Industrial Workers of the World

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

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’?

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

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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Statement from the CNT on the situation in Catalonia

Thu, 2017-09-28 07:59

Open letter from CNT’s International Secretary

Our position on Catalonia

Dear comrades,

First of all, thanks for the support that so many of you have provided with translations, putting statements up on social media, planning actions, etc. CNT, as a whole, and the comrades in Catalonia, particularly, are really grateful for your support.

As you know the days are momentous in Catalonia and, to a lesser extent, in the rest of Spain. As I write these lines, riot police and the infamous military police, Guardia Civil, are attacking masses of people in the streets of many towns across Catalonia. CNT, together with other unions, is calling for a general strike on the 3rd of October against this repressive wave.

You probably know that the unity of Spain has always been a rallying flag for the far right here. Therefore, any calls for self-determination from any part of it, as is the case now in Catalonia, spark a vicious response. We are already seeing an increase in the presence of fascist groups in many towns across Spain and the conservative government is taking an increasingly authoritarian stance, trampling on many fundamental freedoms. These are ominous signs of what might lie ahead for us. Repression is only likely to worsen on many fronts, may be even involving the military.

On some international forums, CNT is being criticised for, allegedly, playing into the hands of the nationalists with our call for a general strike. That’s understandable. As we've said somewhere else, it's a fine line we're trying to walk here and it's only normal that its nuances are lost in the distance (or in translation). It is also difficult for us, and there are lots of internal discussions/debates going on about our strategy, as you would expect in an open and plural organisation like CNT.

Make no mistake, while we firmly oppose repression from an increasingly authoritarian state and their fascist allies, we are in no way supportive of the nationalist agenda. All along this week there have been countless demonstrations in Catalonia to defend today's referendum, independence, self-determination…you name it. CNT has not called for or supported any of these. In fact, where comrades have a local presence, they've been busy making themselves uncomfortable for the nationalists, bringing economic and social issues to the fore, reminding people that the Catalan government was very keen to introduce social cuts only a few years ago, etc. This, in fact, is stated in our call for the general strike, in a very similar wording.

So much so, that the call for a strike is not directed only to Catalonia, the only place where, for obvious reasons, the strike will actually take place. No, the text makes it abundantly clear that it is addressed to the whole of the Spanish state. It is understood that, in this situation, to achieve our goals as a class, we have to spread resistance everywhere. This should not be a fight between nations, but between classes. Between an oppressive regime and its fascist allies (as much a part of the “people” as anyone else) and those of us who stand for freedom and rebellious dignity.

We expect repression to increase during the following weeks and days and we will use our weapon of choice, the general strike, to make it difficult for police to move around, get supplies and do their work in general. We'll see how things move forward from today on, but an already difficult situation can actually get nasty, in terms of repression. As revolutionaries, we don't believe we can just remain idle, while the police attack the people in the streets and fascist gangs roam our towns freely.

Again, thank you for your support. We'll keep you updated.

Miguel Pérez, International secretary, CNT.


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(2017) GEB Statement on the Misuse of Boston GMB Funds in 2016

Mon, 2017-09-18 17:29

In 2016, $4,510.00 was illegitimately withdrawn and spent from the Boston IWW General Membership Branch’s bank account. This is a statement of what occurred in that case.


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Milwaukee, WI: General Defense Committee Rallies Against Islamophobes

Tue, 2017-09-12 19:02

By The Milwaukee Industrial Workers of the World General Defense Committee Local 19 - It's Going Down, September 11, 2017

When the Milwaukee IWW General Defense Committee heard that Act for America was scheduled to have a rally in Milwaukee we immediately began organizing to oppose it with the goal of shutting it down completely. ACT for America is an organization that stokes fear and hatred of immigrants and Muslims to lobby for heightened national security. We spoke with Twin Cities General Defense Committee members who had opposed ACT for America in the streets previously. They told us that ACT for America drew Islamophobes and Trump supporters, with some Alt Right fascists thrown in the mix at a rally in St. Paul.

We knew we couldn’t let this organization take the streets of our city, so we organized logistics, started doing turn out and made a plan. ACT for America had scheduled their rally for 8 a.m. at the Federal Courthouse in downtown Milwaukee, so that’s where we would go. In the past several weeks debates on antifascism have erupted all over the country. Some suggest we ignore them, some suggest we hold rallies on the other side of town, but we believe that we must go where they go. We must always confront them with the goal of allowing no platform for racism and fascism. Shortly after masses of people in Boston smashed a fascist march, ACT for America canceled their rallies all over the country. Some questioned if we should bother turning out at all, but we felt we had to make good on our commitments and send a message to the far right that they would be opposed at every turn. We also knew there was a possibility that some rightists would turn out anyway.

