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.

EcoUnionist News #10

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, December 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.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Story:

Urgent Action:

  • Philippines sugar organizer murdered - Act Now!

Dispatches from Lima COP20:

Other News of Interest:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

EcoUnionist News #9

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, December 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.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

Noam Chomsky:

Other News of Interest:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

My Social Credo

By Arthur J. Miller - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, December 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.

1. ALL THINGS ARE CONNECTED: There are many needed struggles, but they are all connected because in one way or another, we all struggle against the same oppressors and the same abusive system. In the natural world all life is connected.

2. LIFE IN BALANCE: Life out of balance with all is the greatest threat we face to our survival. Life out of balance, a violent world of pursuit of greed and power for some at the expense of the many is leaving our world a wasteland of human folly and suffering. Life in balance with all around us is our only means of survival.

3. HUMAN RIGHTS FOR ALL: The right to exist, the right to food, shelter and medical care, the right to dwell upon the land, the right of free speech, free assembly and the right to organizing for better conditions, the right to live without oppression, should be the rights of all of humankind.

4. DIVERSITY AWARENESSS AND RESPECT: Humankind is a great diversity of cultures. When we treat that diversity with acknowledgment and respect, that diversity becomes our strength and not our weakness.

5. INCLUSION: The oppressed and exploited are a great mass of people. But they are not all the same. Seeking to include all people and their concerns makes real social change possible. Seeking to exclude people makes real social change impossible. For in that you only change things for the better of some at the expense of the many.

6. SELF-DETERMINATION: The oppressed organizing against our oppressions and struggling to control our own fate.

7. SPEAKING FOR OURSELVES: The oppressed and exploited people need to be able to speak for ourselves by means of writing, speaking, art, music and so on, because we are the only ones that are truly able to understand what we are going through. And that understanding is necessary in order to free ourselves from the way things were not meant to be.

8. GENERATIONS IN BALANCE: Creating balance between the old and the new. What came before lays the foundation, the new adds to it and passes it on to the future generations.

9. THE 7TH GENERATION: Instant gratification of greed is a suicidal direction. In all things, look to the 7th Generation to come as to what we do now will effect the future, many Indigenous cultures teach us this.

10. WORKING FOLKS: We live in a class society where those that do the useful work are of a lower class while those that oppress and exploit us exist as a higher privileged class. There is great dignity in the labor of working people, for we do all that is needed for our needs and wants. No society can exist without us. There is no dignity or usefulness in the class that oppresses and exploits us, they do nothing useful, they are unneeded and they stand in the way of the well-being of all.

11. FOR A CLASSLESS SOCIETY: The idle rich on top living off the labor of the classes below them, and thus creating endless class conflict. Organize for a classless society for the peace and well-being of all humanity.

12. REPLACING EUROCENTICISM WITH MULTI-ETHNIC INTERNATIONALISM: Eurocenticism seeks conquest of the world by the domination of a few imperialists, and to impose their cultural/political/economic system on all, which they view as superior to all else. Eurocentic supremacy needs to be replaced with multi-ethnic internationalism. True multi-ethnic internationalism is open to all the knowledge and cultures of the people of the world.

13. ENDING THE GENOCIDE: The Western lands are built upon genocidal policies against the Original People. It is important to understand this so that we can put an end to those policies that started with Columbus and continue to this day. FREE LEONARD PELTIER!

Eco Unionist News #8

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, December 10, 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.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

Other News of Interest:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

Chapter 35 : “You Brought it On Yourself, Judi”

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

“A lot of social movements get called terrorism. It dehumanizes (them). People have tried working through the system for years. It didn’t work.”

—Alison Bowman, editor, City on a Hill [1]

“The vast majority of people in this world neither own nor believe in ‘private property’, not because they are communists, but because they know it is not possible to own the Earth. This applies to the animals, too, which overall are a hell of a lot smarter than most humans.”

