Saturday, January 28, 2012



My dear mother, God rest her soul, used to regale me with stories of the most stupid family in the patch of geography where she grew up. She was born near Simferopal Crimea and grew up in northwest Saskatchewan where you could go 200 miles to anything that resembled a city. From my point of view a great place to grow up but also a great place to leave at the time of puberty. I was blessed.

Anyways, amongst the tales of the "stupid family" shooting their horses while duck hunting and also shooting themselves in the foot (accidentally believe it or not) there were truly magnificent tales of low brain function. The family usually managed to live just long enough to contaminate the next generation with their genes despite classic acts of idiocy like using a match to see if a gas tank was full (yeah it really happened).

I can remember my own examples of stupidity from the 'Battey' family when I grew up in south central Saskatchewan. Fuck were this clan pests, driving their cattle through the town and refusing to feed their kids rights. There was also their dog "Nipper" who was the meanest dog in the RM. If old man Batty didn't feed his family even on the rare occasions that he was sober you can understand the attitude of the semi-wolf Nipper who mostly lived on what he could kill. One of the kids of this overly productive (in a generative sense), Dale Battey, used to bring the dog to town to bite other kids. Amusement is hard to find in rural Saskatchewan.

Being a kind hearted little kid I took to stealing (or saving) meat from my family to feed to the dog. I'd rather be a little bit hungry than see the dog starve. He sometimes wandered into town without his owners. The dog and I became great friends. One day Battey brought Nipper into town to bite me. Stupid move, speaking of stupidity. Sic em he said while pointing to the only person in the world who had ever shown the dog the tiniest piece of kindness. You could practically see the sparks flying off the dog's head as he weighed his pack loyalty to the animal who feeds him against his fear of his so-called owners. He did nothing and evil Dale booted his ass back all the way to home.

There was a conclusion to this example of stupidity. I owned two cats when I was growing up, Midnight and Bumpy. They were particularly bizarre examples of feline behavior (or rather instructive examples0 as Bumpy kept nursing off her mother Midnight even when she had kittens herself who were nursing off her. Quite normal behavior amongst Felis domesticus actually as is the formation of cooperative groups amongst related cats. Here's to inclusive fitness.

In any case the cats were a team. After his dog refused to bite me Dale Battey was really pissed off, and he figured he could get his revenge by bringing his semi-wolf to town to fight my cats. At that time my cats had a rep. They'd beat any dog in the RM. The older one Midnight would distract the dog by slowly surrendering space while lashing out at his face and making noise big time. At the same time Bumpy would silently sneak up beside the dog, leap on his back and skitter up to the head where she could bite at his throat. It would usually ended with the dog screaming across a field as one cat rode him and chewed on his neck while the other lashed out at his asshole.

Well Battey brought his dog to town, and the cats knew when they were outmatched (the fucker couldn't feel pain in a kill frenzy). One quick look and they did what they had never done before. They ran. They ran up to Battey who was standing by the low back "porch" (kitchen actually) of our house, ran up his body leaving bloody scratch marks behind. They turned around and spit fury at the dog from a safe perch while Battey stood there stunned with blood dripping down his body.. Probably telling him they'd get him by surprise. The poor dog continued to run back and forth frantically barking all the time. By the time my brother and I got up off the ground from where we had been rolling over and over with laughing evil Battey was already booting the dog back to the Battey farm (so-called).

OK, all that being said and indeed it was a lot to be said I prefaced this with the extensive personal story so that the reader cannot imagine that I am unacquainted with "stupidity". In the actual real sense where there are immediate consequences. The trouble with 'political stupidity' is that them punishment for the idiocy is not immediate, and thus its ability to teach is severely reduced.

Recently I have received a "reply" that says I should consider a "general tax cut" as more consistent with libertarianISM than my libertarian socialist view. I cannot agree with that, and, of course, here in Canada we can argue out what "libertarian" means. The stupidity in this debate is the ignorance about what "libertarian" means to the 95% of the world's population who live outside of the USA. The stupidity here is in the arrogant assumption that ones views translate across the world.



The following appeal for solidarity with civic workers in Toronto Ontario is from the Toronto based Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP).


Don't be a STRIKEBREAKER for Rob Ford!‏
Sent: January-27-12 5:46:26 PM

~A Message from the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty~
Rob Ford and his friends on City Council are out to wipe out public services in this City and to attack the workers who deliver those services. Thousands of members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees face the threat of being locked out by the City. (This means the City would refuse to bargain for a fair contract but would instead lock the workers out from their jobs with no pay).

OCAP is an organization that works among poor communities under attack and we know what side we are on in this fight. Ford wants to sell off many services to private corporations and then cut what is left to an absolute minimum. The workers who deliver those services will not have decent wages or working conditions, if he gets his way. The City will become, instead,a low wage, sweat shop employer. This would be a huge defeat that would drive down wages all across the City and beyond and it must not be allowed to happen.

--If the City workers find themselves defending their jobs in the next short while, Ford will not hesitate to run a strikebreaking operation against them. Knowing lots of people are hurting in these tough times, he will try to recruit desperate people to cross picket lines and help him win his war against working people. Don`t fall for this and don`t play the shameful role of being a scab for Ford.

If the City workers are forced into this fight, OCAP will stand in solidarity with them. The way to fight poverty is to defend decent paying jobs and fight to raise the level of those who are presently being denied this basic right. We intend to help the City workers win, to stop all of Ford`s brutal cutbacks and to rally communities under attack to defeat him and all he stands for. Don’t cross the City workers`picket lines – join them!
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)(416) 925-6939



On this day in 1853 Cuban revolutionary José Marti was born. An early advocate of both independence from Spain and resistance to the imperialist designs of the USA, Marti advocated a socialism that while still statist was considerably more libertarian than what "socialism" generally stood for in the 20th century and especially more libertarian than the present dictatorship in Cuba.

