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Direct Action Report Back from “Kingdom of Whales”

D.C. Industrial Workers of the World - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 22:03

Note: “Kingdom of Whales” is the codename for an organizing campaign that is not yet publicly affiliated with the IWW. The author is a worker in the shop and a branch member who has been organizing at the shop for some time. Originally published in the General Organizing Bulletin (GOB) the IWW’s internal members only newsletter.

The following is a report back on a Direct Action that was done by the workers in my shop in December. The shop is a county run recreation center outside DC that contains an Olympic size swimming pool as its main feature, but also several other major amenities such as a gymnasium and some basketball courts. The workers involved are all lifeguards at the rec center as am I. We organized a March on the Boss in response to the lack of transparency regarding the presence of COVID cases in the workplace. The protections afforded to workers throughout the pandemic in this country have been largely pitiful and practically non-existent. Surrounded by disinterested managers and a plenty of new protocols that act as little more than false security in the face of pressure to bring in revenue as normal it can feel like there is nothing the workers can do to act in their own defense. I hope that the following can inspire others to believe the ability of the workers no matter how young, how uneducated, or how undervalued can take steps when the occasion calls for it and they’re armed with the knowledge of their own self-worth.

            During the run up to Christmas it had become common knowledge in the rec center that two people who worked there had tested positive for COVID-19 in the recent weeks. One of whom was the assistant manager and the other was the program coordinator; both of whom work in the back office area together frequently. Prior to this revelation I had been aware that in the aftermath of our reopening the facility back in July after shutting down for the pandemic there had previously been at least 2 workers who had tested positive for covid. These were also not reported to staff, so the fact that would not tell us this time was honestly not surprising; however conducting agitation conversations around the subject was something I had been doing on and off for months and the general consensus from the workers I talked to was that they did expect to be informed of any confirmed cases so that they could take any precautions they felt like they needed to do in order to protect themselves and their families. Such basic human decency should not be too much to ask for, but in a system where workers, especially young workers, are treated like expendable afterthoughts we unfortunately cannot make such assumptions of decency from bosses.

            Several factors were at play over the course of these events. First the rumors of a positive case in the workplace did not originate from myself, but from another fairly new lifeguard who received a text from the assistant manager asking her to come in because he was out with covid.  Since the re-opening and even before the pool had been severely understaffed so it was not unusual for managers to be scheduled to guard the pool multiple times a week. We also knew about the other case from a front desk shift manager, who act as key holders and general supervisors, that the second office worker had also tested positive. Being able to corroborate multiple sources of info played an important role in convincing workers to take this situation seriously rather than having them come from only me which was pretty much the case before. Another factor that played in our favor was the obvious hypocritical response from management. The Senior Manager (assistant manager’s boss) used the knowledge that he had of the covid cases to make special considerations for himself so that he could get tested on Thursday the week before Christmas. Being the holiday season, many workers were of course preparing to spend time with family, so having knowledge of these cases when they occurred could have provided with them time to get tested. But I guess their lives and families are just not worth the time it takes to send an email. To make matters worse the assistant manager had returned to work while still showing symptoms in blatant violation of standard policy. Thirdly, in response to hearing that we were talking amongst ourselves about this issue the Senior Manager sent out an email responding to “rumors” declaring that he was not in fact withholding information while protecting himself; he did confirm at least one positive case but not the other which we already knew about. If you were not withholding information than why are you telling us now? And why are you still not telling us the whole story? I love how bosses can’t admit anything without accusing you of doing something wrong first.

Well for us lowly rumor mongers this was the last straw and after aggressively 1-on1ing as many people as I could I convinced them that the time was right to have a March on the Boss targeting the Senior Manager which I billed as a “surprise group meeting”. We had a Zoom meeting the night before where we discussed how it would go down. I suggested that I should lead doing the intro but insisted that everyone who wanted to participate should have a speaking role. This was my second March on the Boss and having been outed as a ringleader almost immediately last time I knew that success depended on others stepping up. I was nervous going into it. We were rushing through the steps to be sure. The committee I had assembled was quite young; only myself and one other worker who had been organizing with me over the last year were over 21. The rest were in high school and one in their first semester at community college. At this time all except myself and one other worker were women and non-men. Most had not worked at the shop for more than a 6 months, but they saw clearly the injustice that was being done to them. Night came and morning followed. I messaged my branch for emotional support. I had been fired from another job recently for organizing and I know I couldn’t go into this without knowing they had my back. Strange how such small acts of defiance can have such dire consequences for our lives. Luckily for me the workers in my revamped committee were more awesome than I could for have ever asked. 

I came in early around 2pm. My shift was usually at four but this was the time when the shifts usually switched over giving us the numbers we needed to participate. Some people could not make it, but I was delighted to hear that during the course of the shift one of the committee members had recruited someone else to join us in the action! This gave us six. We were lucky enough to have some time to practice our march and delivery on the Senior Manager. Always roleplay your Direct Actions! When we began to do this another lifeguard on only her second shift saw what we were doing. She asked us what was going on. The others told her passionately how management was lying to us and how we needed transparency. She was shocked but also expressed how cool it was we were taking action. She asked if she could join too! This was amazing! She did not feel comfortable speaking but did want to be present during the march; she even helped us role play the action again by standing in as the manager. We were ready and our confidence in ourselves and our righteous cause was high. We called upstairs to the office and asked if the Aquatics Manager was currently there as he usually is on Sundays at this time. We got off the call and discovered that he was not there in fact. Dammit! We had done all that prep work for nothing? After talking it over for a few minutes we decided to ambush the ranking shift manager instead after agreeing to tone down our emotionality somewhat. I believe we made the right choice to proceed; trying to reschedule could have killed our momentum and demoralized these young organizers in formation. Direct Action is oxygen they say in the OT 101. It was time for some fresh air. 

We marched single file upstairs past the front desk and into the back office. The shift manager was doing something in the supply closet. I approached her and calmly but firmly and told her that we all needed to talk. The immediate shock seeing us all up there was all too apparent on her face. “Why the hell is everyone up here?” she exclaimed. The tone was just too perfect to describe. I explained to her that we wanted to talk to the Senior Manager but that he wasn’t here so she would have to relay the message and asked her to sit down and hear our demand. After that the committee members delivered their pre-practiced lines clearly and coolly. First went the member who had been organizing with me for over a year and was already a union member. She began by emphasizing the desire for cooperation but also the need for transparency. Next another worker, who was only 15 years old, demanded that we receive notice of COVID cases by email and expressed how she felt that it was disturbing how managers are pressuring people to come to work when they don’t feel safe or might be having symptoms. The next worker confirmed this was the case and told the MOD how the assistant manager had texted him to come in despite fearing he had been exposed to covid BECAUSE of the assistant manager. Two other workers still in high school relayed how they both lived with people who would be considered high risk; one lived with their grandparents and the other had a sister with serious asthma. They both expressed doubt about their willingness to continue working if things continued as they have. All this happened while the last worker who we just recently recruited stood and watched. I then handed the special agreement that we wanted the managers to sign to the MOD and told her that we wanted to hear back by Wednesday whether or not they would agree to sign. She protested by trying to shove some policy paperwork in our faces, but we stood firm and she agreed to pass on the demand.

After we left, I was firmly blown away by how courageous everyone had been. There were hiccups to be sure and it was definitely disappointing that our intended target was not actually there, but I felt it was already a real victory that we had come together to express our grievances and make a concise demand. Direct Action is its own reward. Back downstairs we were able to do an immediate debrief and talk about what went right and what could have gone better. I quickly turned it into an inoculation conversation and asked them what they’re fears were. Most of them were feeling pretty good, but I cautioned them against speaking to management alone and if approached to just repeat the demand and say they were uncomfortable talking about it anymore. I then tried to inoculate them against managers trying to disparage members of the committee or mischaracterize what we had done as inappropriate even going so far as to do a mock roleplay where I played the manager trying to interrogate them and pry for information. They all understood what to expect now.

They ultimately did not agree to notify us of covid cases as we demanded, but instead relayed the demand to Park Authority HQ who then set up a semi-mandatory meeting over video chat for us to attend and address our concerns. We predictably got a bunch of patronizing drivel and non-promises of some sort of notification process in the future. They couldn’t even decide whether or not they would be using email! Needless to say meeting was thoroughly unconvincing and even with my low expectations was a disappointment, yet it was impressive that we were able to scare the entire leadership of the parks department to have a special meeting just for us. The other committee members felt the same, and they were now more convinced than ever that taking action ourselves is the way forward. We have since escalated to work to rule and slowdown tactics.

As we continue to meet and discuss next steps I am continually inspired by the resolve and sense of self-worth exhibited by my co-workers. If you are organizing your workplace I hope you can do so with confidence in those workers, who may lack experience and certain political persuasions, to fight alongside you and contribute in major ways. Do not underestimate them or get in your own way. We will continue to fight on and show the bosses that we know what we’re worth and that we are worth more than them. When all the workers begin to see things that way, that is how we build a revolutionary union. What organizing at my shop has shown me is that they already know; what is left to do is organize and act.               

UPDATE:

Since this was written the assistant manager has been “transferred” to another department. This was sudden and unexpected. We believe that this was in direct relation to the organizing that has been going on including the circulation of a public petition for the county to change its covid notification rules that received over 150 signatures in less than a month. We fired our boss! Afterwards a temporary replacement was brought in to “fix” things. Subsequent negotiations resulted in them agreeing to give us 2 weeks notice on scheduling, new uniforms, and address the short staffing situation. Management has since mostly kept its promise on scheduling and is appearing to be addressing the short staffing although not with the gusto they should be. Most significantly, management did FINALLY release a statement saying they would modify covid notifications protocols to include the posting of written notices in common work areas. Although this falls short of what was initially demanded the workers feel satisfied with this change as it is most definitely an improvement. Management has retaliated indirectly in several ways, but we are getting results! Organizing will continue and with our union’s support we will continue to win.       

The post Direct Action Report Back from “Kingdom of Whales” appeared first on DC Industrial Workers of the World.

Categories: C1. IWW

Zum 1. Mai und Ankündigung in eigener Sache

IWW Austria - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 13:35

Wir wünschen allen Fellow Workers, Genoss:innen und Kolleg:innen einen kämpferischen 1. Mai!

Jedes Jahr ist Krisenjahr, aber seit dem Beginn des Seuchenkapitalismus haben sich die realen Arbeitsbedingungen vieler Menschen massiv verschlechtert, hinzu kommen unzählige Arbeitslose. Begleitet wird das ganze von psychischen Folgen dieser permanenten Endzeitstimmung, eine gesellschaftliche Stimmung zwischen Ausnahmezustand, Ermüdung und Aussichtslosigkeit. Auch die wirtschaftlichen Folgen werden uns wohl noch lange begleiten und wie üblich auf dem Rücken von uns Arbeiterinnen ausgetragen. Mit dem Kapitalismus hat die Pandemie einen denkbar fruchtbaren Boden zur Ausbreitung gefunden: Profitinteressen verunmöglichen, das ist offensichtlich geworden, eine vernünftige und wirksame Bekämpfung von Covid. Patentrechte, diese wortwörtlich Leichenberge verursachende Grausamkeit, werden den (meisten) Bewohnerinnen des globalen Südens noch Jahre die Impfung verweigern. So weit, so schlecht.

Wir gehen dennoch, eigentlich auch gerade deshalb, wieder zum heutigen Ersten Mai auf die Straße, um unseren Widerspruch zu diesem System zu demonstrieren. Um 12 Uhr treffen ein paar von uns sich mit anderen wütenden Arbeiter:innen bei der U3 Station Ottakring, um die Mayday-Parade zu begehen. Wir freuen uns, euch alle dort zu sehen! Danach geht es gemeinsam zum Keplerplatz, wo ab 14 Uhr ein Straßenfest stattfindet.

IWW ist jetzt IWW Plus?

Nicht ganz, aber wir möchten den Anlass tatsächlich nutzen, um eine kleine Verkündung in eigener Sache zu machen: die “IWW Wien” heißt künftig “IWW in Österreich”. Dieses Ergebnis einer kleinen Strukturreform soll dem erfreulichen Umstand gerecht werden, dass wir in den meisten Bundesländern aktive Mitglieder haben und diese österreichweite Verteilung auch in unserem Namen bzw. auf unseren social-media-Plattformen sichtbar machen wollen. Neben Wien haben wir außerdem auch in Salzburg und Innsbruck aktive Wobblies. Das Wachstum der IWW in Österreich letzten zwei Jahre ist beinahe exponentiell! Der Kurs stimmt!

Außerdem haben wir ein neues Zuhause in Wien gefunden: wir sind seit Jahresbeginn Mitglied im Verein Volxclub! Am Familienplatz 6 in Ottakring teilen wir uns die schönen Räumlichkeiten gemeinsam mit anderen linken Organisationen (Junge Linke, KPÖ, Rote Hilfe Wien) und den Vereinsmitgliedern. Hier wollen wir gewerkschaftliche Erstberatung anbieten, im Barbereich hin und wieder “Wobblies im Pub” veranstalten und unsere Bibliothek aufstocken. Über unsere Raumpläne erfahrt ihr in der bald erscheinenden nächsten Ausgabe der SOLID! mehr.

In der Hoffnung, euch alle hoffentlich bald im Volxclub begrüßen zu können wünschen wir euch zum Abschluss noch einmal einen guten Ersten Mai! Alle Mitglieder lesen in Kürze in der SOLID! von uns. Allen anderen legen wir ans Herz, den revolutionären 1. Mai zum Anstoß zu nehmen, sich zu organisieren: am besten in der stabil antikapitalistischen, globalen Basisgewerkschaft der Industrial Workers of the World.

Categories: C1. IWW

Announcing our Digital May Day 2021

Ottawa IWW - Mon, 04/26/2021 - 18:38

This Saturday May 1st is International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day. It’s a day to celebrate workers’ power and protest the capitalist economic system that exploits our class. We’re excited to announce our own digital May Day event running all day.

Since the COVID-19 public health crisis, our branch of the IWW has been meeting workers and members online. We want to keep our fellow workers safe during the pandemic, which is why we hosted May Day 2020 online as well.

For last year’s event, we hosted readings, speeches, music and an interview with a local branch member over live stream. Most of this content is still hosted on our Twitch channel and can be watched right now.

This year, we’ve prepared live music, podcasts and popular culture commentary featuring members of the IWW. We’re also excited to stream other local Ottawa activities, including the Anti-Imperialist Alliance and Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines May Day celebration.

Join the event on Facebook and follow us on Twitch – turn on notifications so you know when we’re live streaming different events!

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Categories: C1. IWW

April – May Events with IWW Clydeside GMB

IWW Scotland - Thu, 04/22/2021 - 03:38

Welcome back to the IWW Scotland Blog!

