Ready for (Direct) Action

Here we are folks. We have come a long way, and yet it is just the beginning of our branch here in Southern Maine. As the new communications and outreach officer, I want to make sure everyone knows what great progress we have made.IWW Cake.png

Our branch is looking very prepared for the future we can expect here in Maine. We have quadrupled our number of delegates, allowing us to handle the considerable growth in membership that we have had this year, and preparing us for even more impressive growth expected for next year. We also have elected our first set of officers, ratified our first set of bylaws, and are well along in the process of becoming an officially chartered branch. Let us not forget that we have also hosted the well attended Organizer Training 101 twice this year.

That just leaves the question: what’s next? So far we already have plans for an additional OT101 as well as our first OT102. The chartering process is already most of the way completed and will be wrapped up shortly. I think it is also safe to expect another even more substantial increase in membership. Most importantly of course is that this is going to be a year of action. By this time next year I expect we will be openly fighting alongside our fellow workers. Those who would seek to exploit and oppress us are going to be in for quite the shock when they learn what we already know.

That the union makes us strong


Solidarity Fundraiser for No More Deaths

The Southern Maine IWW and Southern Maine Workers’ Center will be celebrating International Workers’ Day (IWD) by holding a solidarity film and fundraising event for No More Deaths on May 1st, 6pm at Local Sprouts Café in Portland, Maine.

This event was initially brought together by a call to action by the #BlockTheWall Network to take action, hold demonstrations and show solidarity for organizations that are fighting to reduce harm to migrants and ultimately seek the end of the border its self.

We will be tying together the history of colonial violence in Central America with present day corporate imperialism.  This bloody history, throughout the western hemisphere, is incredibly long so we have decided to focus on Guatemala, in particular, as prime example of this.  At the IWD event the film we will be watching is El Norte, a fictionalized account of two teenage siblings escaping the brutal repression and genocide from the military of Efraín Ríos Montt a tried and convicted war criminal.  His was one of many puppet governments pumped up with cash and a vast US military arsenal.

el norte poster

El Norte is a captivating film that faithfully represents the layer of of oppressions faced by different populations and celebrates their culture and power.  The writer/director add in special touches of magical realism and moments of telenovela level dramatics.

This aspect of history in Guatemala is best summed up from this excerpt from the excellent book No Wall They Can Build written by a former No More Deaths organizer and published by Crimethinc:

So, instead of a revolution, Guatemala endured an almost unfathomably brutal 36-year civil war. The CIA set the wheels in motion in 1954 when they sponsored a coup that overthrewthen-President Jacobo Árbenz in retribution for his attempts to redistribute land. The immensely powerful American-owned United Fruit Company  opposed land reform, and the CIA acted on their behalf. Denied any other route to social change, an assortment of indigenous, campesino, student, union, and leftist groups commenced armed struggle against the state in 1960. The conflict was fueled for decades by the financial and military support that the American government provided to a succession of Guatemalan military regimes. These regimes perpetrated a catalog of massacres, disappearances, torture, and other acts of state terror against the civil society of Guatemala, culminating in the “scorched earth” policy of genocide against the Mayan indigenous population during the rule of Efraín Ríos Montt in the early 1980s. Approximately 200,000 civilians lost their lives during the war; indigenous people suffered disproportionately. Armed conflict ended in December 1996 with the signing of the peace accords between the umbrella organization of guerrilla groups (Guatemalan National Revolutionary Unity or URNG) and the Guatemalan state.

Hundreds of thousands of Guatemalans fled to Mexico and the United States during the 1980s. Most had to do so illegally,since the Reagan administration—which was arming and funding the primary perpetrators of the violence—refused to recognize those exiled as refugees under American law.  Many of these refugees and their families established lives in the United States and have been there ever since.

Twenty years later, peace may be worse than war. I’ve actually heard Guatemalans say this. As of 2016, Guatemala has the highest rate of chronic malnutrition in the Western Hemisphere,the fourth highest in the entire world. Chronic malnutrition affects 47% of all children, 55% of all people in rural areas, 69%of indigenous people, and 70% of indigenous children. In some villages, that number rises to 90%.* Food insecurity has been found to be the single biggest factor driving migration from the country, according to a recent report published by the International Organisation of Migration and the United Nations World Food Programme. Based on what I have seen firsthand and heard from Guatemalans, I concur.

