IWW Picket Violently Attacked – Call for Full Boycott of Sisters’ Camelot

via Twin Cities IWW – May 7, 2014
 
On May 4th 2014, members of the Twin Cities IWW and supporters withstood a violent and deliberate attack on a picket of Sisters’ Camelot, whose canvass workers went on strike in March of 2013 and have endured vicious union-busting efforts from the organization ever since. After some twenty minutes of peaceful picketing, Sisters’ Camelot supporters organized an escalating series of attacks and attempts to break the picket line, eventually tackling an IWW member to the ground and beating him until other Wobblies pulled them away.
 
Earlier in 2014, a committee organizing the 80th anniversary of the 1934 Minneapolis Trucker’s Strike was asked to participate in the official Heart of the Beast Theatre May Day Parade. Many members of the committee, which includes many IWW members, were concerned about whether or not HOBT was working with a known union-busting firm. In April, a member of the Remember 1934 committee made a discreet inquiry to the artistic director of HOBT, and an assurance was made that by mutual agreement between HOBT and Sisters’ Camelot, Sisters’ would not be at the festival.
 
However, on Sunday, as marchers with the Remember 1934 committee arrived at the park, a union member and striking canvasser alerted us that the Sisters Camelot bus was parked on 35th St near 13th Ave, directly facing Powderhorn Park, where the festival was occurring. Acting in solidarity with the striking canvassers, a group of Wobblies and community allies began a peaceful picket on the sidewalk in front of the bus’s serving window.
 
Members of Sisters’ Camelot managed only disorganized attempts to disrupt the peaceful picket for the first twenty minutes, including trying to drown the picketers out, and screaming that the workers were greedy for trying to improve their working conditions. When that failed, they called in support–many of the same cadre who had been a part of drafting anti-union “community statements,” and acted as advisers to Sisters Camelot in their union-busting efforts–in order to, as one of these individuals later explicitly stated online, “Run [the IWW] out.”
 
In their efforts to achieve their stated goal of breaking a peaceful picket line, Sisters’ Camelot steadily escalated their violence against IWW members. First they physically blocked workers and their supporters–at one point a Sisters’ Camelot supporter physically pushed her small child into the picket line. IWW members responded by peacefully moving around individuals trying to block their way.
 
Following this failure, attackers began shoving and physically attacking picketers. Each time, IWW members did their best to defend themselves and continue the picket line. Meanwhile Sisters’ Camelot supporters did nothing to intervene or remove those individuals, evidently happy to have them act as their goons and enforcers.
 
Eventually, several members of this cadre organized a group of people to encircle the picket, take picket signs and personal material and destroy them, and forcefully prevent the picket from continuing. At this point, an IWW member was tackled to the ground, where he was scratched and beaten by a member of Sisters Camelot as well as several supporters. Once more, it was up to the IWW picketers and supporters to remove these individuals, while those who had mobilized the attack looked on approvingly.
 
Beyond the physical attack, there was a constant stream of classist, sexist, homophobic, and otherwise problematic language from the assailants. Following the final assault, a member of Sisters’ Camelot mocked and belittled the beaten IWW member and another openly queer IWW member with homophobic and sexist slurs, in full view and earshot of many of the self-described anti-oppression activists who said and did nothing. Others mocked IWW members for having to work for a living, while still others were given the same tired anti-union line of “If you don’t like your job, get a new one.” Meanwhile, two IWW members overheard an individual walk up saying, “I’m looking forward to bashing in some IWW skulls.”
 
one of this is particularly surprising: while Sisters Camelot and their allies claim to be anti-oppression, they have repeatedly shown throughout the last 15 months that they are more than willing to ally themselves with openly anti-worker, anti-woman, and anti-queer individuals and institutions in order to get their way. When Sisters’ Camelot was brought to court over the illegal firing of a canvasser for union activities, they employed the services of John C. Hauge, a lawyer who boasts of defending corporations against sexual assault cases, OSHA claims, wrongful death lawsuits, and aiding companies in “union avoidance” efforts, among other contemptible practices.
 
Laughably, they have repeatedly decried “aggression” from their striking workers and the IWW.
 
While their self-created image of rebellious attitude and anti-oppressive culture is well groomed, what lies beneath the surface is a condescending disregard for the wellbeing of anyone beyond their social circle. At one point, picketers overheard a SC Collective member state “I’m proud to be a scab!” while other key supporters laughed about the IWW member who was bleeding from his head, saying, “well, maybe he just sucks at fighting.”
 
To be perfectly clear, anyone who mobilizes their friends to assault a peaceful picket of workers and their supporters, who associates themselves with homophobes and sexists and then disclaims any responsibility for their actions, or who supports this type of activity, has no right to consider themselves a part of any progressive or radical community. To even consider otherwise is a slap in the face to everyone who fights for a better world.
 