We’ll hopefully be able to keep this updated about the goings ons in the IWW for our members and friends of the union.

2021s International Memorial of Workers Day and May Day are coming up.

IWW Clydeside are involved in a few events.

We also have a bloc of workplace organising training going on at the end of May. Register your interest by emailing Jos at Clydeside@iww.org.uk

Social Events
  • Workers Memorial Day
    Wed 28th April 12-6 pm
    Glasgow Green opposite Templetons Business Centre just east of Peoples Palace. A display of aprons printed to depict workers lost through industrial disasters caused by negligence of bosses. Information stall will include IWW leaflets
  • May Day 2021
    May 1st from 12.30 Queens Park gate, short march then informal picnic

Categories: C1. IWW

Podcast: Episode 6, On Organizing

Ottawa IWW - Mon, 04/12/2021 - 20:05

In this podcast, we speak with former Head of Labour Organizing at Efling Union (Iceland) and current Organizing & Communications officer at the Industrial Workers of the World Max Baru. The conversation ranges from how communications systems structure organizations, to the difficulties of working with the “middle class”, the suppression of fast growing organic movements, whether it’s worth it to try to move giant existing institutions, the cost of political participation, how to support workers in their struggle, how workers movements can move forward… if unions will get behind workers.

You can find max on twitter @maxbaru or on his linktree.

The interview was conducted by Fellow Worker D, the mixing/mastering/audio by Fellow Worker Carson.

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The post Podcast: Episode 6, On Organizing appeared first on Ottawa-Outaouais IWW.

Categories: C1. IWW

Frankfurt a.M.: Verdeckte Leiharbeit bei der Kinderbetreuung im Taunus

IWW Germany - Sat, 04/10/2021 - 07:33

Interview mit dem ehemaligen Betriebsratsvorsitzenden und IWW-Mitglied Harald Stubbe zu verdeckter Leiharbeit, Arbeitsbedingungen, seiner Klage gegen den Landkreis und den Möglichkeiten von Betriebsratsarbeit.

Harald, Du warst bis zu Deinem Renteneintritt Anfang 2021 bei der Kinderbetreuung im Taunus GmbH (KiT) als Teilhabeassistent beschäftigt. Was ist das für ein Unternehmen?

Bei der Kinderbetreuung im Taunus GmbH(KiT) handelt es sich um ein Unternehmen, das Kindertagesstätten und Betreuungscentren an über 50 Standorten betreibt. Außerdem beschäftigt sie Teilhabeassistent*innen bzw. Integrationshelfer*innen, die an über 50 Schulen im Hochtaunuskreis behinderte Kinder betreuen. Zudem gibt es bei der KiT auch Küchen- und Hauswirtschaftskräfte. Insgesamt sind dort über 700 Leute beschäftigt.

Im Dezember hast Du vor dem Gericht eine Klage gegen Deinen Arbeitgeber eingereicht. Worum geht es dabei?

Die Teilhabeassistent*innen arbeiten in den Schulen nach den Vorgaben der Schulleitung bzw. der Lehrkräfte.

Wer sich mit dem Arbeitsrecht auskennt hat sofort den Verdacht, dass es sich um Leiharbeit handelt.

Was hast Du daraufhin unternommen? Du warst ja bis Ende 2020 Vorsitzender des im Mai frisch gewählten Betriebsrates. Hat Dir das dabei geholfen, der verdeckten Leiharbeit auf die Spur zu kommen?

Als Betriebsratsvorsitzender bekommt man leicht Auskunft. Also habe ich bei der Agentur für Arbeit angefragt. Diese bejaht in diesem Fall eine erlaubnispflichtige Arbeitnehmerüberlassung. Die haben gedacht, ich sei von der Geschäftsführung und haben mir dringend nahegelegt, die Leiharbeitsverhältnisse sofort ordnungsgemäß anzumelden, weil die Firma sich sonst strafbar macht.

Dann habe ich das recherchiert, mit der Leiharbeit. Ich hatte das Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz als Anhaltspunkt. Im Internet kannst Du zwar die Gesetzestexte finden, aber da hast Du keine Kommentare. Wenn Du Betriebsrat bist, dann lässt Du Dir die Bücher alle antanzen – bezahlen muss die der Arbeitgeber. Wir haben da jetzt eine richtige Bibliothek, die füllt schon einen ganzen Schrank. Da kannst Du nachlesen, wenn Dich was interessiert. Auch die Kommentare, denn ohne Kommentare nutzen Dir die ganzen Gesetzestexte nichts.

Was hat Deine Recherchearbeit konkret ergeben?

Laut meinem Arbeitsvertrag wurde ich von der Kinderbetreuung im Taunus GmbH (KiT) als „Integrationshelfer“ eingestellt. De facto wurde ich dann aber durch die Kinderbetreuung im Taunus GmbH im Sinne der Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetzes (AÜG) an die Helene-Keller-Schule in Oberursel zur Arbeitsleistung überlassen.

Anders als im Arbeitsvertrag angegeben, trat nämlich nicht die KiT, sondern die Schulleitung der Helene-Keller-Schule als weisungsbefugter Vorgesetzter auf. So erfolgten zum Beispiel Absprachen zum Einsatz sowie Krankmeldungen nur schulintern, ohne den Vertragsarbeitgeber die Kinderbetreuung im Taunus.

Auch das Bewerbungsgespräch habe ich mit der Schulleitung geführt und nicht mit der KiT.

Im Arbeitsalltag sind die Integrationshelfer*innen voll und ganz in die Arbeitsorganisation der Schule eingegliedert.

Grundsätzlich ist es Aufgabe von Integrationshelfer*innen, Kinder und Jugendliche mit psychischen Störungen oder geistigen oder körperlichen Behinderungen individuell im Schulalltag zu begleiten und zu unterstützen.

In der Praxis sind die Integrationshelfer*innen nicht nur für ein Kind zuständig, sondern sie übernehmen Unterstützungstätigkeiten für die gesamte Klasse. So gehört es auch zu ihren Aufgaben, Tee zu kochen, Obst vorzubereiten, den Stuhlkreis zu stellen; Schüler*innen vom Bus abzuholen, Schüler*innen bei Toilettengängen zu unterstützen, das Klassenfrühstück zu organisieren, die Überprüfung der Haltbarkeit von Nahrungsmitteln, das Auffüllen von Papier und Seife, die Bereitstellung von Einweghandschuhen und Desinfektionsmitteln, sowie das Desinfizieren von Tischen und Türklinken.

Auch führt die Schulleitung regelmäßig Konferenzen für alle Integrationshelfer*innen/Teilhabeassistent*innen durch und stellt ihnen zur Aufzeichnung ihrer Stunden eigene Zeiterfassungsbelege zur Verfügung. Das sind weitere Indizien dafür, dass Integrationshelfer*innen de facto ein Arbeitsverhältnis mit der Schule haben, an der sie beschäftigt sind – und eben nicht mit ihrem angeblichen Arbeitgeber, der KiT.

Mit der KiT hatte ich (nämlich) in den ersten beiden Jahren meiner Beschäftigung nur in der Art Kontakt, dass ich meine Bewerbungsunterlagen dorthin geschickt habe, von dort meinen Arbeitsvertrag erhielt und die Gehaltsabrechnungen von dort erstellt wurden.

Ich war also als Leiharbeiter an der Helene-Keller-Schule beschäftigt, an die ich durch die KiT, bei der ich den Arbeitsvertrag unterschrieben hatte, „zur Arbeitsleistung überlassen“ – also verliehen – wurde.

Und das ist illegal?

Es ist davon auszugehen, dass die Kinderbetreuung im Taunus GmbH keine Erlaubnis zur Arbeitnehmerüberlassung nach § 1 Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz (AÜG) hat. Es handelt sich also offensichtlich um eine „unzulässige Arbeitnehmerüberlassung“.

Nach dem § 9 AÜG (Arbeitnehmerüberlassungsgesetz) führen aber sowohl die Verleihung von Arbeitnehmer*innen ohne die gesetzliche Erlaubnis, als auch Arbeitsverträge ohne die ausdrückliche Bezeichnung als Verträge über Arbeitnehmerüberlassung zur Unwirksamkeit des Leiharbeitsverhältnisses.

Was bedeutet das in der Konsequenz?

Im Juristendeutsch ausgedrückt bedeutet das, dass als Rechtsfolge der Unwirksamkeit nach § 10 AÜG ein Arbeitsverhältnis zwischen Entleiher*in und Arbeitnehmer*innen besteht. Das heißt erstens, die Teilhabeassistent*innen haben Anspruch auf die Zahlung des Tariflohnes an öffentlichen Schulen. Zweitens sind sie, wenn sie länger als 18 Monate in einer Schule gearbeitet haben, Angestellte der Schule. Eventuell wird der Tariflohn auch rückwirkend zugesprochen.

In Anbetracht der Tatsache, dass Integrationshelfer*innen nur knapp über Mindestlohn verdienen, würde das für über 300 bisher prekär Beschäftigte auf einen Schlag eine beträchtliche Einkommensverbesserung bedeuten!

Wie hat die Geschäftsleitung der KiT reagiert?

Wir hatten dabei den Vorteil, dass die Geschäftsführerin null Ahnung von dem Sachverhalt hatte. Die war im Prinzip genauso unwissend wie der Betriebsrat zunächst. Nachdem ich den Fall recherchiert hatte, war es ziemlich klar. Die Geschäftsführerin hat mich dann ständig angerufen, und gefragt, was sie machen soll, um aus der Geschichte rauszukommen. Die wusste ja selbst nicht, dass die KiT da etwas macht, das eigentlich illegal ist.

Geklagt hast Du nicht gegen Deinen Arbeitgeber, die KiT, sondern gegen den Hochtaunuskreis. Warum das?

Die KiT gehört zu 100% dem Hochtaunuskreis. Der Kreis ist der einzige Anteilseigner an dieser GmbH, ist also der Eigentümer der KiT. Die Helen-Keller- Schule ist auch ein kreiseigene Schule. Die Kunden der KiT GmbH sind das Jugendamt, und die Behindertenhilfe des Kreises. Der Hochtaunuskreis ist also gleichzeitig Eigentümer und Kunde der KiT GmbH. Das Konstrukt wurde geschaffen, weil der Hochtaunuskreis der Tarifpflicht unterliegt. Die KiT wurde vom Hochtaunuskreis, einem der reichsten Landkreise in Deutschland, gegründet unter anderem mit der Absicht, tarifpolitische Regelungen zu umgehen, das heißt, um keine Tariflöhne zahlen zu müssen.

Das bedeutet für die Integrationshelfer*innen, dass sie vielen Kindern den Schulbesuch ermöglichen, womit sie wertvolle Arbeit für deren Familien und die ganze Gesellschaft leisten. Dafür werden sie lediglich knapp über dem gesetzlichen Mindestlohn bezahlt. Das an sich ist schon ein handfester Skandal. Für Leute, die vor 20 Jahren von der KiT eingestellt wurden, und die z.B. 12 Euro und damit mehr als den später eingeführten Mindestlohn von 9.50 die Stunde gekriegt haben, bedeutet das, dass die 20 Jahre lang keine Lohnerhöhung hatten. Denn Lohnerhöhungen gibt es nur, wenn der Mindestlohn steigt. Die Leute, die über dem Mindestlohn liegen, haben also nie eine Lohnerhöhung erhalten. Das ist eine perverse Geschichte.

Nebenbei ist es natürlich ein Skandal, weil ja sowohl der verleihende Betrieb (die KiT) wie auch der entleihende (die Helen-Keller-Schule), die ja beide dem Hochtaunuskreis gehören, sich strafbar gemacht haben.

Wie geht es jetzt weiter?

Am 9. Juni findet der Kammertermin vor dem Arbeitsgericht statt. Wenn ich gewinne, werde ich allen Kolleg*innen raten, auch zu klagen. Das würde zu einer regelrechten Prozesslawine führen und im Erfolgsfall zu deutlichen Einkommenssteigerungen für die Teilhabeassistent*innen bzw. Integrationshelfer*innen.

Fanden auch öffentliche Aktionen statt?

Am 26. Februar war der Gütetermin vor dem Arbeitsgericht Frankfurt. In der Woche drauf erschien ein Artikel in der Taunus Zeitung, in dem der Fall umfassend dargestellt wurde – sehr positiv aus Sicht der Beschäftigten.1

Am 08. März, dem internationalen Frauen*kampftag fand um 15.30 Uhr auf dem Waisenhausplatz in Bad Homburg unter dem Motto: „Warum bezahlt Ihr den Menschen, die auf eure Kinder aufpassen, nicht das gleiche wie denen, die auf euer Geld aufpassen eine von mir angemeldete Demonstration für deutlich höhere Löhne und einen Tarifvertrag für die Teilhabeassistent*innen statt. Sogar die stellvertretende Vorsitzende der GEW Hessen hielt eine Rede. Damit konnten wir unseren Forderungen öffentlich Nachdruck verleihen. Auch bei dieser Demo war die Presse vor Ort. Damit wurden die skandalösen Zustände bei der KiT und die berechtigten Forderungen der Beschäftigten öffentlich gemacht.2

 

Rede der stellvertretenden Landesvorsitzenden der GEW Hessen, auf der Frauenkampf*tagsdemo in Bad Homburg am 08.03.2021

 

Hat die Demonstration denn ganz konkret etwas bewirkt?

Das hat sie in der Tat! Bereits drei Tage später hat die KiT Tarifverhandlungen angeboten! Die müssen nun natürlich konsequent im Sinne der Beschäftigten geführt werden. Da müssen wir Druck auf die GEW ausüben und die Angelegenheit weiterhin öffentlich bekannt machen.

Das hört sich ja nicht schlecht an. Wenn Du auf Deine Zeit als Betriebsratsvorsitzender zurückblickst, was konntet Ihr denn seit der Betriebsratswahl Ende April 20203 an Verbesserungen für die Kolleg*innen erreichen?

Das allererste, was wir bei der Kinderbetreuung im Taunus gemacht haben im Betriebsrat: Wir haben ein interne Stellenausschreibung verlangt. Und wenn der Betriebsrat das verlangt, dann muss das gemacht werden. Das heißt, dass wenn Leute, die an irgendeiner Schule arbeiten, wo sie hingesteckt wurden, in einer internen Stellenausschreibung lesen, dass an der Schule in der Nähe ihres Wohnorts jemand gesucht wird, dann können die sich intern bewerben und sparen sich die Fahrtkosten. Das war dann schonmal ein Signal: Wir kriegen plötzlich die interne Stellenausschreibung. Ansonsten wars ja Glück, wenn man in der Zeitung von einer passenden Stelle gelesen hat.

