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First Incarcerated Worker Industrial Union Branch Forming

Industrial Workers of the World - Mon, 2018-01-22 21:02

By IWOC - It's Going Down, January 18, 2018

The following article from the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) announces that the Mandingo Warriors & Associates has become the first union branch to be chartered inside of prison. 

First Incarcerated Worker Industrial Union Branch Forming

Mandingo Warriors & Associates—IWW/IWOC Announces Their Formation

The Industrial Workers of the World’s (IWW) Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) is excited to announce our first Incarcerated Workers Industrial Union 613 branch application. The charter is currently being reviewed by the IWW's General Executive Board. When approved, this will be the first ever IU613 Branch in IWW history. In fact it will be the very first Incarcerated Workers union branch period. Below is their announcement of the formation and a riveting history of prison organizing over the past few decades.

REVOLUTIONARY GREETINGS & FELLOW WORKERS,

On behalf of “Mandingo Warriors & Associates—IWW/IWOC,” we would like to express our most sincere gratitude and appreciation regarding the valuable time, efforts and sacrifices that you, along with the entire IWW/IWOC revolutionary family of this Struggle, have put into this difficult and complex “dilemma” of pursuing the necessary steps required to “effectively” assist in the organizing of those of us, whom are incarcerated within the numerous “Business Corporations” disguised as “Reformative Institutions” (Aka Prisons), around Unifying Principles and a Universal Philosophy that is inclusive of all of Humanity (this is definitely a Struggle Rooted in Equality for all of Humanity and not just the Few & Wealthy!)

We shall hope and pray that all of our Comrades, in the “Semi-Free Society,” are doing well and are enjoying the best of health possible. Your most recent communication (dated: 10/20/’17) was well received and we look forward to receiving future communications from any and all IWW/IWOC members (with a robust invitation to the African People’s Caucus) in the near future.

Before We/I begin to address your most recent letter, Comrade it is our responsibility to inform and make you guys aware of the latest developments concerning the Movement of our Branch… You guys will have no doubt noticed the change in name/title—“Mandingo Warriors & Associates—IWW/IWOC” (M.W.A.—IWW/IWOC), from the previous name–

A meeting was held, 10/27/’17, in response to your letter and concerning IWW/IWOC’s agenda in general. Amongst the few issues that were discussed and resolved, included the uncertainty of some, as-to whether IWW/IWOC represent the realities of True Revolutionary Movement, or, will the Tribe (another name used to describe the entirety of the M.W organization)—as a Revolutionary organization in-and-of-itself, be bounding itself, by mutual agreement, to Honor, Respect, Uphold and abide by the Constitution, By-Laws, Principles and General Philosophy (whenever related to IWW affairs) of a bunch of “Armchair” Revolutionaries, who pontificate upon revolutionary concepts, but, fall far short of actual Revolutionary Movement (The Tribe has been “burnt” by such “revolutionary organizations” before, in which “they talk a good game,” but, when the “heat” is turned-up they are  nowhere to be found…)

However, after a few of our Elder/Senior Tribal Members expounded upon the true significance of the “Statement On Prison Abolition Adopted by IWW At 2017 Convention, “specifically its wide margin of success (51-in favor) and coupled with the consistent efforts by you guys, our comrades within IWW/IWOC, in organizing campaigns in support of prisoners and assisting with the actual organizing of prisoners themselves, the statement declared by IWW is profound and proclaims Revolutionary Movement far more reaching than we would have expected (at-least, from “Armchair” revolutionaries—SMILE).

Our initial agreement, regarding the partnering with IWW/IWOC, consisted of a project that was narrowly tailored and confined to a specific single prison, in order to evaluate how successful the project would become an IWW branch, with the prospect of seeking membership for the entirety of The Tribe and promote IWW/IWOC’s agenda throughout the state prison system (The Tribe has a Community/Village present at practically every prison in state.

Before the closing of our meeting, it was determined, declared and resolved that IWW/IWOC is “The Real Thing!” We will Move to include The Tribe as a whole to the membership base of IWW/IWOC and promote its/our agenda throughout the state prison system. Therefore, because of this resolution, a motion was presented to change the name of our IWW/IWOC Branch to MWA—IWW/IWOC (although M.Ws account for the majority and significant portion of our IWW/IWOC’s membership base at the IWW-Branch, we’re not all MW. Hence, “Associates”—some are Moors, of the Moorich Science Temple of America, and of course, there will be others who will join with no organizational affiliation.). The Motion passed unanimously… We are aware that the GEB reserve the right to “regulate the name of the body.” However, we request that due consideration is given and at-the-least, the initials “MWA-IWW/IWOC” be accepted as an official name (We must continue to Honor those fallen Comrades who gave their lives in order that the Revolutionary Movement continue with the Tribe moving forward.)

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New York: Wobbly Waiters Stage “Sip In” to Demand IWW Recognition

Industrial Workers of the World - Mon, 2018-01-22 20:52

By Stardust Family Unted - It's Going Down, January 17, 2018

This following report and video comes from the Stardust Family Diner, which is a group of workers who are fighting as part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) to be in a union. Recently the workers won the rehiring of several dozen employees who were fired in an anti-union campaign conducted by management. 

