I hadn’t realised about the Etsy strike last year. I stumbled upon this one as an interesting read of actions being taken by some members of the community to form a coop.
Whether these things are successful or not, I follow them with curiosity. It feels like the big tech strikes aren’t stopping any time soon.
Etsy squeezed us until we hit a breaking point. In February 2022, Etsy raised fees again, this time by 30% – in the same week they announced record profits in 2021. This hit a nerve with sellers everywhere.
A few social posts started what became the #EtsyStrike. We found it on Reddit and decided to participate. Since most of our sales come from our website and we were full-time crafters, we were financially able to participate in the strike, making our products unavailable for sale on Etsy for an entire week. We recognize that it’s not easy for everyone to commit to such an action.
It was exhilarating at first. The whole strike was organized in just seven weeks, totally online, and attracted mainstream media attention around the world. Strike organizers claimed 30,000 shops joined the strike, which is supported by a 1% drop in listings of 5.3 million shops tracked by Etsy blogger CindyLouWho2. A Coworker.org petition netted 80,000 signatures. But Etsy ignored all of this. When asked about the strike at a Wall Street Journal event, Etsy CEO Josh Silverman was dismissive: “Each of our sellers is a blade of grass in a tornado. They’re someone you haven’t heard of.”
I live in the hope it is a tipping point where we will see history repeating itself. I’m not convinced it is, or at least we won’t see meaningful change until viable alternatives are made available.
The alternatives aren’t here yet.
As John Curl writes in “For All the People,” the strike-to-cooperative transition appears throughout history: fed-up workers strike, get disappointing results, and decide they can do better by forming a cooperative instead. Since at least the 1830s, it was even a conscious union organizing tactic taken in anticipation of future hard times, with co-ops providing employment for striking workers.