Ebenfalls sofort habe ich als Betriebsratsvorsitzender eine Betriebsvereinbarung zum Gesundheitsschutz für die Kolleg*innen abgeschlossen. Das war besonders wichtig, da wir Teilhabeassistent*innen gar keinen Abstand zu den Kindern, die wir betreuen, halten können – Corona hin – Corona her. Seitdem bekommen die Beschäftigten medizinische Schutzmasken vom Arbeitgeber – ursprünglich sollten sie sich die selber kaufen, oder sich Tücher vors Gesicht binden. Alle 70 Minuten haben die Leute dann Anspruch auf eine Pause, in der sie die Masken auch abnehmen können. Außerdem muss der Arbeitgeber für bestimmte Tätigkeiten Schutzkleidung zur Verfügung stellen.

Als nächstes hat der Betriebsrat den Beschäftigten geraten, Überlastungsanzeigen an den Arbeitgeber zu schicken.

Was darf ich mir unter einer Überlastungsanzeige vorstellen?

Zeitweise war die Personaldecke infolge von Krankheiten etc. extrem dünn. Es gab öfter Situationen, in denen manche Kolleginnen 60 Kinder gleichzeitig betreuen mussten. Das schafft man ja gar nicht. Die meisten Leute trauen sich dann ja nicht, sich bei der Geschäftsleitung zu beschweren. Wenn dann etwas passiert – im schlimmsten Fall ein Kind zu Tode kommt – weil man nicht aufgepasst hat – nicht aufpassen konnte! -, dann sagt der Staatsanwalt „Sie als Fachkraft hätten wissen müssen, dass sie nicht allein auf 40 bis 60 Kinder aufpassen können. Warum haben Sie nichts dagegen unternommen?“ Dann steht man als Betreuungskraft voll in der Verantwortung, wegen Verletzung der Aufsichtspflicht. Der Betriebsrat hat dann den Leuten empfohlen, Überlastungsanzeigen an den Arbeitgeber zu schicken. Wenn Du als Beschäftigter eine Überlastungsanzeige schreibst und an den Arbeitgeber schickst, teilst Du ihm mit, dass Du überlastet bist und die Arbeit nicht ordnungsgemäß durchführen kannst. Wenn der Arbeitgeber dann nicht reagiert, die Zustände nicht abstellt, dann trägt der die Verantwortung, wenn etwas passiert. Sonst können die sagen „Wir wussten ja gar nicht, dass ihr überlastet seid.“

Das wissen die meisten Leute nicht. Vor allem im Betreuungs- und Pflegebereich sind die Arbeitskräfte immer mit einem Bein im Gefängnis. Dadurch, dass es einen Betriebsrat gibt, beklagen sich die Leute beim Betriebsrat, denn die meisten trauen sich ja nicht, sich bei der Geschäftsleitung zu beklagen. Wenn der Betriebsrat sie auf die möglichen Konsequenzen der Überlastung hinweist, ist die Angst davor dann größer als die Angst vor der Geschäftsleitung. Dann schicken sie dem Arbeitgeber eine Überlastungsanzeige und sind aus dem Schneider, wenn etwas passiert.

Die Überlastung und zunehmender Arbeitsdruck sind ja weitverbreitete Probleme – vor allem auch im sozialen Bereich. Was konntet Ihr als Betriebsrat noch erreichen, um die Situation der Beschäftigten zu verbessern?

Ein weiteres Problem waren die Dienstpläne. Die wurden von der Geschäftsleitung oft viermal die Woche, ohne Rücksicht auf die Beschäftigten, geändert. Das konnte der Betriebsrat aufgrund seiner Mitbestimmungsrechte abstellen.

In etlichen Fällen habe ich Kolleginnen zu Gesprächen mit Vorgesetzten begleitet. In nahezu allen Fällen konnten Konflikte im Sinne der Kolleginnen beigelegt werden. Eine Kollegin war an einer anderen Schule in der Küche und da ging es ihr nicht gut. Die Geschäftsleitung wollte der Frau kündigen und da habe ich gesagt, „nein, die Kollegin wird nicht gekündigt, die kann auf eine andere Stelle versetzt werden.“ Jetzt arbeitet sie als Teilhabeassistentin; die Arbeit mit den Kindern gefällt ihr wesentlich besser.

Der Betriebsrat erfährt, was an den verschiedenen Schulen, wo Kolleginnen von der Kinderbetreuung tätig sind, los ist. Häufig weiß man ja noch nicht mal, was in einem Betrieb in einer anderen Abteilung los ist – man kennt die Leute meistens ja gar nicht. Als Betriebsrat dagegen hast du Informationsrechte. Der Betrieb, die Firma, muss dich informieren. Jede Einstellung, jede Kündigung ist ungültig, wenn der Betriebsrat nicht vorher gehört wird.

Das sind alles Sachen, die man als Betriebsrat machen kann. Viele kleine Sachen, die aber für die Einzelnen ganz wichtig sind. Wenn man nur eine Kündigung verhindern kann, allein dafür lohnt es sich doch schon.

Bei der Kinderbetreuung im Taunus haben wir sehr unterschiedliche Löhne. Wir haben dann Einsicht in die Bruttolohnliste genommen. Das Recht hast Du als Betriebsrat. Da haben wir festgestellt, dass es gravierende Unterschiede gibt. Und dann hat der Betriebsrat das Recht, Entlohnungsgrundsätze aufzustellen. Da kann man den Arbeitgebern sagen: „Wenn ihr unterschiedlich bezahlen wollt, dann müsst ihr das begründen.“ Wenn jemand neu anfängt, dann verdient sie/er vielleicht weniger, aber nach zwei Jahren kriegt sie/er dann mehr – und nicht einfach nach dem Motto: „dem seine Nase gefällt mir, der ihre Nase gefällt mir nicht“

Als letztes hab ich angeleiert – ich hoffe, dass meine Nachfolger*innen es jetzt durchziehen – dass im Monat 10 Euro Kontoführungsgebühren bezahlt werden. Ich habe dann gesagt, dass es die 10 Euro nicht im Monat geben soll, sondern dass die Leute im November 120 Euro bekommen – wie eine Art Weihnachtsgeld. Das ist zwar auch nicht viel, aber besser als gar nichts – vor allem wenn die Löhne ohnehin niedrig sind.

Im Mai 2020 wurde aufgrund der behördlich angeordneten Schulschließungen Kurzarbeit bei der KiT eingeführt. Das war noch vor der konstituierenden Sitzung des Betriebsrates. Ihr konntet also das Mitbestimmungsrecht in dieser Frage noch nicht ausüben. Konntet ihr trotzdem etwas für die betroffenen Kolleg*innen erreichen?

Als im Mai 2020 die Kurzarbeit eingeführt wurde, sind wir sofort an die Presse gegangen, haben das publik gemacht und verlangt, dass der Kreis 80% statt der vorgeschriebenen 60% als Kurzarbeitergeld bezahlt.

Konntet Ihr im Zusammenhang mit den Schulschließungen auch etwas für die 450-Euro-Beschäftigten erreichen? Die haben ja keinen Anspruch auf Kurzarbeitergeld und würden also gar nichts bekommen. Bei der KiT betrifft das ja circa 300 Leute – also fast die Hälfte der Belegschaft.

Wir konnten erreichen, dass die auf 450-Euro-Basis beschäftigten Kolleg*innen während der Schulschließungen nicht entlassen wurden. Damit mussten sie auch weiter bezahlt werden. Ansonsten hätte ihnen ordnungsgemäß, unter Einhaltung der gesetzlichen Kündigungsfristen, gekündigt werden müssen und natürlich so lange weiter bezahlt werden, bis die Kündigung wirksam gewesen wäre. Das habe ich der Geschäftsleitung mitgeteilt. Wenn der Arbeitgeber nicht ordnungsgemäß kündigt, gerät er in „Annahmeverzug“ und muss die Leute weiterbezahlen.

Dann konntet Ihr in dieser schwierigen Zeit, in der Arbeitnehmer*innenrechte vielfach abgebaut werden, einiges erreichen. Du würdest also Beschäftigten, wenn sie die Möglichkeit dazu haben, dringend raten einen Betriebsrat zu gründen?

Auf jeden Fall! Ein Betriebsrat hat so viele Rechte und Möglichkeiten auf die man auf keinen Fall verzichten sollte! Zugespitzt könnte man sagen: Wer keinen Betriebsrat will, der will nicht wirklich etwas für die Leute tun. Der will sich selbst profilieren und feiern lassen und wenn er wirklich was macht, wird er rausgeschmissen.Wenn man die Möglichkeiten, die ein Betriebsrat hat, konsequent nutzt, dann kommt auch was dabei raus.

Ortsgruppe Bochum/Ruhrgebiet

Ortsgruppe Frankfurt

Die Fragen stellte: gregor (GMB Bochum/Ruhrgebiet)

Kontakt: bochum@wobblies.org bzw. frankfurt@wobblies.org

»Nächster Termin: 09. Juni Kammertermin am Arbeitsgericht Frankfurt in Sachen Harald Stubbes Klage wegen verdeckter Leiharbeit«

 

Anmerkung 1: „Früherer Integrationshelfer klagt gegen den Kreis“ (Taunus Zeitung 02.03.2021)

Anmerkung 2: Unter der Überschrift „ Für eine gerechte Bezahlung“ wurde in der Taunus Zeitung über die Einzelklage des Kollegen und Ihre Bedeutung für hunderte von Beschäftigten, über die Protestaktion am 8. März, sowie darüber, dass der Landkreis eine öffentliche Stellungnahme zum Prozess und den Zuständen in der Kreiseigenen KIT GmbH ablehnt, berichtet.(Quelle: Taunus Zeitung,) Ein weiterer Artikel über die Demonstration erschien unter dem Titel „KiT-Mitarbeiter demonstrieren für mehr Lohn“ am selben Tag im Bad Homburger Kurier.

Anmerkung 3: In diesem Interview erläutert Harald Stubbe die Umstände der Betriebsratsgründung im Frühjahr 2020.

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Der Beitrag Frankfurt a.M.: Verdeckte Leiharbeit bei der Kinderbetreuung im Taunus erschien zuerst auf Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) im deutschsprachigen Raum.

Categories: C1. IWW

Film Review: Haymarket: The Bomb, the Anarchists, the Labor Struggle

Industrial Worker - Thu, 03/25/2021 - 04:37
Haymarket: The Bomb, The Anarchists, The Labor Struggle

On May 4th, 1886, workers gathered in response to incidents of violence provoked by business owners and enacted by police that had taken place in the days prior. Intended to be a peaceful assembly, a bomb was thrown into the crowd, erupting chaos amid the smoke and police crossfire. In what came to be known as the Haymarket Affair, this evening became the first incident in recorded American history in which a bomb had been thrown outside of the time and context of war. Though a largely neglected instance in history books today, at the time its explosion echoed in headlines the world over. Adrian Prawica’s film Haymarket: The Bomb, the Anarchists, the Labor Struggle approaches this grim, Chicago evening from a primarily historical perspective.

Haymarket’s retelling of these events remains linear and coherent, concise and level. Each of the few historians interviewed for the film take a turn at providing a high-level overview of the circumstances surrounding the Haymarket Affair. The subjects detail their accounts of what those who were wrongly tried, convicted, and ultimately hanged could have endured. Given this level of detail, Haymarket aids the viewer in contextualizing the experiences of the Haymarket Martyrs—placed against the odds of a predetermined fate. After exploring the trial, the film briefly touches on the pacifying effect that the aftermath would have on the labor movement in the decades to follow. This insight, albeit brief, is a valuable one, especially when tethered to the manner in which it explains the anti-communist and anti-socialist fabric being stitched into the seams of the American consciousness.

Prawica’s Haymarket, at moments, succeeds in challenging common tropes in state-endorsed retellings of the Haymarket Affair. In one instance the film goes so far as to deconstruct the vilified caricature of the anarchist, still often encountered in the media. As opposed to the ever-looming, mustache twirling character cartooned throughout the ages, the portrait painted is one of workers struggling against an unfair and oppressive system. To do so, Haymarket highlights each Martyr’s background—thus doing away with the illusion of this Snidely Whiplash-reminiscent image. Though this assertion is welcome, and for the Martyrs sake, overdue: the clarity that this, or any single documentary could provide will remain a far cry from its undoing.

That in mind, we as the viewers are only offered a cursory description of what the defendants believed. The film never truly dives into a substantive examination of anarchism or socialism. Without this explanation the viewer is not exposed to what would come to be known as revolutionary syndicalism. Though the term had yet to be coined,  it was that principle in which these Martyrs believed. This leaves the question as to why these workers would be willing to die, unanswered. Consequently, the viewer is kept in the dark to the passions held in the hearts of each defendant, making the absence of those values as notable as the film’s neglect of the IWW itself.

While it’s true the foundation of the IWW would not take place until almost twenty years after their execution, many principles alive in the I.W.P.A (International Working People’s Association) would go on to inform Wobbly thinking. Neglecting to mention the I.W.P.A, in which the defendants participated, also does the film a great disservice. It is not until the closing credits that the film offers a written summary of Neebe’s life after prison—only then finally drawing to attention the IWW, solely under the guise of his membership.

Lucy Parsons, much like the organization she went on to found, is hardly discussed. Quoted once by a single interview subject, she is otherwise reduced to her relevance as Albert’s widow. This solitary perspective shines a bright spotlight on both the lack of diversity of those interviewed for the film. Should the director have pulled from a wider range of those with insight, we would have received a deeper understanding of Lucy Parsons, the IWW, and how these events shape labor today. Such lapses, in both a conceptual and literal sense, could leave a familiar viewer feeling hollow—as if the most central piece to this story is missing. Truth be told, it is. The core values for which these men sacrificed their lives, is given, at most, cursory consideration.

The documentary inaccurately specifies that one defendant, Louis Lingg, chose not to speak on his own behalf. As catalogued in the court transcripts, and later published in Albert Parsons’ posthumous book Anarchism: Its Philosophy and Scientific Basis, Lingg articulated, at some length, his feelings on both the bombing, and the origin of the bomb, itself. Yet, the film asserts that the bomb was made by Lingg as a matter of fact. In reality, Lingg brashly utilized his time to criticize the quality of the bomb thrown to be inferior to that of his own. Additionally, Lingg aggressively advocated that social movements act in self-preservation in his address to the court.

 “But the fact is, that at every attempt to wield the ballot… you have displayed the brutal violence of the police club, and this is why I have recommended rude force, to combat the ruder force of the police.” Here, we witness Lingg state in explicit terms his belief that working people should use violence in the face of an ever-advancing militarized state. It is the story of Lingg and his fellow workers tried on the world’s stage that gave credence to what we understand now to be the neo-liberal doctrine of non-violence. In their time, it became their loss which set the precedent for the dangerous consequence of revolutionary thinking. Conversely, today we are presented the alternative—that revolutionary thought is the danger, not the consequences it is met with.

