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La Via Campesina responds to the WTO’s purported plans to set up a ‘Civil Society Council’

Recently, La Via Campesina received a request to participate in a civil society “council” to the WTO executive. After careful consideration, we decided to decline this invitation. Through this open letter, we wish to explain why we believe it is impossible to reform the WTO in a way that is favourable to peasants and, more generally, to the interests of the people.

Since 1995, the WTO has aimed to facilitate and increase the share of international trade in world production and consumption. Compared to the GATT, one of the main changes brought about by the creation of the WTO was to integrate agriculture into this logic of generalized free trade.

As early as 1993, La Via Campesina, as a world peasant movement, was created against this logic of globalization and commodification of agriculture and food. The principles of free-market ideology and the legal frameworks that have governed international trade over the past three decades have deep roots in the history of colonialism. It was clear to the vast majority of peasant organizations around the world that giving priority to international trade over agricultural production for feeding local populations would only accentuate the marginalization of peasant populations, worsen hunger in the world and increase the power of transnational companies.

The Agreement on Agriculture, which came into force in 1995 and was to be applied for a limited period of time, is so unfair that, since then, no agreement has ever been reached between the WTO member states on the agricultural issue. As the title of the late Jacques Berthelot’s book expresses it, “agriculture is the Achilles heel of globalization”, and therefore the eternal Achilles heel of the WTO.

This year, in 2023, we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the tragic death of our brother, friend and comrade Lee Kyung Hae from South Korea who gave his life in Cancun in 2003 to denounce the WTO. In his memory, we call to finally end the WTO and build a new framework for fair international trade based on food sovereignty.

An unfair agreement on agriculture

The Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) is fundamentally unfair. It is the direct result of the 1992 Blair House agreement between the United States and the European Union, which sets out a common strategy for these two actors to the detriment of the other states of the world, and in particular against the interests of the countries of the Global South.

Export subsidies are certainly limited in principle (although in reality they continue via various mechanisms), but replaced by direct support from the US and the EU to farmers. However, this direct aid, whose very purpose is to maintain the competitiveness of US and European production on international markets, is classified in the “green box” of so-called “non-distorting” support. Most countries in the South do not have the budgetary capacity to distribute such levels of public aid to farmers: the green box is reserved for rich countries that control international monetary production. On the contrary, market regulation tools and in particular agricultural price support measures (tariffs, supply management mechanisms, MSP minimum support prices, public stockholding, etc.), which are more accessible to poor countries, are classified in the amber box and are therefore subject to significant reductions. The AoA is an agreement tailored to the United States and the EU, against the countries of the South. African, Asian and Latin American countries have very good reasons to denounce this unfair agreement.

From the point of view of peasants in the South and the North, this agreement has had disastrous consequences, as we predicted in 1993. All over the world, the power of transnational companies has increased and they have succeeded in increasing their margins to the detriment of the peasants, who have received only a minimal share of the value of their production. In the South, these companies have also grabbed more and more land, water sources and seeds, to the detriment of peasant communities and often in a violent way, based on the WTO agreements, but also on the structural adjustment programmes imposed by the IMF and the World Bank. In the North, farmers on small and medium-sized farms have received little or no direct aid (80% of farms in the EU are smaller than 10 hectares), but they have suffered from the fall and volatility of agricultural prices following the dismantling of market regulation tools (the end of milk quotas for example). They were put in competition with large farms that received tens of thousands of dollars or euros in public subsidies.

More generally, the AoA has been a disaster for people and the environment. Food supply chains have become globalised: when major shocks occur on international markets and prices soar with financial speculation, indebted countries that have become dependent on imports to feed their populations are extremely vulnerable, as we saw at the time of the 2008 crisis, but also currently. Thus, far from the declarations of the 1996 food summit which promised to end hunger through international trade, the opposite is happening. Hunger is increasing, fuelled by poverty and social inequality. Rural populations are driven out of their territories by land grabbing and lack of agricultural income and migrate to cities or neighbouring countries. Agrarian countries are becoming poorer. Huge industrial monocultures for export are replacing the diverse mixed farming methods that used to produce healthy food for local populations. Pesticides, synthetic fertilisers and GMO seeds are proliferating and polluting the water, soil and air, seriously affecting the health of rural populations.

This is the result of almost 30 years of AoA: green deserts, hunger and a dying countryside.

La Via Campesina’s historic struggles for food sovereignty

On the contrary, since 1996 we have affirmed the need to build and defend food sovereignty, i.e. the right of peoples to decide on their agricultural and food policies, without dumping on other peoples.
Food sovereignty includes the right of peoples, and therefore of States, to distribute land and water use rights not according to a so-called “law of the market”, but according to the general interest. It includes the right of states to put in place public policies to regulate the market so as to guarantee agricultural production in line with the needs of the population and at stable prices. It considers the importance of production methods, and in particular agroecology, to protect the health of territories and populations. It gives priority to local production and consumption of food, not to exports of agricultural goods. It puts people, especially small-scale food producers, and in particular women and youth, at the centre, rather than the interests of transnational companies and financial actors.

For years, we have seen that the WTO continues to be a powerful instrument for the destruction of people’s food sovereignty. The WTO is used by rich, agro-exporting countries to denounce and criminalise policies that aim to support peasant agriculture, regulate agricultural markets and stabilise food prices for people. For example, the constant denunciation via the WTO of public storage is a shame. In March 2022, we were given access to WTO documents that contained threats to use the dispute settlement body against Egypt, which expressed a pressing need to increase its public stocks to ensure food for its population in the face of the sudden rise in prices on international markets. Similarly, the group of African countries, India, China, South Africa, the G33 and the ACP group have been expressing the need to allow public storage to support their local food production and fight hunger for many years, and they are not being heard.

Food sovereignty is not compatible with the AoA, nor with the very principles of the WTO. This is why we have always denounced the AoA and said “Down Down WTO”.

NO to a reform of the WTO, YES to multilateral negotiations outside the WTO to create an International trade framework based on food sovereignty

You invite us to participate in a council to “reform the WTO”. But food sovereignty can never be achieved by the WTO, whose very purpose, the globalisation of international trade and the accentuation of “free trade”, is contrary to food sovereignty. So we are obliged to refuse this invitation. Based on information gathered from multiple sources, La Via Campesina has come to understand that even within the WTO, there is resistance to the Director General’s (DG) unilateral establishment of such bodies, particularly from developing countries. It appears that this initiative by the DG is driven by business groups who have evident vested interests in a business advisory council. Consequently, it seems that the creation of a CSO council is merely a superficial gesture. We strongly reject it!

The last time you invited us to the negotiation table (and we refused) was in 2005, following the failure of the negotiations in Hong Kong, in the face of an existential crisis of your organisation that since then has never been resolved. This crisis is now reaching a climax. You are trying to save your organisation by launching yet another reform process, but without ever calling into question the very philosophy of the WTO and the reason for your failure. Agriculture remains your “Achilles heel”.

We, the global peasant movement, do not want to negotiate with the WTO. We want the Agreement on Agriculture repealed and we want the WTO to give us a breath : we want the WTO out of agriculture.

The demise of the WTO is inevitable. Your organization has not only demonstrated its futility, but more importantly, its detrimental impact. Faced with the immense challenges facing humanity – world hunger, the climate crisis, wars, inflation, social inequalities, the collapse of biodiversity, pandemics, etc. – the responses you propose are making the crises worse.

More and more states are realising that no solution will be found with the institutions that have been the Trojan horses of Western neo-liberalism, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank, for it is these institutions that have led to the current disaster. However, these states have not yet found the means to set up alternative institutions to meet their needs. “The old world is dying, the new world is slow to appear”

We fully understand the need for states not to be excluded from the possibility of participating in international trade. The situation of states that are subject to unilateral unjust sanctions excluding them from international trade shows the importance of a fair framework for agricultural trade in particular. La Via Campesina does not defend autarky, but food sovereignty.

Thus, we call on states not to waste time in sterile negotiations at the WTO around a hypothetical “reform” that has never led to anything for more than 20 years. We invite states, and in particular the countries of the Global South, to sit around the table to negotiate a new framework for fair and inclusive international trade based on food sovereignty. These negotiations could take place in any space that respects genuine multilateralism where all states are truly equal and where the voice of civil society organisations and in particular small-scale food producers will be heard and taken into account, for example at the FAO or UNCTAD.

We, La Via Campesina, commit ourselves to work for this new international framework, just as we did for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other Rural Workers (UNDROP). We place ourselves under the good auspices of our brother, friend and comrade Lee Kyung Hae to carry out this necessary task.

Globalize the Struggle, Globalize Hope !
Faced with Global Crises, We Build Food Sovereignty, to Ensure a Future for Humanity !

La Via Campesina
29 May 2023

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La Via Campesina expresses solidarity with the Haenyeo in their struggle to protect the ocean in Jeju, South Korea

La Via Campesina extends its solidarity to the Haenyeo, the sea divers, in the Jeju province of South Korea, where their harvesting of a variety of mollusks, seaweed, and other sea life is being threatened by a sewage treatment plant. The struggle of the Jeju Haenyeo began in 2017 when Jeju Island began construction to double the capacity of the Dongbu Sewage Treatment Plant in Woljeong-ri from 12,000 tons per day to 24,000 tons per day, to accommodate the growing demands of the commercial tourist industry.

Despite strong opposition from local communities and several women’s groups, including the Korean Women Peasants’ Association, the construction work has recently gained significant pace. The local communities have been guarding the site for 19 months to prevent the construction work, but the Jeju provincial administration persists with the expansion.

Haenyeo, meaning “sea women” in Korean, are the women divers of Jeju who have spent decades free diving in the ocean multiple times a day. The ocean is not merely an ocean for them; it is their livelihood and lifelong home. Cutting into the ocean is akin to cutting into their own bodies.

The livelihoods of the Haenyeo have been greatly jeopardized by the impacts of global warming and climate change. Rising temperatures have led to warmer waters, attracting new subtropical species that have displaced the traditional catch of the Haenyeo. Additionally, it has altered the sea floor habitat by introducing more stony coral while decimating seaweed forests. Extensive beds of seaweed have disappeared, replaced by coralline algae with a rock-like appearance, resulting in a decline in marine resources.

Moreover, the Japanese government’s decision in 2021 to release wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean has caused significant concerns in South Korea. Subsequent protests erupted in the Jeju province as communities feared the potential contamination of the sea by radioactive water. Apprehension and worry regarding the polluted water have already led to a decrease in the consumption of Jeju seafood.

The construction of the sewage treatment plant will exacerbate the crises for both the local population and marine life. According to testimonies from local diver women, the hard stones in the sea where conch and sea urchins live are now all decayed and crumbly, and there are also conch shells that are turned upside down or even rotten. The bottom of the sea, which used to be green and red, has turned gray as if lime powder had been sprinkled on it. Conch, abalone, obunjagi, agar-agar, octopus, and other marine life that were frequently caught in the waters of Woljeong-ri, as well as seaweed including Ecklonia cava (abalone’s food), have disappeared. While neighboring villages like Kimnyeong-ri and Haengwon-ri still have abundant conch, sea urchin, sea cucumber, and agar-agar, these species do not come from Woljeong-ri, likely due to pollution caused by the sewage treatment plant.

The Dongbu Sewage Treatment Plant in Woljeong-ri, which began construction in 1997, started operating in 2007 with a daily throughput of 6,000 tons. In 2014, the capacity was increased (first expansion) to 12,000 tons per day. Due to the continuous influx of population and the increase in tourists, Jeju Island announced plans in 2017 to increase the capacity to 24,000 tons per day.

Haenyeo and civic groups are also concerned about the damage to Yongcheon Cave due to the expansion of the sewage treatment plant. Yongcheon Cave is a unique lava cave with a large-scale cave lake 800m in length and various carbonate formations such as stalactites and cave corals. The cave is a World Heritage Site and the Cultural Heritage Administration alerts that the lower part of Yongcheon Cave, discovered in 2005, is about 200 meters east of the Dongbu Sewage Treatment Plant.

La Via Campesina is alarmed by this utter disregard for coastal communities, marine life, and heritage. We stand firmly with the local communities in demanding an end to this construction that threatens lives and livelihoods.

Stop polluting the sea in the name of expanding the sewage treatment plant!
Don’t destroy the lives of the Haenyeo!
Protect Yongcheon Cave, a World Heritage Site!

We oppose any development that harms the sea and its diverse life forms. We condemn the Jeju Provincial Government for persisting with the expansion against the will of the people. Marine life should be protected not only for its own sake but also for the benefit of all. The ocean, teeming with life, is what sustains us.

The struggle of the Jeju Haenyeo to defend the sea is also our struggle. As La Via Campesina and as a collective, we express our strongest solidarity and support for their fight.

Globalize the Struggle, Globalize Hope!
Faced with Global Crises, We Build Food Sovereignty to Ensure a Future for Humanity!

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17 April 23 – Peasant struggles are the main frontier of resistance against agribusiness and extractivism

(Bagnolet, May 3, 2023) The International Day of Peasant Struggles is commemorated by La Via Campesina every year on April 17th to remember the massacre of Eldorado do Carajás in 1996. On this day, we also denounce the ongoing criminalization, oppression, and repression of peasants, farm workers, rural women, migrants, and black and indigenous communities around the world.

This date is globally commemorated through educational, mass, and mobilization initiatives led by peasant, indigenous, and migrant organizations, as well as farmers and farm workers at large. They stand in solidarity with the struggle for food sovereignty, land rights, popular agrarian reform, and the promotion of peasant agroecology to address the climate crisis and global hunger.

During the 2023 edition of this day, LVC reaffirmed its commitment to defending human rights and life, as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), which was adopted in 2018. This instrument recognizes peasants as rights holders and catalysts of change. In the face of territorial encroachment by capital, peasant, indigenous, and landless communities have become the frontline of resistance against the hydro-agro-extractivism perpetuated by transnational corporations.

ElDoradoDosCarajas 27 years of impunity, includes accusations of ‘rural militias’.

Even after 27 years since the Eldorado do Carajás Massacre, justice continues to elude the people. Meanwhile, the Brazilian movements of La Via Campesina are alerting us to the emergence of new ‘rural militias’. As per the report titled “Conflicts in the Countryside,” published by the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) on April 17th, Brazil witnessed 47 recorded murders in 2022, with 6 of them being women. It is worth remembering that in 2021, former president Bolsonaro labeled the MST as a “terrorist organization” and advocated for landowners to arm themselves. This remains a pressing concern for social movements today.

Brazil stands out as one of the countries with the most unequal land distribution worldwide. Merely 1% of Brazilians possess over half of the arable land, while small farmers, who make up three-quarters of all producers, only own 20%. This long-standing legacy from the colonial era persists almost unchanged due to the enduring power of landowners, coupled with influential lobbying in Congress and the media. To shed light on these issues and more, the Landless Rural Workers Movement organized numerous actions throughout the country as part of Red April, commemorating the murder of 21 landless workers.

The 17th edition of the Oziel Alves Youth Pedagogical Camp took place at the infamous “S curve,” the site of the massacre where the Military Police of the state of Pará brutally killed the landless workers in 1996. This camp, named in honor of Oziel Alves, the youngest militant who was tragically shot in the forehead at the age of 17 in Eldorado do Carajás, brought together rural youth to underscore the importance of solidarity, training, art, and culture as transformative tools.

Under the slogan “The Agrarian Reform against Hunger and Slavery: for Land, Democracy, and the Environment,” this year’s April Day carried on the legacy and ongoing struggle of the peasants who were brutally murdered 27 years ago. This slogan represents a continuation and a current focus on the fight for land, democracy, and the environment.

This year as part of the global mobilizations, members of La Via Campesina have also drawn attention to and expressed solidarity with the grave violations of rights faced by peasant communities, as well as the systematic criminalization of their leaders in countries including Palestine, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, Mali, Ecuador, France, Spain, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, South Korea, Kenya, Canada, Haiti, Guatemala, and Peru.

Towards the 8th International Conference in Colombia (#8ConfLVC)

During April 17, 2023, La Via Campesina also launched the slogan and official poster of its VIII International Conference to be held in November in Bogota, Colombia. This is the most important decision-making space for the peasant movement, as well as a space for evaluation, analysis and construction of collective plans.

Official Slogan for the 8th International Conference is: “Faced with Global Crises, We Build Food Sovereignty, to Ensure a Future for Humanity!” La Via Campesina and Defending Peasant Rights Webinar

La Via Campesina, along with the coalition ‘Defending Peasants’ Rights,’ which comprises organizations dedicated to implementing the UN Declaration on Peasants’ Rights (UNDROP), organized a public webinar. The webinar aimed to explore how organizations and communities utilize the Declaration to raise awareness of their struggles and advocate for their rights as outlined in the Declaration.

The webinar showcased peasant representatives from various regions who elaborated on the coordination of struggles around the UN Declaration on Peasants’ Rights (UNDROP). They provided insightful examples of the implementation and legal progress made since 2018.

Local actions for global struggles!

Currently, La Via Campesina unites 182 organizations representing peasants, indigenous communities, landless workers, and women from 81 countries worldwide. Through more than 78 actions carried out worldwide, our collective showcased its solidarity. On this important occasion, member organizations and allies expressed their resistance against the harmful consequences of agribusiness and the extractive industry, which pollute the soil, water, and commons. Together, we carried out street interventions, food donations, seed distribution, tree planting, local fairs, forums, and debates to raise awareness about the criminalization of peasant mobilization, the judicial persecution of social leaders, and the prevailing impunity concerning their murders.

As the global movement commemorates its 30th anniversary, its core principles, including Food Sovereignty, Peasant Agroecology, Popular Agrarian Reform, and Peasant and Popular Feminism, are more relevant than ever. In the face of numerous crises across the world, these propositions represent tangible responses from the peasantry, offering an alternative model and a pathway to ensure social justice in all its facets.

Actions in Latin America

In the Dominican Republic, member organizations organized the “Forum on the Impact of Mining, Agroecology, and the Human Right to Water in the Caribbean region.”

In Haiti, peasants organized under the MPP carried out a denunciation action as part of the #17April23 movement, but they were brutally repressed by the military force BESAP. While mobilizing, the peasants chanted, “Get out, thieves and land grabbers of peasant territories.”

In Guatemala, our members hosted the II Central American Meeting on Popular Peasant Feminism, focusing on the struggle of indigenous women from the CLOC – LVC Central America Women Articulation.