—Darryl Cherney, May 22, 1990 [2]

Darryl Cherney returned from Arizona, refreshed and ready to resume organizing, but the situation in Humboldt and Mendocino County was as volatile as ever. The buildup to Redwood Summer was exceeding all the organizers’ expectations. It was clear to everyone that the North Coast was about to experience a civil war. Accusations of “polarization” and “violent rhetoric” were constantly leveled at the Earth First! and IWW activists preparing to organize Redwood Summer, and many of these came from both local and corporate media outlets. The picture they painted was one of a once peaceful and prosperous region of logging communities disrupted by environmental extremists bent on wreaking havoc on the struggling, hard working timber workers of the region. Such descriptions couldn’t have been more divorced from reality.

Judi Bari had made it clear from the get go that the Redwood Summer demonstrators would not engage in hostile confrontations with the loggers, even if their actions impacted them directly:

“Our very style (if you look into Wobbly history) was taken from the loggers. We’ve had, since I’ve been in Earth First, an unwritten code that the loggers should be treated as potential allies. And we should be totally respectful of them. We are the only environmental group that I know of that has established the kind of relations with the rank and file loggers that we have. We’ve spoken for their interests, we’ve met with them, we even have a union local (IWW Local #1) with them. We have all different levels of rank and file loggers working with us. At the Eminent Domain demonstrations we appeared in public with the loggers and mill workers. We are not going to be yelling at the loggers because we have respect for them as working people.” [3]

Between the months of March and April, the campaign had gone from being just Bari, Cherney, an increasingly reluctant Greg King, and about a dozen others to as many as 100 different organizers. Meetings routinely averaged 60 participants. Almost all of them were local residents and not “outside agitators.” [4]

If anything, it was the forces of reaction that engaged in the most polarization. Indeed, in just the short period while Darryl Cherney vacationed in Arizona, Glenn Simmons continued to editorialize similarly in the pages of the Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance, denouncing the organizers of Redwood Summer, because (according to Simmons) they “didn’t believe in God” (specifically a Christian Fundamentalist incarnation of “God”). [5] The Mendocino County chapter of the “Associated California Loggers” (still one more employer organization) accused environmentalists of “terrorism” (but cited no specific acts as evidence). [6] L-P spent $100,000 to construct a barbed wire fence surrounding its Ukiah mill to “protect” its employees from Earth First! “terrorists”. [7] Georgia Pacific cancelled public tours of its facility in Fort Bragg, and threatened to restrict access to its lands also ostensibly for similar reasons. [8] Simpson Timber spokesman Ryan Hamilton accused Redwood Summer of “setting a somber tone (that) could become a frightening situation.” [9] A group of “pro-timber” Yellow Ribbon supporters held a demonstration in Fort Bragg denouncing Earth First!, Redwood Summer, and Forests Forever. [10] One local resident, in a letter to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat even warned against covering Earth First! in the media, lest the “good people” of the North Coast would soon find bombs inside their cars! [11]

Indeed, after the incident in Santa Cruz, every act of vandalism, sabotage, or even accidents were blamed on Earth First! There was often no way to tell if any of these incidents were real or manufactured either. For example, in the first few days of May, a Humboldt County gyppo operator in Redway, Van Meter Logging, received an anonymous bomb threat from somebody claiming to be from Earth First!, but this was either a crazy nut (with no association to Earth First! whatsoever), a fabrication by Pam Van Meter herself, or worse still, a another attempt by somebody to monkeywrench the monkeywrenchers in a dangerous act of subterfuge. “(The anonymous bomb threat) was definitely not Earth First!. Earth First! does not engage in attacks against people or terrorism. I sincerely feel sorry for this woman, but we had nothing to do with it,” declared Judi Bari. Van Meter was unsatisfied with this response, and still blamed Earth First!, stating, “If it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place,” which was akin to blaming the victims in Mississippi Summer for inciting the racist repression against them. As it turned out, no bomb ever surfaced, at least not in Redway. [12]

