May Newsletter

NYC GMB News

General Membership Branch (GMB) meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.
Email [email protected] for location details.

Fellow Workers,

Welcome to the May edition of our e-newsletter! Feedback and collaboration are always encouraged. Simply reply to this email to learn how to get more involved in its production.

In addition to the events listed below, you can always check the Google Calendar of the NYC General Defense Committee (GDC) for more happenings. If you would like to submit radical events in and around New York City to the calendar, email details to nycgdc@protonmail.com.

UPCOMING BRANCH EVENTS

Every day at various times: We need Fellow Workers to participate in consumer education. Please email FW Frank if you would like to sign up for a shift.

Sunday, May 20 from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Join Brandworkers in celebrating the conclusion of their annual May Day fundraising campaign at their office (43-32 22 St., Ste. 202, Queens). RSVP here.

Friday, May 25 from 7 to 10 p.m.: Join NYC GDC for a screening of the #NoDAPL documentary Black Snake Killaz followed by a discussion with Sane Energy Project at Nothing New (4916 Arthur Kill Rd., Staten Island). RSVP here.

Tuesday, May 29: The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) is participating in an action at Starbucks highlighting the company's use of prison labor. Email [email protected] to get involved.

Sunday, June 3 from 5 to 8 p.m.: The IWOC, along with the Stop the Raids Coalition, is hosting their monthly Family Gathering Against the Raids. Come to the Bronx Social Center (970 Prospect Ave., Bronx) for letter-writing and hat-passing for desperately needed commissary money. RSVP here.

Tuesday, June 12 at 7 p.m.: Attend the monthly meeting of the IWW NYC GMB. Watch this list for location details or email [email protected].

PROTESTS, PICKETS & MORE AROUND THE CITY

This Mother's Day, help bail out a mom.

Workers at the New School could use your help! There are two labor struggles currently taking place at the New School: cafeteria workers who are members of UNITE-HERE and teaching assistants represented by UAW. Stop by 63 5 Ave. to pitch in or join the picket line.

Thursday mornings at 6 a.m. and Tuesday afternoons at 3 p.m. Join union workers on the northwest corner of 34 Street and 10 Avenue to protest greedy developers at the Hudson Yards.

Every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Join striking Spectrum workers at these locations around the city.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The branch has voted to use Loomio as our online voting system. While Fellow Workers are busy getting together by-laws for the new system, please check out introduction to Loomio videos here and here.

Branch meetings will continue to take place on the second Tuesday of each month. Our Doodle poll garnered 15 votes to keep these meeting on Tuesday nights.

Stardust Family United has been one of the most successful organizing campaigns taken on by the IWW in years. The have had great success, but need our help: They have racked up thousands of dollars in legal fees while fighting their organizing campaign. The branch has made a generous donation, but we now need individual members to donate and spread the word about SFU's crowd-fundraiser.

IWOC has two crowd-funding campaigns: one for a Fellow Worker inside who has incurred legal fees while fighting abuses by correction officers and two Fellow Workers who were recently released. Please donate here and here.

IWOC is picking up Jailhouse Lawyers Speak's call for a nation-wide prison strike from August 21 to September 9, and they need help planning solidarity actions, corresponding with inside contacts, and getting the word out to the media. Organizing meetings are currently every second Friday at 7 p.m., usually by phone, and the next one will be on Friday, May 19. If you'd like to join, please e-mail [email protected].

Organizers of January's Operation PUSH have designated June 19 a day of outside prisoner support actions, and IWOC would like to plan something sound. Email [email protected] if you have ideas or want to get involved.

ORGANIZING RESOURCES

GMB Tech has launched a Signal group for the branch. (An off-topic group has  been created as well.) Reply to this email to be added to the group. Download Signal here.

In order to better organize our industrial union building efforts, the branch voted to organize a series of teams: member orientation, mobilizing, tech, communications, legal, research, and fundraising. Their descriptions can be found here. Please reply to this email to learn how to join each team!

Online dues collection has launched! You can still pay in person, but if you cannot make our monthly meetings, head over to the website and sign up.

The IWW one-pager and branch trifold are officially complete—and they looks great! You can find the one-pager here and the trifold here. Make copies at home, surreptitiously at work, or at a unionized print shop, and distribute to help explain what the IWW is and what we do.

WHAT WOBBLIES READ & LISTEN TO

"Book Review: Wobblies of the World: A History of Globetrotting Troublemakers," Labor Notes  (written by Eric Dirnbach of the NYC GMB!)

"How the Corporate Response to America's First Fast Food Union Totally Backfired," Digg

"Salinas Farm Workers March to Oppose Immigration Raids" People's World

Call for a Juneteenth 2018 Mobilization Against Prison Slavery

Call for a #Juneteenth2018 Mobilization Against Prison Slavery

from SPARC

This year we, supporters of #OperationPUSH, are calling on all opponents of mass incarceration and modern-day slavery internationally to honor the Juneteenth holiday (Tuesday, June 19, 2018) with community organizing and direct action.

This call to action is inspired by prisoners in Texas and Florida, two of the largest and most repressive prison systems in the U.S., who remain active in freedom struggle against all odds.

Background

Juneteenth is an abolitionist holiday originating in Texas, where many Confederate slave-holders fled to during the U.S. Civil War.

But that war was not merely a domestic civil conflict. It was a flare-up of the global movement to end slavery. It is a movement that continues to challenge the slave relations of today which occur under several names (examples include debt bondage, sex trafficking, prison labor) and generally impact the most historically exploited and most vulnerable among us.

Forced captivity and involuntary labor have been among the most abhorrent practices in human society since the earliest of written records.