In Honduras, peasant organizations demanded access to land and peasant markets, control of seeds in peasant hands, protection of territories, adequate financing for the peasant sector, and an end to the criminalization of their struggle, as they are the ones who feed the people.

Moving on to South America, more actions unfolded.

In Colombia, our members organized a forum on “Peasantry, Land, and Agrarian Reform in the National Development Plan 2023-2026.”

The LGBTIQ collective of South America created a series of materials to bring visibility to gender diversity and its active participation in all fronts of action and in the defense of food sovereignty. They also denounced the criminalization and LGBTIQ-phobia that leads to the killing of peasants worldwide.

Solidarity Actions in AFRICA AND ARNA Region

The Southern and Eastern Africa region has launched the booklet on the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants, UNDROP, in eight local African languages. This initiative aims to ensure that a wide range of peasants can access, understand, and utilize the UNDROP to protect their rights.

In Tanzania, MVWATA organized 24 local actions across the country with the slogan “Ardhi yetu, Uhai wetu!” (Our Land, Our Life), highlighting peasant struggles and resistance in their territories.

In Mali, the CNOP hosted the second edition of the organic weekend at the AMSD headquarters in Kalaban Koro. This event aimed to promote agroecological and organic products, as well as the principles of Food Sovereignty.

In Palestine, the Union of Farmers’ Committees (UAWC) distributed local seedlings to farmers as part of their commemoration of the International Day of Peasant Struggles 2023.

Actions in ASIA

In Sri Lanka, MONLAR and other social movements used this day of mobilization to raise concerns about the consequences of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

In Indonesia, the SPI held a demonstration to showcase to the President of the Republic of Indonesia the benefits of the family farming model compared to corporate farming.

The Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labourers’ Federation also mobilized its union members in Gazipur to mark the day.

In Thailand, the Northern Peasant Federation of Thailand reaffirmed its ongoing struggle against injustice, advocating for the right to land, food sovereignty, and food security for farmers and peasants. They emphasized the need for debt relief, land restoration, fair pricing for natural resources such as soil, water, forests, and crops, and an end to free trade practices.

Solidarity Actions in EUROPE

The ÖBV – Via Campesina Austria once again urged politicians to provide effective and equitable solutions to the climate crisis in front of the Parliament, accompanied by the sound of cowbells. The hashtag #FarmersForTheFuture was used to amplify their message.

The National Confederation of Agriculture (CNA), in Portugal, called for fair prices for those who produce quality and accessible food for the people, challenging the dominance of large-scale distribution. The CNA presented concrete proposals and emphasized that, with political determination, it is feasible to establish conditions for the fair pricing of national production, benefiting both farmers and consumers.

For more information and to keep track of all the actions undertaken in different territories, please visit our virtual gallery:

Popular Communication: Training, Agitation, and Mobilization!

Over the past 30 years, we have come to understand that globalizing the struggle and hope is not merely a slogan; it is our political strategy. Throughout this journey, art and culture have played a crucial role in nurturing our diverse peasant culture, with its myriad colors, forms, and worldviews, all united under the banner of food sovereignty and peasant food systems.

In this section, we wish to extend our greetings to all the people’s communication initiatives, as well as the exploration of new formats and narratives by our member organizations and allies. These endeavors allow us to present our proposals and struggles for a better life. We remain committed to sharing the worlds we are actively constructing in our respective territories.

(only in Portugese)

Resisting means organizing ourselves, cultivating values such as education, labor, solidarity, and brotherhood. It means valuing and preserving peasant and popular culture through our actions and communication efforts, thereby strengthening and expanding our social foundations. Through the dissemination of ideas and the mobilization of consciousness, we strive to agitate and engage minds.

Globalize the Hope! Globalize the Struggle!

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Frontiers of an effective Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations (TNCs)

Launched in March 2023, this document (see PDF link below) compiles the reasoning and most important arguments the Global Campaign puts forwards regarding content that must be considered in the elaboration of an ambitious and effective Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and Human Rights as mandated by Resolution 26/9.

A consolidation of the demands of affected communities, indigenous peoples, trade unions, social movements, and civil society organizations, the proposals spelled out here are necessary so the Treaty can effectively regulate the activities of TNCs. They are key to addressing the asymmetries generated by the immeasurable power TNCs exert over their value and production chains at the expenses of States’ and peoples’ sovereignty.

This document is complementary to the official written contributions of the Global Campaign submitted in the framework of the inter-sessional period (8th – 9th sessions) of the Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG). There, we analyse the proposals and amendments made by States in previous sessions stressing which articles we believe should be supported, which could be improved, and those we recommend are rejected in the elaboration of the 4th draft to be published in July 2023.

The themes and arguments we expose here are taken from and reflected in different articles of the 3rd revised draft with comments from States. They consolidate over a decade of work and extensive consultations, but they are also part of a living process. Our allies, and all those working to reclaim peoples’ sovereignty, dismantle corporate power, and stop impunity, are welcome to comment and suggest provisions, arguments, precedents, and amendments that might strengthen our voice and the effectiveness of the future Binding Treaty.


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The struggle against mega-basins is a struggle for life

On March 24, 25 and 26, more than 25,000 people gathered in the commune of Sainte-Soline, western France, as part of an international mobilisation against the construction of one of the largest water reservoirs for irrigation and other water-grabbing projects.

Faced with this unprecedented turnout, the French government decided to ban the demonstration and deploy more than 3,000 armed police to protect the construction site, which spans some 162,000 square metres (1.7 million square feet).

The use of violence against the protesters was by all accounts disproportionate. More than 200 people were injured, some quite seriously, as the police charged at the crowd and fired more than 5,000 tear gas canisters. One demonstrator is still in a coma, as of the time of this writing.

After the violent crackdown, the French government announced the “dissolution” of Les Soulèvements de la Terre (The Earth’s Uprisings), one of the organisations behind the demonstrations.

These very brutal scenes remind us of the sad reality that we are experiencing in our lands. We are witnessing the resurgence and reinforcement of authoritarianism, growing repression of environmental protests, and intensifying criminalisation of those who oppose this ongoing ecocide, as well as the capitalist, imperialist, and colonialist structures that preside over it.

But in the face of this ecological violence, a global movement is emerging that builds on solidarity to protect water rights for all.

The ‘mega’ abuse of water

In France, the construction of giant retention basins for agricultural irrigation started in the late 1990s, but has accelerated since 2010 due to the massive droughts the country has experienced as a result of climate change.

According to the French government, there are around 100 mega-basin projects for agricultural irrigation in the country. However, the associations Bassines Non Merci (Basins No Thanks) and Le Soulèvement de la Terre have mapped nearly 300 projects, many of which are still under study.

These huge craters are filled by drawing from underground water, which often leads to the degradation of water resources in the affected area. These mega-basins only benefit a small minority of big farmers who are linked to big agro-industrial interests, while small-scale farmers suffer from ever-decreasing access to the overexploited water resources.

Such plans embody a flawed policy of maintaining the current agro-industrial model at any cost, which crushes small-scale farmers and destroys ecosystems.

Although many complaints have been filed against these projects, many are still under construction. Movements opposing mega-basins have emerged in France since the 2000s, and in recent years, they have increasingly taken on a nationwide and international dimension.

‘It is not drought, it is looting’

The construction of large water reservoirs elsewhere has already demonstrated that such projects have devastating effects on the environment and local communities. For instance, in Chile, in the province of Petorca alone, eight mega-basins have been built since 1985.

They have mostly benefited the wealthy owners of large avocado farms, who use the water from the basins to irrigate a water-intensive monocrop that is almost entirely destined for export to the Global North. Meanwhile, surrounding villages have been left without water. The government has had to spend millions of dollars to buy water – often from these same avocado farms – to distribute through trucks to the local communities.

Locals have come up with an accurate description of their reality: “no es sequia, es saqueo!” (it is not drought, it is looting!). This has become a slogan often repeated at protests across Latin America, as peasants and Indigenous peoples from Chile to Mexico are fighting against the privatisation of water.

The large water reservoir projects are part of the systematic abuse of freshwater across the world. Pollution, overexploitation, commodification, and hoarding have disrupted the Earth’s water cycles. As a result, water scarcity has reached frightening proportions, affecting 40 percent of the world’s population, and causing upheaval across the planet.

These constant violations over the years have also seen pushback from communities and social movements. In 2000, residents of Cochabamba, Bolivia’s fourth-biggest city, fought the so-called “water war” against attempts to privatise their water. Since then, there have been a growing number of conflicts and social unrest, as people fight over shrinking water resources and struggle to defend their rights.

Public mobilisations and people’s water summits held over the last two decades in many parts of the world have demanded access to water and its protection, especially for impoverished and socially excluded populations. In 2010, the United Nations finally recognised the right to water as a human right.

Yet, the aggressive privatisation and financialisation of water have continued. Large corporations such as Danone, Nestle, and Coca-Cola have been pumping spring water from Indigenous lands in Mexico, the United States and Canada to sell it at high prices in plastic bottles, while local communities have struggled with access to water.

Elsewhere, in line with capitalist injunctions to “decarbonise” economies, water-intensive mining and the construction of large dams are accelerating, destroying territories still populated by peasant and Indigenous communities. In 2020, water was even listed on the stock exchange in the US.

Global solidarity on water rights

In the face of this ecocidal offensive on water, land, and our livelihoods, people involved in the struggle for water are not only growing in number but also connecting across the globe.

In late March, some of us travelled far to join local activists, peasants, and farmers in their protest against France’s mega-basins in Sainte-Soline. Included in this crowd were activists from Chile fighting against the destruction of our ecosystems by authoritarian neoliberalism; activists from Mali fighting against land grabs; Kurdish activists opposing the relentless water war waged by Turkey; Yukpa Indigenous activists from Abya Yala and Mohawk activists from Turtle Island fighting for the self-determination of our nations in the face of a colonial and extractivist system; and activists from the Lakota Nation and the social centres of Northeast Italy.

No government can ignore global solidarity; no government can dissolve the peoples’ water movement, a vital revolt that grows and resonates across borders and languages.

This is why we, actors of the struggle for life, peasants, human rights and environmental defenders, public figures, trade unions, collectives, and organisations from different continents, call for massive international support for the struggle for water and against mega-basins in France.

We call on people to denounce the French government’s repression of social and environmental movements. We also call for respect for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).

Our support extends to all those who are struggling around the world against water grabbing, privatisation, and pollution, and for the fair sharing and protection of water as an inalienable common good.

From the water that flows through our veins, the rivers of the watersheds that sustain our lands and that connect our geographies, we call for the strengthening of internationalist alliances to defend water, land, and the commons that sustain life. In the face of all forms of repression and authoritarianism, our solidarity is like flowing water: it brings life and freedom and knows no borders.

This article by Morgan Ody (La Via Campesina), Masa Koné and Juan Pablo Guttierez first appeared on Al Jaazeera on the 3rd of May 2023.

The post The struggle against mega-basins is a struggle for life appeared first on Via Campesina English.

Chapter 15 : Hang Down Your Head John Campbell

IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus - Sun, 05/21/2023 - 16:16

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

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

You came from Australia, You married one of the Murphys,
They owned Pacific Lumber, And all of the redwood trees…
As soon as you hit the big time, You made good your life,
You didn’t need the Murphys, So you divorced your wife.

—lyrics excerpted from Hang Down Your Head John Campbell, by Darryl Cherney, 1990. [1]

While the G-P and L-P mill workers faced uncertain futures in Mendocino County, Charles Hurwitz was having his way in Humboldt County. Indeed, the first third of 1989 did not go well for the adversaries of Maxxam. For his services in helping facilitate the takeover and convincing the Texas raider to boost lumber production to help service the takeover debt, Hurwitz promoted John Campbell to the role of Pacific Lumber president, effective January 1, 1989, replacing the retiring William Leone. Campbell would remain in Scotia, thus making it the first time in almost 15 years that the P-L president would have his office in the capitol of its lumber operations. Executive vice president for sales and marketing at the company’s Mill Valley site and Hurwitz supporter Thomas B Malarkey was promoted to company vice chairman. Both Campbell and Malarkey were elected to the board of directors. The moves signified Hurwitz’s determination to retain his hold over Humboldt County. [2] It no doubt appealed to Hurwitz that under Campbell’s watch, P-L’s operating income had increased to approximately $54 million in 1988. [3] Hurwitz himself had made a hefty sum that year, earning over $3.95 million—up from $723,150 the year before—and the total didn’t even include an additional $668,345 he received when he terminated P-L’s bonus plan or the $309,375 worth of stock he received on top of everything else. [4]

At least there was some semblance of independent thought in Humboldt County. TEAM cofounder Gary Gundlach had, on February 7, approached the Rio Dell City Council at its meeting on that night at the invitation of the town’s mayor, Patricia Moranda. Gundlach gave a presentation on his organization’s work so far (serving as a front group for Corporate Timber, particularly Maxxam), regurgitated the standard talking points about “unwashed-out-of-town- jobless-hippies-on-drugs” fifth columnists, and outlined TEAM’s plans to expand their propaganda and phony “grassroots” campaign to target audiences in the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles. Gundlach evidently expected universal approval and was shocked to discover that he didn’t get it. Although Rio Dell was anything but sympathetic to Earth First!, councilman Wayne Mayhall repudiated Gundlach and TEAM, declaring that Rio Dell was not a member of it, that he objected to sentences in one of TEAM’s form letters suggesting otherwise, that the timber tax revenue received by Rio Dell was negligible, and that as a governing body, the it was not the town’s council’s place to express opinions on such matters. Mayhall concluded by recommending that the council note the presentation and take no action, which is how the matter ended. [5]

It may well have been the ESOP campaign that had created the political room for Mayhall to speak out, but the campaign was beginning to falter. Back in December of 1988, just before the Christmas holiday, Shannon and a group of ESOP supporters had appeared unannounced at the monthly Humboldt County Board of Supervisors meeting to request a formal hearing on the matter of P-L’s overcutting, warning them if left unchecked, Maxxam would cut it all down and by extension eliminate all of the timber workers’ jobs. The board responded by asking the ESOP committee to request in writing that the matter be placed on the agenda of their January meeting, which was done. Unbeknownst to the P-L employees, Shannon wrote a letter to Hurwitz requesting that the two meet to discuss a mutually beneficial arrangement. He declared:

“There have been grave misunderstandings regarding our proposal to purchase Pacific Lumber. (P-L) has responded emotionally and lacks the perspective to analyze the overall social, political, and economic ramifications of an ESOP buyout. Let us not be enemies. Our ESOP proposal benefits everyone concerned, including Maxxam and yourself by perhaps the greatest measure of all—economic profitability.” [6]

This would prove to be a tactical mistake. Hurwitz did not respond directly to Shannon, but the latter would soon get an answer.

On January 10, Lester Reynolds, Patrick Shannon, Jim Steeves, and at least two other organizers appeared before the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors requesting hearings on Pacific Lumber’s recent practices under the new regime, hoping to prove that the accelerated timber harvests would ultimately doom the local environment and economy. Steeves, a thirty year P-L employee who was concerned about his son and son-in-law who were also both employees declared, “I’m hoping they have their jobs until they can retire.” Reynolds’s added, “We as the labor force of Pacific Lumber and Humboldt County are caught in the middle between the corporate raider who wants to cut all the trees down for the big bucks and the environmentalists who want to save all the trees.” [7]

The ESOP committee was hopelessly outnumbered, however. Three representatives of P-L’s subcontractors spoke out against the request for an investigation of P-L. An official of one of them, Joe Costa Trucking, argued that such a hearing might discourage other businesses from relocating to Humboldt County—though in all likelihood the company’s actual motivation was to retain accelerated harvesting rates which benefitted the piece-work oriented gyppos. The majority of the board, including Harold Pritchard and Anna Sparks expressed “sympathy” for the workers, but all declared that the board was not the proper place for such a discussion. Only Wesley Chesbro sounded a dissenting note arguing that P-L’s current practices were dividing the community. The fifth supervisor, Bonnie Neeley, was not present. Patrick Shannon protested the Supervisors’ refusal arguing, “You have a responsibility to watch the tax base and job base for planning our future,” but the board was unmoved. [8]

Anna Sparks then made it quite clear that the majority was unapologetically in league with Hurwitz. The supervisor, who was in her second term, claimed to be an environmentalist, and she served as vice chair of the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board. [9] She also claimed to know Shannon’s mother. [10] When she had signaled her intent to run for a second term in 1986, she declared, “I want to promote this area in a sound environmental way but in a way that will bring jobs to the area.” She was, however, no more an environmentalist than TEAM was an employee organization. Her idea of bringing jobs to the region was supporting offshore oil and gas development, a widely unpopular idea that even many local conservatives opposed at the time. [11] In response to the ESOP she expressed no ambiguity whatsoever, opining, “I don’t feel this board is the place to dissect industries,” and proclaimed that the real enemy of the P-L workers was not Hurwitz, but the environmentalists who were worried more about birds than people’s jobs. If WECARE hadn’t scripted her response, it may as well have, because this was one of the industry’s standard talking points. [12] Leaving no ambiguity, she declared that Humboldt County was lucky to have a man like Hurwitz, who owned lots of companies and a savings and loan, investing in it. [13]

However that wasn’t to be the worst of it. Astonishingly, Sparks announced that she had received Hurwitz’s answer to Shannon’s letter. Proving that she wasn’t bluffing, the supervisor read aloud from the communiqué on Maxxam letterhead which declared:

“Dear Mr. Shannon…I am in receipt of your letter of January 3…I am concerned about the misinformation and the blatant falsehoods surrounding the Pacific Lumber Company which appear to be circulating in Humboldt County. I believe that you and the so-called ‘ESOP’ group are partially responsible. Pacific Lumber does not intend to reply each time some irresponsible person starts a rumor. On this occasion, however, I wish to make unmistakably clear to the Board of Supervisors, the employees of the Pacific Lumber Company, and the citizens of Humboldt County, that, contrary to the rumors apparently started by your ‘ESOP’ group: THE PACIFIC LUMBER COMPANY IS NOT FOR SALE…

The Board of Supervisors, the employees of Pacific Lumber, and the citizens of Humboldt County have my best wishes for a happy and prosperous 1989, [But] Mr. Shannon, we have no interest in meeting or carrying on a dialog with you.” [14]

This was a devastating revelation. Already Pacific Lumber management had been cracking down on the ESOP activity from within. The supportive workers had counted on outside help, but they certainly weren’t going to get it from their local government.

