IWW Sites

Voices from Behind Wisconsin’s Prison Gates #3

Industrial Workers of the World - Thu, 2017-08-10 20:49

By staff - Milwaukee IWW, August 8, 2017

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This is a newsletter for people incarcerated in Wisconsin, based as much as possible on what they are saying. It is edited and printed by the Milwaukee branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, (IWW) Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC). Please write us back if you have updates you’d like to give to people on the inside and the outside. The more that people talk together the less isolated we are. We are in contact with networks of prisoners in areas inside and outside of Wisconsin, and can help build connections. Let us know if there are other people inside jails and prisons that we should contact.

Write to us at:
PO Box 342294,
Milwaukee, WI, 53234.

Our national hotline:
816-866-3808.

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Categories: IWW Sites

Why Did the UAW Vote at Nissan Fail?

Industrial Workers of the World - Thu, 2017-08-10 20:40

By Marianne Garneau - Black Rose Anarchist Federation, August 7, 2017

There’s been much attention over the reported loss of a UAW union election at a Nissan plant in Canton, Mississippi on Friday, August 4th. Many see the organizing effort as part of a larger question of whether the US labor movement can organize in the historically unorganized and union-hostile South. New York City IWW organizer Marianne Garneau writes this brief commentary offering her assessment.

The defeat of a UAW election bid at a Nissan plant in Mississippi got a tremendous amount of attention this week, particularly from the left. People seemed especially disheartened by the defeat, and almost at a loss for why things turned out so badly for the union. Sure enough, the internet produced all kinds of hot, world-historic takes explaining the outcome, a lot of them looking for some kind of exceptional circumstances here. Most zeroed in on the Southern context.

Granted, the union defeat was unfortunate. And it is possible it could have gone another way – we shouldn’t think it was some inevitable outcome (there is way too much fatalism on the left these days). But the reasons why the UAW failed are perfectly legible, and none of them are novel. Everything about the loss – the union’s strategy, the company’s union-busting, the social and political context – was textbook.

Why the UAW Vote at Nissan Failed

1. The company union-busted like crazy. And yes, union-busting includes things like playing on racial divisions and threatening people’s jobs (these are the sticks), and paying workers high salaries (the carrots). The bosses apparently built a tent outside the plant and met with every single worker on shift, including the ones who weren’t even eligible to vote in the election. That’s brilliant union-busting, but it’s to be expected. That’s why unions have a counterstrategy to that, called “inoculation,” where workers are prepared ahead of time for the boss’ rhetoric, and their sticks and carrots.

2. The union took a weak-ass, conservative, timid stance of mostly trying to keep the stuff the company was already giving workers and playing nice/reasonable with management. UAW has repeatedly said that it wants to work with companies to help their bottom line healthy, etc. That borrows directly from the boss’s logic that they are gifting workers a job and a wage, as opposed to workers generating all the profits the owners get to pocket.

3. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) played its usual role of “wot, us?” It slowly churned through its processes of listening to complaints from either side. I don’t even remember what the outcome was of its rulings (or if it ever got to them). But that’s how little that matters to the actual, bloody fight “on the shop floor.”

4. By the way, none of this has anything to do with “the south.” What is supposed to be unique here? The fact that other jobs in the area pay terribly? The fact that workers are divided along racial lines? The fact that union density is low? Those are exactly the same conditions that beleaguer workers, and organizing efforts, elsewhere.

5. And yeah, unfortunately, these workers, who presumably voted this way out of fear, and wanting to keep their jobs, will die on their knees as their wages get cut, their jobs get automated or outsourced, or they get replaced by lower-wage temps. You can’t “play nice” or compromise your way to better wages or conditions. Playing nice with the boss means they retain the power to control your wages and your working conditions. The only alternative is to amass real power on the shop floor – real power to disrupt the flow of profits – and control how the boss treats you. You can’t escape the forces of capitalism inside of one plant, but you can fight like hell over every single site where your labor is exploited for the boss’s gain.

You can’t avoid the class war; workers need to make it clear to the bosses that they can’t either.

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Categories: IWW Sites

Burgerville Workers Union Marches Forward; Community Support and Solidarity Continue Growing

Industrial Workers of the World - Tue, 2017-08-01 20:47

Pete Shaw - Portland Occupier, July 19, 2017

The shakes–blackberry, chocolate hazelnut, and pumpkin spice–come and go. So do the Walla Walla onion rings, waffle fries, and asparagus. But since April of last year, solidarity has always been in season at Burgerville.

