Welcome to the IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus

"Judi Bari did something that I believe is unparalleled in the history of the environmental movement. She is an Earth First! activist who took it upon herself to organize Georgia Pacific sawmill workers into the IWW…Well guess what friends, environmentalists and rank and file timber workers becoming allies is the most dangerous thing in the world to the timber industry!"

--Darryl Cherney, June 20, 1990.

Fund Travel to Crude by Rail Conference

By x356039 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, July 23, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Hi everyone,

I am a full time graduate student and environmental activist who is doing work on raising awareness around the dangers of Crude by Rail.

On August 22nd Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington will be hosting a major conference for discussing crude by rail, sharing information, and discussing what can be done to stop this danger to our communities and environment.  As is shown in the image above from the aftermath of the Lac-Megantic disaster in Quebec, the first of many such horrible tragedies, the danger this poses is very real.

That is why I am asking you to help me fund my travel expenses so I can attend and participate in the discussion and planning on what is to be done.  The more help you can provide the better as this is an issue that effects us all.  Not only are these bakken crude bomb trains a clear and present danger to the health and safety of all communities living near crude by rail routes, the burning of these incredibly dirty fuel sources is more than our already overstressed planet can take.

Please help me make it out to Olympia to make a difference! 

Donate Here.

Northwest Communities Oppose Coal Exports

Press Release - Wild Idaho Rising Tide, August 16, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

On Saturday, August 16, and during the previous week, grassroots groups are holding a coordinated day of peaceful actions, to protest the passage of coal trains through interior Northwest communities [1, 2].  From Montana and Wyoming to Oregon and Washington, proposals to bring more polluting coal trains through the region impact dozens of communities along rail lines, who are organizing to protect their towns from coal exports.  This summer, 350-Missoula, Blue Skies Campaign, Indian People’s Action, Wild Idaho Rising Tide, and other organizations are together catalyzing this movement against dirty energy in new and bolder ways, evident in this regional day of action.

As inland Northwest citizens largely dismissed by the federal and state regulatory processes that determine the fate of three proposed coal export facilities at Cherry Point and Longview, Washington, and Boardman, Oregon, we stand in solidarity with Northwest tribes and climate activists resisting these West Coast ports and Powder River Basin coal mines that despoil native lands and watersheds and ultimately global climate [3].  While Oregon agencies deliberate their possible issuance of key permits allowing financially risky, Australia-based Ambre Energy to begin construction on the controversial Morrow Pacific coal train terminal dock and warehouses at Boardman, we support friends among the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, who rejected  the companies’ bribes of up to $800,000 per year to partner in and benefit from building this Coyote Island Terminal and shipping 8.8 million tons of coal per year down the Columbia River [4, 5].

Residents of four states will continue to work to stop coal exports by every means, including arrestable, nonviolent civil disobedience, as we pressure coal and railroad companies and political officials who support them.  With our protests, we honor the 71 brave Northwest activists who have endured arrest and citation during occupations of coal train tracks and public buildings in Bellingham, Washington (December 2011), White Rock, British Columbia (May 2012), Helena, Montana (August 2012 and September 2013), Spokane, Washington (June 2013), and Missoula, Montana (April 2014), as interior Northwest groups further coordinate regional demonstrations resisting coal export that started in January 2013 [6, 7].

The State of the Environmental Movement

By Burkeley Herrman - August 17, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Recently, the Washington Post covered a 192-page study that struck to the heart of the big environmental organizations. As summarized by reporter Darryl Fears of the Post, who covers wildlife and the Chesapeake Bay, the study showed that the US's biggest environmental groups have “failed to keep pace with the nation's expanding minority populations—and remain overwhelmingly white.” Rather than going into the specifics of certain numbers in the article and the study, this article will be a reaction to what the Post wrote and my thoughts on the current state of the environmental movement.

