IWW Sites

Rest in Power Stephon "Zoe" Clark

Industrial Workers of the World - Fri, 2018-03-30 18:53

Members of the Sacramento IWW write this letter with solemn condolences to the family and friends of Stephon "Zoe" Clark.

On March 18th, Sacramento Police Department officers Terrance Mercadal and Jared Robinet shot ten bullets each, killing the 22-year-old father of two. He was the seventeenth person killed by Sacramento-area police in the last two years. In the wake of this tragedy, a routine that we know all too well has played out: police chief, Daniel Hahn, has called for calm as his department "gathers more facts" about the incident; city mayor Darrell Steinberg voiced his initial "full support" of the involved officers; and local newspaper Sacramento Bee has called for "calm" while glorifying the police, going so far as to ask "what's a cop to do?" when faced with explosive community accountability.

That accountability comes in the form of rolling demonstrations led primarily by Black folks and supported by a wide swathe of Sacramento residents who refuse to accept another police execution of a Black person as "business as usual". Beginning on March 22nd, thousands of demonstrators pushed riot police from intrusion on a highway takeover and shut down access to the Sacramento Kings' home game. Community members have since squared off with police into the early hours of the morning; hosted a benefit music and arts night to fund raise for Zoe's family and funeral services; disrupted a city council meeting; prevented access to a second Kings' home game; and faced off with riot police after taking an unsanctioned march from District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert's downtown office.

The current moment in Sacramento emerges from both spontaneous social anger and years of community organizing by many groups. In particular, protests focused on the Golden 1 Center demonstrate an understanding of the connections between ways that Sacramento government and business prioritize money at the expense of Black and poor lives. In addition to direct police violence, this includes ongoing "urban renewal and renovation" targeted at raising property values, eliminating mom-and-pop stores and their owners, creating a playground for a growing segment of Silicon Valley tech executives out-priced of Bay Area living, and pushing specifically workers and people of color, to the city's furthest limits. Protesters recognize city officials' complicity and active efforts to bring in more capital to swell its coffers, while leaving larger and larger numbers of its residents houseless. Police officers' protection of the Sacramento Kings' arena crystallizes the direct connection between the state and capitalists through its protection of publicly-financed private property and revenue accrual.

Stephon Clark will be laid to rest today but it does not mean that we should. Members of the Sacramento IWW write this statement in full support of the ongoing efforts taken by community members and call for their expansion. Revolutionary activity begins in the streets but ends in a new society. That end goal—a world which dismantles structural racism in all of its forms and eliminates wage slavery as the primary way to survive—requires expanding this momentum to all corners and crevices of the city.

Ways to expand the uprising include:

  • Talking to coworkers about actions of solidarity, like sympathy strikes or slowdowns
  • Talking with your neighbors about SacPD's actions and hosting fundraising block parties
  • Talking to your coworkers and neighbors about instances of racial and other forms of discrimination by managers, bosses, and landlords and developing ideas on how to fight back collectively
  • Organizing and conducting research to document the connections between city officials and businesses
  • Continuing protest of and strategizing against police violence and prisons, including immigrant detention
  • Working with friends on ways we can support each other without government or police-supporting institutions as intermediaries, like sharing food and resources, learning health care skills and supporting victims of domestic violence
  • Targeting other urban renewal projects that seek to turn the city's population into subservient, destitute, downtrodden workers, like Amazon Warehouses, with collective demonstrations
  • Sharing contact information with protest participants and organize strategy sessions

Actions taken by community members and workers offer a glimmer of a world in which social norms are disrupted, inverted, and we take brief control over the streets, state offices and meetings, and our lives. We can take more ground and control, but we must do it together.

Rest in power Zoe and all other victims of state- and capitalist-sanctioned violence in all of its forms.

An injury to one is an injury to all.

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Categories: IWW Sites

IWW wins half-million dollar backpay settlement

Industrial Workers of the World - Wed, 2018-03-14 14:58

Stardust Family United, a solidarity union of the Industrial Workers of the World, has claimed a huge victory over the repressive owner of Ellen’s Stardust Diner (home of the world famous singing waitstaff), Ken Sturm.  In the largest settlement received by the IWW in recent history, Sturm has succumbed to the will of his workers and started payment of almost half a million dollars in back wages.

