Press Release - Houston IWW, August 11, 2015
The fight against Felipe Serna has concluded. Serna wrote a check to Hector, Pancho, and Mauricio which was promptly cashed this morning.
After our letter delivery, folks will recall that we organized a phone blast of The Growing Tree daycare and Felipe’s cell. It was very effective; his phone didn’t stop ringing and he was in tears begging for mercy. But when the calls ceased, his verbal commitment to settling turned into indignation as he failed to follow through and after a few days texted us an image of his “lawyer’s” business card, the second attorney he had threatened us with.
So we got indignant too and last night covered the surrounding neighborhood of The Growing Tree with “Wanted for Wage Theft” posters with his image prominently on the front. We made sure to leave one on the front door of the daycare. The next morning he wrote a check.
This is an important first victory for the Houston IWW and we couldn’t have done it without your support. Thanks to the folks who showed up at the ass crack of dawn for the demand delivery and thanks to the many people who participated in the phone blast.
While we can’t know if Serna will steal wages again, he will certainly consider the costs. And that is what we want every employer in Houston to do; consider that there are forces that they will have to contend with when they steal from labor-power.
We also know that to seriously challenge wage theft and to build workers power, we need an active and fighting working class, something we cannot create by sheer will. Instead, we do what we can with the resources we have until that becomes a general condition. In addition to fighting on the job, we need to fight against Adrian Garcia, the police, and ICE, we need to organize with detainees against incarceration, we need to defend our homes and neighborhoods from landlords and banks, we need to fight the grassroots Right and the fascists among them, we need to fight against racist school boards and curriculum, etc.
The IWW is committed to fighting against all of these forces. An injury to one is an injury all!!
By Luz Sierra - Miami IWW, August 5, 2015
Five years had passed since I first began working as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). A CNA is a health care provider that assists Registered Nurses (RN’s). They are the ones considered to do the “dirty work” in healthcare: changing, bathing, feeding, and providing any form of assistance to patients that RN’s do not have the time or opportunity to provide in today’s fast-paced and multi-tasking health care environment. Through providing care to patients, I have seen many of the atrocities of today’s society, especially with mental health.
The past year I was offered a patient companion (sitter) position at a local hospital after being laid off at my previous workplace for organizing. It is a pretty chill job. Depending on the census, I either provide one-to-one care or one-to-two patients care who are at risk to fall and are under Baker Act (a Florida mental health law that forces a patient to remain in the facility and to be under supervision up to 72 hours because of potential harm to self or others), or high risk patients likely to be injured. Throughout the majority of my employment there, I have mostly seen patients with mental health disorders. Among them are the elderly that are diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. In my experience, they are not given enough or any treatment at all. They are only given medication that sedates them for hours or they are simply ignored by RN’s. An individual with such an ailment could become very anxious, agitated, and disorientated which leads to many problems. For instance, they often attempt to get out of bed unsafely due to memory loss, they can remove their intravenous therapy (IV) if they are bothered by it, and they will sometimes attempt to physically hurt people they do not recognize as they become anxious and fearful of everyone. The list can go on. Mental health disorders are not easily treated, so there are moments when you will need help from CNA’s, RN’s, or even administration. Unfortunately such help is non-existent at times, like one day at work when I was assigned a patient that had Alzheimer’s and was extremely confused.
On that day I received the patient in a difficult situation. The first moment I arrived to her room, she was already punching and kicking the CNA who was trying to prevent her from getting out of bed. The CNA warned me to be careful since she was very combatant; she wasn’t lying. I spent the first two hours preventing her from getting out of bed while she attempted to repeatedly punch and kick me. Eventually a physical therapist stopped by and walked her to the bathroom and around the room. Afterwards, the nurse provided her medication that calmed and reoriented her. After taking her medication, the patient began to talk to me kindly, telling me about her life until she fell asleep for about thirty minutes. When she woke up, the medication was no longer effective so she was agitated and confused again. She wanted to leave her room, but wasn’t allowed to, so she was pushing and hitting me, and screaming loudly for help. I wanted to back away from her since that’s what you are taught when dealing with an aggravated patient, but I couldn’t as she was trying to get up and placing herself at risk of falling. I called the nurse to tell her what was happening, but all she did was stop by and talk to the patient. When she left, the patient became aggressive again.
During the next three hours I called the nurse five times, but she didn’t do anything other than try to calm the patient through talking to her. There’s no problem with that but if the patient is hurting herself and trying to attack caregivers there should be a better alternative. I am not a big advocate of medication, but in my opinion, it’s better to sedate a patient in order to prevent any further harm if the RN is not going to be there 24/7 and if a patient companion has limited options to prevent a patient from hurting anyone or herself. Luckily, another nurse stopped by and took the patient to visit her husband who was also hospitalized. I was ordered to stay with her as she visited her husband. She was calm for a while, but then became agitated and wanted to leave the room in order to search for her children who weren’t there. I had to take her back to her room where she didn’t want to stay, and spent another three hours walking back and forth from her room to her husband’s room. Along the way she would hit and scream at me while the nursing staff were all watching and did nothing.
