Wrong Again!

By Steve Ongerth - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, November 6, 2014

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

Our regular readers know that we tend to be quite critical of the business unions and the big green NGOs for their continued slavish alliance with capitalism, and knowing this, they should not be shocked that--once again--the increasingly ineffectual and coopted Blue Green Alliance is in our sights.

In case you didn't know, the Blue Green Alliance is a coalition of business unions and environmental organizations that ostensibly advocates for building bridges between the labor movement and the environmental movement, with a specific focus towards "green jobs" and "sustainable development". Each year, the alliance issues a "Right Stuff Award" to "business, government, environmental, labor, and community leaders who promote a sustainable economy and environment". This year, they say, their awards will honor "leaders for their work on building a 21st century energy infrastructure."

Based on their choice of Obama's Secretary of Energy, Ernest Moniz, one has to be wondering if the Blue Green Alliance knows what century they're in, or perhaps whether or not the Alliance has an oddball definition of what 21st century infrastructure is, exactly. You see, the last time I checked, Ernest Moniz has deep ties to the fossil fuel, fracking and nuclear industries. He has served on advisory boards for oil giant BP and General Electric, and was a trustee of the King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center, a Saudi Aramco-backed nonprofit organization. In 2011, Moniz was the chief author of an influential study for MIT on the future of natural gas. According to a new report by the Public Accountability Initiative, Moniz failed to disclose that he had taken a lucrative position at a pro-drilling firm called ICF International just days before a key natural gas "fracking" study was released.

This doesn't sound very green to me. If anything, it's more like a greenwash. Unfortunately, this is par for the course for the so-called Blue Green Alliance.

IPCC Warning Spurs Union Calls For Energy Democracy

By Sean Sweeney - Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, November 7, 2014

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

On November 2, 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its Synthesis Report, the final in the “Fifth Assessment Report” process. It builds on three reports released by the IPCC since early 2013.

The IPCC is a senior UN panel made up of thousands of climate scientists and this report marks its fifth ‘assessment’ since 1990 of the state of the climate and the present and future impacts of global warming.

The Synthesis Report reiterates what the IPCC has been telling us for a decade or more: “Climate change is being registered around the world and warming of the climate system is unequivocal. Since the 1950s many of the observed changes are unprecedented over decades to millennia.” The period from 1983 to 2012 was likely the warmest 30-year period of the last 1,400 years in the Northern Hemisphere. Atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide are “unprecedented in at least the last 800,000 years”.

The report may be the same as previous IPCC reports in terms of the main messages and conclusions, but one thing is different. The 20 years of political inaction around climate, with its sad mixture of back-slapping and back stabbing by negotiators at scores of summits and meetings, has now created a situation where only bold and transformative interventions offer any hope of controlling runaway global warming. Even relatively conservative commentators and analysts now accept this to be true. Among the most important of these interventions involves expanding and deepening social ownership and democratic control of the world’s energy systems—energy democracy. This is needed in order to facilitate an energy transition from fossil-based power to renewable energy, a transition of sufficient speed and scale to be able to seriously address the climate crisis.

Among those embracing energy democracy are a growing number of unions working in partnership with allies in different social movements. Not all unions are convinced that energy democracy is either desirable or possible—especially given the political and economic power of the oil, coal and gas companies. And those unions either supporting the idea or at least open to it are engaging in serious discussions regarding what energy democracy would look like and how it could, alongside addressing pollution and emissions, also seriously address energy poverty, create jobs and advance equality. But everyone involved in the trade union debates on climate change accepts that ‘business as usual’ is simply not an option and the energy system has to be transformed within two or three decades. The IPCC’s report has again sounded the alarm about climate change, but we cannot evacuate the building because we have nowhere else to go.

Bakken truckers often ‘haul heavy’ – Star Tribune

By Maya Rao - Star Tribune, November 9, 2014

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

– The dump truck rumbled over miles of unpaved roads in the hills just east of the Montana border, past the cattle and grain bins and haystacks, before arriving at the dirt pit. Bill Gore slid his truck onto the scale, inched up in line, and made a curving gesture to the man in the front-end loader.

That was the signal to pile the dirt on high, and the loader did: Gore’s five-axle truck pulled out of the pit north of Cartwright last week weighing 19,000 pounds more than its registered limit of 82,000 pounds.

“We try to run it as hard as we can,” said Gore, who’s been driving trucks here for four years.

Heavy trucks are the backbone of the ­Bakken oil fields, transporting the water, pipes, and sand needed to produce more than 1 million barrels of oil a day in western North Dakota. They move oil rigs from site to site, crude to pipelines and rail terminals, and dirt and construction materials to build the new roads, homes and businesses needed to serve the exploding population of new workers.