The celebration of freedom from these conditions has formed the foundation of many cultures and identities.

Juneteenth in particular marked the official end of chattel slavery in the U.S. But the backlash against this victory saw the initial formation of many state prison systems in the country, especially in the South, born to manage a new era of slavery known as convict-leasing. That system was also technically done away with, but its remnants are visible all over the country.

Prison slave labor today can be seen in wildlands firefighters, disaster clean-up from hurricanes and oil spills, massive contracts with cities, counties and universities, and the running of the prisons themselves.

While prisons no longer provide the same scale of labor that chattel slavery and convict-leasing did, they maintain the slave relation of captivity for another primary purpose: the warehousing of populations that pose a threat to a profit-obsessed society. This includes the unemployed or those in underground economies, the mentally ill, and those most likely to challenge the status quo.

The Juneteenth holiday originated in 1865, but the struggle for official recognition is still occurring today. As of May 2016, 45 of the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia have recognized Juneteenth as either a state holiday or a day of observance.

Juneteenth originally marked the freedom of African Americans from captivity. Today’s prison system has made slavery a multi-racial affair, where indigenous and immigrant people of all backgrounds are held in bondage along side the descendants of European settlers, joined by the common bond of poverty.

The aim of this call to action is to support the ongoing effort to recognize Juneteenth and to add to that legacy by calling for an end to modern-day slave conditions in the prison system.

Goals

1. End slave labor
2. Stop profiteering off prisoners
3. Reduce the prison population
4. Demand environmental justice in the prison industrial complex

Strategy

Plan outreach activities in the weeks leading up to, and actions in the days surrounding, Juneteeneth. Aim to put pressure on the prison system and build community support for ending mass incarceration.

Specific Suggestions

1. Host large public film showings of Ava Duvernay’s documentary 13th (available on Netflix) at spaces where people are likely to have not seen it yet and facilitate discussion afterward.

2. Coordinate letter writing/mass mailing parties to prisoners in your state where you aim to reach out to at least 500 new prisoners by gathering addresses off online rosters, communicating to prisoners that there will be public events around Juneteenth and encourage them to inform family and friends. (If these letters are censored, appeal the censorship and seek First Amendment attorneys to assist.)

3. Plan actions that include highly visible street theater and civil disobedience that will attract media attention and disrupt business as usual. (If these include any risk of arrest, please prepare with trainings and bail funds.)

Context

In January this year we saw an international outpouring of support for the Florida prisoners who called for the #OperationPUSH prisoner strike. This came largely from networks developed around the 2016 Attica anniversary and the 2017 Black August organizing, as well as earlier coordinated prisoner-related efforts in Alabama, Texas, California, Georgia and elsewhere.

While we have developed strong relationships across the walls all around the country over these past two years, we have also learned some hard lessons about repression against prisoners from inside/outside organizing.

In response to efforts at increasing communication by mail and visits, we’ve seen retaliation via censorship and visitation cuts. We’ve also seen many solid organizers thrown into solitary confinement or shipped off to other prisons repeatedly, as well as random prisoners punished just for being sent activist mailings. And we’ve watched organizations be labeled as Security Threat Groups in order to scare new prisoners away from associating with the movement.

Still we have persevered, escalated and evolved our strategies. We have repeatedly heard that mainstream media coverage is a major inspiration to people inside, that it reaches more than our mail ever could. (It is also more difficult to censor.)

For this reason, suggestion number three, disruption and civil disobedience is a priority for activities surrounding Juneteenth.

Strategy

We know the media operates on a mantra of “if it bleeds, it leads.” Although this often refers to literal bloodshed, it thankfully does not require it. Any conflict that makes it on to a police scanner has always been the media’s priority. While coverage doesn’t require mass arrests, zero arrests can often result in a demonstration that does not make it into the headlines.

Media also often ignores in-depth stories too far from its primary urban audiences.

Take for example the Operation PUSH solidarity action where around 50 people occupied the FDOC lobby for five hours, effectively shutting down the building’s normal operations. It wasn’t until police aggression, a broken window and an arrest that TV cameras showed up to tell the story.

Meanwhile, prisoners launched regular uprisings with brutal retaliation. Coverage of this is rare due to the rural, remote location of most prisons.

Taking note of recent movements like Black Lives Matter, Idle No More and the pipeline resistance at Standing Rock, along with historic examples in the civil rights, women’s suffrage and anti-nuclear movements, we’ve see that remote areas and under-reported issues can be brought front-and-center using civil disobedience and strategic disturbances.

Talking points on the goals

End slave labor

This means the prisoners around the world who do industrial work for little-to-no pay in kitchens, laundries, on road crews, in fields or in factories must get a fair wage for their labor, or the prisons must pay outside workers to do this work. One way or another, the true cost of prison operation must be known and the broken system of mass incarceration must no longer be subsidized through slavery. The U.S. acts appalled by other countries like China exploiting its prisoners for free labor, but tolerates the practice at home.

Stop profiteering off prisoners

All across the country, federal, state and municipal agencies contract with profit-driven companies for goods and services (on top of the prisons and detention centers where operations are handed over to private companies in attempt to cut costs). In most every instance of these contracts for healthcare, commissary, phones and money transfers, prisoners are price-gouged because they are captive customers.

Reduce prison populations

State and federal officials can use re-sentencing, parole and clemency to drastically bring down the number of people held in cages. We know this can be done, as many other countries have shown by example that the U.S. practice of absurdly long prison sentencing contributes nothing remotely resembling rehabilitation.