We set two rendezvous points, one in front of the courthouse and the other two blocks away, so we could engineer a coordinated confrontation with the right if needed.But the right didn’t really show. As we gathered and began to march, a few right wing goons heckled us, but then quickly scuttled away. They must have turned up to assessthe scene. Across from the courthouse approximatelysixty people gathered as we heard from speakers on the importance of solidarity, the struggle living as an immigrant in America and the vile racism of our society. Speakers called for unity with oppressed groups and the importance of working class organization. A General Defense Committee member said, “ACT for America has tremendous influence not only over the average person where they can play on fears, but over the State as well. But appealing to representatives is a dead end; a fruitless act. We have to use collective action in our communities to build the power we need to stop this threat.”

As we build our organization we navigate a difficult path. We know that there must be mass opposition to fascism and racism in order for it to be combated, but we have to do what is necessary to no platform the far right. It’s a path worth navigating in order to build a mass organization that can utilize direct action.

Every day on the shop floor, in the school, and in the neighborhood, we must build working class self-organization. We have to have conversations about who is really responsible for the outsourced jobs at huge old Milwaukee plants like Allis Chalmers and Tower Automotive and who is responsible for the cuts to education, public service, food share, and transportation. The rich are the ones who suck the blood of our class. If we don’t have those conversations the right wing will.

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“Destroy All Prisons Tomorrow”: IWOC Responds to Jacobin

Tue, 2017-09-12 18:57

By IWOC - It's Going Down, September 11, 2017

The weekend of August 19 2017, amid the second nationwide inside/outside mass protest against prison slavery in as many years, Jacobin Magazine published an article against prison abolition entitled How to End Mass Incarceration by Roger Lancaster. Lancaster argued that returning to an ideal of puritan discipline and rehabilitation is more realistic than pursuing the abolition of prison entirely.

Jacobin caught a lot of deserved flack from abolitionists on social media for it. Numerous scholars, organizers and journalists decried Lancaster’s article, creating such an online storm that Jacobin decided to publish a response article entitled What Abolitionists Do penned by Dan BergerMariame Kaba and David Stein. Unfortunately, this response fails to fully critique Lancaster’s arguments and instead sells other abolitionists out. Their thesis paragraph reads:

Critics often dismiss prison abolition without a clear understanding of what it even is. Some on the Left, most recently Roger Lancaster in Jacobin, describe the goal of abolishing prisons as a fever-dream demand to destroy all prisons tomorrow. But Lancaster’s disregard for abolition appears based on a reading of a highly idiosyncratic and unrepresentative group of abolitionist thinkers and evinces little knowledge of decades of abolitionist organizing and its powerful impacts.

The Lancaster article levies the typical straw-man critique of abolition as an unrealistic “heaven-on-earth” vision. He presents Michel Foucault’s vision of a carceral society from Discipline and Punish as an alternative aspiration and argues that “we should strive not for pie-in-the-sky imaginings but for working models already achieved in Scandinavian and other social democracies.” He accuses abolitionists of being “innocent of history” and “far out on a limb”  when comparing prison to chattel slavery.

These arguments expose a poverty of Lancaster’s analysis, and they are easily refuted. The idea that the US could adopt a Scandinavian style prison system through simple public awareness campaigns is desperately naive to the history of racial capitalism on this continent. The idea that a Foucauldian carceral society could exist here without massive quantities of racially targeted violence and coercion is far more pie-in-the-sky than the abolitionist recognition that prison depends on and cannot function without abominable levels of dehumanization and torture. Lancaster is the one with a utopian vision divorced from history, his prisons without torture or slavery can only be imaged by someone who hasn’t honestly grappled with the history of the US as a settler colonial nation that has always been existentially dependent on putting chains on Black people.

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Incarcerated Workers #7

Tue, 2017-09-12 18:51

By IWOC - It's Going Down, September 11, 2017

The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), organizes prisoners into unions and support organizing efforts of incarcerated people. Check out their latest newsletter below. 

Issue 7 includes an important announcement of IWOC’s restructuring, theory and strategy from incarcerated workers, exposés on conditions in the prison industrial complex and more.