As the article notes, the study, which was one of the first investigations “of diversity within green groups in years,” was supported financially by the Sierra Club, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, and Green 2.0. Through some further research I found that Green 2.0. is clearly a mainstream environmental organization since it has a working group composed of people from top environmental groups, academics, nine individuals from a lobbying and consulting group with clients including big foundations, big corporations and nonprofits (The Raben Group), governmental officials and other green activists. What about the study itself? The article talks not only about the lack of diversity in the environmental organizations, but why people of color don't join such organizations. This was part of the article I found most interesting since it noted that people of color who are employed at such organizations feel “alienated” and not welcome, while “recruitment for staff frequently occurs through word-of-mouth and informal networks...[which] makes it difficult for ethnic minorities, the working class” or anyone outside “traditional environmental networks” to know about job openings and then apply for such jobs.

This was only the first part of the article that made me realize the divide in the environmental movement. This divide is a racial one. As the article notes, during the civil rights movement, people of color joined big environmental organizations in an effort to “battle the power plants, petrochemical refineries, railroads, sewers, and other polluters operating in their communities,” but they were “unwelcome” in these organizations. Eventually, there was a summit of environmentalists who were people of color which condemned the big environmental organizations for not having diversity among their members and taking in a “lion's share of funding.” Recruiters from some of the groups responded, saying, in an almost a racist way, that “they tried to be more inclusive, but minorities lacked the education and skills needed to be effective advocates,” which implied that white advocates had the skills and education. While it is true that some people of color don't have such skills, others do. Additionally, the social environment certain people of color grow up in, especially in ghettos or slums in the inner-city areas, could result in not having these skills. As I wrote in a paper about the conditions inside prisons and the reasons for the rise of mass incarceration, that not only is the mass arrest of people within the US, the war on drugs, and the education system bias against people of color, but the hope for “a better world is to be in the 'next generation'” is greatly diminished when “when many of these people [of color] are these people are in jail or in prison.” Even so, it is still unacceptable that people would be excluded since all the environmental groups would have to do is teach someone skills if they did not know them already. It's not that hard. As a result of such opinions and the treatment of people of color inside such organizations, it is not a surprise that it's hard to retain people of color.

Localism? I don’t buy it

By Stan Cox - Al Jazeera, April 4, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Humanity’s failure so far to deal with multiple crises – planet-wide ecological degradation, domination by a transnational economic elite, the deepening misery that afflicts billions in both rich and poor nations – has prompted increasing interest in local economies as less intimidating arenas where much-needed change might be more readily achieved.

It’s true that in the earliest days of capitalism, the human exploitation and environmental destruction that came along with the pursuit of profit were largely local problems. Then, inevitably, those local economies grew and coalesced into an even more destructive global economy. But retreating into local issues means latching onto one of capitalism’s symptoms – the eclipsing of local economies and governments by more powerful transnational forces – and treating it as if it’s the disease itself.

In his 2012 book, No Local: Why Small-Scale Alternatives Won’t Change the World, Greg Sharzer writes, “The problem with localism is not its anti-corporate politics, but that these politics don’t go far enough. It sees the effects of unbridled competition but not the cause.”

How Crony Capitalism and Deregulation Poisoned Toledo's Water

By Carl Gibson - Occupy.Com, August 15, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Toledo's recent water crisis isn't unlike this year's water-related crises in West Virginia and Detroit. As in those other events, the poisoning of Toledo's water is ultimately tied to corruption at the highest levels of state government by corporate special interests.

Freedom Industries's toxic chemical spill in Charleston's Elk River in January, which poisoned drinking water for 300,000 people, was a direct result of West Virginia's state government deregulating coal, the state's top industry, and selective enforcement of environmental laws when it concerns big campaign donors in the coal business.

In Detroit, the poorest 40 percent of the city stood to lose water in their homes – something the UN has declared a basic human right. The Detroit water shutoffs were proposed by an unelected emergency manager who singlehandedly made the decision to pay off big foreign banks with $537 million meant for city water infrastructure, while making the most vulnerable foot the bill.

Toledo's water crisis would never have happened if agricultural runoff had been properly regulated – and if Ohio's government hadn't systematically diverted tax dollars meant for cities and counties to upgrade infrastructure, meanwhile rewarding corporations and the rich with more tax breaks.