Demand environmental justice

There is a nationwide effort to expose prisons as industrial operation with chronic conditions that are not conducive to health and safety. The Environmental Justice (EJ) movement has spent the past three decades developing an analysis that applies the need for environmental protections to all areas of our society, including places like prisons, and begun writing those protections into laws, such as Executive Order 12898, developing EJ through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In this analysis, the maintaining of warehouses for caged humans must be viewed as incompatible with environmental justice.

A list of organizations in support of #OperationPUSH and #Juneteenth2018 can be found here.

Please contact [email protected] to add your organization to this call to action.

April Newsletter

NYC GMB News

General Membership Branch (GMB) meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.
Email [email protected] for location details.

Fellow Workers,

Welcome to the May edition of our e-newsletter! Feedback and collaboration are always encouraged. Simply reply to this email to learn how to get more involved in its production.

In addition to the events listed below, you can always check the Google Calendar of the NYC General Defense Committee (GDC) for more happenings. If you would like to submit radical events in and around New York City to the calendar, email details to nycgdc@protonmail.com.

UPCOMING BRANCH EVENTS

Every day at various times: We need Fellow Workers to participate in consumer education. Please email FW Frank if you would like to sign up for a shift.

Saturday, April 27 at 5 p.m.: The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) is hosting a "Welcome Home" event for two inside IWOC organizers at The Bronx Social Center (970 Prospect Ave., Bronx). The event will serve as both a fundraiser and an IWOC newsletter launch party. Register here. IWOC is seeking donated raffle prizes and volunteers for this event. Email [email protected] if you can help. The next planning meeting will be Sunday, April 15.

Saturday, April 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Join the NYC GDC for a self-defense workshop led by Pop Gym during the Mayday Festival of Resistance at Maria Hernandez Park (Knickerbocker Ave. and Starr St., Brooklyn). Register here.

Sunday, May 6 from 5 to 8 p.m.: The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), along with the Stop the Raids Coalition, is hosting their monthly Family Gathering Against the Raids. Come to The Bronx Social Center for letter-writing and hat-passing for desperately needed commissary money. Register here.

Tuesday, May 1 is May Day! Join your Fellow Workers on strike, and join the IWW contingent at festivities around the city. Our plans are not solid yet, but a May Day committee has been formed to plan our participation. Watch the list for more details.

Tuesday, May 8 at 7 p.m.: Attend the monthly meeting of the IWW NYC GMB. Watch this list for location details or email [email protected].

PROTESTS, PICKETS & MORE AROUND THE CITY

Every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Join striking Spectrum workers at these locations around the city.

Saturday, April 14 and Sunday, April 15 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Join Central NJ GDC for a street-medic training in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Email [email protected] for more details.

Thursday, April 19 at 7 p.m.: The People's Human Rights Observatory is holding a talk on cross-border solidarity and the militarization of the border at the War Resisters League (168 Canal St #600, Manhattan).

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Our allies at Brandworkers are launching their annual May Day Fundraising Campaign! A group of GMB members have founded a team to help Brandworkers reach their goal of $50,000. Support the team and help build worker power within New York's food manufacturing industry by donating here.

Stardust Family United has been one of the most successful organizing campaigns taken on by the IWW in years. The have had great success, but they need our help: they have racked up thousands of dollars in legal fees while fighting their organizing campaign. The branch has made a generous donation, but we now need individual members to donate and spread the word about the SFU crowd-fundraiser.

The Central New Jersey IWW Branch is holding an OT 101 in New Brunswick, and the NYC GMB has voted to help subsidize the travel costs of FWs who plan to attend. It is at the George Street Co-op (89 Morris St., New Brunswick), Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Email [email protected] for more details. Please get in touch with one of the branch officers if you are interested in the reimbursement.

IWOC is running a crowd-funding campaign for a Fellow Worker inside who has incurred legal fees while fighting abuses by correction officers. Please donate here.

ORGANIZING RESOURCES

In order to better organize our industrial union building efforts, the branch voted to organize a series of teams: member orientation, mobilizing, tech, communications, legal, research, and fundraising. Their descriptions can be found here. Please reach out to one of the branch officers to sign up!

Online dues collection has launched! You can still pay in person, but if you cannot make our monthly meetings, head over to the website and sign up.

The IWW one-pager and branch trifold are officially complete—and they looks great! You can find the one-pager here and the trifold here. Make copies at home, surreptitiously at work, or at a unionized print shop, and distribute to help explain what the IWW is and what we do.

WHAT WOBBLIES READ & LISTEN TO

"The Burgerville Workers Union is Poised to be the First Officially Recognized Fast Food Union," Eater, Portland

"The Pinkertons Still Never Sleep," New Republic

" 'The Gig Economy' is the New Term for Serfdom," Common Dreams

"The Federal Attack on Sex Workers’ Rights is a Threat to Everyone’s Free Speech," In These Times

"This Anarchist Browser Plug-in Wants You to Fight Fascism on the Internet," Motherboard

March Newsletter

NYC GMB News

General Membership Branch (GMB) meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m.
Email [email protected] for location details.

Fellow Workers,

Welcome to the March edition of our e-newsletter! Feedback and collaboration are always encouraged. Simply reply to this email to learn how to get more involved in its production.

In addition to the events listed below, you can always check the Google Calendar of the NYC General Defense Committee (GDC) for more happenings. If you would like to submit radical events in and around New York City to the calendar, email details to nycgdc@protonmail.com.

UPCOMING BRANCH EVENTS

Every day at various times: We need Fellow Workers to participate in consumer education. Please email FW Frank if you would like to sign up for a shift.

