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IWW General Executive Board Statement

Tue, 11/24/2015 - 15:58

By the IWW General Executive Board, November 22, 2015

The General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World declares solidarity with the people standing up to the police state in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Black lives absolutely matter.

Standing up to the oppressive, murderous, and racist police occupation in north Minneapolis is just and we support it.

We stand in solidarity with everyone who stands up against oppression, and the racist violence of the police against people of color.

We pledge our solidarity with this struggle for justice and change that goes beyond reform. We pledge our solidarity with the people in north Minneapolis who deserve to live their lives without fear of being murdered by the police because of their economic status, where they live, or color of skin.

We stand in solidarity with protesters at the 4th Police precinct in north Minneapolis and stand in solidarity with the occupation until there is justice for Jamar Clark and the police are no longer a racist, classist, occupying army in north Minneapolis.

In solidarity and for total liberation,
-the Industrial Workers of the World General Executive Board

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Categories: Unions

What’s outrageous? Unpaid wages! Report from solidarity demo

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 14:38

By Communications Officer - Bristol IWW, November 14, 2015

Fellow Wobblies and supporters, Bristol Communications Officer here to report on the wet but very successful solidarity demo held this morning in Bristol outside Cafe Amore!

We organised the demo in solidarity with Fellow Worker Bonny, who worked at Cafe Amore for a while and was not paid the full wages she was owed after quitting. Bristol IWW union representative assisted her in writing a demand letter to the cafe’s boss, which Bonny then delivered by hand a week ago accompanied by fellow Wobblies. During the week, the boss paid her some of the money she was owed but not all of it, and didn’t provide a clear explanation as to why he couldn’t pay the whole amount, and when he would do so.

So, on we went this Saturday to hold a solidarity demo demanding the cafe’s boss to pay Bonny her wages, as well as to highlight the bad practices that Cafe Amore use on their staff – unpaid trials, underpaying migrant staff, and forced unpaid overtime. Despite the relentless rain, we had a very successful demonstration attended by around 30 people, with many members and supporters of the IWW, and members of Bristol SolNet.

Before the start of the demo, Bonny went in the cafe accompanied by her union rep and other members of the IWW to renew her demand and hand out flyers to customers. The boss was very aggressive towards them, making excuses as to why he hadn’t been able to pay Bonny’s full wages, and being very vague as to when he would pay her the remaining amount. He then went on to tell another IWW member who was trying to talk to customers to “get out of here or I’ll beat you up” in front of all the customers.

We stood outside the cafe for an hour, handing out flyers and singing songs in support of Bonny, and having lots of fun Wobbly-style! Lots of passers-by stopped to ask us what was going on and expressed interest and support for Bonny and what we were doing. But, Cafe Amore’s boss still hasn’t paid Bonny all the money she’s owed! Bristol IWW will carry on holding weekly solidarity demos outside Cafe Amore until Bonny’s paid up all the money she’s owed. Keep checking our blog and, especially, our Facebook page and Twitter feed (links on the right) and, if Bonny still doesn’t get paid, see you on Saturday 21 November at 12pm outside Cafe Amore (which is on Nelson Street, next to Holland & Barrett). Or, as we put it today in our chants: Pay Bonny her money and we’ll go away / Pay Bonny her money or we’re here to stay!

Do you also work in the bar & hospitality sector – bars, pubs, restaurants, coffee shops, hotels, catering, etc? Does any of this sound familiar to you? The IWW has just launched a campaign to support and organise workers in these businesses. You can read our statement here: statement. We have also written an article on local paper “The Bristol Cable” highlighting the issues of bar & hospitality workers in Bristol. You can read it here: article.

If Bonny’s situation sounds familiar to you, and you need help and support to stand up to bully bosses who don’t pay wages and treat their workers like doormats, email us at bristol@iww.org.uk

We are a grassroots union that uses direct action methods to support workers to fight back for their rights. This is what we can offer you: training to know Employment Law and (where possible) use it to get what you want; training to represent your Fellow Workers in grievance and disciplinary meetings; training to organise your co-workers so you can speak as one voice, and get more influence over what goes on at work; and, finally, TRAINING TO WIN – better terms and conditions, better pay, and less bullying from your boss!

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Categories: Unions

Concrete examples of non labour relations board unions: Part III

Thu, 11/19/2015 - 14:28

By Phinneas Gage - Recomposition, November 6, 2015

This is the third part of a series of concrete examples (Part IPart II) and very brief summaries of organizations that have some component of direct action and a form of collective bargaining that operate outside the labour relations framework. The following examples are from the IWWs organising efforts in food service. This includes fast food as well as grocery stores in a lot of the examples the IWW actually engaged in innovative organising that broke ground in more high profile campaigns like the well known “Fight for Fifteen” campaigns around raising the minimum wage in the USA.

4. The IWW in Food Service

a). The Jimmy John’s Workers Union

The Jimmy John’s Workers Union started as an effort by the Twin Cities General Membership Branch of the IWW to organise in Fast Food. The campaign at it’s height had shop committees in multiple shops and a city wide committee. Ultimately, the campaign made a decision to go for an NLRB election and only failed by two votes with 85 in favour and 87 against. After that point the campaign went into steep decline but the organisers still managed to create an impressive track record of gains for themselves and their co-workers including: reversing decisions by management to fire people, addressing health and safety concerns for delivery drivers, tips jars, a city wide pay raise, and scheduling issues as well as countless smaller individual grievances in their shops. There is still an underground IWW presence in many shops across the USA and a very public campaign in Baltimore.

