IWW Organizer Tasia Edmonds reinstated!

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On Sunday, March 9, just six days after a settlement between Insomnia Cookies and four workers who went on strike last August, the company suspended bicycle delivery “driver” and union organizer Tasia Edmonds. Quick action by the Industrial Workers of the World, which represents Edmonds, the four strikers, and several other area workers, forced the company to reinstate Edmonds. Two dozen IWW members and allies picketed the Boston Insomnia Cookies location, where Edmonds is employed, on Friday, March 14. Organizers planned another rally for Saturday, March 22, after student allies from the abutting Boston University return from Spring Break, but the company capitulated, agreeing on March 20 to bring Edmonds back to work.

Edmonds was disciplined for speaking out against workplace injustices, which the boss called “Insubordination.” According to Edmonds ““I was suspended for my union involvement. I have never been disciplined before. I was not served any paper work detailing why I was suspended. I want to get back to work, and I want back pay for the days I missed.” While Insomnia has reinstated Edmonds, as of press time there is no confirmation that she will receive back pay for time lost during her suspension. The union is prepared to fight to win Edmonds’ lost wages, and to ensure Insomnia Cookies sticks to its promise not to discipline or intimidate workers for union organizing.

Reposted from:

http://iwwboston.org/2014/03/20/iww-organizer-tasia-edmonds-reinstated/

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Industrial Worker – Issue #1763, March 2014

The Industrial Worker is the official newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the World labor union.

Headlines:

Being A Woman Organizer Isn’t Easy
Mobile Rail Workers Win, Wobblies Organize Worldwide
International (Working) Women’s Day

Features:

Staughton Lynd: A Tribute To Rosa Luxemburg
Jane LaTour: Toward Equal Employment For Women
Addressing Sexual Violence In The IWW

Download a Free PDF of this issue.

What Kinds of Workers Deserve a Union?

by x365097

The standard of living for US workers has been stagnating or in decline for the last four decades despite enormous leaps in productivity. Labor unions, organizing on the shop floor to shut down production to enforce workers’ demands, are a well-proven and direct method of closing the gap between what workers want and what they get from their bosses. Yet labor unions today count under 8% of private sector workers and under 40% of public sector workers in their membership. Furthermore, public opinion often turns against those workers who risk their jobs and reputations to try and start up unions in their workplaces, calling them undeserving and a host of other insults. Is there anything in the history of unionism that explains why we see these self-defeating and contradictory behaviors playing themselves out at a time when workers need more than ever to come together to fight for common goals?

Looking back a century or earlier to the rise of labor unions as major force in industrialized countries, we see that some of the biggest unions (AFL in particular in the US) made no bones about setting their priorities on organizing and protecting highly trained and socially privileged workers (native-born white males in particular) not only from capitalist factory owners, but also against supposed threats “from below” in the form of immigrant workers; female workers; workers of ethnic, religious and racial minorities, and other relatively underprivileged workers. The arguable goal of these unions was to create a well-paid, elite class of “deserving workers” who were able, as a unified group, to put their needs ahead of other workers’ needs, sometimes aligning their interests with the employing class in the process. When it suited them, these unions would break each others’ strikes and generally do whatever it took to obtain for themselves, as they said, what they considered to be “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,” even if it meant hurting other, supposedly less deserving workers along the way.

That is not what we in the IWW would call a broad-spectrum working class solidarity, but a perverse kind of unionism fueled by reaction, racism, sexism, nativism, and other prejudices. Most of all, though, it’s a unionism that doesn’t get to the root of the problem facing all workers, whether or not we inhabit traditionally privileged racial, gender, and other statuses. That is that capitalism, in allowing a 1% to 10% of social members to control, own, and unduly influence industry, thereby directly or indirectly ruling over the other 90% to 99%, creates at a structural or institutional level a permanent underclass of people who have fewer opportunities and greater hardships no matter what they do.

By contrast, the IWW and our similarly radical forebears have fought — even when it was illegal, for instance, for black and white workers to belong to the same unions — to have a totally unified class of working people: skilled and unskilled, male and female, with no one left out. We did this because it is not only just in itself, but also because it is the only strategic or logical method of liberating workers from the capitalists’ domination of modern society. Either we all stand united and on equal footing in opposition to the controllers of industry on the basis of class alone, or we will be divided and conquered from within our ranks and defeated, as has happened over and over again. (The reaction from certain subsets of the white working class against racial equality and integration in the late 1960s and early 1970s, for example, was arguably an important part of how the capitalist class was able to regain a strengthened hand after decades of working class organization and upsurges to bring us the overtly anti-worker, neoliberal regimes of Reagan, Bush, Clinton, and so on from the 1980s to today.)

In 2014, more than 60 years after McCarthyism and the institutionalized purging of radicals from within mainstream labor unions, more than 50 years after the near-collapse of the IWW that followed it, and more than 40 years after average US wages reached their high point, labor radicals still struggle to overcome pro-capitalist union ideologies and reverse the class defeats which have plagued workers for far too long. In current IWW organizing campaigns, whether it is around the Sisters’ Camelot Union in Minnesota, the Insomnia Cookies Union in Massachusetts, or any number of other active shop-floor struggles, we IWWs still hear criticism regularly from people who consider themselves to be progressive or otherwise left-of center in comments such as, “I support unions, but not for these people. They work part-time and don’t have job skills!” Or they will tell us, “If you want better wages, get out of the fast food industry and go back to school!” We also hear these sorts of remarks around other contemporary struggles going on in the broader “Fight for 15” movement at McDonald’s and other large, highly profitable franchise chains.

