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.

Declaration of the 44th Annual Convention of Doro-Chiba

By Doro Chiba - Translated into English by Transport Workers Solidarity Committee, September 27, 2015

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.

Doro-Chiba adopted unanimously a new policy of struggle on the 44th Annual Convention today held in the Union Hall. We resolutely confront with the second round offensive of the Division and Privatization by the JR Companies and also advance the fight against the rejection of a final appeal for the Japan Railways' employment discrimination at the time of the Division and Privatization of JNR in 1987.

Doro-Chiba made a final appeal in regard to the above case to the Supreme Court in 2013, but on June 30 of this year, the Court denied the appeal. This reactionary decision of the Supreme Court was an attempt to peremptorily put a period to the National Railway Struggle. Under the explosive situation of railroading the war legislation, the state power was finally forced to make a decision of dismantling militant labor movement at large. However, our consistent struggle has driven the Supreme Court into the corner. The Court was obliged to admit that the JR and the state power itself had committed unfair labor practices in its policy making of discriminating re-employment and dismissal at the time of the Division and Privatization. At last the bedrock of the assault of Division and Privatization of National Railway was shaken! This is a significant victory.

Our thirty year-long struggle has never let the Division and Privatization of JNR slide by as a past issue and prevented the completion of Rengo (system-friendly Japanese Trade Union Confederation) which was established to destroy militant labor movements in 1989.

Our persistent struggle against the Division and Privatization of JNR has defended labor movements and the rights of workers in the nick of time. Now we launch a fresh struggle to have the unfair dismissal withdrawn and laid-off workers reinstated.

We are now drawing up a strike plan to protest against the planned outsourcing toward October 1, the day our members were forced to go on loan to the subcontractor three years ago. We claim; “Cancel immediately our outsourcing contract and reinstate all jobs to JR!” The privatizing and outsourcing issues have not at all been settled yet. An all-out struggle starts from now on.

We denounce Abe administration with fierce anger for railroading the war legislation. However, this historic abominable onslaught has released millions of workers’ anger and let them swing into action, On August 30, more than 120,000 people occupied and liberated the closed area in front of the Diet building, breaking through the police’s cordon. The corrupt knots of Japan Communist Party (JCP) and Rengo became terrified and tried to calm the situation within the framework of co-opted opposition forces. But the protest action grew more and more militant every day and sparked a heavy clash with police power for a week. The history began to change then.

NUMSA fully backs Coal sector strike

By Castro Ngobese - NUMSA, October 5, 2015

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.

The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa), on behalf of its 365 000 members, pledges its unwavering support and unflinching solidarity with the striking coal workers, as led by two class orientated and anti-capitalist workers formations, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU).

We call on workers to unite behind their legitimate and genuine demands, irrespective of their union’s logos or t-shirt colours. Furthermore, we call on the striking workers to use this strike to agitate and propagate for coal as a strategic mineral resource to be nationalized, in order to build the required and necessary capacity for the democratic State to supply cheaper electricity to Eskom and the national grid.

The strike is happening amidst the socio-economic burden faced by workers of taking care of the vast number of the unemployed, especially amongst the youth and women, who are ravaged by squalor and poverty in working class communities, informal settlements and rural slums, post the 1994 failed negotiated political settlement. The workers are demanding a fair share of the surplus in the absent of a legislated Minimum Wage, as a stated key socio-economic demand of the Freedom Charter.

The ongoing strike should consolidate working class power from below to challenge the colonial and racist economic dominance and wealth concentration in the hands of a tiny minority. This is against the super remuneration packages and benefits enjoyed mining’s Chief Executives, whilst ordinary workers are paid Apartheid poverty wages. The demands by the unions on behalf of their members will elevate the socio-economic living standard of workers, including a life of dignity.

We call on the workers not to soften their demands when Executives, Shareholders’ salaries, bonuses and perks remain obscene, whilst workers who are producers of wealth are squeezed deeper into abject poverty and economic misery.

Numsa calls on the coal mining oligarchy to concede to the reasonable and affordable demands of workers. In line with workers’ battle slogan: “an injury to one; and injury to all”, Numsa calls on its members and communities to join the picket’s line in solidarity with the striking workers. Through solidarity actions we shall diminish the fictitious wall erected between community struggles and struggles on the shopfloor.

Can Autoworkers Save the Climate?

By Lars Henriksson - Jacobin, October 2, 2015

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.

At the COP 19, the even-more-depressing-than-usual climate summit that took place in Warsaw in 2013, one small ray of light made it through the dark corporate clouds that were otherwise suffocating even the slightest effort to address the ongoing environmental disaster.

On the last day of the conference, an unusual alliance was formed as environmental organizations and trade unions together walked out of the venue under the banner of “Enough Is Enough.” Sick of the meaningless talks, they stated:

We are now focusing on mobilizing people to push our governments to take leadership for serious climate action. We will work to transform our food and energy systems at a national and global level and rebuild a broken economic system to create a sustainable and low-carbon economy with decent jobs and livelihoods for all. And we will put pressure on everyone to do more to realize this vision.