Some footage (video, above) from (January 16, 2018) “Sip In” at Stardust diner, where servers and former staff are fighting for the right to join a union (that’s right, they don’t even have the right to fight for their rights), along with a laundry list of other abuses perpetuated by management.

The idea was to disrupt the Saturday dinner rush—several arrived, were seated, and only ordered water (with copious amounts of lemon), stayed for an hour or so, tipped the server generously (so that they wouldn’t be punished financially), and then as we left, told the manager that they should allow the servers to join the union.

The very talented singing staff started the action by singing Twister Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It” (feat. in the musical “School of Rock”), then went into Woody Guthrie’s “Union Maid.” During the chorus (“Oh, you can’t scare me, I’m sticking to the union…”), those participants in the diner, stood up, held their waters and ketchup bottles aloft and sang along (To the wtf-bewilderment of all the tourists). Then one of the servers who was fired last week for joining the union came in off the streets, grabbed a mic, and somehow turned “New York, New York” into an accusatory political anthem. She stood on the booth, pointed to the patrons, and after she belted the final note, raised her fist, and shouted “Worker’s Rights!”

Best dinner in quite a while…

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Inmates Launch Month-Long Strike to Protest 'Slavery Conditions' in Florida Prisons

Industrial Workers of the World - Wed, 2018-01-17 22:14

By Julia Conley - Common Dreams, January 14, 2018

Inmates in Florida's prisons launched a month-long strike on Monday in protest of the state's use of "modern day slavery" within its correctional facilities.

In a statement released by the Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons, one of several advocacy groups supporting the movement, the state's prisoners urged the prison population to refuse all work assignments during the strike:

We are encouraging prisoners throughout the DOC to band together in an effort to demand payment for work performances...Our goal is to make the Governor realize that it will cost the state of Florida millions of dollars daily to contract outside companies to come and cook, clean, and handle the maintenance. This will cause a total BREAK DOWN.

African-Americans make up about a third of Florida's prison population, despite accounting for only about 17 percent of the state's overall population. Calling their movement Operation Push, after Rev. Jesse Jackson's 1970s campaign to improve the economic status of African-Americans, the state's inmates are fighting against the Department of Corrections' price-gouging practices and Florida's elimination of parole as well as its use of unpaid labor by prisoners.

Florida is one of five states that offers no payment to inmates for their work—from washing prison uniforms and cooking meals to completing maintenance work and serving on cleanup crews after Hurricane Irma hit the state last September.

"There's a word for that, it's called slavery," Paul Wright, executive director of the Human Rights Defense Center, told the Guardian. "Some states might say they pay 10 cents a day, or 15 cents an hour, or whatever, but here they make it pretty clear they don't pay prisoners anything, they're not going to, and prisoners are totally enslaved at every level."

On top of receiving no compensation for their work, inmates—and their families—have to come up with money to afford food and other items sold in prisons.

"We can no longer allow the state to take advantage of our families' hard earned money by over-charging us," wrote the inmates in their statement. "Take for example: one case of soup on the street cost $4.00. It costs us $17.00 on the inside. This is highway robbery without a gun. It's not just us that they’re taking from. It's our families who struggle to make ends meet and send us money—they are the real victims that the state of Florida is taking advantage of."

Black Lives Matter, several local chapters of the Democratic Socialists of America, and Florida State University's NAACP chapter are among more than 100 groups that have announced their support for the movement. Many of the groups planned to hold a rally with inmates' friends and families at the state's Department of Corrections on Tuesday.

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Industrial Worker: Fall 2017 #1781 Vol. 114 No. 4

Industrial Workers of the World - Thu, 2017-11-09 19:49

By IWW.ORG Staff - November 2017

The theme for the Fall 2017 Industrial Worker is "In November We Remember." For this issue, a number of Wobblies sent in their remembrances of those long gone but not forgotten and those dear and only recently taken away from all of us. August 1 was the 100th anniversary of the murder of the early Wobbly organizer Frank Little. Butte, Montana was where he was brutally killed, but Butte was also the place that celebrated Frank Little's life and work, with a gathering of far-flung Wobblies as well as his great-grandniece Jane Little Botkin, who wrote Frank Little and the IWW: The Blood That Stained an American Family.

The issue's cover is a collection of photos, drawings, paintings, posters, and even a sculpture of people whose lives were devoted to making the world a place where workers were recognized for their contributions to society. In their work in organizing, ministry, public service, writing, poetry, songs, films, and art, each of the people commemorated on the cover—from an 18th-century female scientist to an androgynous pop icon and social critic we lost only last year—saw the ills of class warfare and capitalistic dominance and acted to improve the lives of those around them and around the world. If some of the choices I made come as a surprise, look them up and learn about their contributions.

Download a Free PDF of this issue.

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Do Solidarity Unions Need to ‘Go Public’?