Somewhat to the film’s benefit, Prawica never gets too far into the weeds of “who threw the bomb.” The director’s chair thankfully isn’t utilized to sit on high—squarely pointing at who the filmmakers consider to be responsible. It is surprising, however, to find the name George Meng absent from the listed possibilities, no matter how brief the exploration. The suspect became the most likely to historian Paul Avrich, once new information surfaced, following the release of his 1984 book The Haymarket Incident, in which Meng had yet to come to his attention.

Accidental or deliberate, all of these omissions work together to create a concise sense of finality which undermines both the documentary, and a movement that is as relevant today as it was in 1887. Given this, an unfamiliar viewer might gather the impression that this moment, and the Martyrs’ execution, brought closure to the struggle for workers’ rights. And while evoking that feeling of closure may remain an important staple in works of fiction, it is reality in which we reside—where our struggle for global emancipation continues. Regardless, it is the crux of the documentary that stays on message: that the fate Parsons, Spies, Fischer, Engel, Lingg, Schwab, Neebe, and Fielden suffered is fixated in history. All in all, the film hits the mark it aims to. We receive an 86-minute overview of the time period, the incident, and the trial. However unfortunate it is that the last spoken words of Haymarket dismiss the necessity of revolutionary action and seethe with American exceptionalism—any retelling of these events deserves recognition. It just so happens that the viewer’s enjoyment of this film might simply be contingent upon their level of familiarity with the incident.

Paul Scanty is the co-chair of the Education & Outreach Committee of the Greater Chicago IWW, a writer, occasional speaker, and vocalist for Chicago hardcore outfit The Ableist. Connect with Paul via social media at @PaulScanty 

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Categories: C1. IWW

One of the Best Places to Fight for the Environment Is in Your Workplace

Industrial Worker - Thu, 03/18/2021 - 06:31

One of the biggest roadblocks standing in the way of practical, cooperative solidarity between social movements is the idea of “separate issues.” In recent years people have begun chipping away at this shibboleth, but we still have a ways to go. One significant problem within the problem of the single-issue silo effect is that labor is sometimes mistakenly viewed as just another issue.

Labor is not just an issue. Labor is a power base. Labor organizing can be more effective at winning social gains on a range of “single issues” than weekend demonstrations, conscious consumerism, electioneering or lobbying.

In the US, we are often taught to view voting, lobbying and mass demonstrations as ways to participate in democracy. They all are, of course, but it’s not the full picture. As Jane McAlevey persuasively explains in her extraordinary book, A Collective Bargain, US democracy as we know it today would not exist if not for the labor movement. The organizing and solidarity efforts among US workers that eventually won the 8-hour day and the weekend began right after the American Revolution. Labor solidarity and organizing among women has put a driving force behind demands for gender equality for over 150 years. From the 1910s to the 1940s, a massive swell of labor solidarity and organizing crossed race and gender lines, won the current US Labor Rights laws, and led the country out of the Great Depression. Labor unions went on to participate in the 60s Civil Rights movements.

Untapped Power

A vast majority of people spend most of their waking hours at work. In addition, a significant chunk of the population are parents. Modes of activism that demand a lot of time outside the home and workplace are inaccessible to most workers, and almost completely inaccessible to working parents unless there is reliable childcare for the event, which there almost never is.

Right off the bat, it should be clear that campaigns which revolve around frequent street mobilizations, volunteering to contact voters, or any other tiring and unpaid activity is mostly inaccessible to vast swaths of the public. Conscious consumerism is also mostly inaccessible due to cost.

Some might reply that we can generate change without really involving the majority of working people. This may be true to some extent, but change generated without mass participation from working people is unlikely to benefit us significantly.

The best, yet too often under-utilized, way of building a social movement that is inclusive of all working people is labor organizing. In labor organizing, some of the worker’s “free time” still must be spent on the effort, but usually not a ton. When done right, labor organizing is the most empowering form of social activism for working people, because it lets us take back some control over our lives and influence the public sphere at the same time.

Worker Victories are Public Victories

Labor organizing can (and must) create change on specific issues beyond immediate labor conditions. Social issues as we know them are produced by the economy, and the economy is operated by workers, but run by bosses. When workers take back control from bosses, we can create change on the social issues that our work is perpetuating. This is a bit abstract, so let’s look at some examples.

In California, union nurses fought for and won safe patient-to-staff ratios. This has saved lives during the Covid19 pandemic and is something that should exist everywhere. This victory is an example of political lobbying being much more effective because it was backed up by labor organizing. California nurses are now fighting for a modern, single-payer health system in that state.

In the 1970s in Sydney, Australia, construction workers enacted “green bans” on construction projects that would have destroyed important historic or ecological sites. This was a very forward-looking and inspiring effort that it would be amazing to see replicated in the current day.

Teachers have also won significant gains for their students, their communities and themselves through effective labor organizing and strikes. West Virginia teachers set an example in 2018 by going on strike and refusing to return to work until all state workers (not just teachers!) were given a 5% raise. Teachers around the country followed their example. Corporate-aligned media often tries to portray teacher unions as bad for students, but in reality the working conditions of teachers and students are being undermined by the same administrators, so it makes sense to unite.

Richmond IWW members striking at the West Virginia Teachers’ strike in 2019 Green Workplace Action Ideas

It’s not always obvious how one’s workplace could be doing better on environmental issues, but here are some starting places for common work settings. We cannot expect bosses to choose the right thing over profit. That is not how capitalism works. Putting greener workplace policies into place will take lots of organizing, not just convincing people it’s a good idea. With that said, here are some changes that can and should be made in common work settings.

  • Retail: Does your store sell especially harmful pesticides like Roundup or Neonicotinoids? You can learn about the severe harm these products cause to other species (and our own) and inform customers and coworkers on this harm in order to lessen sales and use of these products. Once you are really organized, you can stop restocking these products altogether and force management to stop buying them.
  • Food: What does your workplace do with extra food at the end of the day? Throw it in the trash, probably. You can organize to get your bosses to give the food to local composting projects instead. This may not sound like much but it’s actually really helpful and important. If your solidarity is really strong, and depending on where you are, you could also get your workplace to buy more of its food ingredients locally, which can cut down on emissions from transporting food long distances.
  • Office: Do you work for a company or institution that uses the internet a lot? You can organize to get your workplace switch its computers’ default search engine to Ecosia, which helps plant trees in a climate-smart and community-empowering way with its ad revenue. This should be a pretty easy demand to win since it costs nothing. Once you win that, you could aim for making sure your workplace buys only Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified paper. If you work in one of those buildings that keeps its lights on all night for no reason, that would be another good thing to address.
Conclusion

Social issues are not separate. Those separations exist only in our heads as a way to categorize things. If we let those categories get in the way of doing what we can for a better future, the categorization is doing more harm than good. Many of the greatest social accomplishments of the last 150 years were made by organized workers leveraging the power of their collective labor. Building back the power of organized labor will be essential for combating the climate and extinction crises we are now in.

How to organize in the workplace is an important skill for all of us to learn. More on that in future articles, but here are some starting places:

If you already find yourself advocating for you and your coworkers, and/or for more socially-conscious policies at work, you should fill out the form on the IWW’s website and be sure to follow up in order to get top-notch organizing assistance. Once you and your coworkers are united in solidarity, you’ll have the power to take real action for the environment and for one another.

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Categories: C1. IWW

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Staff Joins the IWW

IWW - Tue, 03/16/2021 - 10:06

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 16, 2021
Contact: communications@iww.org

 

OHIO VALLEY ENVIRONMENTAL COALITION STAFF JOINS THE IWW

HUNTINGTON, West Virginia — The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is excited to announce that workers of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) have recently organized with majority support as the OVEC Union (OVECU) under the IWW. As of March 4, OVECU has submitted a request for voluntary recognition to the OVEC Board of Directors. OVECU is excited to begin the process of negotiating their contract. Their key demands include a standardized pay scale, an equitable discipline policy, and the right to union representation at any meeting wherein matters affecting staff pay, hours, benefits, advancement, or layoffs may be discussed or voted on.  

The workers of OVEC decided to unionize to honor their organizational values of empowerment and justice. OVEC’s mission to organize for environmental justice is informed by the belief that Appalachians — and all workers, everywhere — benefit from the right to union representation in their place of employment regardless of current working conditions. OVECU believes it is particularly important for employees to have union support during times of transition with administration, board, and staff, and is eager to move forward collaboratively with members of the board and administration as the 34-year-old organization grows and changes.

“Having a union is a logical next step in supporting our organization as our organization continues to support our communities. Unionizing only strengthens our commitment to the vital work we do at the crossroads of environmental, social, and labor justice,” said OVEC Project Coordinator Dustin White.

OVECU is asking for you to endorse their unionization efforts by calling 304-522-0246 and leaving a message of congratulations and support, or dropping a note at info@ohvec.org.

# # #

The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Union is committed to protecting and preserving the quality of work conditions for employees of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition.

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Categories: C1. IWW

Socialist Rifle Association Workers Join IWW

IWW - Sat, 03/13/2021 - 12:52

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 13, 2021
Contact: communications@iww.org

SOCIALIST RIFLE ASSOCIATION WORKERS JOIN IWW

WICHITA, Kansas — The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is excited to announce that workers of the Socialist Rifle Association (SRA) have recently organized with majority support as the Socialist Rifle Association Workers United (SRAWU) under the IWW. As of March 13, SRAWU has submitted a request for voluntary recognition, which is guaranteed by the SRA’s bylaws. SRAWU is thrilled to begin the process of negotiating their contract. Their key demands include a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) policy and the right of union representation at any Assembly meeting wherein matters affecting staff pay, hours, benefits, advancement, or layoffs may be discussed or voted on.

The reputation of the Socialist Rifle Association is that of radical democracy and a vigorous pro-labor attitude. The workers of the SRA have gone too long without workplace guarantees against harassment as well as a lack of representation in matters concerning their working conditions. This has too often led to wonderful, hard-working and talented individuals experiencing burnout and in some cases quitting. Given this, unionizing the SRA workspace is the next logical step in the existence of the organization.

“In 2018 when we started the Socialist Rifle Association, I could never have imagined it growing to the point that it has. So many amazing people have poured their sweat and tears into this organization, and unfortunately many of them have been burned in the process. It’s time for the staff and volunteers of the SRA to unite and organize for their own wellbeing while we continue to do everything we can to support our chapters and membership,” said Faye Ecklar, Director of Mutual Aid.

Socialist Rifle Association workers hold dear the belief that the best and most productive way to advance the goals of the SRA is to work collaboratively on making a productive, safe and healthy workplace.

Nikol Heathcock, Chapters Director, stated, “I am excited about the opportunity to be involved in building something like this for our staff, and personally I’m looking forward to being a union member!”

The Socialist Rifle Association Workers United is asking that you show your support for their unionization efforts by engaging on the union’s Twitter, as well as telling the SRA how excited you are that their workers are unionizing!

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Socialist Rifle Association Workers United is a coalition of paid staff and volunteers of the Socialist Rifle Association, who are committed to providing a safe space for marginalized communities to explore firearms education and mutual aid.

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Categories: C1. IWW

Protected: Moe’s Books Workers Join the IWW

IWW - Thu, 03/11/2021 - 11:25

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Categories: C1. IWW

Around the IWW: Black Cat Tutoring

Industrial Worker - Thu, 03/11/2021 - 09:04
Education without the Middleman Logo by Wobbly Dev

In the era of apps and the gig economy, many workers are not technically employed by anyone. Their labor is broken up into tasks, and capitalist society proudly declares that they get to be their own boss. This translates into a constant hustle to cobble together enough little jobs to add up to a sustainable income. This was the case for the educational workers of Black Cat Tutoring, members of the South Sound General Education Union, in Olympia, Washington.

Feeling isolated by the working conditions and wanting to share career advice with other people doing educational work, we initially set out to create some informal social space. Without any professional support, this was mostly for venting, ranting, and generally commiserating. In the beginning, we were focused on solidarity because, without a physical workspace to get to know coworkers, some of us had gone years never meeting anyone else doing the same kind of work.

Like other contractors, most of our work interactions are with clients, not colleagues, creating a unique kind of alienation where you are isolated and cut-off from traditional organizing models. On top of that, the global health crisis and social distancing are seriously limiting the tried-and-true methods. However, since we were motivated by the social aspect of organizing, doing things differently was never an obstacle, and Black Cat Tutoring has grown out of this creative response to some unavoidable facts.

Like other contractors, most of our work interactions are with clients, not colleagues, creating a unique kind of alienation where you are isolated and cut-off from traditional organizing models.

Some of us were already teaching online before the pandemic, developing methods and learning the unique aspects of digital pedagogy. This definitely applied to our organizing, which occurs via video-calls. We consider online platforms to simply be a different medium, with their own drawbacks, similar to the limitations of classrooms, desks, and chalkboards.

As tutors, we have the freedom to focus on our individual students and overcome some of the inadequacies of the more formal classroom environment. However, since tutoring is an educational practice developed mutually with students, large companies take advantage of these close, personal connections that are produced through our work. By slapping their brand on our pedagogy, they profit from the student’s desire to learn and the tutor’s commitment encouraging that learning. As the “middleman”, large tutoring corporations ensure that workers have limited contact with their clients. There are no ways to find out how much a client is paying or how much a worker is receiving. In this context, students and tutors can only develop relationships around the content subject; this is dehumanizing and ignores our existence outside of scheduled sessions. It is like the drive-thru of the education industry.

While we are struggling to keep flexible schedules and live on unstable incomes, large corporate education companies are charging students unfair amounts for something which should be considered a human right, excluding anyone without the means to pay for what is mistakenly labeled a luxury service. It is only under an exploitative system that learning could be considered a privilege reserved for the few, as if it were a reward and not a basic need. The idea of tutoring as a luxury also shames and discourages working class adults, considering them beyond the scope of continuing education. For us, learning is not about enjoying privileges; it is about living a full life and exercising the freedom to grow as a human.  

Black Cat Tutoring specifically aims to address economic issues related to tutoring by redesigning the entire model. As a democratic workplace, we make decisions collectively, putting us in charge of what happens with the profits of our labor. Our prices are adjusted according to what our clients can pay, and we supplement these funds with quarterly fundraising. With financial support from both students and patrons, our science, math, and language tutors can reach students who would not typically consider themselves “the kind of people that get tutoring”. Additionally, our tutors are paid in-full for an entire quarter of services, allowing them to offset the unstable income from gig work which typically pays per completed hour and does not compensate for prep-time or professional development. Over time, by collectivizing, we aim to alleviate the fluctuations in our work volume, in order to create financial stability based on solidarity and commitment to education.