Advantages: Large numbers of workers mobilised. A city wide organisation spanning at all ten shops in the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota) at its height. Coordination through city wide mass meetings. The media work on this campaign was impressive including making the New York Times. Impressive gains before, during, and after the failed certification election.

Disadvantages: Campaign wasn’t merely oriented towards a youth counter culture, it celebrated it and was itself a function of it. Substance abuse on the campaign was a major issue and led to key organisers putting their jobs at risk and getting injured unnecessarily. Logistically it was very lax with campaign data, mostly being kept in the personal notebooks of key organisers. Many organisers were also goal oriented to the point of certification becoming an all or nothing proposition and the campaign slowly contracted as key people moved on to other projects after the certification campaign failed, despite efforts to downplay the legal process by some organisers. As well the ability to join the JJWU campaign but not the IWW also created a tiered membership that made it ambiguous as to who was actually a member and difficult to consolidate membership beyond just the shop. Ultimately failed to bridge some of the demographic divides in the industry.

What happened?
There is still an underground IWW presence in some shops across the USA and a very public campaign in Baltimore. After the certification election six key organisers were fired over a publicity stunt involving a fight for sick days and the NLRB process is now on its last appeal several years later. The campaign is an impressive achievement for an all volunteer union on a shoe string budget.

b). The Starbucks Workers Union

Where the Jimmy John’s Workers Union in the Twin Cities peaked at a failed certification election the Starbucks Workers Union really got going after a failed attempt at certification. In 2003 wobblies started organising at a Starbucks in Manhattan. In 2004 they tried for a union certification election. The National Labour Relations Board defined their bargaining unit as every Starbucks in Manhattan. which for an organising committee of only a handful became unfeasible as it would include hundreds of workers. So the campaign chose to continue outside of the recognition framework. Since that time over a decade ago the SWU has ran campaigns in dozens of cities going public in towns like New York, Chicago, Quebec, Minneapolis and Dallas. Countless underground committees have pushed back against management to rack up impressive wins like: changes to scheduling practices, enforcing the right to take bathroom breaks, winning a two dollar an hour raise for all Starbucks workers in New York, and improvements to health and safety. Perhaps their greatest achievement was winning Martin Luther King Day as a paid day off in the USA for all Starbucks workers, many of whom are African American. The union has also won countless small victories overturning discipline, fighting against sexual harassment and discrimination at work and extending international solidarity to Baristas in Chile. The union has made national press several times and has won several labour relations board rulings cementing some legal recourse to unions that exist outside the contract and certification process.

Advantages: Extremely fluid organisation allowed for rapid expansion to other cities and shops without too much red tape. The campaign can coordinate demands over multiple cities and countries. Strong emphasis on direct action, the campaign has repeatedly avoided certification elections since the initial defeat in New York and has since developed a strong practice of shop floor unionism.

Disadvantages: Like other IWW efforts in Fast Food the campaign suffers from a high turnover in their workforce and all the problems that come from that. The campaign was logistically lax at some points but fairly strong at others. Part of their very fluid structure made creating democratic structures and decision making difficult. The campaign also had a tendency to go public with a small minority in the shop. Part of this was due to a reliance, probably an over reliance, on media tactics. These strategic decisions put a tremendous amount of strain on key personalities and also create problems as far as giving credit to other people, creating an investment on the part of the less high profile activists, and bringing constant scrutiny and attention from management. Also when the Quebec wobblies joined the SWU from an already existing union formation things quickly fell apart due to differing emphases on direct action and a greater reliance on certification votes (which failed) in Canada. Ultimately the organisers quit en mass and called it direct action.

What happened?
The IWW still has organising activity at Starbucks stores all over North America and a public presence in New York that is going on twelve years this year.

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Categories: Unions

Can “solidarity unionism” save the labor movement?

Sun, 11/08/2015 - 11:56

By Eric Dirnbach - Waging Nonviolence, November 4, 2015

The debate on how to revive the troubled U.S. labor movement has been around for decades. Labor activists generally believe that much greater rank-and-file democracy and workplace militancy is the key to labor renewal. However, an essential perspective that is usually missing from the conversation is well represented by Staughton Lynd’s “Solidarity Unionism: Rebuilding the Labor Movement from Below,” which was first published in 1992 and has been recently reissued.

Lynd is a legendary progressive lawyer and activist from Youngstown, Ohio. He is the coauthor with his wife Alice Lynd of the classic “Rank and File: Personal Histories by Working-Class Organizers,” a collection of oral histories of militant union organizers, which informs much of the framework of “Solidarity Unionism.” At around 100 pages, the book reads more like a summary of his organizing philosophy, and many readers will come away wanting a more extensive discussion. It should be read along with several other recent books which make similar arguments: Stanley Aronowitz’s “The Death and Life of American Labor: Toward a New Workers’ Movement,” and “New Forms of Worker Organization: The Syndicalist and Autonomist Restoration of Class-Struggle Unionism,” edited by Immanuel Ness, who also provided the introduction for “Solidarity Unionism.”

Lynd argues for a rethinking of the assumptions of the labor movement and for a revived version of labor organizing that was more prominent in the pre-New Deal era that he calls “solidarity unionism.” What may surprise most labor-oriented readers is that central to this kind of unionism is the absence of a contract between the union and the employer.