In September, just one week before a scheduled hearing to settle allegations of 19 Unfair Labor Practices, including illegal surveillance of employees engaged in protected concerted activity, the interrogation of employees regarding union activity, and the unlawful termination of thirty-one employees for organizing, Sturm reluctantly offered reinstatement to all thirty-one employees and agreed to cease harassment and surveillance of the union. Although the employer also agreed to pay back wages, it should come as no surprise that Sturm strung his former employees along for another four months, through the holiday season, before finally bowing to the power of the workers and starting payment of the $490,000 he owes them.

Stardust Family United was formed in 2016, in an effort to fight for the underserved employees of Ellen's Stardust Diner in their struggle against the unfair, unsafe, and unlawful labor practices of their employer. Blatant disregard for the workers' well-being ranged from ignoring pleas to fix dangerous equipment in the shop, resulting in multiple injuries on the job, to bullying tactics designed to shut down communication between employees. Undeterred, the members of SFU waged a struggle in the shop, in the streets, and in the courtroom. By refusing unsafe or unpaid work, the singing servers have dramatically improved conditions on the job. Through protests, pickets, and walkouts, they placed pressure on the boss to re-hire the illegally terminated workers. And despite Sturm's repeated attempts to break their spirit with shameful tactics, from hateful "anonymous" text messages to false allegations in a NY Post article, SFU has stood their ground every single time. And every single time, they've won.

With invaluable support from the One Big Union, SFU has been relentless in holding Sturm and his army of corrupt lawyers and dictatorial managers accountable for their actions. Now that back wages are being paid to those illegally terminated, an injustice has been righted.

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Portland, OR: Burgerville Singles Out One Worker for Retaliation Following Strike

Industrial Workers of the World - Wed, 2018-02-21 22:08

By Burgerville Workers Union - It's Going Down, February 16, 2018

The following report from the Burgerville Workers Union states that management has come down against one pro-union worker of color since the end of the historic three day strike. To learn more about the strike, check out our audio report podcast here.

Burgerville chose to celebrate Valentine’s Day yesterday by retaliating against a union leader. Michelle, a worker at the Convention Center Burgerville who participated in our historic three day long strike, was just suspended by management for allegedly taking a chicken patty without permission.

Though retaliation against union members under trumped up “theft” accusations is a pattern at Burgerville, Michelle’s suspension demonstrates a particularly disturbing underside to that pattern. Along with Arsenio and Canaan, Michelle is the third pro-union worker of color to be fired by Convention Center management in as many weeks, a management which remains entirely white despite the diversity of the crew.

In the targeting of union members of color at the Convention Center, to put it bluntly, we see not only union busting but outright racism. These attacks on our jobs and our families by Burgerville corporate are not just against Burgerville workers, but rather against the rights and power of the Portland community as a whole.

The BVWU does not take this lightly. In addition to Arsenio, Canaan, and Michelle, two other pro-union workers at stores that went on strike have been fired or suspended for similar charges within the last few months. Though Burgerville claims to be an ethical, locally minded fast food company, their wages keep workers in poverty, and when those workers try to better their lives, they are threatened with firing.

In Michelle’s suspension, we see Burgerville perpetuating an atmosphere of fear and racism in order to fight the union, and we are currently in talks with our allies around Portland as well as our legal counsel as to how to best proceed. Please stay tuned – moments like these, when people’s jobs are on the line, are when we need our supporters the most.

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Anarchist Union Reverses Firings at Port of Barcelona Through Militant Strike

Industrial Workers of the World - Sat, 2018-02-17 12:29

by IWW International Solidarity Commission

Dockworkers and members of the CNT, a revolutionary anarchist union in Spain, have won a complete victory after just 1 day on strike, forcing the company to rehire 3 workers it had attempted to fire.