For us, affiliation with the IWW has been fundamental in initially introducing tutors to each other. Last year, when many of us joined the IWW, there were not any specific resources for tutors, and a lot of the membership, though supportive of us as workers, did not know how to help us with our unique organizing situation. Nevertheless, during the summer and fall of 2020, our regular, online General Education Union (GEU) meetings made us confident that we could depend on the union’s support. Through our membership in the Industrial Workers of the World, we have had the opportunity to fundraise and promote our project on international platforms that we would not have had access to without the committed solidarity of our fellow workers.

Through our membership in the Industrial Workers of the World, we have had the opportunity to fundraise and promote our project on international platforms that we would not have had access to without the committed solidarity of our fellow workers.

So far, the response we have received has been amazing, but fundraising is an ongoing process. We depend on small amounts of support adding up, including sharing information and links about our services with people you know and on social media. Likewise, we are looking for people who want to learn math, science, French, Spanish, or ESL with our tutors. Whether you are currently taking a class, would like to learn on your own, or have a partner or small group looking for instruction, Black Cat Tutoring is committed to providing tutoring services that are fair for everyone involved.

Black Cat Tutoring Cooperative is affiliated with the South Sound General Education Union

Support Us: patreon.com/black_cat_tutoring

Contact Us: BlackCatTutors@gmail.com

The post Around the IWW: Black Cat Tutoring appeared first on Industrial Worker.

Categories: C1. IWW

#8mrzunite: Sich in der IWW organisieren heißt auch, sich feministisch zu organisieren!

IWW Germany - Sun, 03/07/2021 - 06:59

Kurz vor dem 8. März machen wir nochmal Werbung für das PAK! (Industrial Workers of the World, Patriachat Angreifen Komittee)!

Die IWW ist eine basisdemokratische, von Arbeiter*innen geführte weltweite Gewerkschaft für alle Arbeiter*innen. Wir organisieren uns als Kolleg*innen, als Nachbar*innen, als Erwerbslose, als Geflüchtete, als Studierende auf der Arbeit und unserem sozialen Umfeld.



Das PAK ist die Struktur der FLINT* Personen innerhalb der IWW. Wir machen uns dafür stark, dass (queer-)feministische Perspektiven innerhalb der stark männerdominierten Basisgewerkschaftswelt Gehör finden. Unsere Erfahrungen und die spezifischen Ausbeutung von Frauen* soll mitgedacht werden, wenn es darum geht sich zu organisieren und kollektiv zu kämpfen.



Kontakt: daspak@wobblies.org


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Der Beitrag #8mrzunite: Sich in der IWW organisieren heißt auch, sich feministisch zu organisieren! erschien zuerst auf Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) im deutschsprachigen Raum.

Categories: C1. IWW

IWW Frankfurt: Demoaufruf für den 8. März – Für Lohnerhöhungen bei der Kinderbetreuung in der Taunus GmbH

IWW Germany - Thu, 03/04/2021 - 23:46

Liebe Kollegin, lieber Kollege.

Neben anderen Problemen bei der Kinderbetreuung im Taunus GmbH (KiT) wie zu wenig Personal in den Betreuungen, sachgrundlos befristeten Arbeitsverträgen und unzureichendem Schutz von Risikogruppen im Coronazeitalter ist ein Hauptproblem die Bezahlung bei der KiT.

Lohnerhöhungen sind außer bei Fachkräften reiner Zufall. Viele bekommen nur den Mindestlohn.

Sich darüber aufzuregen wird an der Situation nichts ändern. Wir müssen gemeinsam etwas tun! Der Hochtaunuskreis als einer der reichsten Landkreise in Deutschland kann und muss etwas an der Bezahlung ändern.

Um dem Nachdruck zu verleihen habe ich für den 8. März 2021 Eine Demonstration der KiT MitarbeiterInnen angemeldet. Unter dem Motto: Warum bezahlt Ihr den Menschen, die auf eure Kinder aufpassen nicht das gleiche wie denen die auf euer Geld aufpassen, treffen wir uns um 15 Uhr 30 am Waisenhausplatz in Bad Homburg.

Am 8. März ist der internationale Frauentag. Da über 90% der Beschäftigten bei der KiT Frauen sind, passt das Datum optimal zu unserem Anliegen!

Bitte beteiligt euch an der Demonstration und sagt euren KollegInnen dass auch sie kommen sollen.

Wir wollen einen Tarifvertrag bei der KiT mit jährlichem Inflationsausgleich. Gemeinsam können wir es erreichen. Machen wir den verantwortlichen in der Politik klar dass es so nicht weitergehen darf.

Liebe Grüße

Harald Stubbe

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Der Beitrag IWW Frankfurt: Demoaufruf für den 8. März – Für Lohnerhöhungen bei der Kinderbetreuung in der Taunus GmbH erschien zuerst auf Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) im deutschsprachigen Raum.

Categories: C1. IWW

Our History: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and the Paterson Silk Strike

Industrial Worker - Thu, 02/25/2021 - 11:34

On February 25th, 1913, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn was arrested after giving a speech to some 24,000 workers in Paterson, New Jersey.  One-third of Paterson’s work force of approximately 75,000 people was engaged in one of three enterprises broadly aligned as the silk trade—the ribbon weavers, the broad silk weavers, and the dye makers. Many of the silk workers were recent immigrants to the United States.

In the first days of the Paterson strike, it appeared that the dispute would be confined to the Doherty factory. However, within days, the industry-wide discontent concerning the four-loom system spread throughout the 300 mills in the Paterson silk industry. At the peak of the dispute, as many as 50,000 silk workers were on strike in the region. The IWW advanced a formal platform that sought the abolition of the four-loom system, an eight-hour work day, and increased wages. When the broad silk weavers in Henry Doherty’s mill in Paterson, N. J., left their machines last February they inaugurated what has proved to be the closest approach to a general strike that has yet taken place in an American industry.

Below is a 9,000 word speech given to those workers by Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, the original “Rebel Girl”, during the Paterson Strike.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn addressing strikers in Paterson (1913) Sabotage: The Conscious Withdrawal of the Workers’ Industrial Efficiency

The interest in sabotage in the United States has developed lately on account of the case of Frederic Sumner Boyd1 in the state of New Jersey, as an aftermath of the Paterson strike. Before his arrest and conviction for advocating sabotage, little or nothing was known of this particular form of labor tactic in the United States. Now there has developed a two-fold necessity to advocate it: not only to explain what it means to the worker in his fight for better conditions, but also to justify our fellow-worker Boyd in everything that he said. So I am desirous primarily to explain sabotage, to explain it in this two-fold significance, first as to its utility and second as to its legality.

Its Necessity in the Class War

I am not going to attempt to justify sabotage on any moral ground. If the workers consider that sabotage is necessary, that in itself makes sabotage moral. Its necessity is its excuse for existence. And for us to discuss the morality of sabotage would be as absurd as to discuss the morality of the strike or the morality of the class struggle itself. In order to understand sabotage or to accept it at all it is necessary to accept the concept of the class struggle. If you believe that between the workers on the one side and their employers on the other there is peace, there is harmony such as exists between brothers, and that consequently whatever strikes and lockouts occur are simply family squabbles; if you believe that a point can be reached whereby the employer can get enough and the worker can get enough, a point of amicable adjustment of industrial warfare and economic distribution, then there is no justification and no explanation of sabotage intelligible to you. Sabotage is one weapon in the arsenal of labor to fight its side of the class struggle. Labor realizes, as it becomes more intelligent, that it must have power in order to accomplish anything; that neither appeals for sympathy nor abstract rights will make for better conditions. For instance, take an industrial establishment such as a silk mill where men and women and little children work ten hours a day for an average wage of between six and seven dollars a week. Could any one of them, or a committee representing the whole, hope to induce the employer to give better conditions by appealing to his sympathy, by telling him of the misery, the hardship and the poverty of their lives; or could they do it by appealing to his sense of justice? Suppose that an individual working man or woman went to an employer and said: “I make, in my capacity as wage worker in this factory, so many dollars worth of wealth every day and justice demands that you give me at least half.” The employer would probably have him removed to the nearest lunatic asylum. He would consider him too dangerous a criminal to let loose on the community! It is neither sympathy nor justice that makes an appeal to the employer. But it is power. If a committee can go to the employer with this ultimatum: “We represent all the men and woman in this shop. They are organized in a union as you are organized in manufacturers’ association. They have met and formulated in that union a demand for better hours and wages and they are not going to work one day longer unless they get it. In other words, they have withdrawn their power as wealth producers from your plant and they are going to coerce you by this withdrawal of their power into granting their demands,” that sort of ultimatum served upon an employer usually meets with an entirely different response: and if the union is strongly enough organized and they are able to make good their threat they usually accomplish what tears and pleadings never could have accomplished.

If the union is strongly enough organized and they are able to make good their threat they usually accomplish what tears and pleadings never could have accomplished.

We believe that the class struggle existing in society is expressed in the economic power of the master on the one side and the growing economic power of the workers on the other side meeting in open battle now and again, but meeting in continual daily conflict over which shall have the larger share of labor’s product and the ultimate ownership of the means of life. The employer wants long hours, the intelligent workingman wants short hours. The employer wants low wages, the intelligent workingman wants high wages. The employer is not concerned with the sanitary conditions in the mill, he is concerned only with keeping the cost of production at a minimum; the intelligent workingman is concerned, cost or no cost, with having ventilation, sanitation, and lighting that will be conducive to his physical welfare. Sabotage is to the class struggle what guerrilla warfare is to the battle. The strike is the open battle of the class struggle, sabotage is the guerrilla warfare, the day-by-day warfare between two opposing classes.

General Forms of Sabotage

Sabotage was adopted by the General Federation of Labor of France in 1897 as a recognized weapon in their method of conducting fights on their employers. But sabotage as an instinctive defense existed long before it was ever officially recognized by any labor organization. Sabotage means primarily: the withdrawal of efficiency. Sabotage means either to slacken up and interfere with the quantity, or to botch in your skill and interfere with the quality, of capitalist production or to give poor service. Sabotage is not physical violence, sabotage is an internal, industrial process. It is something that is fought out within the four walls of the shop: And these three forms of sabotage — to affect the quality, the quantity, and the service are aimed at affecting the profit of the employer. Sabotage is a means of striking at the employer’s profit for the purpose of forcing him into granting certain conditions, even as workingmen strike for the same purpose of coercing him. It is simply another form of coercion.

There are many forms of interfering with efficiency, interfering with quality and the quantity of production: from varying motives — there is the employer’s sabotage as well as the worker’s sabotage. Employers interfere with the quality of production, they interfere with the quantity of production, they interfere with the supply as well as with the kind of goods for the purpose of increasing their profit. But this form of sabotage, capitalist sabotage, is antisocial, for the reason that it is aimed at the good of the few at the expense of the many, whereas working-class sabotage is distinctly social, it is aimed at the benefit of the many, at the expense of the few.

Working-class sabotage is aimed directly at “the boss” and at his profits, in the belief that that is his religion, his sentiment, his patriotism. Everything is centered in his pocket book, and if you strike that you are striking at the most vulnerable point in his entire moral and economic system.

Art YoungSolidarity (7th June, 1913) Short Pay, Less Work. “Ca Canny”

Sabotage as it aims at the quantity is a very old thing, called by the Scotch “ca canny”. All intelligent workers have tried it at some time or other when they have been compelled to work too hard and too long. The Scotch dockers had a strike in 1889 and their strike was lost, but when they went back to work they sent a circular to every docker in Scotland and in this circular they embodied their conclusions, their experience from the bitter defeat. It was to this effect. “The employers like the scabs, they have always praised their work, they have said how much superior they were to us, they have paid them twice as much as they have ever paid us: now let us go back on the docks determined that since those are the kind of workers they like and that is the kind of work they endorse we will do the same thing. We will let the kegs of wine go over the docks as the scabs did. We will have great boxes of fragile articles drop in the midst of the pier as the scabs did. We will do the work just as clumsily, as slowly, as destructively, as the scabs did. And we will see how long our employers can stand that kind of work.” It was very few months until through this system of sabotage they had won everything they had fought for and not been able to win through the strike. This was the first open announcement of sabotage in an English-speaking country.

I have heard of my grandfather telling how an old fellow come to work on the railroad and the boss said, “Well, what can you do?”

“I can do most anything,” said he — a big husky fellow.

“Well” said the boss, “can you handle a pick and shovel?”

“Oh, sure. How much do you pay on this job?”

“A dollar a day.”

“Is that all? Well, all right. I need the job pretty bad. I guess I will take it.” So he took his pick and went leisurely to work. So on the boss came along and said:

“Say, can’t you work any faster than that?”

“Sure I can.”

“Well, why don’t you?”

“This is my dollar-a-day clip.”

“Well,” said the boss, “let’s see what the $1.25-a-day clip looks like.”

That went a little better. Then the boss said, “Let’s see what the $1.50-a-day clip looks like.” The man showed him. “That was fine,” said the boss, “well, maybe we will call it $1.50 a day.” The man volunteered the information that his $2-a-day clip was “a hummer”. So, through this instinctive sort of sabotage this poor obscure workingman on a railroad in Maine was able to gain for himself an advance from $1 to $2 a day. We read of the gangs of Italian workingmen, when the boss cuts their pay — you know, usually they have an Irish or American boss and he likes to make a couple of dollars a day on the side for himself, so he cuts the pay of the men once in a while without consulting the contractor and pockets the difference. One boss cut them 25 cents a day. The next day he came on the work, to find that the amount of dirt that was being removed had lessened considerably. He asked a few questions:

“What’s the matter?”

“Me no understan’ English” — none of them wished to talk.

Well, he exhausted the day going around trying to find one person who could speak and tell him what was wrong. Finally he found one man who said, “Well, you see, boss, you cutta da pay, we cutta da shob”.

That was the same form of sabotage — to lessen the quantity of production in proportion to the amount of pay received. There was an Indian preacher who went to college and eked out an existence on the side by preaching. Somebody said to him, “John, how much do you get paid?”

“Oh, only get paid $200 a year.”

“Well, that’s damn poor pay, John.”

“Well,” he said, “damn poor preach!”

That, too, is an illustration of the form of sabotage that I am now describing to you, the “ca canny” form of sabotage, the “go easy” slogan, the “slacken up, don’t work so hard” species, and it is a reversal of the motto of the American Federation of Labor, that most “safe, sane, and conservative” organization of labor in America. They believe in “a fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work.” Sabotage is an unfair day’s work for an unfair day’s wage. It is an attempt on the part of the worker to limit his production in proportion to his remuneration. That is one form of sabotage.