By members of the Merseyside IWW – Liverpool IWW, August 5, 2015
About twenty people met in Liverpool Central Library’s meeting room 2 last night, as part of IWW national secretary Dave Pike’s speaking tour of England, Scotland and Wales. Dave’s presentation – called ‘Your Class Needs You’ – attracted a mixture of members, prospective new wobblies (or ‘probblies’ in IWW lingo) and people who were just curious what the IWW they knew from tales of Joe Hill were up to nearly a century after his murder.
It was a lot less eventful than the last time Liverpool IWW met on William Brown Street. In 1921, scouse wobblies led by the writer George Garrett occupied the front of the Walker Art Gallery, and were met with a full scale police riot.
For all us IWW members love the old stories, this was evening very much focused on the IWW of today, and how a new generation of relatively young, casualised workers are leading the way with some inspirational campaigns and struggles. We watched videos of workers from Starbucks, Jimmy Johns and London language schools fighting for improvements to their working lives.
The modern day Liverpool IWW are planning some big things over the next few months, and are thrilled to have settled into our new home of Liverpool Central Library. Watch this space, as well as our Facebook and Twitter. And yes, JOIN US! https://iww.org.uk/join
By Chelsea Harris - Labor Notes, July 23, 2015
“I don’t know who you people are!” barked Joe Walker, the owner of Pandora’s Adult Cabaret, a Seattle-area strip club, to the workers gathered in his office. “Why don’t you all go flip burgers!”
But despite this confrontational language—typical of how he often spoke to employees—within hours Walker would give in to their demand for the back pay he owed them.
As a boss, Walker is abhorrent, showing no respect for or concern for the safety of his club’s servers or dancers. Employees had horror stories of working around bodily fluids and other filth with no safety procedures, frequent illness with no health benefits or sick leave, and dancers being stalked and sexually assaulted at the club.
Add to this abusive language and shady bookkeeping. Managers had told bartenders and servers not to report tips. Instead, managers were reporting employee tips as $5 a week.
On April 1 the Seattle minimum wage went up to $11 per hour (the first step in a process towards a $15 per hour minimum wage, which won’t go into effect for two to six years).
But two weeks later, Walker was still paying his servers the old minimum wage of $9.47. When Alyssa, a server at the club, asked when they could expect a wage increase, she was fired.
Lindsay, another server fed up with Walker’s hostility whenever she asked about wages, put in her two weeks’ notice—but was promptly fired too. “You’re beneath this job,” he told her.
Unfortunately for him, Lindsay is in a union: the Seattle branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (the “Wobblies”), which anyone can join, except people with the power to hire and fire. After meeting with the union’s Seattle general organizing committee, Lindsay and Alyssa began an escalation plan.
FW Patrick, Press Secretary - Kentucky IWW, August 4, 2015
After much tinkering, the KY IWW GMB has developed a way to collect dues on-line. We feel this is an easy way for those members who are from far-off, or simply unable to attend certain meeting days, to remain part of the One Big Union.
You can follow the link through our “Dues and Membership” page to pay dues now or in the future. The link there will direct you to an external page where you can select your dues range and remain a member in good standing.
We’re also hopeful that we’ll have more options through the page in the future, including ways to join the KY IWW on-line, donate to the branch, purchase branch stamps, and so on.
One (or two) final thing(s): notes from the July meeting–including a long think piece on movement music–are forthcoming. Stayed tuned for that. And finally, be sure to join us for the KY IWW GMB open house THIS SATURDAY, 8:00 p.m., at our space in The Mammoth. Hope to see you all there!
By The Houston IWW Solidarity Network - Houston IWW, July 29, 2015
The Houston IWW is engaged in a fight with a local contractor, Felipe Serna, responsible for wage theft of three former employees: Hector, Pancho, and Mauricio. These three men were hired by Felipe Serna in May of 2015 for the remodeling of a house in Sweeny, Texas. They were offered $150/day each for their services and provided room and board at the house. Several days in Serna decides $150 is too much and instead wants to pay them $100/day instead. The men held their ground, stating $150 was the agreed upon wage, and Serna backed off.
While at work one day, Serna tells the men he is letting them go. The men ask for payment for the previous three days of labor and Serna refuses, accusing them of stealing equipment. To add insult to injury, Hector, Pancho, and Mauricio weren’t driven back to Houston, but told to make their own way. It cost them $100 total for them to get transportation back to the city.
Serna and his actions are not an isolated event nor is he an employer that is merely a “bad apple that spoils the bunch.” In fact, Serna is representative of a social force that is exploiting immigrant labor in Houston and in this country. In fact, $750 million in wages are stolen each year in Houston alone! Despite a recent ordinance passed in Houston to curb wage theft, it hasn’t stopped it nor could it. The reality is that Houston capitalists depend on wage theft to maintain existing profit rates and the social hierarchy. This exploitation is backed by a racist Sheriff’s office run by Adrian Garcia that complies with 287g, Secure Communities, a program of collaboration between the police and ICE to deport and detain immigrants.