If not entirely unique, this action nevertheless promised a new hope for a climate movement that never recovered after its (greatly exaggerated) expectations cruelly disappointed at the summit in Copenhagen four years earlier. The relationship between trade unions and environmentalists has often been strained, if there has been one at all. More often than not, those claiming to defend the earth and workers’ rights are operating at a crossroads, sometimes colliding in head-to-head confrontation — especially when jobs are pitted against environmental interests.

I found myself in that squeeze when the financial crisis hit the auto industry in 2008. The previous year, Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and climate change topped worldwide headlines. But with the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the auto industry in free fall, the climate crisis quickly disappeared from general discussion, even more so among auto-industry workers. Profits (disguised as “jobs”) were the main issue, not the complicated and distant phenomenon of global warming.

What the Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know About Fracking

By Josh Fox and Lee Ziesche - EcoWatch, September 12, 2015

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.


When we hear politicians and gas companies extoll the virtues of fracking, jobs created by drilling is usually high on their list of talking points. But the jobs created by fracking are not the kind of quality jobs American workers deserve.

They are not the kind of jobs American laborers have fought and died for throughout our country’s history.

They are extremely dangerous, exposing workers to chemicals whose long-term impacts on human health are yet unknown. In fact, the fatality rate of oil field jobs is seven times greater than the national average.

In our new short film, GASWORK: The Fight for C.J.’s Law, we conduct an investigation into worker safety and chemical risk. We follow Charlotte Bevins as she fights for CJ’s law—a bill to protect workers named for her brother CJ Bevins, who died at an unsafe drilling site.

We interview many workers who have been asked to clean drill sites, transport radioactive and carcinogenic chemicals, steam-clean the inside of condensate tanks which contain harmful volatile organic compounds, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons and other chemicals, and have been told to do so with no safety equipment.

Post Carbon Radio Episode 93: Flood Wall Street West and Greywater Systems

By Karen Nyhus - KWMR, September 30, 2015

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.

Karen interviews activists (including two members of the Bay Area IWW) at Flood Wall Street West ... in the San Francisco Financial District, who were taking direct action against institutions profiting from dirty energy. We then speak with Laura Allen, Executive Director of Greywater Action and author of The Water-Wise Home: How to Conserve, Capture and Reuse Water in Your Home and Lands, about greywater systems and best practices.

VW Chose Profit Over the Planet

By Tyler Zimmer - Socialist Worker, October 1, 2015

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.

IT'S ONLY been a week, but it's already being dubbed one of the biggest-ever corporate scandals.

Volkswagen, the world's largest auto manufacturer, was recently caught rigging millions of its cars to cheat on emissions tests. Software known as "defeat devices" was installed in more than 11 million cars that enabled the vehicles to pass emissions tests they would otherwise have failed. The illicit devices detect when a car is being tested and direct the engine to pump out far less pollutants--98 percent less--into the air than they ordinarily do when on the road.

The fallout has been swift and profoundly damaging for the company. In a single week, more than a quarter of the company's total value of shares has been completely wiped out. Governments in Germany and the U.S. are already promising to impose heavy fines--some sources say the total amount could add up to as much as $10 billion to $20 billion. Executives have resigned, sales have been suspended, and a massive recall of rigged cars looms large.

Of course, if you were to take the VW brand's self-image at face value, these revelations would come as something of a severe shock. Volkswagen has spent the last several years cultivating a public image that evokes precision, efficiency and ecological sensitivity--VW's are "clean, quiet and powerful" as a recent advertisement put it.

The company has courted millennials with talk of "clean diesel technology." Indeed, before the scandal broke, VW was held up by the Dow Jones Sustainability Index as the "greenest," most environmentally conscious carmaker in the world. This is only one of many awards that the company has racked up over the years for its supposed commitment to ecological sustainability.

No doubt much of the public outrage directed at VW owes to the contradiction between the company's "green" reputation, on the one hand, and its systematic engagement in fraudulent polluting, on the other. As more and more information about the company's decision-making comes to light, the easier it becomes to see the matter in purely ethical terms, as a case where greed blinded those at the top.

The public will be encouraged to conclude that this scandal is the result of cynical, deceptive actions on the part of a few corporate executives--"a few bad apples"--at the top of Volkswagen. But thinking about the issue in this way would be a mistake, since it would lead us to overlook the larger, systemic problems with capitalism that this scandal reveals.

RailCon15: Chicagoland Conference Reflections

By Hieronymous - LibCom.Org, September 30, 2015

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.

In his 1914 poem, “Chicago,” Carl Sandburg called the city a “Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler.” Others have called it the “Rome of Railroads,” as in all railroads lead to Chicago. It’s the biggest, busiest and most complex rail hub in the world, with at least 1,300 passengers and freight trains passing through it daily. It remains the central node of the North American rail transportation system. Despite the city’s vast size, you can’t visit a neighborhood without seeing traces of how railroads developed the city – in the process connected the eastern U.S. with all of the West through this major portal. And it’s not just railroads, as barges, tractor-trailers, and bellies of planes make Chicago a hub that ranks just behind Singapore and Hong Kong for the world’s highest intermodal volume – not to mention the pipelines that carry liquid commodities into the city.

