Molly has blogged before on the strike at the Motts' production facility in Williamson New York (see here, here, here, here and here). At least one of those posts gathered quite a bit of comment, including a mendacious posting from what I presume was a member of Motts management. Now this strike is beginning to take on epic proportions with national and even international (Canada) repercussions. On the one side is a corporate management that seems determined to live up (down ?) to the classic image of an evil top hatted capitalist, twirling mustache and all, with its CEO making $6.5 million a year and so "devoted" to keeping the company afloat that he was off on a "hunting trip to New Zealand" while the strike was ongoing. On the other side stands what one article in the Nation magazine describes as "gun fans, military veterans and motorcycle riders" ie a selection of ordinary people whom the "left" loves to look down on who are now carrying out the most visible example of class struggle in the USA. With, however, the support of the local community, of union members across the continent and even of some otherwise anti-union politicians this small band of workers may be the test case of whether the corporate ruling class can carry out their full program of 'peonizing' US workers.
Here's an article and appeal from the AFL-CIO Blog about this important event.
100 days of fighting the low waging of America:
For 100 days, more than 300 Mott’s workers in Williamson, N.Y., have been on strike, fighting the low-waging of America. The Dr Pepper Snapple Group, the corporate conglomerate that owns Mott’s (of apple juice and apple sauce fame) has been trying to cut their pay and benefits—even though the company reported a net income of $555 million in 2009.
Dr Pepper Snapple is taking advantage of the recession and high unemployment rates in the area to beat down the workers, members of RWDSU/UFCW Local 220. A spokesman told The New York Times recently the company’s just trying to take wages down to meet “local industry standards”—in other words, to make recession-era wages the norm.
Dr Pepper Snapple is demanding wage cuts that would amount to $3,000 a year per worker, ending pensions for new hires, cutting the company’s 401(k) retirement contributions and increasing employee health care costs.
This is a 142-year-old company with a product that’s as American as you can get—a company you thought you knew and could trust. It’s a company that symbolizes everything we’re fighting for—and everything we’re fighting against: the low-waging of America.
This strike isn’t just about Williamson, N.Y. As The Times put it, “if the Mott’s workers lose this showdown, it could prompt other profitable companies to push for major labor concessions.”
If America’s economy is going to recover, we need paychecks that can fuel consumption. And if profitable companies are allowed to use the recession to drive America’s middle class out of existence, it’s unconscionable.
Don’t be silent about the low-waging of America. Support the Mott’s workers who have been walking the picket line for 100 days. Act now.
Thank you for taking action for the Mott’s workers and all working families. Please forward this e-mail to at least five friends and urge them to take action, too.
AFL-CIO Working Families e-Activist Network
P.S. The RWDSU Mott’s Hardship Fund has been established to help aid Mott’s workers affected by the strike. Donations to this fund will be used to help offset hardships being faced by Local 220 members as a result of their strike against the corporate greed of Mott’s/Dr. Pepper Snapple. Please consider making a contribution to the strike fund by clicking here. MSMSMSMSMS THE LETTER: Please copy and paste the following letter, and send it to Motts management at this email address:. MSMSMSMSMS Dear Dr Pepper Snapple,
With record-breaking profits, your company has no justification to cut the pay and benefits of the more than 300 Mott’s workers in Williamson, N.Y. In saying you want to bring their wages down to “local industry standards,” you are trying to take advantage of the recession and high unemployment rates to lift your profits even higher.
Your workers deserve better. And so do workers at other profitable companies that might try to follow your shameful example.
Mott’s is a 142-year-old company with a product that’s as American as you can get—a company we all thought we knew and could trust. I hope you realize you are jeopardizing a well-known, well-established and respected brand. That’s a lot to throw away.
I urge you to back off your attack on the Mott’s workers’ wages and benefits and do the right thing.
Always in search of new sources of underpaid migrant labour to exploit agribusiness in Québec has finalized a deal with a new source- Honduras. Here's the story from the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW).
Federal Government Asked to Intervene After Quebec Agribusiness Owners Cut a Deal With Honduras Under Federal Temporary Foreign Workers Program Migrant agricultural workers from Honduras began toiling in Quebec fields this week, after a Quebec farm lobby group and Honduran officials cut a deal to bring the workers to Canada under the federal government's controversial Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) program. The TFW program provides no oversight to prevent the abuse of foreign workers contracted to Canadian employers, yet it is a program the federal government has aggressively been expanding by the tens of thousands of workers.
"The TFW program is the federal government's "Exploitation Express" that delivers migrant workers to Canada as a vulnerable and disposable work force," says Wayne Hanley, the national president of UFCW Canada - the country's largest private sector union.
"The collusion between the farm lobby and the governments is not only appalling, but an assault on the rights and safety of precarious workers who are fired and shipped out if they voice any concerns."
While the newly arrived Honduran workers do have visas and a work permits, the employment contract they are forced to sign clearly states that Canada "has no power to intervene or ensure the contract is enforced" in case of dismissal, abuse or exploitation.
The abuse of migrant workers under TFW program was recently in the news after UFCW Canada and community allies launched a campaign to denounce the nefarious living and working conditions of migrant Guatemalan farm workers. For a number of years workers from Guatemala have been brought to Canada under TFW contracts that force them to sign away some of their basic workplace rights to get the job and keep it.
