How to Participate on May 1st

Join workers all over the country in striking and marching on May 1st to send a powerful message of resistance to attacks on immigrants, civil rights, and working people.


A strike is a work stoppage caused by employee's’ refusal to work. The right to strike is protected by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).* The best way to avoid retaliation is to get lots of people to participate in your workplace as well as all over your geographic area. Here are some options for how to participate at your workplace

1. Petition for your workplace to close or shut down for the day

Get your coworkers together and talk about the day of action. Circulate a petition in your workplace asking your organization or workplace to shut down on May 1st in solidarity (Sample petition attached). Sign as many of your co-workers as possible up to participate. You can organize a May Day committee to sign up co-workers in every department and shift to participate. Be sure to get everyone’s contact information so that committee members can call and remind them to participate the day before May Day.

Take a delegation with as many of your co-workers workers as possible to your boss to deliver the petition and to notify them in advance.

Possible talking points:

“We are all going to participate on May 1st. Please join us in standing up against attacks on immigrants, civil rights, and working people by closing the workplace for the day. Since many of us won’t be here it would be hard to continue operations without us anyway. We will not tolerate retaliation against any of us for participating.

2. Workplace strike

A different option is to deliver an official strike notice to your employer. This gives you an extra level of legal protection for striking (Sample notice attached). This notice must say you are on strike over wages and working conditions (as opposed to taking political action against Trump or for government policies like immigration enforcement.) Deliver the notice in person to your workplace management on May 1st before anyone starts their shift. Record or take a picture as you deliver the notice. Keep a copy of the notice with everyone’s signature for your records. Workers’ organization is what builds power in the workplace. If you organize a successful strike, after May Day you can think about what your workplace organization could do fight for improved working conditions.

If you have a union there may be restrictions in place over your right to strike, but you may have the right honor a picket line- check your union contract for specifics. Even if there is a contract in place you can still organize as a group to pressure your company not to retaliate against people who participate.

3. Individual solidarity action

One option is to request the day off in advance and take an approved day off on May 1st.

Another option is calling in sick. Some employers will turn a blind eye to people who call in sick to participate in the strike. However if you call in sick when you are not actually sick you are likely violating a sick leave policy and could be disciplined. You should decide for yourself if you want to risk of using this option.

Giving advance notice: if you are not going to work on a day you are schedule to work, it is a good idea to call your employer right before the beginning of your shift to let them know you are not coming to work so that you are not a “no call no show.”

4. Use Solidarity to Respond to Retaliation

If you anticipate retaliation from your boss for not going to work on May 1st you can plan ahead to show your boss or company that the community is supporting you. Go to your local May Day march organizing committee meeting, your church, your union, or another community organization and ask for support. Ask them if they can provide a community member, elected or faith leader to accompany you when you go back to work on May 2nd. The role of the supporter is watch and make sure you return to work OK. IF your management retaliates the supporter can deliver a message of community support. Sample talking points: “I am here to support this worker who participated on May Day as part of the nationwide day of protest in support of immigrants, civil rights, and working people. The community is supporting this worker. We ask that you do not retaliate against them for exercising their rights.”

Local May Day organizers may want to set up a rapid response anti-retaliation program and link it to the #may1strike national network.

Although the right to strike is protected by law, not all strikes are legally protected. Whether a strike is lawful depends on the purpose of the strike, whether the collective bargaining agreement includes a “no-strike” clause, and the conduct of the strikers.

OPTION 1: Sample petition

OPTION 2: Sample strike notice

DG   Mar. 14, 2017

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