Notification from the anarcvhist timeline The Daily Bleed (which gets a serious Molly endorsement).

Friday, January 27, 2012

Thursday, January 26, 2012



In the town of Alma Québec the lockout of employees of Alcan will soon be into its second month. 780 members of the United Steel Workers have been locked out since January 1. Management`s demand...simple "destroy the union"; all new workers hired from this point on are to be "subcontractors" rather than permanent employees. Here's the story from the International Metalworkers Federation.

Canadian Rio Tinto lockout nears one month
On January 1, 2012, Rio Tinto’s aluminium subsidiary Alcan locked out 780 members of United Steelworkers at its smelter and refinery in Alma, Québec. The company refuses to negotiate limits on contract work.

CANADA: The company wants to have unlimited contracting out rights, and has replaced full-time, USW-represented workers with subcontracting employees, at considerably worse conditions, when they retire. Subcontracted work in the company is expected to increase from 10 per cent in 2010 to 27 per cent in 2012. The USW wants to create a floor of 750 permanent jobs at the Alma site.

Use of scab or replacement workers during a labour dispute is forbidden in Québec law. According to the company the site is now run at one third of capacity with the help of 200 "management" personnel. USW has lodged a complaint with the provincial labour board.

The IMF and ICEM have sent a strong protest to Rio Tinto's CEO Tom Albanese; "It is unprecedented in North America for a company to demand that a trade union accept the replacement of all permanent positions when workers retire with contract employees."

Affiliates are urged to also send letters to Albanese (with copies to IMF, ICEM and USW), making their opinions clear. See a model letter here.

Letters can be faxed to the Rio Tinto offices in London (+44 20 7781 1800) and Melbourne (+62 3 9283 3707), with copies to IMF, ICEM and USW.

See a detailed background to the dispute here.


Clairandrée Cauchy, Syndicat des Métallos /USW Communications, 514-774-4001, ;
Joe Drexler, Syndicat des Métallos/USW Strategic Campaigns, 416-544 6009, 416-434 7907, .

Lock-out depuis près d’un mois chez Rio Tinto au Canada
Le 1er janvier 2012, la filiale de l’aluminium de Rio Tinto, Alcan, a lock-outé 780 membres du syndicat United Steelworkers dans ses installations de fonderie et d’affinerie situées à Alma, Québec. L’entreprise refuse de négocier des limitations au travail sous contrat.

CANADA: L'entreprise veut disposer du droit de sous-traiter sans restrictions le travail, et a remplacé du personnel employé à temps plein et représenté par l'USW, par du personnel en sous-traitance dans des conditions bien plus mauvaises, au moment du départ à la retraite. Le travail en sous-traitance dans l'entreprise devrait augmenter et passer de 10 pour cent en 2010 à 27 pour cent in 2012. L'USW veut créer un socle de 750 emplois permanents sur le site d'Alma.

La législation du travail interdit au Québec d'embaucher des jaunes ou du personnel de remplacement lors d'un conflit du travail. Selon l'entreprise, le site fonctionne au tiers de sa capacité avec l'aide de 200 personnes assurant la "gestion". L'USW a présenté une plainte au conseil provincial du travail.

La FIOM et l'ICEM ont adressé une ferme protestation à Tom Albanese, directeur général de Rio Tinto: "C'est un fait sans précédent en Amérique du Nord qu'une entreprise demande à un syndicat d'accepter le remplacement de tous les postes permanents par des contractuels quand les travailleurs et travailleuses prennent leur retraite".

Les affiliés sont invités à envoyer des lettres à Albanese (avec copies à la FIOM, à l'ICEM et à l'USW), en faisant clairement état de leur opinion.
Les lettres peuvent être envoyées par télécopie aux bureaux de Rio Tinto à Londres (+44 20 7781 1800) et à Melbourne (+62 3 9283 3707), avec copies à la FIOM, à l'ICEM et à l'USW.

Pour un historique détaillé du conflit, cliquer ici.


Clairandrée Cauchy, Syndicat des Métallos/Communications de l'USW, 514-774-4001, ;
Joe Drexler, Syndicat des Métallos/Campagnes stratégiques de l'USW, 416-544 6009, 416-434 7907, .

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Monday, January 23, 2012



Sunday, January 22, 2012


The ever popular Montréal Anarchist Bookfair will be coming up on May 19 1nd 20 this year. This is the biggest and possibly the best anarchist gathering in North America, and if you can travel at all this is one event to attend. Here`s the callout for participants (la version français suive au-dessous)
Callout for proposals:
en français ici:
[Callout for proposals (deadline March 1/April 1, 2012): or read below]
[Support the Bookfair: or read below]
Mark your calendars
Two days: Saturday, May 19 & Sunday, May 20
10am-5pm on both days
The Anarchist Bookfair will take place in two buildings across from each other in Parc Vinet:
- Centre d'éducation populaire de la Petite-Bourgogne et de St-Henri (CEDA), 2515 rue Delisle
- Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier (CCGV), 2450 rue Workman
A short walk from Lionel-Groulx metro.

No gods, no masters, no bosses, no borders.
FREE. Welcome to all!
For anarchists, and people curious about anarchism.

-> Participants from all over Quebec and North America, booksellers and vendors, workshops, films, discussions, kids activities, art exhibits and more!
-> Part of the month-long Festival of Anarchy held throughout May 2012 at venues and locations all over the island of Montreal.
-> Tabling will take place over two days: May 19-20, between 10am-5pm.
-> NOTE: This year, tabling will take place in the main auditoriums of both our locations: CEDA and the Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier (CCGV).
-> Accessibility Policy and Commitment:
-> What Happens at the Anarchist Bookfair?:

-> Support the Bookfair: or read below.
Workshops, Tables, Art Exhibits, Films, Festival of Anarchy Events

a) Workshop Proposals

We encourage your workshop proposals for both days of this year’s Bookfair (May 19 or 20, 2012). You can submit workshops that are: i) introductions to anarchism or ii) workshops on other topics related to anarchism that explores an anarchism-themed topic in some depth.