There were plenty of actual threats against Earth First! and its allies, however, and not just anonymous death threats any longer. For example, Humboldt County supervisor Anna Sparks declared, “I think you’re asking for trouble, because they’re (going to be) up here protesting the jobs of the loggers and taking away their livelihoods through their protests and taking away the constitutional rights of people. You can’t help but bring violence in!” [13] This was bad enough, but in Mendocino County Charles Stone, a right wing radio talk show host with ties to actual extremist organizations (to which crypto-fascist Jack Azevedo also belonged) was now using his daily program on KDAC in Fort Bragg to whip up hysteria against Judi Bari and Redwood Summer. Following the incident in Santa Cruz, he urged his regular listeners, who included many of the local gyppos, to pressure the Board of Supervisors to “order” the Redwood Summer to appear so that the “real, god fearing citizens” of the county could pin them down and force them to admit all of their nefarious, secret agendas (whatever those were). [14] Surprisingly, supervisor Liz Henry, of all people, agreed, and placed the matter of Redwood Summer on the agenda for the May 1 meeting. [15]

Supervisor Henry no doubt naïvely assumed that she could negotiate some sort of agreement whereby the demonstrations would not result “in serious injury or economic disruption”, but this failed to understand the true nature of the problem. As was the case in the original Mississippi Summer, appealing to the rule of law was impossible when the law was bought and paid for by the perpetrators of the injustice being challenged in the first place. It was at best foolhardy to ignore the fact that economic disruption had already been occurring (at the hands of the corporations) now for over a decade. Bari faced a Catch 22. She knew that little was to be gained by appearing at what was likely to be a star chamber of hostility, but to not appear would allow the charges against Redwood Summer to go unanswered, and Bari was determined not to back down in the face of prejudice this time. Knowing that she would be hopelessly outnumbered, she enlisted as many allies as she could muster.

My Whole Foods nightmare: How a full-time job there left me in poverty

By Nick Rahaim - Salon.com, December 8, 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.

Despite the corporate talk of "team" and "love," here's what working there was really like -- and why I had to quit

After years of organizing in secret, building bonds over beer and supporting co-workers when issues have arisen with management, team members at a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco disrupted the normal workday and demanded a $5 an hour pay increase last month. More than 20 employees beckoned store management to the floor and presented a petition signed by more than 50 of the store’s workers calling for more paid time off, better health and retirement benefits as well as steady, consistent schedules.

I worked at Whole Foods in the spring of 2012. As is the typical way of getting to know co-workers, I went out for drinks with a tight-knit group of employees. Conversations went quickly from the getting-to-know-you banter to politics, and it was at the time the Occupy Movement was running out of steam. We exchanged battle stories of political engagement and mused about how best to carry the momentum from Occupy in new directions. I asked about organizing at Whole Foods; a few of my co-workers smirked while others played dumb. A week later I was brought into the fold, and found people had been organizing for more than two years. I was feisty for action, but the others knew better; they were in it for the long haul.

Since workers came out after plotting in the shadows for nearly five years, store managers have reportedly attempted to kill them with kindness, while saying nothing of their demands. On the corporate side, Whole Foods Market announced a pay increase in its San Francisco stores effective Jan. 1, shortly after the Whole Foods Union went public. The $1.25 increase in the starting wage, from $11.50 to $12.75, sits 50 cents above San Francisco increase in minimum wage that will take effect in May of 2015. Outside of that, both the store and corporate management have refused to publicly address the situation. Workers organizing at Whole Foods claim the announced wage increase four months ahead of schedule was likely in response to their demands.

In an attempt to put teeth to their demands workers held pickets at the Whole Foods Northern California Regional distribution center in Richmond, California. The picket fell short of stopping the flow of goods to the Bay Area stores it had envisioned, in the spirit of the Black Friday actions taken in 2013 by retail workers. Although the Teamsters did agree that their drivers would not cross the picket line. To that Ruan, the shipping company contracted by Whole Foods, hired temporary workers — scabs — to cross.

Organizing with the radical-syndicalist union, the Industrial Workers of the World, Whole Foods employees are shunning traditional unions that represent the majority of workers at Safeway, Alberson’s and other national grocers. In doing so, they have given up access to the deep pockets of United Grocery Workers and the like, but have the added agility to stealthily maneuver. The IWW is also the only union to have successfully created union shops at Starbucks.

Fighting Fatigue

By Jenny Brown - Labor Notes, December 3, 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.

Paul Proudlock went to bed at midnight to calibrate his sleep for a freight train he was to drive at 2 p.m. the next day. At 2:15 a.m., a Canadian Pacific dispatcher called him and asked him to take a passenger train in three hours.

