On Janus v. AFSCME

July 3, 2018


Despite what gloating capitalists and defeatists progressives may say, the Supreme Court's decision in Janus v. AFSCME is not the end of unions in the US.

Unions were not created by the stroke of a judge's pen nor will they be undone by it. Unions were forged in the flames of class war, against the interests of politicians and their lackeys, by working people who understood that we can only count on each other. Whenever and wherever workers act together to improve their working conditions, unions will prevail. No law can change this.

Capitalists seek to turn back the clock to 1934, to before the National Labor Relations Act gave unions legal protections? So be it. We welcome 1934. 1934 saw the ILA unionize all West Coast ports, Teamsters break into "open shop" Minneapolis, and textile workers from New England to the South launch what was the largest strike in US history. The NLRA was a compromise imposed by the government to prevent all out class war. If we are done compromising, then let us return to fighting.

But we don't need to look so far back for inspiration. In 2018, teachers in West Virginia proved that workers need only act together to succeed. WV teachers already lacked the protections that Janus will strip from other unions. That did not stop them from winning their demands and inspiring workers across the country.

The Industrial Workers of the World was founded in 1905. For over 100 years, we have known that there can be no compromise between workers and bosses. Join us for the fight.

The Silver Lining Behind "Right to Work" Legislation

June 28, 2018


While the IWW recognizes that recent "right to work" legislation is a blatant attempt to bankrupt unions, we also see an opportunity for unions to respond by becoming militant and more democratic, as well as teaching members that a union can function quite well without the mandatory deduction of dues from paychecks. Indeed, unions were strongest long before the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which codified labor law, and proved that victories are not dependent on the dues check-off.

In the IWW, the dues check-off is unconstitutional and workers are encouraged to pay dues either directly to a delegate, online, or through the mail. When workers understand that there is value in their union, they will want to pay dues. And when workers have complete democracy in their union, they'll know that their vote controls exactly how their dues are spent. Worried about "freeloaders?" Let the workers handle this alleged problem—not the bosses or the state.

Union membership has continued to decline since the 1950s. How low does the percentage have to plummet before workers realize that unions need a new strategy to win? Only when workers know that they are the union, that they control how it operates and how the dues are collected and spent, will unions return to the fighting machines they once were.

Don't let the state convince you that it can end union membership simply by ending the dues check-off—history has shown otherwise!

June Newsletter

June 19, 2018


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


Fellow Workers,

Welcome to the June 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 here, 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 [email protected].

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, July 1 from 5 to 8 p.m.: The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, 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. E-mail [email protected] to RSVP.

Saturday and Sunday, July 7 and 8: Join fellow workers on a Wobbly camping trip! The location details are still being worked out, but please RSVP here by June 24th.

Before the next meeting, the branch will hold an orientation session for new members. The date and time has not been selected yet, but reach out to [email protected] if you are interested in attending.

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

Saturday and Sunday, August 4 & 5: The New Haven General Membership Branch is holding an organizer training 101. The branch has voted to subsidize some of the travel costs for NYC branch members who would like to attend. Please reach out to [email protected] if you are interested.

PROTESTS, PICKETS & MORE AROUND THE CITY

Workers at the House of Kava in Brooklyn need our help! The workers have organized, and after facing several firings, are running pickets in front of the shop at 238 Central Ave in Brooklyn everyday from 7 to 9 p.m. Contribute to the workers' strike fund here.

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 experienced several email issues - sorry for any inconvenience! If you emailed the branch in the past few months, and did not get a response, we may not have received your message. Please reach out again, as the issue has been resolved. Also, our internal listserv experienced technical issues last month - if you were removed and not added back to the list, please email [email protected].

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.

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].

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 look 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

"At the New School, Labor Struggles Unite Students and Workers" Pacific Standard

"The Unequal Geography of the Gig Economy" The Atlantic

"Remembering the Postville Raid" Workday Minnesota

May Newsletter

May 12, 2018


General Membership Branch (GMB) meetings are held the second Tuesday of every month at 7 PM.
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 here, 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 [email protected].

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 look 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

May 11, 2018


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.