--> For full information about making a workshop proposal, visit: <-- The deadline for all workshop proposals is March 1, 2012.

b) Tabling at the Bookfair The heart of the Bookfair includes booksellers, distributors, independent presses and political groups from all over Montreal, Quebec, North America, and abroad. There will be Bookfair tabling on TWO days – Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20, 2011, from 10am to 5pm. This year, tabling will take place in TWO spaces that are located across from each other: the Centre d’éducation populaire de la Petite-Bourgogne et de St-Henri (CEDA) at 2515 rue Delisle, and the Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier (CCGV) at 2450 rue Workman.

--> For full information about requesting table space, visit: <--

The deadline to request table space is April 1, 2012.

c) Art Exhibits
Art & Anarchy brings together the creations of dozens of anarchist-inspired artists and organizers. In previous years, exhibitions have included sculptures, paintings, posters, banners, drawings, and other multi-media forms. Art & Anarchy is displayed over the two days of the Montreal Anarchst Bookfair.

--> For full information about making a art proposal, visit: <--

The deadline to make an Art & Anarchy submission is March 1, 2012.

d) Films
The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair hosts a Film Room, showing films related to anarchism or anarchist-supported struggles.

--> For full information about making a film proposal, visit:
The deadline to make a film proposal is March 1, 2012.

e) Festival of Anarchy Events
The entire month of May comprises the Festival of Anarchy, with diverse anarchist-themed events occurring at different venues in Montreal. The Bookfair collective compiles a Festival of Anarchy calendar, but we count on you to organize the actual Festival of Anarchy events. Get in touch to reserve a date for your event in May (calendar dates are “first come first served”).
For full information about reserving a date for the Festival of Anarchy calendar, visit:
The deadline to submit Festival of Anarchy events, to be included in our public calendar, is April 1, 2012.
a) Promote our Callout for Proposals
The Bookfair is currently seeking proposals for workshops, tables, art, film and Festival of Anarchy events. The callout for proposals is linked on our website here:

Please promote this callout widely to anyone who might want to participate in this year's Anarchist Bookfair. The deadline for proposals is March 1st (for workshops, art and film) and April 1st (for tables and Festival of Anarchy events).

b) Advertising in your publication
Do you publish a magazine, newspaper, journal or other publication? Will you be publishing before May 1, 2012? If so, please consider running an announcement for the upcoming Montreal Anarchist Bookfair. We can send you an ad specific to your publication. The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair is organized on a very modest budget by an all-volunteer collective, so we cannot pay you for ads. But we can link to your publication from our website as a form of mutual support. Please get in touch with us at if you are able to offer ad space in your publication.

c) Web Links
If you maintain a website, please consider linking to our website. We're at (in English) and (in French).

d) Facebook promotion
The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair has a facebook page: As well, we have created a facebook event for next year's Bookfair: / If you're on facebook, please promote these fb links on your wall, and by inviting your friends.

e) Twitter
Finally, if you're on twitter, consider following us, and promoting our feed. We're at:

f) Postering/Flyering in Montréal
If you can help promote the Bookfair and Festival of Anarchy in your neighborhood, school or community, please get in touch: We will be actively promoting the 2012 Bookfair all over the Montreal-area. Let us know if you can help with postering or flyering. If you are from outside Montreal, get in touch if you would like us to send you posters and pamphlets. We are also hoping to have these materials available for download on our website soon.

Thanks for considering these requests. - The Montreal Anarchist Bookfair Collective
tél: 514-679-5800
mail: Salon du livre Anarchiste de Montréal
1500 de Maisonneuve Ouest, Suite 204
Montréal, Québec H3G 1N1

-> web:
-> announcements list:

You can also join our facebook page or follow us on twitter:
-> facebook:
-> twitter:
Appel à contributions: ateliers/films/oeuvres d'art (date limite: 1er mars 2012)
Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal‏
[Svp diffuser LARGEMENT] [English info here: ]

[Appel à contributions (date limite: 1er mars/1er avril 2012): /appel-a-contributions ou ci-dessous ]
[Soutien pour le Salon du livre anarchiste: /soutien-pour-le-salon ou ci-dessous]
Préparez vos calendriers
deux journées : samedi le 19 mai & dimanche le 20 mai
de 10h à 17h les deux jours
Le Salon du livre anarchiste se tiendra dans deux bâtiments situés l’un en face de l’autre autour du Parc Vinet:
- Au Centre d’éducation populaire de la Petite-Bourgogne et de St-Henri (CEDA), 2515 rue Delisle
- Au Centre culturel Georges-Vanier (CCGV), 2450 rue Workman
C’est à une courte distance de marche du métro Lionel-Groulx.

Ni dieu, ni maître; ni patron, ni frontière.
GRATUIT. Bienvenue à tous et toutes.
Pour les anarchistes et pour les personnes curieuses de l’anarchisme.

-> Des participants venant de partout au Québec et en Amérique du Nord : des libraires, éditeurs, ateliers, films, discussions, activités pour enfants, expositions d’arts et plus!
-> Dans le cadre du Festival de l’Anarchie se déroulant tout le long du mois de mai 2012 et offrant des activités dans différents lieux de Montréal.
-> Lors du Salon du livre de cette année, les tables d’exposition prendront place sur deux jours : le 19 et le 20 mai, entre 10h et 17h.
-> ATTENTION : Cette année, les tables seront placées dans les auditoriums principaux des deux bâtiments : au CEDA et au Centre culturel Georges-Vanier (CCGV).
-> Enoncé d’accessibilité:
-> Qu’est-ce qui se passe au Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal?:
-> Soutien pour le Salon du livre anarchiste:
ateliers, tables d'expositions, oeuvres d'art, films, Festival de l’anarchie

a) Ateliers

Nous vous encourageons à proposer des ateliers pour les deux jours du Salon du livre de cette année (le 19 et le 20 mai 2012). Vous pouvez proposer des ateliers qui sont: i) des introductions à l’anarchisme ou ii) des ateliers sur d’autres sujets liés à l’anarchisme qui explorent plus en profondeur une dimension de l’anarchisme.