Yet in spite of the well documented problems with the TFW program, the federal government has begun discussions, along with industrial agriculture lobbyists, to "harmonize" the system; potentially allowing employers even less supervision, as well as passing housing and transportation costs that are now paid for by employers onto the workers.
"The TFW program absolutely has to change," says Hanley, "but what's going on here is the private sector, behind closed doors, calling the shots on employment and immigration policy."
"The abuse has to end - not increase. That will only happen with an open and just public review and reform of the programs that bring temporary workers to Canada," said the UFCW Canada national leader.
"Whether workers come from Honduras, Mexico, the Caribbean, Guatemala, Thailand, the Philippines or other sending countries, the story is the same. They are forced to surrender their human and workplace rights at the border in order to work here. The federal government would say it's not so but a public review would definitely show otherwise."
UFCW Canada has been an ally and advocate for migrant agricultural workers in Canada for more than three decades, and in association with the Agriculture Workers Alliance (AWA) operates ten agriculture worker support centres across Canada.
Down on the Amazon the government of Brazil is planning what will be the third largest hydroelectric project on Earth. No doubt profit for the government and its friends, but devastation for indigenous people whose lands would be flooded. Internationally people are coming to the support of these people and their struggle. Here's the story from the International Rivers website.
BMDBMDBMDBMD Stop Belo Monte Dam! In early February, the Brazilian government approved the environmental license for the controversial Belo Monte Dam in the Amazon.
The dam, slated to be the world’s third largest hydroelectric project, would devastate an extensive area of the Amazon rainforest, and threaten the survival of indigenous and traditional peoples. Construction could begin this year.
The decision has caused a national and international outcry. Right now, more than 5,000 Kayapo Indians are planning a protest camp on the Big Bend of the Xingu River to prevent dam construction. They are threatening war.
Studies have shown that by investing in energy efficiency, Brazil could cut demand for electricity by 40% by 2020 and save $19 billion in the process. The amount of energy saved would be equivalent to 14 Belo Monte dams!
The Brazilian government needs to hear from you today. Let them know that the international community will not sit idly by while they threaten indigenous lives and destroy one Amazon river after another.
Please write today to President Lula and his Ministers and ask them to revoke the preliminary license for Belo Monte Dam!
Please go to this linkto send the following letter to the Brazilian authorities.
I am writing to express my concern about the Brazilian government's decision to move forward with the Belo Monte Dam. The project will devastate an extensive area of the Brazilian Amazon and threaten the survival of indigenous and tribal peoples. Indigenous people have not been adequately consulted about the project.
I am concerned about the way the Brazilian government is pushing through this project at all costs, with little attention to due process or the rule of law.
I stand in solidarity with the indigenous people of the Xingu Basin in their opposition to Belo Monte and I ask that you review the recent decision to grant a preliminary license to the project.
The 22nd annual 'Two Spirit Gathering' is coming to the Manitoba town of Beausejeur next weekend. Here's the promo.>>> TSTSTSTSTS 22nd Annual International Two Spirit Gathering
The 22nd Annual International Two Spirit Gathering will take place on September 3-6, 2010 at the Dr. Jessie Saulteaux Resource Centre, Beausejour, Manitoba, Canada (64 kilometers or 40 miles) northeast of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Aboriginal/Native American gay, lesbian, bisexual & transgender people, their partners, friends & families are invited to gather in the land of the Cree, Dene, Dakota, Inuit, Metis, Ojibway-Cree and Ojibway.
This is an alcohol and drug-free event sponsored by Ka Ni Kanichihk Inc. (“Those Who Lead”) and the Two-Spirited People of Manitoba.
Two Spirit People – a term used to describe Aboriginal people who assume cross -, or multiple gender roles, attributes, dress and attitudes for personal, spiritual, cultural, ceremonial or social reasons. These roles are defined by each cultural group and can be fluid over a person’s lifetime. Modern terms like gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, [GLBT] transsexual and intersexed (in combination with, or exclusive to, Two Spirit) may be adopted by some Aboriginal people to define who they are.
This special gathering began in 1988 in Minnesota when a local group of Native American gay and lesbian community members saw the need to launch a cultural revitalization movement that was based on the principle of being alcohol and drug-free. The world-wide HIV pandemic had also reached the Two Spirit community at this time galvanizing many local activists to become involved in the HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention movement.
The Minneapolis gathering was organized with the support of allies such as the Minneapolis American Indian Center, Gay and Lesbian Community Action Council, and the Minneapolis Civil Rights Department, along with community businesses and private donors. For the past 21 years annual gatherings have continued to be supported by various levels of government, Aboriginal organizations, foundations and private donations. There is also a component of regional and local fundraising and in-kind support for this event.
TSPM hosted the gathering in 1990 and 1998 with approximately 125 participants at each event (a full report on the 1998 gathering is available). TSPM will host the 20th anniversary of their first gathering on Labour Day Weekend, September 3-6, 2010 at a retreat centre outside of Winnipeg. The theme, “A Gathering of Medicine Stones” is reflective of the spiritual and ecological nature of this gathering. Approximately 125 participants representing various Aboriginal and Native American nations and tribes from across Canada and the US are expected to attend. The four-day agenda will include cultural activities, health and wellness sessions, leadership building, anti-homophobia and human rights training, and networking opportunities. A Two Spirit youth life-skills component and panel session will be included. Youth will be one of the priorities for travel scholarships.
