When NOT to March (or Rally)

By Andres Willes Garcés - Waging Nonviolence, October 2, 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 an ordinary Tuesday evening in April 2007, dozens of union janitors gathered outside a downtown office building in Sydney, Australia, to celebrate a victory: After a long fight, another cleaning contractor had agreed to sign up with the janitors’ union. Singing “Don’t Stop the Cleaners” to the tune of “Don’t Stop Believin’” and pounding drums and shaking noisemakers, the assembled janitors listened to union leaders talk about their next target: the cleaning contractor of that very office building in front of them, which was still nonunion. After sending this message, cheering and chanting, the group marched back to the union office for a celebratory barbecue.

As this example shows, marches and rallies can be a great way to celebrate a big campaign victory (and gear up for the next one). They’re accessible, often relatively simple to plan, and can easily incorporate participation from many kinds of people. Good marches and rallies have a few functions. They can be a good place to announce you’ve reached a new stage, or otherwise serve as a movement’s marking point, such as the 1963 March on Washington. They can inspire your grassroots base with new energy. Or, ideally, they can move you past the finish line and into your campaign victory lap.

But too often we use marches and rallies in place of any other public action to put pressure on decision-makers and build support for our campaign. They’re good for partying or as a mass mobilization after grassroots support is built — but there are many more effective ways to create low-risk opportunities for gathering people together. On the heels of the People’s Climate March last weekend, where more than 300,000 people gathered to demand international action on climate change, it’s important to take the time to reflect on what marches can accomplish — and what other tactics can be used instead.

Jersey Open Space Measure Cannibalizes Parks & Eco-Programs: Zeros Out Park Maintenance Money and Forces Layoffs in Waste & Water Programs

By Kirsten Stade - Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, October 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.

Trenton — A November ballot measure would amend the New Jersey constitution to siphon $10 billion out of park facilities maintenance as well as toxic site cleanup and state water infrastructure over the next 30 years solely to finance real estate purchases for open space. Billed as a “green” proposition, it would devastate bread and butter environmental programs while lining the pockets of some key proponents, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

With little debate about the impacts of the diversion of funds, the New Jersey Legislature placed a proposed constitutional amendment, the Open Space Preservation Funding Amendment, Public Question No. 2 on the November 4, 2014 ballot. It would direct a portion of corporate business tax revenues to open space, farmland and historic preservation from 2016 to 2045. To pay for that reallocation it would end the current dedication of corporate business tax revenues to environmental programs. Specifically it would:

  • Strip State Parks & Historic Sites of their current ability to fund capital projects, such as building or repairing restrooms, roads, bridges and other projects. Dedicated funding would fall from $32 million per year to zero. There is currently a $400 million backlog of repairs, new construction and improvements to existing facilities in state parks and historic sites;
  • Cut funding for state water resources programs and projects by two thirds, from $15 million a year currently down to $5 million; and
  • Slash hazardous waste cleanup programs by more than half, from the current $53 million a year to $25 million.

“This is utterly irresponsible eco-policy cynically masquerading as an investment in our future,” stated New Jersey PEER Director Bill Wolfe, pointing out that it will likely trigger layoffs of state Department of Environmental Protection staff working in both waste and water programs. “Green Acres and open space preservation are good ideas but not to the exclusion of everything else.”

The measure is touted as a rebuke to the Christie administration which has allowed open space funds to run dry. This retaliatory diversion of funds locked into the state constitution smacks of overkill, however.

Ironically, after new open spaces are purchased they are usually handed over to State Parks to maintain, creating an ever-growing unfunded backlog. Adding insult to injury, some of the new open space funding would support “Stewardship” schemes that include commercial logging of state lands. In addition, a portion of funds may be used for salaries and expenses of groups that arrange open space purchases.

“This measure subsidizes a galling amount of self-dealing real estate deals” added Wolfe, noting that supporters label themselves the “Keep It Green Coalition.” “Some Keep It Green members are also focused on the green in their wallets.”

Why Judging People for Buying Unhealthy Food Is Classist

By Wiley Reading - Everyday Feminism, September 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.

As a nation, we’re slowly realizing that whole, fresh foods are good for you and that cooking at home can save you money and provide you with better nutrition.

Overall, this is a great trend. It’s becoming easier and more common to get fresh food, whole foods, local foods, and organic foods.

Unfortunately, though, this shift in culture has also begun to produce a toxic byproduct: better-than-thou attitudes and judgments about low-income people’s decisions about food.

“Why do they waste their money on junk food?” “Why doesn’t she cook for her children?” “Ugh, look, he’s buying his toddler a Happy Meal.”