Monday, March 19 from 7:30 to 10 p.m.: Join the NYC GDC in viewing the next installment of Trouble, an anarchist documentary series, at Starr Bar (214 Starr Street, Brooklyn). RSVP for free here.

Friday, March 23 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, March 24 from 12 to 5 p.m.: Learn how to respond to widespread natural and man-made disasters with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief in this two-day training at The Base (1286 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn). Register for free here.

Tuesday, April 10 at 7 p.m.: Attend the monthly meeting of the NYC IWW GMB. Watch this list for location details or email [email protected].

Saturday, April 21: IWOC is hosting a "Welcome Home" event for two inside organizers at The Bronx Social Center (970 Prospect Avenue, The Bronx). The event will serve as both a fundraiser and an IWOC newsletter launch party. Please watch this list for more details, including start time.

PROTESTS, PICKETS, & MORE AROUND THE CITY

Every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Join striking Spectrum workers at these locations around the city.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

The Central New Jersey IWW Branch is holding an OT 101 in New Brunswick, and the branch has voted to help subsidize the travel costs of FWs who plan to attend. It is at the George St Co-op (89 Morris Street, New Brunswick), Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22 from 9 a.m. to 4p.m. Register for free here. Please get in touch with one of the branch officers if you are interested in reimbursement.

IWOC is running a crowd-funding campaign for a Fellow Worker on the inside who has incurred legal fees while fighting abuses by correction officers. Please donate here.

FW Kevin has completed his album that documents his time salting with the IWW. Copies are available on cassette for purchase, and all proceeds go to the workers affected by the I-9 audit at Tom Cat Bakery. Order online.

Mike Pesa, a longtime member of the IWW who currently belongs to the Baltimore GMB and previously belonged to the New York City GMB, needs our support. FW Mike’s wife, Heidi, a former kindergarten teacher, suffered a brain injury, and insurance will not cover the costs of her recovery. Read more about it here, and please donate here.

ORGANIZING RESOURCES

Online dues collection has launched! You can still pay in person, but if you cannot make our monthly meetings, head over to the website and sign up!

The IWW one-pager and branch trifold are officially complete—and they looks great! You can find the one-pager here and the trifold here. Make copies at home, surreptitiously at work, or at a unionized print shop, and distribute to help explain what the IWW is and what we do. Thank you to the Fellow Workers who put so much work into this!

WHAT WOBBLIES READ & LISTEN TO

"The Trump Administration's War on Workers," History News Network

"How Unions Help Immigrants Resist Deportations," The American Prospect

"Black Women Built That: Labor and Workers' Rights," The Latest

"West Virginia's Strike is no 'Wildcat,' " New Politics

"Inauguration Day Trials Continue to Threaten Activists Across the Country," Pacific Standard

NYC GDC Statement in Support of Tariq Khan

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

To the University of Illinois Office of Student Conflict Resolution ([email protected]), Assistant Dean of Students Rony Die ([email protected]), and Associate Dean of Students Justin Brown ([email protected]):

As an organization committed to defending members of the working class as they struggle for a more just world, we denounce, in the strongest possible terms, the Office of Student Conflict Resolution’s mind-boggling capitulation to the bigots waging a campaign of targeted harassment against Tariq Khan.

It is unconscionable that Khan is being disciplined by your office when his department and even the Champaign County Court have been able to see through the ruse of the right-wing outrage machine targeting him. Turning Point USA, the organization which Khan’s accuser belongs to, has a well-documented history of going after students, professors, and other faculty for their political beliefs, encouraging TPUSA members to mob their targets’ employers and schools with calls for dismissal and expulsion, while also harassing their targets personally through threatening calls, emails, and even stalking. After the amount of suffering that TPUSA has inflicted on Khan and his family, it is ludicrous for your office to top it off by threatening his education and livelihood.

Should your office be truly interested in supporting a safe and secure university environment, it should look into the well-documented history of TPUSA’s abuses and immediately suspend any disciplinary action against Khan, issue him and his family a formal apology, and commit to better protecting your community in the future.

In Solidarity with Tariq Khan,

The New York City General Defense Committee

February Newsletter

General Membership Branch (GMB) meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at 7 p.m. Email [email protected] for location details.

Fellow Workers,

Welcome to the February edition of our e-newsletter! Feedback and collaboration are always encouraged. Simply reply to this email to learn how to get more involved in its production.

In addition to the events listed below, you can always check the Google Calendar of the NYC General Defense Committee (GDC) for more happenings. If you would like to submit radical events in and around New York City to the calendar, email details to nycgdc@protonmail.com.


UPCOMING BRANCH EVENTS

Every day at various times: We need Fellow Workers to participate in consumer education. Please email FW Frank if you would like to sign up for a shift.

Saturday, February 17 from 4 to 7 p.m.: Securing communications and information within your organizing efforts has never been more important. Join the NYC GDC for an information security training. Register for free here.

Saturday, February 17 from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.: Enjoy FW Dorian Wallace's performance in the Precarious Sounds / Sounding Sanctuary conference at Silver Center Block (28 Waverly Place, Manhattan). Register for free here.

Sunday, February 18 from 12 to 6 p.m.: Join the NYC GDC for a second day of training — this time focusing on picketing and marshaling. Register for free here.

Saturday, February 24 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Join an IWW contingent in flyering at the People's Day of Action rally in Foley Square. Please email FW Ryan if you would like to participate.

Sunday, March 4 from 5 to 8 p.m.: The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), along with the Stop the Raids Coalition, is hosting their monthly Family Gathering Against the Raids. Come to the Bronx Social Center for letter-writing and hat-passing for desperately needed commissary money. Email [email protected] for more details.

