A Petition To Josh Silverman

A screenshot of our petition, taken 72 hours after it was posted online.

March 8, 2022. The day Mattie swooped in and saved my life.

It sounds like an exaggeration, but that’s really what it felt like. Mattie joined Discord and introduced themself with this message, which I would see the following morning on March 9th:

I’m here because as individuals, Etsy sellers are completely at the mercy of a corporate structure that wants to squeeze out every bit of profit it can from makers and buyers alike. But if we organize (and maybe someday collectively bargain?!) we can win ourselves a better, fairer deal. I’m in it for the long haul, well beyond the end of the strike this April.

It’s hard to describe how I felt when I read Mattie’s statement about being “in it for the long haul”. I’m quite sure I made an excited sound into the cup of coffee I was drinking, in the dark, at 5AM just after my husband left for work. I responded:

Welcome! 😄 I’m so happy to have you. I have grand after-strike ideas/plans — but avoiding talking too much about them now because must! focus! So glad you’re in it for the long run too!

From that day on, Mattie jumped in, and just did stuff, which was exactly what we needed. Mattie found coworker.org and reached out to them about helping us with this project. Mattie wrote about 80–90% of the petition itself.

Although I’m exceptional in many areas, I make up for it by being exceptionally incompetent in others. Essentially it’s a split between things that are creative (in which I’m mostly exceptional) and things that are practical (in which I’m exceptionally incompetent). Petition writing is a practical skill. And so, color me incompetent.

We decided that I would be the face of the movement, since I’m a walking stereotype of an Etsy seller. Work at home mom, and all that. I’m also slightly more secure in the face of potential retaliation, for various reasons. I have a website and a decent social media following at least on Facebook. If Etsy deleted my shop as a result of my strike related actions — it would REALLY suck, but I wouldn’t be destitute.

I’m the one whose face and name is on the petition that got us tens of thousands of supporting sellers in only a few weeks time. The one who could truly take most of the credit for our petition is Mattie.

The strategy that got it in front of as many early-on eyeballs as possible — that was me.

My strategy was simple. Recruit people. Get those people to recruit more people. Get those people to recruit more people. Use every skill possessed by the people in our growing movement to help it grow even more. And so on, and so forth, until we multiplied into a massive, unstoppable force.

A simple strategy, but a lot of technical expertise was needed to pull it off. We needed to be everywhere — on every social media platform. We needed content to share to keep people engaged and hyped up about the strike. We needed somewhere to send people to find out more information about our movement than what can be shared in a social media post. People needed easy/low effort ways to help us spread the word. And finally, for those we reached that wanted to get more involved, we needed to make it easy for them to join our working teams.

I created accounts for us on every social media platform. I created a WordPress website for us at Etsystrike.org to send people to for more information about the movement. I created content to share to spread the word about what had been happening with Etsy. Content about our planned strike. Content about why it was important. Content about how we needed help.

Eventually, the help started rolling in. I created systems that would work for organizing the people helping us. In Discord, you can give people “roles” and later, you can ping everyone who has a specific role, all at once.

A request for infographics posted on Discord

We recruited people who could do things that are beyond me. We recruited someone who understood Discord bots, and they set it so that people could choose their own Discord helper roles by clicking on emoji images.

We recruited graphic designers and digital artists who helped us up our image game. This set of infographics by Kittynaut was our most popular post during the time leading up to the strike:

Infographic set by Kittynaut. OMIGOSH GO CHECK OUT THEIR SHOP!

We recruited people who could make videos as well as photos. Eventually there were videos about us circulating around, as well as the image-only social media campaigns that I had started. We recruited people who could write blog posts. Our blog became more interesting as my voice was joined by others on the team.

And finally, we recruited people with actual real experience in labor union organizing.

Yes, this whole thing had started (for me) with a Reddit post about how we needed “an Etsy sellers union.” How to create it? Completely beyond me.

But luckily, I wasn’t alone any more. I had Mattie, and a growing team of incredibly talented people who, like Mattie, were in it for the long haul.

It was starting to feel like there were no limits to the things we could accomplish.

This post is part of a series telling the story behind the 2022 Etsy Strike. Click here to start at the beginning.

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