Patrick Shannon had pointed out that few P-L workers had attended to Board of Supervisors’ meeting, because the company had cancelled the time off of many other supporters at the last minute. David Galitz publically rebutted this charge in a phone interview with Eureka Times-Standard reporter Mark Rathjen, stating, “We don’t play games like that.” [15] These statements were not consistent with Pete Kayes’ experiences, however, and at the time his ULP was still pending with the NLRB. [16] All of the naysayers against Shannon the ESOP campaign were strangely silent about the formation of an ESOP at Eel River Sawmills, however. The fact that the owners, Mel and Grace McLean supported the idea, that ERS was a strong supporter of TEAM and WECARE, and that they mostly specialized in young growth redwoods were probably the strongest factors in the inconsistent opinions expressed by the supporters of Corporate Timber. [17] It wasn’t ESOPs that they opposed, but rather any possible challenge to the economic status quo.

* * * * *

At least William Bertain was having better luck. On January 22, he announced that legal counsel from several expert security law firms, including Charles Barnhill of Davis, Barnhill, and Gailard of Wisconsin; Lafollette and Sinkyin, also of Madison, Wisconsin; Sachoff, Weaver, and Rubenstein of Chicago; and Cornbilt & Seltzer of Los Angeles had joined him and filed still one more shareholder lawsuit against Maxxam in federal district court in New York. All of the firms had agreed to take the case on a contingency basis, which meant that the plaintiffs would only be charged should their suit prove victorious and damages awarded, but Bertain maintained that they would not have signed on had they not thought the case winnable. The suit alleged that the shareholders would have reacted differently to Hurwitz’s tender offer had they been aware of the apparent stock parking by Drexel Burnham Lambert, Michael Milken, Boyd Jefferies, and Ivan Boesky. Both this and the suit filed the previous October sought to void the Maxxam takeover of P-L. [18] The timing was fortuitous, because that same week, DBL fired Michael Milken who had been accused of plotting several takeovers and reaping illegal benefits of these activities with Ivan Boesky who was now serving a (low security) prison sentence. [19]

One week later, Assemblyman Byron Sher decided to reintroduce a bill, AB 390, restricting clearcutting he had pulled eight months earlier (then labeled AB3601) in favor of supporting Dan Hauser’s “compromise”. As before, the bill proposed a ban on clearcutting old growth redwoods in groves larger than 40 acres where the trees were 175 or more years old. The Assemblyman was motivated to do so because, in his opinion, Pacific Lumber had failed to live up to the provisions of bill he cosponsored with Dan Hauser. Further, he declared that P-L had stonewalled his efforts to organize a tour of the company’s land for representatives of the Trust for Public Lands as well as the Nature Conservancy to explore the possibility of purchasing some of them for a park.[20] In response, John Campbell suggested that Sher’s actual motivation was for the state to seize “a certain 3,000 acre property”, namely Headwaters Forest. [21] He added that the company had “fully honored it’s agreement” with Hauser and Sher, that it had modified its THPs changing proposed clearcuts to “select cuts”, and that the CDF had made first hand inspections of the THPs and approved them.[22]

This was simply rhetoric, however. Campbell neglected to mention that the so called “agreement” between himself, Hauser, and Pacific Lumber had little actual teeth and that the “select cuts” proposed in them amounted to de facto clearcuts, because only one old growth tree per acre was required by its terms. [23] Sher countered Campbell by stating that he had evidence, provided by Cecilia Gregori and Lynn Ryan, from their foray onto P-L land on October 26 the previous year, that P-L had not, in fact returned to the selective harvesting they practiced before the Maxxam takeover as promised. [24] “(P-L is) filing new THPs at a much faster rate, including many more aimed at the heart of the old-growth ‘islands’ considered for negotiation,” Sher declared. [25]

In the case of two contested P-L THPs, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge John Buffington seemed to agree with EPIC. Shortly after Sher introduced AB 390, Buffington issued a TRO on the THPs that proposed logging in the Lawrence Creek and Shaw Creek watersheds, ordering the California State BOF to determine what mitigation measures proposed by the DFG to offset cumulative effects on wildlife should be implemented, and whether adverse environmental impacts were being trumped by economic considerations. These were the same THPs that had been initially rejected by Jerry Partain the previous May (which subsequently inspired P-L to facilitate the formation of TEAM), and were later approved by the BOF when it overrode Partain’s sudden willingness to enforce the spirit of Z’berg Nejedly. The judge accused the agencies involved with “playing Russian roulette with the state’s resources and environment”. [26] In his decision, Buffington declared that the ultimate answers to the questions being brought to his court needed to be addressed by the California State legislature, which brought further attention to Byron Sher’s proposed bill. [27]

* * * * *

With all that was happening, there seemed to be no shortage of attempts by P-L management to cover up evidence of Maxxam’s malfeasance. In February, photocopies of an anonymous letter were distributed all over Scotia claiming that when Maxxam took over P-L, it cut corners in the construction of its new cogeneration plant, and compromised the plant’s safety in the process. Part of the letter read:

“…Now it ended up the plant don’t work. We have had turbines ‘blow up’. We didn’t put the proper vibrators in the silo and the steel got twisted up pretty good when it got hot. The welds on the high pressure steam lines don’t look all too good. The plant can’t run at full power and keeps breaking down.” [28]

Although OSHA had reportedly already conducted a preliminary inspection of the plant and had found no substantial safety violations, the letter went on to urge residents to contact OSHA or state and federal legislatures, express their concerns, and request another inspection. Violations or no, at least one resident, Leona Bishop—whose husband, Grant, had made the initial contact with Patrick Shannon, and whose daughter was enrolled in the sixth grade at the local school—was alarmed at the possibility that the plant, which was located near the school, could be a hazard. She therefore requested that the local school board take up the issue on its agenda at its monthly meeting on February 21, 1989. The board agreed, in spite of the reservations by Board President Brian Schapper (who was also a project leader and senior analyst for Pacific Lumber, which was not uncommon in a company town such as Scotia) that the body wasn’t the appropriate forum for the issue. [29]

The meeting proved to be yet another case where public comment was stifled in the service of Corporate Timber. This time, however, local TV media covered the event. On camera, plant superintendent Rich Sweet, who appeared at the meeting at the request of the school’s staff, asserted that OSHA had found only minor deficiencies.

“The turbine had an electrical problem inside the turbine generator—a short to a ground in the field. It’s a figure of speech to say ‘it blew up’ like you’d say you ‘blew a fuse’ at your house, but it doesn’t mean your house blew up. We did have a fire in the dust collector hopper, but these things happen and are easily put out.” [30]

Sweet did concede, however, that the plant was only running at two-thirds capacity due to a mechanical problem, but argued that it was General Electric’s responsibility to fix it. [31]

The plant manager’s response did not sit well with Plumbers and Steamfitters Local #471 Business Manager, Gary Haberman, a local builder and member of the Yurok Indian tribe, who was in attendance and requested a chance to rebut Sweet, which was granted. The union official indicated that there were many residents who were legitimately concerned about the plant’s safety, or lack thereof, but were afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation. He then asked four questions: (1) did they scatter their turbine? (2) Did drain lines melt when steam was drained out of them? (3) Did the chip silo blow?, and (4) Why isn’t the plant putting out full power? He concluded by declaring that the plant should have been thoroughly investigated and that some of the employees who had worked inside of the plant and had expressed dismay to him about the inferior materials used in its construction. He pointed out that had P-L used a union crew, this would not have happened, and the plant would now be operating at full capacity. [32]

At this point, Sweet interrupted Haberman and suggested that the latter’s complaints were not relevant to the issues involving the school. Schapper agreed, stating, “We are concerned with educating children. If there is evidence that there is a problem, bring it forward. The letter is not even signed,” (as if that bit of information was relevant). Schapper then gaveled the issue closed and moved onto the next item. This seemed to satisfy most of the small audience of about 20. Haberman, however, was livid and told the press that he was merely relaying what the workers had told him, and that because the OSHA inspectors were not engineers their determination wasn’t necessarily sufficient. “If these people are satisfied by the rhetoric of a company town, they have to live with whatever consequences there are.” Bishop was equally unsatisfied, declaring that the only way she and her fellow Scotians would receive peace of mind was for OSHA to conduct a follow up inspection. “There’s been too many comments made on the negative side for it to all be rumors,” she said. Brian Schapper, however dismissed their concerns simply stating, “I feel it’s safe; I’ve been on a tour,” as if the visual record of one school board official, evidently a Maxxam supporter at that, was somehow more compelling than that of a trained plumber and steamfitter. [33]

Haberman’s confirmation of the anonymous letter’s contents was not simply a case of a union official trying to protect his union’s jurisdiction, however. According to another anonymous worker—distinct from the unnamed letter writer—San Rafael based Factory Mutual Engineering, the insurance company originally contracted to underwrite the plant had cancelled their coverage of it in 1986 after their boiler inspector found inferior materials holding vital safety equipment together. The second unnamed source had questioned the inspector at length and the latter had confirmed that, in his opinion, the boiler was unsafe due to faulty parts and shoddy workmanship. Anderson Valley Advertiser editor and publisher Bruce Anderson reportedly contacted Factory Mutual Engineering and was informed that the insurance company had indeed cancelled their coverage, but elected not to reveal the reason why. There was certainly smoke, and it suggested a fire. [34]

* * * * *

The legal battles over Shaw and Lawrence Creek heated up again in March. The Board of Forestry who had been ordered by Judge John Buffington to reexamine the two THPs after he had been “frustrated by a lack of data on wildlife protections and torn between the economic and environmental issues of the case,” which had been brought to his court by EPIC the previous year. The BOF reapproved the THPs declaring that they could find “no significant adverse impact on the environment,” according to executive officer Dean Cromwell. The official did also stipulate that they cited property rights and land-use goals of property zoned for timber management. In response to the Department of Fish and Game’s recommendation that wilderness “corridors” be preserved, the John Campbell argued that such would be “far too costly and not proper management for the long haul,” and that the company was including wildlife mitigations “anyway,” but didn’t specify exactly what. EPIC attorney Tom Lippe again insisted that the BOF was not following the spirit of Z’berg Nejdley and CEQA, and questioned exactly whose long haul Campbell was considering, indicating that it was evidently not that of the earth’s biosphere. “It’s more likely that old growth dependent wildlife will become extinct,” if the BOF’s ruling was allowed to stand said Lippe. [35]

Further evidence of Maxxam’s and DBL’s collusion surfaced that same month. Testifying before the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigation, Bill Bertain revealed that he had agreed (at the subcommittee’s request) to secretly tape a conversation he had held with attorney John Gibbons on December 19, 1987. Gibbons was a former federal prosecutor who had gone on to work for Kroll Associates, a national investigative agency whose clients included none other than DBL. In the taped conversation, Gibbons implied he was conducting an investigation on behalf of the subcommittee, though “not directly.” According to Bertain, he had four times previously suggested as much, but in actual fact the subcommittee had no knowledge of this, and in all likelihood Gibbons was ferreting out information to try and use to build a defense against the subcommittee. Gibbons refused to testify, arguing that Bertain had recorded the conversation without his knowledge, which was against the law in California. However, since Bertain was assisting the subcommittee in conducting an investigation, federal law, including subcommittee investigations allowing such activity superseded. [36] These facts didn’t stop TEAM spokesman Michael J. Eglin from invoking (yet another) witch hunt, demanding that Bertain—whom he accused of being the source behind the ESOP campaign and every other anti-Maxxam effort under the sun—be disbarred. Evidently Eglin had no problem with insider trading and violations of securities laws. [37]

While Congress and the representatives of Corporate Timber debated over the letter of the law with regards to tape recording conversations, a judge in Oakland dismissed the Sierra Club lawsuit against Pacific Lumber’s proposed Owl Creek THP. Declaring that Sierra Club attorney Joe Brecher had neglected to file his suit within the 90 day comment period allowed under CEQA, visiting Judge Eugene C. Langhauser “reluctantly” dismissed the case in Humboldt County Superior Court. P-L lawyer Jared Carter had expected a dispute over the technicality, but declared, “that’s their problem, not mine right now.” Brecher declined to explain the reason for his initial delay, and appealed the dismissal, which—for the time—protected the grove from cutting for the time being. P-L Forestry manager Robert Stephens declared that the company would begin a “modified selective cut” on the THP as soon as the stay was lifted, and indicated that the company was doing the environmentalists a favor because they had “agreed to leave trees (they) didn’t have to leave,” which in this case was 20 percent of the newer growth trees, while the old growth would be cut. Cecilia Gregori didn’t find the forester’s declaration particularly charitable, arguing that the planned logging would devastate critical habitat for the spotted owl, marbled murrelet, and other old growth dependent wildlife.” [38]

Pacific Lumber had won a legal victory on a technicality. They would win another just two weeks later due to the same Sierra Club attorney’s inability to meet the filing deadline on another THP, this time involving Headwaters Forest. On April 21, Judge William F. Ferroggiaro struck down the lawsuit in Humboldt County Superior Court. Speaking for EPIC, Robert Sutherland lamented, “These are two of our most significant suits, and I’m sorry to lose them, if in fact that’s what’s going to happen, but the significant issues don’t go away just because an attorney made a mistake.” Cecilia Gregori added that the judge retained the ability to overlook the time limits at his discretion, adding, “We feel that a simple mistake of law shouldn’t overrule a case involving the last remaining irreplaceable virgin redwoods.” John Campbell, on the other hand, grumbled that the suits had not been dismissed quickly enough, stating that “timber harvesting has been prevented by court orders for almost six months…the company needs this timber to maintain operations at its mills and jobs for its employees,” never once conceding that none of this would have been necessary had Maxxam not taken over. Brecher filed a motion for reconsideration and indicated that should the motion be denied, the Sierra Club and EPIC would appeal. [39] In July, Humboldt County Judge William Ferroggiaro upheld Langhauser’s dismissal. [40]

* * * * *

Meanwhile, Patrick Shannon and the leaders in the ESOP campaign struggled desperately to prevent the air from flowing out of their popped balloon. Attendance at committee meetings had begun to wane. Finally Shannon decided that another big impact gathering like the one that had really launched the campaign the previous September was needed. He called for a meeting to take place in early April at the Fortuna High School Auditorium which, being larger than the banquet room at the Eureka Inn, symbolized his hopes that more than 700 would attend. Shannon also convinced Dr. Louis Kelso to attend and address the crowd as the keynote speaker for inspiration. [41] Shannon declared, “I’m so tired of reading about the emotional debate between the timber industry and environmentalists. This meeting is an attempt to bring the debate into the intellectual arena.” [42]

However, the event was a debacle. Only 150, including Darryl Cherney, bothered to show. [43] Kelso was less than inspiring. Indeed, he nearly bored the audience to sleep. Patrick Shannon jolted them out of their virtual slumber, suggesting that since Maxxam would not sell the company, the ESOP campaign should attempt a partnership with Hurwitz, buying perhaps 30 percent of the company at first with the hopes of someday achieving a 51 percent majority. He also indicated that General Electric had been brought into the “partnership” as well. [44] To the 150 assembled workers and their allies, including his truest believers, Pete Kayes and Lester Reynolds, Shannon’s idea was utter folly. [45] To begin with, they’d need to acquire 80 percent of the company according to its articles of incorporation, a fact that Shannon had apparently forgotten. [46] More to the point, the intrepid workers who had risked their jobs to run the campaign considered the option making a deal with the very devil they hoped to defeat. One retiree declared that it would be “a snowy day in hell before he’d ever make a deal with Charles Hurwitz”. [47] The crowd erupted in thunderous applause at which point Patrick Shannon lost his composure and called the workers “useless” and “incapable.” The meeting was over, and Hurwitz had won again, but this time he’d barely even fired a proverbial shot. [48]

[1] “Harris, David, The Last Stand, New York, NY, Times Books, Random House, 1995, page 350.

[2] “Campbell Garners PL’s Top Position”, Eureka Times-Standard, January 7, 1989.

[3] “Old Growth: Technical Knockout”, by Andy Alm, EcoNews, May 1989.

[4]“Maxxam and Junk Bonds; Hurwitz Makes Millions”, EcoNews, June 1989.

[5] “Council Informed of Harvest Delays”, by Marialyce Pedersen, Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance, February 10, 1989.

[6] “Harris, op. cit., pages 265-66.

[7] “Shannon Asks for County Hearing on Maxxam”, staff, Eu­reka Times-Standard, December 21, 1988; and “County Refuses to Hold P-L Hearings; Supervisors Hear Workers’ Concerns”, by Mark Rathjen, Eureka Times-Standard, January 11, 1989.

[8] Ibid.

[9] “Sparks Seeks Second Term as Supervisor”, by Cindy Fonstein, Eureka Times-Standard, February 13, 1986.

[10] “Harris, op. cit., page 267.

[11] Fonstein, op. cit.

[12] Rathjen, op. cit.

[13] “Harris, op. cit., pages 267-68.

[14] “Harris, op. cit., page 267. That John Maurer, an ESOP supporter who could potentially have cast the deciding vote the other way had been defeated by Pritchard was salt in the wound.

[15] “Shannon Asks for County Hearing on Maxxam”, staff, Eureka Times-Standard, December 21, 1988; and “County Refuses to Hold P-L Hearings; Supervisors Hear Workers’ Concerns”, by Mark Rathjen, Eureka Times-Standard, January 11, 1989.

[16] “ESOP Update”, Takeback, Volume 1, #1. February 1989.

[17] “Eel River Sawmills Inc. Announces Formation of Employee Stock Plan”, by Glenn Simmons, Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance, February 10, 1989.

[18] “Expert Security Lawyers Join Bertain in PL Takeover Suit”, by Marie Gravelle, Eureka Times-Standard, January 27, 1989.

[19] “Drexel to Fire Milken: Withhold All Earnings”, UPI Wire, Eureka Times-Standard, January 27, 1989.

[20] “PALCO has honored agreement”, guest editorial by John Campbell, Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance, February 3, 1989.

[21]“Twin Moves Stymie Pacific Lumber”, by Andy Alm, EcoNews, March 1989.

[22] Campbell, February 3, 1989, op. cit.

[23] “New Battles in the Maxxam Campaign”, by Greg King and Berberis Nervose, Earth First! Journal, Litha / June 21, 1988.

[24] “Bill Would Restrict PL Clearcutting of Virgin Redwoods”, by Charles Winkler, Eureka Times-Standard, January 31, 1989.

[25]Alm, March 1989, op. cit.

