Kittynaut Talks about the Etsy Strike (Starts April 11)

Kittynaut Talks about the Etsy Strike (Starts April 11)

 So I made a post on instagram to announce publicly that I will be participating in the Etsy strike (as ya do).

Link to insta post: https://www.instagram.com/p/Cb3oUkkr30Y/

I wanted to talk a little further in detail about my personal feelings and opinions about this strike and labor in general. I am striking in solidarity with artists/crafters/small businesses around the world because I believe that our talent, hard work, and labor deserves utmost respect.  I will not back down or slip into complacency about that, ever.

I feel that Etsy vs Sellers is barely different from any other traditional strike (except we have no legal protections because we aren't *technically* employed by them, but they micromanage us like employees). We are the producers of the actual VALUE that Etsy profits from, which is a smorgasbord of a market of uniquely designed and crafted items that people actually want. Without us, there IS no Etsy!  Etsy isn't a design house, they don't make the items/crafts, WE DO!! I feel Etsy can continue to make a tidy profit without exploiting artists and making running our businesses harder for us.  In a perfect world, they would work with us and not against us. Alas, they've grown to be a publicly traded company and they answer to their shareholders these days. Shareholders main concern is passively growing their stock portfolios (money), meaning they are out of touch with the reality of what it is to be an artist and be trying to make a living.

In my view, small businesses and artists on Etsy are closer to WORKERS than they are to big business (a la Amazon/Walmart).  To put it crassly, we don't exploit anyone's labor but our own (and maybe a couple team members but that's about it).  I know that Kittynaut will never make me a bazillionaire, no matter how fresh I get, and that's fine.  I'm just here to make cute cat drawings and pay my monthly living expenses like most of us.

If you read my insta stories, it's probably no surprise that I am very pro-labor.  Generally speaking, I feel that the least of us have been pretty downtrodden for the past 80+ years (in the west).  Wages have stagnated even though productivity climbs, inflation continues as it does, corporate profits are at an all time high, we pay more taxes than GE or Donald Trump or Amazon, yadda yadda.  The economy is looking more and more like the gilded age back in the times of Boss Tweed where companies ruled, workers lived in Pullman towns, and we had child labor and no rights.  Yikes.

Generally speaking in the Western world, we (workers and corporations) at an impasse over value of our time and labor versus our quality of life.  We want healthcare coverage, we want to afford rent or a mortgage, be financially secure and comfortable, and maybe even (gasp) take a damn vacation once awhile and maybe *not* work ourselves to death in the process.  At present, the cards are VERY stacked against the little guys in meeting these (pretty minimal) demands which is ironic because we actually work pretty damn hard and produce lots of profits for these companies. Profits come from PRODUCTION and VALUE generated by labor.  It doesn't magically manifest like the stock market might mislead you to believe.  There needs to be value first. 

Corporations like Etsy have stolen our surplus labor value and by extension have basically stolen our dreams.  It doesn't matter at the end of the day that we aren't "technically employed" by them, because we produce for them and do so because we expect that to support our existence.  We grew up being told that hard work is rewarded, and now that we've grown up, SURPRISE IT DOESN'T WORK LIKE THAT ACTUALLY!!  These are not abstract concepts, but the true material conditions of our reality -- cash is literally survival.

And that's why fighting back is the only option.  Companies like Etsy don't listen to "nice suggestions" or your Twitter pleas or emails or protest signs, because all they understand is profit, meaning we are forced to speak their language: money. Which is scary, because we have little of it and they've got a lot of it. Striking is a survival tactic.  It's not for fun.  It's not for hype.  It's DEFINITELY not greed.  It's our only way to take back what was already stolen from us so we can literally afford to exist.

Hoookay time to get off my soapbox!  :3  Those are my feelings!

- Kittynaut