Isn’t the whole point of forming a union to get a written collective bargaining agreement? Lynd doesn’t think so and he argues that workers fighting together with direct action on the job to make improvements in the workplace do not need a contract and may be hurt by having one. He is critical of the “management rights” and “no-strike” clauses that are standard in almost all union contracts. He believes they reduce the power of workers to influence major decisions in how the workplace is run and to solve their problems at work immediately as they arise. Contracts tend to remove agency from the workers and place it in the hands of union staff who typically bargain and process grievances while the members may be uninvolved and cynical. Lynd is also skeptical of a union’s exclusive representation of all workers in the workplace and automatic dues check-off, preferring for workers to actively join the union and pay dues because they want to.

Lynd’s view of the prevailing “contract unionism” differs from standard labor history, which considers the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, or NLRA, labor reforms as a progressive advance for workers. In the mainstream view, workers organizing, with the support of President Roosevelt, finally won full government enforcement for the right to organize and bargain collectively. In exercising this right, unions typically hold workplace elections and then negotiate contracts with employers that set the conditions of employment and also guarantee labor peace (no strike/no lockout) for the term of the contract. This industrial relations framework led the way for millions of workers to organize and improve their wages and working conditions. This “class compromise” held for several decades until employers changed their mind and increased their opposition to unionization again.

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Categories: Unions

Wobbling to Victory: Are militant unions anarchist wreckers or the future of the labour movement?

Sun, 11/08/2015 - 11:23

By Dek Keenan - Union Solidarity International, November 5, 2015

In recent years, new or rediscovered forms of worker self-organisation have begun to appear – and often in the most unlikely of places.

Small independent unions, using a combination of often audacious direct action tactics combined with innovative campaign strategies are bringing victories to some of the most marginalised and precarious groups of workers. Punching way above their weight, these dynamic new (and some not so new) unions are fighting to win and organising with few or no full-time officials and on shoestring budgets.

Are they the work of anarchist wreckers, alien to the traditions of the labour movement, or do they offer a way out of the impasse that our movement finds itself in?

In London, new unions such as the United Voices of the World (UVW) and Independent Workers Union of Great Britain (IWGB) have been at the forefront of precarious, out-sourced and greatly migrant labour struggles. Recent high profile fights for the Living Wage, for sick pay and the reinstatement of union activists at the Barbican and at Sotheby’s auction house have brought the UVW into the media spotlight.

The first signs in the UK of this ‘new unionism’ were seen in 2011 when the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the famous ‘Wobblies’, organised a Branch for cleaners in London, recruiting dissatisfied members of Unite associated with the Latin American Workers Association (LAWA).

This Branch built on the existing community of solidarity in the LAWA and, through the establishment of workers’ advice clinics, language classes and much aggressive outreach by unpaid activists, expanded beyond the Latin American community to other groups of cleaners searching for an effective voice at work. London Living Wage victories at Canary Wharf and elsewhere followed, heightening the profile of the IWW and paving the way for subsequent initiatives from the UVW and IWGB.

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Categories: Unions

Organizing the Choke Points

Sat, 11/07/2015 - 10:55

By Joe Allen - Jacobin, November 3, 2015

It took the United Parcel Service one hundred and eight years to get to its current position in the world today, less than half that time for Walmart, DHL, and FedEx, and just over two decades for Amazon. The speed of transformation in the global logistics industry is rapidly increasing, spurred on by Amazon’s current building spree across North America and Europe.

For example, according to Business Insider,

Amazon has added 21 new logistics facilities globally over the last 12 months, up 14% from last year, bringing the total to 173 facilities worldwide. Of the 173 facilities, 104 are in the North America region, with the rest spread across Europe and Asia. The 173 logistics facilities include the large fulfillment-center warehouse; sortation centers, where packages get presorted for shipping; and Prime Now hub, a separate building to store one-hour delivery items.

Clearly big things are afoot. Amazon’s recent job listing strongly suggests it is building a senior staff for a major logistics and transportation department that includes a “Senior Program Manager — Last Mile Transportation SME,” “Driver Experience Manager,” and “Network Manager — Amazon Logistics Freight.” A former Amazon engineer told Business Insider, “If Amazon can stop paying FedEx and start controlling their own destiny in terms of the costs of fulfillment and shipping and transportation, it increases their profit margin.”

Another sign of the rapidly transforming logistics industry is UPS’s recent purchase of the Chicago-based Coyote Logistics for $1.8 billion. Coyote is a new model of freight forwarding; it has no vehicles or warehouses of its own, and instead provides logistics for 12,000 shippers with a network of 35,000 local, regional, and national carriers.

A decade earlier UPS made its largest acquisition up to that point when it bought Overnite Transportation, a huge non-union freight company. UPS’s purchase of Overnite was a major move into the traditional freight business, and followed FedEx’s acquisition of several regional freight companies and creation of FedEx Freight.

FedEx is also trying to keep up with the competitive pressures from Amazon and UPS. Earlier this year it acquired the Dutch parcel-delivery company TNT Express for $4.8 billion — giving it access to TNT’s Europe-wide road network to compete with UPS and DHL — and FedEx Ground has announced plans to build large facilities in Middleton, CT; Ocala, FL; and Hamburg, NY.

DHL — formally DHL Express, a division of Deutsche Post — is also reinvesting substantially in its US operations, including a $108 million upgrade to its Cincinnati air hub that processes about 46 million international shipments each year. Though it is smaller than UPS’s nearby Worldport or FedEx’s Superhub, DHL’s Cincinnati operations primarily focus on international shipments from Asia and Europe.