The Incarcerated Worker – Issue 7 (Printable) The Incarcerated Worker – Issue 7 (Readable)

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The Anti-Capitalist Politics of Antifa

Tue, 2017-09-12 18:44

By Stephanie Basile - CounterPunch, September 6, 2017

As antifa has burst into the mainstream in recent weeks, suddenly the efficacy of confronting Nazis in the streets is being debated on the national stage. Antifa is not one particular group, but a term used to describe anti-fascists committed to stamping out fascism before it can rise to power. The debate around antifa tends to stay narrowly focused on the use of physical self-defense in public spaces. What’s received less attention is the anti-capitalist politics of antifa, and how some anti-fascists and are putting these politics into practice through workplace organizing.

When workers at the New York City feminist sex toy shop Babeland participated in a workplace action this past spring, it was the first time that every single NYC Babeland worker unanimously agreed on something: the company needed more diversity in its hiring practices. The Babeland workers, who in 2016 unionized with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), had negotiated language into their contract requiring their employer to seek diverse candidates when filling positions. When it became clear the company was violating this, the workers at Babeland all signed onto a letter called on the company to hire more workers of color and more trans workers. “To me, the most significant thing about that was that we had every single New York City employee sign,” says Phoenix V., a Babeland worker and Shop Steward.

When Tiffany S. started working at the Takoma Park Silver Spring Food Co-op in Takoma Park, MD, she encountered disrespectful management and no way to address it.  Tiffany recalls feeling disempowered at the time: “You couldn’t do anything because you might get fired.” The co-op board eventually terminated the manager, but workers were left feeling like they had little voice in that process. “Workers still don’t know if they’re safe,” says fellow co-op worker Kenny Y. “If the next general manager comes and does the same thing, they don’t know if it would be any better.” Tiffany, Kenny, and the rest of their coworkers voted to unionize with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) in August, and are preparing to enter into contract negotiations with the co-op.

Phoenix, Tiffany, and Kenny all identify as anti-capitalists and anti-fascists. They see combating fascism, racism, sexism, and capitalism as inextricably linked. “They’re inseparable, they are the pillars of white supremacy,” says Phoenix. “They can’t exist without each other.” Tiffany frames the connection between capitalism and other forms of oppression as being rooted in our material reality. “When I think about the connections between capital and white supremacy, I think- who owns what, and how did they come to own it? Slaves were working the land, producing cotton, or tobacco, or sugar. Where did that money go, and what does that mean?” For Tiffany, using concrete material conditions of workers’ lives as a starting point is the easiest way of making connections between systems of capitalism and white supremacy.

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Portland, OR: Fast Food Workers at Burgerville Launch Strike on Labor Day

Mon, 2017-09-04 21:54

By Staff - It's Going Down, September 4, 2017

Members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) launched a strike in Portland, Oregon at fast food chain Burgerville. The strike is the latest move by workers at the chain who have been organizing for months and demanding wage increases, an end to harassment for union activities, better schedules, and improvements of conditions. The group announced the strike on Labor Day with a statement on their Facebook page:

The very first Labor Day was a massive strike and parade organized by thousands of workers in New York City in 1882. The chance for millions and millions of people to spend time with family and community this Monday was made possible by power wielded time and time again by striking workers.

Ironically, we workers at Burgerville don’t get to enjoy this day dedicated to celebrating the power of workers. Working at Burgerville means we can’t take proper holidays, since doing so means taking a substantial pay cut or facing retaliation from management. Working at Burgerville means that we spend our holidays working for minimum wage just like any other day, fully aware of all the memories with friends and family we are missing out on.

That’s why we are going on strike today.

Instead of going to work for poverty wages while corporate bigshots take vacations, we are taking a stand. We are taking back Labor Day for our families, our friends, our coworkers, and ourselves. We are taking back Labor Day because we know that better pay, fair schedules, consistent hours, and healthier work environments have only ever been won by workers standing together and fighting for them.

We are the heart of Burgerville and we deserve a change!

The strike also takes place as fast food workers at McDonald’s in the UK are also on strike. Burgerville workers union writes:

McDonald’s workers at two shops in England voted to go on a strike on September 4. These workers are organized through the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), whose demands include wage increases and more consistent scheduling (Sound familiar?)

Immediately after the announcement of a strike, McDonald’s stated that by the end of 2017 they will implement a guaranteed hours contract to every McDonald’s worker in the UK. The BFAWU plans to carry on with their strike to push for their other demands and to hold McDonald’s to their word.

Victory to the strikers!