Since its formation 15 months ago, the Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU)–which is supported by the Portland Industrial Workers of the World–has been organizing for better working conditions on the job, greater benefits, and higher wages. Fighting against a management that promotes the Burgerville corporation as one which supports family values, local farmers, and sustainable practices, but treats its workers no differently than people have come to expect from larger fast food chains such as McDonald’s, the Burgerville Workers Union has slowly but surely been gathering steam in its struggle.

However, Burgerville management has so far refused to talk with the union.

On Friday July 14, the BVWU took another small but significant step toward pushing Burgerville’s management to start negotiating with it. A crowd of over 100 people picketed outside the Burgerville on Southeast 92nd and Powell during the early evening, virtually shutting down business at the store. On a hot night when one of the raspberry shakes would have made a delightful treat, only a few customers crossed the picket line.

At a rally just prior to establishing the line, Mark Medina of the BVWU told the gathered crowd, “We’re gonna shut down the shop for a couple of hours and make corporate know that workers care about benefits, about wages, and that they want Burgerville to negotiate with the union and respect the rights of workers here in Portland, Oregon. This is a union town. They should respect our rights to organize.”

That lack of respect was given official imprimatur when on June 22 Burgerville agreed to pay $10,000 to settle charges brought against it by the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) that between August 1 and August 15, 2015 the company willfully “failed to provide a meal period of not less than 30 continuous minutes during which the employee is relieved of all duties and/or failed to provide timely meal periods to twenty-eight employees” as required by law. Another 16 employees were also denied their 30-minute work-free meal period during a two-week period in December, 2016.

In addition to those charges, BOLI found that Burgerville was “employing minors under 18 in hazardous and permitted occupation” when two 17 year old employees operated a trash compactor which Oregon law has declared “hazardous and detrimental to to the health of employees under the age of 18.”

All charges pertained to the Burgerville store on NE Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, near the Oregon Convention Center.

Brandon Doyle, BVWU Shop Leader at the SE 92nd and Powell Burgerville, is one of many Burgerville workers who has seen the company’s scarce regard for workers up close and personal. A few months ago Doyle was feeling ill to the point of vomiting while on the job. Instead of allowing him to go home and rest–as well as not risk getting Burgerville customers sick–Doyle’s manager insisted he remain at work. Fortunately, Doyle and his fellow workers contacted fellow union members from other stores, who then contacted Doyle’s manager, eventually resulting in Doyle being allowed to leave and likely helping prevent the spread of what ailed him. They had his back, and Doyle now wants to return the favor.

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Categories: IWW Sites

DC IWW Supports the TPSS Co-Op Workers Union for $15/hour and a Union

Industrial Workers of the World - Tue, 2017-08-01 20:29

By Cal - DC IWW, July 30, 2017

The DC General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) supports the TPSS Co-op workers in their struggle to unionize. Wages lag behind the rising cost of living in the DC metropolitan area. In Takoma Park, the average cost of living is much higher than in other parts of Maryland, and even a starting salary of $11.50 is unacceptable. A starting wage of $15/hour–though not ideal–is a reasonable demand that allows workers the chance to afford rent, transportation, child care and sustenance in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas in the country.

We further support the rights of all workers to unionize, ensuring fair and equitable treatment during these trying times. Moreover, a union will foster a spirit of unity and cooperation among workers so TPSS Co-op can continue to be a place of respect, dignity, and community.

TPSS Co-op is a member-owned cooperative, and the IWW shares many of the the values and goals of the Co-op: a healthy planet, democratic/cooperative ownership, and community-sourced goods and resources. A fully democratically organized workplace is necessary to help strengthen the bonds between the co-op, its workers, its members, and the community at-large.  The financial statements, publically available on the TPSS Co-op website,  indicate good financial health through growth, profitability, and the ability to consistently meet its obligations. To remain successful, the co-op must also fulfill its obligations of utmost importance – paying a reasonable wage to its workers and providing improved working conditions.

We encourage the membership, the Board of Representatives, and the greater Takoma Park community to support the workers of the TPSS co-op in creating a truly democratic community.

We believe such a community is in the best interest of everyone and that a productive conversation, centering the workers’ needs, will build a stronger relationship–grounded in solidarity–between the TPSS workers and the Takoma Park Community.

We the membership of the DC General Membership Branch of the IWW hereby fully endorse the efforts of the TPSS Co-op workers’ union and pledge our support, solidarity and aid to our fellow workers.

DC General Membership Branch – Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

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