“Drop ALL the Charges!”: April 2-3, Call-In Campaign for the Remaining J20 Defendants!

The following is an announcement for a call in campaign to demand that the remaining charges facing J20 defendants be dropped.

On 12/21/17 a jury returned a not-guilty verdict for the first six defendants in the J20 case. Forty-two charges acquitted: twelve felonies, thirty misdemeanors. Subsequently, on 1/19/18, the prosecution dropped charges against 129 defendants. This is a huge victory!

But the fight isn’t over yet as 59 people still face decades in prison; With the next round of trials set to start on April 17th, 2018. Now is the time to keep the pressure on the District of Columbia US Attorney’s Office. We know this is a case of political targeting, and we must demand that the remaining 59 defendants get their charges dropped! We are asking that everyone call the US Attorney’s office from 9am-5pm on 4/2/18 and 4/3/18 and tell them to DROP THE CHARGES against ALL the remaining defendants!

Now is the time to keep up the pressure! The US Attorney’s office can decide to drop the charges at any time; let’s make sure they can’t get any other work done until they do! We’re asking people to call the desks of:

  • Jennifer Kerkhoff – Lead Prosectuor on the case, Deputy Chief of the Felony Major Crimes Trial Section (202) 252-7380
  • Lisa Greene – The Deputy Chief of the Superior Court Division, Kerkhoff’s direct supervisor (202) 252-7485
  • Richard Tischner – The Chief of the Superior Court Division, Kerkhoff’s direct supervisor (202) 252-7274
  • US Attorney for DC Jessie Liu – The person in charge of the US Attorney’s office, a Trump appointee (202) 252-7566
  • Rizwan Qureshi – Assistant J20 prosecutor (general line – use directory/operator) (202) 252-7679
  • John Gidez – The Chief of the Felony Major Crimes Trial Section, Kerkhoff’s colleague (202) 252-6752
  • John Borchert – Assistant J20 prosecutor (esp. Dreamhost and Facebook warrants) (202) 252-7679

Call-in Script:

For maximum impact: Make it personal. Why are you upset? Let them respond. Make it a conversation. Ask them what they plan to do in response to public comment. End with a clear call to action. Here’s a sample script to get you started!:

Hello. My name is __________.

I am calling because I’ve seen in the news that 59 Inauguration protesters are still facing trumped-up criminal charges. In light of the first trial’s outcome–where the judge threw out one charge for complete lack of evidence, and the jury handed down NOT-GUILTY verdicts for the rest, as well as the subsequent 129 dropped cases that followed. — I ask that your office drop the remaining charges.

Over the last year, these prosecutions have pushed every limit:

  • using over-inflated charges, some of which were not even real, to intimidate and coerce plea deals,
  • issuing gag orders to shield law enforcement from public accountability,
  • making these prosecutions as disruptive as possible, and the investigations surrounding this case as intrusive as possible

Most defendants will wait more than a year for their day in court – under the constant threat of decades in prison.

Prosecutors have the choice of when or how to bring charges, and the responsibility for how that power is used. Your office has abused that power to punish, repress, and intimidate.

Drop the charges now.

Note: Some callers to AUSA Kerkoff in January found her to be argumentative, and may treat the call similarly to her courtroom presentation. Please be aware that your calls are likely recorded and we do not advise answering any questions about your identity. Please use your best discretion if referencing anything that occurred on January 20th so as to not negatively impact the ongoing case.

Sign up for a time slot at call.usattorneyliu.org


New York: IWW Wins Half-Million Dollar Backpay Settlement

What follows is an update on the IWW campaign at Ellen’s Stardust Diner, where wobblies have waged on ongoing campaign. To hear our podcast interview with someone from the campaign, go here.

Stardust Family United, a solidarity union of the Industrial Workers of the World, has claimed a huge victory over the repressive owner of Ellen’s Stardust Diner (home of the world famous singing waitstaff), Ken Sturm. In the largest settlement received by the IWW in recent history, Sturm has succumbed to the will of his workers and started payment of almost half a million dollars in back wages.