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GDC-IWOC Joint Statement on Repression of Juggalos

Fri, 2017-09-01 11:04

Fans of the band Insane Clown Posse (ICP), referred to as Juggalos, have been targets of state repression since being designated a “hybrid gang” by the FBI in 2011. The band’s logo, frequently called a “hatchetman,” has been deemed a gang symbol. This has resulted in harassment by local and federal police for having an ICP sticker or tattoo. Juggalos have been fired from employment, have been discriminated against in custody battles, have received longer and harsher sentences in court, and have been discharged from military service. The American Civil Liberties Union and ICP have been fighting this designation in court since 2014. So far, the courts have ruled that the FBI gang report should not be used as a reason to target Juggalos. However, this ruling is often ignored by law enforcement and it does nothing to hold the FBI accountable for the damage it has done.

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Berkeley, CA: IWW Recycling Workers Walk Off Job Over Unpaid Wages

Fri, 2017-08-25 20:47

By the Bay Area IWW - It's Going Down, August 24, 2017

Workers at Buyback, a recycling centre in Berkeley, have walked off the job this morning after the payment of their wages was delayed without explanation.

The workers, who are members of the Industrial Workers of the World, discovered at the start of their shift that none of them had received their scheduled payment for the previous fortnight’s work, which was due to come through earlier this morning.

This the third occasion this year that wages have not been paid on time – something that can cause extensive problems for the finances of workers and their families. After turning up at 8 AM this morning and being offered no explanation from management for the error, Buyback workers held a union meeting and voted 18-0 to immediately walk out.

Buyback workers have already struck twice this year – the first an unannounced half-day walkout during the February 16 ‘Day Without Immigrants,’ and the second a two-hour stoppage to hold a celebratory barbecue on May 1.

Workers have not yet returned to work and it’s unclear at this stage whether the action will continue into tomorrow.

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Building Mass Antifascism in Milwaukee

Fri, 2017-08-25 20:35

By Milwaukee IWW - It's Going Down, August 21, 2017

On Saturday August 12th, white nationalists converged on the city of Charlottesville, Virginia to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee and the renaming of Lee Park to Emancipation Park. The fascists were outnumbered by antifascists and were driven from the park, but not without great cost, as we all know. On that day a fascist drove his car at high speed into the antifascist demonstration, injuring over 20 people and killing one, a 32 year old paralegal named Heather Heyer.

In Milwaukee we had been communicating with people in Charlottesville since Friday night. A friend said he worried someone from our side would be killed. To our horror this came to be true. The event gripped the country, and people were called to the streets to condemn the rising tide of fascism and racism, and in remembrance of the brave antifascist Heather Heyer.

As news of Heather’s death spread on Saturday afternoon, we called for an emergency meeting that night in a park in the Riverwest neighborhood. Around 30 people came together to discuss how to respond to the attack in Charlottesville and move forward. The assembly agreed to call for a vigil the next day at 7:00 PM in the same park, rather than downtown.

Mass demonstrations against Trump and other targets are typically held in Milwaukee’s downtown area in the evenings. We decided that since few people live downtown, and that the downtown area is not a working class neighborhood, we should instead hold the vigil where we stood, in the heart of Riverwest. There was some consideration of stepping outside of the comfort zone of a friendly neighborhood, but ultimately the group determined that for this demonstration, we should organize where we have a base. It was this decision which helped ensure a large turnout of working class people.

We went about doing the work to make the vigil happen. We gathered literature for tabling, collected our megaphones, banners, and flags. Artists provided sign making materials for people to make their own signs as the vigil was getting underway. We edited our General Defense Committee outreach flier to announce a follow up meeting, and quickly found space to host it. Organizers put together a speakers list and made sure to raise the voices of our comrades of color and women members. Members even put together a screen printing table in the park with a “Good Night Far Right” image. Allied organizations turned out their members and provided support. We made sure to have marshals wearing identifiable vests who knew how to handle themselves in the street. The marshals were tasked with managing traffic and ensuring the march proceeded slowly so everyone could stay together as a group. An experienced member crafted a media advisory and called all the major media outlets in town.

On Sunday night as 7:00 neared, people poured into the small park. Speakers opened with a moment of silence for Heather Heyer and emphasized the importance of the broader struggle. We spoke of the need to support the fights against deportations, the police, racism, and white supremacy, and the importance of organizing the working class. The crowd had swelled to around 400 people by the time the last speaker finished.

After the speeches, people then flooded into the streets to march through the neighborhood. Chants of “No Nazis, No KKK, No Fascist USA” reverberated off the polish flats and duplexes of Riverwest. We headed down a side street and people came out of their houses to join in and cheer us on. Families waved and cheered from their porches, joining us in the chants even if they didn’t join the march. A sea of people waved red and black flags, IWW flags, and antifascist flags. The march was led by two black IWW banners, one reading “Direct Action Gets the Goods” and another for the General Defense Committee that reads “Defend the Union, the Community, the Working Class.”