“If DHL is making investments in infrastructure expansion in Cincinnati, that means they’re very confident that they’re going to continue to grow their intercontinental network,” says Brian Clancy, a managing director with Logistics Capital & Strategy, a Virginia-based transportation consulting firm.

Meanwhile, DHL Global Forwarding signed an agreement with a Kazakhstan-based express company to speed the transit of rail-based freight across the Eurasian continent as an alternative to traditional sea and airfreight. In addition, it announced plans to establish its own parcel network in Austria by 2016 and to invest €47 million in sub-Saharan Africa as part of an effort to derive 30 percent of its revenue from emerging markets by 2020.

Not to be left out of the scramble, the United States Postal Service (USPS), the venerable, much-derided, and constitutionally mandated mail carrier, has emerged as a major player in the logistics industry.

This summer, Bloomberg Businessweek called the USPS “an extension of Amazon” and noted that “Amazon receives a deep discount from the post office because the e-tailer does so much of its own processing — including providing computerized address lists to make it easier for carriers to tailor their delivery routes for faster drop-offs.” A 2014 estimate by Bernstein Research, which tracks the shipping industry, put the USPS’s shipments and deliveries at 40 percent of Amazon’s volume, or almost 150 million items (UPS accounted for 20–25 percent and FedEx 15–20 percent).

While UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the USPS are fierce competitors, many people would be surprised by the cooperation between the logistics giants. Both FedEx and UPS have discounted residential package delivery services with the USPS called, respectively, SmartPost and SurePost. And the volume is enormous. Last year, the Wall Street Journal reported:

For FedEx alone, the post office delivers an average of 2.2 million packages a day, or about 30% of the express-mail company’s total U.S. ground segment. UPS won’t specify how many of its shipments go through the post office, but a regulatory filing indicates those types of lightweight shipments accounted for 40% — or about 37 million packages — of its total increase in ground shipments in 2012.

Both SmartPost and SurePost services are designed to deal with the unwanted costs of the “last mile” — the industry term for the final step in the delivery process, handing over the package to the recipient. FedEx or UPS may have every address in the United States in their databases, but neither wants to go to every address every day, and they certainly don’t want to make a second attempt if the recipient isn’t home the first time around. The USPS, on the other hand, has to go to each address daily to delivery first-class mail.

Ultimately, UPS and FedEx want to snatch up the most profitable areas and dump the rest. For example, FedEx beat out UPS in 2013 for a seven-year, $10.5 billion contract with the USPS to fly its mail between US airports.

The rising volume of packages has transformed the USPS, necessitating major capital investment. In 2013, the post office spent $200 million to furnish its delivery vehicles with handheld scanners to provide real-time package tracking. And its plan to replace its fleet of 163,000 delivery trucks, which were not designed to hold packages, could cost as much as $4.5 billion.

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Categories: Unions

Victory as People Power Forces Liverpool Council Homeless Fines U-Turn

Sat, 11/07/2015 - 10:48

By Admin - Liverpool IWW, November 5, 2015

Liverpool Industrial Workers of the World unreservedly welcomes the sensational decision of Liverpool City Council to scrap their consultation on plans to fine the homeless a whole eight days ahead of its planned conclusion. We are delighted that homeless people now no longer face this added threat of being penalised for the social crime of homelessness.

Like Oxford, Hackney and Wycombe authority before them, Mayor Joe Anderson’s council has floated the idea, hoping it will go through, only to be overwhelmed by the public backlash against it. In doing so, the council has shown the potential of mass working class action to make changes in the world. Anderson and Liverpool Labour have given way on this one issue, because it risked jeopardising the rest of their austerity agenda.

Only yesterday morning, Liverpool IWW started a Facebook event page proposing a demonstration against the homeless fines. Within hours, scores had pledged they would attend, hundreds of people had been invited, and many were leaving comments on the page. Some raised their own demands, such as Joe Anderson paying back the £89,000 of public money he received from the council for legal advice on a private matter (he’d been sacked by a school he did no work for).

The homeless fines threatened to be a ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’. When asked by the media for a reaction in response to Liverpool IWW’s press release, the council retreated a step. The council’s deployment of pro-cuts Councillor Rachael O’Byrne to the Facebook event page confirms this.

Liverpool Labour’s explanation for the whole affair beggars belief. According to Liverpool Confidential , “Anderson intervened to have the scheme scrapped after hearing about the proposals yesterday [Wednesday]”. Councillor Steve Munby went on, “The proposal was not a decision by the council cabinet, but was drawn up by officers following complaints from residents and the BID [Business Improvement District].”

If we are charitable to Anderson, it still looks devastatingly bad. He is the mayor of the city, he is paid a large salary, and he dines with the greedy business owners who were pushing this scheme on a very regular basis. If the official story is to be believed, he was somehow unaware of the council consultation nearly a month after it began on 9th October. He is therefore totally out of touch with the affairs of his own council, and totally incompetent.

The far more likely explanation, of course, is that Anderson, O’Byrne, Munby and colleagues are simply lying through their teeth.

Liverpool IWW will continue to fight for the interests of all working class people in the local area, so we can guarantee that this is not the last that Mayor Anderson and all his bloodsoaked poverty pimps will hear of us.

