News & Politics

RTMark Wants You to Call in Sick!

A merry group of anti-corporate bandits has declared May 1 "Phone In Sick Day" to raise awareness about Americans' ever-increasing workloads.
It reads like another ho-hum Business Wire press statement: "April 26, 2000, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: RTMark, a U.S.-based corporation whose 'bottom line' is cultural profit, has acquired the three-year-old Phone In Sick Day from the Europe-based Decadent Action group."

In the joint merger release, Decadent Action spokeswoman Kitty Banks says, "We are pleased with the handover to RTMark, who are in a better legal and geographical position to take the event to a global audience."

Quickly obvious, of course, is that the San Francisco anti-corporate bandits are at it again -- this time, trying to convince U.S. workers that May 1 is a real American holiday. Stay home. Sleep late. March in a labor union march. Figure out how to bring down the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund. Just don't go near your corporate boss next Tuesday.

RTMark's takeover of Phone In Sick Day isn't hostile. Its parent group, the United Kingdom-based Decadent Action, is letting the successful holiday become the latest global export without a whimper. There, the holiday -- which they celebrate on April 6, the start of the U.K. financial year -- is three years old. Decadent Action claims responsibility for "sickouts" of 2,000 British Airways employees in 1997, and thousands of Irish policemen in 1998.

RTMark says its largest "investors" voted to move the day to May 1 (May 2 outside the United States and Canada). Why? Because Americans work too hard, and RTMark wants them to know it just in time for summer.

"May Day heralds the approach of summer, a time that still means 'vacation' to those in most First-World nations. But substantial vacations, like the eight-hour day, have passed into American leasure history," RTMark explains in its acquisition release, adding that Americans now work six weeks more per year than we did in 1973 to maintain the same standard of living.  

The anti-work crusade continues on RTMark's site: "[T]he hours worked per year by the average American increased greatly between 1980 and 1997, while in every other developed country but one, they declined.... Compared with 1973, Americans must now work six weeks more per year to achieve the same standard of living. (That's a whole lot of summer vacation.)"

RTMark further complains that most every country other than the United States commemorates May Day, which symbolizes the struggle for the eight-hour day. Instead, Americans celebrate Labor Day, "a holiday whose roots are much less riotous," and one that celebrates work and productivity more than the pursuit of leisure and balanced lives.

Americans need a reminder of the struggle to separate work and play, RTMark says, and May Day is the logical choice: It originated in North America, after all. On May 1, 1886, eight Chicago police killed six strikers and, the next day, at Haymarket Square, a bomb exploded amid a group of police, killing eight officers. Then eight anarchist trade unionists were arrested, some who allegedly weren't at the actual protests. Four were hanged. Many anarchists believe to this day that police agent provocateurs may have dropped the bomb while running from protesters. Then, in 1889, the International Working Men's Association appointed May 1 an international holiday to honor the 1886 protests.

RTMark, run by a handful of San Francisco residents known only by their pseudonyms, calls itself a "clearinghouse for anti-corporate sabotage projects." It distributed the "Deconstructing Beck" CD of "illegedly illegal samplings." It claims responsibility for organizing a "Barbie Liberation Organization," a group that reportedly performed "group surgery" on 300 talking Barbies in retail outlets, replacing their voice boxes with GI Joe versions (a story believed to be a clever RTMark tall tale). And it's currently using its Web site to solicit donations to help design and glue stickers for free packs of cigarettes onto boxes of children's cereal manufactured by tobacco companies, alongside similar projects.

On the site, the group reminds Europeans that they need to phone in sick as well -- to take a stand before they are forced to follow the United States' weary lead: "[T]wo-month vacations will shrink to two weeks, maternity leave will go from six months to five days, etc."

So, happy May Day -- wherever you may be.

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