Thursday, March 8 from 4 to 6 p.m.: Join an IWW contingent in flyering at the International Women's Strike rally in Washington Square Park. Please email FW Liss if you would like to participate.

Tuesday, March 13 at 7 p.m.: Attend the monthly meeting of the NYC IWW GMB. Watch this list for location details or email [email protected].

Monday, March 19 from 7:30 to 10 p.m.: Join the NYC GDC in viewing the next installment of Trouble, an anarchist documentary series, at Starr Bar (214 Starr Street, Brooklyn).

Friday, March 23 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturday, March 24 from 12 to 5 p.m.: Learn how to respond to widespread natural and man-made disasters with Mutual Aid Disaster Relief in this two-day training at The Base (1286 Myrtle Avenue, Brooklyn). Register for free here.


PROTESTS, PICKETS & MORE AROUND THE CITY

March 11 to 15: Fast alongside members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) in the Freedom Fast in NYC. Sign up here.

Thursday, March 15 at 5 p.m.: Join the CIW for the Time's Up Wendy's March. Get more info here.

Every day from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Join striking Spectrum workers at these locations around the city.


IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Mike Pesa, a longtime member of the IWW who currently belongs to the Baltimore GMB and previously belonged to the New York City GMB, needs our support. FW Mike’s wife, Heidi, a former kindergarten teacher, suffered a brain injury, and insurance will not cover the costs of her recovery. Read more about it here, and please donate here.


ORGANIZING RESOURCES

The branch has voted to collect dues online! You can pay dues in person or on our revamped website, which will be launching soon!

The IWW one-pager is officially complete — and it looks great! You can find the document here. Make copies at home, surreptitiously at work or at a unionized print shop, and distribute to help explain what the IWW is and what we do.


IWW Backyard BBQ and Direct Action Discussion – Saturday, AUG 27, 3 – 7pm

Join us at 113 Wilson Avenue in Brooklyn from 3  – 7PM, as we host a worker from the Burgerville Workers Union and workers from local campaigns in a discussion about their strategies and challenges in waging active direct action union campaigns, free of the NLRB. Enjoy the afternoon in a beautiful backyard where cheap beer and IWW merch will be for sale to fundraise for these important campaigns. Bring whatever you wish to throw on the grill!

IWOC Bike Ride fundraiser – Saturday, August 27 at 9:30 AM – 5 PM

Please bring yourself, a bike, snacks, plenty of water, and maybe a friend or two, for this 26 mile ride. We will start in the Bronx, and make our way north mostly via trails (paved and unpaved). Once we arrive in Ossining, we will explore a small exhibit in the town about Sing Sing and its use of prison labor, and then go to the outside of the prison itself for a short speakout. Then, we will eat together and some will ride the 26 miles back, while another group will take the metro north back to the city. Tickets for the metro north are $10 to $15, so plan accordingly. If the weather is particularly adverse on Saturday, we will ride Sunday. Please email:[email protected] for any questions or updates.

Also please bring $5-$15 dollars as a donation to IWOC towards helping build for the strike. NO ONE TURNED AWAY FOR LACK OF FUNDS.

Please Call at: (917) 715-7866 If you’re running late!!! Thanks!

Three Ways To Win Your IWW Campaign

By Daniel Gross

The IWW has made dramatic strides in the last decade, returning to its roots as an effective and transformative labor union. Unique campaigns in diverse industries have won important gains for workers and significantly influenced the broader labor movement. Still, the building of enduring worker-led and operated industrial unions, a founding mandate of our union, has not yet been fully realized.

With the IWW’s strong recent track record, unparalleled experience in rank-and-file organizing, and rich learnings from our work, we are positioned to get to the next level of building durable industrial unions to scale.

Here are three ways we can get to the next level:

1. Take a Step Back

Too many Wobbly campaigns start with a group of workers deciding they are going to talk to their co-workers and organize their shop. The idea is after the shop or chain is organized, they will then figure out how to organize the industry. This approach is not working because a shop is not a significant unit in our economy; industries are.

Instead of jumping right in to organize your shop, take a step back and look at your industry. Your job as an IWW organizer is to organize your shop, but more so, it is to co-found a successful industrial union of workers in your industry. Understand the industry, its workers, employers, customers, investors, supply chain, distribution, and so forth. Build a model to win in the industry, including at your job.

Once you have taken a step back you might decide that your industrial union building effort actually should start with organizing your shop or chain, and that is totally fine. You will have the roadmap to do it right and the mission’s clarity in that your ultimate project is to build an effective industrial union. On the other hand, you might decide on a totally different path into an industry that at the moment does not directly involve your employer. That is fine, too, as then you have just avoided years of misdirected effort.

It is completely understandable to want to get the ball rolling, fight injustice at your shop or company, and then figure out the bigger picture as you go. But, by taking a step back you will avoid the fate that has felled many Wobbly campaigns and instead, you will be investing in big, durable victories to come.

2. Get Clarity on Your Strategy

Many IWW campaigns have faltered for lack of a viable strategy or even a lack of any articulated strategy. We need to learn strategy-making in the IWW. Without finding a strategy that works for your industrial union building effort, the most courageous and hard-fought efforts will be beaten.

The two essential questions to formulate strategy are: where will we struggle and how will we win? “Where to struggle” means things like which industry, sector, geographic location, employers, or other stakeholders that will be our focus. “How to win” means the unique choices we make to achieve our winning objective in the field of struggle we have picked. These two strategy questions are adapted from the work of business school professor Roger Martin, which we modified in New York for use in worker organizations. A good way to start practicing with the “where to struggle” and “how to win” questions is to apply them to various worker organizing campaigns that you are familiar with, successful and unsuccessful, inside and outside the IWW.