[26]“PL: Follow The Bouncing THPs”, by Andy Alm, EcoNews, April 1989.

[27]Alm, March 1989, op. cit.

[28] “Power-Plant Concerns Allayed by Board”, by Marialyce Pedersen, Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance, February 24, 1989.

[29] Pedersen, February 24, 1989, op. cit.

[30] Pedersen, February 24, 1989, op. cit.

[31] Pedersen, February 24, 1989, op. cit.

[32] Pedersen, February 24, 1989, op. cit.

[33] Pedersen, February 24, 1989, op. cit.

[34] “Here and There in Mendocino County”, by Bruce Anderson, Anderson Valley Advertiser, February 22, 1989.

[35] “PL Harvest Plans OK’d Second Time”, by Marie Gravelle, Eureka Times-Standard, March 10, 1989.

[36] “Eureka Lawyer testifies in PL Takeover Probe”, by Peter Roper, Eureka Times-Standard, March 14, 1989.

[37] “Bertain Cuts Quite a Figure”, letter to the editor by Michael J. Eglin, Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance, April 13, 1988.

[38] “Judge Knocks Down Sierra Club Lawsuit”, by Marie Gravelle, Eureka Times-Standard, April 7, 1989.

[39] “Timber Suit Falls Down”, by Marie Gravelle, Eureka Times-Standard, April 23, 1988.

[40] “Local Judge Upholds Dismissal of Sierra Club Suit”, Eureka Times-Standard, July 6,1989.

[41] “Harris, op. cit., page 267.

[42] “PL Employees Plan Meeting Wednesday on ESOP Plan”, Eureka Times-Standard, April 10, 1989.

[43] Interview with Darryl Cherney, October 9, 2009.

[44] “ESOP Still a Fable”, by Wayne Warkentin, EcoNews, May 1989.

[45] “Harris, op. cit., page 267-68.

[46] “Woody Murphy Wants No Sale”, by Leslie Ridgeway, Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance, November 2, 1985.

[47] “Harris, op. cit., page 268.

[48] Cherney, op. cit.

Tags: Redwood UprisingSteve OngerthJudi BariDarryl CherneyIndustrial Workers of the World (IWW)Earth First!Earth First! - IWW Local 1timber workers

La Via Campesina Warns of Democratic Frailty in Ecuador

Communiqué from La Vía Campesina denounces the dissolution of democratic institutions in Ecuador, coupled with a recent decree on terrorism and the military supporting the President.

(Bagnolet, May 20, 2023)  The peasant, indigenous, landless, women and workers’ organizations that are part of the international movement La Via Campesina around the world warn with great concern about the current context in Ecuador, marked by a serious political crisis, accompanied by a deep economic and social crisis, with high levels of violence by criminal groups, the State and the sectors of power that continue looting the people.

On Wednesday, May 17, the president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso signed executive decree 741, which establishes the dissolution of the National Assembly. This in the midst of the political trial opened against him for accusations of embezzlement. The decree also calls for early general elections within 90 days.

As La Via Campesina we are concerned about the fact that this mechanism known as “mutual death,” although included in the Constitution since 2008, received full support of the Armed Forces and the Police before there had been any official pronouncement from the Constitutional Court.

On the other hand, we raise the alarm about a serious threat to democracy, because although the mechanism of “mutual death” is a constitutional tool, its implementation in a scenario of anti-democracy can be dangerous.

As peasant organizations we demand that for as long as this process lasts, president Lasso refrains from deepening Neoliberalism, extractivism, the privatization of basic services, the handover of natural goods — oil, mining, the radio-electrical spectrum — to transnational corporations. We need decrees that address the urgent demands of working-class urban and rural sectors instead of catering to corporate groups. We strongly reject every type of consession and privatization of public assets.

As a movement present worldwide, we call on our member organizations, allies and multilateral institutions to remain alert to the events in Ecuador. We must ensure transparent elections, stand in defense of democracy in the country and the continent, denounce the imperialist and interventionist practices of the US and demand all proceedings are executing according to the law.

We call to: 

  • Respond immediately to the serious social crisis that Ecuador is also facing, with high rates of hunger and malnutrition in children, poverty, migrations, unemployment of almost half of the population, lack of investment in health and education and an out of control level of violence and insecurity due to criminal gangs.
  • Pay special attention to the peasant sector, those who feed the country, the montubio people, Afro-descendants and indigenous people, as well as the artisanal fisher-folk who are indebted to the banks, slaves in their territories, who also suffer assault, kidnapping, extortion and assassinations, coupled with the complete disregard of the State. All the while, the corporate, agribusiness and banking sector, aligned with the Lasso administration and other political sectors, enjoy shamefully high profit rates as the main benefitiaries of the corruption that plagues Ecuador.
  • Respect the political rights of the progressive members of the National Assembly, acknowledge the militant and political trajectory of comrade José Agualsaca and offer him our support, as historic leader of the FEI (Ecuadorian Federation of Indians, member organization of CLOC – La Via Campesina), and current assembly member who already several months ago had offered his seat in defense of the governance of the country.
  • Endorse the democratic processes of indigenous, student and workers’ organizations, respecting the freedom of assembly and association to launch local assemblies, in the understanding that democracy is at its core the people, organized and fighting for their rights.
  • Ensure a transparent electoral process that does not censor the participation and candidacies of any sector; demand that the National Electoral Council restructure the Provincial Electoral Boards for a more democratic conformation and that intermediate, provincial and national computing centers are audited. 
  • Coordinate a progressive and popular process of unity, engaging all the sectors of the left, parties, organizations and movements in Ecuador for the elections called for August 2023; a process able to address the most affected sectors of society as indicated in the 2008 Constitution and its humanistic and anti-capitalist spirit; a Constitution that also acknowledges the peasantry as a subject of rights, a priority in public policy, and Food Sovereignty as a strategic objective of the State for a true revolution in rural areas.

We call to join the national collective work to rebuild a multicultural, fair and sovereign Ecuador!

Photographs National Strike Ecuador, June 2022. Edu León.

The post La Via Campesina Warns of Democratic Frailty in Ecuador appeared first on Via Campesina English.

Training module N°5 on “The collective rights of peasants in global seed governance” now available

The 5th Training Module on “The collective rights of peasants in the global governance of seeds” is now available! This module is a pedagogical tool that aims to contribute to the understanding of the global struggle for peasant seeds. it is dedicated to the study of the main spaces of governance and international legal tools related to the right to seeds.

For La Via Campesina it is important to study in depth these aspects that determine the use and management of seeds in the world, especially the impact they have on peasant seeds and the right of peoples to care for and protect them, and because they are the basis of Food Sovereignty.

Our movement has produced this document as a result of an internal process of discussion and action that we, as peasants, have been carrying out within the framework of our Global Campaign for Peasant Seeds, the heritage of the peoples at the service of humanity, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary. This 5th publication is the last in a series of modules that we launched at the end of 2021, called La Via Campesina: Building Common Content on Peasant Seeds.

We invite you to use this and the previous modules as part of your collective and individual training processes. We hope it will be very useful and strengthening for our movement, in the interest of caring for seeds and life in all its expressions.


The post Training module N°5 on “The collective rights of peasants in global seed governance” now available appeared first on Via Campesina English.

Reuse, Recycle, Unionize!: Urban Ore workers win union election, get ready to negotiate contract

IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus - Wed, 05/17/2023 - 00:00

By Peter Moore - Industrial Worker, May 17, 2022

The Urban Ore workers of Berkeley, California won their union election with a two-thirds majority of workers’ votes on April 7, 2023. 

The union received confirmation of their certification from the NLRB as a bargaining unit on Thursday, April 20. The campaign went public on February 1. 

While one of the employers had told local media he objected to some of the ballots, he did not file any objection before the deadline with the regional National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) office.

Urban Ore is a 3-acre for-profit salvage operation in Berkeley, California, founded in 1980 with its goal “to end the age of waste.” Workers describe it as an essential part of the Berkeley community. 

“They have a reputation in Berkeley as one of the longstanding hippy businesses that people love. The owners are also a bit power obsessed and don’t want to let go of control of their little baby,” said one of the workers who helped organize the drive, Benno Giammarinaro.

Negotiating a contract next

The next step for the union members is to negotiate a contract that addresses many of the problems that spurred the union drive in the first place: an unfair wage structure, a hazardous workplace, and understaffing.

“I’m confident that we can make Urban Ore a more sustainable place for everyone, not just the owners. I am thrilled that we now have a seat at the bargaining table where the voices of the workers can finally be heard,” said Sarah Mossler, who works in the Receiving department.

Giammarinaro said that the top demands will be changing a wage structure that currently pays them below minimum wage with a bonus based on business revenue, which fluctuates every month, a cost-of-living adjustment, changing staffing and scheduling to address chronic understaffing, and to ensure Urban Ore is a safe place to work.

“We need a contract where we can ensure that our base wage is above minimum wage,” said AJ Abrams, who works in the General Store department. “We need wages that are stable and that are sufficient to ensure quality of life that allow us to actually do the job, to process things and save them from the landfill, and keep doing it over years.”

Abrams wants workers to have a future at Urban Ore. “We don’t have any type of retirement plan or pension plan. There are people who have worked here for over 20 years and they still make the same wages as those that started yesterday. And that’s not right! People have invested a lot of time in this place and love in labor in this place and their bodies have paid the price. It’s dangerous work, often, and it could be safer. At the end of it, they come out of it with nothing, feeling like they have been wasted like an object at a landfill.”

Health & Safety on the job

Workers need “to have serious safety protocols in place and safety training that would really help keep workers safe,” said Giammarinaro.

Health and safety during a pandemic was a major rallying point for workers. Urban Ore quickly received essential business status from the city government in April 2020. The owners used the status to carry on business as usual, rather than put measures into place to protect workers.

Despite three years of living and working in a pandemic, the owners lacked even the basic information about Covid-19 cases among their staff to fill out a one page NLRB form to ensure the union election could be held in-person at Urban Ore. That failure led to the NLRB canceling the election less than 24 hours before the vote originally scheduled on March 7 and changing the election to a mail-in ballot, which delayed the certification drive by a month.

The sudden change from in-person to mail-in ballot was a challenge for the union, during a time of bad weather that delayed mail delivery. 

“Mail-in was like this whole new thing for us to deal with. With at least four or five other people, I had to help them get their ballot because their ballots never showed up on time,” said Giammarinaro. “There were some address mistakes that the employer made, when they first submitted the list to the NLRB. There were wrong zip codes. One person’s address was used as another person’s address. So all of that contributed to a kind of stressful kind of election period but we still managed to win despite that.”

Covid-19 was one of many health and safety problems on the job. At a pro-union customer support rally outside of the Urban Ore gates on February 5, 2023, Abrams, told how he got bedbugs from the job. Rather than quit, as his doctor suggested, he continued to organize the union with his Fellow Workers. Under pressure from the union –well before it was certified– the bosses agreed to hire a company to do a monthly spray to protect workers from bedbugs and other critters.

“In the face of that [inaction by the bosses], we were able to fix it and we did mitigate all of the risks that we could. But that wasn’t the way things were going down before we talked about it and met every day and figured out what all of our concerns were and figured out a way to make these our leverage as workers to make those needs known to management and ownership,” said Abrams. 

Linked to workplace safety was the high turnover and chronic understaffing at Urban Ore. Abrams has worked in the General Store department for two years and seen 30 people come and go. “There has been so much turnover since I have been here… Ultimately, the business model is reliant on a workforce that is not treated as sustainable.”

Why the IWW?

The IWW’s local industry experience at the Ecology Centre, the Berkeley Recycling Centre and Moe’s Books made the IWW a good fit for the workers. 

“Both of those unions have long standing contracts with their employers. Both of those organizations kind of came up around the same time as Urban Ore as part of that same local nexus of environmentalism mixed with city planning. They are all part of the Zero Waste landscape in the Bay Area… It made a lot of sense because there is already all of this experience from the IWW’s perspective on how to negotiate with these types of businesses and what things should go into contracts,” said Giammarinaro. “There is so much transparency with the IWW.” 

The IWW’s approach to union organizing was key.

“The biggest thing was that the IWW really emphasizes rank-and-file democracy and worker autonomy,” said Giammarinaro, which fits well with the work culture. “Urban Ore is a place full of weirdos and eccentric folk.”

Giammarinaro is hoping to see the workplace diversify as well and to discard notions such as  what is “men’s work” so anyone can do these jobs. “We want to have further workplace diversity at our workplace as well,” he said. 

Workers Co-op?

Negotiating a first contract is only a first step in consolidating the Urban Ore union and improving the workplace. For decades, the owners and workers have talked about the idea of making Urban Ore a worker cooperative, where all workers own and operate the business democratically. At times, that idea was used by the owners as a carrot, but nothing ever came of it. The usual excuse, according to workers, is that the business isn’t doing well enough to transition to a worker cooperative. But that reason may not be valid anymore. The boom in home renovations and people looking for affordable building supplies during the pandemic has Urban Ore doing better than it ever has before. 

Tati, an Urban Ore clothing specialist, said this is a question she hears a lot. “One of the top questions was ‘Isn’t Urban Ore a co-op?’ No, not yet. But the union may help us finally make that transition after twenty years of talking about it!”

Article was originally published in Spanish on IWW Solidaridad.

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

Tags: Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)Bay Area IWWrecyclingrecycling workersreusegreen unionismclass strugglegreen industrial unionismBay AreaCOVID-19

The Green New Deal in the Cities – Part 1: Boston

Labor Network for Sustainability - Tue, 05/16/2023 - 08:53

By Jeremy Brecher,
Senior Strategic Advisor, LNS Co-Founder

While the Green New Deal started as a proposed national program, some of the most impressive implementations of its principles and policies are occurring at a municipal level. Part 1 of “The Green New Deal in the Cities” provides an extended account of the Boston Green New Deal, perhaps the most comprehensive effort so far to apply Green New Deal principles in a major city. Part 2 presents Green New Deal-style programs developing in Los Angeles and Seattle, and reviews the programs and policies being adapted in cities around the country to use climate protection as a vehicle for creating jobs and challenging injustice.

Cityscape of Boston. Photo credit: @rabbit75_cav, Canva Stock

Urban politics often seem to produce not so much benefit for the people as inequality, exclusion, and private gain for the wealthiest. Does it have to be that way? In cities throughout the US, new political formations, often under the banner of the Green New Deal, are creating a new form of urban politics. They pursue the Green New Deal’s core objectives of fighting climate change in ways that produce good jobs and increase equality. They are based on coalitions of impoverished urban neighborhoods, disempowered racial and ethnic groups, organized labor, and advocates for climate and the environment. They involved widespread democratic mobilization. A case in point is the Boston Green New Deal.

Boston’s Green New Deal

Mayor Wu announces critical actions to mitigate extreme heat in environmental justice communities | Credit: Boston Orange

According to a 2020 report, if global warming is not abated Boston could have 40 days above 90 degrees Fahrenheit by 2030; 90 such high-heat days – virtually the entire summer — by 2070; and 33 days reaching or exceeding 100 degrees.[1] Boston is the nation’s third most gentrified city.[2] A nationwide survey shows Blacks consider Boston the least welcoming of eight major American cities. Only 4 percent of households earning $75,000 or more across Greater Boston are Black.[3]

In April 2019, shortly after Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey submitted their Green New Deal resolution to Congress, the Boston City Council passed 9-3 a resolution supporting it. Lead sponsor City Councilor Michelle Wu said, “The climate crisis is here now. We see it in Boston every single year.”[4]

Wu also posed a question to the Boston climate community: “What could the city do in the vacuum of federal leadership?”[5] Her answer came in the form of the report “Planning for a Boston Green New Deal and Just Recovery.”[6] It took 18 months to develop through local conversations and consultations with experts. Drawing on plans and programs from Seattle, Los Angeles, New York, Austin, Minneapolis, Madison, and Long Beach, it called for carbon neutrality by 2040; 100 percent sustainable electricity by 2035; net-zero municipal buildings by 2024; expanding the city’s tree canopy; and establishing a youth Urban Climate Corps. It also included a “Blue New Deal” to connect local fishers to Boston restaurants and food distributors.

The plan emphasized the social justice dimension of the Green New Deal. Brad Campbell, president of the Conservation Law Foundation, said “it really covers a broader range of issues and much more explicitly ties the climate crisis to social justice issues.” Nina Schlegel, a Boston climate activist on Wu’s staff, said we want “policy change that also dismantles and rectifies past injustices.” That means “looking at housing and displacement and looking at the proliferation of luxury development.” It means “looking at unequal access to transit, and where our heat islands are located.” The plan proposed comprehensive rezoning to increase neighborhood density; building cheap cooperative housing; adding parks; free-to-ride electric buses; and intersecting bike lanes and car-free walking districts. The plan included a “justice audit” of city programs and spending. Green bonds and taxes on predatory landlords would help fund it.[7]

The Boston Green New Deal built on more than a decade of research and grassroots organizing around climate and justice issues. It was also the program for Wu’s anticipated run for Mayor of Boston.

The daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Wu was the first nonwhite woman to serve as City Council president. She presents her concerns about both climate and social justice based on her personal experience. Climate change is “very personal”; we need to “draw people in by focusing on how every single person is deeply impacted.” She tells people, “I’m a mom, and I have two boys, they’re 3 and 5. I want more than a coin flip’s chance for my two boys to be able to live on this planet and enjoy it.”

A poll by Demos shortly before the election found strong support among Boston voters for a Green New Deal Agenda that would enable the Boston City Council to pursue policies to invest in green energy and promote clean air and water for residents. Boston voters support pursuing a Green New Deal Agenda by more than a 60-point margin — including Democrats by a more than an 85-point margin and Independents by more than a 34-point margin.[8]

Wu explained her electoral strategy in an interview in The Nation:

In my time in City Hall, it has been less about shifting the odds of who can win and more about shifting the sense of what was possible. In Boston, from the very beginning of our campaign, my team and I decided we would run on big ideas and deep organizing and focus more on building community anywhere we went rather than trying to corral the numbers for a specific day and leave it there. So, we ran a campaign that put our resources toward distributed [grassroots] organizing and multilingual outreach. We had neighborhood organizing teams across every neighborhood in our city, and we had launched a campaign almost 14 months before Election Day, but many of our volunteers and neighborhood leaders were first-time campaign volunteers. We were lightly supporting and checking in with everyone, but our teams were running independently and designing their own activities.[9]

On election day Wu won 64% of the vote.