In the spirit of this perspective, on Friday, July 24th, the Houston IWW with Hector and Pancho marched to The Growing Tree Academy, a daycare facility in the Gulfton area of Houston to deliver demands to Serna, owned by his wife’s family. Because contractors often operate in the shadows, working from their homes and vehicles, they are difficult to track down. Hector read the demand letter in the presence of our union to the staff who kept interrupting him and declaring they have nothing to do with what happened. Serna wasn’t there but showed up later when most of us had left to say he wanted to talk and he was instructed to follow up on the letter.
We are demanding $1,450 in stolen wages including $100 for transportation.
Hector, Pancho, and Mauricio aren’t afraid of these employer thugs who prey on working class people. And neither is the IWW. Work itself is theft. But to steal the little subsistence we are given to reproduce ourselves and our families is despicable. The only way to deal with bosses like Serna is to organize together and fight together.
See more and get the latest updates at: https://www.facebook.com/IWWGreece
The struggle for human emancipation, is a struggle against capitalism and every institution or policy assignment and split representation. The recent NO should not be left as a referendum victory of the "Greeks", but to mark the re-start of workers to continue and strengthen self-organization. The class struggle is the basic and sufficient condition not only to stop the capitalist attacks, but also the cohesive element that allows us to recall, the basic values of our class such as solidarity, direct action and companionship. In this context, on the occasion of 110 years since the founding of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) we invite you to the event discussion: "The working class and the employer class have nothing in common!" Timeliness of revolutionary syndicalism on July 18th, 8pm at Eutopia Workshop, Leonidou 62 & Thermopylae, Kerameikos.
Not to sigh for the history. But to learn from the past in order to organize the present, to emancipate the future.
- Incarcerated Workers’ Uprising In Nebraska
- Kansas City IWW Member Released From Prison
- Syndicalists Organize And Win In Berlin!
- Building Workers’ Power in the United Kingdom
- Summer Special: Reviews, Wobbly Entertainment
- New Austerity Measures To “Liberate” French Workers From Regulations
Download a Free PDF of this issue.
Do the times hold dilemmas?
The appeal to the referendum by “for the first time” Left government was the natural outcome of a futile political negotiation which aimed “to have its cake (capital) and eat it too” (to satisfy both its needs and those of institutions). To be sure, this frame of negotiations took place without the real subject that shall pay the cost of remaining in Europe, whether in Euro or drachma, that is the working class, the unemployed, the precarious workers, the immigrants and the pensioners. The point is that, despite the Left tone of dignity that the Left governmental administrators use, this is a one-way blackmail. We need a radical change of shift, not in words but in action.
The IWW was founded on June 27, 1905, and we haven't aged a bit! Read more on the history of the One Big Union, as well as minutes from the founding convention: http://www.iww.org/history/founding.
By Ron Kaminkow - Labor Notes, June 16, 2015
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.
The news media have been full of speculation about what caused an Amtrak train to derail east of Philadelphia on May 12, killing at least eight people and injuring hundreds.
Train #188, operated by lone engineer Brandon Bostian, entered a curve with a speed limit of 50 miles per hour, at over 100.
Was this excessive speed the result of fatigue, inattentiveness, a projectile that hit the train (and possibly the engineer), or some other factor? The investigation may eventually pinpoint the cause—or we may never know.
But we do know this: had there been a second crew member in the cab, it’s very likely that person would have taken action to prevent the tragedy when, for whatever reason, the engineer at the controls could not.
And blaming a worker just distracts the public from eliminating the real hazards. There exists simple, affordable technology that Amtrak could and should have implemented years ago—which could have prevented this terrible wreck.
- #ResistenciaMovistar: A Strike Of This Century In Spain
- IWW Statement On Baltimore Uprising And Police Repression
- Amtrak Wreck Could Have Been Prevented
- May Day Celebrated Around The World
- Staughton Lynd Reviews New Saul Alinsky Biography
- Call To Support Migrant Workers In Europe
Download a Free PDF of this issue.
SUPPORT BAHAR MUSTAFA - The 2015 annual IWW Conference strongly approved an emergency motion proposed by London IWW to stand in solidarity with Bahar Mustafa, a Goldsmiths students' union officer who has faced persecution in the mainstream media and death threats from the right wing for organising a meeting for BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) women and non-binary people. We support Bahar and the right of the oppressed to self-organise, and we encourage our members and supporters to sign this petition to defend Bahar.
Here is the URL of the petition in support of Bahar: https://www.change.org/p/goldsmiths-college-and-beyond-open-letter-in-solidarity-with-bahar-mustafa-welfare-and-diversity-officer-goldsmiths
The following was read by several workers at the Board of Trustees meeting on Monday, 05/11, as a means of publicly informing the board and administration of our forming a union:
Whereas, we come to you today as an intergenerational community that has chosen to collectively act upon its longstanding concern about the disconnect between the principles of Paulo Freire and the practices of the social justice charter school we have come to love that bears his name. And as such, we appreciate this opportunity to be heard, because as Freire said, “Any situation in which some men prevent others from engaging in the process of inquiry is one of violence;… to alienate humans from their own decision making is to change them into objects.”