Ka Ni Kanichihk Inc., the auspicing body for this project will provide administrative support, financial accounting and will function as the central coordination and planning site. A joint committee of Ka Ni Kanichihk and TSPM representatives will lead the planning and coordination, and oversee fundraising efforts and the successful delivery of the project. A project financial audit will be included in Ka Ni Kanichihk’s annual report. As a registered charity Ka Ni Kanichihk will provide tax receipts for individual and corporate donations.
Well, yesterday didn't work out very well for the 'Chalk For Peace' annual event, but it is happening today. Now this is what may be the mother of all last minute notices, but it is still happening as I type, and you could get to take in at least a little of it. CFPCFPCFPCFP
Chalk 4 Peace (SUNDAY, August 29th) Time Today · 12:00pm - 4:00pm
--------------------------- Location Vimy Ridge Park ---------------------------
More Info Chalk 4 Peace is now Sunday, August 29th.
***DONATIONS TAKEN ON SITE FOR WAR CHILD CANADA***
After their success in stopping clear cut logging on their lands the people of Grassy Narrows in northwest Ontario once again are blockading the road through their reserve, this time to assert their right to improve conditions on the rez. The following story and appeal are from the Radio Free Peaballblog. A tip of the Molly hat to Matt who first brought this item to my attention. GNGNGNGNGN Blockade renewed at Grassy Narrows First Nation, asserts self-determination August 28, 2010 by David P Ball
GRASSY NARROWS FIRST NATION (ASUBPEESCHOSEEWAGONGNETUMANISHINABEK) –
One week after the Ontario government threatened to halt maintenance of a back road used for fishing, hunting, trapping, and rice and berry harvesting, members of Grassy Narrows First Nation in northwest Ontario community are continuing their eight-year blockade to assert their territorial rights.
Led by grassroots women from the Anishinabek community, since August 21 the blockaders have prevented Ontario’s Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) from interfering with their work crew, which was visited by MNR three times last week and ordered to purchase a gravel permit, alongside warnings to stop work citing environmental, public and worker safety concerns. This action continues the longest blockade in Canadian history, which since 2002 has successfully stopped clearcut logging on Grassy Narrows territories and has raised concerns about the government’s lack of action on mercury poisoning in the community.
“We have our own government here,” said Robert Keesick, capital projects manager for Grassy Narrows First Nation, who is responsible for the road maintenance contract. “We have our own way of dealing with the environment, of taking care of our workers. This is our territory, so we have the right to use the land.”
“We support our chief and council – they are the authority here. They received their jurisdiction when they signed the treaty. All we’re doing is fixing a road that was there already, and yet [MNR is] not doing anything about the mercury in the river,” he added.
A sign across the blockaded road reads “Ministry of No Respect: Keep Out,” and community members are maintaining a 24-hour presence at Slant Lake, just outside the reserve, allowing only non-MNR traffic to pass.
So far, the government has not challenged the blockade, and on its first day a conservation officer was turned back. MNR told local media it is concerned about damage to a beaver pond where Grassy Narrows contractors are repairing washouts and beaver damage to back-roads on the First Nations traditional territories, as well as worker and public safety issues. Community members, however, consider the government’s actions harassment and an impingement on their treaty rights.
“When they talk about environmental concerns or workers’ safety, it’s like they think we’re dumb,” said Roberta Keesick, one of the community members active in the blockade. “Of course we think about this stuff too, otherwise we wouldn’t be here, we wouldn’t have lasted this long.
“The funny thing is that MNR is saying they’re concerned about a beaver pond, but the government pays people to kill beavers because they call them ‘nuisance beavers,’ because they’re wrecking the roads. Their quibbling over a beaver pond is contradictory. We don’t need a permit; we already got permission from the Creator,” she added.
The blockade has been joined by invited members of Christian Peacemakers Teams (CPT), which has an almost decade-long presence supporting the community’s struggle for self-determination, as well as other supporters.
“All this is towards our sovereignty, it’s about the same thing as other Aboriginal struggles,” Roberta Keesick said. “We hope others will feel less intimidated or feel they have to get permits and permission. Lots of people feel they can’t fight it. When we do our blockade, we hope it opens people’s eyes to who they are as Aboriginal and Anishinabek.”
The back road being maintained is used by Grassy Narrows members to access hunting, trapping, wild rice picking and berry picking areas, and for access to a fishing lodge at Ball Lake, rights enshrined under Treaty 3. The fishing lodge was granted to the First Nation as part of compensation for mercury pollution in 1986, and the government stopped maintaining the road following the Slant Lake blockade started in 2002. The community is calling for support from allies elsewhere to defend the Earth and Indigenous rights.
Call the MNRKenora office to express your support for the people of Grassy Narrows: (807) 468-2501
Some points to make: 1. The government should stop harassing construction crews repairing the road to Ball Lake Lodge. 2. Thousands of people are watching and supporting Grassy Narrows. This issue will not go away until there is justice. 3. Grassy Narrows has the right to determine what happens on their territory, according to Treaty 3. We support them in their decisions. 4. We also support Grassy Narrows’ call to end clearcut logging, for justice on issues of mercury pollution and other contaminants, and for the sovereignty granted them by the Creator since time immemorial.
