By John Hollingsworth - Ottawa-Outaouais IWW, January 23, 2016
OTTAWA—The Industrial Workers of the World are picketing Wine Rack to defend a member unfairly fired on September 6, 2015.
Our member engaged in his legally-protected right to organize and was publicly engaged in a card-signing campaign by another union in efforts to certify a bargaining unit for Wine Rack locations in Ottawa, Ontario.
Wine Rack is owned by parent company Constellation Brands, a US-based multinational corporation with two billion dollars of profit in 2013. Front-line employees of Wine Rack are paid minimum wage and given only conditional yearly increases lower than the rate of inflation, compounding the difficulties posed by a part-time and unpredictable schedule for workers.
According to the Labour Relations Act, all workers have the right to form, select, and administer a union without interference from the employer. In response to our member’s organizing efforts, Wine Rack manufactured a spurious reason to terminate his employment without following their established disciplinary processes.
The IWW will continue to picket Wine Rack to demand fair treatment for our member until our demand for our member’s reinstatement on the job with back pay is met. All employees deserve to be able to organize without reprisal.
The IWW is calling on Ottawans to not cross our picket line and to respect a boycott of Wine Rack locations until management meets with our union to negotiate.
This is yet another instance of arbitrary firings and disrespect for the Labour Relations Act happening here in Ottawa. Workers can win these fights when they unite and take action. The IWW is a member-run union for all workers and is dedicated to organizing on the job.
By FW W.H. Glazer - Twin Cities IWW, January 20, 2016Introduction
Every four years, Americans are subjected to a painfully long election cycle. It is January of a presidential election year, and that means that we can anticipate another ten months of mainstream media coverage that manages to simultaneously overwhelm us with its volume and leave us with no novel or useful information (did you know, for example, that Dr. Ben Carson was a rageful and violent nerd growing up in Detroit? Or that Donald Trump is a shameless blowhard whose racist, classist, and sexist rhetoric appeals to a sizeable group of racists, classists, and sexists?). My boss loves to play CNN in the office as background noise, but my proximity to the television means that I know a lot more about Martin O’Malley and Carly Fiorina than I ever needed to.
Inherent in the decision to enact non-stop coverage is an assumption that all of this election stuff really matters, that who you support and ultimately vote for can have a tangible effect on the lives of millions of people. We are taught from a young age that our right to vote is a tremendously precious one, and further that failure to participate in the election process is a failure of civic duty. We are Americans, god dammit, and it is our responsibility to uphold justice and liberty and democracy through our voting process.
From a pragmatic standpoint, there is actually some truth to this idea. It is, from a purely practical point of view, smart to vote for the lesser of two evils. Hillary Clinton is less likely to impose anti-Muslim immigration reforms than is Donald Trump. Bernie Sanders is considerably less scary and objectionable than are the cackling hyenas who comprise the Republican field.
In the IWW, though, we can’t only think in terms of pragmatism and practicality. We are a revolutionary anti-capitalist union, and it can be convincingly argued that active participation in electoral politics is not only counterproductive for our organizational goals, but counter-revolutionary. After all, no major party candidate will ever advocate for the dissolution of our capitalist economy and the establishment of a worker run society. Voting third party in a presidential race may be more morally justifiable, but barring tremendous social and political upheaval, a third party candidate will never take the White House.
By the Life Long Wobbly - January 18, 2016The Chicago Teachers Step Up – What does it mean?
The decision of the Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) to participate in the Black Friday protests against police brutality is an important step forward, advancing both the struggle against the Chicago police department, and allowing the CTU to flex its muscles before the end of its contract. Chicago Teachers voted overwhelmingly to support a strike in their recent strike authorization vote, and if they can win another strike as they did in 2012, it would be an incredibly important victory for the working class around the country. It would show that education workers can fight and win, especially if they have united with the broader working class around issues such as institutional racism.
The simmering rage against Chicago’s blatantly racist, terrorist, secret prison-operating police department provides an important backdrop. US anti-labor law illegitimately limits what workers can strike over; if the teachers go on strike, and demand the removal of police from school campuses, or defunding of the police force, that would make their strike “illegal” in the eyes of the state. Chicago teachers have an important choice. Even if the teachers go on strike and don’t say a word about the police, the CPD is intimately tied to Rahm Emanuel’s austerity regime, and a teachers’ strike could strengthen and build on the movement against police brutality and terror. However, if the teachers do explicitly include anti-police demands in their strike, and stick by them even when threatened with injunction, they could really inspire the rest of the working class in Chicago to mobilize and support them. A victory in that case would also show that workers can successfully take on the system of anti-labor laws in this country, particularly those which declare certain kinds of strikes “illegal”.
Could teachers and other education workers strike to remove police from schools? Nothing could stop them from putting this into their demands. If a teachers union prioritized “cops off campus”, and waged a strike on the level of Chicago in 2012 or Seattle earlier this year, this would be a massive step forward. This would be particularly powerful to the degree that it spread beyond the teachers to include other education workers. Of course, any industrial action for “cops off campus” would meet bitter resistance from the city administration, at the same time that the national media, the Democratic Party, and – most importantly – the national unions would stop at nothing to sabotage this action, and force or cajole the workers into moderating their demands.