Interfering with Quality of Goods

The second form of sabotage is to deliberately interfere with the quality of the goods. And in this we learn many lessons from our employers, even as we learn how to limit the quantity. You know that every year in the western part of this United States there are fruits and grains produced that never find a market; bananas and oranges rot on the ground, whole skiffs of fruits are dumped into the ocean. Not because people do not need these foods and couldn’t make good use of them in the big cities of the east, but because the employing class prefers to destroy a large percentage of the production in order to keep the price up in cities like New York, Chicago, Baltimore, and Boston. If they sent all the bananas that they produce into the eastern part of the United States we would be buying bananas at probably three for a cent. But by destroying a large quantity, they are able to keep the price up to two for 5c. And this applies to potatoes, apples, and very many other staple articles required by the majority of people. Yet if the worker attempts to apply the same principle, the same theory, the same tactic as his employer we are confronted with all sorts of finespun moral objections.

Boyd’s Advice to Silk Mill Slaves

So it is with the quality. Take the case of Frederic Sumner Boyd, in which we should all be deeply interested because it is evident Frederic Sumner Boyd is to be made “the goat” by the authorities in New Jersey. That is to say, they want blood, they want one victim. If they can’t get anybody else they are determined they are going to get Boyd, in order to serve a two-fold purpose to cow the workers of Paterson, as they believe they can, and to put this thing, sabotage, into the statutes, to make it an illegal thing to advocate or to practice. Boyd said this: “If you go back to work and you find scabs working alongside of you, you should put a little bit of vinegar on the reed of the loom in order to prevent its operation.” They have arrested him under the statute forbidding the advocacy of the destruction of property. He advised the dyers to go into the dye houses and to use certain chemicals in the dyeing of the silk that would tend to make that silk unweavable. That sounded very terrible in the newspapers and very terrible in the court of law. But what neither the newspapers nor the courts of law have taken any cognizance of is that these chemicals are being used already in the dyeing of the silk. It is not a new thing that Boyd is advocating, it is something that is being practiced in every dye house in the city of Paterson already, but it is being practiced for the employer and not for the worker.

“Dynamiting” Silk

Let me give you a specific illustration of what I mean. Seventy-five years ago when silk was woven into cloth the silk skein was taken in the pure, dyed and woven, and when that piece of silk was made it would last for 50 years. Your grandmother could wear it as a wedding dress. Your mother could wear it as a wedding dress. And then you, if you, woman reader, were fortunate enough to have a chance to get married, could wear it as a wedding dress also. But the silk that you buy today is not dyed in the pure and woven into a strong and durable product. One pound of silk goes into the dye house and usually as many as three to fifteen pounds come out. That is to say, along with the dyeing there is an extraneous and an unnecessary process of what is very picturesquely called “dynamiting.” They weight the silk. They have solutions of tin, solutions of zinc, solutions of lead. If you will read the journals of the Silk Association of America you will find in there advice to master dyers as to which salts are the most appropriate for weighting purposes. You will read advertisements — possibly you saw it reprinted in “The Masses” for December, 1913 — of silk mills, Ashley & Bailey’s in Paterson, for instance, advertised by an auctioneer as having a plant for weighting, for dynamiting silk par excellence. And so when you buy a nice piece of silk today and have a dress made for festive occasions, you hang it away in the wardrobe and when you take it out it is cracked down the pleats and along the waist and arms. And you believe that you have been terribly cheated by a clerk. What is actually wrong is that you have paid for silk where you have received old tin cans and zinc and lead and things of that sort. You have a dress that is garnished with silk, seasoned with silk, but a dress that is adulterated to the point where, if it was adulterated just the slightest degree more it would fall to pieces entirely.

Now, what Frederic Sumner Boyd advocated to the silk workers was in effect this: “You do for yourselves what you are already doing for your employers. Put these same things into the silk for yourself and your own purposes as you are putting in for the employers’ purposes.” And I can’t imagine — even in a court of law – where they can find the fine thread of deviation – where the master dyers’ sabotage is legal and the workers’ sabotage illegal, where they consist of identically the same thing and where the silk remains intact. The silk is there. The loom is there. There is no property destroyed by the process. The one thing that is eliminated is the efficiency of the worker to cover up this adulteration of the silk, to carry it just to the point where it will weave and not be detected. That efficiency is withdrawn. The veil is torn from off production in the silk-dyeing houses and silk mills and the worker simply says, “Here, I will take my hands off and I will show you what it is. I will show you how rotten, how absolutely unusable the silk actually is that they are passing off on the public at two and three dollars a yard.”

do for yourselves what you are already doing for your employers

Non-Adulteration and Over-Adulteration

Now, Boyd’s form of sabotage was not the most dangerous form of sabotage at that. If the judges had any imagination they would know that Boyd’s form of sabotage was pretty mild compared with this: Suppose that he had said to the dyers in Paterson, to a sufficient number of them that they could do it as a whole, so that it would affect every dye house in Paterson: “Instead of introducing these chemicals for adulteration, don’t introduce them at all. Take the lead, the zinc, and the tin and throw it down the sewer and weave the silk, beautiful, pure, durable silk just as it is. Dye it pound for pound, hundred pound for hundred pound.” The employers would have been more hurt by that form of sabotage than by what Boyd advocated. And they would probably have wanted him put in jail for life instead of for seven years. In other words, to advocate non-adulteration is a lot more dangerous to capitalist interests than to advocate adulteration. And non-adulteration is the highest form of sabotage in all establishments like the dye house of Paterson, bakeries, confectioners, meat packing houses, restaurants, etc.

Interfering with quality, or durability, or the utility of a product, might be illustrated as follows: Suppose a milkman comes to your house every day and delivers a quart of milk and this quart of milk is half water and they put some chalk in it and some glue to thicken it. Then a milk driver goes on that round who belongs to a union. The union strikes. And they don’t win any better conditions. Then they turn on the water faucet and they let it run so that the mixture is four-fifths water and one-fifth milk. You will send the “milk” back and make a complaint. At the same time that you are making that complaint and refusing to use the milk, hundreds and thousands of others will do the same thing, and through striking at the interests of the consumer once they are able to effect better conditions for themselves and also they are able to compel the employers to give the pure product. That form of sabotage is distinctly beneficial to the consumer. Any exposure of adulteration, any over-adulteration that makes the product unconsumable is a lot more beneficial to the consumer than to have it tinctured and doctored so that you can use it but so that it is destructive to your physical condition at the same time.

Interfering with quality can be instanced in the hotel and restaurant kitchens. I remember during the hotel workers strike they used to tell us about the great cauldrons of soup that stood there month in and month out without ever being cleaned, that were covered with verdigris and with various other forms of animal growth, and that very many times into this soup would fall a mouse or a rat and he would be fished out and thrown aside and the soup would be used just the same. Now, can anyone say that if the workers in those restaurants, as a means of striking at their employers, would take half a pound of salt and throw it into that soup cauldron, you as a diner, or consumer, wouldn’t be a lot better of? It would be far better to have that soup made unfit for consumption than to have it left in a state where it can be consumed but where it is continually poisonous to a greater or less degree. Destroying the utility of the goods sometimes means a distinct benefit to the person who might otherwise use the goods.

Interfering with Service. “Open Mouth” Sabotage.

But that form of sabotage is not the final form of sabotage. Service can be destroyed as well as quality. And this accomplished in Europe by what is known as “the open mouth sabotage.” In the hotel and restaurant industry, for instance — I wonder if this judge who sentenced Boyd to seven years in state’s prison would believe in this form of sabotage or not? Suppose he went into a restaurant and ordered a lobster salad and he said to the spick and span waiter standing behind the chair, “Is the lobster salad good?” “Oh, yes, sir,” said the waiter, “It is the very best in the city.” That would be acting the good wage slave and looking out for the employer’s interest. But if the waiter should say, “No, sir, it’s rotten lobster salad. It’s made from the pieces that have been gathered together here for the last six weeks,” that would be the waiter who believed in sabotage, that would be the waiter who had no interest in his boss’s profits, the waiter who didn’t give a continental whether the boss sold lobster salad or not. And the judge would probably believe in sabotage in that particular instance. The waiters in the city of New York were only about 5,000 strong. Of these, about a thousand were militant, were the kind that could be depended on in a strike. And yet that little strike made more sensation in New York City than 200,000 garment workers who were out at the same time. They didn’t win very much for themselves, because of their small numbers, but they did win a good deal in demonstrating their power to the employer to hurt his business. For instance, they drew up affidavits and they told about every hotel and restaurant in New York, the kitchen and the pantry conditions. They told about how the butter on the little butter plates was sent back to the kitchen and somebody with their fingers picked out cigar ashes and the cigarette butts and the matches and threw the butter back into the general supply. They told how the napkins that had been on the table, used possibly by a man who had consumption or syphilis, were used to wipe the dishes in the pantry. They told stories that would make your stomach sick and your hair almost turn white of conditions in the Waldorf, the Astor, the Belmont, all the great restaurants and hotels in New York. And I found that that was one of the most effective ways of reaching the public, because the “dear public” are never reached through sympathy. I was taken by a lady up to a West Side aristocratic club of women who had nothing else to do, so they organized this club. You know — the white-gloved aristocracy! And I was asked to talk about the hotel workers’ strike. I knew that wasn’t what they wanted at all. They just wanted to look at what kind of person a “labor agitator” was. But I saw a chance for publicity for the strikers. I told them about the long hours in the hot kitchens; about steaming, smoking ranges. I told them about the overwork and the underpay of the waiters and how these waiters had to depend upon the generosity or the drunkenness of some patron to give them a big tip; all that sort of thing. And they were stony-faced. It affected them as much as an arrow would Gibraltar. And then I started to tell them about what the waiters and the cooks had told me of the kitchen conditions and I saw a look of frozen horror on their faces immediately. They were interested when I began to talk about something that affected their own stomach, where I never could have reached them through any appeal for humanitarian purposes. Immediately they began to draw up resolutions and to cancel engagements at these big hotels and decided that their clubs must not meet there again. They caused quite a commotion around some of the big hotels in New York. When the workers went back to work after learning that this was a way of getting at the boss via the public stomach they did not hesitate at sabotage in the kitchens. If any of you have ever got soup that was not fit to eat, that was too salty or peppery, maybe shorter hours, and that was one way they notified there where some boys in the kitchen that wanted the boss.2 In the Hotel McAlpin the head waiter called the men up before him after the strike was over and lost and said, “Boys, you can have what you want, we will give you the hours, we will give you the wages, we will give you everything, but, for God’s sake, stop this sabotage business in the kitchen!” In other words, what they had not been able to win through the strike they were able to win by striking at the taste of the public, by making the food non-consumable and therefore compelling the boss to take cognizance of their efficiency and their power in the kitchen.

Following the “Book of Rules”

Interfering with service may be done in another way. It may be done, strange to say, sometimes by abiding by the rules, living up to the law absolutely. Sometimes the law is almost as inconvenient a thing for the capitalist as for a labor agitator. For instance, on every railroad they have a book of rules, a nice little book that they give to every employee, and in that book of rules it tells how the engineer and the fireman must examine every part of the engine before they take it out of the round house. It tells how the brakeman should go the length and the width of the train and examine every bit of machinery to be sure it’s in good shape. It tells how the station master should do this and the telegraph operator that, and so forth, and it all sounds very nice in the little book. But now take the book of rules and compare it with the timetable and you will realize how absolutely impossible the whole thing is. What is it written for? An accident happens. An engineer who has been working 36 hours does not see a signal on the track, and many people are killed. The coroner’s jury meets to fix the responsibility. And upon whom is it fixed? This poor engineer who didn’t abide by the book of rules! He is the man upon whom the responsibility falls. The company wipe their hands and say, “We are not responsible. Our employee was negligent. Here are our rules.” And through this book of rules they are able to fix the responsibility of every accident on some poor devil like that engineer who said the other day, after a frightful accident, when he was arrested, “Yes, but if I didn’t get the train in at a certain time I might have lost my job under the new management on the New Haven road.” That book of rules exists in Europe as well. In one station in France there was an accident and the station master was organized in the Railwaymen’s Union. And they went to the union and asked for some action. The union said, “The best thing for you men to do is to go back on the job and obey that book of rules letter for letter. If that is the only reason why accidents happen we will have no accidents hereafter.” So they went back and when a man came up to the ticket office and asked for a ticket to such and such a place, the charge being so much and would hand in more than the amount, he would be told, “Can’t give you any change. It says in the book of rules a passenger must have the exact fare.” This was the first one. Well, after a lot of fuss they chased around and got the exact change, were given their tickets and got aboard the train. Then when the train was supposedly ready to start the engineer climbed down, the fireman followed, and they began to examine every bolt and piece of mechanism on the engine. The brakeman got off and began to examine every thing he was supposed to examine. The passengers grew very restless. The train stood there about an hour and a half. They proceeded to leave the train. They were met at the door by an employee who said, “No, it’s against the rules for you to leave the train once you get into it, until you arrive at your destination.” And within three days the railroad system of France was so completely demoralized that they had to exonerate this particular station master, and the absurdity of the book of rules had been so demonstrated to the public that they had to make over their system of operation before the public would trust themselves to the railroads any further.

This book of rules has been tried not only for the purpose of exoneration: it has been tried for the purpose of strikes. Where men fail in the open battle they go back and with this system they win. Railroad men can sabotage for others as well as for themselves. In a case like the miners of Colorado where we read there that militiamen were sent in against the miners. We know that they are sent against the miners because the first act of the militia was to disarm the miners and leave the mine guards, the thugs, in possession of their arms. Ludlow followed! The good judge O’Brien went into Calumet, Mich., and said to the miners — and the president of the union, Mr. Moyer, sits at the table as chairman while he said it — “Boys, give up your guns. It is better for you to be shot than it is to shoot anybody.” Now, sabotage is not violence, but that does not mean that I am deprecating all forms of violence. I believe for instance in the case of Michigan, in the case of Colorado, in the case of Roosevelt, N.J., the miners should have held onto their guns, exercised their “constitutional right” to bear arms, and, militia or no militia, absolutely refused to give them up until they saw the guns of the thugs and the guns of the mine guards on the other side of the road first. And even then it might be a good precaution to hold on them in case of danger! Well, when this militia was being sent from Denver up into the mining district one little train crew did what has never been done in America before; something that caused a thrill to go through the humblest toiler. If I could have worked for twenty years just to see one little torch of hope like that, I believe it worthwhile. The train was full of soldiers. The engineer, the fireman, all the train crew stepped out of the train and they said, “We are not going to run this train to carry any soldiers in against our brother strikers.” So they deserted the train, but it was then operated by a Baldwin detective and a deputy sheriff. Can you say that wasn’t a case where sabotage was absolutely necessary?

Putting the Machine on Strike

Suppose that when the engineer had gone on strike he had taken a vital part of the engine on strike with him, without which it would have been impossible for anyone to run that engine. Then there might have been a different story. Railroad men have a mighty power in refusing to transport soldiers, strike-breakers, and ammunition for soldiers and strike-breakers into strike districts. They did in Italy. The soldiers went on the train. The train guards refused to run the trains. The soldiers thought they could run the train themselves. They started, and the first signal they came to was “Danger”. They went along very slowly and cautiously, and the next signal was at “Danger”. And they found before they had gone very far that some of the switches had been turned and they were run off on to a siding in the woods somewhere. Laboriously they got back onto the main track. They came to a drawbridge and the bridge was turned open. They had to go across in boats and abandon the train. That meant walking the rest of the way. By the time they got into the strike district the strike was over. Soldiers who have had to walk aren’t so full of vim and vigor and so anxious to shoot “dagoes” down when they get into a strike district as when they ride in a train manned by union men.