More than anything, your strategy must assert the power you will need to win your demands. Asserting sufficient power is extremely difficult and will not come from generic formulations. Each industrial union effort will have to do its own thinking about this question. Differ-ent industries, sectors, workers, employers and geographies pose varied challenges and opportunities for power assertion. Always include secondary targets or influencers in your analysis. A common success factor for many worker organizing campaigns has been the ability to move those stakeholders.

Several IWW campaigns today have only an employer-level strategy, which is related to the need to step back, which I have discussed. Do not fall into that trap. The mission is to build an industrial union and that requires a cascade of strategies beyond your shop or employer.

Many industrial union building efforts will need an overall organizational strategy, an industry-level strategy, a sector-level strategy, and an employer-level strategy. You will answer the where to struggle and how to win question for each level. And each level is interrelated.

You should be able to write down the core of each strategy level in the ballpark of 25 words or less. This short statement will not replace a strategic plan; but, the best engines of power assertion are amenable to simple and brief articulation. It is much easier to remember and align a team of founding fellow workers around 25 words than it is 25 pages.

Scared you will assess and test several strategies but still choose the wrong path? You probably will. However, with a system for regular strategy reviews and the will to keep the struggle alive, you will adjust until you find the strategy that works. And adjust again if it stops working. With effective strategy-making, you and other workers will see big and game-changing results in IWW organizing.

3. Build a Model

A strategy to win is necessary but not sufficient to create an industrial union. In casual conversation, we often interchange strategy and model. We cannot afford to make that mistake in the high-stakes and incredibly difficult project of founding an industrial union. Strategy is a component of an organizational model. A model includes all of your organization’s fundamental building blocks and how they interlace.

Which set of workers in the industry will you and your fellow workers seek out first? What channels will you prioritize to reach those workers? How will leaders develop?

If you are able to successfully assert power, what mechanism will use to define and hold the gains you win? A collective bargaining agreement? A code of conduct with large brands? A non-contractual standard, which was for example IWW Local 8’s approach on the Philadelphia waterfront?

How will you tie the value created by the industrial union to being a member of the organization? How will you retain members? What will you measure to see if your vision is making progress in the messy world of reality?

These are some key questions that a model must seek to answer and test. Though interrelated with strategy, hopefully, it is clear they require their own thinking and formulation. It takes a complete model for an industrial union to win, scale and endure.

Like strategy, the model almost never works right off the bat and that is fine. The key is to dialogue, debate, and document your model as founding co-workers and to stay alive. You will refine the model as you go and even transform it dramatically if needed. When it does click you will change your industry and your workplace, and maybe even the labor movement and the world.

A member of the New York City IWW,  Daniel Gross founded the worker center Brandworkers and helped launch the  IWW Starbucks Workers Union while he was a barista at the company.

Work to Rule. Part 3

This is a re-post of an article by the same name also published on nyc.starbucksunion.org


Behind the Line

The day after Starbucks workers met at the Bat Cave we found ourselves working an understaffed morning shift but this time it was different. Instead of feeling the normal frustration, those of us who were at the meeting exchanged knowing glances and began implementing our plan of following every rule, thereby slowing down service. We also whispered to partners who were not in the know to slow down, don’t kill yourself. It was as if everyone took a deep breath and began working at a safe and thorough pace. The effects were instant. The speed of service dropped immediately. We ran out of brewed coffee because we were only brewing when the beeper signaled it was time. Everyone stayed in the positions they were assigned and acted only at the directions of the Store Manager. Every 10 minutes when someone was assigned to clean the lobby, we did a thorough job, ensuring everything was clean and properly stocked. Every drink and food order was perfect.

Dan, the Store Manager, lost his mind. He was running around like a crazed man. It was the most any of us had ever seen him work. The best part was he couldn’t get mad at us, not only were we doing our jobs but we were doing them exactly as we should. Each drink was made perfectly, every pastry was cooked one at a time on the correct oven setting, and each cleaning task was done exactly as it should be. We continued to do this all week. We found ourselves giggling and sharing secret exchanges of encouragement. It was common to hear “wow, look Dan is working today! Now he knows what we go through every day”. We were working as a team instead of blaming each other for a situation that none of us could control. Meanwhile, partners were calling Partner Resources. Everyone called the hotline number, with the exception of two baristas and two supervisors. We all stuck to the issues we came up with in the initial meeting, with the hope that our calls would tell a consistent story.

Nothing seemed to be happening but at least we felt in control. We felt like we were doing something to make our jobs and our lives better rather than hoping things would change. These were our jobs, our store and our customers, without us there would be no Starbucks. Our ability to slow down the rate of business reinforced this fact.

A week after we started our work to rule and coordinated contacts to Partner Resources we saw the results. An investigation was launched into our store. Dan’s bosses were in our store every day. Interestingly enough the investigation was not the result of our phone calls and complaints but because we had cut business in the store by over $10,000 that week by slowing down. Dan’s bosses were furious at the loss of business. They watched as every 5th customer left the store because the line was too long and slow moving. When baristas were asked why this was happening we all replied, “we are understaffed. We need between 7 to 9 people to do our jobs well and keep customers happy”. The next weeks schedule had already been printed but suddenly Dan was asking everyone if they want more hours. He added at least two people to every shift. After that we always had enough people scheduled to do our jobs right. Dan now knew what would happen if we were understaffed and he knew the loss of business we could cause him would likely affect his future at the company.

