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"Good Work" Strikes
One of the biggest problems for service industry workers is that
many forms of direct action, such as Slowdowns, end up hurting
the consumer (most of them also members of the workering
class) more than the boss. One way around this is to provide
better or cheaper service -- at the boss' expense, of course.
Workers at Mercy Hospital in France, who were afraid that
patients would go untreated if they went on strike, instead
refused to file the billing slips for drugs, lab tests, treatments,
and therapy. As a result, the patients got better care (since time
was being spent caring for them instead of doing paperwork), for
free. The hospital's income was cut in half, and panic-stricken
administrators gave in to all of the workers' demands after three
In 1968, Lisbon bus and train workers gave free rides to all
passengers to protest a denial of wage increases. Conductors
and drivers arrived for work as usual, but the conductors did not
pick up their money satchels. Needless to say, public support
was solidly behind these take-no-fare strikers.
In New York City, I.W.W. restaurant workers, after losing a strike,
won some of their demands by heeding the advice of I.W.W.
organizers to "pile up the plates, give ‘em double helpings, and
figure the checks on the low side."
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