April 26, 2000
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RTMARK DECLARES MAY 1 AN AMERICAN HOLIDAY
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.
The holiday comes with an impressive track record: it was considered responsible for the "sickouts" of 2000 British Airways employees in 1997, and of thousands of Irish policemen in 1998.
Until this year, Phone In Sick Day was observed on April 6, the start of the U.K. financial year. At the urging of its largest investors, RTMark has moved the date to May 1 (May 2 outside the U.S. and Canada) for three important reasons:
1. To bring an important American holiday back home.
Mayday commemorates ten Americans who lost their lives fighting for the eight-hour workday, and their sacrifice has been celebrated since 1889 nearly everywhere in the world except America. As the U.S. is RTMark's primary market, RTMark wishes to help rectify this imbalance. (See rtmark.com/mayday.html for more history.)
2. To call attention to the loss of the eight-hour day and other quality-of-life indices in America.
Mayday 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 leisure history. While the average number of hours worked per year has gone down throughout the First World, it has gone up in America, with Americans now working six weeks more per year than they did in 1973 to achieve the same standard of living. Phoning in sick en masse will function as a "mayday" distress call by increasingly harried Americans. (Visit rtmark.com/sickday.html to see Andrei Codrescu explain this most eloquently.)
3. To call attention to the dwindling quality of life everywhere.
The erosion of leisure is no longer limited to America. As European
countries are increasingly forced to dismantle social programs and
adopt American-style measures to benefit corporate health, we can be
sure that they will all go the way of the United States: two-month
vacations will shrink to two weeks, maternity leave will go from six
months to five days, etc. Therefore RTMark encourages Europeans, and other First Worlders for whom May 1 is already a holiday, to
phone in sick on May 2. (In the Third World, of course, the effects
of neoliberalism are unspeakably worse than a mere erosion of
leisure; it would be tasteless to suggest that phoning in sick might
accomplish anything there.)
February 12, Decadent Action and ®TMark announced the global merger of Decadent Action's original, U.K.-based Phone In Sick Day and ®TMark's USA Phone In Sick Day. As USAPIS was an important bellwether of ®TMark's global progress, and a forerunner of "tactical embarrassment" (it was condemned by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce), ®TMark was understandably excited to assume primary stewardship of the resulting entity, which was renamed World Phone In Sick Day 2000.
®TMark expects World Phone In Sick Day 2000 to be the strongest Phone In Sick Day yet. The 1998 U.K./USA Phone In Sick Day was held responsible for a "sickout" by U.K. police, and was featured on the BBC in England and in astrology columns in America; its 1997 predecessor was widely connected with an important "sickout" by British Airways employees and likewise received extensive press coverage.
World Phone In Sick Day highlights in productive ways the extent and depth of dissatisfaction with savage "new economy" realities. On the downside, it has already been appropriated by several commercial entities, with legal actions pending in the U.K.; however, unparalleled ease of participation and comprehension--it has been called "the one-liner of protest holidays"--complete the image of a real cultural winner... and on a global scale.
As an American corporation, ®TMark benefits from considerably laxer legal restraints than any such U.K. entity, and greater freedom to accomplish its aims with a minimum of "liability," or personal responsibility. This was one of the primary reasons for the merger of the U.K. and USA Phone In Sick Days, and we share with Decadent Action, the U.K. originator of the holiday, the hope that WPIS2K will be able to exploit new markets in heretofore unimaginable ways.
Along with the merger came a number of internal restructurings, most importantly WPIS2K's transition from its Anglocentric date of April 6 (the start of the U.K. financial year) to the more universal Mayday. This is of special import considering the wide array of globe-wide activities planned this year for this most impactful of American holidays. The decision to move WPIS2K to Mayday has met with some accusations of chauvinism, and has even been cited as yet another example of U.S. interests taking the global forefront; but the fact that Mayday is celebrated in every country except America has helped show that once again, our interest is in the global picture. (Click here for more regarding the date change.)