“I’m not rested,” Proudlock is heard explaining in a company recording. The dispatcher threatened to discipline him and cancel his 2 p.m. train. “You’re obligated to go. If you answer the phone, you have to go.”

“No, I’m not,” said Proudlock. “I’m obligated to do the safe thing first… I drive a train.”

This kind of pressure is commonplace, according to railroad and airline workers. They say managers push workers to pilot planes, trains, and buses when they are too tired to safely do so. The stakes are high for the workers—and for the general public.

3/4 FELL ASLEEP

In a survey of freight train operators conducted by the Teamsters Canada Rail Conference, 96 percent said they had gone to work tired. More alarmingly, three-quarters said they fell asleep while working—in the previous month. Among those who, like Proudlock, turned down jobs because of fatigue, 43 percent said they faced investigation or discipline.

“They’ll pressure people… and people don’t know what leg to stand on,” said CSX locomotive engineer J.P. Wright, who is based in Kentucky. “There are so many gray areas in the contract, if you could see a flow chart, it’s like a Merrie Melodies crazy cartoon.”

The railroads claim they don’t push people to work tired. Regulators scolded Canadian Pacific in the Proudlock case.

The main problem with freight railroads, said Wright, is that “they’ve short-staffed everything to the bone.” So when somebody takes time off, others have to unexpectedly fill in, creating cascades of scheduling complexity.

While rest times were increased in a 2008 rewrite of railroad scheduling rules, fatigue problems persist.

And regulations don’t help if the penalties are low, along with the chances of being fined. “I was just told, on a recorded CSX line, that they knew specifically they were violating the rest law but they would just go ahead and pay the fine,” said Wright, who is co-chair of the cross-union caucus Railroad Workers United.

From Shock to Victory: The Planet’s “Immune System” at Work

By Jan Baty, Newark Residents Against the Power Plant - Energy Justice Network, December 8, 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.

As I saw Alex Lotorto (campus and community organizer for Energy Justice Network) step out of his car, unloading materials for the meeting he was to lead at my house, I had a flash back to how I had discovered the Energy Justice Network. In Newark Delaware, residents had taken on the enormous task of stopping a project the University of Delaware was considering, a data center power plant, proposed by The Data Centers, LLC (TDC), to be built in the heart of this college town and the university, at a former Chrysler plant site. The plans for the power plant had now grown to 279 megawatts —at least two times larger than any other on-site power generation facility at data centers in the US.

News of this proposal had been kept tightly under wraps for over a year by City of Newark staff, TDC, the State of DE and the University of DE until June 2013, when the CEO of TDC approached the local Sierra Club chapter seeking an endorsement for this project as being “green.” The alarm was raised by the directors, Stephanie Herron and Amy Rowe.

An official resident’s group was formed, Newark Residents Against the Power Plant (NRAPP), which by now had hundreds of members and dozens of working groups and neighborhood groups across Newark. Much effort was going into persuading city council to withdraw their support of this proposal. City council meetings were filled with passionate statements by citizens, including revelations of results from FOIA requests, and uncovered information about TDC’s plans. There was a continuous stream of letters to the editor of the Wilmington News Journal.  Knowing how long it often takes for governments to respond, some of us were eager to pour our energy into educating university faculty, and students about this —since most knew nothing about it!  We realized that if given enough pressure the University could certainly stop this project.

Toronto is now home to world's first harm-reduction workers' union

By Ella Bedard - Rabble.ca, December 8, 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.

Toronto is home to the world's first ever harm-reduction workers' union: THRWU.

On November 11, workers at South Riverdale and Central Toronto Community health centres told their employers that they had joined the Toronto Harm Reduction Workers Union (THRWU) and demanded recognition.

With 50 members and counting, the union represents a wide range of professions including HIV/AIDS workers, workers involved in the distribution of safe usage tools, overdose prevention workers, peer workers, Hepatitis C workers, and nurses -- to name only a few.

While some THRWU members work in paid positions, others work as volunteers or are unemployed. 

Foregoing Labour Board certification and a conventional collective bargaining process, the THRWU is developing a distinct organizing model.

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