Industrial Workers of the World - Mon, 2017-11-06 22:58

By LibCom - It's Going Down, October 31, 2017

In an election-driven, workplace-organizing campaign, going public is a key step. The workers or union try to organize under the boss’s radar for as long as possible, so that they can avoid retaliation and union-busting before they accumulate strength in numbers. Eventually, however, they have to legally file or “petition” for an election, at which point the workers notify the employer of their campaign. The goal of these types of organizing drives is formal recognition from the employer, which in theory compels the employer to sit down with the union and negotiate a contract.

In the IWW, our main model of organizing is the “solidarity union.” A solidarity union consists of a group of workers taking direct action in a workplace to get what they need and want, without regard to formal recognition by the bosses. Instead of relying on legal processes, workers use the power they have at any given moment, seeing as their hands are on the levers of production—and therefore on the boss’s profits. Examples of using that power include work slowdowns or stoppages, refusing certain kinds of unsafe work, confronting the boss with problems as a group, and even strikes.

What is the significance of “going public” in a solidarity unionism campaign? If workers are not seeking legal recognition through an election, what purpose does going public serve? Does it need to happen at all? In this article, we reconsider the pros and cons of going public in the context of the IWW’s distinct and powerful alternative to business union organizing.

Does going public heighten the risk of retaliation?

In the Ellen’s Stardust Diner campaign in NYC, IWW restaurant workers went public in the form of a major story in The New York Times. The reporter contacted the owner for comment, and this was the first he had learned of the union. He said he was shocked that people were unhappy, and that he would gladly sit down with them. This turned out to be a lie. Even though the union had gathered the support of virtually all of the servers, the owner refused to meet with them about their demands. In response, union members held a large demonstration outside of the restaurant, displaying a bright, new banner with their name and logo—Stardust Family United—while singing and chanting noisily, to place public and emotional pressure on the boss to bargain.

Two weeks later, every person at that demonstration was illegally fired.

Sometimes, bosses react in the strongest possible way to finding out that a union is forming in their business: by attempting to eliminate union supporters through firings. This is something we know in the IWW, which is why we cover it at length in our organizer trainings.

Stardusters had gone public because they felt it was the next logical step in their organizing. They had already gathered nearly unanimous support among servers, they were meeting regularly, and had learned to act as a group. Now it was time to simply tell the boss point-blank that they were a union, and that they had demands. In a way, they were following the steps of a recognition campaign, just without the NLRB election. They believed the owner would see their strength and negotiate. But the union’s coming-out party didn’t have that result. Instead, the owner started firing people for union activity and hired a union-busting lawyer.

An IWW campaign in Chicago offers an interesting contrast. At Arrow Messenger, the union of messengers did not go public as a “union” – they did not use “the u-word” – but simply approached the boss with specific demands, initiating direct bargaining sessions between the bosses and the workers. When bargaining did not yield the results they wanted, a quickie strike and a series of prolonged direct actions won them most of their demands, including a commission raise for over one hundred couriers.

The avoidance of word “union” may have made it easier for the bosses to give concessions to the workers, but it did not prevent retaliatory firings in the long run, and the active committee of about 20 workers was picked off one by one. So it’s clear that workers can also be fired in an active campaign that isn’t “public” in the traditional sense. If you’re effective, you’re going to end up with a target on your back, one way or another.

Fortunately, at Stardust as well, despite not one but two rounds of mass firings, workers were able to win on a majority of their demands, by using direct action in the workplace. The owner never sat down with them, but by taking on issues one by one, and coordinating work refusals and other tactics, the workers made multiple gains, including refusing unpaid work, fixing unsafe equipment, and generally improved working conditions. Going public, in retrospect, was not a necessary step for that.

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New York: Wobblies at Singing Restaurant Win Major Victory

Industrial Workers of the World - Mon, 2017-10-09 19:28

By Stardust Family United - October 4, 2017

In a major victory for the singing servers at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, their employer has reached an agreement with their solidarity union, Stardust Family United, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). By entering into the settlement agreement, the company will narrowly avoid a trial on some 19 violations of the National Labor Relations Act, including 31 retaliatory firings.

Under the terms of the agreement, all 31 employees terminated over the last year in retaliation for union activity have been offered immediate and full reinstatement, and will receive back pay from the time they were fired. Of the terminated employees, 13 will immediately return to work at the popular Midtown diner.

In addition, the restaurant is required to mail official notices to all employees, informing them that the company will not violate federal law by engaging in certain unlawful practices such as surveilling and threatening workers, interfering with their use of social media, and discouraging them from taking action to improve working conditions.

For the singing servers, this has been a long road. The union, which is a branch of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), initially went public in late summer of 2016. Weeks after making their efforts known to management, 16 active union members were fired. Over the fall and winter, the workers continued to engage in direct workplace action to improve health and safety conditions, as well as pursue other demands. Another mass firing in January 2017 brought the total of terminated singers up to 31.

Despite this, Stardust Family United remained active, both inside and outside the restaurant. “I’m thrilled and proud to know our struggle and vigilance over the last year has paid off,” says returning employee Matthew Patterson. “I’m looking forward to returning and making a positive impact inside the diner.”

#Stardustfamilyunited #IWW #Wobblies #SFU #Singingunion #Labormovement #Workersrights #Solidarity #Weareallstardust

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