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Categories: Unions

Industrial Worker, Fall 2015: 'In November We Remember'

Fri, 11/06/2015 - 09:05

In this issue:

* Legal victory over police repression of union activity & free speech in Boston
* Boycotts, pickets in support of Familias Unidas farm worker union intensify
* In November We Remember: Fellow Worker Ed Mann, Federico Arcos, Krazy Bill and incarcerated workers
....and more!

View and download the issue on Scribd.com.

Email iw@iww.org to order your copy today! 

Categories: Unions

Sex workers of Rhode Island, unite!

Wed, 11/04/2015 - 16:15

By Andrew Stewart - RIFuture.org, November 3, 2015

It is called the oldest line of work in the world and yet it is consistently denied legitimacy. But here in Rhode Island, where prostitution was legal from 1980 until 2009, some local sex workers are re-asserting their agency by organizing a labor union.

“You see women get raped, you see women get murdered,” said Madeira Darling, an organizer, whose name has been changed in this story to protect her identity. “Criminalization itself is violence. It means women can’t seek protection either from the law or from one another. Occasionally you will get guys who think they are in love with you stalking you. And police will often blame sex workers for violence even if they aren’t in criminalized industries.”

Madeira began work as an exotic dancer at age 19 in New York before becoming a dominatrix and relocating to Rhode Island, labor she continues to perform here. She and several of her colleagues are working towards something radically inclusive: the creation of a statewide sex worker labor union.

Interested in creating a truly industrial union, the group is open to allowing all sex workers join her in the effort, reaching out to strippers, escorts, camera/phone workers, porn stars, strip club bouncers, bar workers, masseurs/masseuses, actors, directors, and crew in adult films, and any other laborer in the industry, including the internet workers. As of this point she has contacted four other workers, but hopes that publicizing this effort my grow the ranks.

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Categories: Unions

Press Release: Liverpool IWW Calls For Demonstration Against Fines for the Homeless

Wed, 11/04/2015 - 16:07

By Admin - Liverpool IWW, November 4, 2015

Liverpool IWW condemns the council’s proposed “Public Space Protection Order”, under which the homeless could be fined up to £1,000 for the ‘crime’ of begging. We call on the people of Liverpool to show their opposition, by demonstrating at St Luke’s bombed out church a week on Saturday (14th November) from 12 noon, and signing the Change.org petition, which already had nearly 7,000 signatures at the time of going to press.

It is shocking that we find ourselves in a position where we need to argue for the right of homeless people not to be fined for their poverty, but thanks to greedy mayor Joe Anderson this is exactly the situation we are in. No-one begs for the fun of it. People beg out of desperation, because our society has badly let them down. £1,000 would be a huge amount of money for any working class person, but for a homeless person it is almost unimaginable, and could never be paid.

If Liverpool Labour wanted people to stop begging, they would stop implementing policies which massively increase poverty in our city. Instead, they aim to criminalise deprivation, in order to create a corporate paradise in Liverpool One, the Central ‘Business Improvement District’, and beyond. While Joe Anderson claims that his hands are tied by the Tory government when he makes spending cuts, it is his anti-homeless crusade which really shows what kind of man he is. Not content with using the police to starve homeless people out of a former bank a few months back, he now seeks to use crushing fines to force homeless people out of the city where they may well have family and friends.

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Categories: Unions

Concrete Examples of Non Labour Relations Board Unions: Part II

Sat, 10/24/2015 - 19:48

By the Admin Staff - Recomposition, October 8, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

This is the second part of a series of concrete examples and very brief summaries of organizations that have some component of direct action and a form of collective bargaining that operate outside the labour relations framework. The following are IWW projects that had aspects of Labour Relations Board campaigns to them but were essentially not oriented towards the LRB. You will also notice that these examples are American. One key difference in the American context is the presence of a longer and richer history of what is called “minority unionism” that is unions that seek to build majorities from minorities but are capable of acting as a part of the workforce that doesn’t always represent a majority pro-union group as verified by card check or a board election.

2. Corridor Campaigns: 

a). Montpelier Downtown Workers Union
Corridor campaigns were a popular model for IWW branches to experiment with in the early to mid 2000’s. This campaign started as a corridor campaign under the United Electrical Workers Union. An independent union with a history of Communist leadership. They were based on having small committees in small shops spread out over a geographic area with a similar constellation of businesses, usually retail corridors.

This campaign started under the sponsorship of a workers centre run by the UE and ran for a few years. One of the more innovative elements of this campaign was the grievance committee combined with stewards that were assigned to a geographic area. Non members were told of the presence of a stewards in their area and if they had problems to go the member of the MDWU who would help them resolve problems. They also had a grievance committee that would pool resources to tackle bigger tougher problems.

Eventually the UE tried to push it to sign more contracts, as the campaign was failing they signed on with the IWW but it continued it’s decline and folded.

Advantages: Multiple committees in multiple shops. Geographic stewards, grievance committee. Had a clear way to address smaller concerns that didn’t warrant mass industrial action but weren’t simply individual gripes either.

Disadvantages: Pressure from business union sponsor to go for contracts. Small shops prone to high turnover, going public in small shops allows the boss to charm neutrals and organise anti union elements easily.

b). South Street Workers Union
South Street was a campaign in a retail corridor in Philadelphia started by the IWW branch there. It had multiple committees in multiple small shops. They agitated around workplace issues as well as workers issues off the job including a campaign around transit fares. The campaign lasted a number of years and built up the branch but eventually folded.