ANARCHIST HISTORY AND THEORY: 170 YEARS OF ANARCHISM:
My how the time flies. It has been 170 years since the 'father of anarchism' Pierre Joseph Proudhon first published his famous definition of his beliefs ie "I am an anarchist". It is also 170 years since his famous slogan, 'Property is Theft'. Now, even though I have often described myself as a "mutualist", this description is not exactly true especially if you consider what 'mutualism' has become in its majoritarian American manifestations. However much I may appreciate the American mutualists, especially in comparison to some other less savoury trends in modern anarchism I just cannot believe in either the labour theory of value nor in the overwhelming superiority of a free market in all things. On the other hand I cannot believe in the overwhelming superiority of a 'communist' economy for all things. In sum I am very much a believer in a 'mixed economy' in any anarchist society in the far distant future ie part free market, part communist and part managed prices. I don't think, however, that arguments about an unlikely future system mean much in the day to day events of today.
My own attraction to mutualism is because of its 'gradualist' approach and also because of its emphasis on cooperatives. Both the former and the latter are very easily integrated into an anarcho-syndicalist practice that acts in the here and now rather than speaking of the glories of the day after the revolution. Proudhon was a very contradictory writer. Few writers aren't. He believed different things at different times. One might say that he was almost as contradictory as Marx and perhaps equally personally obnoxious for different reasons. The emphasis on gradualism and cooperatives, however, went beyond the original author and became the basis for the first manifestation of anarchosyndicalism in the world ie the French members of the First International. As such it became a social force very much divorced from the merits or demerits of one of its founders.
Over at the Anarchist Writers blog an author, Anarcho by pen name, has posted a review of what Proudhon has meant to anarchism. While the full article is too long to reproduce here I am posting the first few paragraphs. To see more of this incisive essay go to this link. @@@@@@@@@@ "I Am An Anarchist": 170 Years Of Anarchism
In 1840, two short expressions, a mere seven words, transformed socialist politics forever. One put a name to a tendency within the working class movement: “I am an Anarchist.” The other presented a critique and a protest against inequality which still rings: “Property is Theft!”
With “What is Property?” Pierre-Joseph Proudhon became one of the leading socialist thinkers of the nineteenth century and the libertarian movement was born, that form of socialism based on “the denial of Government and of Property” and which did “not want the government of man by man any more than the exploitation of man by man.”
Proudhon’s ideas played a key role in the development of revolutionary anarchism in the International Working Men’s Association (IWMA). Their application in the Paris Commune of 1871 was praised by Marx (although he did not mention the obvious source). Michael Bakunin proclaimed that “Proudhon is the master of us all” while for Peter Kropotkin he laid “the foundations of Anarchism.” It is easy to see why, for Proudhon was the first to discuss most of the ideas we associate with anarchism: the critique of property and capitalism; critique of the state; socio-economic federalism; free association; socialisation of the means of life; decentralisation; the abolition of wage-labour by self-management; and so on.
ANARCHIST BOOKS: ANARCHISM AND SOCIALISM BY WAYNE PRICE:
There's an interesting new book now out from the good folks at Thought Crime Ink in Edmonton. 'Anarchism and Socialism: Reformism or Revolution' is a fresh perspective on anarchist organizing in the 21st century. Here's the promo.>>> @@@@@@@@@@
New Book: Anarchism & Socialism: Reformism or Revolution? by Wayne Price
From the Forward by Andrew Flood (Workers Solidarity Movement--Ireland):
"This collection of essays by Wayne Price…will hopefully play a significant part in helping us build the movement we need…..This volume represents a good foundation to this process. It revisits many of the essential basic questions and lays down a coherent position in regard to them. Wayne's insights are important to us because they are based not just on a theoretical study of revolution but on five decades of practical experience in the North American left and the anarchist movement".
In these essays grouped around common themes, Wayne Price draws on decades of extensive practical experience in antiwar and student movements, marxist tendency groups and affinity-based anarchist organizations, to make an insightful case for "pro-organizational," class-struggle anarchism.
In refreshingly accessible, non-polemical prose, Price distills the best of late 20th century marxist economic thought and anti-authoritarian organizing. This informs his coherent takes on such issues as the relation between class and non-class oppressions, productive engagement with reformist movements, technology and primitivism, and the worldwide economic crash of 2008-2009. Price's recurrent theme is how revolution can possibly be made out of our collective struggles as workers and other marginalized peoples— and how such revolution can avoid the "successes" of Leninist revolutions of China, Cuba and the Soviet Union.
Finally, Price's engagement with the trends of anti-authoritarian marxist and anarchist thought serve as a critical introduction to dozens of other essential writers in these traditions, such as Cornelius Castoradis, Ellen Wood, Hal Draper and Paul Goodman.
Part I: What is Revolutionary, Class Struggle, Anarchist-Communism?