Chapter 23 : Forests Forever

By Steve Ongerth - From the book, Redwood Uprising: Book 1

“We have to act now…Less than five percent of the original old growth forest remains, and a lot of wildlife and plant species are going to extinction in the next five years if they don’t get this protection. We can’t wait. The forest destruction here is just as bad as in the Amazon rain forest. But we don’t have as much forest left as they do. This is our last chance to save what’s left.” [1]

— The Man Who Walks in the Woods.

“While current law calls for protection of the environment and the sustained yield of high quality timber products, it frustrates any attempt to actually achieve these goals.

Under current law, actual forest practice rules are written by a state board of forestry completely dominated by timber industry representatives. And administration of the law is left exclusively to the California Department of Forestry, an agency that one local judge has called a ‘rubber stamp’ for logging companies The current rules that regulate logging practices would not protect the resource even if they were enforced. And they are not being enforced. CDF has systematically prevented other state agencies from playing a role in reviewing timber harvest plans submitted under the act.” [2]

—Richard Johnson, Mendocino Country Environmentalist.

At the same time the “Laytonville Lorax War” was taking place, the continuing legal battles against Maxxam raged on. Woody and Warren Murphy as well as Suzanne Murphy-Civian, represented by their friend Bill Bertain, sued Maxxam and Charles Hurwitz yet again, this time alleging that Drexel Burnham Lambert (DBL) working through Ivan Boesky had engaged in illegal stock parking. According to the suit, prior to Hurwitz’s tender offer to the P-L board of directors in October 1985, Boesky effectively owned as much as 10 percent of the company’s stock, thus violating the Hart-Scott-Rodino act of 1984. This information had not been revealed until findings by the SEC were made public in 1988. Had the shareholders known about this, they would have had a stronger case against the merger originally. The Murphys’ suit demanded $18 million in damages to all of the shareholders who owned stock prior to the sale, charging that had the directors known of Boesky’s and DBL’s activity, they would have valued the company’s stock at roughly $70 per share instead of the $40 finally offered by Hurwitz. [3]

Meanwhile, having been rebuffed by the NLRB, and having lost the support of a great many formerly enthusiastic employees, Patrick Shannon chose to take a different route to try and realize what many had concluded was a pipedream. The ESOP organizer now proposed that a initiative be placed on ballot for November 1990 that would seize ownership of Pacific Lumber from Maxxam and place it in the hands of the company’s workers. The measure, tentatively called the Timber Bond Act, would raise $940 in bonds and pay Maxxam for the purchase of the firm. It also called for the setting aside of 3,700 acres of old growth redwoods including Headwaters Forest. Under the plan, the employees would recompense the taxpayers of California by repaying the bonds at 9 percent interest. The measure allowed 40 years to complete that process, but Shannon estimated that this would require a total of 15 years at most. After that, should the purchase be paid in full, additional moneys raised would be deposited into a revolving account from which other potential ESOP campaigns could seek loans. [4]

As was expected, Corporate Timber did not respond favorably to Patrick Shannon’s effort. Pacific Lumber spokespeople framed the initiative as a backdoor attempt at “Communism”, knowing full well that such efforts would have little support in the dying days of the Soviet Union and the latter’s waning political influence over Eastern Europe.

Rail Workers Revolt against Driving Solo

By Alexandra Bradbury - Labor Notes, August 12, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

“There’s a real rank-and-file rebellion going on right now,” says Jen Wallis, a Seattle switchman-conductor for Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway. “People who’ve never been involved in the union, never went to a union meeting, they are showing up and they’re joining Railroad Workers United in droves.

“People are saying, ‘We have to take action now to stop it. We can’t let our union officers do this to us.’”

What’s all the fuss? On July 16, thousands of railroaders abruptly learned their union officers had held secret negotiations with BNSF, one of the country’s biggest freight carriers, and reached a deal to allow single-person train crews: a safety disaster.

Ballots on the tentative agreement went out in early August, and are due back in early September. If the vote goes up, huge freight trains could rumble through towns across the western U.S. with just an engineer onboard, no conductor.