-> S’il-vous-plaît consultez le lien suivant pour plus de détails sur les propositions d’ateliers, dont les directives:
-> La date limite pour toutes les propositions d’ateliers est le 1er mars 2012.

b) Kiosques

Le coeur du Salon du livre incluse des libraires, distributeurs et distributrices, presses indépendantes et groupes politiques venant des quatre coins de Montréal, du Québec, de l’Amérique du Nord et de l’étranger. Il y aura des tables au Salon du livre pendant DEUX JOURS – samedi le 19 mai et dimanche le 20 mai 2011, de 10h à 17h. Cette année, les kiosques auront lieu dans DEUX différents endroits qui sont situés de l’un en face de l’autre : au Centre d’éducation populaire de la Petite-Bourgogne et de St-Henri (CEDA) au 2515 rue Delisle ainsi qu’au Centre Culturel Georges-Vanier (CCGV) au 2450 rue Workman.
-> S’il-vous-plaît consultez le lien suivant pour plus de détails sur les propositions de tables d’expositions :
- > La date limite pour la réception des propositions de tables est le 1er avril 2012.

c) Oeuvres d'art
Art & Anarchie réunit les créations de douzaines d’organisateurs et d’organisatrices et d’artistes inspirées par l’anarchisme. Au cours des années précédentes, les expositions ont présenté des sculptures, peintures, affiches, bannières, dessins ainsi que d’autres formes d’art multimédia.
-> S’il-vous-plaît consultez le lien suivant pour plus de détails sur les propositions d’oeuvres d’art :
->La date limite pour les propositions pour l’exposition artistique est le 1er mars 2012.

d) Films
Le Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal présente une salle de cinéma, où sont diffusés des films liés à l’anarchisme ou à des luttes appuyées par les mouvements anarchistes. --> S’il-vous-plaît consultez le lien suivant pour plus de détails sur les propositions de films :
-> La date limite pour les propositions de films est le 1er mars 2012.

e) Festival de l'anarchie
Le mois de mai en entier est consacré au Festival de l’Anarchie, un festival présentant différents événements à thématique anarchiste se produisant dans différents lieux de Montréal. Le Collectif du Salon du livre fait la compilation d’un calendrier du Festival de l’Anarchie, mais nous comptons sur vous pour organiser véritablement les événements du Festival de l’Anarchie. Contactez-nous pour réserver une date pour votre événement se tenant au mois de mai (les dates du calendrier sont réparties au « premier arrivé, premier servi »).
-> S’il-vous-plaît consultez le lien suivant pour plus de détails :
-> La date limite pour soumettre un événement pour le Festival et pour être inclut dans le calendrier qui sera diffusé est le 1er avril 2012
a) Promotion de notre Appel à Contributions
Nous vous invitons à publier et promovoir notre Appel à contributions (ateliers, kiosques, exposition d'art, film, Festival de l'anarchie):
La date limite pour la réception des propositions est le 1er mars 2012 (pour les ateliers, exposition d'art et film) et le 1er avril 2012 (pour les tables et le Festival d'anarchie).

b) Annoncez dans votre publication
Publiez-vous un magazine, un journal, une revue ou une autre publication? Aurez-vous un numéro d'ici au 1er mai 2012?
Si oui, nous vous invitons à publier une annonce pour le prochain Salon du livre anarchiste. Nous pouvons vous envoyer une annonce spécifiquement pour votre publication. Le Salon du livre anarchiste dispose d'un très mince budget et est organisé par un colllectif composé entièrement de bénévoles. Nous ne pouvons donc pas payer pour une publicité. Dans un esprit d'aide mutuelle, nous pouvons cependant mettre un lien vers votre publication sur notre site web.
Veuillez nous écrire à si vous êtes en mesure d'ajouter une de nos annonces dans votre publication.

c) Liens web
Si vous avez un site web, nous vous invitons à mettre un lien avec le notre. Notre site est (en français) et (en anglais).

d) Promotion par facebook
Le Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal a un page facebook:
Nous avons aussi créé un événement facebook pour le prochain Salon du livre:
Si vous êtes sur facebook, nous vous invitons à faire la promotion de ces liens facebook sur votre mur ainsi qu'en invitant vos amies.

e) Twitter
Si vous êtes aussi sur twitter, nous vous invitons à faire la promotion de notre feed:

f) Affichage/Tractage
Si vous souhaitez contribuer à la promotion du Salon du livre anarchiste et/ou du Festival de l'Anarchie dans votre quartier, votre école ou votre communauté, communiquez avec nous ( ). Nous ferons la promotion du Salon du livre anarchiste dans la région de Montréal. Avertissez-nous si vous pouver faire de l'affichage et du tractage. Si vous résidez à l'extérieur de Montréal, communiquez avec nous si vous désirez recevoir des affiches, prospectus et dépliants. Le matériel de promotion sera aussi disponible pour téléchargement sur notre site Internet.
Merci de nous appuyer!
- Le collectif du Salon du livre anarchiste de Montréal
-> Courriel :
-> Tél : 514-679-5800
-> Poste: Salon du livre Anarchiste de Montréal
1500 de Maisonneuve Ouest, Suite 204
Montréal, Québec H3G 1N1

-> web
-> liste d’envoi:

Vous pouvez aussi vous joindre à notre page facebook ou nous suivre sur twitter:
-> facebook:
-> twitter:



Saturday, January 21, 2012





Thursday, January 19, 2012



Time ticks on until this Saturday's mass demonstration in solidarity with workers at the Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London Ontario. While this is being planned the local community in London Ontario is rallying behind the workers affected who are supposed to have their wages cut by 50% as per the company's offer. There has been much discussion about the culpability of the federal government in allowing a foreign purchase of this enterprise insofar as it was "in the interests of Canada". Obviously it is not, and the federal government still refuses to release documentation regarding its decision.