But the frenzied pace of the oil fields and spotty enforcement by authorities have encouraged the rise of overweight trucks. State authorities estimate that one-quarter of the Bakken’s water trucks alone are overloaded.

Trucks hauling larger loads than what they were designed for pose safety concerns because extra weight lessens their braking power and increases the potential damage they could cause in a collision. On the crowded Bakken roads, truck crashes that led to severe injuries jumped twelvefold during a recent four-year period. And 100,000-pound trucks, which are common in oil field traffic, take 25 percent longer to stop than 80,000 pound trucks, according to the Truck Safety Coalition.

Heavy trucks also degrade bridges more quickly and crumble prairie roads built for light farm traffic, prompting the state to make record investments in rebuilding roads and bridges and constructing new bypasses.

In McKenzie County, the state’s top oil-producer, the tiny Sheriff’s Office has a file cabinet containing enormous violations. A driver from an Alexandria, Minn., company was pulled over this summer while hauling a crane that was 61,300 pounds overweight. A trucker from a Clear Lake, Minn., firm was caught driving 76,100 pounds overweight while carrying an excavator.

Trucker Michael Fisher, who acknowledged driving overweight, said one problem is being able to adequately slow down.

“It’s the stopping power,” he said, adding that he tried to keep more distance from other vehicles. “Your brakes are set up to stop a certain amount of weight, and if you increase that, you have a lot more chance of something going wrong.”

The last barrel of oil on Burnaby Mountain

By Anonymous - Beating the Bounds, October 26, 2014

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

Sometimes the world narrows to a very fine point. A certain slant of light. The head of a needle you need to pass through. I don’t care right now about the National Energy Board of Canada (merely a corporate tool for shoehorning global energy projects into other people’s territories—a funnel for money from the public, to the private sector). I don’t care about this or that court of law, appeals and constitutional challenges. I don’t care about the drones, unmarked cars, or CSIS agents. I don’t even care that much about the rain.

I care about the people who have come together to stand in a forest, on a mountain, in the path of a pipeline. I care about them because of their passion and commitment, their awareness of the fact that they are standing at once against local destruction (a nature conservation area, the animals we meet here every day, right near the edge of a large city) and against global destruction (adding carbon to an already warming planet through new fossil fuel infrastructure—the last thing we should be doing, if we truly care about the continuation of life on this planet, in the near future). I care too, about the trees I can touch, the animals I can see, and the future commons we need to preserve for life to continue, for this planet to be a place of biological diversity and human sharing.

As has been our intention all along, we will occupy public land, a city park, and prevent Kinder Morgan from carrying out its destructive work—work opposed by local First Nations, opposed by the City of Burnaby, and opposed by the majority of Burnaby residents. While the case goes back and forth in the courts, out intention is to keep Kinder Morgan wrapped up dealing with us, either until a court somewhere sides with the people against this mega-corporation, or until the NEB’s December 1 deadline for KM’s complete application.

We are doing this to protect the local environment and people. And we are doing this because we know that people everywhere have to begin taking a stand against fossil fuel projects, and thus doing whatever we can to mitigate climate change. This is no time for new carbon projects. This is the time to build a new economy, based on new, renewable sources of energy, providing new, clean energy jobs. There is simply no benefit to the citizens of Burnaby to have this pipeline here—it benefits only the US-based Kinder Morgan, and the global market its oil will be sold on. And there is no benefit to our ailing global climate. The time to change course is now, and the many volunteers on Burnaby Mountain, and their many, many supporters in the community and around the world, have realized this, and they are taking direct action.

BP’s Pink-Washing Campaign

By Naomi Wilkins, Frack Free Manchester - People and Planet, November 10, 2014; image by Ianthe Sinferno

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

For the last few months, we have faced an onslaught of unpleasant, greenwashing advertising from fossil fuel companies. Shell and their “we’ll keep the lights on when she’s grown up” billboard, featuring a photo of a child reading in bed, complete with an oh-so-ironic polar bear toy on her bedside cabinet and a brief note about their investment in “mixed energy sources”. BP’s sickening, “we’re inspiring young people in our schools to think innovatively” nonsense campaign. And, of course, Southern Electric with their strange and downright confusing ghostly orangutang images. All of these seek draw our attention away from the horrors of fossil fuels to thoughts of sustainability, education and cute children.

But BP’s new campaign is taking these diversion techniques one step further with a pinkwash. A new poster advertises their LGBT specific careers event with large (and environmentally green) text that reads, “I discovered a business that takes pride in all its employees”. This sickening advert is, once again, attempting to paint BP as a friendly, responsible company who do nice things like being “committed to diversity”. But this thin facade quickly crumbles to reveal a company dripping in environmental disaster.