What is Class Struggle Anarchism? The Relationship Between the Working Class and Nonclass Oppression Anarchist Organization, Not Leninist Vanguardism What is Anarchist-Communism? Industrial Capitalism and Civilization
Part II: Reformism or Revolution
Confronting the Question of Power Our Program is the Anarchist Revolution! Elements of a Program for Labor Paul Goodman’s Anarchism Hal Draper and Socialism-from-Below The Crisis of Capitalism
Part III: The Nature of the “Communist” Countries & the Russian Revolution
What Do We Mean by Anti-Capitalism? The Bureaucratic Ruling Class State Capitalism The Degeneration of the Russian Revolution
Coming up into its fourth turn around, it's the annual Winnipeg DIY Fest and Radical Bookfair. This September 25 and 26 at the Broadway Neighbourhood Centre. Come out and enjoy the Fair along with Mollymew in her 'Mollymew Productions' outfit. Sure to be fun. More on this blog as the details become clearer.
Winnipeg Radical Bookfair and Do-It-Yourself Fest In it's 4rd year, DIY fest will still feature fun Do-It-Yourself workshops, and again joins forces with the Winnipeg Radical Bookfair. So you can expect a bookfair with vendors of radical, anarchist and alternative publications, some workshop discussions on activism in Winnipeg, and fun evening events.
Where Events Saturday and Sunday will occur at the Broadway Neighbourhood Center, located at 185 Young St., just south of Broadway. Thursday and Friday events will be at The Autonomous Zone, 91 Albert St.
Who This year's speakers: Friday September 24thGord Hill, author of 500 Years of Resistance. Saturday September 25th David Hugill Elizabeth Comack and NahanniFontaine Sunday September 26th. If you would like to host a workshop or help out in any other way, it would be much appreciated. Call the Junto library at 942-6994 or email firstname.lastname@example.org .
When Sept 25&26 2010 Check the Workshops and Events pages for scheduling details, which will be posted as they are finalized.
Another rainy Saturday in Winnipeg, and you're wondering what to do, especially as the Chalk for Peace event has been put off until tomorrow due to rain. Check out the event below. WWWWWWWWWW DJ Co-op & DJ Hunnicutt present FUNK BOAT 2010! Time Today at 10:00pm - Tomorrow at 2:00am
Location Paddlewheel Queen Alexander Docks (Waterfront Dr. & Alexander Ave.) Winnipeg, MB
------------------------ More Info Summit Up: Reflections on the Movement against the G8/G20
Saturday August 28th at 3:30 pm Shatner Ballroom (3rd floor, 3480 McTavish)
... This panel will be focusing on the events of this summer in Toronto, an attempt to get beyond the media’s one-sided coverage and hear from those directly involved in mobilizing efforts. By giving historical context to the summit against the G8/G20, panelists will discuss how the anti-globalization movement arrived at this moment.
The intention of the panel is; to highlight why different groups became involved in the movement against the G8/G20, to share their analysis of the movement as it stands today, to highlight successes and/or lessons that have been learned this year.
Featuring speakers from QPIRGMcGill, No One is Illegal, PolitiQ, and CLAC 2010.
Giant Eagle is an American supermarket chain centred on the mid-Atlantic states. Presently this company is waging an anti-union campaign, and the following letter is one of their mendacious tactics. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) are the union attempting to organize in their stores, and the following story and appeal comes from them.
GEGEGEGEGE Tell Giant Eagle to Respect Worker Rights
Giant Eagle is sending intimidating and misleading letters to its non-union employees, trying to scare them away from talking to UFCW Local 23, the union nearly 7,000 of their coworkers are proud to belong to. Tell Giant Eagle to respect all its workers!
Take a look at the letter Giant Eagle workers have received at home:
Dear Team Member, (cough, cough...Molly )
It has come to our attention that you may be approached by Union organizers, employees of our competitors, and some of your current co-workers, to sign one of their union cards or a list/petition for the Union. We want to take the opportunity to inform you about this matter.
If anyone told you that if you refused to sign up for the Union now, you will not be able to work at our store, that is simply not the case and it makes your signature for the Union invalid.
Let's discuss the union card/list of names, addresses and email addresses. The union may tell you that these cards/lists really don't mean anything. Don't believe them.
First, no one has any legitimate reason to ask you for your address or email address, social security number, home phone number or other identifying information. ( Ohhhh, and how pray tell does the company get all this information for its employees. I guess that "no one" doesn't include the company...Molly )The NLRB only requires your name and the date you signed and nothing else. You must ask yourself why you are asked to give any more information.
The union can actually use your signed card or your name on a list to try to prove that they represent a majority of employees. The union can then demand that we turn over all of your individual rights to them without you having a chance to vote in a secret election. ( But turning over "individual rights" to the company as a condition of employment is OK I guess...Molly )
Signing a union authorization card, or a list for the Union, is a lot like signing a blank check because you don't know how much your signature will cost you. By signing a union card, or the Union's list, you may be committing yourself to initiation fees, monthly dues, fines, penalties, political action funds and other charges. Wouldn't you rather know and have control over where your money is going, and solve whatever problems we may have without outside interfrerence ? ( Who could be more "outside" than management, unless you believe the buddy,buddy 'team member psychoboo ?...Molly )When you sign one of those lists/cards, you really lose that control. How many of you would sign a blank check, endorsed to someone you didn't know ? ( Answer every worker who works for a period of time in the hopeful expectation that they will be paid at the end of that time and that the employer will not declare bankruptcy and skip out on their debts...Molly )
No one can force you to sign anything. If someone tries to threaten or coerce you into signing a union card or petition, or if they commit other illegal acts, please call the NLRB office in Pittsburgh at 412-395-4400.