We are talking about a country with extensive economic, political, cultural, and military ties to the United States; which is blessed with fertile soil, plentiful water, a favorable climate,and abundant natural resources; whose markets are overflowing with fruits and vegetables, and which exports well over a billion dollars of food to the north every year. Peace in Guatemala is the peace of a graveyard, plundered by thieves and haunted by the ghosts of hungry children.

The decision to hire neoconservative war criminals such as Eliot Abrams, one of the key architects of genocide in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in the Reagan administration, by Donald Trump, is one of the more openly fascist moves of this government.  A whole new generation of Central Americans arrive at the increasingly militarized US border to be faced once again with a government, made up of the same people, keen on their very extinction.

We stand with those that resist, that fight back, and work to actively undermine this state violence.  It is in this spirit that we are supporting the work of No More Deaths on International Workers’ Day, and we hope that you come out to support them too.

If you can’t make it to the event, please consider donating directly.

Anchor Brewing Unionizes – A Lesson for Maine Beer Workers

Image result for we support anchor steam workersIn a historic effort, Anchor Brewing employees in San Francisco voted for recognition of the first labor union in the American craft brewing industry on March 13, 2019. This is a development which should send a clear message to all craft beer workers, including the roughly 2000 employees of Maine’s 135+ breweries. That message is – you can make a difference if you stick up for each other.


Why Unionize?

Most American macro-breweries have been union shops for many years, and as a result of worker organization, historic strikes, and a strong union culture, their employees enjoy healthy benefits packages and living wages far beyond what most craft breweries provide.

By contrast, craft brewery employees have been left far behind. According to the Maine Brewers’ Guild – a trade organization representing most Maine brewery owners – the average salary of brewery workers at our largest local breweries in 2017 was only $29,789 per year – hardly a living wage. This was actually a stark decline from 2016, when the average salary at these same breweries was $37,789. At smaller breweries, the average salary was an appalling $22,981.

Not only are we seeing Maine brewery workers who are shockingly underpaid – the clear trend is that they are actually making less money every year. In fact, this trend holds true far beyond the borders of Maine – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US craft brewery workers’ wages declined by 25% from 2006-2016.

Meanwhile, the owners of some of our largest craft breweries, who sell their beer all over the country and even internationally, seem to be doing very well for themselves. The Maine Brewers’ Guild boasts that craft breweries contribute $260 million to the economy – but it is abundantly clear that some few are getting a large share of the profits while most struggle to make ends meet. For an industry which boasts of its community involvement and “buy local” philosophy, it seems that these employers have an ethical blind spot when it comes to fair treatment of their own employees.

There is no reason to think that this trend will correct itself until Maine craft brewery workers organize and fight for their fair share. Indeed, that is the only way working people have ever improved their conditions. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.


The Anchor Struggle

The Anchor Brewing campaign began in December of 2017, when a single worker, IWW member Garrett Kelly, began having conversations with his fellow workers on the shop floor about unionizing.

Anchor had been bought out by Tokyo-based Sapporo Holdings in 2017, and quickly moved to reduce wages, decrease contributions to employees health insurance, cut sick time in half, and eliminate a perk in which employees had been getting free beer at the end of their shift. Employees like Kelly were naturally upset at these changes.

Looking for assistance, FW Kelly reached out to the San Francisco chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). With help from the DSA, he convened a meeting with a small group of his co-workers, who then became the organizing committee and nucleus of the campaign. “From there,” San Francisco DSA organizer Evan McLaughlin told Southern Maine IWW, “we held regular committee meetings to go over the list of coworkers, who we could confirm as being supportive of the effort, who we needed to reach out to, and who we needed to recruit to the committee. We made the decision that we would not go forward with signing union cards until we could confirm at least 65% support from the workers.”

Over the next year, this group of workers began meeting regularly and discreetly building support for the union campaign among their co-workers, with the goal of reaching that 65% in order to file for a union election. But their organization and struggle yielded results even before their campaign went public.