Comments like these betray almost superstitious beliefs not only in an upward social and economic mobility that always had a low ceiling for the majority and no longer, in large measure, even exists, but also in a labor division and class system that is based on the notion that some workers deserve to be treated and paid badly by their employers — and indeed that there should be two separate employing and working classes to begin with (rather than, say, a cooperative system of industry in which this dichotomy is transcended). To IWWs, all workers deserve a union, and we believe that until all workers do organize into One Big Union, we can expect to see continued inequalities between “undeserving” workers (or so it is rationalized) who are stuck with jobs comprised of 90% disempowering tasks and low compensation and “deserving” workers (or so it is rationalized) who get to do the better jobs that carry more prestige and never involve undervalued but necessary “dirty work” like picking up trash, flipping burgers, or changing diapers. But most of all, there will be a capitalist class above both types of workers, keeping most of the fruits of our labor as their own private property and letting us fight amongst ourselves for the leftovers. The IWW exists to end these injustices and form a democratic society in which industry is operated according to need as determined by workers ourselves. Are you with us?

Industrial Worker – Issue #1762, January/February 2014

Headlines:

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

Features:

  • 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.

Insomnia Cookies Union in Boston Needs Support!

This Thursday and beyond, please support Insomnia Cookies workers in their struggle for $15/hour, health benefits, and union neutrality!

**Rally Thursday, November 14, 9:30pm, Harvard Square Insomnia Store, 65 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge, MA**

Since August 18, five workers at the Harvard Square Insomnia Cookies have been fired for legally protected union activity. Help the Industrial Workers of the World demonstrate to Insomnia Cookies that we do not tolerate union-busting in Boston!

1. Upcoming Actions
2. Phone/Email Blitz
3. Sign the Petition
4. Donate to the Organizing Fund
5. Background of the Struggle

1. Please join Insomnia workers and other IWW members and supporters on the picket line:

-Thursday, November 14, 9:30pm, Harvard Square Insomnia Store, 65 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge, MA

-Friday, December 6th – Picket at Harvard Sq Store, 7-8pm Harvard Square Insomnia Store, 65 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge, MA

-Wednesday, December 11th – Service Workers Resistance forum, 7pm, Boston University – Details TBA

Can’t make the pickets? Other ways to get involved:

2. Email/Phone Blitz:

Insomnia fired IWW member Tommy Mendes after he told his boss he was a union member. Please email Tommy’s manager Ryan at ryand@insomniacookies.com, and call CEO Seth Berkowitz at (877) 632-6654 and let him know Tommy should be reinstated with back pay! For more details about the strugle at Insomnia, read the “background” at the bottom of this email.

3. Sign the petition to support the strikers’ demands:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1TLCetxHNxmGHk57FD1Sy9KAtUNHXP5alQWrgxPcb-Lk/viewform

4. Donate to the Insomnia Organizing and Strike Fund:

https://www.wepay.com/donations/insomnia-cookies-workers-strike-fund

5. Background:

At 12:00 am on Sunday, August 18th, the night shift at the Harvard Square Insomnia Cookies voted unanimously to initiate a strike for higher wages, healthcare, and freedom to build a union. They were fired immediately. On Tuesday, August 20th, all four strikers joined the Industrial Workers of the World, and launched a public campaign to achieve their goals. The workers filed legal charges against the company, and partnered with students at Harvard and Boston University (where Insomnia opened a second location in September) to hold pickets at both locations.

Two months later, on October 24th another worker, Tommy Mendes, was fired shortly after he declared his union affiliation to his supervisor. Tommy, a baker at the Harvard Square Insomnia Cookies, joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) after his coworkers declared their strike. According to management Tommy was fired because his register was short, but the camera trained at the register proves Tommy is blameless. The IWW believes Tommy is a target of Insomnia Cookies? ongoing union-busting, and the union is prepared to escalate until Tommy and the 4 strikers are reinstated with full back pay.

For more information about the Insomnia Cookies campaign, find us Online:
https://www.facebook.com/insomniaunion
http://iwwboston.org/

To reach the Boston IWW:
Email: iww.boston@riseup.net
Phone Number: 617-863-7920
Mailing Address: PO Box 391724
Cambridge, MA 02139
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BostonIWW/

Southern Maine IWW Condemns US Preparations to Attack Syria

NO WAR BUT CLASS WAR

Since the 9/11 attacks of 2001, the US government has destabilized and invaded country after country in the name of the Global War on Terror. In so doing, they have diverted untold fortunes which could have been used to meet human need toward the disruption of millions of workers’ lives worldwide.

Rather than changing course as they had promised, the Obama administration has elected to continue the Bush administration’s legacy of death and destruction in the Middle East and central Asia and austerity for workers in the US. Time and again, they have demonstrated their willingness to sacrifice the lives and wealth of the working class for the profit of their capitalist patrons.

This week, US Secretary of State John Kerry has announced that the US military is prepared to launch yet another strike, this time on Syria. The Southern Maine IWW condemns any such action in the strongest possible terms and urges workers around the world to organize for an end to war and a transition to a democratically managed economy. Without such control of the productive industrial infrastructure, present and future generations of workers remain vulnerable to the infinitely callous whims of the insatiably avarous 1%.

Industrial Worker – Issue #1756, June 2013

Headlines:
* Wobblies Defend Fired Bus Driver In London
* IWWs Organize & Win In North Carolina
* The Struggle Continues At Chi-Lake Liquors

Features:
* May Day Celebrated Around the World
* Historical Perspective On Lithuanian Unions
* Industrial Tragedy In Bangladesh

Read on-line at:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/145095971/Industrial-Worker-Issue-1756-June-2013