The railroad men have mighty power in refusing to run these trains and putting them in such a condition that they can’t be run by others. However, to anticipate a question that is going to be asked about the possible disregard for human life, remember that when they put all the signals at danger there is very little risk for human life, because the train usually has to stop dead still. Where they take a vital part of the engine away the train does not run at all. So human life is not in danger. They make it a practice to strike such a vital blow that the service is paralyzed thereafter.

With freight of course they do different things. In the strike of the railroad workers in France they transported the freight in such a way that a great trainload of fine fresh fruit could be run off into a siding in one of the poorest districts of France. It was left to decay. But it never reached the point of either decay or destruction. It was usually taken care of by the poor people of that district. Something that was supposed to be sent in a rush from Paris to Havre was sent to Marseilles. And so within a very short time the whole system was so clogged and demoralized that they had to say to the railroad workers, “You are the only efficient ones. Come back. Take your demands. But run our railroads.”

“Print the Truth or You Don’t Print at All”

Now, what is true of the railroad workers is also true of the newspaper workers. Of course one can hardly imagine any more conservative element to deal with than the railroad workers and the newspaper workers. Sometimes you will read a story in the paper that is so palpably false, a story about strikers that planted dynamite in Lawrence for instance (and it came out in a Boston paper before the dynamite was found), a story of how the Erie trains were “dynamited” by strikers in Paterson; but do you realize that the man who writes that story, the man who pays for that story, the owners and editors are not the ones that put the story into actual print? It is put in print by printers, compositors, typesetters, men who belong to the working class and are members of unions. During the Swedish general strike these workers who belonged to the unions and were operating the papers rebelled against printing lies against their fellow strikers. They sent an ultimatum to the newspaper managers: “Either you print the truth or you’ll print no papers at all.” The newspaper owners decided they would rather print no paper at all than tell the truth. Most of them would probably so decide in this country, too. The men went on strike and the paper came out, a little bit of sheet, two by four, until eventually they realized that the printers had them by the throat, that they could not print any papers without the printers. They sent for them to come back and told them, “So much of the paper will belong to the strikers and they can print what they please in it.”

But other printers have accomplished the same results by sabotage. In Copenhagen once there was a peace conference and a circus going on at the same time. The printers asked for more wages and they didn’t get them. They were very sore. Bitterness in the heart is a very good stimulus for sabotage. So they said, “All right, we will stay right at work boys, but we will do some funny business with this paper so they won’t want to print it tomorrow under the same circumstances.” They took the peace conference where some high and mighty person was going to make an address on international peace and they put that man’s speech in the circus news; they reported the lion and the monkey as making speeches in the peace conference and the Honorable Mr. So-and-so doing trapeze acts in the circus. There was great consternation and indignation in the city. Advertisers, the peace conference, the circus protested. The circus would not pay their bill for advertising. It cost the paper as much, eventually, as the increased wages would have cost them, so that they came to the men figuratively on their bended knees and asked them, “Please be good and we will give you whatever you ask.” That is the power of interfering with industrial efficiency by a competent worker.

“Used Sabotage, but Didn’t Know What You Called It”

Sabotage is for the workingman an absolute necessity. Therefore it is almost useless to argue about its effectiveness. When men do a thing instinctively continually, year after year and generation after generation, it means that that weapon has some value to them. When the Boyd speech was made in Paterson, immediately some of the socialists rushed to the newspapers to protest. They called the attention of the authorities to the fact that the speech was made. The secretary of the socialist party and the organizer of the socialist party repudiated Boyd. That precipitated the discussion into the strike committee as to whether speeches on sabotage were to be permitted. We had tried to instill into the strikers the idea that any kind of speech was to be permitted; that a socialist or a minister or a priest, an I.W.W. man, an anarchist, anybody should have the platform. And we tried to make the strikers realize. “You have sufficient intelligence to select for yourselves. If you haven’t got that, then no censorship over your meetings is going to do you any good.” So they had a rather tolerant spirit and they were not inclined to accept this socialist denunciation of sabotage right off the reel. They had an executive session and threshed it out and this is what occurred.

One worker said, “I never heard of this thing called sabotage before Mr. Boyd spoke about it on the platform. I know once in a while when I want a half-day off and they won’t give it to me I slip the belt off the machine so it won’t run and I get my half-day. I don’t know whether you call that sabotage, but that’s what I do.”

Another said, “I was in the strike of the dyers eleven years ago and we lost. We went back to work and we had these scabs that had broken our strike working side by side with us. We were pretty sore. So whenever they were supposed to be mixing green we saw to it that they put in red, or when they were supposed to be mixing blue we saw to it that they put in green. And soon they realized that scabbing was a very unprofitable business. And the next strike we had, they lined up with us. I don’t know whether you call that sabotage, but it works.”

As we went down the line, one member of the executive committee after another admitted they had used this thing but they “didn’t know that was what you called it!” And so in the end democrats, republicans, socialists, all I.W.W.s in the committee voted that speeches on sabotage were to be permitted, because it was ridiculous not to say on the platform what they were already doing in the shop.

All I.W.W.s in the committee voted that speeches on sabotage were to be permitted, because it was ridiculous not to say on the platform what they were already doing in the shop.

And so my final justification of sabotage is its constant use by the worker. The position of speakers, organizers, lecturers, writers who are presumed to be interested in the labor movement, must be one of two. If you place yourself in a position outside of the working class and you presume to dictate to them from some “superior” intellectual plane, what they are to do, they will very soon get rid of you, for you will very soon demonstrate that you are of absolutely no use to them. I believe the mission of the intelligent propagandist is this: we are to see what the workers are doing, and then try to understand why they do it; not tell them it’s right or it’s wrong, but analyze the condition and see if possibly they do not best understand their need and if, out of the condition, there may develop a theory that will be of general utility. Industrial unionism, sabotage are theories born of such facts and experiences. But for us to place ourselves in a position of censorship is to alienate ourselves entirely from sympathy and utility with the very people we are supposed to serve.

Sabotage and “Moral Fiber”

Sabotage is objected to on the ground that it destroys the moral fiber of the individual, whatever that is! The moral fiber of the workingman! Here is a poor workingman, works twelve hours a day seven days a week for two dollars a day in the steel mills of Pittsburgh. For that man to use sabotage is going to destroy his moral fiber. Well, if it does, then moral fiber is the only thing he has left. In a stage of society where men produce a completed article, for instance if a shoemaker takes a piece of raw leather, cuts it, designs it, plans the shoes, makes every part of the shoes, turns out a finished product, that represents to him what the piece of sculpturing represents to the artist, there is joy in handicraftsmanship, there is joy in labor. But can anyone believe that a shoe factory worker, one of a hundred men, each doing a small part of the complete whole, standing before a machine for instance and listening to this ticktack all day long — that such a man has any joy in his work or any pride in the ultimate product? The silk worker for instance may make beautiful things, fine shimmering silk. When it is hung up in the window of Altman’s or Macy’s or Wanamaker’s it looks beautiful. But the silk worker never gets a chance to use a single yard of it. And the producing of the beautiful thing instead of being a pleasure is instead a constant aggravation to the silk worker. They make a beautiful thing in the shop and then they come home to poverty, misery, and hardship. They wear a cotton dress while they are weaving the beautiful silk for some demimonde in New York to wear.

I remember one night we had a meeting of 5,000 kiddies. (We had them there to discuss whether or not there should be a school strike. The teachers were not telling the truth about the strike and we decided that the children were either to hear the truth or it was better for them not to go to school at all.) I said, “Children, is there any of you here who have a silk dress in your family? Anybody’s mother got a silk dress?” One little ragged urchin in front piped up. “Shure, me mudder’s got a silk dress.”

I said, “Where did she get it?” — perhaps a rather indelicate question, but a natural one.

He said, “Me fadder spoiled the cloth and had to bring home.”

The only time they get a silk dress is when they spoil the goods so that nobody else will use it: when the dress is so ruined that nobody else would want it. Then they can have it. The silk worker take pride in his product! To talk to these people about being proud of their work is just as silly as to talk to the street cleaner about being proud of his work, or to tell the man that scrapes out the sewer to be proud of his work. If they made an article completely or if they made it all together under a democratic association and then they had the disposition of the silk — they could wear some of it, they could make some of the beautiful salmon-colored and the delicate blues into a dress for themselves — there would be pleasure in producing silk. But until you eliminate wage slavery and the exploitation of labor it is ridiculous to talk about destroying the moral fiber of the individual by telling him to destroy “his own product.” Destroy his own product! He is destroying somebody else’s enjoyment, somebody else’s chance to use his product created in slavery. There is another argument to the effect that “If you use this thing called sabotage you are going to develop in yourself a spirit of hostility, a spirit of antagonism to everybody else in society, you are going to become sneaking, you are going to become cowardly. It is an underhanded thing to do.” But the individual who uses sabotage is not benefiting himself alone. If he were looking out for himself only he would never use sabotage. It would be much easier, much safer not to do it. When a man uses sabotage he is usually intending to benefit the whole; doing an individual thing but doing it for the benefit of himself and others together. And it requires courage. It requires individuality. It creates in that workingman some self-respect for and self-reliance upon himself as a producer. I contend that sabotage instead of being sneaking and cowardly is a courageous thing, is an open thing. The boss may not be notified about it through the papers, but he finds out about it very quickly, just the same. And the man or woman who employs it is demonstrating a courage that you may measure in this way: How many of the critics would do it? How many of you, if you were dependent on a job in a silk town like Paterson, would take your job in your hands and employ sabotage? If you were a machinist in a locomotive shop and had a good job, how many of you would risk it to employ sabotage? Consider that and then you have the right to call the man how uses it a coward – if you can.

Limiting the Over-Supply of Slaves

It is my hope that workers will not only “sabotage” the supply of products, but also the over-supply of producers. In Europe the syndicalists have carried on a propaganda that we are too cowardly to carry on in the United States as yet. It is against the law. Everything is “against the law”, once it becomes large enough for the law to take cognizance that it is in the best interests of the working class. If sabotage is to be thrown aside because it is construed as against the law, how do we know that next year free speech may not have to be thrown aside? Or free assembly or free press? That a thing is against the law, does not mean necessarily that the thing is not good. Sometimes it means just the contrary: a mighty good thing for the working class to use against the capitalists. In Europe they are carrying on this sort of limitation of product: they are saying, “Not only will we limit the product in the factory, but we are going to limit the supply of producers. We are going to limit the supply of workers on the market.” Men and women of the working class in France and Italy and even Germany today are saying, “We are not going to have ten, twelve, and fourteen children for the army, the navy, the factory, and the mine. We are going to have fewer children, with quality and not quantity accentuated as our ideal who can be better fed, better clothed, better equipped mentally and will become better fighters for the social revolution.” Although it is not a strictly scientific definition I like to include this as indicative of the spirit that produces sabotage. It certainly is one of the most vital forms of class warfare there are, to strike at the roots of the capitalists’ system by limiting their supply of slaves on their own behalf.

Sabotage a War Measure

I have not given you a rigidly defined thesis on sabotage because sabotage is in the process of making. Sabotage itself is not clearly defined. Sabotage is as broad and changing as industry, as flexible as the imagination and passions of humanity. Every day workingmen and women are discovering new forms of sabotage, and the stronger their rebellious imagination is the more sabotage they are going to invent, the more sabotage they are going to develop. Sabotage is not, however, a permanent weapon. Sabotage is not going to be necessary, once a free society has been established. Sabotage is simply a war measure and it will go out of existence with the war, just as the strike, the lockout, the policeman, the machine gun, the judge with his injunction, and all the various weapons in the arsenals of capital and labor will go out of existence with the advent of a free society. “And then,” someone may ask, “may not this instinct for sabotage have developed, too far, so that one body of workers will use sabotage against another; that the railroad workers, for instance, will refuse to work for the miners unless they get exorbitant returns for labor?” The difference is this: when you sabotage an employer you are sabotaging somebody upon whom you are not interdependent, you have no relationship with him as a member of society contributing to your wants in return for your contribution. The employer is somebody who depends absolutely on the workers. Whereas, the miner is one unit in a society where somebody else supplies the bread, somebody else the clothes, somebody else the shoes, and where he gives his product in exchange for someone else’s; and it would be suicidal for him to assume a tyrannical, a monopolistic position, of demanding so much for his product that the others might cut him off from any other social relations and refuse to meet with any such bargain. In other words, the miner, the railroad worker, the baker is limited in using sabotage against his fellow workers because he is interdependent on his fellow workers, whereas he is not materially interdependent on the employer for the means of subsistence.

But the worker will not be swerved from his stern purpose by puerile objections. To him this is not an argument but a struggle for life. He knows freedom will come only when his class is willing and courageous enough to fight for it. He knows the risk, far better than we do. But his choice is between starvation in slavery and starvation in battle. Like a spent swimmer in the sea, who can sink easily and apathetically into eternal sleep, but who struggles on to grasp a stray spar, suffers but hopes in suffering — so the worker makes his choice. His wife’s worries and tears spur him forth to don his shining armor of industrial power; his child’s starry eyes mirror the light of the ideal to him and strengthen his determination to strike the shackles from the wrists of toil before that child enters the arena of industrial life; his manhood demands some rebellion against daily humiliation and intolerable exploitation. To this worker, sabotage is a shining sword. It pierces the nerve centers of capitalism, stabs at its hearts and stomachs, tears at the vitals of its economic system. It is cutting a path to freedom, to ease in production and ease in consumption.

Confident in his powers, he hurls his challenge into his master’s teeth — I am, I was, and I will be –

“I will be, and lead the nations on, the last of all your hosts to meet,
Till on your necks, your heads, your crowns, I’ll plant my strong, resistless feet.
Avenger, Liberator, Judge, red battles on my pathway hurled,
I stretch forth my almighty arm till it revivifies the world.”

