New York City is often called the “center of the world”, the multicultural and multiethnic city, the city that never sleeps, the big apple loved by tourists and film-makers. But a different reality hides behind the glitter and the glamour. It is the reality of the exploited labor of millions of immigrant workers and of their persecution by ICE. It is the reality of police brutality against people of color. It is the reality of the constant neoliberal attack against the city’s social services and its transportation system. And the reality of gentrification and of skyrocketing housing costs. The brunt of these cutbacks unsurprisingly falls mainly upon low wage working women and women of color.
But New York is also a city with a long history of struggles and resistance. Not by chance the State has tried everything to tie the hands of those who cannot longer put up with the situation as it is. Even though NYC has one of the highest rate of labor unionization in the country, unions are tied down by non-strike clauses that make it extremely difficult to fight back. Employers also do whatever they can to stop unionization in key sectors of the city’s economy. As a result, New York’s service industry rely on the cheap labor of workers, especially women and immigrants, who have no labor rights, no benefits, and no job security.
Economic insecurity, lack of social services, police brutality, ICE raids and deportations are the fertile soil of gender-based violence against cis and trans women, against women of color and working class women, against lesbians and non-binary people. Against this personal and institutionalized gender-based violence, solidarity is our main weapon. It is our labor that makes this city go on. Our labor is what hides behind the glamour of skyscrapers’ lights. But our labor is also our power: the power to shut it down.
As an organized response to these conditions and riding on a wave of women’s strikes from Poland to Argentina, the International Women’s Strike emerged through the process of planning for March 8th, 20017, the first internationally coordinated day of action from below in many years. This year, the IWS-NYC collective is working to articulate already existing organized struggles through an anticapitalist feminist coalition.
With the power of this organized collective force, on March 8th, International Women’s Day, NYC women and allies will strike . We will stop work — both paid and unpaid — for one hour, from 4pm to 5pm. We will strike, rally and march in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of women striking and protesting around the world. We will strike because we do not rely on the Democratic Party: we know that only our struggles and our resistance can really address our needs.
We will unite our many struggles and campaigns in a common day of protest, led by working class, immigrant, undocumented, and poor women, by women of color, Muslim women, sex workers, lesbians, trans, and non binary people: all those who have no other power, but their own paid and unpaid labor, and their ability to act collectively.
We will strike for reproductive justice, including unrestricted access to safe and free abortion and the end of forced sterilizations. We demand that New York State decriminalizes abortion by taking it out of the penal code and bringing state law in line with Roe v. Wade after 45 years of being unconstitutional. We demand the passing of the Reproductive Health Act, which will set a precedent for the rest of the country.
We will strike against gender-based violence in homes and workplaces, in prisons and detention centers. We demand justice for Anne Chambers in her fight against NYPD and the officers that sexually assaulted her.
We will strike for labor rights: for the recognition of women’s unpaid work outside the workplace; for $15 minimum wage; for equal pay; for the right to unionize and to collective bargaining; against wage theft, and for fully paid family and sick leave.
We will strike for the NY Health Act, to provide universal healthcare; to extend universal childcare for the ages of 0-3; for funds to public schools and for free higher education; for adequate funding for our public transportation system, which is so essential to the lives and wellbeing of the working people of this city. We will also strike for the right to housing and against the continuous displacement of women of color from working-class neighborhoods due to increases in rent and racialized gentrification.
We will strike for the rights of immigrant women: we demand paths to citizenship, full access to public services and labor rights for undocumented immigrants; we demand that ICE stops the persecution and detention of immigrant people, and that it stays out of the courts, for their presence pushes immigrant women suffering from abuse and violence at home or in the workplace to stay silent. We demands an end to the crackdown on immigrants rights activists. We support sanctuary cities and campaigns for cooperative economics, which allow undocumented women and others to work in conditions of basic human dignity.
We will strike against the criminalization of working class people, institutionalized racism and white supremacy prevalent in the city: against broken windows policies, police brutality, mass incarceration, and the privatization of prisons and detention centers. We will strike for prison abolition and divestment. We demand an elected civilian review board, whose members are elected at the community level and offers genuine oversight and recourse to victims of police abuse.
We know that the policies that attack the conditions of life, rights, and wellbeing are connected to the exploitative and militarist policies that the United States carry or support abroad. This is why, we will strike in NYC, the beating heart of global capitalism, to oppose any increase on the military budget and demand an end to imperial wars abroad, from Syria to Yemen; the blood soaked global “drug-wars”, from Mexico to the Philippines; and colonialism from Puerto Rico to Palestine. We will strike for the self-determination of peoples around the world, and against the US covert crackdown of both democratically elected governments and movements for radical social change in the global south, from Honduras and Venezuela to Egypt.
We will strike against the global north extractive economic policies in non-industrialized countries, from uneven trade-agreements; appropriation of indigenous land and natural resources; to the imposition of structural adjustments by the IMF and the World-Bank, and the perpetuation of dependency via debt.
New York is a global city. On March 8th, we will have a global strike.