All this is neither here nor there aside from establishing the fact that our government was privy to an agreement that included the possible relocation of a plant to a non-union area in the USA. Were they privy to corporate plans ? Who knows. All that can be said is that the ideology of our present government sees the interests of ordinary Canadians as worthless and merely an obstacle to be overcome.

In any case here is an article from the "Londoner", a local newspaper in London Ontario, about the community support for the Electro-Motive Diesel workers in London Ontario. Let's see what happens as Ontario labour gathers there this weekend.
Community supportive of locked out workers

Workers at London’s Electro-Motive Diesel plant have been shut out since January 1. Unwilling to accept a 50 per cent wage cut, they’re uncertain of their future as London City Council asks the provincial and federal governments to get involved.

Albrechtas is retired, but he had a good reason to be standing out on the picket lines on Oxford Street one grey, unseasonably warm day last week.

"I got three generations working here," he said, standing outside London's Electro-Motive Diesel Inc. "I've got my son working here and my grandson working here. They're both locked out. I'm retired (from the plant) now for 10 years under General Motors, but I'm here to support them."

And he wasn't the only one who came out to stand alongside the workers, locked out since January 1 after they rejected a blunt offer for a roughly 50 per cent wage cut from the Caterpillar-owned company.

"I want to support the people working here on the picket line," said retired educator Lynne Shantz. "They have a legitimate right to their workplace and the wages they've been making. I think the company did not intend to negotiate in good faith by coming in with a hardball offer like they did. It's pretty ridiculous."

Shantz said she'd like to see more Londoners come out to support the workers and said people should realize the fight going down at the plant could affect far more people than the workers in question.

"This is only the tip of the iceberg because along the line if people see that they can get away with this type of ridiculous offer ... then they'll be doing this again and again and again," she said. "This impacts people who are non-union as well and everybody is going to suffer."

Workers themselves are already feeling the pinch. With strike pay of $200 per week, most can just get by for now. But for some, that cash might be insufficient sooner rather than later

Take for example Vince Gugliotta and Sarah Smith. The couple — both locked out workers at Electro-Motive — are currently supporting four kids aged seven to 11 months old. Already they're watching the dollars and cents, keenly aware that they may soon be cutting into savings.

"(We're) eating in, shopping frugal, buying things only if it's an absolute necessity," Smith said. "We're just fresh into the lockout so we're not feeling the big impact right now. But a couple weeks from now, a couple months, we're definitely going to be feeling it."

She added that for their family, the prospect of going from $32 per hour in pay to roughly half that is simply untenable.

Out on the picket line, Chris Kwiatkowski agreed. Having worked at Electro-Motive for nearly 24 years, the last time he saw wages that low was when he just started at the plant.

"I started in 1988. It was just about 16 bucks an hour then," he said. "It's scary. I'm hoping (a deal) comes through. I like my job."

He added he's hopeful city council's recent unanimous vote of support for the workers will draw further help from Ottawa and the province, which have so far been tepid in their desire to get involved in the lockout.

"Right now they (the politicians) are about the only people that can save us I think," Kwiatkowski said.

Albrechtas agreed.

"I hope the government steps in soon," he said. "It's getting bad."

A representative at Electro-Motive said there was no one who could talk about the lockout situation.

Organized labour movements in Ontario have promised a day of action to show support for the locked out workers at Electro-Motive on January 21. According to a Canadian Auto Workers release, thousands of supporters are expected to converge on London to show solidarity with the workers in what has become a flashpoint for the labour movement in Canada.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012



Thursday, January 12, 2012



There are basically two types of cooperatives, consumer and producer. The former is a mutual aid society of purchasers banded together to get the best possible value for their dollar by cutting out the capitalist middleman. By banding together the members of such co-ops not only avoid value draining intermediaries but also get the advantage of size and bulk purchasing power, something beyond the capacity of singular households. The most visible consumer co-ops in Canada are the gasoline co-ops active in most provinces, but this option is hardly restricted to the automobile. There are such things as food co-ops, hardware co-ops, health care co-ops and even "funeral co-ops" across the country. Our credit unions are essentially consumer co-ops, and the recent spate of financial crises has demonstrated at least one way in which such local, member controlled, institutions are better and more stable than the banks.

Cooperation, however, is not restricted to consumption. Across the world people are setting up producer co-ops, also known as worker co-ops. In this case the members are the workers of a business who own and control their workplace. In a Canadian context a good source of information about this matter is the website of the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation. In many ways this enterprise model is a living example of a model of what anarcho-syndicalists have advocated for over a century. That is that a workplace should be the property of and be controlled by those who work in said location. What is different from the traditional view of the syndicalists is that worker co-ops that are set up today have to operate within a market economy. This goes against the grain of the traditional syndicalist view which is anti-market. How to reconcile these two viewpoints is a discussion for another time.

What is important here is to note that the worker/producer cooperative model of business has been gaining more and more attraction and implementation in the last few decades. Many studies have demonstrated that worker co-ops are more efficient than a traditional business model where management either bullies, bribes or bullshits workers to produce more more efficiently. In a producers' co-op the workers are the owners and direct beneficiaries of the success of the business. They have a natural incentive to be both more efficient and more productive.

The existence of this option which is actually a real and immediate way of freeing oneself from authority has always been a matter of debate in libertarian socialist circles. What is interesting is just how attractive this model has become outside of the anarchist ghetto. Here, for example, is a recent article from the Vancouver Province about the co-op option.