If you have already signed one of these cards or lists and are having second thoughts about it, you have a right to demand that your card be returned to you or that your name be removed from the list.
It is important to understand that even if you signed a card or their list that you are not obligated to support the union. ( Uhh, but didn't management claim that once you signed the card that you had turned over all your "individual rights" ? It has to be one way or the other...Molly )
Please think about all these things before signing a "blank check" union card.
Vice President, GetGo & GEX Operations
A final Molly Note... I'd suggest that the company hire somebody who knows a bit more about grammar and punctuation. Is "union" spelled with a capital U or a small U or whatever you type at the moment ? It would also lend a bit of credibility if the letter writer had a better grasp of the use of commas. But I'm being pedantic here.
Please go to this link to send the following letter to the management of Giant Eagle. Unfortunately this solidarity action seems to be restricted to US residents.
Giant Eagle: Respect all your workers!
Dear [Decision Maker],
I was deeply disappointed to learn that Giant Eagle has been sending intimidating and misleading letters to its non-union employees.
The entire Pittsburgh community relies upon the good jobs provided by local employers like you and I feel strongly that all Giant Eagle workers deserve the chance to have a voice on the job and the choice to join the union that already represents nearly 6,000 of their coworkers. Workers at non-union Giant Eagle stores have said they feel threatened by misleading and intimidating letters they received from the corporate office. These letters need to stop.
You should treat all of your workers with respect.
Sincerely, [Your Name] [Your Address] [City, State ZIP]
Last March Molly mentioned a solidarity campaign for workers at Gold Peak Battery in Huizhou China. Since then things have gone from bad to worse, and the latest incident involves the company hiring violent thugs to attack the workers. This is merely one incident out of many as workers in China are increasingly unwilling to accept poorly paid and dangerous sweat shop conditions. Here's the story in the form of a letter from the Good Electronics network.
CLCLCLCLCL Violence used against protesting Gold Peak Battery workers in Huizhou, China Dear Reader,
Earlier this year, you showed your support for the struggle of cadmium affected Gold Peak workers in China. Hundreds of protest letters were sent to Gold Peak. In response, the company sent a lame and noncommittal message, telling us to refrain from contacting GP’s customers as “facts show that GP is a responsible employer and our staff and workers are happy to stay with”. Globalization Monitor has continued working on this case. Today, I feel compelled to inform you about the most recent developments.
Since 16 August, ex-workers of Gold Peak Batteries who are suffering from excessive levels of cadmium are once again trying to engage the company into negotiations about compensation for their health problems. So far, GP has ignored the workers’ demands. On 24 August, over a hundred workers staged a protest outside Gold Peak's factory in Huizhou. Some hours into the demonstration, the protesting workers representatives were surrounded and beaten up by a large group of thugs. A number of workers were badly injured and needed hospitalisation. Shockingly, the thugs told that they were paid 50 dollars to beat up protesting workers. Reportedly, two GP security guards assisted in bringing in the thugs. Workers concerned point a finger at GP for staging this violent incident which is strongly condemned by civil society organisations in Hong Kong and elsewhere. Gold Peak however refuses to pay for the medical expenses. The workers raised fund among themselves in order to pay for the hospital bills.
More information can be fund on the websites of the Hong Kong based labour rights group Globalization Monitor and GoodElectronics. Sincerely, Pauline Overeem Network Coordinator GoodElectronics International Network on Human Rights & Sustainability in Electronics
CANADIAN LABOUR QUÉBEC: CONSTRUCTION STRIKE IN QUÉBEC ?:
As August 30 draws nearer so does the deadline for a general strike in Québec's construction sector. As of today no further talks have been scheduled before the deadline. Whether the strike will actually happen or if it will be called off by a last minute deal like last May's construction strike in Manitoba is still in doubt. In the interim the unions involved (part of a five union common front) are mainly engaged in the tried and true tactics of on the job action such as work to rule, refusing overtime and taking all allowed breaks.
In the end these tactics may exert more pressure than the threat of a general strike which, as the writer of the piece below notes, would be rapidly legislated back to work. The delay since the opening of negotiations last fall in coming to a contract may possibly be due to employer intransigence. This suspicion is reinforced by what is also noted below, that any new contract will not be retroactive. In other words every minute of delay adds more to the construction company profits, and the companies involved would only soften their stance at the last possible moment to avoid serious disruption.
What can be done in such situations ? It may make me unpopular amongst "radical" circles, but it seems obvious to me that the possible general strike is almost certain to fail due to back to work legislation. That fact should be clearly pointed out, and the usual leftist cheerleading for "general strikes" should be muted. Not every such strike is a victory, and they often result in great defeats. And no such defeats do not necessarily "build militancy", let alone radicalism. At the same time the die has been cast, and Québec construction workers now have little choice but to go ahead with the strike unless the bosses back down. What should have been done long ago is the present pressure tactics at the actual job sites. A few days of such things actually costs the bosses far more than an ephemeral general strike that is rapidly legislated out of existence.
