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Whenever we’ve talked about general strikes on our show, it has most often been to explain why you can’t just declare one on Twitter. In this two part series, we dig into US labor history to find out what it takes to launch a real general strike, and what lessons we can learn from the workers who participated in them. In this first episode we discuss the Seattle general strike of 1919, when workers shut down the entire city for a week. During the five days of the strike workers formed a parallel government, handing out food, regulating what trades were allowed to operate, and even maintaining civic order without resorting to violence. This strike stands today as one of the biggest displays of worker power and self-management in US history. In part 2, we will discuss the two general strikes of 1934 in San Francisco and Seattle.
Primary sources for this series include: People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, Labor’s Untold Story by Boyer and Morais, Strike! By Jeremy Brecher, A History of America In Ten Strikes by Erik Loomis and The Fall of the House of Labor by David Montgomery
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