This would be a first on a major railway, and a foot in the door for the whole industry. BNSF is owned by Warren Buffett, one of the world’s richest people.

“Members had no clue this was even coming,” said John Paul Wright, a locomotive engineer working out of Louisville, Kentucky. “The membership is basically saying, “What in the hell is going on? We never thought our own union would sell us out.’”

Wright is co-chair of the cross-union, rank-and-file group Railroad Workers United, which has been campaigning against the looming threat of single-person crews for a decade. With just weeks to go, its members are suddenly busy sending out “vote no” stickers and appealing to local labor councils to pass resolutions backing two-person crews.

“We weren’t expecting it this soon,” says Robert Hill, a BNSF engineer in Spokane, Washington. “We were expecting it.”

Railroaders are seeking out RWU and a new Facebook group, “Spouses & Families Against One-Man Crews,” to get information and coordinate the push for a “No” vote. Much of the opposition is being led by railroaders’ family members.

Engineers and conductors are represented by separate unions. The conductors, members of SMART, are the ones voting on this contract.

“This vote will affect far more people than just the ones that vote on it,” said James Wallace, a BNSF conductor in Lincoln, Nebraska, and RWU co-chair, “because it is going to set a precedent for all freight railroads in the U.S., and potentially endanger the job of every conductor in this country.”

Ramu Mine Attack: Police Arrest Five Workers

From The National aka The Loggers Times - August 11, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

For further background, see Villagers not seeing promised benefits from Ramu mine

POLICE have arrested five men in connection with the raid and destruction of properties last week at the Ramu Nickel’s Kurumbukari mine site in Madang.

A Madang police source said the five were understood to be the main instigators of the raid last Monday.

The source said two of the people arrested were employed in the company’s community affairs department, two from a security firm plus a senior employee.

Police said three people, who were arrested and locked in a shipping container at the mine site on Thursday, were freed by their relatives who cut open the locks when police had left the area.

The damage to properties was estimated at K17 million.

The mine site was attacked by armed villagers, who damaged mining equipment and injured five Chinese employees.

Nine excavators, one fuel truck and a vehicle were burnt.

The company reported that computers, printing machines, office furniture, office windows and doors, two-way radios and office phones, three excavators, two PC300 excavators and other unidentified equipment were either damaged or removed.

The five suspects were refused bail by police.

Mining Minister Byron Chan will visit the mine site this week

UBS Backs Away From Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining - Victory for Grassroots Organizing, Campaigners Say More Action Still Needed from UBS

By Ricki Draper - Hands off Appalachia, August 13, 2014

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

Knoxville, TN — UBS, the world's third top funder of mountaintop removal in 2011, has taken steps demonstrating its commitment to significantly reduce financing of the mining practice. Last month, the bank confirmed to environmental campaigners that it will continue backing away from mountaintop removal financing. Moreover, UBS has declined to participate in the most recent transactions with its former clients Alpha Natural Resources and Arch Coal, which were among the top producers of mountaintop removal coal in 2013.

"UBS' statement is a step in the right direction on mountaintop removal, but it’s the bank's actions that show they’re following through," said Ricki Draper of Hands off Appalachia. "We have seen that grassroots organizing can make a difference in stopping the financing of this deadly form of mining that poisons coalfield communities and contributes to the destruction of Appalachia’s culture and heritage."

The victory comes after three years of grassroots organizing by Hands Off Appalachia and Mountain Justice targeting the financing of mountaintop removal. Starting in Knoxville, TN, the Hands off Appalachia campaign has organized dozens of actions and protests at local UBS offices across Appalachia and the southeast. In the summer of 2013, members of the campaign were arrested during a protest at UBS's Knoxville, TN office. Shortly afterwards, four members of the Connecticut-based group Capitalism vs. the Climate blocked the entrance to UBS's North American headquarters in Stamford, CT and were arrested.

On November 25, 2014, members of Hands off Appalachia, Radical Action for Mountain People's Survival, and Capitalism vs. the Climate took action in Stamford, sitting-in at the UBS office and hanging a banner from a nearby 20-story construction crane. Police arrested 14 activists in connection to the protest.

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