But that is a lesson for the future not for now. The following article is from the Québec City Voix De Faitsblog, the blog of the QC section of the platformist Union CommunisteLibertaire. The original French version can be read at that site. Molly takes full responsibility for any translation errors that the following may contain. QLQLQLQLQL Outline of the situation in Quebec. Since January 2010, construction workers in Quebec have been working without a contract . Nevertheless , as many bosses as unions had announced in October 2009 , exemplary negotiations that would be settled by the due date of collective agreements. Practically nine months later , workers in shipyards have yet signed agreements and the situation is becoming increasingly tense .
What we should not lose sight of here is that the concept of " retroactivity " as if logic and common in the public service do not apply . Each day that passes represents several thousands of dollars of economic savings in the pockets of the bosses. In short , for almost nine months, the pressure tactics are one way : towards workers .
Recently , the unions began a common front in negotiations , all five represented in the construction field are involved this time , and began to implement a plan of pressure tactics voted for in a general assembly of the members present . Of course , for anyone coming from other areas of work , it is rather suspicious to see stewards on hand in the workplace asking members to leave. We must not forget, however, that construction is a sector that is excessively scattered over the territory and that is the only effective way to spread the word.
The media always refers to two or three " honest workers "who say they are not aware of all this is happening and that they felt " intimidated " or even " forced " to leave the targeted sites . First , ignorance of the current situation of these workers is their own fault as there are regular union meetings where it is possible for everyone involved to be informed. Then , all construction workers , including supervisors , are unionized and union representatives are equipped with cell phones reachable all week and just waiting to answer questions from their members . In terms of bullying , it is a little or nothing at all. On the site , workers present are not in the habit of being four and a half feet tall and weighing120 pounds . In short , of course, if a " union team " landed on construction sites, they are often large and heavy fellows , but they do not raise their voices except when necessary ( eg confrontation with employers or workers who are anti union ) . In short , we must take cognizance of the existence of these cases , but it is not necessary to make a big deal as in the mass media where one can see the boss' petticoat sticking out .
The employer demands follow an inexorable logic exceedingly common in the capitalism of the twenty-first century : flexibility and deregulation . We want more hours working on construction sites with less overtime paid accordingly (time and a half , double time , etc. .) . We demand the elimination of many benefits deemed " unproductive " . These benefits can range from those called " team leaders "( a bit like a small foreman ) to work at night or in special conditions .
The bosses also want the best value for their money , otherwise there will be less of it coming into their pockets and that, that is the enemy of the bourgeois class . In this context, they want to cut down on operating costs directly related to the workforce . They want to cut the compensation offered for accommodation on remote sites , stretching the concept of the territorial zone of workers (a worker in the region of Quebec can not go, exceptions , and work in Abitibi) and in the industrial sector , begin to pay the worker only when physically present on the worksite . Thus one is left to go to different checkpoints for minutes or even hours, on his own time .
Basically, the employers' logic is simple: we want to increase competitiveness through deregulation, a reduction of wage costs and increased flexibility of the workforce . In short , they are quietly approached the model of employment in a fast food restaurant . Simply , the rules of collective agreements apply to all of Quebec , so we can immediately ask what the bosses want to really mean by 'competitiveness'.
For the workers' representatives , the situation is quite different. They are asking to tighten the rules in connection with the territories of the workers, increase the premiums that employers consider "non-productive ", and to improve the concept of financial compensation for accommodation on remote sites . In short , as usual, the bosses and the workers both pull up the covers of their sides hoping to improve their lots.
It's a bit simplistic , but in terms of brevity and to avoid annoying repetitions , take the demands of the employers listed above and reversing them you get roughly the trade union positions.
The logic of the trade unions is also quite different. It is assumed that the construction market is moving in a "closed" way , that is to say that everyone should work by the same rules in Quebec , which eliminates the logic of competitiveness so dear to employers . In short , when the logic behind the demands are the opposite, do not expect the demands to be in close proximity to each other.
Interestingly , the issue of wages is hardly the order of the day!
Critique of the unions
We live in a system that leaves little room for radicalism , let alone anti-capitalism . So do not be surprised to see the central claim to be merely to improve conditions for workers under the current economic mode of production and no more.
Also , the construction environment is an area where everyone is unionized with no other choice but to settle down in one of five union centrals present . This leads to the perverse effect of disconnecting the unions from the unionized . General meetings are not held and efforts to attract the union members are hardly massive.
The centrals over time and except when negotiating collective agreements or filing grievances , seem like nothing more than service centers . There's even a central that looks more like a general store than a union , but this is not the subject of this text here. Obviously , it is the members who make their unions and it is they who must take action, but the absence of the option of organizing themselves has the perverse result of having an amorphous mass that is more reluctant to pay more for dues than anything else.
Finally, from a libertarian perspective , one could also wonder why one does not seek to change the very framework of functioning and take up, for example, a sort of anarcho -syndicalism, but that would be to live in a bubble, to ignore the society around us and to believe that the current trade unions have any revolutionary fervor .
The general strike?
It is effectively this option that is scheduled for late August , at the same time as it will nine months that construction workers are working without contracts and the bosses have saved millions of dollars in salaries .
This way of action will be hard , but will certainly be short. One of the major employers is the Québec state , especially roads. It should be understood that the four different sectors currently negotiating will return to work at the same time , even if only three out of four have agreements on principle .