In September, just one week before a scheduled hearing to settle allegations of 19 Unfair Labor Practices, including illegal surveillance of employees engaged in protected concerted activity, the interrogation of employees regarding union activity, and the unlawful termination of thirty-one employees for organizing, Sturm reluctantly offered reinstatement to all thirty-one employees and agreed to cease harassment and surveillance of the union. Although the employer also agreed to pay back wages, it should come as no surprise that Sturm strung his former employees along for another four months, through the holiday season, before finally bowing to the power of the workers and starting payment of the $490,000 he owes them.

Stardust Family United was formed in 2016, in an effort to fight for the underserved employees of Ellen’s Stardust Diner in their struggle against the unfair, unsafe, and unlawful labor practices of their employer. Blatant disregard for the workers’ well-being ranged from ignoring pleas to fix dangerous equipment in the shop, resulting in multiple injuries on the job, to bullying tactics designed to shut down communication between employees. Undeterred, the members of SFU waged a struggle in the shop, in the streets, and in the courtroom. By refusing unsafe or unpaid work, the singing servers have dramatically improved conditions on the job. Through protests, pickets, and walkouts, they placed pressure on the boss to re-hire the illegally terminated workers. And despite Sturm’s repeated attempts to break their spirit with shameful tactics, from hateful “anonymous” text messages to false allegations in a NY Post article, SFU has stood their ground every single time. And every single time, they’ve won.

With invaluable support from the One Big Union, SFU has been relentless in holding Sturm and his army of corrupt lawyers and dictatorial managers accountable for their actions. Now that back wages are being paid to those illegally terminated, an injustice has been righted.

Call-In to Support Incarcerated Folks at Nash CI

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An incarcerated IWOC member asks for support in the form of a call-in campaign in North Carolina.

Support incarcerated folks in Nash Correctional Institution in Nashville, North Carolina by calling-in and speaking out against the Warden and the dangerous environment being created within the prison walls.

Message from an Anonymous Incarcerated Worker:

“I do need you and the other workers to help me help these guys here at Nash Prison. This warden that’s running this place is treating the people and prisoners like slaves. He is putting the Willie Lynch down on staff and prisoners, he is making this prison unsafe for his staff and prisoners. Every day he is pushing us trying to make us go off so he can keep us locked down in our cells all day. Right now he is running this place like close custody prison, locking our cell doors while we are in the block, tell his staff to open the door every hour or so. I need all IWW to help us here…Tell the union. This will help get things back to the way it should be and stop this guy from treating his staff and prisoners like slaves.”

Numbers to call:

Secretary of Public Safety: (919) 733-2126
Adult correction chief deputy and chief of prisons: (919) 838-4000
Community Corrections: (919) 716-3010

Call-In Script:

“I’m calling because we’ve received word that the warden of Nash Correctional Institution is deliberately creating an unsafe environment for both inmates and staff. We suggest he be disciplined and his actions investigated.”

PLEASE BE AWARE that these calls will, at the very least, be aggravating to staff and will disrupt their work day which may lead to aggravated responses. Because of this, the call-in may require varying degrees of emotional labor depending on staff responses.

Montreal: IWW Action Following Wave of Abusive Firings at Heritage Coffee

The following report comes from the Montreal branch of the IWW, and details a picket action against a coffee shop who fired two wobblies for union organizing.

Wednesday February 28th, the Montreal branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (SITT-IWW) started a picket line in front of the distribution centre Heritage Coffee, situated at 5715 chemin Saint-François in Ville Saint-Laurent. This picket line follows the firing of two workers, members of the SITT-IWW, for union organizing. A lot of members called on Monday to communicate to the employer their frustration towards this decision that goes completely against the most fundamental rights of the workers.