We don’t take organized assaults on our members and friends lightly.
 
After the assault on our picket line, we feel it is necessary to take further action against Sisters Camelot. The Twin Cities IWW calls for a complete economic, organizational, and charitable boycott of Sisters Camelot. If a scab canvasser comes to your door, turn them away empty handed. If they approach you about hosting a food share, tell them they are not welcome. Any individuals or organizations who continue to support Sisters Camelot will be associated with their shameful actions. There is no space within our communities for any organization that operates in this way.
 
We Never Sleep. We Never Forget.

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Tasia Edmonds, IWW Union Member at Insomnia Cookies, Fired! Union Claims Retaliation, Please Support!

Dear IWW Supporters,
 
Immediately after agreeing to pay four IWW strikers for illegally firing them, and promising not to retaliate against workers for union activity, Insomnia Cookies has suspended IWW Organizer Tasia Edmonds for an entire month without pay on flimsy pretexts. You’re invited to take action against this outrageous act of union-busting by the boutique cookie business. IWW’s and allies will picket Insomnia’s Boston location, 708 Comm Ave, this evening (Friday) starting at 7 pm. The store is very close to the BU East stop on the Green Line’s B train. Please come if you can! The Facebook event is here: https://www.facebook.com/events/604465696296628
 
Please also email the company any time at pfs@serveubrands.com, and call CEO Seth Berkowitz at 877 632-6654. Suggested message: “It is intolerable that IWW Organizer Tasia Edmonds has been suspended without pay for her union activity. Please take immediate action to bring Tasia back to work, and compensate her for any loss in pay. Union-busting is disgusting!”

To help Tasia with her living expenses, please contribute here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/support-tasia-fight-union-busting/x/6674514>.

Watch Tasia speak about the IWW and conditions at Insomnia here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibOGYg40OHQ&list=UUpb3nRb9V0R4gdES7R96ZoQ
 
*Background: *Tasia went public with her union affiliation on December 7.  She has been building the union in her store. In February, a new manager began harassing her about her union membership. On March 9, Tasia was told she has been suspended without pay for a month! The union has filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). An IWW organizing drive began at Insomnia in August after 4 workers spontaneously went on strike. Their demands included $15/hr, health care, and a union, and they were immediately fired. Despite recently promising to give about $4,000 in back pay to the strikers, and post a notice pledging not to retaliate against workers for union activity, Insomnia is apparently still determined to crush the union drive. The union is even more determined to get justice for Tasia and her co-workers! Please help however you can.

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.”

http://www.StarbucksStinks.org, http://www.starbucksunion.org

Police Brutalize IWW Union Member on Picket Line. All Out in Support!

Insomnia Cookies fires workers for joining a union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Cambridge police then brutalize IWW members and allies for protesting the illegal firing. Insomnia’s “union problem” just got a whole lot worse.

On November 14, Cambridge police brutally attacked, beat, and arrested an IWW member on a peaceful picket line in front of Insomnia Cookies, Harvard Square. The small picket began at 9:30pm. Police were already at the scene as twenty union activists began marching in a circle, as they have done around ten times since the strike began at Insomnia Cookies on August 18, holding signs, and chanting about bad wages, conditions, and union busting at the late-night corporate cookie chain.

Around 9:45, two police officers attempted to corner and isolate one union member who happened to be leading the chants. As the union member stepped toward safety, police began throwing punches at fellow worker Jason who was standing nearby. Four or five cops jumped on him, beat him to the ground, and continued assaulting him while he cried out in pain for them to stop.

A crowd of stunned onlookers gathered around, many chanted “Shame!” and “Police Brutality!” at the cops. Within minutes, Mount Auburn street was shut down by close to a dozen police cars, vans, and wagons. They carted the fellow worker off to the police station in Kendall square, and attempted to take photographs of all the union members. One cop even threatened the union activists with his pepper spray canister, all for telling him who he was: “Shame!” A shame to the city of Cambridge. A shame on working people. A shame to humanity.

Since the strike began in August, Cambridge police have proven themselves to be real enemies of labor, harassing, lying to, and attempting to disperse Insomnia workers since their very first picket line when they stood as just four strikers who hadn’t even yet joined a union. Then police lied to their faces and told these young workers that they were not allowed to picket in front of their store. The Cambridge cops’ intimidation efforts has escalated with each picket, until on November 14th, when they attacked us without provocation and without hesitation.

The police have failed to scare us away. Every time we come back with more and more workers and allies. The police think they can silence low income workers with their clubs when the company cannot silence us with illegal firings. They are wrong.

Come out, bring as many people as you can, tell everyone you know. We shall not be moved.

Solidarity Forever. An Injury to One is an Injury to All.

https://www.facebook.com/insomniaunion
http://iwwboston.org/