Many of us have thought things like this or heard other people say things like this. We are very concerned with how poor people (or people we assume are poor) spend money on food.

The truth is, though, we rarely have all the facts when we judge these people. Let’s change that.

Chapter 29 : Swimmin’ Cross the Rio Grande

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

Corporate Timber’s strategy for defeating popular resistance on the North Coast, whether union organizing, environmentalism, or citizen ballot initiatives depended heavily on keeping its would-be watchdogs and critics pitted against each other, or focused on a specific scapegoat. As the minutes of 1989 ticked away into 1990, the timber corporations were finding this an increasingly difficult prospect, and sometimes all it took to fracture whatever consensus they could muster was a perfect storm of indirectly related events. The arrogance of Louisiana Pacific in particular undermined Corporate Timber’s ability to keep an increasingly fearful workforce focusing their blame for all that was wrong on “unwashed-out-of-town-jobless-hippies-on-drugs.” In spite of all of the footwork done by Pacific Lumber with the help of TEAM and WECARE to manufacture dissent against the environmentalists’ campaign to block THPs and draft measures like Forests Forever, the catalyst that lit the opposing prairie fire was Louisiana-Pacific’s plans to outsource productions.

In December, the Humboldt and Del Norte County Central Labor Council, representing 3,500 union members from over two dozen unions in both counties rented billboards imploring the L-P not to move to Mexico. [1] Suggesting that the unions were forced to look beyond mere bread and butter issues, some of the billboards read, “Please don’t abuse our community and our environment.” L-P, who routinely paid for full page ads in the local press claiming to be “a good neighbor” touting their alleged pro-worker and pro-environmental policies, responded by claiming in their latest such entries that they were not exporting logs to Mexico, just green lumber for drying and planning. Although the handwriting should have been on the wall seven years earlier when L-P had busted the IWA and WCIW in the mills throughout the Pacific Northwest, there were several other unions which had a relationship with the company in various capacities. Hitherto they had been unwilling to bite the hand that fed them, and many wouldn’t have even considered making an overture of friendship to Earth First!, but now, all of a sudden, the leadership of various AFL-CIO unions based in Humboldt and Mendocino County finally awakened to the possibility that their enemy wasn’t, in fact, “unwashed-out-of-town-jobless-hippies-on-drugs.” [2]

Video: Boots Riley On Workers Revolution At Oakland Climate Rally

By Steve Zeltser - Labor Video Project, September 21, 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.

Boots Riley spoke and performed with a fellow artist at the Oakland Climate rally on September 21, 2104. He discussed the need to organize workers to make fundamental change in the system.

Video: Trade Unionists At Oakland Climate Rally Call For Public Power

By Steve Zeltser - Labor Video Project, September 21, 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.

Trade unionists at the Oakland climate rally on September 21, 2014 called for public control of the utility industry and challenging the profit drive by the energy industry and utilities that are destroying the planet. They also discussed the climate and environmental crisis cause by the US military. Workers also discussed the attacks on education and privatization as well as healthcare.

Train Cars Carrying Undocumented Hazardous Materials Pose Risks

By Minnesota Public Radio News - Prarie Business, September 25, 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.

At least 18 times in the past three years BNSF Railway freight trains rolled west out of Minneapolis pulling cars filled with hazardous chemicals that were not on the trains’ official cargo list, according to train crew complaints.

That’s contrary to federal regulation because in case of an accident, local firefighters can be left in the dark, unable to take quick action to protect vulnerable residents.

In one case, a train traveled more than 20 miles through the western suburbs with six carloads of anhydrous ammonia, a toxic corrosive gas used as a farm fertilizer, before the train crew knew the chemical was on the train, a complaint said. In another, a complaint said a train traveled about 90 miles west to Willmar before its cargo list — called a manifest — was corrected to show an extra car of ammonia.

The complaints were filed with the Federal Railroad Administration, the federal agency that regulates railroads, and they provide a snapshot of one rail line across Minnesota, a BNSF Railway line from Minneapolis to Willmar. BNSF is the largest rail operator in Minnesota. Provided to MPR News by railroad union members, they are evidence of a problem the FRA said poses “unreasonable risks to health, safety and property.”

Hauling hazardous material without proper documentation is a problem federal officials have been aware of for years. When federal inspectors checked manifests of all rail haulers in Minnesota over a three-year period, one in five contained inaccurate information about cars hauling hazardous materials, according to FRA records obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Derailed: Railroad Delays First Responders on Riverside Oil Spill

By Chris Halsne - Fox 31 TV, September 22, 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.