Advantages: Maintained a function organisation between small multiple shops over a few years. Agitated around issues in the community and mobilised the community around non workplace demands as well as making some small gains in shops.

Disadvantages: High turnover wore the campaign down.

3. The IWW and Bike Couriers:

There is very little documentation that is easy to track down and I have a few articles I intend to put online but the Bike Courier campaigns of the early 2000s had a tremendous influence on the development of Direct Unionism or Solidarity Unionism. The key organisers in these campaigns had a huge impact on the IWW and played a central role in the transition from being mostly a radical labour history club to a small fighting union with a different program from the rest of the labour movement. The longest running and most high profile campaign was in Chicago where the IWW maintained a presence in the courier industry for ten years. They had committees spanning multiple shops and won grievances against employers as well as mounting campaigns against building management companies to make their buildings more accessible to the couriers that served their tenants.

There were also bike courier committees in Portland, New York, Boston and San Francisco to name a few others.

Advantages: Extremely flexible organisations, took on issues on and off the job. Well developed conception of non contractual unionism. Multiple campaigns in multiple shops in Chicago. Also very structured and formal in Portland and Chicago, clear meeting agendas, rules of order and elected officers.

Disadvantages: Never broke out of the bike courier sub culture in a meaningful way. Very oriented towards a largely young and urban counter culture workforce.

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Categories: Unions

IWW Turkey and Greece common statement about the latest Ankara massacre

Fri, 10/16/2015 - 21:57

The bombing on 10th of October 2015 was directly against the Kurdish liberation movement, the working class and all oppositions who resist against the dictatorship.

This massacre is another ring of the chain that extends from Armenian genocide to Dersim massacre, from May Day’77 to Maraş Massacre’78, from Şırnak Massacre’92 to Diyarbakır and Suruç bombings that happened within this year. All these massacres have targeted the people who ask for Freedom, Democracy and Justice on Anatolia over the last 100 years. The offender side has always been fascist party militants, religious fundamentalists and occasionally governmental commissioners themselves.

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Categories: Unions

Register for Strategic Corporate Research 101 Webinar

Wed, 10/14/2015 - 15:17

By Yvonne Yen Liu - IWW, October 12, 2015

Date: Sunday, October 18th 2015
Time: 5:00-6:00 pm ET/4:00-5:00 pm CT/2:00-3:00 pm PT
Description: We will focus on outlining the three main areas of strategic corporate research: Operational, Command & Control, and Outside Stakeholders, and give participants basic information and tools to conduct their own research. This workshop will discuss how to track down information on a company's business model, growth strategy and owners as well as the various components of a strong, comprehensive, research-backed corporate campaign in support of shop-floor organizing. We will review the initial material quickly, provide links to resources for participants to review on their own and have time for discussion.

RSVP: http://www.iww.org/committees/SRC

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Categories: Unions


Wed, 10/14/2015 - 15:11

By Some Angry Workers - Angry Workers of the World, October 11, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s. We have republished this open letter to our union in order to stimulate discussion:

Autumnal greetings comrades!

We have known some of you for a while, and met some more of you recently on our film screening ‘tour’ earlier this year. It was great to make some new friends and have some good discussions about what we’re all up to. We thought we’d get in touch with you about some proposals for joint work in the coming year, let us know if you’re interested!

1. We want to start an Amazon workers newsletter

We have lots of translated material of interviews with Amazon workers in Germany, Poland and India, as well as knowing comrades who work in, and have direct contact with, Amazon workers. We could turn this into an (irregular) 2-sided newsletter for Amazon workers in the UK. Polish comrades have set up a small section of the Workers Initiative (IP) syndicalist union inside the warehouse in Poznan, which is now the site of Europe’s biggest Amazon warehouse. It was built to undermine workers at struggling Amazon warehouses across Germany. Workers from Germany and Poland recently had a meeting together to discuss coordinating their efforts:


And at the the recent meeting about transnational strikes in Poznan earlier this month we heard about the idea of Amazon workers organising a bus caravan through Europe.

As of yet, we have no contact with Amazon workers/militants in England who could participate in international meetings or coordinations like these ones. We think this newsletter would be a good step towards this. It would also let workers know what is happening at other Amazon warehouses, which may encourage their own activity e.g. other workers’ experiences of union struggles such as those being led by the ver.di union in Germany; how workers there don’t have a ‘countdown’ on their scanner/watch, which has relieved some of their work pressure; or the overtime slow-down strike in Poznan in support of the workers on strike in Germany (they had been ordered by management to work overtime as they supply for the German market, so essentially the workers in Poland were refusing to be scabs).

Would any of you be interested in working on this together? Essentially this would mean co-writing and/or distributing the paper outside Amazon warehouses when shifts start and/or finish. Because we are based in London, we are not immediately near any Amazon warehouses but could also come from time to time to help out. You could build on these links in whatever ways you had the capacity for within your local. At the moment it just seems a shame that we have all these materials and contacts that would make a great newsletter and they’re not being put to use!

We made a list of Amazon warehouse locations below [1] so if your local has the time, capacity, energy and will to focus on these workers, or at least start something and then see how things go, get in touch and we can discuss in more detail.

If you’re worried that your local not having the longer-term resources to support workers if the newsletter does prove to be a catalyst for workers wanting to organise, then let’s discuss how this could be overcome.

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Categories: Unions

Liverpool IWW Spread Message that Claimant Advocacy is Not a Crime!

