99 Pickets

NYC Worker Solidarity

99 Pickets and Solidarity Networks

99 Pickets is a growing part of the workers’ movement in New York City and beyond. We are workers, immigrants, artists, the unemployed, students and retirees – we are the 99%.  We want to help workers improve their working conditions, build a culture of solidarity, and increase workers’ power in New York City.

99 Pickets is one of the labor-oriented groups that grew out of Occupy Wall Street, seeking to connect workers’ struggles to the Occupy community.  The “99” clearly signifies Occupy’s 99% idea, and “Pickets” refers to the picket line, one of the common tactics of labor movement struggles with a rich history, where workers and supporters protest in front of their workplace to shut down the operation or publicize a strike or labor dispute with the employer.

99 Pickets currently has several goals to advance the local workers’ movement.  We host monthly open meetings which serve as a regular forum to bring together workers and organizers who are involved in workplace organizing throughout New York City.  At these gatherings, folks update each other on campaign activity and announcements, and there are theme discussions on some aspect of organizing such as creative tactics, or overcoming boss intimidation. These are also fun social gatherings with a potluck and drinks afterwards.  Participating in these meetings are workers and staff organizers from many worker centers, unions, or other groups around the city, as well as activists engaged in many kinds of organizing.  In the future, there may also be longer training sessions around direct action planning or other organizing topics useful to the community.

99 Pickets also organizes creative actions in support of campaigns, including leafleting customers, confronting management, rallies, marches, call-ins, and social media actions.  Our goal is to provide concrete solidarity to show the employers that the workers have the support of the wider community.  We frequently have actions with the Rude Mechanical Orchestra, a fantastic activist brass band which brings a lot of fun and energy to events.  Any folks in the network who want to take on solidarity projects are encouraged to work with others to plan, publicize, and carry out actions.

We are working to bring more people into labor solidarity work.  Through publicizing campaign actions and events in the regular newsletter and social media platforms as well as grassroots turn-out, we encourage more folks to engage in solidarity with each other more often.  The goal is to have a large network of folks that can generate good turnout at relatively short notice for actions.  This kind of solidarity capacity is essential for the growth of the workers’ movement.

99 Pickets is similar to what is generally called a “solidarity network”.  There are many “solnets” around the country and this form of collective action is growing.  One of the best known solnets is the Seattle Solidarity Network or SeaSol.  These are generally networks of folks who engage in direct action to support each other with workplace or housing problems, such as getting bosses to pay unpaid wages or landlords to make needed apartment repairs.  The solnet will typically advertise its existence in a community, offering help for folks who have these problems.  People who need assistance will join the solnet and help plan actions for their campaign and others.

This is a form of participatory, grassroots, collective organizing that is outside of the control of established groups such as labor unions or NGOs and does not rely on social service agencies or the legal system to solve these issues.  The idea is that these kinds of individual problems are really collective problems and the solnets want to increase the capacity of people to fight directly and collectively for social justice rather than become passive clients that turn to professionals or experts to solve problems for them.

From wage theft, workplace discrimination, abusive employers, employment misclassification, exploitative working conditions, retaliation for organizing, to unsafe workplaces, 99 Pickets strives to connect the dots between seemingly isolated conflicts, building a community and a movement of solidarity to counter the power of the 1%.  Another city is possible, if we fight for it!