The Boston Green New Deal Hits the Ground Running

Wu Announces New Solar-Power Pilot Program in Eastie. Photo credit, Environment Boston, @BostonEnviro, Tweeter

A central plank of the Boston Green New Deal — embodying both climate and justice objectives –was free public transportation, aka “Free the T.” On her first day in office, Mayor Wu announced a pilot fare-free bus program which set aside $8 million for lines serving environmental justice communities.

That was quickly followed by unanimous passage of an ordinance to divest Boston’s $1.3 billion trust funds from fossil fuels, tobacco, and private prisons. Signing the ordinance as her first in office, Mayor Wu said, “In this closing window of time to act, Boston must lead by taking every possible step for climate justice. Divesting from harmful industries to invest in sustainable and healthy jobs is not only the pathway to a green and resilient future; it’s also the most responsible stewardship of taxpayer dollars.” She called it a “big step forward towards a Boston Green New Deal.”[10]

Two weeks later Mayor Wu announced a new Fleet Utilization Policy to deploy electric vehicles for the city and add 78 EV charging stations by the end of 2022. The city also partnered with two community organizations to launch a community-based EV car share service in Roxbury called Good2Go which makes available EV cars for as little as $5 an hour.[11] The city subsequently launched an electric school bus pilot program, replacing 20 diesel buses with electric ones as a first step toward full electrification of the school bus fleet by 2030. The city also launched an electric vehicle “train the trainer” program under which the City’s Central Fleet Management team will train students and City fleet managers in electric vehicle maintenance.[12]

The Boston Green New Deal moved rapidly to address the needs of historically poor and discriminated-against communities. In April Mayor Wu announced a Heat Plan focused on five environmental justice “hot spot” communities: Chinatown, Dorchester, East Boston, Mattapan, and Roxbury. The Heat Plan is a component of Climate Ready Boston, the City’s initiative to prepare for the near- and long-term effects of climate change, including sea level rise, coastal storms, extreme precipitation, and extreme heat. Climate Ready Boston was based on a historical analysis that showed redlined areas are 7.5°F hotter in the day, 3.6°F hotter at night, and have 20% less parkland and 40% less tree canopy than areas designated as “A: Best.” The Heat Plan is coordinated with an Urban Forest Plan which provides nature-based cooling solutions like tree protection and new tree plantings. The city also launched a Boston Extreme Temperatures Response Task Force to deal with heat emergencies and distributed 30 pop-up cooling kits, including a hose, misters, and a tent, to community organizations planning summer events.[13]

In May, the city launched a “Solarize Eastie” pilot program to expand neighborhood solar panel installation and onsite battery storage to the environmental justice community of East Boston. The program uses a group buying model to reduce costs by aggregating demand and securing a discounted price per watt. Boston’s Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space Reverend Mariama White-Hammond commented that such programs “allow us to bring energy benefits to environmental justice communities while helping us achieve our collective goal of decarbonization.”[14]

A few months later the city announced another component of Climate Ready Boston designed to protect East Boston and Charlestown from coastal flooding from sea-level rise and storm surge through nature-based solutions. The plan aimed to preserve the essential functions and historic character of the East Boston and Charlestown waterfronts while undoing the harm of historic planning that put the communities at risk.[15]

Early in 2022 the Office of Budget Management, the Boston City Council, and the mayor began a series of listening sessions and a survey in 12 languages to help draw up the city budget. More than a thousand residents directly engaged in the process. The budget, unveiled in April, included such items as:

  • $206 million for housing stability, affordable homeownership and financial assistance to first-generation homebuyers;
  • $34 million for economic opportunity and inclusion, to grow BIPOC-owned businesses, further invest in Main Street business districts, expand tuition-free community college and workforce training programs, and create a commercial rental rebate program to support small business recovery and build wealth in Boston neighborhoods;
  • $31.5 million for climate-focused investments, including expanding the Green Youth Jobs program, creating walking and biking infrastructure, growing and preserving the urban tree canopy, strengthening local food systems, and supporting electrification of the City vehicle and school bus fleet;
  • $20 million for transformative arts and culture investments that will facilitate placemaking and strengthen both downtown and neighborhood communities. (Community arts and culture programs were among the most visible expressions of the original New Deal of the 1930s.)

The budget works in concert with $350 million in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) “to accelerate a Green New Deal for Boston.”[16]

A month after releasing the budget, Boston announced a Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools. It included $2 billion to launch 14 new construction or major renovation projects and accelerate ongoing district-wide improvements, including energy and water efficiency upgrades, the installation of solar panels, renovations to bathrooms and kitchens, school yard improvements, and the installation of air conditioners and drinking water fountains. Jessica Tang, President of the Boston Teachers Union, said, “The BTU is thrilled to hear the announcement of much-needed upgrades to school facilities through a Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools.”[17]

A critical part of Boston’s Green New Deal strategy is to use the city’s procurement powers to reshape its economy. It moved to establish a Contractor Opportunity Fund and to expand access to City contracts for minority- and women-owned business enterprises. And it is seeking to address the past and present effects of discrimination, disparities, obstacles, and barriers in its procurement process on minority-owned and women-owned businesses.

In 2022 the Boston Public Schools began providing free breakfast and lunch to its 50,000 students regardless of income. In May 2022 the City of Boston and Boston Public Schools (BPS) announced that City Fresh, a Roxbury-based employee- and Black-owned food service company, will provide breakfast, lunch, after-school meals, fresh snacks, and summer meals for the 50,000 students in the Boston Public Schools. All meals will be freshly made in City Fresh’s Roxbury production facility with nutritious ingredients, including locally sourced food. With a projected value of over $17 million, this is the largest non-construction contract the City has awarded to a certified Black-owned business. BPS Superintendent Brenda Cassellius said, “Our new partnership with City Fresh ensures BPS students and staff have access to a wide range of culturally relevant, nutritious foods and keeps City dollars in our neighborhoods by supporting a black-owned business that represents the heart and soul of Roxbury.” The program implements a City Council ordinance passed in 2019 setting goals for Boston’s Good Food Purchasing Program, the local embodiment of a national program to align city food procurement with the goals of racial equity, environmental sustainability, and local economic development.[18]

Worker empowerment is an often underemphasized aspect of the Green New Deal. Toward the end of her first year as mayor, Michelle Wu established a Boston Cabinet for Worker Empowerment headed by a Chief of Worker Empowerment. While its mandate is so far rather vague, its focus includes “regulating, overseeing and improving workplace conditions and health for workers” and “expanding economic opportunity for workers through access to quality jobs, skills trainings and career pipelines.”[19] The city also established a Chief People Officer and a Chief People Officer Operations Cabinet to oversee programs for city employees, including mental health supports and employee transit benefits.[20]

From the outset the Boston Green New Deal focused on a Youth Green Jobs program. According to Mayor Wu, “Boston’s Youth Green Jobs Corps acts as a roadmap to provide livable wages, good benefits, and strong worker protections for our young people and returning citizens.” Reverend Mariama White-Hammond, Chief of Environment, Energy and Open Space, said “The green jobs program serves the dual purpose of creating job opportunities for our young adults while protecting our city from the ravages of climate change and enhancing quality of life for all residents.”[21] The green jobs corps is an “earn and learn” program which pays workers to participate in hands-on training while providing them with career readiness support and connections to employers in green industries. Priority populations include returning citizens, court-involved residents, youth who have experienced homelessness or housing instability, young people who have been in foster care, and other marginalized communities.

The program was inspired by the Philadelphia PowerCorpsPHL and supported by city funds and $9 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

In December, 2022 Boston graduated the first PowerCorpsBOS cohort. The 21 graduates had spent six months learning about various green industries and skill sets, such as native and invasive plant identification, environmental conservation, parks maintenance, general labor operations, OSHA safety certification, career readiness, and resume writing and interviewing.  PowerCorpsBOS assisted 87 acres of public land, removed 284 bags of invasive material, worked with 18 service project partners, planted 61 trees, underwent 16 hours of tree climbing training, earned three college credits from UMass Mount Ida in Arboriculture, talked to 68 employees in private to public industry, worked with four different city departments, pruned 32 trees, attended International Society of Arboriculture New England chapter conference, participated in 12 hours of mock interviews, and completed 16 hours of financial literacy courses.[22]

In Boston as in many other cities, urban planning and development – aka “urban renewal” — has been a crucial factor in destroying communities and segregating cities by race and class – one that has been difficult for even progressive city administrations to reverse. According to Mayor Wu, the purpose of Boston’s redevelopment agency from the time it was established 70 years ago was to “clear the way for new development, even if that meant displacing tens of thousands of working class, immigrant, and Black and brown residents.”

The original Boston Green New Deal plan had proposed to address displacement, luxury development, and comprehensive rezoning. In her first State of the City report a year after her inauguration, Mayor Wu announced a dramatic step: shutting down the Boston Planning and Development Agency and replacing its urban renewal mission of eradicating so-called “blight and urban decay” with a new City Planning and Design Department to address “resiliency, affordability, and equity.”[23] This will “restore planning as a central function of City government” rather than leaving it in the hands of private developers and a semi-autonomous urban development agency.

Racing Step by Step

Building a Boston for everyone means moving faster on safe, affordable homes. Today’s executive order will streamline & accelerate affordable housing approvals, keeping our city green & growing. Photo Credit: Mayor Michelle Wu Tweeter

While Mayor Wu strove to fully utilize the powers and visibility of a big-city mayor, the Boston Green New Deal drew on decades of work by community, labor, and other civic organizations and issue advocates. Many of these forces were brought together in the Boston New Deal Coalition which holds monthly meetings to report on and mobilize support for Green New Deal programs.[24]

While a review of the first year of the Boston Green New Deal reveals dozens of programs initiated at rapid fire speed, Mayor Wu herself was frustrated by what she considered its slow start and limited achievements. On the first anniversary of her inauguration, she complained to a radio interviewer that the slow-moving searches for top leaders to fill crucial cabinet posts and establishing new collective bargaining agreements with the city’s unions commanded a large portion of her time.[25]

While the original Boston Green New Deal plan laid out big-picture climate and social justice objectives and broad policies to realize them, Mayor Wu’s actions in her first year were primarily aimed at achieving immediate gains that would affect a wide range of constituencies and sectors and create momentum for realizing more. This involved understanding the powers and limits of municipal government and how they affect ordinary people. She told an interviewer:

City government is where a Green New Deal means doubling the number of street trees, so we are absorbing storm water, cleaning our air, and bringing beauty to our communities. It means converting our school bus fleet of about 300 diesel buses and another 400 fuel buses over to electric, which will not only get harmful pollution out of the lungs of our kids and out of our neighborhoods, but also tap into mobile charging stations that large electric buses can become in times of power outages.

For every big issue, we have a way to take immediate action at the city level. When we talk about our economic recovery and closing the racial wealth gap, we are focused immediately on how we’re spending nearly $700 million every year of city contracting dollars through our procurement system, making sure those dollars are going to Black and brown businesses, to local Boston entrepreneurs, to keep dollars circulating within our neighborhoods. There’s always a way to make an impact, day by day, at the city level.

The interlocking crises of the pandemic, climate change, and our day-to-day economic situation and racial injustices mean that if you’re truly meeting people where they are, you have to move at the speed of families rather than the speed of government.

By combining urgency with small steps forward, the Boston Green New Deal aims to help lay the groundwork not only for local but for national transformation. According to Mayor Wu:

We can each be a proof point for how big change can happen day by day. And we can create the momentum for state and federal government to really show that we can put forward big changes that deliver immediate impact and draw more people into government.[26]

[1] “Planning for a Boston Green New Deal and Just Recovery,” Office of Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu, August 2020.

[2] “Boston Lawmaker, Eying A Mayoral Run, Maps Out A Nordic-Style Climate Haven,” | HuffPost, August 17, 2020.

[3] “Planning for a Boston Green New Deal,” Ibid.

[4] Ellen Gerst, “Boston City Council Passes Resolution Supporting Green New Deal,” Boston Magazine,  April 11, 2019.

[5] Katelyn Weisbrod, “Boston Progressives Expand the Green New Deal to Include Justice Concerns and Pandemic Recovery,” Inside Climate News, September 28, 2020.

[6] “Boston Lawmaker,” Ibid.

[7] “Boston Lawmaker” Ibid.

[8] Ryan O’Donnell, Gustavo Sanchez, and Brian Burton, “Voters Want Michelle Wu to Be the Next Mayor of Boston,” Data for Progress, October 21, 2021.

[9] John Nichols, “Michelle Wu: Cities Must Lead for the Green New Deal,” The Nation, December 14, 2021. .

[10] “Mayor Wu signs ordinance to divest City funds from the fossil fuel industry,”, December 1, 2021.

[11] “New steps to reduce vehicle emissions in Boston,” December 13, 2021.

[12] “Progress Made Toward Electrifying City of Boston Vehicle Fleet,” |, April 6, 2022.

[13] Boston Orange 波士頓菊子: Mayor Wu Announces Critical Action to Mitigate Extreme Heat in Environmental Justice Communities,” Boston Orange, April 22, 2022.

[14] John Lynds, “Wu Announces New Solar-Power Pilot Program in Eastie,” East Boston Times-Free Press, May 11, 2022.

[15] “Mayor Wu announces strategies to enhance coastal resilience in East Boston and Charlestown,”, August 23, 2022.

[16] “Mayor Wu Unveils First City Budget and $350 Million Federal Spending Plan,” April 13, 2022.

[17] “Green New Deal for Boston Public Schools Launched,” May 12, 2022.

[18] $17 Million BPS Food Service Contract Announced with Roxbury-Based, Black-Owned Business,, May 18, 2022. For Boston’s Good Food Purchasing Program, see

[19] “Wu Announces Cabinet for Worker Empowerment,” Beacon Hill Times, September 8, 2022. and

[20] “Alex Lawrence named Chief People Officer; Ashley Groffenberger appointed Chief Financial Officer,”, June 13, 2022.

[21] “Executive Director of Youth Green Jobs Initiative Named,” February 14, 2022.

[22] “Graduation of Boston’s Inaugural PowerCorpsBOS Cohort Celebrated,”, December 23, 2022.

[23] Roberto Scalese and Walter Wuthmann, “Wu sets sights on housing, schools in first State of the City address, WBUR News, January 25, 2023. and READ: Boston Mayor Michelle Wu’s first State of the City address,” WBUR Newsroom, January 25, 2023.

[24] Boston Green New Deal Coalition,

[25] Saraya Wintersmith, “Mayor Wu says staffing and contract talks consumed a lot of her first year,” WGBH, November 16, 2022.

[26] John Nichols, “Michelle Wu: Cities Must Lead for the Green New Deal,” The Nation, December 14, 2021.

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From Mons to the World: La Via Campesina Celebrates 30 Years of globalizing peasant struggle and solidarity

PRESS RELEASE 14/05/2023 | Bagnolet, France

On May 15, La Via Campesina will celebrate its 30th anniversary of the formal founding of global peasant movement. This celebration is a reflection of three decades of commitment to the realization of social justice, human dignity and food sovereignty through peasant agroecology, popular feminism and peasant rights.

The history of La Via Campesina has an important stage in Mons, Belgium, in May 1993, when different peasant and land workers’ organizations from various continents met to concretize the strategies planned a year earlier in Managua, Nicaragua, and coordinate common actions at the international level. Thirty organizations established the movement we now recognize today, and since then its principles and convictions have been solidly grounded. The movement has grown to include 182 member organizations and over 200 million rural workers, and is now the world’s largest social movement with the slogan “globalize the struggle, globalize hope.”

Over the years, La Via Campesina has played a pivotal role in supporting peasant emancipatory struggles at all levels and in recognizing their rights in the UN declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. Today, La Via Campesina brings a voice of hope to all societies in times of multidimensional crises. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of the movement, we are excited to share that this November we are also organizing our eighth international conference in Colombia. This event will be a moment to continue building our proposals based on respect for the living, grassroots organization, diversity and solidarity, which are serving to build fair and equitable food systems, and from there, fair and equitable societies.

30 years of sharing struggles to sow hope

To celebrate 30 years of globalizing struggles, La Via Campesina, in collaboration with the European Coordination Via Campesina and LVC’s Belgian member organizations: Boerenforum, FUGEA, MAP, is organizing a commemorative event on May 15, that will be divided into three sections. The first part will feature people who were present and involved in the founding, the second part will include former La Via Campesina general coordinators, and the third part will have current ICC representatives of La Via Campesina to look at the context of the movement today.

The entire event program will be a enriching experience in itself, including a live music show, group readings of historical documents, audiovisual presentations, and a peasant-style meal accompanied by music and dance.

La Via Campesina invites everyone to join the commemorative event on May 15 through their social networks to continue sharing struggles and sowing hope.

For more information, please contact us at

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La Via Campesina Denounces Israeli Aggression in Gaza and Stands in Solidarity with Palestine

Solidarity statement

The cessation of Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip is an immediate necessity. Israel’s actions against the vulnerable Palestinian population should not go unaddressed. It is incumbent upon the global community to enforce restraining measures and hold Israel accountable for its transgressions against humanity. A multitude of farmers currently face Israeli bombardment, with many lives tragically lost. An extensive swath of agricultural lands and water resources are being decimated, a strategy seemingly designed to induce starvation among the Palestinians in Gaza.

14/05/2023 | Bagnolet, France

In the early hours of Tuesday, May 9, 2023, Israeli forces launched a severe assault on three residential complexes in the Gaza Strip. A squadron of 40 warplanes was deployed in this assault on the densely populated residences. The immediate consequence was the tragic loss of 13 Palestinian lives and numerous injuries, including 7 children and 3 women. With the initiation of this military operation in Gaza, the death toll has exceeded 30, with 24 women and children among the casualties, and many more left in shock and distress.

The assault was initiated while the residents were sleeping, and no significant events preceded this devastating act. Entire families were obliterated in their sleep, a distressing act that underscores the severity of the atrocity committed against civilians. Israel justifies the assault by identifying the target as three activists involved with Islamic Jihad, disregarding the fact that these activists were residing with their families in residential buildings. This act is yet another in a series of transgressions committed by the Israeli forces against the Palestinian people, who have been engaged in a struggle for their liberty for the past 75 years.

This ongoing aggression, now in its fourth day, has also targeted farming communities and agricultural lands in the border areas and has persistently barred fishermen from venturing into the sea. From the onset of the assault, the Israeli forces have continuously bombarded thousands of acres of agricultural land, preventing farmers from accessing their fields. This has inflicted significant losses on the farming community, resulting in a critical shortage of food, particularly vegetables, on which the entire Gaza Strip is dependent.