Wed, 10/14/2015 - 14:56

By Admin - Liverpool IWW, October 12, 2015

This afternoon, members and supporters of Liverpool IWW held an information picket outside the town centre job centre, on Williamson Square. We are one of several IWW groups and other activist organisations holding demonstrations at job centres this week. Scottish Unemployed Workers Network called for solidarity with claimant advocate Tony Cox, who faces court in Forfar tomorrow on the ludicrous charges of threatening behaviour, refusing to give his name and address and resisting arrest. He was arrested at an Arbroath job centre last January, whilst representing a highly vulnerable unemployed woman.

Scottish Unemployed Workers Network assert that:

“We believe that this case highlights the climate of fear that is evident within many job centres, but that it is not only benefit claimants that are treated with contempt. Welfare advisors are also being subjected to bullying and intimidation, as in the recent case of Mike Vallance at High Riggs Job Centre, when they attempt to represent, often highly vulnerable, benefit claimants. The SUWN will resist any and all attempts to curb the rights of welfare and citizen advocates to represent the unemployed, and we ask you to join us in our fight to ensure that ADVOCACY IS NOT A CRIME.”

In Liverpool today, we distributed info provided by Edinburgh Coalition Against Poverty, backing up with legal statements the fact that ‘advocacy is not a crime’. Claimants visiting the job centre took our advice enthusiastically, and were generally pleased that someone was taking a stand against the Department for Work and Pensions, and the bullying regime inside job centres. Our social networking presence also got a number of likes and follows during the picket.

In fact, the response was so positive that we will soon begin a regular series of job centre info distribution pickets, offering advice, encouragement and solidarity to claimants – who represent some of the most vulnerable elements of the working class.

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Categories: Unions

Twin Cities IWW wins unpaid wages from local daycare

Wed, 10/14/2015 - 14:48

By Admin - Twin Cities IWW, October 10, 2015

This summer, IWW member Anja was fired from her job at Crocus Hill Academy, a daycare. She was told that it was for talking to current and former coworkers about issues with their boss, Imran Khan. Two weeks later, Anja had yet to receive her final paycheck, her personal belongings, or a copy of her personnel file, which she had requested. Three union members from the Twin Cities IWW branch accompanied Anja to the daycare to deliver a demands letter. Mr. Khan reacted aggressively, shouting at and threatening the union delegation, accusing Anja of mistreating children, and calling St. Paul Police. He refused to accept the letter, and police asked IWW members to vacate the property.

The following day, a larger group of IWW members leafleted the daycare. As Mr. Khan yelled from the door, union members talked to parents about Anja’s firing and other grievances. Upon Mr. Khan’s continued refusal to receive the letter, branch members conducted a call-in and social media campaign against Crocus Hill Academy. Within a few days, Anja received a call from the school’s new director, begging her to give him a copy of the demands which Mr. Khan refused to accept. She has since received her final paycheck and an additional check for $120 to compensate for her personal belongings and personnel file, both of which Mr. Khan “misplaced.”

Manipulative, lying bosses like Mr. Khan are a danger to all working people, especially when they punish workers for protected activity like talking about work conditions and steal wages. But when we stand alone, or when we look to the government for help, we give up our power to fight. When we come together with other working people, we can get what we deserve. Direct action works and solidarity wins. Get in touch with the Twin Cities IWW if you have problems at work.

Email: twincities@iww.org

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Categories: Unions

Language workers got Tallents!

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 19:11

By Angry Language - LibCom.Org, September 27, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Ultimately, we were forced to go down the legal route. That means that IWW members at LSSE only got the legal minimum, despite our belief that the callous mistreatment we suffered while at the school entitled us to further compensation. In any case, we got more than Craig had ever planned to give us.

We're proud to say that in our effort to make Craig pay up, the workers ran militant and well-organised campaign. We occupied the school. We forced Craig to resign as a governor of the Bancroft School and to shut down the website of another one of his business interests, Asparagus Consulting. We hassled him at his residents' association. We held numerous pickets and protests in Leicester Square and at the Drapers' Guild, where Craig is a member of some note – actions which did not go unnoticed by senior officers of the organisation.

To any other workers who may ever have the misfortune to work for Craig, we have a message for you: if he mistreats you in any way, you've got the support of the Angry Language Brigade and the IWW. It doesn't matter if you're a language school worker or not; if Craig's your boss, we got your back.

And let this be a message to any future would-be business partners: Craig Tallents is a toxic asset. Besides his consistently underhanded business practices, he's got two organisations who are ready and willing to picket and protest anywhere he sets up shop.

Jon Bigger, the IWW caseworker who helped the workers, said “this case was a good example of a boss trying to hide when the going got tough. Future workers and business partners of Craig Tallents will no doubt take note of his actions. Bosses should take note of ours.”

For those who've followed the dispute, one of the key issues was that Craig had illegally and intentionally misclassified a number of teachers as self-employed. This meant that when Craig shut down the school, he thought he could do so without paying those teachers thousands of pounds in holiday and notice pay.

The good news is that if you've been misclassified – a major problem in language schools – you have recourse. Raise it collectively with your workmates or contact HMRC who can contact your employer to make them sort out their records and pay you any back pay to which you may be entitled. HMRC can be contacted anonymously, but it's probably best if you have someone like a union rep call on your behalf.