Sadly, we were not able to get Dan removed as a Store Manager, he continues to make our lives a living hell. However, the power we felt that week will not be forgotten. The ties of solidarity amongst those involved in the planning and implementation will be long lasting. We all tasted what it would be like to have control over our jobs and that can never be taken away.

Addendum: Almost exactly a year from his first day at our store, Dan was removed from his position as Store Manager. Of the 21 people who participated in actions to remove him, 7 baristas had transferred, 4 were fired, and 8 quit.

Read Part 1: The Match That Started the Fire.
Read Part 2: The Bat Cave.

Look for The Truth About the Million Dollar Coffee Company by FW Lyssa coming Wednesday May 7th.

Solidarity,
FW Sarah
Starbucks Workers Union

Work to Rule. Part 2

This is a re-post of an article by the same name also published on nyc.starbucksunion.org


The Bat Cave

Word of our Starbucks Store Manager, Dan, throwing a binder at an employee spread through the store like wild fire. Everyone was furious. We have tolerated inconsistent scheduling, low wages, on going verbal abuse and much more, this, however, was the last straw. We decided it was time to meet up. Enrico- a 61 year old Puerto Rican busser, Anna-a 25 year old Puerto Rican woman, Gabrielle-a 19 year old Jamaican nursing student, Alejandro- a 22 year old Dominican, Sam-a 23 year old Columbian, Thomas-a 27 year old Texan and I, a 28 year old woman from Kansas decided to meet up Tuesday after our morning shift and figure out a way to fix the problems in the store. We met at a bar down the street from work. The spot has dozens of empty pool tables and cheap drinks before 7pm, which is perfect for a group of people who are all up at 3 or 4am for work. We started frequenting this spot as a place to go and vent about work. The bartenders are all very nice and often look the other way if we don’t order any drinks and just hang out on the overstuffed couch for an hour or two after a rough shift. We started calling our spot “the Bat Cave” as we secretly spoke about ways we could take back power at work and make our jobs better. Today at the Bat Cave we pulled two tables together and Gabrielle took notes. We all decided we had had enough and it was time to take action. The group came to the conclusion to use two tactics at the same time to pressure Starbucks to fire or transfer Dan but also to immediately resolve the issue of being understaffed.

To implement the first tactic, we came up with a list of issues we had with Dan (See appendix for complete list). We decided to call Partner Resources, a third party phone line that is supposed to resolve issues that affect baristas. We thought, somewhat naively, that if everyone in the store called over the next week they would have to listen to our issues and investigate. Gabrielle diligently wrote up our grievances and offered to email them out to everyone who was at the meeting. We gathered email addresses, but most importantly we came up with a list of other people in the store who would likely be interested in contacting Partner Resources with us. We divided up the list of people, so everyone at the meeting was responsible for telling a coworker about our plan. Gabrielle also drove home the fact that we should keep this secret and not talk about anything while at work. In addition, we decided to make our calls anonymously, no matter how much we were pressured to reveal our identities. We all knew that if word of our plan were to leak out we would be subjected to cut hours or write-ups, which would affect our already small raises.

Our second tactic was designed to address immediately the issue of understaffing. We were working ourselves to death under Dan’s reign. Our store is so big that we should always have 7-9 people scheduled to work the morning rush. Lately we have had as few as 3 and an average of only 5 people working. The result of this cost cutting measure was that the customer line reached out the door, customers were mad that service was taking so long, baristas were getting cussed at and verbally abused, we were constantly burning and cutting themselves because we were moving so fast, we often put ourselves in dangerous situations to save time, for example climbing on counters to reach supplies because it takes too long to grab the ladder, and new untrained baristas who due to the lack of training messed up orders. It was during our meeting at the Bat Cave that we decided as a group to not kill ourselves anymore for a company that did not have our best interest at heart. We decided if we were going to be arbitrarily yelled at for taking shortcuts to speed up service, we would stop. From this point on we would follow every single rule. This meant getting customer names and spelling them correctly, making each drink using the method Starbucks created-rather than the short cuts every good barista learns, we brewed coffee in a particular order according to a beeper rather than keeping an eye on things so we don’t run out of fresh coffee. We would leave the floor to change rags every two hours instead of when there is a lull in the rush and every 10 minutes someone would leave the floor to clean the lobby.

We adjourned the meeting feeling empowered and optimistic. We would no longer be working for a low-wage; instead we were working to rule.

Read Part 1: The Match That Started the Fire.
Read Part 3: Behind the Line.

Solidarity,
FW Sarah
Starbucks Workers Union 

Starbucks Jargon

Barista:

someone who makes drinks, cleans bathrooms and the store, cashier, and stocks supplies.

Busser:

someone who cleans and restocks items. Starbucks has almost entirely removed this position from the company, forcing baristas to take turns cleaning and stocking while they are serving the customers.

Shift Supervisor or Shift:

often called a barista who counts money. They run the floor and let baristas know when they can take a break and where they should be working. They also order more supplies, count money for the registers, and handle “situations” or rowdy customers as needed.

Assistant Store Manager:

Does many of the same tasks as the Store Manager and acts as their assistant in running the store. They also do the job of a barista during their shifts.

Store Manager:

Is in charge of scheduling, ordering, implementing new promotions. They should also be on the floor helping baristas when we are busy.

Floor or back line:

the area where we make drinks and serve the customers.

Back room:

where extra products are stored and we take our breaks.