This labor solidarity is good to see, but it will also certainly lead to a blow from the state expressed no doubt as a government decree that would force a return to work . In principle , workers should not admit defeat without at least trying to push , but also in principle, the Government will play its role in class struggle and will help its natural ally, the employers.
Meanwhile, workers continue to demonstrate their anger by randomly deserting work sites in the province one day at a time . Thus , legal or not , these means of pressure expressing the workers' anger will continue for a few weeks and , hopefully , will make the employers compliant before the end of the month .
* * *
The author is a construction worker who is active in the UCL and his union.
AMERICAN LABOUR MINNEAPOLIS TWIN CITIES IWW LABOR DAY RALLY:
Just a bit across the border from Winnipeg. The Twin Cities IWWwill be holding a Labor Day rally this September 6. Here's the details. IWWIWWIWWIWW
LABOR DAY RALLY: Restaurant workers. Retail workers. All workers. SPEAK OUT Time September 6 · 3:00pm - 5:00pm
---------------------------- Location University of Minnesota Knoll Area University and 15th Avenue SE Minneapolis, MN
--------------------------- Created By Twin Cities Iww -------------------------- More Info LABOR DAY: RESTAURANT WORKERS. SERVICE WORKERS. ALL WORKERS. SPEAK OUT! Featuring Guante and I Self Devine
3pm Monday September 6th University and Pleasant Ave in Minneapolis ...
Since the Recession began in 2008, corporate elites have squeezed all workers with layoffs, pay cuts, reduced staffing, reduced work hours, and demands for more productivity while Corporate America rakes in billions in profit.
As the economy crumbles, good jobs are harder and harder to find. Today, 40% of workers in the US work in the food, retail, and service sector. Workers in these industries typically face poverty wages, inconsistent scheduling, no access to affordable healthcare or time off when we are sick, racial, gender, and other forms of discrimination, no breaks, disrespect from our bosses, and harassment from customers. Everyday bosses seek to take more from us. Every day we struggle to support ourselves and our families.
But we refuse to be powerless. We as workers can organize to confront economic, racial, and gender injustice. The time has come to demand basic economic rights; fair wages, fair treatment in the workplace, sick days, fair scheduling, a voice on the job. Only through a grass-roots, democratic movement can we accomplish these goals and build towards a society where common sense and justice align. We call upon service workers, retail workers, ALL workers; SPEAK OUT on Labor Day!
3:00pm Meet up 3:30pm Speak Out/ Music 4:30pm Mobilize!
The following appeal for solidarity with workers at Viva Global in Gurgaon India comes from the Clean Clothes Campaign.
VGVGVGVGVG Union leaders kidnapped: take action now!
Take action now to condemn the kidnapping of two trade union leaders at a Marks & Spencer (M&S) supplier factory in India and call for their immediate and safe return. The kidnappings are part of a brutal attack against 60 workers, which took place as they arrived for work at the Viva Global factory in Gurgaon, India.
The workers were attacked by thugs brandishing hockey and lathi sticks as they arrived for their shift at 9:30am Delhi time on the 25th August 2010. One of the thugs has been identified as the labour contractor used by Viva Global to provide workers to the factory. Sixteen women were severely beaten and two union leaders were kidnapped. Their whereabouts remains unknown.
The attack follows months of union campaigning to improve working conditions at Viva Global. Workers complain of excessive and forced overtime, wages below the minimum wage, verbal and physical abuse, failure to pay mandated social security, lack of drinking water and a host of other serious violations.
Harassment of union members, including threats of dismissal, violence and even death has been increasing at the factory in recent weeks. On Monday 23rd August Viva Global management attempted to prevent workers from entering the factory and made threats against union leaders and workers, who were warned they would be beaten or even shot if they continued their campaign.
The same day a tripartite meeting was held between Viva Global Management the Labour Department and the Garment and Allied Workers Union (GAWU). An agreement was reached that all workers would be reinstated and the threats of violence against workers would immediately cease.
The Viva Global workers, along with a large number of local supporters, are holding an ongoing demonstration outside Viva Global. The President of the union, AnannyaBhattacharjee has declared an indefinite hunger strike until her union colleagues are safely returned.
Please send an email today to Viva Global management to demand that:
•they do everything in their power to ensure that the two kidnapped workers are immediately and safely returned •all violence and intimidation against union members is stopped immediately •workers locked out from the factory are reinstated as per the agreement with the Labour Department. VGVGVGVGVG
Please go to this linkto end the following letter to Viva Global's management. VGVGVGVGVG Letter to Viva Global Dear Mr Vohra,
I am writing to express my shock and outrage at the kidnapping of two union leaders and the severe beating of sixteen workers, which I understand took place on the morning of August 25th 2010.
I understand that the Garment and Allied Workers Union have taken every effort to engage with your company in order to improve conditions within the Viva Global factory. Instead of respecting the views and rights of your workers it appears Viva Global have instead worked to intimidate and threaten them.
Such attacks on workers are inexcusable and cause the reputation of your factory serious harm. Therefore I urge you to take steps to ensure the immediate and safe return of the two workers. I also call on you to refrain from using violence and intimidation to repress your workers and to comply with the agreement made with by your company at the Department of Labour on the 23rd August to immediately reinstate all contract workers to their previous positions.
Hoping you will resolve this issue as soon as possible,