So Chicago couldn’t have been more fitting for the third Railroad Safety Conference. I arrived the day before, Friday, September 18th to help prepare. From O’Hare Airport I took the CTA "L" Blue Line to the Loop downtown, strolled over to Millennium Park and immediately discovered it was built a decade ago on a steel superstructure over Illinois Central’s original Chicago rail yard. An RWU member met me at Union Station and gave me a tour of its once grand interior, detailing its demise. Until 1969 Chicago had six intercity passenger rail terminals; Union Station is the only one that is in any way close to its original form.

The conference location at the union hall of United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) couldn’t have been more appropriate either. In response to McCarthyism inspired raids by competing unions, UE left the CIO in 1949. By 1950 eleven unions left or were expelled from the CIO; only two remain today, UE and the West Coast-based International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). Both remain strong unions, with democratic governance, and have led some of the most inspiring recent struggles. For the UE, it was the week-long occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors factory on Goose Island in Chicago in December 2008. For the ILWU it has been the willingness to take political stands, like the work stoppage on May Day 2008 when all 29 ports on the West Coast ceased operating for the day.

The conference, titled Railroad Safety: Workers, Community and the Environment, carried on the agenda of the previous two conferences in California and Washington State with around 80 in attendance. Carl Rosen, President of UE, gave us a warm welcome to the hall, then RWU General Secretary Ron Kaminkow gave a brief history of RWU and mentioned the recent defeat of a union proposal for single-person crews at BNSF. Conference attendees introduced themselves, showing how far some had traveled to attend, from as far as New York, Washington DC, Seattle, San Francisco and Quebec, Canada; in addition, each cluster of tables came up with their goals for the conference. Most concerned educating affected communities about the realities of fossil fuel transport, especially rail, as well as upholding the principle of keeping energy resources “in the ground.” Next RWU members gave two sessions about the safety concerns of railroad workers. Included in the first were Single Employee Train Crews, Teamwork, Chronic Fatigue and Scheduling. In the second they were Long & Heavy Trains, Track Maintenance, and Rail Safety Programs. A guest, Michael Termini from the Government Accountability Project, talked about legal protections for whistleblowers.

Chomsky: History Doesn’t Go In a Straight Line

Noam Chomsky interviewed by Tommaso Segantini - Jacobin, September 22, 2015

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.

Throughout his illustrious career, one of Noam Chomsky’s chief preoccupations has been questioning — and urging us to question — the assumptions and norms that govern our society.

Following a talk on power, ideology, and US foreign policy last weekend at the New School in New York City, freelance Italian journalist Tommaso Segantini sat down with the eighty-six-year-old to discuss some of the same themes, including how they relate to processes of social change.

For radicals, progress requires puncturing the bubble of inevitability: austerity, for instance, “is a policy decision undertaken by the designers for their own purposes.” It is not implemented, Chomsky says, “because of any economic laws.” American capitalism also benefits from ideological obfuscation: despite its association with free markets, capitalism is shot through with subsidies for some of the most powerful private actors. This bubble needs popping too.

In addition to discussing the prospects for radical change, Chomsky comments on the eurozone crisis, whether Syriza could’ve avoided submitting to Greece’s creditors, and the significance of Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders.

And he remains soberly optimistic. “Over time there’s a kind of a general trajectory towards a more just society, with regressions and reversals of course.”

East Bay Unions Don't Want Your Coal

By S.E. Smith - Truthout, September 29, 2015

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.

Coal is the energy source of the past, so what is it doing in plans for our future? It's a question that was asked by labor, environmental and community activists as they learned about plans for a new bulk commodities terminal proposed for Oakland's former army base by developer Terminal Logistics Solutions. The company is backed heavily by major coal producers in Utah looking for a way to get their product to U.S. ports for shipment, and while they thought they could sneak it by quietly, the ever-vigilant community in the Bay Area found out anyway, and the result was explosive. Opposition to the terminal is coming from a variety of angles, but one is particularly important: the labor community.

Oakland's workers, especially its dockworkers, have always been highly active in their community. Many live and work in and around West Oakland, near the city's port, and they have a vested interest in community health and welfare in addition to safe working conditions. They live in the awareness that the region has extremely high rates of respiratory disease and other pollution-related illnesses, something coal shipping would only exacerbate, and that working on a daily basis with the dusty and dangerous commodity would put their health at risk as well. So they had a personal interest in keeping coal out of Oakland, but it went deeper than that.

In a statement issued September 18—immediately before a city council meeting scheduled for the 21st—the Alameda Labor Council put forward a firm case against coal. "The Alameda Labor Council [expresses] opposition to the export of coal through Oakland and specifically the Oakland Global Trade and Logistics Center at the former Oakland Army Base," they explained, citing environmental and human health risks associated with coal exports. They also noted that the coal industry is notoriously anti-union, and that it doesn't offer as many jobs as work in other commodity industries. Moreover, union advocates argued, they welcomed development of other commodities shipping at the Port of Oakland, as long as it involved less toxic and environmentally harmful products.