The march rounded the corner onto a major through street and paused in front of a popular local coffee shop to allow the march to tighten up, but it still filled an entire city block. The strength and power of our community was undeniable. The police looked on from a distance, a police liaison approached. They simply gave thumbs up and didn’t even attempt to control the demonstration. We turned another corner and marched back up another side street chanting “Say it Loud, Say it Clear, Refugees are Welcome Here.” As we rounded the final block and poured back into the park our numbers had grown to over 500 people.

After the demonstration we stuck around to clean up the park and retired to our favorite bar to hang out, decompress, debrief and plan next steps. We also set about planning our next General Defense Committee meeting which was looking like it was going to be well attended. The next day we spoke with Wisconsin Public Radio about the mass demonstrations taking place all over the country and the rise of the alt right. We shared our vision of a mass anti-fascist and anti-racist working class movement with a statewide radio network that reaches millions of listeners.

In the lead up to the Wednesday GDC meeting we made sure to have a tight well-organized program and spent two hours making an agenda the night before. Wednesday rolled around and the librarians at the branch we decided to host our meeting at seemed a bit on edge. We reassured them that we are on the side of justice, and ultimately they were supportive. Nearly 100 people showed up to the meeting, most of them folks who were new to the IWW and GDC. It was a challenge to make sure each person’s voice was heard, but everyone who wanted to speak had a chance. Here is a rough outline of the agenda.

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Seattle, WA: August 13th Solidarity Against Hate Reportback

Fri, 2017-08-25 20:24

By the IWW Greater Seattle General Defense Committee Local 24 - It's Going Down, August 18, 2017

The IWW Greater Seattle General Defense Committee (GDC) put a wide-reaching public call-out to amass a significant contingent of individuals and organizations to confront yet another hateful “Freedom” rally by Joey Gibson and Patriot Prayer scheduled for August 13th. Sure enough, the rally was attended by white supremacist groups like Cascade Legion, the self-proclaimed “Western-chauvinist” Proud Boys, Anthony Parish the homophobic street preacher, and many other far-right bigots marching in the name of “free speech”.

This was the third time this year that Joey’s crew descended upon our city to espouse their reactionary prejudices and ethno-nationalist, extreme-right fascist politics in our public space. This is the same crew that rallied with the likes of Jeremy Christian; he is the one who, this May, stabbed three people on a Portland MAX train (murdering two) for standing up against his Islamophobic tirade against two young women.

For this counter-protest, we intended to meet their rally in Westlake Park and confront them where they stood, stop their march, shame them, and disrupt their event. We assigned marshal roles to a small coalition of the GDC and other chosen leftist organizations in order to keep our march safe from outside threats and ensure smooth coordination throughout. Our marshals were specifically trained and practiced for this role.

We didn’t know what our numbers would be, which made it difficult to prepare in advance. We set several tactical goals, planning for numbers as high as 200, but we made fallback plans for fewer. The terrorist attack in Charlottesville on Saturday changed everything, and overnight, the number of attendees for our Sunday march grew exponentially. We suddenly found ourselves side by side with hundreds of people who didn’t necessarily share our objectives and who had a very different understanding of what confronting fascism means.

We marched, because that seemed like the right thing to do. As we got within a two block radius of Westlake Park, The Seattle Police Department, along with Bellevue PD, Tukwila PD, and Renton PD, flanked us and barred our path at every turn towards the direction of the rally. The bloc and other various brave attendees made a break down an alley to cut through, but were met by SPD at the other end – who relentlessly hosed the charge down with pepper spray and stole their banners. The SPD would later re-tweet photos of a seized banner and picket sign handles, calling them “weapons”. One was arrested.

Treated by medics and reconsolidated with the main contingent of the march, we continued together again. Road by road, riot police wielding batons, pepper spray, and grenade launchers lined every intersection’s only entry towards Westlake. We eventually stopped. We waited and amassed before the police. SPD, seemingly threatened after being covered in harmless silly string, responded with pepper spray and even launched blast balls directly into the center of the densely crowded intersection. Another marcher was arrested. One person with a head wound had to be evacuated to Harborview hospital, and many others were treated by medics on the spot. Despite this, SPD officially claimed to the press that there were no injuries.