Consider worker co-operatives
By Benjamin Gillies

As Canadians got back to the old grind last week, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives had a rather intriguing statistic for them.

By mid-afternoon on that day, our country's top 100 CEOs had already made over $44,300, what it takes the average citizen an entire year to earn.

In fact, the policy centre notes, these elite men and women took home an average $8.4 million in 2010, 189 times more than our mean national income.

Dialogue over this type of economic disparity has been ongoing for thousands of years - from Plato, who believed the income of the highest paid in a society should never be more than five times that of the lowest paid, to last year's Occupy movement.

Most recently, the major proposal for curbing inequality among many progressive politicians is for the government to raise taxes on wealthy citizens and corporations.

Those on the right of the political spectrum vehemently oppose such an approach, however, arguing that to bur-den the companies we look to for job creation is a short-sighted strategy that can only leave us worse off as businesses head to lower-tax jurisdictions.

Undoubtedly, conservatives have a point that we rely on companies to generate employment. Yet, they overlook the fact that while corporations do provide jobs for Canadians, this is not actually their main objective. Their goal is profit maximization, and stockholders can even sue managers for making decisions that hurt the bottom line.

Directors are therefore forced to do whatever is necessary to increase returns, even when their actions are detrimental to workers. Over the past 30 years, for example, executives have used the threat of outsourcing to squeeze major concessions out of employees.

Improving the financial position of the majority will always remain problematic when we acquiesce to the need for profit above all else. It is time Canadians adopted a more holistic perspective on economic inequality, and examined the potential of an alternative business model - the worker co-operative.

Though worker co-operatives are relatively well-developed elsewhere (Spain's famous Mondragon Cooperative has been rated by Forbes magazine as one of the 10 best places to work in Europe), they remain marginal here, in no small part because they do not mesh well with North American corporate law.

Nevertheless, in today's economic climate they offer a number of enticing benefits. Like conventional corporations, co-operatives are private, for-profit enterprises.

What sets them apart is workers, not outside investors, fully own the company. These owner/employees keep all profits, instead of seeing them distributed to stockholders who often have little connection to the business other than their initial investment.

Through a one-worker, one-vote system, members are responsible for steering the company, either directly through general assembly votes or, more commonly, by electing a board of directors.

Because members have a vested interest in the success of the business, studies show they work harder and require less supervision, leading to better productivity and long-term survival rates above those of conventional companies. Co-operatives operate within the market, while providing greater worker empowerment and a more equitable distribution of revenue without government intervention - which ought to appeal to those on both the political left and right.

Read more:


But what really is a worker co-op ? Here straight from the horse's mouth is the definition that the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation applies.

What is a Worker Co-op?
Worker co-operatives are businesses that are owned and democratically controlled by the members. The main purpose of a worker co-operative is to provide employment for its members through operating an enterprise that follows the Co-operative Principles and Values. When new employees join the business, after a successful probationary period they are encouraged to apply for membership. The worker co-op is, in principle, designed to provide benefits not just to the founding members but also to all future employee/members.

To create their worker co-op, members combine their skills, interests and experiences to achieve mutual goals such as creating jobs for themselves, providing a community service and increasing democracy in the workplace. The variety of enterprises operating as worker co-ops is very broad. Virtually any enterprise can be organized as a worker co-operative. The worker co-op idea can work for you if you have a marketable product, start-up capital and a plan for organization and growth.

Each member pays a membership fee, or purchases a membership share, and has one vote no matter how many shares they own. Through the democratic governance of the co-op, all members have equal opportunity to affect the way the business is run and to offer input on the decisions affecting their everyday work lives. Because they develop the policies that determine the co-operative’s daily and long term operation, trust, communication and co-operation are vital to the co-op’s success. The co-op’s assets are collectively owned and surplus earnings are allocated to the workers according to the bylaws and policies established by the co-op,often in proportion to hours worked by members and with limited return on shares and member loans.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Worker co-ops differ substantially from conventional businesses. Conventional businesses’ primary aim is to make profit for the owners who may be - but in many cases are not - employed by the business. Such an owner’s voting control and share of profit is based on the amount of money invested, not for any services that they provide the business. This is a fundamental difference, as in conventional businesses the ultimate authority rests with a single individual, or with a small group,and the business decisions are based upon maximizing their benefit as owners. Any profit sharing with the workers or with the broader community is at the owner’s sole discretion.

In summary, worker co-operatives are a radical break from conventional businesses. The worker co-op’s primary goal in operating an enterprise is for service to its employees and its community rather than in service to the owners of capital. The goal is to provide the best possible employment conditions for the members and to provide the customers and community with a service or product at a fair price that meets their needs and leads to a sustainable community.


One of the advantages of the worker coop model is that it is an open option at any time. During revolutions it becomes almost a necessity as worker councils keep production happening despite the absence of the old bosses. It is also an option in decidedly non-revolutionary situations and in all the stages between these extremes. Rather than being a "plan z" when an enterprise is shutting down it should be a predetermined goal of the labour movement. In relation to that it is heartening to see the present collaboration of the Spanish Mondragon co-ops and the North American United Steel Workers.

In certain situations that are short of "revolution" the movement of workers to occupy and take over a business abandoned by an owner is not as difficult as trying to salvage a business that is insolvent in an otherwise healthy economy. The following article from the Upside Down World website discusses what happened in Argentina during its economic crisis in 2001.

Occupy, Resist, Produce: Worker Cooperatives in Argentina

Written by Benjamin Dangl
During the economic crisis of 2001, when politicians and banks failed, many Argentines took matters into their own hands. Poverty, homelessness and unemployment were countered with barter systems and grassroots, micro-credit lending programs. Community groups were created to provide solidarity, food and support in neighborhoods across the country.