This is why militant education workers would have to prepare for this struggle, beginning by consciously identifying with the victims of police brutality, against the police rather than with them. An initiative to strike for “cops off campus” might need years before education workers actually have the strength and organization to pull it off – but the situation in the US over the last several years has also been very fluid, and things could develop much quicker than we might expect.
By Coeur de Bord - The Organizer, January 17, 2016
Eleven months ago, the Package Handler’s Organizing Committee (PHOC) voted to begin a campaign demanding the starting wage at the three UPS hubs in the Twin Cities be raised to $15/hour (from the current $10), and a corresponding $5/hour raise for all hub employees. We had our sights set on building power towards some form of disruptive action during 2015’s Peak Season. Now that Peak has arrived, I would like to share some of my feelings on the progression, evolution, and execution of this campaign, as well as some ways it has influenced our organizing in general at UPS in Minneapolis.
I feel this document is useful as part of a future retrospective assessment of the Boxmart campaign and the PHOC committee itself. However, I hope it can also serve as a useful reference for other IWW organizing committees thinking about taking on labor-intensive, medium- to long-term campaigns such as this. Whether or not such a campaign would have a positive impact on your organizing is a decision that only your committee can make, but I hope that by offering my perspectives other Wobblies will be able to make a more informed decision.The motion (original language):
What: $5 hourly raise across the board, which would bring starting wage up to $15. Also, end petty wage theft and other shop floor issues where possible.
When: Major direct action during peak season 2015 aimed at entire Twin Cities operation. Smaller DAs before them, at moments to be determined. Campaign to start within two months (petitions coming out along with Screw ups at MPLS, Eagan, Maple Grove and airport).
Who: Petition to be drafted by core committee, Mass meeting to be run by ——, other tasks delegated to —, —- and — wherever possible to gather support from rest of branch. New shop floor contacts will be expected to further trenchwork on shop floor, canvass for issues to be addressed by escalating Direct Actions, and inoculation. OTC to arrange an OT soon after mass meeting for new contacts. Core committee (eg —–) to fill in gaps where people cannot attend a full OT.
Where: Meetings at TC IWW office, actions in MPLS, Eagan, Maple Grove and airport. Actions to focus on Minnesota operation unless tempting opportunities arise.
- Use petition to gather contacts for mass meeting. Create Facebook, etc contact points.
- Use mass meeting to identify people willing and able to be organizers (and other roles) and set broad outlines of effort, changing as necessary to reflect workers’ concerns.
- Follow up with potential organizers, get to OT where possible and patch with one-on-ones where not. Create a campaign committee to broaden work, bring in smaller escalatable issues (eg petty wage theft, harassment etc), grow committee itself.
- Do direct actions on smaller issues, symbolic stuff where appropriate. Include off-shop-floor issues eg prison slave labour ala hands up don’t ship.
- Follow up on retaliation for the above.
- Bring smaller issues back in, build excitement and commitment and hold mass meetings in the months leading up to peak to organize peak action.
- Mess everything up during peak.
- Publicize concessions and workers’ eye view analysis of fight, follow up on retaliations.
- Set further goals.
By Phineas Gage - Recomposition, January 7, 2016
Ike and I walked into Sam’s office at exactly ten in the morning. Not a minute before or after. We never talked to management, especially the Labour Relations guys, with less than a pair present. Sam ran the video on his computer screen for us to look at. It was a clip of a woman walking at night towards a door. She looks over her shoulder and a shadow glides towards her, she lunges for the door and struggles to open it with the key card. Then a leg that ends with a bicycle pedal and two wheels drifts into plain view and off camera. She opens the glass door and then slams the door behind her and leans on it, panting. The clip then looped and played over again.
“So, in the investigation, you told the sister that you think the union put her up to this?” I asked.
I was starting to feel a keen rage swelling up inside of me but I grabbed the arms of the chair tightly and tried to keep my cool.
Sam’s face was like cold stone.
“It’s too convenient. You guys start complaining about the health and safety at the Transportation yard and all of a sudden someone almost gets ‘attacked’ in the yard?” He was doing the scare quotes with his fingers.
The video clip completed another loop.
I could feel my anger at the situation starting to effect my judgement. He was probably egging me on.
“I don’t think this is staged Sam. I mean, really, all things being equal, what is more likely: a confrontation with someone at night outside a downtown workstation or an elaborate conspiracy to put a show on for the cameras?” I was smiling and trying to insert some humour into the situation.
The clip completed another loop.
I could feel a light stinging sensation on the back of my thighs as soon as Sam started to talk again. The hairs on my arms were starting to stand on end.
“What are you laughing at? This isn’t funny. See, this is his problem, Ike, he doesn’t take this stuff seriously.” Sam was dripping with condescension. That and cologne.
I shot out of my chair, like a bullet, and leaned over his desk stuffing my index finger into the space in front of his chest. I could see Ike’s eyes go wide as my one arm stretched out towards him, my index finger stopping just shy of his chest. ‘Never, ever, touch them, Phineas, especially when angry’, I told myself.
“You’re fucking lucky all I’m doing is laughing, you dickhead. A woman almost got assaulted in your parking lot and your first response is to spin an insane conspiracy theory about performance art in front of surveillance cameras? What kind of piece of shit sociopath does that?”
I regained composure and looked at Ike.
Ike nodded and said, “I think that is about as of thorough an exploration of the issues we are going to get today,” He gently grabbed my arm and we walked out.