Since mid-August, TikTok creators like Alexi Saunders have been calling for a general strike and asking each other to not work, pay rent or shop on Sept. 1 in defiance of rising everyday costs for the average American.
Saunders’s general strike that’s circulating on TikTok is getting confused with the General Strike U.S. group, a grassroots organization that does not believe in date-based, short-term striking and aims to demand racial, economic, gender and environmental justice.
The TikTok Sept. 1 strike does not have a group behind it, does not have any formal funding and, according to some, lacks the organization and planning necessary to successfully support strikers.
Within the last few weeks, more and more TikTok users have been calling for a “general strike” in retaliation for a number of economic issues, including housing, working conditions and rising costs for necessities like food and medical needs.
But some people are confusing it with the grassroots group, the General Strike U.S., which has been trying to build a collective of 11 million people to join in a strike against big businesses and the 1 percent. Even other media publications have combined the two strikes into one.
The official page for the General Strike U.S. describes itself as having been organized by a “decentralized network of people” — “regular people,” they reiterate — unlike the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes organized by unions. The group wants the strike to be “the biggest grassroots movement in American history” with a goal of 11 million strike cards signed. (A BBC article cited on the site reported that strikes with a threshold of 3.5% of the population “have never failed to bring about change” and 3.5% of the U.S. population is roughly 11 million.)
Some 10,805 strike cards have been signed as of Aug. 31.
This group is separate from the Sept. 1 general strike group that’s discussing plans on TikTok. The General Strike U.S. group did not respond to In The Know by Yahoo’s request for comment.
Instead, it’s a mom on TikTok who is being credited as being the first person, or one of the first people, to call for a nationwide shutdown.
Why are people on TikTok calling for a strike on Sept. 1?
The Instagram account for the General Strike U.S. has been active since August 2022 and even used the hashtag #generalstrike in its first post. However, according to the official website, the group has not decided on a specific date for when the strike will start.
“We will strike once we have accumulated 11M Strike Cards or 3.5% of the US population and we know we can win,” the site reads.
Thirty-seven-year-old mom Alexi Saunders, an aspiring actress, according to a GoFundMe, is credited with calling TikTok followers to join her in a general strike in several videos she uploaded throughout mid-August. Saunders does not appear to be affiliated or involved with the General Strike U.S. — she does not follow the Instagram account nor is she listed on the group’s page of partners.
She started posting videos calling for people to not go to work or pay their bills on Sept. 1 in response to increasing costs. She started sharing the acronym MAMA, for “Make Americans Matter Again.” Saunders is also open about being a Trump supporter on her TikTok account. In The Know by Yahoo reached out to her for comment.
In a Facebook post, which Saunders uploaded to TikTok as well, she went into greater detail about what the strike should look like on Sept. 1.
“No buying from major stores like Walmart, Target, Dollar Tree, family, dollars, TJ Maxx, all major retail stores,” Saunders wrote. “Do not eat at all major restaurants … Do not stream celebrity music, movies, and their social media profiles … Do not send your children to school … Cancel all major subscriptions like Amazon prime Netflix, Hulu, Tubi, YouTube!!”
She then said that on Sept. 1, strike members should “pull all money out of banks and cancel all cards.”
The General Strike U.S. group did respond to Saunders’s plans for a strike in a few Instagram posts. On Aug. 22, they posted: “We do not vouch for this movement; we support all efforts of dissent. Participate at your own discretion, as with all ongoing movements.”
In a follow-up Instagram later that day, the group also shared their response to an individual who had messaged them asking for help starting a two-day strike in September and referenced the TikTokers who were talking about the Sept. 1 strike.
“Date-based, short-term striking is not entirely ineffective but unless you have real financial backing you risk endangering the strikers,” they responded.
How are people responding to Alexi Saunders’s TikToks calling for a Sept. 1 general strike?
Similar to how the General Strike U.S. group responded to the Sept. 1 strike, other TikTok users are skeptical that enough steps have been taken to ensure strikers are supported.
Imani Barbarin, a culture commentator and disability advocate, replied to Saunders’s videos and broke down everything that needed to be in place and solidified before leading a successful and safe strike. Barbarin, who uploaded the video on Aug. 20, did not think the list could be achieved by Sept. 1.
“These one-day strikes should not be considered one-day strikes,” she said. “They should be considered practice runs — making sure you have every single thing in place that you need for the longer strike.”
Another commentator on TikTok, Jordan Simone, said that despite being a supporter of the movement, she advised her over 400,000 followers to not participate in the strike at all.
“In theory, I get it,” she said. “People are sick and tired of being sick and tired. I personally work four jobs and have been struggling all summer just to make ends meet. It’s awful. But in execution, the strike is poorly planned, poorly organized and poorly shared.”
Simone explained that there are no specific demands from the strike — “We just want relief and that’s really vague” — and that everyone involved needs to be prepared to be on strike for the foreseeable future, not just one day.
“The whole purpose of a strike is to strike, stop production until you get what you want,” she said. “That could take a really, really long time.”
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