A call went out that the Westlake rally was over, and that we had won. This call was a miscommunication on our end that ultimately resulted from faulty intelligence that indicated a dispersal order was given at Westlake – and before it could be confirmed, the word eventually morphed down the chain into a story that the fascists left the park early. Nonetheless, the call was given and acted upon. We were turned back to Denny Park. Smaller groups of the bloc attempted to divert down other roads towards Westlake again, only to be stopped. Another arrest was made. Meanwhile, many gleeful activists returned to Denny Park to call it a victory. We do not feel that there was a victory.

While Gibson cancelled the Patriot Prayer march, we weren’t able to confront the fascists at their rally. We were turned away from the only objective we had left. We achieved a goal of not letting them march, but at the cost of the safety of our people. The trust of the committed antifascists who were there that day was betrayed. We were glad to hear that many folks nonetheless managed to make it into Westlake for a confrontation, but only by doing so separately from the larger group. We commend all of their initiative and dedication.

The action attracted people who had no interest in confronting fascism, or any concept of what it means. They wanted a parade. They wanted a parade that obeyed police direction and showed off their 200-foot-long constitution banner. They believed that this was antifascist. It’s almost funny. Fascists love parades, the constitution, and cops.

We failed to plan for the numbers that showed up on Sunday. We chose a tactic that was ineffective. We put people in danger by failing to create a separation between the parade group and the actual antifascist action. We didn’t even understand what was happening until it was too late. We worked with groups that didn’t share the same objectives. We worked with groups that could never possibly share our objectives. We will be much more mindful about this in the future.

Our primary goal was not met. Our people were put in harm’s way. Our marshals were spread thin – straddling two masses at times, doing our very best to ensure that the perimeter was covered adequately. Our marshals and medics were continually distracted from their duties by the loud demands of paraders to police and suppress the antifascists for whom the march was organized. Not only did this compromise the safety of everyone, it created needless conflict between committed antifascists and those who were in over their heads. The actions of those who came for a parade sabotaged the goals of the antifascists and enabled the likes of Patriot Prayer.

We fucked up. It won’t be the last time, but we learned a lot from our mistakes. Over the next few weeks and months we’ll be thinking a lot about what happened and working on ways to improve our strategies.

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Categories: IWW Sites

Milwaukee GDC Joins 6k Run in Remembrance of Temple Shooting

Fri, 2017-08-25 20:14

By Milwaukee IWW, General Defense Committee (GDC) - It's Going Down, August 15, 2017

On August 5th a 6k run was held in remembrance of the attack on the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek. Six victims were killed on August 5th 2012, Paramjit Kaur, Satwant Singh Kaleka, Prakash Singh, Sita Singh, Ranjit Singh, and Suveg Singh. The shooter was a neo-Nazi named Wade Michael Page living in Cudahy, south of Milwaukee. He was a member of the Hammerskins, a notorious Neo-Nazi Skinhead Gang.

Every August 5th the community remembers those lost. The event focused on a spirit of resilience in the face of tragedy. A dozen members of the IWW joined our fellow worker Jesse, who worships at the temple, to promote the General Defense Committee (GDC) and stand in solidarity with the Sikh community. We participated in the run, tabled with literature, and handed out around 250 fliers.

Text from Outreach Flyer by Jesse: 

On the Morning of August 5, 2012, I was getting ready for work like I did every other Sunday. For some strange reason, I decided to channel surf until I was stopped by breaking news about a shooting at a temple. When I learned it was my own temple, I started to cry hysterically – for the victims, for my community, and in terror of thinking it could have been me if I wasn’t working that day. The following weeks were spent in fear of going into public places and full of hate for anyone that looked like Wade Michael Page, the shooter. I became physically exhausted and I finally had to surrender.

Eventually time has healed. Things have returned to normal but I still live in the shadow of that day especially when it comes to verbal abuse by the public. Instead of swelling up with fear or hatred I decided to become an educator about my religion to dispel ignorance. But since the election we have seen a new trend in violence against racial and religious minorities and the LGBT community. The things that I thought I was working to eradicate have seemingly exploded across the country and it will only get worse with further impending economic crisis. I learned that Facebook posts about working on my inner dealings and educating people isn’t enough to fight this growing problem we see before us.

The only solution is a working relationship with a community of self-defense and working-class power. It’s clear we can’t look towards politicians to solve society’s woes. It is imperative to get active and build the society we wish to see and it starts with organizing the workplace and for community self-defense. We have to learn to see ourselves in others who are targeted by discrimination and injustice because an injury to one is an injury to all.