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Categories: Unions

US Labor Law at 80: the Enduring Relevance of Class Struggle Unionism

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 19:04

By Immanuel Ness - CounterPunch, September 22, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

By embracing collective bargaining through the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935, or Wagner Act, organized labor deprived workers of their capacity to contest private and state power. This compromise closed out any possibility of building a mass-based labor movement for decades. Rather than advancing the interests of workers, the NLRA circumscribed workers’ aspirations for democratic syndicalist and autonomist unions.

IWW: Alternative to Contract Unionism

In examining the long-term failure of organized labor, we must first note the alternative, organic, autonomous workers’ movement embodied in particular by unions affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in the early 20th century. From its inception in 1905 until the 1920’s, the IWW represented a significant alternative to contract unionism. The IWW stood for the solidarity of all workers and it was fiercely opposed for that reason — by capital, by reformists such as Daniel DeLeon of the Socialist Labor Party and by the American Federation of Labor (AFL).[i] The IWW engaged in a genuine form of democracy and a mass industrial organizing model ultimately adopted by the AFL and the Congress of Industrial Organization (CIO), which both utilized for very different purposes.[ii]

The IWW employed sabotage, direct action and strikes through the equivalent of workers’ councils in both the community and at the point of production, while disavowing the legitimacy of the state and recognizing that any agreement with business must be temporary. The Wobblies vigorously negotiated with employers but were never deluded that agreements would bring labor peace.

That the solidarity of all workers was not just talk for the IWW is evidenced by their organization of Blacks, immigrant workers from Mexico and Southeast Asia, and women in, for example, the Bread and Roses Strike. Historian Peter Cole has richly demonstrated that the IWW embraced multiracial unionism, perhaps most notably in Philadelphia’s Maritime Workers Local 8, where Black workers maintained a majority.iii

The IWW achieved major gains for U.S. workers into the 1930s while (and because) it emphasized solidarity and workers’ control. When AFL and CIO unions expanded dramatically as a result of upheaval that began in the early 1930’s, they, by contrast, mostly failed to stimulate enthusiasm among workers. Riding the massive wave of sit-down strikes to positions of power, leaders of insurgent unions contributed greatly to sublimating the continuation of such militancy by throwing their support behind modest and incomplete New Deal reforms that ultimately weakened the capacity of workers to confront capital directly. In the area of labor relations, the NLRA was the fulcrum.

Many workers who participated in the sit-down strikes in mass production industries considered unionization synonymous with control over the enterprise, as was recognized immediately by capital. Given the breadth and ongoing militancy of the labor upheaval, the most astute corporate leaders soon expressed willingness to yield select rights provided that employer absolutism in the workplace was maintained. The NLRA proved to be the mechanism for doing so and responsible labor leaders proved willing junior partners in quelling worker militancy. For approximately a year after the wave of sit-down strikes, many workers were surprised to learn that their unions, as sanctioned by the NLRA, set up a framework that restricted their autonomy.

In his account of the Flint sit-down strikes, Sidney Fine wrote of how UAW members “were reluctant to accept the customary discipline exercised by management” and “ran wild in many plants for months.” Union committeemen aggressively pressed the grievances of union members upon oftentimes unyielding foremen, and as a UAW member later conceded, “Every time a dispute came up the fellows would have a tendency to sit down and just stop working.”iv

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Categories: Unions

NLRB Rules Union Canvasser Fired Illegally By Sisters’ Camelot, Orders Back Pay, Reinstatement

Mon, 09/28/2015 - 14:52

This past Friday, September 25, the National Labor Relations Board issued a new ruling regarding the struggle between the IWW Sisters’ Camelot Canvass Union and their former bosses at Sisters’ Camelot.

This new ruling reverses the 2013 ruling by an administrative law judge which stated the workers at Sisters’ Camelot were not protected under the National labor Relations Act because they were independent contractors. With this decision being reversed, Sisters’ Camelot is ruled to have violated labor law when they fired Canvass Union member shugE Mississippi while on strike in 2013 as part of their union-busting campaign.

This new ruling also uses the same argument to clarify that Sisters’ Camelot violated labor law when they refused to negotiate with their worker’s union, and again when they offered concessions to workers if they were to abandon bargaining collectively as a union.

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Categories: Unions

There will be no unpaid workers at the Co-op!

Sun, 09/20/2015 - 13:29

By Dorsett IWW - Dorsett IWW, September 17, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Dorset IWW General Members’ Branch is pleased to announce that our dispute with a Bournemouth outlet of the Co-operative has been settled amicably. We have a verbal assurance from local management who are USDAW members, that they have no wish to exploit unpaid workers on their premises, and that their connection with ‘Prospects’ has been severed. We congratulate them on their principled decision and affirm our commitment to defeat the government’s work programme and end unpaid labour.

Nationally however, the situation is less clear; we have had sight of a Co-op internal document that sets out the parameters of their unpaid work experience programme. Whilst it insists that placements must be voluntary and offer meaningful experience, we note that vulnerable adults are being conscripted who may not be fully aware of their rights. It’s highly likely some of them will not be able to make an informed decision and/or will get browbeaten by jobcentre staff with targets to meet. Once they are on the scheme if they leave they may be deemed to have made themselves intentionally unemployed, and be sanctioned. Lastly of course, however you dress it up, it’s unpaid labour. How long does it take to assess a person’s suitability for working in a grocer’s shop? A week, two? Why then should a national chain not speculate a fortnight’s minimum wage to find out?

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Categories: Unions