For the past four days, Israeli forces have relentlessly bombed residential areas throughout the Gaza Strip, showing an alarming disregard for the civilian population, primarily composed of women and children. The Gaza Strip has been under a severe blockade for over 16 years, which has led to the deaths of hundreds of Palestinians due to a shortage of essential medicines and medical care.

We, at La Via Campesina, vehemently condemn these brutal acts and we urge the free people of the world to actively support the Palestinian people’s struggle for liberation in all possible ways. It is the duty of the international community to eliminate double standards in dealing with this occupation.

We demand the end of the occupation and freedom for the resilient Palestinian people.

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Colombia: La Via Campesina’s International Solidarity Mission expresses hope, praises the political will to achieve peace.

Bogota, 11 May 2023 : An international delegation of La Via Campesina (LVC), the international peasant movement accompanying the implementation process of the Peace Agreement in Colombia expresses its satisfaction and hope, and praises the political will of the current Colombian government to implement the agreement.

Following a visit to the Sumapaz Campesino Reserve Zone (ZRC), the visiting delegates held a public forum and also met with Colombian government officials and other members of civil society to take stock of the implementation of the peace agreement. Although many of the accord’s commitments have yet to be fulfilled, La Via Campesina’s solidarity mission welcomed the Colombian government’s commitment to recognize peasants as political subjects and to harmonize policies derived from the peace accord with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).

The movement also issued a public statement on May 9, recognizing the importance of agrarian justice measures to ensure the transition and expressing our full support for the creation of an Agrarian Court in Colombia.

Nury Martinez, ICC LVC, FENSUAGRO, Colombia, who hosted the visiting delegation, stated,

“Colombia is a diverse country. It needs a development plan that recognizes this diversity. The congressional labor reforms are a step in the right direction. The pension system for rural workers proposed in one of these reforms is something we welcome and value. The recognition of peasants as subjects with political rights, their protection as a constitutional right and the harmonization of all institutions and agencies at the regional level are central to this peace process. The Executive Orders should also be modified to prevent companies from taking advantage of legal loopholes to take more land from the people”.

Federico Pacheco, ICC, LVC and SOC SAT Spain, reiterated LVC’s commitment to the process noting that: “Agrarian reform is central to the struggles of La Via Campesina. As LVC, we are very optimistic about the new government’s commitment to implement the peace agreement, including comprehensive agrarian reform.”

Zainal Arifin Fuad, ICC LVC, Serikat Petani Indonesia, drew parallels with land reform plans in his country. “In Indonesia, SPI is also fighting for agrarian reform, through the creation of agricultural villages and food sovereignty zones, to offer an alternative to neoliberalism and achieve food sovereignty. We are working closely with the Indonesian government to implement this reform and also to harmonize the laws with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants. It is good to see that the Colombian government is also taking these steps, and they are going in the right direction.”

La Via Campesina’s delegation reaffirms its commitment to the implementation of the Agreement and the construction of Peace in Colombia, and will continue to develop its work as an international accompaniment in order to contribute to the development of Agrarian Reform in Colombia.

For queries write to

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Review - The Lucas Plan: A New Trade Unionism In The Making?

IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus - Thu, 05/11/2023 - 00:00

By x344543 - IWW Environmental Union Caucus, May 11, 2023

As the climate crises continues to deepen and as climate justice movements continue to rise to meet it, the concept of a just transition and/or a just transformation continues to be an ever present topic of discussion. However, most of these discussions remain in the abstract "what if?" realm, rather than the specific. Further, many workers and unions, even more revolutionary workers and unions, express skepticism due to lack of concrete examples of a just transition in practice.

The burning question is, do examples of worker crafted, specific concrete transformative plans exist and what do they look like?

Indeed, they do, and one of the best known examples is the Lucas Plan.

(From Wikipedia) The Lucas Plan was a January 1976 document produced by the workers of Lucas Aerospace Corporation. The shop stewards at Lucas Aerospace published an Alternative Plan for the future of their company. The plan was in response to the company’s announcement that thousands of jobs were to be cut to enable industrial restructuring in the face of technological change and international competition. Instead of being made redundant the workforce argued for their right to develop socially useful products.

In the most basic sense, the Lucas Plan was an example of green syndicalism in practice. 

What's even better, is that it's actually a well documented example, and The Lucas Plan: A New Trade Unionism In The Making? (Second Edition, Spokesman: 2018), by Hilary Wainwright and Dave Elliot, covers it all in rich, thorough detail. The book documents how the Lucas Aerospace, Shop Stewards Combine Committee, devised the plan, formed workplace committees, and devised a strategy to achieve it.

The workers possessed the necessary skills and determination to realize the plan, and they overcame many challenges, including craft divisions within the various unions that represented the Lucas Aerospace workers, as well as different left political tendencies among the rank and file workers and their shopfloor leadership. What these workers were unable to overcome were the inevitable refusal of the capitalists to agree to their demands, made all the more immobile by opposition from the workers' unions' officialdom, lack of support or interest from the various organized left parties and movements and obstruction from both of England's major political parties (Labour and Conservative).

The authors rely heavily on interviews and testimony from many of the workers who participated in the struggle, and as a result the account offers a variety of perspectives and honest self-criticism. The authors and the workers interviewed offer much advice on how to avoid the mistakes of the past.

The best aspect of this book, is that it covers all of this in very complete and fine detail. It's worst aspect, unfortunately, is that to does so in very dry prose, and to make matters worse, the publishers elected to limit expenses by using very small and dense typeface. This makes the book rather challenging to read.

Another limitation is that not nearly enough attention is given to how the obstacles that prevented the plan from becoming reality could be overcome, especially given the fact that objective conditions are substantially different now, than they were in 1976. For example, climate change was then a distant possibility most people didn't even know about much less think about. Further, the Lucas Plan was conceived in the beginning of neoliberal capitalism's ascendancy, and ran counter to the latter's laizzes-faire dogma. To make matters worse, most left movements as well as the union movement were in decline (for a variety of reasons, including external repression and internal contradiction and dysfunction). All of these factors meant that the Combine Committee was swimming against a very forceful stream.

Things are quite different in 2023. Climate Change is an increasingly stark reality, left movements are growing in size and number, and union organizing is accelerating (though not necessarily without some setbacks or wrong turns). Capitalism is becoming increasingly unpopular and neoliberalism as an ideology is in free-fall decline. In other words, conditions are much more favorable to something like the Lucas Plan, and, if the advice offered by the book is followed--challenging though it may be to digest--it would have a much better chance of success. Because of these things, this book is an essential read.

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

Tags: Lucas Plangreen syndicalismgreen unionismstrategy and tacticsmovements, unions, and organizationsUnited Kingdom (UK)book reviewsjust transitionjust transformationclimate change

Call for the 8th Conference from the ICC meeting in Colombia | #8ConfLVC

The International Coordination Committee of La Via Campesina met at the Bochica camp in Santandercito, Colombia from May 1-5, 2023. The main topic of this meeting was the preparation of the 8th Conference to be held from November 21-28, 2023 in Bogota, Colombia, with the representation of the 182 peasant member organizations of La Via Campesina from all continents.

This conference will certainly be one of the most important in our history, mainly because we have the task of making a contextual analysis that effectively represents today’s world, to know our challenges and build tactics in line with the problems facing the world today.

The context analysis points to the fact that in the coming years humanity will experience difficult times. We overcame the pandemic that in the last 3 years resulted in the death of thousands and the mutilation of millions of people around the world, due to Covid 19 but also due to the irresponsibility of some governments. The post-Covid world is bleak. It has left us with a deep economic crisis, which is the worsening of the structural crisis of the capitalist model of production that sweeps away workers’ rights and increases the cost of living to maintain its capacity of accumulation.

We find ourselves in a world at war: civil war in Africa, permanent attack on Palestinian territory, economic blockade of Cuba, coup d’état in Peru, war in Ukraine, militarization of Asia Pacific and the permanent intervention in Haiti, among others. The violent, prejudiced, and racist extreme right is gaining political space, spreading hatred among the poorest population.

Life in the entire planet is affected by a climate crisis that alters the agricultural calendar, generating increasingly violent and destructive natural disasters. They are a consequence of this aggressive development model that promotes forest fires, loss of water sources and wildlife, and causes imbalances in nature.

In its 30 years of history, La Via Campesina continues to promote agroecology, as ratified in the Declaration of the Rights of Peasants. Agrarian Reform is an indispensable condition to solve the problem of global hunger. Strengthening our organizations and acknowledging the fundamental role of peasants in the production and supply of healthy food are necessary steps to build Food Sovereignty and consolidate peace.

We call on everyone who is part of La Via Campesina to build our 8th Conference. We urge the organizations to call their social bases and members to study the preparatory documents, the support material, attend to the logistical conditions and prepare symbols of their region that will serve for the integration among peasants in the mistica.

Towards the 8th Conference!
Gobalize the Struggle, Globalize Hope!


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La Via Campesina supports the creation of an agrarian jurisdiction in Colombia

May 09, 2023

La Via Campesina, in its international role accompanying the implementation of the Peace Agreement’s Point 1, which states the agreement on Integral Rural Reform, expresses its solidarity with the Colombian peasantry and their demand for the creation of an Agrarian Jurisdiction in Colombia. This new jurisdiction is as urgent as it is necessary, not only to fulfill one of the pending commitments of the Peace Agreement but also because of its importance in resolving the historical and current conflicts related to property rights and land tenure in Colombia.

As an international peasant movement, we recognize the importance of agrarian justice measures that guarantee the transition and express our full support for the creation of an Agrarian Final Court that has the capacity to address the special nature of the agrarian process.

We advocate for the demand of different sectors of Colombian civil society regarding the creation of this jurisdiction, and support the unity of the peasant movement in the struggle for their rights and the defense of the land.

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Review - A Planet to Win:Why We Need a Green New Deal

IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus - Tue, 05/09/2023 - 18:22

By x344543 - IWW Environmental Union Caucus, May 11, 2023

In spite of this book's straightforward sounding title, A Planet to Win, Why We Need a Green New Deal (Verso, 2019), by Kate Aronoff, Alyssa Battistoni, Daniel Aldana Cohen, and The Riofrancos, this relatively short and concise book would be much more accurately titled, "Why we think our version of the Green New Deal is the best one of the lot," because there isn't a single "Green New Deal", but several, as we have noted here on This, however, is not necessarily a negative aspect of this book.

The authors, all of them ecosocialists with a transformative approach, are quick to explain that the particular Green New Deal they seek is one that addresses most critiques of the Green New Deal in general. 

  • Would the Green New Deal repeat the mistakes of the original New Deal and exclude BIPOC people? Not the authors' version.
  • Would the Green New Deal rely heavily on social democratic Keynesian state intervention? Not the author's version!
  • Would the Green New Deal perpetuate endless growth in hubristic ignorance of the natural limits to growth, not if these authors have any say in the matter;
  • Would the Green New Deal further the continued exploitation by the Global North of the Global South? Not if the authors have anything to do with it!
  • Would the Green New Deal merely be a case of the capitalists saving themselves, with a putatively green branding? Absolutely not, the authors say.

Certainly, if given the choice, that sounds quite good to me. Clearly these authors aren't content with a naive faith that just because something is called a "Green New Deal" it will actually be a good deal.

And these aren't just rhetorical posturings. There is an analysis behind each specific response to the common left criticisms. A good example of this involves addressing the challenge of sourcing rare earth minerals and lithium, either from the Global South or indigenous lands, to manufacture renewable energy generation technology.

Where this book is lacking is offering a comprehensive and detailed plan on exactly how these goals are to be achieved. It's all well and good to take a stand and say, "We won't accept anything less than a transformative and revolutionary Green New Deal that is fair, just, and anti-capitalist," it's quite another to actually build a movement capable of making it a reality. The capitalist class won't hand us this on a silver platter. Even if the "greener" wing of the capitalist class might be sympathetic to some of the less revolutionary aspects of a Green New Deal, the fossil fuel capitalist wing most certainly isn't.

To their credit, these authors are well aware of this problem and understand that building a revolutionary movement is essential--for example, they note that even the original New Deal wouldn't have happened without revolutionary union organizing at the point of production--but unfortunately, this book offers little in the way of concrete steps, beyond noting the fact.

While this oversight could be chalked up to the book being intended as a short, aspirational call to arms, without more specific suggestions on how to organize, most people won't automatically know how to begin. While visionary thinking is essential for inspiring people to action, the truth is that without concrete nuts-and-bolts organizing, these utopian visions will be limited to a destination without any reliable roadmap.

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

Tags: Green New Deal (GND)green unionismecosocialismecological movements and organizationsmovements, unions, and organizationsmovement politicsstrategy and tacticsreformismfossil fuel capitalismgreen capitalismGlobal Southconflict mineralsrare earthsextractivismBlack, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)indigenouscapitalism, colonialism, and fascismdeep organizingbook reviewsIWW Environmental Unionism Caucus

Chapter 14 : Mother Jones at the Georgia Pacific Mill

IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus - Sun, 05/07/2023 - 16:39

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

Download a free PDF version of this chapter.

“Greed is a noble motivator, when applied in the right context.”

—T Marshall Hahn, President, Georgia-Pacific, 1983-93

At least the workers at the Georgia-Pacific Mill in Fort Bragg had a union who would protect their jobs and working conditions—or so they thought.

The lumber mill that adorned the California coast in Fort Bragg was the largest employer in town, a town whose economy depended on timber. The mill employed more than 600 workers whose wages began at around $7 per hour and ranged up to $18 for long time veterans. Remote from any major highways or rail lines, and lacking a deep water port, the only other industries of any significance in that area were fishing and tourism (though the wine trade was just beginning to gain some pertinence as well).[1] The large mill had been owned by the Union Lumber Company until it was purchased by Boise-Cascade (B-C) in 1969, at which point, IWA Local 3-469 unionized the workers. B-C suffered financial difficulties and subsequently their California holdings were purchased by Georgia-Pacific (G-P) in 1973, in a hostile takeover. B-C filed a successful anti-trust suit against G-P, which had to spin off another company (which became Louisiana-Pacific) to comply with the terms.[2] G-P retained ownership of the Fort Bragg facility. Mendocino County environmentalists had tangled with Georgia-Pacific for many years—most notably over the expansion of the Sinkyone wilderness. Though not actually a company town like Scotia, Fort Bragg was essentially a company town in practice, and that would be proven for all to see. G-P Mill workers were still reeling from their concessionary contract in 1985 and from the loss of their union loggers in the woods—who had been replaced by Gyppo logging crews—when an incident happened on February 11, 1989 that would further expose what went on behind the Redwood Curtain.

Timber mills, even unionized mills, are dangerous places, approaching conditions not unlike those in the meat packing plants described in Upton Sinclair’s classic, The Jungle. For years, North Coast timber, pulp, and paper mill workers had complained about dangerous conditions and toxic chemicals used in mill machinery and processing applications, and management’s lax safety standards. For example, in 1982, Michael Welch, an employee at McNamara and Peepe’s Arcata mill was instructed to work with lumber being dipped in Pentachlorophenal (PCP)—an anti-fungicidal agent used to prevent discoloration of the wood. No safety equipment was available, and when Welch questioned his supervisors, he was told, “this stuff is completely safe; you could bathe in it.” However, OSHA had already stated otherwise, because, not unlike Garlon, this chemical was closely related to Agent Orange, and its effects were similar. Welch had noticed that safety warnings specifically meant to warn workers about the dangers of this particular chemical had been removed, without any explanation. Welch refused to do the work, but he was the exception, rather than the rule, and PCP was used in hundreds of mills throughout the industry at the time.[3]

Two years later, Simpson announced that they would be using tetrachlorophenol (TCP) at its facility in Korbel. The workers, represented by IWA Local #3-98 opposed Simpson’s plans, even threatening to strike over the issue at one point. Simpson negotiated a settlement, promising to use a failsafe device on the company’s waterlines to prevent contamination (which was never done). Less than six months later, in February 1985, these same workers were exposed to fungicide Busan 1030, a TCP substitute, which had leaked into the company’s water supply, and was detected by its odor (TCP itself is odorless). Simpson reacted by laying off the workers and refusing to pay them for lost time, arguing that “just because they promised to install a safety device and then didn’t is no reason for them to pay workers for a layoff caused by a company mistake.” The company and its hired physician argued that Busan 1030 was “relatively safe,” again in spite of well cited contrary evidence.[4] Indeed, the use of dioxins in paper mills was a common occurrence, and each time the companies that used them insisted they were “perfectly safe”.[5] However, surveys taken throughout the US and Canada already indicated a significant incidence of toxic and even fatal reactions to these chemicals, and in Canada, at least, unions were lobbying to ban these chemicals altogether.[6]

Mill workers were also routinely exposed to asbestos as was the case in the Louisiana-Pacific mill at Samoa. On January 2, 1988, five workers filed suit in Humboldt County Superior Court that they had been injured when the company illegally removed asbestos, without taking proper precautions, during the week of June 22, 1987. They further charged that L-P had foreknowledge of the danger but neglected to warn the affected workers or take reasonable steps to protect them from exposure. There were at least 20 other workers not part of the suit who were similarly exposed. OSHA had already determined that there was no minimum threshold of exposure to asbestos that didn’t involve at least some risk of cancer, but L-P disregarded that information. The Corporate Press neglected to cover this news, and they also failed to note that one person who did, Arcata resident Ida Honoroff, was a staunch environmentalist.[7] However, such an example did not conveniently fit into the stereotype of “unwashed-out-of-town-jobless-hippies-on-drugs,” so they ignored it.