Other Side Of Flyer on GDC:

The General Defense Committee (GDC) is the community self-defense arm of our grassroots labor union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

The IWW is a democratically run union for all workers that believes we can use collective action to improve our working conditions and our lives. The General Defense Committee takes these principles and applies them to organizing in defense of our communities, especially in support of targeted groups such as immigrants, racial and religious minorities, and members of the LGBTQ community.

The General Defense Committee believes we must not only reject and condemn hate speech, but that we must unite and put forward a vision of equality, solidarity, and collective action.

Since our formation the General Defense Committee has acted in solidarity with victims of police violence, staged positive counter-demonstrations when hate groups have threatened to march in our communities, provided marshals for rallies in support of immigrant justice and trained our members in physical self-defense. We work to educate, support, and defend our community.

We hope to continue this type of work and invite all who share our values to join us. 

It is important for us anarchists, socialists, and antifascists to offer our solidarity to a broad range of people. We have to step outside of our comfort zones in radical scenes, in subcultures, and activist circles. We must go to our class, the working class and stand with groups baring the brunt of racism and hate.

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Categories: IWW Sites

Official Endorsement of Voz: Workers’ Rights Education Project by the PDX IWW

Fri, 2017-08-25 20:03

Portland IWW - August 15, 2017

The Portland IWW is proud to endorse Voz: Workers’ Rights Education Project. Founded in 2000, Voz has been connecting day laborers to work, supporting worker-led organizing, and offering trainings.

Voz is a worker-led organization that gives power to immigrant workers that may not otherwise have the means to organize and bargain for humane working conditions and fair wages. Having the ability to organize and fight for these universal goals gives immigrants the ability to work, to better empower and enrich their communities and lives.

The Voz: Workers Rights Education Project is currently campaigning for their Building The Dream campaign, petitioning the city of Portland for the rights to purchase the property at 240 NE Martin Luther King JR Blvd., to provide immigrant workers and day laborers with a place to meet potential employers, discuss the conditions of their labor, while having the choice to sell their labor to whomever they believe will give them the respect that they deserve.

As such, Voz requires support from community organizations to help them fight for these rights, and to show the city of Portland that the community stands with them and will help defend the exploited and under-privileged workers that move our city and society forward. The Portland Industrial Workers of the World has long worked alongside the VOZ: Workers Rights Education Project and firmly believes that day laborers – like all workers – should have secure sites from which to organize and direct their own labor.

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Categories: IWW Sites

Rest In Power, Heather Heyer

Thu, 2017-08-24 18:24

August 16, 2017

Charlottesville woman murdered by fascists was not IWW member, is an antifascist hero.

Heather Heyer, the 32-year old murdered by fascists on August 12, 2017, lost her life protesting the fascists. She should be alive with us today. We carry her in our hearts, and move forward with the struggle determined to realize the hopes she held when she faced down the fascists.

On the internet, it has been widely reported that Heather was a member of our union, the IWW. It does not appear that she ever joined our union, but we would have welcomed her. She was a courageous woman and we should all seek inspiration from her and work to amplify her message. Members of the IWW were on the scene and were among the wounded. Like Heather, they courageously stood up to the forces of hate in one of the largest fascist gatherings in decades. We are grateful that they remain with us, and we are furious that Heather is with us no longer.

Rest In Power, Heather. You were a comrade and a hero. We don't forget. We won't forgive. We will continue the fight.

Industrial Workers of the World

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Categories: IWW Sites

After today's murder in Charlottesville, we must all unite to defend ourselves and each other.

Sun, 2017-08-13 16:56


We are horrified but not surprised at the rise of political violence and murder from the Alt Right and other fascist groups across the country. Today's murder was not an isolated incident, but is the latest in a string of violent attacks and murders from fascists. These include the shooting of an IWW/GDC member in Seattle, the stabbing double murder on the Portland MAX train, and the recent bombing of Dar Al Farooq mosque in Minnesota, among many others.

Fascism is a deadly threat to all of us. There is no escape from the demand that we confront it. Politicians, the police, and the university will not save us. We cannot vote our way to safety. As always, police aided and protected the fascists, while permitting and assisting wholesale violence against counter-protesters. University officials refused to use campus security to protect students and others from a gang of hundreds of fascists. 

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Categories: IWW Sites

Industrial Worker—Summer 2017 no1780 vol 114, No. 3

Thu, 2017-08-10 21:40

One hundred years ago—the summer of 1917—two events shaped the future of the IWW.