The speech text was reprinted with permission from Syndicalism.org.  Please visit them. Endnotes 1. The reference to the case of Frederick Sumner Boyd, which is found in several places in the text of the foregoing pamphlet, requires additional explanation. The pamphlet was written more than two years ago, since which time some interesting developments have occurred in Boyd’s case. After being convicted on the charge of “advising the destruction of property” Boyd carried his case to the New Jersey Court of Errors and Appeals, where the lower court was sustained. Boyd was then taken into custody, and sent to the state prison in Trenton a sentence of “from two to seven years.” He immediately signed a petition for pardon in which he professes to have repudiated his former ideas, and to have renounced the advocacy of sabotage and all other subversive ideas. In view of Boyd’s apparent cowardice in the presence of the pamphlet about to go to press, we add this note for the sake of clearness. Although multiple sources online state that this was a pamphlet printed by the IWW in 1916 (which seems to trace back to a scanned pdf on the Internet Archive), the original form was a speech given by IWW organizer Flynn in 1913 during the Paterson silk strike. In 1915, it came out as a pamphlet, from which the text and endnotes here are taken. (Source: Salvatore Salerno in the book Direct Action & Sabotage: Three Classic IWW Pamphlets from the 1910s, PM Press/Charles H. Kerr Publishing Company, 2014.)

The post Our History: Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and the Paterson Silk Strike appeared first on Industrial Worker.

Categories: C1. IWW

Tartışma: Kadıköy Belediyesi grevi ve DİSK’in “mücadele” geleneği

IWW Istanbul - Sun, 02/21/2021 - 11:24
Bu yazı Yeryüzü Postası sitesinde yayınlanmıştır. Ortak kaygılarımızı dile getirdiği için YYP’nin de izniyle sitemizde yayınlıyoruz. Orijinali: https://www.yeryuzupostasi.org/2021/02/20/kadikoy-belediyesi-grevi-ve-diskin-mucadele-gelenegi-cem-gok/ DİSK’e bağlı Genel-İş Sendikası ile Kadıköy Belediyesi arasında süren toplu iş sözleşmesi (TİS) görüşmelerinde anlaşma sağlanamaması sonucunda 16 Şubat’ta belediye işçileri greve başlamıştı. Her kolektif işçi eyleminde olduğu gibi mücadelesinin tarafları ilk günden itibaren pozisyonlarını net biçimde...

Devami...

Categories: C1. IWW

Gemeinsam feministisch: #8mrzunite countdown!

IWW Germany - Thu, 02/18/2021 - 09:23

Die IWW JAM mobilisiert zusammen mit feministischen Gruppen aus der Schweiz zum diesjährigen 8. März mit einem Beitrag social media Countdown. Regelmäßig neue Beiträge findet ihr unter anderem hier!

Im letzten Beitrag kommen Sex-Arbeiter*innen zu Wort und sprechen über Stigmatisierung und Kriminalisierung. Sie fordern Respekt und die Gleichstellung mit anderen Berufen!

 

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Der Beitrag Gemeinsam feministisch: #8mrzunite countdown! erschien zuerst auf Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) im deutschsprachigen Raum.

Categories: C1. IWW

Bericht: „Streiken bis zum Kommunismus?“ Seminar

IWW Germany - Fri, 01/29/2021 - 00:09
Ein Rückblick auf unseren Workshop

Ihr fragt euch auch, warum die Weltrevolution immer noch nicht passiert ist? Warum wir als revolutionäre Organisation hinter unseren Möglichkeiten zurückbleiben? Und wie wir da potenziell rauskommen können?
Dann wäre unser zweigeteilter Workshop im November und Dezember „Streiken bis zum Kommunismus?“ etwas für euch gewesen! An zwei Tagen diskutierten wir auf der Grundlage unserer Beschlüsse von der Strategiekonferenz im Mai 2018 theoretische und praktische Aspekte unserer Betriebs- und Organizingarbeit. Von den 32 angemeldeten Personen nahmen am Ende knapp 20 teil.

Tag 1: Einführung in strategische Debatten und Lernen aus der Praxis

Am ersten Tag diskutierten wir anhand einer Arbeitskampfgeschichte der kanadischen Postgewerkschaft wie ausgehend von den eigenen Lebens- und Arbeitserfahrungen Gesellschaftsanalyse betrieben und wie daraus erfolgreiche Strategien entwickelt werden können. Im Anschluss daran widmeten wir uns den inhaltlichen Analysen und der Geschichte des italienischen Operaismus, der auch in Anlehnung an die historische IWW entstand. Speziell im Fokus stand hierbei die von den Operaist*innen entwickelte Methode der militanten Untersuchung , die wir in Form unseres 101 und 102 Organizing-Trainings als einen Teil unserer Praxis verstehen.
Um diese Stratgie an aktuellen Beispielen zu diskutieren, schalteten wir am Nachmittag Genoss*innen der Angry Workers aus West-London dazu. Mit ihnen sprachen wir über Schwierigkeiten bei Organisierungsprojekten, die Rolle von Organisationen wie der IWW, aber auch über die Grenzen und Chancen des Syndikalismus allgemein. Auch Themen wie die vergeschlechtlichte Arbeitsteilung, Feminismus und breitere Strategien der Arbeiter*innenklasse haben wir diskutiert.

Tag 2: Vertiefung und Diskussion um die revolutionäre Praxis

Am zweiten Workshoptag widmeten wir uns verschiedenen Vertiefungsgebieten, die wir uns mit Hilfe operaistischer Methoden anschauten. Darunter fiel der Themenkomplex Feminismus & Geschlechterverhältnisse, der technologische Angriff und das Konzept der Autonomie der Migration . Diese Vertiefungsgebiete begreifen wir  als verschiedene Seiten derselben Methode, die auch in unserer gewerkschaftlichen Praxis eine Rolle spielen. Denn unserer Meinung nach ist es möglich und notwendig, zwischen der eigenen Realität und den Erfahrungen anderer einen Bezug herzustellen. Daran anschließend diskutierten wir, ob wir – obwohl die IWW oft nur auf niedrigem Niveau erfolgreich ist – dennoch durch unsere Praxis des (betrieblichen) Organizings, durch das Öffnen von Räumen (wie Worker Centers) lokal und durch unsere Vernetzung als internationale Organisation revolutionäre Subjektivitäten mitgestalten kann und sogar Keimformen für neue gesellschaftliche Ansätze vorleben.
Es gilt für uns, die diskutierten Stränge weiter auszubilden und einen qualitativen Sprung in der Vernetzung und Entwicklung unserer bisherigen Ansätze und Handwerkszeuge vorantreiben.

Ausblick

Um aus der bisherigen Praxis zu lernen und Strategien weiter zu diskutieren, organisierten wir am am 30. Januar eine Arbeitskampfgeschichtenwerkstatt . Unsere Arbeitskampferfahrungen sollen dann weiter verbreitet und im Laufe des Jahres für ein größeres Projekt genutzt werden. Denn in Anlehnung an die „Your Job Your Union“-Kampagne aus Großbritannien wollen wir unsere Organizingpraxis weiterentwickeln!

Ein Rückblick auf unseren Workshop

Ihr fragt euch auch, warum die Weltrevolution immer noch nicht passiert ist? Warum wir als revolutionäre Organisation hinter unseren Möglichkeiten zurückbleiben? Und wie wir da potenziell rauskommen können?
Dann wäre unser zweigeteilter Workshop im November und Dezember „Streiken bis zum Kommunismus?“ etwas für euch gewesen! An zwei Tagen diskutierten wir auf der Grundlage unserer Beschlüsse von der Strategiekonferenz im Mai 2018 theoretische und praktische Aspekte unserer Betriebs- und Organizingarbeit. Von den 32 angemeldeten Personen nahmen am Ende knapp 20 teil.

Tag 1: Einführung in strategische Debatten und Lernen aus der Praxis

Am ersten Tag diskutierten wir anhand einer Arbeitskampfgeschichte der kanadischen Postgewerkschaft wie ausgehend von den eigenen Lebens- und Arbeitserfahrungen Gesellschaftsanalyse betrieben und wie daraus erfolgreiche Strategien entwickelt werden können. Im Anschluss daran widmeten wir uns den inhaltlichen Analysen und der Geschichte des italienischen Operaismus, der auch in Anlehnung an die historische IWW entstand. Speziell im Fokus stand hierbei die von den Operaist*innen entwickelte Methode der militanten Untersuchung , die wir in Form unseres 101 und 102 Organizing-Trainings als einen Teil unserer Praxis verstehen.
Um diese Stratgie an aktuellen Beispielen zu diskutieren, schalteten wir am Nachmittag Genoss*innen der Angry Workers aus West-London dazu. Mit ihnen sprachen wir über Schwierigkeiten bei Organisierungsprojekten, die Rolle von Organisationen wie der IWW, aber auch über die Grenzen und Chancen des Syndikalismus allgemein. Auch Themen wie die vergeschlechtlichte Arbeitsteilung, Feminismus und breitere Strategien der Arbeiter*innenklasse haben wir diskutiert.

Tag 2: Vertiefung und Diskussion um die revolutionäre Praxis

Am zweiten Workshoptag widmeten wir uns verschiedenen Vertiefungsgebieten, die wir uns mit Hilfe operaistischer Methoden anschauten. Darunter fiel der Themenkomplex Feminismus & Geschlechterverhältnisse, der technologische Angriff und das Konzept der Autonomie der Migration . Diese Vertiefungsgebiete begreifen wir  als verschiedene Anwendungsmöglichkeiten derselben Methode, die auch in unserer gewerkschaftlichen Praxis eine Rolle spielen. Denn unserer Meinung nach ist es möglich, zwischen der eigenen Realität und den Erfahrungen anderer einen Bezug herzustellen. Daran anschließend diskutierten wir, ob wir – obwohl die IWW oft nur auf niedrigem Niveau erfolgreich ist – dennoch durch unsere Praxis des (betrieblichen) Organizings, durch das Öffnen von Räumen (wie Worker Centers) lokal und durch unsere Vernetzung als internationale Organisation revolutionäre Subjektivitäten mitgestalten kann und sogar Keimformen für neue gesellschaftliche Ansätze vorleben.
Es gilt für uns, die diskutierten Stränge weiter auszubilden und einen qualitativen Sprung in der Vernetzung und Entwicklung unserer bisherigen Ansätze und Handwerkszeuge vorantreiben.

Ausblick

Um aus der bisherigen Praxis zu lernen und Strategien weiter zu diskutieren, organisierten wir am am 30. Januar eine Arbeitskampfgeschichtenwerkstatt . Unsere Arbeitskampferfahrungen sollen dann weiter verbreitet und im Laufe des Jahres für ein größeres Projekt genutzt werden. Denn in Anlehnung an die „Your Job Your Union“-Kampagne aus Großbritannien wollen wir unsere Organizingpraxis weiterentwickeln!

Der Beitrag Bericht: „Streiken bis zum Kommunismus?“ Seminar erschien zuerst auf Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) im deutschsprachigen Raum.

Categories: C1. IWW

Invasion Day

IWW Australia - Mon, 01/25/2021 - 07:21

The IWW stands in solidarity with the First Nations People on this day of mourning, and every day in the fight for decolonisation. The land we call Australia was never ceded. 

As a white Australian, it isn’t my place to speak for First Nations People, so the rest of this post will be dedicated to hosting their voices. The list below is by no means comprehensive, and I encourage you to seek out and support your own local organisations.

In solidarity,
Alex Farlech
Communications Officer

Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance (WAR)

Koori Mail

IndigenousX

Brisbane Aboriginal-Sovereign Embassy (BASE)

Blackfulla Revolution

Categories: C1. IWW

IWW Organizing: Neue Organizing-Trainings in diesem Frühjahr!

IWW Germany - Thu, 01/21/2021 - 11:56

Für die nächsten Monate sind einige Online-Trainings  geplant: Das 1o1-Training (Aufbau einer Betriebsgruppe) und das Training for Trainers (werde selbst ein*e Organizing-Trainer*in, um Workshops geben zu können). Los geht’s ab Februar 2021. Also schaut nach euren Emails und News in den IWW-Kanälen, um euch rechtzeitig anzumelden!

Wenn Du generell Interesse an den IWW Trainings hast, dann kontaktiere unser Trainingskomitee hier!

Was heißt Organizing?

Unser Gewerkschaftskonzept nennen wir in der IWW Solidarischer Unionismus. Ausgangspunkt ist für uns immer die Solidarität unter den ArbeiterInnen unserer Klasse gegen alle Spaltungen nach Herkunft, Geschlecht, Hautfarbe oder sexueller Orientierung. Die Methoden mit denen wir uns nach diesem Konzept organisieren, nennen wir Organizing. Den englischen Begriff benutzen wir deshalb, weil wir innerhalb der IWW weltweit unsere Kampferfahrungen austauschen und voneinander lernen.

Wie gehen wir vor?

(1) IWW OrganizerInnen arbeiten so gut wie immer in dem Betrieb in dem sie organisieren. Sie verlassen sich nicht auf professionelle Gewerkschaftssekretäre. Damit bleiben auch die Erfahrungen und das Wissen das im Organizing erworben wird, in der ArbeiterInnenklasse.

(2) Während Gewerkschaften ihre Mitglieder oftmals Mitgliedskarten unterschreiben lassen um für sie zu verhandeln, fokussieren die IWW darauf KollegInnen als AnführerInnen auszubilden. Dazu kommt ein hohes Maß an Engagement mit dem Ziel die wirkungsvollste Waffe von ArbeiterInnen freizusetzen: direkte Aktionen auf Betriebsebene. Die Gewerkschaft ist jeden Tag auf Betriebsebene aktiv, sich gegenseitig unterstützend um den täglichen Kampf mit kleinen und großen Aktionen gegen den Chef in Bezug auf Probleme im Betrieb zu führen.

(3) In IWW Kampagnen, entscheidet das Organizing-Komitee der ArbeiterInnen über ihre Aktionen, nicht die GewerkschaftsfunktionärInnen, Anwälte, oder PR-Menschen. Diese Unterschiede sehen zu Beginn nach kleinen Details aus, haben aber eine weitreichende Folge auf die Form der Bewegung die aufgebaut werden soll. Durch den Aufbau einer Gewerkschaft die von ArbeiterInnen geführt wird, arbeitet die IWW an dem Aufbau einer Welt die in der Hand von ArbeiterInnen liegt. [Aus: Forman, Erik (2014): „Revolte in der Fast-Food-Nation: Die Wobblies knüpfen sich Jimmy John’s vor„]

Dabei entscheidet niemand von außen was die KollegInnen im Betrieb an Aktionen machen sollen, was die Probleme sind und wie das Vorgehen ist. Das Organizing-Komitee, bestehend aus aktiven KollegInnen entscheidet darüber selbst und bekommt Unterstützung von der Ortsgruppe oder der gesamten IWW. Dieses Vorgehen ähnelt der so genannten ‚militanten Untersuchung’. Klar ist nur: So lange es Lohnarbeit gibt, so lange wird es auch Probleme am Arbeitsplatz mit der/dem ChefIn geben.

Weitere Infos und Lesetipps findet ihr hier.

Der Beitrag IWW Organizing: Neue Organizing-Trainings in diesem Frühjahr! erschien zuerst auf Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) im deutschsprachigen Raum.

Categories: C1. IWW

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