Issues we have with Dan

  • Won’t allow switching of shifts. Plays favorites and lets his favorites switch shifts
  • Schedules himself on the floor but isn’t on the floor.
  • Says that we have to leave before our scheduled end time, resulting in lost pay.
  • Consistently under staffs our store, Sunday’s in particular. No pre-closer, no mid-shift supervisor.
  • Disrespectful to partners. Threw the schedule binder. Partner was ill and was going to call out but came into work. Was feeling so dizzy had to step off the floor and fell forward. Dan told her to sit down and got another partner to get her water. She went back on the floor and said she would stay on the floor as long as possible. Was on register for another two hours. Then she went to the back to asks to go home because she isn’t feeling better. Threw the binder towards her after she asked. Anna was so upset she picked up the binder and clocked out and walked off the floor.
  • When partners request days off they are scheduled anyways and then pressures into working.
  • Holding back tips from employees.
  • Dan leaves early, takes extra breaks, and stays on break longer than allotted.
  • Threatened to cut partner hours unless she did unscheduled overtime.
  • Had a supervisor create a false statement about a partner being insubordinate. Resulted in a write up.
  • He said he has the authority to check bags and lockers while partners are working.
  • A partner found a deposit slip in the trash. Which is against Store Manager protocol
  • A partner called out and was written up for a no call no show. Falsifying reports.
  • Targeting partners on tattoos when others have visible tattoos and dyed hair.
  • Targeting some partners for being out of uniform.
  • Condoning malicious treatment by a supervisor toward partners
  • Allowing repeated break violations by a supervisor.
  • Planting non-purchased items in employees bags to endanger items.
  • Asking partners to quit
  • Manager says he has the authority over our availability sheet. Letting us know when we can and cannot work.
  • Refused to give a partner a schedule change request form.
  • Starting rumors that threaten partner’s security.
  • Partners feel that their jobs are constantly in jeopardy.
  • Partners are being unfairly monitored to be written up.
  • Store manager mark outs food and eats it then yells at partners for throwing the food away when it is damaged as we are required to do.

Work to Rule. Part 1

This is a re-post of an article by the same name also published on nyc.starbucksunion.org


The Match That Started the Fire

Weekends are notoriously crazy for a Starbucks barista. These are the days when people have time to vent their frustrations from the previous workweek on some unsuspecting worker. Customers come in with their screaming children, busloads of tourists struggle to understand why a small drink would be called “tall”, and the stores themselves are almost always understaffed to handle the demand. It is therefore fitting that it was Sunday when an event triggered Starbucks baristas to engage in a clever power play to make work conditions better.

Anna, also lovingly known as Momma Bear for her fiercely protective attitude, is originally from Florida. She told me her story once as we walked around the neighborhood where we work; the abuse she endured at home, the rape that resulted in the birth of her son, bullying at the hands of other girls at school, and the death of her best friend. Anna has been a Starbucks barista for the last three years. She likes the job because her coworkers are nice and show her respect. She knows almost every customer who comes into our high volume store and sometimes even decorates his or her cup with hand drawn pictures. Anna’s ability to work often suffers from chronic health issues. I have worked shifts where she leaves the floor to cough-up blood. The intensity of the work we do when we are understaffed amplified by other environmental factors that come from being poor and living in the projects, causes her to fall ill and catch every cold and virus that she comes into contact with.

This particular Sunday, Anna needed to leave early due to illness. She had already worked shifts sick that week, but today she just couldn’t do it. She knew that she wouldn’t be paid for the hours she took off and risked losing her health care benefits by falling short of the hours required to qualify. Anna walked into the back room where our Store Manager was sitting to make a much-needed request.

Our Store Manager, Dan, transfer to our store four months before. We all gave him a chance to pull things together. As previously mentioned, our store is very high volume. It is common for us to serve 100 customers in a half hour and pull in $10,000 in coffee sales before 10am. Dan was in over his head, he struggled to make a single drink and if he was on the floor for more than 30 minutes he would be covered in sweat. He was scattered, barking orders that caused confusion, and refused to take advice from the many baristas who had worked in our store for over five years. The result was mass confusion, low morale and being subjected to humiliating comments from frustrated customers. Dan played favorites and if you questioned his decisions you had your hours cut or were transferred to another store. Anna knew that she jeopardized more than just that day’s pay when she made her way to the back room to ask to go home ill. But she never expected what would happen next. Anna timidly approached Dan while he was sitting at his desk pretending to check the product order forms that will nonetheless be incorrect. Not even turning to acknowledge Anna while she is explaining how she almost fainted, Anna finally made her request. The words “I need to go home” triggered Dan. For a man who never moves fast, Dan spun around at the speed of light and in his frustration flung a 3″ metal ringed binder full of paper at Anna while barking “are you really that sick?” Anna was speechless, so stunned at this childish aggression, she backed away. Retreating to the backline where the rest of us continued to work, we all agreed that she should just clock out and go home. Dan was completely out of line.

Read Part 2: The Bat Cave.
Read Part 3: Behind the Line.

Solidarity,
FW Sarah
Starbucks Workers Union 

Starbucks Jargon

Barista:

someone who makes drinks, cleans bathrooms and the store, cashier, and stocks supplies.

Busser:

someone who cleans and restocks items. Starbucks has almost entirely removed this position from the company, forcing baristas to take turns cleaning and stocking while they are serving the customers.

Shift Supervisor or Shift:

often called a barista who counts money. They run the floor and let baristas know when they can take a break and where they should be working. They also order more supplies, count money for the registers, and handle “situations” or rowdy customers as needed.

Assistant Store Manager:

Does many of the same tasks as the Store Manager and acts as their assistant in running the store. They also do the job of a barista during their shifts.

Store Manager:

Is in charge of scheduling, ordering, implementing new promotions. They should also be on the floor helping baristas when we are busy.

Floor or back line:

the area where we make drinks and serve the customers.

Back room:

where extra products are stored and we take our breaks.