Friday February 23rd, around the end of her shift, Tessa Mascia was asked to come in the office of the Chief Operating Officer where she was fired. “The COO handed me a letter and said I was fired. I thought he was joking. He said he was not. He said “it just wasn’t working out,” like he was some teen kid breaking up with a high school hook up.” explains Tessa. The worker was however a good employee. She had one of the highest levels of productivity among her coworkers and was just certified to operate a forklift merely weeks prior. On Monday, February 26th, Kyle Shaw-Müller, another union member, was fired without even receiving a termination letter. He was asked to come into the office of the director after he trying to convince his colleagues to ask the employer to reverse his decision to fire Tessa. “I knew I was putting myself on the line: but to be fired without warning for talking to someone about another firing? Shocking.”

After numerous calls on Monday, a picket and a meeting with negotiators from the union, the employer is still refusing to cancel his illegal and rash decision. The Industrial Workers of the World will therefore not only call upon the legal means at its disposal, but will also mobilize the strength of its membership (Canadian and International) to change the employer’s mind.

The Industrial Workers of the World has many branches around the world, including one that is based in Montreal. Its members are working towards the construction of a union model based on robust working class solidarity, known as Solidarity Unionism. This model is characterized today by a focus on direct action at the workplace, as exemplified in our campaigns at Starbucks Coffee in the United-States or at Frite-Alors! in Quebec. The Union will continue in the creation and deployment of determined flash mobilization networks directly focused at the workplace in solidarity with workers under attack.

West Virginia Teachers have Ignited a Fire, and It’s Spreading

An update from the West Virginia Industrial Workers of the World about how the spirit of the strike in West Virginia is spreading. To hear our last audio report with someone in the WV IWW, go here.

As of March 5th, the statewide teacher’s strike in West Virginia will be entering it’s 8th day over 3 school weeks. Teachers launched their statewide strike despite threats from West Virginia’s Attorney General that it would be declared illegal, and they’ve stayed on strike despite an ‘agreement’ between the Governor and the unions leaders that would have left other public-sector workers behind. The unity and solidarity of West Virginia teachers has become a strong example across West Virginia and the entire country.

Senate Reneges on the Deal

The original ‘deal’ that the governor and union leaders struck was to give a 5% raise to teachers and 3% to all other state workers, in return for the teachers returning to work. However this ‘deal’ still hadn’t gone through the legislature, and the teachers voted with their feet to remain on strike. For many teachers, it seems that the biggest issue was not about a raise, it was about the public employee’s insurance program, and they felt that returning to work would be selling out other state employees. They also wisely acknowledged that the legislature hadn’t even agreed to the Governor’s deal, and might not.

In fact, on Saturday, the West Virginia Senate rejected the proposed 5% pay raise and dropped it to 4%, which the House rejected. The teacher’s aren’t accepting that, and are planning to remain on strike.

Communication Workers Strike Across West Virginia

As of March 4th, workers at Frontier Communication have gone on strike across all of West Virginia. It seems undeniable that the example of the teachers has given them a huge example of the power of a mass strike. Teachers are definitely seeing the Frontier Strike as related to their own and trying to figure out how to build solidarity between striking teachers and striking education workers. We are hoping that education workers are just the start towards a general strike of all workers in West Virginia.

Teachers in Oklahoma and Other States Begin Discussing Statewide Strikes

Over the weekend it also came out that there was significant talk about a statewide strike from teachers in Oklahoma. At least 25,000 teachers have joined a secret Facebook group calling for a statewide walkout. This would be a huge for West Virginia, Oklahoma, and the entire country. Teachers in West Virginia and elsewhere have been very excited about this, immediately linking up the #55Strong hashtag with #77Strong (referring to the number of counties in West Virginia and Oklahoma respectively).

What’s Next?

The West Virginia Teacher’s Strike has already turned itself into a model for teachers across the US and the world. There are real possibilities for this strike to continue to spread, across West Virginia as well as along teachers across the country. For people from outside West Virginia, we think the most important thing to do now would be to make contacts with education workers in your states and help them figure out how to support the strike in West Virginia, as well as spread it to other states.

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