"THIS IS HOW SOMEONE GETTING FIRED ENDS in the @portdebarcelona. Picture for the history books. Strike committee and fired workers (REINSTATED today) walk out with signed agreement." @cnt1910 @PortuariosCNT https://t.co/rKiKmExs71

— ellisonfitz (@EllisonFitz) February 16, 2018

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Audio Report: Burgerville Workers Union Finish Three Day Strike

Industrial Workers of the World - Wed, 2018-02-07 21:32

By Burgerville Workers Union - It's Going Down, February 6, 2018

In this audio report, we talked to someone with the Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU), which is a part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a revolutionary anti-capitalist union founded in 1905. The Burgerville campaign went public in 2016, and in the past several years, has launched a series of strikes, job actions, pickets, and various campaigns in the face of an ongoing anti-union crackdown.

In response to this repression, members of BVWU have built relationships with various local groups and unions, who have in turn brought people to walk pickets lines and often serve free hamburgers outside of Burgerville stores during various job actions. To learn more about this back story, check out our previous podcast interviews with BVWU members here and here.

In this interview, we specifically talk about the recent three day strike launched by BVWU, which grew to include four stores in total who were involved in the strike. Over the course of three days, IWW members picketed stores, encouraged customers not to pay patronage to the business across the city, held rallies which were joined in solidarity with other unions, and also announced the “Boycott Burgerville” campaign.

While certainly not the first or only large scale fast-food worker strike, the Burgerville campaign is historic, and represents the growing capacity of rank-n-file workers to self-organize and take action where they are to fight back against their bosses and conditions in a rapidly gentrifying city.

More Info: Burgerville Workers Union, Donate, and Boycott Burgerville

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Categories: IWW Sites

Burgerville Strike Spreads to Four Stores as Three Day Strike Ends

Industrial Workers of the World - Wed, 2018-02-07 21:28

By Burgerville Workers Union - It's Going Down, February 4, 2018

On Saturday, February 3rd, members of the Burgerville Workers Union, (BVWU), a part of the revolutionary anti-capitalist labor union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), announced that a third and fourth store had officially joined the strike. Meanwhile, Burgerville Workers Union members also announced a public boycott of the store as pickets continued over the weekend. On Sunday, the union announced that it was ending its three day strike and that on Monday, workers would be returning to work, however the struggle would continue.

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Burgerville Strike Spreads Into Second Store, Pickets Continue

Industrial Workers of the World - Wed, 2018-02-07 21:19

By Burgerville Workers Union - It's Going Down, February 4, 2018

Yesterday, fast food workers and members of the Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU), a part of the revolutionary anti-capitalist union the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), launched a strike at the Burgerville USA chain in Portland, Oregon. Today, they announced that the strike had spread to yet another store. Below are updates from the Burgerville Workers Union social media accounts. 

On February 2nd the union announced:

ANOTHER STRIKE! Today at 11:15 a.m. union workers at the 25th and Powell store delegated management and walked off the job on strike. Union members and supporters are out picketing the store now and have been providing pizza to Cleveland High School students and staff who’ve joined them on the picket lines! This is the second store to walk out in as many days, and wiith Convention Center workers on day two of their strike, this is now the largest strike in BVWU history! Convention Center workers: we got your back! Special thanks for the purple solidarity we received from SEIU 49! 

The Burgerville Workers Union has been hard at work for months now to empower workers and organize a strike. Yesterday, we got to see all those hours of hard work and planning come to fruition after the walkout and strike performed at the Convention Center location. Now is the time for Burgerville Corporate to hear what we’ve been trying to communicate for years. As workers, we deserve better.

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Categories: IWW Sites

Fast Food Workers in Portland Launch Strike at Burgerville

Industrial Workers of the World - Wed, 2018-02-07 21:12

By Burgerville Workers Union - It's Going Down, February 1, 2018

In Portland, Oregon, fast food workers with Burgerville USA have walked off the job and launched a strike. In recent months, more Burgerville workers in a variety of stores have joined the union, the revolutionary anti-capitalist Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). What follows is a direct report and announcement on the strike from the Burgerville Workers Union. Follow their social media accounts on Twitter and Facebook for up to the minute updates, and be sure to check our past coverage of their struggle as well as their appearances on our podcast.

