Industrial Worker – Issue #1762, January/February 2014


  • Bakers Rising: NYC IWW Bakery Workers Fight For Better Jobs
  • Starbucks Workers Take Global Action
  • Police Brutality At IWW Picket In Boston


  • Special: Miners’ Struggles & British Syndicalism
  • Organizing: Life And Labor In The Day Labor Industry
  • Obituaries: Farewell FWs Justin Vitiello & Mick Renwick

Download a Free PDF of this issue.



In August, Insomnia Cookies unlawfully fired 4 workers who went on strike. All four had joined the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World, a labor union). The strikers’ demands included $15/hr, health-care, and that the company not interfere with union organizing. A fifth IWW member was fired last month, after disclosing his union affiliation to his manager.

Insomnia employees were earning sub-minimum wages, some making deliveries on their own bikes until 3 a.m. or later, under pressure to ride unsafely, but after a four month campaign by the IWW, Insomnia workers now have more opportunities to take breaks. The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board, a government agency) has also issued a formal complaint against Insomnia for the illegal firings of the IWW strikers, and has set a hearing date.

However, the company continues to pay below minimum wage and does not provide Workers’ Comp benefits, blaming bike delivery workers if they get hurt in traffic. Let’s expose Insomnia’s union-busting and support fast food workers under attack!

We’ll meet this evening (Friday 12/6), starting at 7 pm, at Insomnia Cookies’ Boston location, 708 Comm Ave (BU East stop on the Green Line’s B Train) to picket the store, and let the community know the truth about the company. A short video featuring Insomnia workers explaining why they went on strike and joined the union is here:

You can also read more about the campaign for justice at Insomnia Cookies on the Boston IWW’s blog at:

Please also consider donating to the Insomnia Cookies Workers’ Strike Fund:

If you use Facebook, please share the event for this picket:

The IWW’s Environmental Unionism Caucus: Where Green, Red, and Black Come Together

This new caucus within the IWW serves to promote a greater union between environmentalism and unionism. It is within workers’ power to shut down environmentally destructive industries simply by refusing to work. This could become a key dimension in environmental struggles in the coming years.

Industrial Interdependence and Industrial Unionism

On how many workers does your lifestyle — even your survival — depend?

The food you eat today — how many workers helped to plant it, to tend it, to pick it, to process it, to ship it, and to sell it to you?

The clothing you wear — how many workers helped to grow or to synthesize the fibers, to design the style, to manufacture the garments, to market it in stores, and so on?

The buildings you inhabit — how many workers helped to mine, to fell, and to synthesize the raw materials, to refine them, to bring them to market, to study the engineering physics, to plan the area, and to raise and to furnish the structures?

For that matter, how many workers helped to design and to build the infrastructure that enabled it all to happen — the equipment, the transportation systems, the communications systems, the power systems, water systems, etc.? And how many workers helped to feed, to clothe, and to shelter them?

Even just by examining the supply chains of these most basic of industrial activities, we stumble upon an astonishingly vast network of millions of workers laboring in numerous industries around the world, interdependent on each others’ activities. And yet they are disorganized!

Zoom in for a closer look to see that workers in all of these industries squabble amongst each other over every conceivable point of division: race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and so on. Even rival trade unions vie for work and scab against each other. Meanwhile, an owning class of bosses and their agents claim ownership of the workers’ products and make all of the key decisions about the ways in which industrial civilization will progress. This is no good! Workers’ priorities are misplaced.

Greater efficiency, lower environmental impact, greater responsibility, more dignity, and indeed less work for everyone are possible when this waste is eliminated. The workers of the world are the only ones who can unionize to realize this goal, and the IWW has a program to accomplish it: uniting all workers by industry into the same union and using the resulting leverage (as exercised, for instance, in a general strike) to force the 1% who own and rule the world to do productive work like everyone else. We call this revolutionary industrial unionism.

As a worker, you probably feel like you’re too worn down, exhausted, and you have too many neglected dreams to be able step up and do something about it. But deep down, you know it’s not just important but vital that this shift happen. No more lakes can be polluted, no more houses foreclosed, no more lives wasted. Something has to give.

How long do we have? We have until the next Fukushima disaster, the next water supply destroyed by fracking, the next eviction that culminates in a drug-induced suicide. It doesn’t have to be this way. The wage system must be abolished, and workers must take charge of industry, operating it at cost to meet human need, not for profit. Join the IWW today to take a step toward achieving this.

Starbucks Workers “Come Together” across Supply Chain in Global Action for Justice at Coffee Giant

[news below from the IWW-led Starbucks Workers Union]

Major actions in Seattle and New Zealand (home of Pactiv’s billionaire owner) and 15-20 other locations starting November 25

SEATTLE–Workers at Starbucks and its suppliers and their allies are hitting the streets today and all week to demand that company CEO Howard Schultz practice what he preaches: respect workers at his company and at suppliers. In the wake of a report by 24/7 Wall Street naming Starbucks as one of the top ten American poverty-wage employers, a global day of action on November 25th will unite factory workers who make Starbucks’ trademark cups with baristas across the world who fill the cups with caffeine and sugar concoctions, with actions planned in 15-20 cities. The actions highlight the hypocrisy of CEO Howard Schultz, who has drawn criticism for repeatedly forcing workers to advance his political agenda under the “come together” slogan, while busting unions when his own employees “came together” for a voice on the job, and sourcing from companies that do the same.

“Pactiv in Stockton, CA makes cups and packaging for Starbucks and fast food companies. Starbucks has the power to stop Pactiv from cutting our wages and benefits and threatening our middle class way of life. They need to ensure that all workers at its stores and suppliers are paid a living wage and treated fairly. We are “coming together” to ask Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz for help. And we will keep doing what it takes to defend workers’ rights at Starbucks and its suppliers”, said Casey Freeman, President of the Pactiv Union in Stockton, CA (AWPPW 83).

“Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz is part of the problem in America. He gobbled up $28.9 million in pay last year alone while we baristas made less than $9 an hour on average, even though we produced over $1.4 billion in profit for the company. So we’re ‘coming together’ on our own to ask him to spread the wealth- create good jobs at Starbucks and insist on fairness at its suppliers,” said Samantha Cole, a barista and member of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union.

The coalition unites the manufacturing workers at Pactiv who make Starbucks cups in Stockton and are fighting cuts to pay and benefits along with Chilean baristas who recently struck to bring Starbucks into compliance with collective bargaining law, and US baristas who are demanding fair pay, consistent scheduling, and an end to understaffing at the chain. The workers are members of four different independent unions and a workers’ center- the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers (AWPPW), Sindicato de Starbucks Chile, the IWW Starbucks Workers Union.

“We have a message for the American people. The corporate elites who led us into the economic crisis of the past six years will not be the people who will lead us back out. We need to come together as workers, for workers, to fight for a better life for everyone,” said Greg Jones with the AWPPW. “Our movement is growing. This is just the beginning.”,