* * * * *

The Georgia Pacific Mill cogenerated its own power with a machine known as a “hog”, which converted wood debris from the milling operations into heat for a furnace that generated steam which in turn generated electricity which powered the mill. If the hog failed, the mill would come to a halt until it was repaired.[8] On the morning of Saturday, February 11, 1989, several workers reported the presence of oil on a pump near the hog to head millwright, Frank Murray, although other workers later reported that oil had been seen near that location for a few days previously. Murray was summoned in case the pump in question was failing. Millwrights function as triage mechanics, fixing machinery in the production oriented, profit driven mills on the fly if necessary, and Murray was proficient in this task. Accompanied by mill electrician Ron Atkinson, Murray went to investigate and found oil all over the floor near the pump.[9]

As he was examining the device, a metal capacitor box located several feet above his head—which was the actual source of the leak—burst open, drenching him in a chemical shower. Startled by the initial drops, Murray looked up and swallowed nearly a gallon of the liquid as it cascaded down on to him. Apparently the capacitor, which was used to start the hog motor, had been leaking for some time, as much as an hour before being finally checked, and as luck would have it, burst at the exact moment when Murray stood beneath it. He began gagging, and—being a middle aged man with dentures—spit out his false teeth. Murray was temporarily blinded, but soon noticed tags near the burst housing warning of PCBs once he regained his sight.[10]

Murray was in agony, but his anger exceeded his pain, and he confronted the on duty G-P safety director, Ron Venett, who had been called to the site of the incident, which had also been witnessed by Atkinson. Venett denied that the oil contained PCBs, and he and Murray proceeded to argue about it for several minutes. Atkinson also argued with Vennett, then hosed off Murray in one of the plant bathrooms before the latter was taken to the hospital emergency room. Murray told the emergency room staff that he was certain he had ingested PCBs, but the staff responded that the company had already reported that the chemicals were merely mineral oil. The emergency room doctors did not even pump Murray’s stomach, even though he arrived at the hospital less than 30 minutes after the accident.[11]

Meanwhile, as the capacitor continued to leak, more and more of the oil found its way onto the area around the conveyer belt that fed the hog, the nearby machinery, and the sawdust that typically accumulates in the mill. Murray was sent back to work that night, even though he complained of an upset stomach and dry skin, and he and a crew of millwrights welded and cut around the spill for several hours afterwards. They taped a plastic bag under the burst capacitor to collect the still dripping oil. GP’s insistence that the oil didn’t contain PCBs wasn’t convincing any of the workers though, and some electricians even refused to repair the capacitor or even work in the area without protective gear. Nevertheless, at least three shifts of workers came and went and tracked some of the oil into their homes where they exposed their spouses, children, and extended family members to it.[12]

Whether or not Venett was mistaken or deliberately lying, he went to great lengths to hide or destroy the evidence. Some of the oil was apparently cleaned up using paper towels, which were then burned in the hog furnace. Meanwhile, records of the incident, including the details that supported the conclusion that the oil contained PCBs were altered or conveniently lost. At least one worker contacted the Fort Bragg Police and reported a PCB spill. The Police then contacted the US Coast Guard and the Office of Emergency Services (OES) in Ukiah, who contacted G-P management at the mill. Vennett reported to Greg Smith of the OES that there was no PCB spill, and stated that he would report the same to the other agencies that had been notified. Smith uncritically accepted this report, and no investigators from any of the agency were dispatched to the mill to verify Venett’s claim. Plant Manager Don Whitman backed Venett’s account, which omitted the visual reports by several workers of the yellow warning label on the housing warning of PCBs.[13]

According to G-P records, one of the plant’s electricians, John Bucholz, supervised the cleaning up of all of the remaining oil with absorbent pads, which were then stored in plastic bags, that were in turn placed in the mill’s chemical room, which is almost always locked. G-P evidently didn’t want these to be inspected, lest the claim about PCBs turned out to be true. Then, on the afternoon of February 13, 1989, according to GP’s records, Venett met with Jim Ehlers of the Mendocino County Health Department, and again claimed that the oil contained no PCBs. Ehlers took Venett at his word, and like Smith, also didn’t investigate the matter independently, and praised Venett for the cleanup job. Even then, the plastic bag and the yellow warning label were still clearly visible on the housing of the burst capacitor.[14]

* * * * *

Hog tender Treva Vandenbosch, a G-P employee of eight years, whose workweek began on Mondays, noticed the plastic bag and the oil after wiping off a gage for the oil pump, however, and stood up on the Hog conveyer belt to get a closer look.[15] There she noticed the yellow warning label, and instantly contacted the IWA Local #3-469 safety representative, and requested that he ask G-P if the capacitor did indeed contain PCBs. The company told the safety representative who reported to Vandenbosch that the warning label was incorrect, but she was skeptical, partly because her hands and face had been exposed to the oil and were now burning. During the lunch break, Vandenbosch and a fellow worker examined the burst capacitor once again, took a sample of the oil, and observed that the bag now had a hole in it through which oil was dripping onto the machinery and plant floor below once again.[16] She then contacted fire department and OSHA, whom she had to call twice before she got an answer.[17]

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Vandenbosch, plant manager Whitman, fearing that the situation might unravel further, had asked that Venett request that a lab test a sample of the oil himself, which he did, presumably from the locked cleanup materials. Whitman was being questioned by Frank Murray when the results finally came back, which confirmed that the oil did in fact, contain PCBs. On Tuesday, while Vandenbosch was working—with her hands and face still burning where exposed to the oil—the Fire Department arrived, taped off the hog, and instructed everybody to stay out of the area.[18]

Vandenbosch again contacted IWA Local #3-469, this time to complain about the situation. That afternoon, she was summoned to the mill by Ron Venett for a conference and found herself in a captive meeting with five supervisors who proceeded to harass her and berate her, stating that the spill had been contained and that she was beating a dead horse. They drew her a diagram of the spill that was nothing close to the actual situation. Vandenbosch responded by asking them why they hadn’t told her and her fellow workers that the oil contained PCBs, why the company had not followed OSHA procedures, and also asked why she alone, among the workers exposed to the oil, was being questioned, to which they responded that they would also question the others later (but never did).[19]

Two days after that, acting on information from her fellow workers, Vandenbosch attempted to meet with Don Mobely, a G-P executive who was in town for a meeting to get to the bottom of the situation, but was denied. Refusing to back down, Vandenbosch singlehandedly picketed GP’s main offices in Fort Bragg, until the company acquiesced and granted her an audience with Mobely. G-P then contacted ENSCO Environmental Service, a private toxics first responder company based in Fremont, California, who arrived at the mill late Tuesday evening, February 14. ENSCO worked until 6:30 PM the next day. Thursday morning, G-P informed Randy Leach of the Mendocino County Health Department that the cleanup was complete, and Leach declared the area safe to enter. ENSCO then contacted G-P announcing that their initial report that their work was done had been in error. The area was then again closed, ENSCO worked until Friday, and this time removed the wooden floor surrounding the affected area, and shipped it to Arkansas to be incinerated. The horse had been anything but dead.[20]

In spite of the growing body of evidence that something was seriously wrong, G-P management continued to paint Vandenbosch as a loose cannon, and soon many of her fellow workers stopped associating with her. Management accused her of “faking” her aliments, responding, “we’re all going to die (eventually) of one form of cancer or another anyway,” according to Ron Atkinson. Vandenbosch was not satisfied with this response and sought medical attention. She went to the Georgia-Pacific nurse, who referred her to the medical care of her choice, a nurse practitioner, Georgia McClusky, who was a medical professional Vandenbosch had known and trusted for some time.[21] This time her trust would be betrayed.

McClusky had recently gone to work for Dr. Berenson of the town of Mendocino, who—it turns out—was loyal to Georgia Pacific. McClusky brushed off Vandenbosch’s concerns, responding, “we’ll what did you expect? You’re playing hardball.” Then McClusky suggested that Vandenbosch quit G-P, and although company referrals automatically start workers compensation claims, even if the claim is ultimately determined not to be the company’s responsibility, McClusky requested that Vandenbosch pay for the doctor’s visit. Still not satisfied, she consulted McClusky a second time, expressing anxiety, but McClusky wrote a report stating that Vandenbosch was not worried about PCB contamination in complete contradiction of the latter’s actual emotional state! Upon returning to work, Vandenbosch’s coworkers shunned her; one accused her of trying to shut the mill down completely. She received hang-up calls late at night, and after much frustration and anxiety, ultimately took McClusky’s advice and resigned, and, after several months and numerous appeals, she finally received workers compensation, but no assurances that she wasn’t still in danger from exposure to PCB’s.[22]

* * * * *

To the local media, the spill was a nonissue. The Santa Rosa Press Democrat[23] and Fort Bragg Advocate-News[24] covered it initially, and the reporting was woefully inadequate. The mainstream news would only report that G-P public relations spokesman Don Perry described the incident as “unfortunate,” and added, “According to our records there was no way we could have known PCBs were at that site.” It also reported that IWA Local #3-469 Union Representative Don Nelson believed that the company had made a “real effort” to phase out PCB-laden equipment in the mill.[25] Nelson even went so far as to downplay the entire affair on his radio show on KMFB, which angered Murray, Atkinson, and VandenBosch, who singled him out among the union’s leadership as “pathetic” and not doing “jack shit”.[26]

The issue might have remained unknown if it weren’t due to a bit of good fortune. A local Fort Bragg resident, Anna Marie Stenberg, who ran a daycare center out of her residence in sight of the mill, and happened to care for Ron Atkinson’s then three-year-old son, Jason, noticed that Ron was visibly upset one day when he came to retrieve the boy. Stenberg knew Atkinson and his wife to be people of solid integrity. When questioned, Atkinson explained to Stenberg the gravity of the situation, including his failed attempts to contact the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, the area’s most major daily periodical, to cover the issue in depth. When told about the burning of the cleanup materials in the hog furnace, Stenberg informed Atkinson that the issue was even larger than anyone had realized, because PCBs have to be taken to a special incinerator in order to be properly discarded. The hog wasn’t hot enough to do that, and under insufficient heat, burning PCBs turn into Dioxin. In their effort to hide or even destroy the evidence, G-P had risked the health and safety of the entire city of Fort Bragg.[27]

Atkinson was now livid, and was determined to see justice done. Stenberg agreed to help, suggesting that Ron talk to her then husband, Mike Koepf, who was a freelance writer and submitted articles periodically to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, which had a small circulation, but one large enough to at least get some notice. Atkinson, who was part Pomo Indian, was used to fighting the powers that be, and this time was no exception.[28] Koepf interviewed Atkinson (who initially requested anonymity out of fear of reprisal), Murray, and VandenBosch, whose stories all corroborated one another’s, and his article was published in the Anderson Valley Advertiser just over one month after the PCB spill.[29] He also interviewed Don Nelson, but chose not to include any of the quotes from the maligned union official, which irked the latter, who in turn wrote an angry letter to the editor (where he again underplayed the seriousness of the accident).[30] Both Bruce Anderson and Mike Koepf responded, equally angrily, pointing out that the reason why none of Nelson’s statements had been printed was because they matched those of Georgia-Pacific word-for-word, and had dismissed the workers’ concerns as trivial.[31] PCBs and dioxin were no trivial matter, however. Mike Koepf had also reported:

“The Environmental Protection Agency banned the disposal of PCBs in 1975 after tumors and repro­ductive disorders showed up in laboratory animals. Trout have been killed by exposure of 8 parts per billion, shrimp by 1 part per billion. PCB is a sus­pected carcinogen. Early studies of PCB contamina­tion concentrated on respiratory exposure, but re­cent studies are looking at other areas of the body. A long-term study of workers exposed to PCB printed in the Archives of Environmental Health in Decem­ber, 1987, is focusing on the rectum, liver, gall blad­der, and the biliary tract. The American Industrial Hy­giene Association Journal in March, 1987, cites “evi­dence for dermal (skin) absorption as the major route of body entry.” Yet the EPA still officially measures exposure strictly by respiratory standards.

“Increasing public awareness, however, is forcing state govern­ments to look to more current methods of approaching PCB exposure. Last year (1988) Cali­fornia voters passed Proposi­tion 65, and to conta­minate water with more than .045 parts per billion PCBs is now a reportable offense in this state. The lab samples taken from the site of this spill were over 1,000 times more potent than this stan­dard.[32]

Stenberg, meanwhile, volunteered perhaps as many as 40-hours per week, phoning the EPA, OSHA, and the Attorney General’s Office; she then retained a lawyer, Karl Sigurd Leipnik of Healdsburg, for the injured workers.[33] Since few of the millworkers read Anderson’s muckraking Boonville based periodical, Stenberg made copies of the article and had the families who used her daycare services recopy and distribute the bulletin throughout Fort Bragg. She also contacted Mendocino County District 5 Supervisor, Norm DeVall—not even fully aware of who he was—and described the incident in graphic detail on the air on the latter’s community access radio show on KMFB. DeVall suggested that Stenberg contact Fort Bragg City Council member Andre Schade who was one official not completely in GP’s pocket (or somebody who had once held a position in G-P management).[34] Schade agreed to place the issue on the agenda of the April 10, 1989 meeting.[35]

Meanwhile, after hearing of the incident, at the March 28, 1989 Board of Supervisor’s meeting, Dr. Craig McMillan, head of the Mendocino County’s public health program was grilled in front of the Mendocino County supervisors by angry residents. Two issues angered them in particular. The first was a less than stellar report by the California Air Quality Control Board concerning Mendocino County’s Air Pollution Control District, judging McMillan’s Pollution Control District to be a failure.[36] The report declared that local violators were routinely excused by telephone calls, fines were left uncollected, and enforcement positions were routinely unfilled. The report also judged the standards by which tests were conducted as woefully inadequate, citing for example, an instance where the air quality test done at the G-P mill had been conducted “visually”. David Drell (who had participated in the coalition that had opposed L-P’s aerial deployment of Garlon four years previously) accused McMillan of adopting policies that accepted the reports of local corporate polluters at face value.[37] McMillan denied the allegations, making some rather incredulous rationalizations essentially comparing apples (rural pollution control standards) to oranges (urban pollution control standards). These excuses were endorsed in a rather comical utterance by Marilyn Butcher, who complained about regulations prohibiting her from lighting two smudge pots in her fruit orchard during cold weather.[38]

Mike Koepf questioned McMillan on the PCB spill, reporting that when he had contacted his office for a report on the incident, they had simply forwarded Georgia-Pacific’s official account on the spill (which was known to be full of omissions and falsehoods) as if that statement were the Health Department’s official report. Koepf stated that the account included none of the statements made by Murray, Atkinson, or Vandenbosch, and that in fact, none of the workers had even been contacted. Koepf reported that he had confirmed this by interviewing individuals from the County Health Department by telephone. McMillan then lost his composure, accusing the assembled critics of badmouthing his underlings, stating that this “really ticked (him) off”. He then presented a Health Department “Fact Sheet”, dated March 27, unsigned and typed entirely in capital letters, not on official department stationary (which went against standard practice). The fact sheet, however, was so badly garbled, and included statements that suggested the Health Department declared the scene safe “AT G-P’s REQUEST”. While the statement may have been hastily assembled by McMillan and his staff in order to deflect attention away from their almost certain collaboration with G-P, they had actually painted themselves into a corner, because G-P used this very same “fact sheet” to convince OSHA that the area was indeed safe.[39]

Now the truth was out completely. Angry residents who had read Koepf’s first two articles showed up to confront the management of the de facto company town at the April 10, 1989 Fort Bragg city council meeting, and the powers that be were equally evasive and dismissive.[40] During the first twenty minutes of the Monday night meeting, various representatives of county and city public safety committees denied that their jurisdiction covered Georgia-Pacific’s private property, which made an already upset audience—which included many G-P workers, some of them on their lunch breaks—even angrier. During the public comment period that followed, speaker after speaker excoriated the public officials and G-P for their irresponsible behavior.[41]

Mayor Alden Thurman, sensing that the peasants were about to get out of hand, tried to adjourn the meeting, exclaiming, “We’ve heard enough.” The audience ignored the mayor and began speaking from the floor. Anna Marie Stenberg again pointed out, this time to the assembled audience and public officials, that the PCBs burned in the hog could have potentially transformed into dioxin and rained down upon the residents of Fort Bragg. Ron Atkinson, who was one of the workers appearing in the council chambers during his lunch break on the swing shift, declared, “If it turns out that my son or my wife has any kind of problem from this, I’ll kill the people responsible!” Vandenbosch reiterated her concerns as well to which the mayor responded, “It might not be as bad as you think. Don’t we all have little accidents around the house and think they are bigger than they are?”[42]

The workers and residents weren’t buying it. At least one resident vowed to run against the mayor in the next election, saying, “We’re here to talk about a large catastrophe with unknown effects and here’s the Mayor chuckling about stubbed toes.” [43] Lotte Moise, a Fort Bragg resident and environmental activist presented evidence that G-P had knowingly lied about the presence of PCBs and their foreknowledge of their danger, citing EPA studies taken two years previously. She asked why if G-P had known about this, they hadn’t already removed the capacitors already.[44] Don Perry reassured the crowd that the company was taking the matter very seriously, including studying ways to safely remove the four other capacitors in the mill that used PCBs, but revealed that the company’s bottom line came first, because so far each of the viable methods they had explored required shutting down the mill until the job was done.[45]

Mendocino County air quality monitor Philip Towle then revealed that G-P had, for years, used the hog as an all purpose incinerator, not just as a cogeneration facility using wood debris as fuel, and that this was a violation of existing laws, but he added that he believed that the company had been unaware of their violations. Towle also stated, however, that he couldn’t consistently enforce the policy, as he was one official (based in Ukiah, which is somewhat distant from the remote and rocky coast) with no staff and an entire, mostly rural county to police. Ultimately, the City Council agreed to convene a public safety meeting and announce the date in the local press. An ad hoc committee of concerned Fort Bragg residents promised to investigate the matter further and submit expert testimony regarding PCBs and dioxins.[46] While this action barely scratched the surface of the problem, their movement all spoke to the seriousness of the situation in the virtual company town of Fort Bragg.