Workers at the Convention Center Burgerville just walked off the job, launching a strike and kickstarting the biggest weekend of action yet from the Burgerville Workers Union.

April will mark the BVWU’s second anniversary of going public. Since 2016, our demands have largely remained the same: fair wages, consistent scheduling, and affordable health care. We as a union have grown since then. We have found new ways to support each other, and we have won victories in the workplace that make the weight of our day to day lives easier to bear.

Despite all of this, however, Burgerville still refuses to negotiate with the union. The company continues to ignore the voices of its workers, prioritizing profits over the human needs of the workers who make those profits possible.

We are on strike today because no one deserves to live in poverty. Life in Portland only gets harder – rents go up, groceries get more expensive, and Burgerville wages stay unlivable.

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Industrial Worker: 2018: No 1782

Industrial Workers of the World - Thu, 2018-02-01 21:41

By editor - Industrial Worker, February 1, 2018

The brightly colored art on the cover of IW is one of a large series of paintings and drawings of working men, women, and children by Mexican artist Alfredo Ramos Martinez. Fifteen years older than his more well-known compatriot Diego Rivera, Ramos Martinez blazed the path for the Mexican Modernist movement in his paintings and murals. While Ramos Martinez's works did not romanticize, they offered serene depictions of Mexicans at work and at home in rural and small-town settings. The art that Rivera would create—especially his fresco murals—would be full of machinery, toil, action, bosses, and class-conscious workers.

This quarter's theme is "Wobblies and Workers in the Arts." An article by FW Raymond Solomon looks at TV sitcom depictions of working people starting in the 1940s (radio and a film, first) and 1950s and jumping to the 1970s and 1980s. Few sitcoms are solely comedic, and it's when looking at jobs, pay, and the need for both that situations get serious. Another piece, by a lover of film who has run movie theaters, taught film programs to children and high school students, and currently books films for several "arthouses" across the U.S., chooses six films that show work and working people living lives their jobs affect immeasurably.

Wobblies John Kaniecki and Craig Bledsoe look at two different kinds of art: Kaniecki is a writer and poet, and he describes what and who inspire and "move" him to create art in words. Bledsoe chooses the Industrial Revolution as the point at which to start his analysis of visual arts and the movements that developed out of social and political changes and the philosophies that defined them. And I asked a friend whom I've seen grow up over the last 14 years to watch Cradle Will Rock, Tim Robbins' 1999 film, with me and then write about it. She may not have realized it, but her take on the movie—which is about the heady period in the 1930s where unemployment and poverty were devastating but art was allowed to flourish through the WPA, the Roosevelt Administration's program that employed artists and writers of all kinds to create and teach art to a dispirited population—is very much one of a young woman who is looking ahead at most of her life, while she does everything she can to maintain her optimism in the face of a daunting present.

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Categories: IWW Sites

Portland, OR: Burgerville Workers Union Pickets and Expands Into More Stores

Industrial Workers of the World - Tue, 2018-01-30 00:10

By BVWU - It's Going Down, January 25, 2018

On Wednesday, January 24th, the Burgerville Workers Union (BWU) held its first picket of 2018 outside of a Burgerville store in Portland. BWU is a part of the revolutionary anti-capitalist union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and in the past year has grown to include workers in a variety of stores across the chain. Burgerville, which brands itself as a “local” and “woke” large fast food corporation, has refused to negotiate with BWU, and has even hired anti-union goons in an attempt to stop the IWW, as well as firing various organizers over trivial incidents.

 

Happening Now: Demonstrators picket for Burgerville Workers Union at NE Multnomah & MLK pic.twitter.com/CL28DDCU4R

— Portland State Vanguard (@psuvanguard) January 25, 2018

 

Reps from Carpenters Union displayed giant rat outside NE MLK Burgerville in support of Union Workers picket line. pic.twitter.com/TIqXPo6qeZ

— Portland State Vanguard (@psuvanguard) January 25, 2018

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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 put in an application to be the first union branch to be chartered inside of prison.

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…)…

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Categories: IWW Sites

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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