Prevailing understandings of labor protest and strikes take as their focus stable democratic settings where autonomous trade union structures are an established component of the organizational resources available to workers. We extend the analysis of labor mobilization to a radically different context: Egypt in the year of the January 25th Revolution, when workers mobilized en masse in the absence of union leadership. For this, we use a catalogue of 4,912 protest events reported in Arabic-language newspapers. Our findings point to the importance of cross-sectoral demonstration effects in contexts of political disorganization—local and national mobilization advancing both labor and nonlabor demands inspired subsequent labor protest. This speaks to the value of understanding labor protest and strikes not as delimited domains of action but as parts of a wider universe of contentious politics. In addition, state-level signals of opportunity and shifts in economic conditions are also found to pattern the incidence of labor mobilization.

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