Doing Egypt at Home

Posted on March 26, 2011


Here in the SF Bay Area, last weekend’s Answer Coalition Anti-War demonstration was held in conjunction with the workers and organizers of Unite Here, the Restaurant and Hotel Workers Union of San Francisco. Unite Here has been involved in a long term contract fight with the Hyatt and Starwood Resorts/Westin Hotels, which, among other hotels, have not renewed their contract, and continue to offer meager concessions, such as raising worker’s contribution to health insurance, increasing work loads, and failing to provide cost of living raises.

Unite Here has weekly boycott picket lines at these hotels. And they come out to anti-war demonstrations. These are the working class people that are forgotten in the fight for a decent economy and an end to imperialism abroad. Everyone’s wondering where they are, they’re right here; they’re organized, they’re pumped up, they’re anti-war and pro-people.

The fight in Wisconsin is an important one, but there is even more power  bottled up in the lower wage jobs, where a large portion of Americans are now stuck. As in Egypt, the organization, narrative and energy necessary to mount weeks long demonstrations, comes from grassroots organized labor movements [and other groups]. As in the context of the Middle Eastern movements we’ve seen in the past half year, none of this is spontaneous, rather it’s a jigsaw puzzle of regular people all fighting a piece of the machine. When the time is right, their coming together is organic, natural and impossible to stop, because every facet of it is one that deals with real issues throughout the social fabric of our country and the world.

If you’re wondering how to do Egypt at home, find a local union involved in a fight and volunteer, or another community organization involved in a specific fight with the powers that be, something you believe in and that affects you and yours. The atmosphere has changed in this country, perhaps. On the picketline yesterday, we got lots of honks–from the usual suspects of course, unionized bus drivers, but also from passersby, people in beaters, in SUV’s and convertibles. It’s our moment to make something of. At the very least, you’ll get to be involved and get some experience in how to organize a demonstration, what chants work, how to get people organized and how to draw in newcomers.



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