Perhaps the most well known of these initiatives was the recuperation of bankrupt factories and businesses which were occupied by workers and run cooperatively. There are roughly two hundred worker-run factories and businesses in Argentina, most of which started in the midst of the 2001 crisis. 15,000 people work in these cooperatives and the businesses range from car part producers to rubber balloon factories. Two recuperated businesses with stories that are representative of this movement are Hotel Bauen and the Chilavert book publishing factory.

Hotel Bauen

Hotel Bauen first opened during the military dictatorship in 1978 when Buenos Aires hosted the World Cup. From that time onward, the hotel was a meeting place for big businesses owners, people connected to the dictatorship, and politicians such as former Argentine President Carlos Menem. Ironically, since the worker takeover in 2003, Hotel Bauen has been a meeting place for left-leaning activists groups and union members. Recently, the city's subway workers went on strike and much of their decision making and organizing was coordinated from the hotel.

Marcelo Iurcovich ran the hotel for years until 1997 when he sold it to Solari, a Chilean company. In 2001 the hotel went bankrupt and on December 21st, Solaris fired all of its workers. The majority of the ninety employees went without work for twelve to fourteen months. "Our decision to take over the hotel wasn't capricious," explained Horacio Lalli, a member of the hotel's cooperative. "A lot of the people here were fathers and mothers of families. There was no work. We had to do something, so after a lot of meetings we decided to take the hotel back."

On March 21, 2003 after a meeting in Chilavert, one of the first worker-run factories in the city, Hotel Bauen's workers gathered at night at the intersection of the streets Corrientes and Calloa in downtown Buenos Aires. They walked the short distance to the hotel and entered the building. Cheers filled the air. The lights were switched on. Workers hugged each other and wept. They had succeeded in the first step of the recuperation process: occupation.

Yet the hotel was far from being in working condition. A lot of the material and equipment had been sold by the previous owners or stolen. The workers still faced months of cleaning and repairing in order to get the hotel back on its feet. "Throughout this time businesses and students in Buenos Aires helped us out by gathering money for us so we could eat," Lalli explained. "Yet we were afraid the hotel bosses would come back and kick us out. This period of time was full of fear."

It took the workers until August of 2004 to reopen the hotel. To this day, a verdict has not been reached and the fate of the hotel remains in the hands of the judge. According to Lalli, the judge will probably decide that the workers need to pay rent or buy the business from the previous owner.

In the meantime, the hotel is back in business. Though it is still not entirely in working order, it is a bustling center for political and cultural events and generates enough profit to keep the operation going. The workers are running their business as a cooperative. Not everyone receives the same salary, but all major decisions are made in assemblies attended by all the hotel's workers.

Fabio Resino has been working at the hotel since it was taken over by the workers in 2003. "If the hotel had been run as a cooperative for all these years it would not have closed," he explained. "There was a lot of corruption and bad management with the previous owner. You could ask all ninety people that work here today and they'd all respond that they prefer this system to working for one boss. It takes more time this way, you have to work for more hours with fewer resources, but it's worth it."

"Before, we worked for a boss," he continued. "Now we work for ourselves. And when it is a cooperative you want to work better because it is your business, your own process. Before workers were numbers. Now we are people."


The Chilavert book publishing factory is located outside the center of Buenos Aires in a quiet neighborhood. On the front of the building is a colorful mural which contains the slogan of the recuperated business movement: "Occupy, Resist, Produce."

The factory itself is divided into offices, a kitchen, a cultural center and a large area full of printing and book binding machines. The machines vary in age; some of them are from the 1950's, and the newer ones are from the 1970's. When I visited, people of all ages were in the factory, either working or helping to organize community events. One woman was working in the cultural center on the second floor; another was sorting articles for a journal Chilavert produces. A musician stopped by to use the computer to print a flier for one of his concerts. Teenagers who worked in the factory as interns listened as another worker explained the intricacies of book layout and design. Towards the end of the day, dozens of people showed up for salsa classes in the cultural center. The factory had a festive, communal feel to it, but work was still going on and the machines were printing away. While I was there, a book of poetry and a science text book were being published.

When the factory was started in 1923 it was called Gaglianone, after the family who ran the business for decades before the worker takeover. After the takeover, the workers renamed their factory Chilavert, after the street it is on. Gaglianone was well known in Buenos Aires as a producer of high quality art books and materials for the major theaters in the city. However, in the 1990's the business had less work and a lot of the equipment was sold off, salaries were lowered and people were fired. In April of 2002, the factory closed its doors.

Out of necessity and a desire to keep their place of work functioning, the workers decided to occupy the factory. At the beginning of the occupation, they clandestinely produced books, (as illegal occupants of the building, it was against the law to do so). After producing them, they snuck the books through a hole in the factory's wall and into the neighbor's house. Though the hole has since been repaired, Chilavert workers have proudly placed a frame around this exposed brick section of the wall.

A climactic moment came on May 24th 2002 when eight police patrol cars, dozens of policemen, eight assault vehicles, two ambulances and one fire truck showed up at Chilavert to kick the workers out. Though there were only eight workers occupying the building they were accompanied by nearly three hundred other people, including neighbors, students and workers from other cooperatives who were there to help defend the factory. The massive group intimidated the police and when it became clear that blood was about to flow from both sides, the police retreated. The workers had won.

Occupy, Resist, Produce

Candido Gonzalez worked at Chilavert for forty two years before participating in the worker takeover. After a recent heart attack he attributes to stress and overwork, he said he plans to take it easy. That didn't stop him from recently attending the fifth annual World Social Forum in Brazil and participating in a recent city-wide subway strike. Throughout my visit, he joked with many workers in the building and seemed perfectly capable of talking forever. Our interview lasted a couple of hours and though he focused on Chilavert, he touched upon everything from earthquakes to whiskey.

"Occupy, resist and produce. This is the synthesis of what we are doing," Candido said, as he passed me a glass of iced tea. "And it is the community as a whole that makes this possible. When we were defending this place there were eight assault vehicles and thirty policemen that came here to kick us out. But we, along with other members of the community, stayed here and defended the factory."