On July 12, 1917, 1,196 striking copper miners in Bisbee, Arizona, were loaded into cattle cars on a train that dropped them in the New Mexico desert. The IWW had been organizing the workers, many of whom were Mexican and could not join the miners' union white men belonged to. On June 27, 1917, the IWW called a strike for flat daily wages of comparable amounts for both under- and above-ground miners, as well as other reasonable demands. Enough workers went out on strike that mining operations were crippled. Therefore, enlisting the aid of Bisbee's Sheriff and around 1,000 men known as the Loyalty League, the mining companies hatched and implemented the plan that resulted in what came to be known as the Bisbee Deportation.

Frank Little was one of the IWW miners' organizers in Arizona and Montana, facing the powerful and ruthless copper-mine owners, who backed up their anti-union aims with a purchased press as well as gunmen, spies, and vigilantes. Fellow Worker Little was lynched by a mob in Butte, Montana, on August 1, 1917.

This issue of Industrial Worker looks at the historical work of agitating and organizing as well as the modern actions IWW members take to advocate for and organize workers marginalized by corporations, law enforcement, and society through actions on the street and in the workplace.

Download a free PDF of this issue.

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Categories: IWW Sites

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists Supports Industrial Workers of the World

Thu, 2017-08-10 21:25

By X357058, X383824, X373817, X387362 - Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, August 7, 2017

May 24th – 29th CBTU International Convention – New Orleans: The recent work by the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) has caught the attention of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU), bringing their support to the effort to unionize incarcerated workers. At their recent convention in late May the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists voted to support the IWW in the struggle, growing the prisoner unionization movement that has, until now, been overlooked by trade unions. The CBTU brings with it support for the implementation of collective bargaining and a minimum wage for prisoners, which can be viewed as a step toward prison abolition in regards to near-slave labor which prisoners currently perform.

Dee, an IWW member in prison, explains in an interview, “Labor unions can give prisoners more unity and more power to challenge the system that's exploiting prisoners as well as a structure to give prisoners power to resist collectively.The union has a role to play in building the sense of collective power, so that's why George Jackson thought prisoner unions were necessary,” Dee states. “The demands are many and varied based on conditions in different states and facilities, but take for example the demand for minimum wage, if they're forced to pay prisoners, and we can force their hand, it'll break down the prison system, because the prison system was not based on anything except exploitation of prisoners.” Prisoners are currently making between $0.90 and $2.00 per day. Furthermore, the prison population is largely comprised of People of Color currently (~ 66.7%), who make up only 36.3% of the US population.

Within the IWW, the abolitionist oriented Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) is on the cutting edge of the prison labor movement. CBTU’s support brings a newfound solidarity to the union, and substantially expands the support base of the union and its project. Brianna Peril, IWOC outside organizer, responded to the news: “This is really exciting. One of our strengths as a union is our ability to explain to other union members how important it is that we start recognizing prison slavery as a labor issue. Receiving support from the CBTU is a huge step toward this overarching goal that we had from the founding of IWOC.”

Mark Maxey, an IWW member from Oklahoma says, “Within the IWW, members seek not only to organize the workplace, but also organize the working class. Whether they are currently employed or not. Many members view this approach as crucial to unions regaining relevance in a rapidly changing job market. The root cause is capitalism and its use of slavery, unemployment, underemployment, and human trafficking.  A remedy is to look outside traditional workplaces and outside the box creatively in aspects of the struggles of the working class.  This will lead to members of the working class who are jobless or completely alienated from their jobs seeing unions as an answer,” Maxey stated.

This remedy could take the form of organizing tenant unions, anti-hate support, clean water coalitions, all sorts of different types of community self-defense networks inside the working class, and especially in the prisons. The CBTU, self-described as “the fiercely independent voice of black workers within the trade union movement, challenging organized labor to be more relevant to the needs and aspirations of Black and poor workers”, fits well with these ideals of IWW members. IWW proudly calls itself One Big Union. The work of IWOC, aided by CBTU, will ensure that it really is One Big Union.

IWOC was formed in 2014 as a letter-writing program to speak directly to prisoners. Since then, it has already seen a successful National Prisoner Strike on September 9th, 2016. This year, the Millions for Prisoners March on August 19th will mark the anniversary of George Jackson's death, an early prison organizer whose death lead to the Attica uprising.

CBTU, which was founded in 1972, is the largest, independent voice of more than 2.2 million African American workers in labor unions today. With more than 50 chapters in major U.S. cities and one in Ontario, Canada, CBTU is dedicated to addressing the unique concerns of black workers and their communities. CBTU is a strong supporter of low-wage workers who are fighting for respect and the right to have a voice on their jobs.

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Categories: IWW Sites