After having been exposed as having lied to the public, Georgia-Pacific publically (though half-heartedly) admitted, the following day, that they had indeed covered up the affair. Don Perry declared, “Admittedly mistakes were made,” though when asked to explain why, he offered “faulty record keeping from past efforts to rid the mill of hazardous material.” This explanation did not sit well with Treva Vandenbosch, who angrily retorted, “I’m so furious. This whole thing was botched from day one. We were lied to. If the workers hadn’t made such a fit, nothing would ever have been done. Production came before the workers; it’s as simple as that.” Newly elected Mendocino County supervisor Liz Henry agreed, declaring, “The people directly involved in this believed they had been affected, but they could not get anyone to listen.”[47]

The people of Fort Bragg and affected workers refused to remain silent, however. On May 10, 1989, attorney Karl Sigurd Leipnik served notice on behalf of the affected workers and residents of Fort Bragg with California State Attorney General, John Van De Kamp; Mendocino County District Attorney, Susan Massini; and Fort Bragg City Attorney Tom Lonergan of GP’s violations of numerous sections of the California Health and Safety Code. The violations included Section 25249.6 (knowing and intentional exposure of workers and residents to toxic substances), Section 25180.7 (the illegal improper disposal of toxic waste and the failure to obtain permits for toxic waste disposal), and others.[48]

Five days later, the EPA made a surprise visit to G-P headquarters in Fort Bragg, apparently because the agency was less than satisfied with the company’s documentation of events. Mendocino Commentary coeditor Harold Blythe waited a week and then contacted Don Perry who initially denied the visit, but quickly and defensively admitted that this did indeed take place, but that there would be no press release discussing the matter. Blythe sensed that Perry was under strict orders to keep the matter quiet.[49] The matter was finally referred to California OSHA who fined G-P $14,000 for “willfully exposing” workers to PCBs during and after the incident on February 11, 1989.[50] The community’s assumptions had been anything but “unfounded” as suggested by IWA representative Don Nelson.[51]

Meanwhile, the Ukiah Daily Journal, (and other publications) who had been quick to condemn Earth First! for the tree spiking (which they didn’t commit) that nearly killed George Alexander had nothing whatsoever to say about the incident. In a virtual company town, held hostage by the threat of “job blackmail” by Corporate Timber, the people evidently had to face the possibility of death in order for their lives to matter. To the Corporate Media, however, the issue was evidently only newsworthy if it could be blamed on “unwashed-out-of-town-jobless-hippies-on-drugs.”

[1] “Becoming a Non-Person in a Company Town”, by Bruce Anderson, Anderson Valley Advertiser, July 26, 1989.

[2] “Don Nelson: Candidate for Supervisor, 4th District (Mendocino County), interview by Beth Bosk, New Settler Interview, issue #31, May 1988.

[3] “Mill Workers Exposed”, by Daniel A. Faulk, Hard Times, February 1983.

[4] “Korbel Poisoning: Fallacies”, by Daniel A Faulk, Country Activist, March 1985.

[5] “Dioxin in Paper Mills”, by Carol Van Strum, Country Activist, February 1987.

[6] Faulk, February 1983, op. cit.

[7] “L-P Workers Exposed to Asbestos”, letter to the editor by Ida Honoroff, Eureka Times-Standard, May 27, 1988.

[8] “Powerhouse Burning Hot”, by Sean Whaley, Fort Bragg Advocate News, September 29, 1982. Theoretically, this process could be trumpeted as an example of green biomass electricity generation, though of course, when one factors in the source of the power, clear-cut old-growth forests, all pretentions of green power drop away.

[9] “At the Mouth of the Hog: Georgia-Pacific Lies About the PCB Spill”, by Mike Koepf, Anderson Valley Advertiser, March 15, 1989.

[10] Koepf, March 15, 1989, op. cit.

[11] Koepf, March 15, 1989, op. cit.

[12] Koepf, March 15, 1989, op. cit.

[13] Koepf, March 15, 1989, op. cit.

[14] Koepf, March 15, 1989, op. cit.

[15] Anderson, July 26, 1989, op. cit.

[16] Koepf, March 15, 1989, op. cit.

[17] Anderson, July 26, 1989, op. cit.

[18] Koepf, March 15, 1989, op. cit.

[19] Koepf, March 15, 1989, op. cit.

[20] Koepf, March 15, 1989, op. cit.

[21] Anderson, July 26, 1989, op. cit.

[22] Anderson, July 26, 1989, op. cit.

[23] “Fort Bragg Mill Closed by PCB Spill”, by Mike Geniella, February 16, 1988.

[24] “Hot Tubbin at Harry’s: Anna Marie Stenberg”, interview by Lynne Dahl, New Settler Interview, issue #54, December 1990.

[25] Geniella, February 16, 1988, op. cit.

[26] Koepf, March 15, 1989, op. cit.

[27] Dahl, December 1990, op. cit.

[28] Dahl, December 1990, op. cit.

[29] Koepf, March 15, 1989, op. cit.

[30] “Don Nelson Replies”, letter to the editor, by Don Nelson, Anderson Valley Advertiser, March 29, 1989.

[31] “Bruce Anderson’s Reply” and “Post Script from Mike Koepf”, Anderson Valley Advertiser, March 29, 1989.

[32] Koepf, March 15, 1989, op. cit. Emphasis added.

[33] Dahl, December 1990, op. cit.

[34] Interview with Anna Marie Stenberg, October 18, 2009.

[35] Dahl, December 1990, op. cit.

[36] “Supervisors Review County Air Quality Audit”, by Keith Michaud, Ukiah Daily Journal, March 29, 1989 and “Look them in the Eyes: Health Department Cover-up”, by Mike Koepf, Anderson Valley Advertiser, April 4, 1989.

[37] Koepf, April 4, 1989, op. cit.

[38] Michaud, March 30, 1989, op. cit., and Koepf, April 4, 1989, op. cit.

[39] Koepf, April 4, 1989, op. cit.

[40] “PCB Spill at Mill Topic in Fort Bragg”, By Pat McKay, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, April 10, 1989.

[41] “No One Has Jurisdiction: Fort Bragg City Council Hears Angry Citizens Denounce Georgia-Pacific’s PCB Spill and Cover-up”, by Bruce Anderson, Anderson Valley Advertiser, April 12, 1989.

[42] Anderson, April 12, 1989, op. cit.

[43] Anderson, April 12, 1989, op. cit.

[44] “Lotte Moise’s Reactions”, letter to the editor by Lotte Moise, Fort Bragg Advocate News, April 20, 1989 and North Coast News, April 20, 1989.

[45] Anderson, April 12, 1989, op. cit.

[46] Anderson, April 12, 1989, op. cit.

[47] “G-P Admits Workers Not Told of Toxic Spill”, by Mike Geniella, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, April 12, 1989.

[48] “Notice is Served on GP’s PCB Spill”, public announcement, Anderson Valley Advertiser, May 10, 1989.

[49] “Publisher’s Corner”, by Harold Blythe, Mendocino Commentary, May 25, 1989.

[50] “G-P Mill Fined for Spilling Chemicals”, by Mike Geniella, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, August 17, 1989 (in some editions this story was more prominent and also had the subheading “Company Violated Health, Safety Rules”).

[51] “Here and There in Mendocino County”, by Bruce Anderson, Anderson Valley Advertiser, August 16, 1989.

Tags: Redwood UprisingJudi BariSteve OngerthIndustrial Workers of the World (IWW)Earth First!Earth First! - IWW Local 1Fort BraggMendocino Countytimber workers

2023 | April News Wrap: Highlights from La Via Campesina Members Worldwide

The April edition of the news wrap brings you updates and alerts from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas. This includes a feminist encounter in Central America, a forum on land struggles in Mali, a forestry and agroforestry workshop in Scotland, and much more.

Several members of La Via Campesina in the Americas, Europe, Africa, and Asia commemorated the International Day of Peasant Struggles this April through solidarity marches, fairs, public statements, and more. La Via Campesina commemorates the International Day of Peasant Struggles every year on 17 April to remember the Eldorado do Carajás massacre in 1996. The State machinery, in cahoots with Brazilian agribusiness interests, murdered 19 peasants who were defending their right to land.

27 years after this painful episode, the MST denounced in April new ‘bolsonarista militias’ of landowners who seek to prevent peasant land seizures. Under the argument of defending ownership, the militias dismantled shacks and set fire to mattresses of families in Jacobina, in the state of Bahia, who with the occupation were denouncing the illegality of the landowners: the constitutional non-compliance with the social function of the territory. Not giving up the struggle for their rights, 200 MST peasant families occupied 4,000 hectares of unproductive land in Salitre, also in Bahia, facing the latifundio to achieve the agrarian reform. Their courage continues to inspire the actions carried out by all members of La Via Campesina around April 17, which reached more than 70 this year. A detailed report of these solidarity actions will soon appear on the official website of LVC.

Meanwhile, in other news:

In Guatemala, the Comité de unidad campesina (CUC) hosted the 2nd Central American Encounter on Popular Peasant Feminism from the 20-24th of April. Peasant and Indigenous women from Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama, organised under the CLOC region of La Via Campesina, attended this forum where they collectively analysed the political, social, and economic context of the realities of rural women in the region.

In the neighbouring Caribbean region, Haiti is going through one of the most difficult, tragic, and uncertain moments in its history, plunged into a situation of chaos caused by the oligarchy, successive anti-popular governments, including the current one, and the interference of international organizations at the service of the interests of colonial powers. On March 29th, members of La Via Campesina, organised under the CLOC-Via Campesina, were signatories to an open letter that was sent to the Diplomatic Representation of Haiti in the Dominican Republic. In that letter, the organisations warned that the current de facto government is requesting a new military occupation, the objective of which is to use it against the population and organize controlled elections.

In Ecuador, The National Federation of Peasants, Indigenous, and Black Organizations FENOCIN, expresses its deep solidarity with the people of Alausi who suffered severe loss of life and livelihoods after a landslide that left 16 dead, 16 injured people, 7 missing, 163 homes affected, 500 people affected, among others lost.

In Brasil, two years after the brutal murder of our comrade Lindolfo Kosmaski, a young gay man and peasant militant of the MST, the judicial system condemned the crime of homophobia with a sentence of 19 years and 6 months to the perpetrator.

In other news, Peru’s peasant and indigenous movement received a breath of relief from the international organization “Human Rights Watch”, which published in April its report on abuses by the security forces and the democratic crisis in Perú, concluding that the government of Dina Boluarte did not take measures to stop the deaths of demonstrators and, instead, tried to diminish the seriousness of the abuses or divert attention with theories without evidence. It also noted the disproportionality of the force used by the military, alleging that the deaths could constitute extrajudicial or arbitrary executions.

Further to the North, in Canada, the National Farmers Union, NFU, announced a free, year-long training program at the Beginning Farmer Institute (BFI), especially intended for young small-scale farmers in the region. Over the course of nine months, the Institute will provide four hands-on training sessions and gain practical skills to overcome any hurdles they may face, including business planning, accounting, insurance, and labor management.

In last March’s edition, we had informed of a report by the National Family Farm Coalition in the United States that tracked Speculative Farmland Ownership in the country. Since the 2008 financial crisis, insurance companies, hedge fund managers, increasingly saw agricultural land as a stable investment with high returns and started buying farmland at prices the average farmer couldn’t compete with. While responding to The Guardian, The Federation of Southern Cooperatives alerted that investors may not consider how their ownership will affect communities or the environment, with serious implications for food sovereignty and vitality of rural economies.

In Europe, several members of La Via Campesina continued to extend solidarity to French social movements agitating against mega-water basins. This struggle was raised by the Confédération paysanne at its biennial congress in late April, among other issues such as the market regulation to protect peasants from free trade and the social security of food.

In the Basque Country, Ehnebizkaia for its part held its XII Congress and also released a video with peasant testimonials about the way of life in the countryside.

In the UK, the Land Workers’ Alliance (LWA) with over 2,000 members celebrated its 10th anniversary. On the 25th of April, in Scotland, the LWA held a forum on the changes to forestry funding and policy, in particular in the context of the Scottish Government’s ongoing consultation on the future of forestry grants. They worked together to develop some key demands to improve the forestry and agroforestry sectors in Scotland.

In Palestine, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees organized a solidarity event in the east of Khan Younis Governorate to commemorate Eternal Palestinian Land Day. Agricultural committees and farmers participated, planting olive seedlings in the Absan region and near the restricted area, which is continuously destroyed and violated by occupying forces.

In Africa, Togolese Coordination of Peasants and Agricultural Producers’ Organizations took part in a study that would help rural women and youth engage in non-farm rural livelihood programs. This included market opportunities for women’s handicraft and other income-generating activities, including identification of chain carriers for handicraft and non-wooden forest products, and opportunities for youth located in key ecosystems of the maritime region of Lake Togo.

On the 19th of April, in Mali, CNOP organized a discussion forum on a Decree that determines the forms and conditions of allocation of land to private entities. Land grabbing in Mali is mainly the result of activities led by agribusiness operators, along with local authorities and government policies that promote large-scale agro-industrial projects and facilitate land acquisitions by private investors. Several estimations indicate that more than 800,000 hectares of land have been grabbed in Mali, negatively impacting the local peasant communities that depend on access to land and natural resources for their livelihoods.

In Senegal, the Le Conseil national de concertation et de coopération des ruraux (CNCR) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this month. Among its significant advances, CNCR counts the establishment of several seed cooperatives across the country that help save traditional varieties. The CNCR also announced a series of initiatives to give a new impetus to family farming. In a meeting held in early April, CNCR proposed several ideas to strengthen food sovereignty of the region that included water control and good land management.

In Asia, in Pakistan, farmers in the Lahore region pledged to launch a province-wide movement against the Ravi Urban Development Authority (Ruda) for robbing them of their agricultural lands.

In Nepal, the All Nepal Peasants Federation held a national congress in April, which ended with a manifesto from organized peasantry calling for strengthening food sovereignty in the country.

The Bhartiya Kisan Union in India held a village meeting in the Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh regarding the Delhi-Dehradun Economic Corridor and its impact on local farmers. They also raised the issue of minimum support price, financialization of agricultural land, and amendment to electricity charges. This comes after an agitation in the district of Meerut on issues related to the payment of arrears of sugarcane to farmers, stray animals destroying farm crops, and more.

In Indonesia, the President of the Republic visited the Food Sovereignty Areas in Senori Village, Tuban Regency, East Java – maintained by the Indonesian Peasants Union – SPI. The Union demonstrated the use of organic fertilizers in the region and also the linkages they have created with the traditional markets in East Java and Central Java.

Significant parts of Asia have experienced a severe and extensive heat wave for the past two weeks, which has broken long-standing temperature records. Countries such as India, Thailand, and Myanmar have recorded temperatures as high as 45°C, while Bangladesh, Laos, Vietnam, Nepal, and China have recorded temperatures ranging from 42 to 43°C. Global warming is the cause of the heat wave, according to scientists. Last year, extreme heat resulted in some countries banning food exports, resulting in supply chain shocks and affecting food prices. La Via Campesina’s call to strengthen food sovereignty is particularly relevant, given that the crises of war, climate, and pandemic have exposed the limitations of global chains. The movement’s Asian members are alert to this situation and its impact on peasant communities.

As we conclude this month’s edition, we would like to draw your attention to the various publications released in April 2023;

  1. The Journal of Peasant Studies is commemorating the 30th anniversary of La Via Campesina by compiling a remarkable series of interviews with prominent leaders of the movement. The collection is now available for free.
  2. On the International Day of Peasant Struggles, – LVC Southern and Eastern Africa launched the UNDROP booklet in eight African languages to ensure that the African peasants have access to and use the UN peasant rights declaration to defend their rights.

(Have we missed an important update? If so, you can email the links to, which we will include in the next edition. Only updates from La Via Campesina members will be part of this news wrap. For a thorough update of different initiatives from April 2023, visit our website)

Did you miss the previous editions of our news wrap? Find it here

An abridged version of our April News Wrap will also be available shortly as Podcast on Anchor FM and Spotify.

The post 2023 | April News Wrap: Highlights from La Via Campesina Members Worldwide appeared first on Via Campesina English.

On May Day the NFU Calls for Action on Migrant Rights and UNDROP

May 1, 2023

This International Workers’ Day (May Day) the National Farmers Union (NFU) calls on the federal government to immediately adopt the 2018 UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), which defines the rights that must be upheld to ensure that a diversity of food producers are respected and have their voices heard, and which Canada has yet to support. Though Canada abstained from adopting the Declaration, it was nevertheless brought into international human rights law due to overwhelming international support.

On May 1st every year, May Day is recognized as a globally significant day for farmers and workers.

May Day celebrations of working peoples’ struggles for dignity and justice have deeply ecological and agricultural origins. May Day can be traced back to Roman and Gaelic festivals celebrating nature’s rebirth and the arrival of spring. Because May Day falls at a time when seasonal work resumes and labour is in high demand, it was a powerful moment when land workers would collectively down their tools to feast with each other and celebrate in harmony with nature. By the 18th century, Puritans and early industrialists in North America cracked down on May Day revelries to enforce religious adherence and work discipline. May Day celebrations were revived in the late 19th century, and the day became central to international workers movements.

From the start, modern May Day was connected to the rise of resistance to industrial farming. It was a spring-time strike at Cyrus McCormick’s Reaper Works—a factory that built some of the first mechanical harvesters that displaced farmworkers and helped spur on corporate farmland consolidation—that made Chicago a focal point for labour agitation in 1886. On May 1st that year, over 300,000 US workers in 13,000 businesses joined McCormick metalworkers in demanding the 8-hour work day.

From its American beginnings, peasants and workers across the globe took up the cause of labour on May Day. It is an official holiday in 107 countries. In Haiti it is called Labour and Agriculture Day. In India it has become a day to mobilize around farmer struggles. The NFU and allied organizations in La Via Campesina annually demand justice for food system workers on May Day.

Migrant workers revived May Day in twenty-first century North America. In 2006, May Day became “A Day Without Immigrants” as migrant workers coordinated a nationwide protest and economic boycott in demand for legal status for 11 million undocumented U.S. workers. Over 400,000 gathered in Chicago and over a half a million in New York. In California, produce went unpicked and in the Midwest, meatpacking companies were shut down. Protests against Canadian immigration laws were also held in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, and Fredericton.

Since 2006, Canadian migrant rights organizations annually recognize May Day by demanding rights and justice denied to undocumented and seasonal migrant workers.

This May Day, the NFU calls on the federal government to implement UNDROP to ensure all resident and migrant agricultural workers are afforded the right to safe and healthy working and living conditions, and the right to unionization. The UNDROP right to “full and meaningful participation” for Canadian temporary foreign workers requires open work permits and permanent residency status for all. We fight not only for basic human dignity in the workplace but for the means to realize our full capacity as creative human beings in relationship with one another and the Earth as outlined in the UNDROP and Nyéléni Declaration on food sovereignty.

“Canada’s abstention from the UNDROP vote [in the United Nations General Assembly] does not give it a free pass to deny the presence of peasant rights violations in this country,” writes Jessie MacInnis, NFU Youth President. “Ensuring the implementation of UNDROP is an integral part of a global struggle to challenge, dismantle, and rebuild the food system in line with food sovereignty.”

Further Reading: Peter Linebaugh, The Incomplete, True, Authentic and Wonderful History of May Day
Jessie MacInnis, The Potential of UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas: Moving towards rights-based agriculture policy in Canada

The post On May Day the NFU Calls for Action on Migrant Rights and UNDROP appeared first on Via Campesina English.


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