On May 1, 2020, an unprecedented strike will take place. The “People’s Strike” is a coalition of workers from some of America’s largest companies. Workers from Amazon, Instacart, Whole Foods, Walmart, Target, and FedEx plan to strike in various fashions on Friday the 1st. Workers say their employers are seeing record profits at the expense of workers’ health and safety during the nCoV 19 pandemic. In absence of unions in many service industries, workers have spent weeks organizing over Zoom meetings and encrypted messenger services. While this strike varies from traditional formats, the message is the same; Workers demand rights. Through a combination of efforts including full strikes, lunchtime walk outs, work slowdowns, and sick outs, workers across several industries all across the country plan to make themselves heard. They are asking that everyone refrain from shopping at grocery stores and superstores, ordering delivery, or ordering anything on the internet for the day.

The date holds multiple significance this year. May 1st is International Workers Day. It is traditionally a day around the world when workers are celebrated, and sacrifices are remembered. Blood has flowed for centuries in pursuit of worker’s rights. Starting in the 1880s in Paris, the ripples of worker empowerment moved through factories and mines across continents and generations. Each generation has taken up the torch in their own way, from violent strikes in the late 19th century, to full on wars in the early 20th century. On to sit-ins and walk outs in the 1960s, picket lines and scab blocking, and corporate standstills, all the way to the West Virginia teachers strike just a few years ago. This May Day, workers’ rights groups like Amazonians United, Target Workers Unite, Whole Worker, and the Gig Workers Collective, among others are taking a stand in solidarity for all essential workers. The demands are reasonable: personal protective gear, health care benefits, paid leave, and hazard pay.

Regardless of the outcome of this individual day of action, the effects of this particular butterfly’s wings will be felt in our society for years to come. This an unprecedented nonunion strike across multiple companies and industries all across this country. This is also a movement largely led by young people. This is an entire generation of people who were born into terrorism and raised on war. They are tired of living in fear of their lives. And they aren’t going to sit idly by while their coworkers and loved ones are dying in the name of excess consumer capitalism. They will grind our country to a halt before they continue to feed bodies into the machine. This mentality will only grow with time. As today’s college aged essential workers become tomorrow’s leaders, they are ushering in a new age of worker’s rights unlike any that we have seen before. This is not a movement based on unions or contingent on hierarchy. No permission was asked and no approval is needed. Just as the grass seeks no counsel to grow, but has an uncanny ability to point out the cracks in a system, this movement will continue to spread and take roots in the cracked sidewalks of our economy, exposing our flaws and forcing action before systemic damage is done.