BP’s reckless conduct led to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, named by Obama as “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced”. It has caused untold destruction to the ecosystem of the Gulf of Mexico, as well as harm to human health. And this is merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the havoc BP are wreaking on this planet and its inhabitants.

Rick Berman Exposed in New Audio; Hear His Tactics Against Environmentalists and Workers' Rights

By Lisa Graves - P.R.Watch, October 30, 2014

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

Ecology.IWW.ORG Editor's Note: The recently revealed news about Rick Berman's playbook of dirty tricks aimed at anti-fracking climate activists should come as no shock. Berman is well known for his virulent anti-union and anti-consumer astroturf websites, but he is only one of the more outspoken capitalist commissars, of which there are many. If any more proof is needed that environmental activists and workers have a common adversary in the capitalist system, this should more than suffice:

Rick Berman, the king of corporate front groups and propaganda, has been caught on tape detailing his attacks on public interest groups in the labor and environmental movements, including on efforts to increase the minimum wage for workers.

As noted in a new story by Eric Lipton at The New York Times, Berman met with energy company executives at the posh Broadmoor Hotel earlier this year to raise money from them to attack groups representing citizens concerned about clean water, clean air, and the future of the planet. But Berman's "win ugly" tactics apparently did not persuade all of his prospective clients for his lucrative business of creating tax-exempt non-profit front groups that then contract with his for-profit PR firm to give corporations cover for his attacks on their opponents. The way Berman profits from this arrangement has spawned a legal complaint to the IRS.

An audio tape of Berman and his associate, Jack Hubbard, has been provided by a person at the Broadmoor event to the Center for Media and Democracy, which publishes PR Watch and has long tracked Berman's deceptive PR operations.

Readers can listen to the full tape here and read the transcript here.

Protesters set fire to Mexican palace as anger over missing students grows

Newswire - Reuters, reprinted in The Guardian, November 9, 2014

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

A group of protesters set fire to the wooden door of Mexican president Enrique Pena Nieto’s ceremonial palace in Mexico City’s historic city centre late on Saturday, denouncing the apparent massacre of 43 trainee teachers.

The group, carrying torches, broke away from what had been a mostly peaceful protest demanding justice for the students, who were abducted six weeks ago and apparently murdered and incinerated by corrupt police in league with drug gang members.

Police put out the flames and enforced fencing designed to keep the protesters away from the National Palace, which was built for Hernan Cortes after the Spanish conquest and now houses Mexico’s finance ministry.

Pena Nieto lives in a presidential residence across town, and was not in the palace at the time.

Mexicans Outraged After Attorney General Karam Stops Ayotzinapa Press Conference Because He's Tired

By Yara Simon - Latin Post, November 8, 2014

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

Jesus Murillo Karam, Mexico's attorney general, held a press conference on Friday to talk about the 43 Iguala students who disappeared in Mexico in September.

According to Murrillo, a local mayor told police to abduct the students before they were turned over and killed by a gang. The bodies were burned and Murrillo said that it couldn't be confirmed that it was them until DNA tests were run, which he said would be difficult to do.

"I have to identify, to do everything in my power, to identify, to know if these were the students," Murrillo said.

At the press conference, pictures of the burned remains and confessions from three people claiming to be gang members were released.

When Murrillo was asked why they should believe the confessions, he ended the press conference. He thanked people for showing up, and though he tried to whisper "Ya me canse," (or "I'm already tired"), the comment was picked up by the microphone on the lectern, revealing his innermost thoughts to everyone. 

Chapter 33 : The Ghosts of Mississippi Will be Watchin’

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

Now when the timber barons heard the news they geared up for the fight,
And we laughed away the death threats and we cried to sleep each night,
And the media walked right into our homes,
As if they really were one of our own.
Now Goodman, Schwerner, and Chaney left this little racist town,
Drove down that Mississippi highway to the place they would bed down,
But in the mirror they could see the Sheriff’s light,
No, they never did make it home that night.

—lyrics excerpted from Ghosts of Mississippi, by Darryl Cherney, 2004 [1]

Now Judi Bari is an Earth First! organizer,
The California Redwoods are her home,
She called for Redwood Summer,
Where the owl and the black bear roam;
Charlie Hurwitz he runs Maxxam out of Houston,
Harry Merlo runs L-P from Portland town,
They’re the men they call ‘King Timber’,
They know how to cut you down;
And Shep Tucker spewed their hatred,
As Candy Boak laid out their scam,
John Campbell called for violence,
It was no secret what they planned…

—lyrics excerpted from Who Bombed Judi Bari?, by Darryl Cherney, 1990 [2]

Judi Bari didn’t have time to be frightened. Even though the organizers of the coming season of protests shortened the name “Mississippi Summer of the California Redwoods” simply to “Redwood Summer,” the situation—she thought—was starting to more and more resemble the violent and threatening conditions of the original Mississippi Freedom Summer anyway.