FW Kelly told SMIWW, “So we had a minor electrical fire one week before we were originally supposed to hold our vote that shut down production for a number of days. Workers were told to clock out and go home with no idea when they would be able to come back to work. After reaching out to a number of workers our organizing committee drafted a letter to management demanding pay for the lost hours. A few days later management agreed to cover all lost wages for employees affected by the fire. This was huge because our workers struggle as it is and a few days of lost wages would be catastrophic. I’m completely convinced that the only reason workers were paid was due to management seeing the level to which we were organized and able to mobilize our workers and the community in support of our campaign. It’s impossible to overstate just how helpful the support of the community, local politicians, the San Francisco DSA, and media were in applying pressure on management, but when it came down to organizing on the shop floor it came down 100% to the workers.”

Management, of course, were not cooperative. They tried some of the usual dirty tricks, but solidarity between workers on the shop floor won out in the end. FW McLaughlin told us, “The company hired an anti-union lawyer and rolled out some common anti-union tactics: captive audience meetings, lying or saying misleading things about how dues work, implying that there’s a secret set of union rules that you have to follow or you’ll be fired, claiming that workers will have their wages frozen for multiple years, claiming tipped workers will be forced to share tips with non-tipped workers, etc. They tried a little bit of red-baiting “you know the people that started this are socialists, right?” but it didn’t really stick.”


Maine Beer Workers – You Are Not Alone

You are in the best of company. Southern Maine IWW has your backs, and can help with any organizing campaigns. Other labor and political organizations will help you too, you have only to ask. Your communities believe in you and support you. But most of all, your 2000 fellow beer workers in Maine are a force to be reckoned with. Organize your brewery, and you will be able to negotiate for better pay and benefits, and better working conditions on the shop floor. Organize all the breweries, and the workers will be in a position to take control of the industry and reorganize it to improve the material conditions of every single beer worker, without the bosses skimming most of the profits off the top. Maine does not need more low wage jobs, more industries coming in and setting up, barely paying enough to keep some of their employees off public assistance, in an endless race to the bottom to keep their margins high on the backs of the workers. Maine needs industries which work for the workers.

All this starts with you, as beer workers, deciding, like Garrett Kelly did, that it’s time to make a stand. Whether you take that step is on you. Whether industry wages continue to decline, and bosses continue to leech off the Maine economy for their own profit, or we turn this situation around together through solidarity – that’s on you.


IWOC Endorses National Prison Strike and Pledges Support

Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) announces its support for the national prison strike starting on August 21st, 2018.

Whereas, trusted comrades, collectives, and networks behind the prison walls have convened, called for a “National Prison Strike” from August 21 to Sept 9, 2018, issued a set of demands and guidelines and requested outside support, (1)

Whereas, we, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the IWW have heard their call for support and find the strike and its goals completely aligned with our material work and with all points of our Statement of Purpose (2),

Be it resolved, we endorse the strike, pledge our support and furthermore, embrace the work of solidarity.

We, as the national body of the IWOC network strongly encourage all outside branches and members-at-large to take on the support work to the utmost of their capacity and according to their best judgement.

As the strike develops, the scope of of work will also develop and will need further guidelines and ratification, so we offer this motion as a framework and a beginning. Further motions to amend are entertained as the work demands and teaches. The areas of work appropriate to our network, as we see them now, are as listed below:

1. Immediately add our name to the list of endorsing organizations and solicit other organizations to endorse and support.

2. Spread the word of the strike and demands inside as best and responsibly as we can so that our inside members and contacts can make informed decisions as to their positions and possible actions.

3. Media

a. National Media Committee: assist and coordinate with the Jailhouse Lawyers Speak/Millions for Prisoners media representatives according to their protocols in fielding and fulfilling media requests, strategizing, spreading social media, and assisting in generating original works in all available mediums.

b. Locals: generate, share and publish educational and agitational material in all available mediums.

c. Make available whatever vetted media representatives we can muster regionally and nationally to speak on the strike to groups or to media outlets (according to the prisoners’ protocols for media requests).

