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San Francisco Police Department officers with fare strikers. (September 1, 2005. 16th and Mission Street, San Francisco)

A fare strike is a direct action in which people in a city with a public transit system carry out mass fare evasion as a method of protest. Jumping turnstiles, boarding buses through the back or very quickly through the front, and leaving doors open in subway stations are all tactics that have been utilized. In some cases, transit operators obstruct the fare box to prevent anyone from paying. Often fare strikes are used to protest against fare hikes and service cuts, but they can also seek to organize solidarity between riders and drivers.

Contents

History

The first historical mention of a fare strike in the United States was in 1944 in Cleveland, Ohio when "streetcar workers threatened to refuse to collect fares in order to win a pay increase." The action was effective because "the City Council gave in before they actually used the tactic."[1] These kinds of "social strikes," which are collective acts of refusal where workers continue to provide vital social services – in this case transit – but refuse to collect any money, have occurred in France and parts of Latin America. In 1969, Italy's "Hot Autumn" was sparked at FIAT's Mirafiori plant in Turin, and spilled past the factory gates as workers coordinated movements using other forms of the social strike: FIAT workers refused to pay for the trams and buses, and also went into stores to demand reductions in prices, backed only by showing their factory ID badges. Others squatted houses and collectively refused to pay utility bills. [2] These kinds of struggles spread throughout Italy until the end of the 1970s.

Another type of social strike occurred during the 1970 postal strike in the U.S. when "letter carriers promised to deliver welfare checks even while on strike."[1] In 2004, much like in the 1944 example in Cleveland, the Chicago group Midwest Unrest was able to organize a fare strike that forced the Chicago Transit Authority to back down on service cuts and fare increases. In 2005, at least 5,000 riders participated in the first ever fare strike in Vancouver, Canada.[3]

In San Francisco in 2005, "Despite heavy police presence at major bus transfer points, at least a couple thousand passengers rode the buses for free in San Francisco on Thursday, September 1st - the opening day of a fare strike in North America's most bus-intensive city."[4] Two of the main groups involved in organizing this were Muni Social Strike and Muni Fare Strike. Other community groups also participated, including the Chinese Progressive Association and "the one major extension of the strike, through the participation of the day laborers' organization ... among [the] Spanish-speaking immigrant"[5] working class in San Francisco's Mission District, where the strike was most successful.

In the United Kingdom, there were fare strikes against First Great Western in January 2007 and January 2008. [6]

In Montreal, striking students in 2005 often used the subway as a means of transportation during demonstrations. As a group, the demonstration would enter the subway without paying, usually while chanting "metro populaire".[7]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Root & Branch, eds. (1975). Root & Branch: The Rise of the Workers' Movements.Greenwich, CN: Fawcett Publications, p. 209.
  2. ^ Giachette, D. & Scavino, M. (1999). La Fiat in mano agli operai: L’autunno caldo del 1969. Pisa, Biblioteca Franco Serantini.
  3. ^ http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/1118
  4. ^ http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/5475
  5. ^ http://www.anarkismo.net/article/5372#comment4611
  6. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6285629.stm
  7. ^ http://spaghetti.nujus.net/renewal/archives/000732.html

External links


A fare strike is a direct action in which people in a city with a public transit system carry out mass fare evasion as a method of protest. Jumping turnstiles, boarding buses through the back or very quickly through the front, and leaving doors open in subway stations are all tactics that have been utilized. In some cases, transit operators obstruct the fare box to prevent anyone from paying. Often fare strikes are used to protest against fare hikes and service cuts, but they can also seek to organize solidarity between riders and drivers.

Contents

History

The first historical mention of a fare strike in the United States was in 1944 in Cleveland, Ohio when "streetcar workers threatened to refuse to collect fares in order to win a pay increase." The action was effective because "the City Council gave in before they actually used the tactic."[1] These kinds of "social strikes," which are collective acts of refusal where workers continue to provide services – in this case transit – but refuse to collect any money, have occurred in France and parts of Latin America. In 1969, Italy's "Hot Autumn" was sparked at FIAT's Mirafiori plant in Turin, and spilled past the factory gates as workers coordinated movements using other forms of the social strike: FIAT workers refused to pay for the trams and buses, and also went into stores to demand reductions in prices, backed only by showing their factory ID badges. Others squatted houses and collectively refused to pay utility bills. [2] These kinds of struggles spread throughout Italy until the end of the 1970s.

Another type of social strike occurred during the 1970 postal strike in the U.S. when "letter carriers promised to deliver welfare checks even while on strike."[1] In 2004, much like in the 1944 example in Cleveland, the Chicago group Midwest Unrest was able to organize a fare strike that forced the Chicago Transit Authority to back down on service cuts and fare increases. In 2005, at least 5,000 riders participated in the first ever fare strike in Vancouver, Canada.[3]

In San Francisco in 2005, "Despite heavy police presence at major bus transfer points, at least a couple thousand passengers rode the buses for free in San Francisco on Thursday, September 1st - the opening day of a fare strike in North America's most bus-intensive city."[4] Two of the main groups involved in organizing this were Muni Social Strike and Muni Fare Strike. Other community groups also participated, including the Chinese Progressive Association and "the one major extension of the strike, through the participation of the day laborers' organization ... among [the] Spanish-speaking immigrant"[5] working class in San Francisco's Mission District, where the strike was most successful.

In the United Kingdom, there were fare strikes against First Great Western in January 2007 and January 2008. [6]

In Montreal, striking students in 2005 often used the subway as a means of transportation during demonstrations. As a group, the demonstration would enter the subway without paying, usually while chanting "metro populaire".[7]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b Root & Branch, eds. (1975). Root & Branch: The Rise of the Workers' Movements.Greenwich, CN: Fawcett Publications, p. 209.
  2. ^ Giachette, D. & Scavino, M. (1999). La Fiat in mano agli operai: L’autunno caldo del 1969. Pisa, Biblioteca Franco Serantini.
  3. ^ http://auto_sol.tao.ca/node/1118
  4. ^ http://www.zmag.org/znet/viewArticle/5475
  5. ^ http://www.anarkismo.net/article/5372#comment4611
  6. ^ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/6285629.stm
  7. ^ http://spaghetti.nujus.net/renewal/archives/000732.html

External links








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