While the Public Interest and Environmental Law Conference was in progress in Oregon, the representatives of font-family: "Times New Roman","serif"">Corporate Timber on California’s North Coast were in the process of polishing their image. Louisiana Pacific, Pacific Lumber, and Simpson through the auspices of yet another front group known as the “North Coast Forest Industry” (NCFI)—which had existed quietly for twelve years—created a series of advertisements promoting themselves as “good neighbors”, “economically beneficial to the local economies” of Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, and “careful stewards” of the region’s forests. The campaign included radio spots and full page ads in the region’s local and corporate newspapers. The NCFI didn’t merely limit itself to representatives from the three corporations and the local gyppo firms, however. It opened up its membership to other local businesses, ostensibly because they depended upon the timber economy for their own viability, but more likely because the NCFI also functioned like the “good citizens’ leagues” of old ensuring loyalty to the dominant power. One such business owner speaking approvingly of the effort declared, “The only way that the timber industry makes the newspaper is if somebody is sitting in one of their trees or chained to the back of one of their logging trucks.” [3]

The NCFI campaign was ironic, given the fact that the north coast timber corporations had been producing such ads already for years, particularly in the Eureka Times-Standard, Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Ukiah Daily Journal, and (naturally) the Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance. In fact, the bias was so blatant, that even a few readers of the last publication had already been incensed enough to accuse the editor of “shameless corporate bootlicking”. [4] The effort nevertheless brought many local employers into the fold, and following the ads, the NCFI’s membership increased by 30 to 40 members from its original membership of barely one dozen. [5]

Two days after the NCFI announced its campaign, the Santa Rosa Press Democrat’s, Ukiah bureau chief and head timber reporter, Mike Geniella, wrote a fairly extensive and article about the Mississippi Summer of the California Redwoods, or “Redwood Summer” as it was now being called. One week previously, Bari, Cherney, and other North Coast Earth First!ers had made their presentation to the Student Environmental Action Coalition (SEAC) who had held a conference in Sacramento. The SEAC organizers had been so inspired that they agreed to include the Redwood Summer organizing call out in their newsletter. “They (sent it) to thousands of colleges in the United States”, commented Betty Ball. [6] Over the course of the next two weeks, the story made national press wires, and thousands of people suddenly began showing interest in what was happening behind the so-called “Redwood Curtain”. [7] The Timber Association of California, a supporter of the NCFI was not pleased. Speaking on their behalf, Kevin Eckery declared, “(it) trivializes the real sacrifices made in Mississippi as part of the Civil Rights movement. The situation (here) doesn’t hardly seem to be the same.” [8] He would soon be proven very wrong, and in a sense, he was wrong from the get-go. Candy Boak continued to call Judi Bari and let her adversary know that she was still being watched, which was an ominous—even threatening—gesture. This would only be the start of things to come. [9]

Oregon Canvassers Workers Push for Unionization at Union-Funded Workplace

By Shane Burley - In These Times, November 4, 2014

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

Seven workers and union activists head toward the office on September 17, just before the morning shift begins, debating how to enter. Should they all parade in together? What if lower management is out front smoking before the shift begins? Should they go in early, or wait until the day’s canvassers are already inside?

They agree to head in together in a show of solidarity, a few minutes before the bell rings. As the workers file in the front door, their union representatives in tow, management declares that outside people are not allowed to enter during business hours.

“Don’t worry, we won’t be long,” says Jonathan Steiner, a rep for the United Campaign Workers, a project of the Industrial Workers of the World Workers. The workers and their union representatives enter and declare there is announcement to be made: They have joined a union and are inviting other workers to join them.

They work at Fieldworks, a get-out-the-vote shop that, with thirty to forty canvassers at a time, is one of the largest political canvassing businesses in Portland, Oregon, and the nation as a whole. They are the latest in a slew of Portland campaign workers to organize with UCW in recent months, from canvassers for marijuana legalization to fundraisers for organizations like the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and The Nature Conservancy.

The complaints of canvassers at Fieldworks sound familiar: A lack of transparency when it comes to decisions about canvassing locations and the organizations they are funded by minimal say in workplace decisions. reports of wage-theft and labor law non-compliance and a lack of a living wage.

Workers have come out publicly as a minority union, meaning that the union is holding membership of less than half of the workplace and are not currently attempting an election through the National Labor Relations Board. Like with other recent UCW canvassing shops, the high turnover rate and temporary nature of the work means that conventional union elections may not be viable. Instead, they chose to come out publicly and begin putting pressure on management with the hope that new recruits would see the power that this organization has in their workplace and would join the fight.

But the minority union stands out in one important respect: Their workplace is funded by unions.

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