who do the outsourced work. Outsourced workers often find that the output demands have skyrocketed so much that they, even the most experienced of them, have to clock out at the end of the day and then toil on their own time to make minimum quotas, which is an illegal, “wink-wink” policy, yet the practice continues.
Another issue with broader connections is support for the window-and-door manufacturing workers in Chicago. In 2008 these workers made national headlines when they took over their plant, then owned by the Republic Windows and Doors Company, rather than allow its closure. When the subsequent owners, Serious Energy, announced plans to close the plant again earlier this year, the workers again seized the plant and won a 90-day period to find a new owner or buy and run the plant themselves. That period ends May 24 and local solidarity organizers are watching the outcome with interest, especially in case solidarity activities are required at Serious Energy’s two plants outside of Boulder.
Both the Denver General Strike Committee and Occupy Denver have also been contacting local businesses who may be closing Tuesday, May 1, in commemoration of International Workers’ Day. One such business is the Mercury Cafe, a long-time restaurant and performance venue northeast of downtown Denver. P&L Printing, an IWW job shop, and the affiliated P&L Press Infoshop, also will be closed for May Day.
Those who are engaged in May 1 activities are urged by the Denver General Strike Committee to contact them to help develop a network of ongoing mutual support.