4. Anti-repression

a. To immediately begin building networks of outside supporters committed to phone blasts, demonstrations, and pressure campaigns of any type to combat repression and retaliation against prisoners. Repression is already underway and prisoner groups are already making requests for support.

b. Educate all IWOC members and groups, all other support groups and public at large on the tactics and depth of retaliations undertaken against prisoners.

5. Local demands: Outside IWOC groups can aid prisoners in their area in adding their own demands to local strike messaging. Such addition has been approved by existing inside strike leadership.

Let the work begin.

For solidarity over the walls and wire,

For a world without prisons,

For liberation!


(1) Addendum A

IWOC’s Statement of Purpose – July 31, 2014

  1. To further the revolutionary goals of incarcerated people and the IWW through mutual organizing of a worldwide union for emancipation from the prison system.
  2. To build class solidarity amongst members of the working class by connecting the struggle of people in prison, jails, and immigrant and juvenile detention centers to workers struggles locally and worldwide.
  3. To strategically and tactically support prisoners locally and worldwide, incorporating an analysis of white supremacy, patriarchy, prison culture, and capitalism.
  4. To actively struggle to end the criminalization, exploitation, and enslavement of working class people, which disproportionately targets people of color, immigrants, people with low income, LGBTQ people, young people, dissidents, and those with mental illness.
  5. To amplify the voices of working class people in prison, especially those engaging in collective action or who put their own lives at risk to improve the conditions of all.

(2) Addendum B

(Statement, demands and request for support via press release by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, April 23, 2018).

National Prison Strike

Men and women incarcerated in prisons across the nation declare a nationwide strike in response to the riot in Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in South Carolina. Seven comrades lost their lives during a senseless uprising that could have been avoided had the prison not been so overcrowded from the greed wrought by mass incarceration, and a lack of respect for human life that is embedded in our nation’s penal ideology. These men and women are demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.

These are the NATIONAL DEMANDS of the men and women in federal, immigration, and state prisons:

  1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
  2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
  3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
  4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
  5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
  6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
  7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
  8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
  9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
  10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.

We all agree to spread this strike throughout the prisons of Ameri$$$a! From August 21st to September 9th, 2018, men and women in prisons across the nation will strike in the following manner:

  • Work Strikes: Prisoners will not report to assigned jobs. Each place of detention will determine how long its strike will last. Some of these strikes may translate into a local list of demands designed to improve conditions and reduce harm within the prison.
  • Sit-ins : In certain prisons, men and women will engage in peaceful sit – in protests.
  • Boycotts: All spending should be halted. We ask those outside the walls not to make financial judgments for those inside. Men and women on the in side will inform you if they are participating in this boycott.
  • Hunger Strikes: Men and women shall refuse to eat.

We support the call of Free Alabama Movement Campaign to “Redistribute the Pain” 2018 as Bennu Hannibal Ra – Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray has laid out (with the exception of refusing visitation). See these principles described here:

How You Can Help

  • Make the nation take a look at our demands. Demand action on our demands by contacting your local, state, and federal political representatives with these demands. Ask them where they stand.
  • Spread the strike and word of the strike in every place of detention.
  • Contact a supporting local organization to see how you can be supportive. If you are unsure of who to connect with, email
  • Be prepared by making contact with people in prison, family members of prisoners, and prisoner support organizations in your state to assist in notifying the public and media on strike conditions.
  • Assist in our announced initiatives to have the votes of people in jail and prison counted in elections.

For the Media: Inquiries should be directed to

Another Group of Burgerville Fast Food Workers Join IWW

The following report comes from the Burgerville Workers Union, a part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

82nd and Glisan has joined the union! On May 18th, workers at Burgerville #4 announced to management that they were officially signing up with the BVWU, naming unjust firings, inconsistent scheduling, and low wages as some key concerns.

“Many of us can hardly make rent and other necessities, even while working full time. We have erratic schedules which makes it hard for us to take care of our kids, travel to and from work, and go to school,” workers said in their official announcement today. “We deserve better.”

With two successful union elections in the bag, the BVWU’s wins just keep coming! Welcome to the union, 82nd and Glisan. Much love and solidarity.