He recalls this fight with tears in his eyes, "It is normal for you to fight for yourself, but when others fight for your cause it is very emotional."

Part of the local economy in the neighborhood depends on Chilavert for business. "We get our transportation, ink, food, coffee and paper - there is a paper factory fifteen blocks from here - all in this neighborhood. Chilavert helps the economy and if this factory closes, the neighborhood suffers."

Twelve people work at the factory and unlike other cooperatives in the city, everyone has the same salary. Major decisions are made in assemblies and community based activities play an important role in the weekly agenda. On the second level of the building there is a cultural center which is used for dance classes, movie screenings, discussions, poetry readings, parties and art exhibits.

Since the worker takeover, Chilavert has produced numerous books on social and political themes, with titles such as "The Unemployed Workers Movement," "What are Popular Assemblies?" and "Piquetera (Argentine activist group) Dignity."

"Every decision, every assembly, every book published, has something to do with politics," Chilavert worker, Julieta Galera explained. "The idea is to make books and works of art that have something to do with our political vision. There is a lot of prejudice against recuperated factories in Buenos Aires. People think we don't work hard enough. But Chilavert does some of the best work in the business."

Though Chilavert is one of the most famous of the recuperated businesses, its story is still unknown most Argentines. "We almost don't exist in the newspapers or the TV programs because we aren't with the government," Candido explained. "There are some two hundred recuperated, cooperative businesses in Argentina. That's not a lot compared to all the others that are not run this way."

Candido didn't think much of current president Nestor Kirchner, and didn't attribute Chilavert's success to any politician. "We didn't put a political party banner in the factory because we are the ones that took the factory. All kinds of politicians have come here asking for our support. Yet when the unions failed, when the state failed, the workers began a different kind of fight…If you want to take power and you can't take over the state, you have to at least take over the means of production."

Candido pointed across the room to a giant safe in the corner. Across the top of the safe was the name, Gaglianone. He laughed and shook his head. Perhaps that's where the old boss horded all of his money. "Now," Candido explained, pulling out a bottle, "this is where we keep the whiskey."


Summing up it can be said that the producer co-op model is almost everywhere and always an option for labour. It should not be reduced to a salvage operation when a business is in trouble. In better times it should become a long range project of progressive unions. Rather than simply reacting to what the boss is doing unions should be active in gradually increasing their control of an enterprise. Pension funds are one source of the funds needed to do this. So are voluntary subscriptions and a dedicated portion of union dues. With labour at the table management would actually be far more reasonable in the wages and benefits area than they are in this age of cutbacks.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012



It is a very old story out in Newfoundland way. Fish processing companies come and go, opening, closing and reopening elsewhere. All, of course, to keep labour costs as low as possible no matter what the effect on local communities.

The Ocean Choice International company is cut from the usual cloth. They have recently laid off 400 workers in Port Union and Marystown. This has come along with a "request" to the Newfoundland government to grant the company permanent exemption to ship fish outside of the province for processing. In return the company "promises" to double the number of jobs in Fortune, another fishing community, and by some miracle make them year around. The likelihood of them holding to this promise is about the same as a snowball gambling in the netherworld.

Laid off workers and their supporters gathered at the Paradise Newfoundland headquarters of Ocean Choice to voice their own demands. The workers are represented by the CAW affiliated Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union. Look to their website for more news of this dispute. Here's the basic story from the CBC. Molly has to say that she is doubtful about the good faith of the opposition politicians who addressed the rally.

Protesters rally at OCI headquarters
Labour leaders, opposition politicians address crowd
By Rob Antle, CBC News
About 150 protesters gathered at Ocean Choice International headquarters in Paradise Tuesday to rally against the company.

Former fish plant workers bussed in from Port Union and Marystown to hear labour leaders and opposition politicians deliver broadsides against OCI.

George Feltham, an inshore fisherman and a vice-president with the Fish, Food and Allied Workers union, condemned the company.

"This is not only an attack on plants, this is an attack on the fishery as a whole," Feltham said.

FFAW president Earle McCurdy said the industry is at a "fundamental turning point" right now.

More than 150 people, waving placards and chanting slogans, protested at OCI headquarters on Tuesday. (Rob Antle/CBC)He said the fight against plant closures must continue.

"The company, the union and the provincial government have a responsibility to leave no stone unturned to do everything possible to save those jobs, save those plants, save those communities," McCurdy said.

'Moaned, whined and sooked'
Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour president Lana Payne slammed the company, saying Ocean Choice "moaned, whined and sooked" about a request from the provincial government for more information.

On Monday, OCI officials said that critical comments by Fisheries Minister Darin King were hurting the company's reputation with its global clientele.

But Payne said the real damage came when OCI laid off 400 people at its Port Union and Marystown facilities weeks before Christmas.

Workers want the shuttered fish plants reopened. They also want the government to deny OCI's request for exemptions to ship unprocessed fish out of the province.

The company is promising to nearly double the number of jobs at its fish plant in Fortune, and make those jobs year round, if the province grants its request.

The government has already turned down OCI's request for permanent exemptions, but no decision has been made on temporary ones.

Protesters propped placards against the OCI headquarters building at the end of Tuesday's rally. (Rob Antle/CBC)The company is sharing information with the government, and a decision on that could be made within weeks.

Opposition reaction
The leaders of the province's two opposition parties spoke in support of the protesters' cause.

Liberal Leader Dwight Ball accused the Tory administration of lacking vision on the fishery.

"This Dunderdale government has not been proactive, nor have they been creative," Ball said. "They have not been strong advocates for strenghtening our fishery."

NDP Leader Lorraine Michael said Fisheries Minister Darin King took a step in the right direction when he turned down OCI's request for permanent exemptions last week, but pledged to keep his feet to the fire.

"The resource belongs to the people," Michael said.