DENVER — FOX31 Denver has confirmed a May 9 crude oil train car derailment near LaSalle, Colorado polluted area groundwater with toxic levels of benzene.

Environmental Protection Agency records from July show benzene measurements as high as 144 parts per billion near the crash site. Five parts per billion is considered the safe limit.

Federal accident records also show six Union Pacific tankers ripped apart from the train and flipped into a ditch due to a “track misalignment caused by a soft roadbed.” One of the tankers cracked and spilled approximately7,000 gallons of Niobrara crude, according to the EPA.

FOX31 Denver’s investigative team also confirmed the oil car accident location, only about 75 yards from the South Platte River, is in the same spot as another Union Pacific derailment four years ago.

Reports show four rail cars full of wheat/grain derailed in October 2010. The cause of that accident was very similar: “roadbed settled or soft” and “other rail and joint bar defects.”

“They did have a derailment at the exact same point. I mean within feet!” witness Glenn Werning, a nearby farmer and local water supervisor, told FOX31 Denver investigative reporter Chris Halsne.

Werning wonders if Union Pacific was negligent in repairing the area after the first crash telling Halsne, “It would have been devastating if it had gotten into the water and flowed down. It would have been, whew! The oil spill would have been a mess to clean up because it would have been on both sides of the river for miles.”

Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing

On December 6-8, 1996, forty people of color and European American representatives met in Jemez, New Mexico, for the “Working Group Meeting on Globalization and Trade.” The Jemez meeting was hosted by the Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice with the intention of hammering out common understandings between participants from different cultures, politics and organizations. The following “Jemez Principles” for democratic organizing were adopted by the participants.

1. Be Inclusive

If we hope to achieve just societies that include all people in decision making and assure that all people have an equitable share of the wealth and the work of this world, then we must work to build that kind of inclusiveness into our own movement in order to develop alternative policies and institutions to the treaties policies under neoliberalism.

This requires more than tokenism, it cannot be achieved without diversity at the planning table, in staffing, and in coordination. It may delay achievement of other important goals, it will require discussion, hard work, patience, and advance planning. It may involve conflict, but through this conflict, we can learn better ways of working together. It’s about building alternative institutions, movement building, and not compromising out in order to be accepted into the anti-globalization club.

2. Emphasis on Bottom

Up Organizing To succeed, it is important to reach out into new constituencies, and to reach within all levels of leadership and membership base of the organizations that are already involved in our networks. We must be continually building and strengthening a base which provides our credibility, our strategies, mobilizations, leadership development, and the energy for the work we must do daily.

3. Let People Speak for Themselves

We must be sure that relevant voices of people directly affected are heard. Ways must be provided for spokespersons to represent and be responsible to the affected constituencies. It is important for organizations to clarify their roles, and who they represent, and to assure accountability within our structures.

4. Work Together In Solidarity and Mutuality

Groups working on similar issues with compatible visions should consciously act in solidarity, mutuality and support each other’s work. In the long run, a more significant step is to incorporate the goals and values of other groups with your own work, in order to build strong relationships. For instance, in the long run, it is more important that labor unions and community economic development projects include the issue of environmental sustainability in their own strategies, rather than just lending support to the environmental organizations. So communications, strategies and resource sharing is critical, to help us see our connections and build on these.

5. Build Just Relationships Among Ourselves

We need to treat each other with justice and respect, both on an individual and an organizational level, in this country and across borders. Defining and developing “just relationships” will be a process that won’t happen overnight. It must include clarity about decision-making, sharing strategies, and resource distribution. There are clearly many skills necessary to succeed, and we need to determine the ways for those with different skills to coordinate and be accountable to one another.

6. Commitment to Self-Transformation

As we change societies, we must change from operating on the mode of individualism to community-centeredness. We must “walk our talk.” We must be the values that we say we’re struggling for and we must be justice, be peace, be community.

St. Louis Bus Company Fails at Racial Divide and Conquer Against ATU Local 788

By Jenny Brown - Labor Notes, September 25, 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.

Bus workers in Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788 are celebrating a tentative agreement after they called management on outrageous racism.

The workers, who serve St. Louis, including Ferguson, have been trying for over three years to get a new contract with Metro, the bi-state agency that runs the buses. The union said the new contract preserves workers’ defined benefit pension plan, increases wages, and improves health care coverage.

Members are voting today.

Part of the reason the contract took so long, said ATU President Larry Hanley before the agreement, was that “the company is populated by racial arsonists.

“They have economic goals for the agency, and the linchpin of economic goals these days is to strip the workers of pensions and wages,” Hanley explained in early September. “The method that the agency has chosen to use is to separate workers by race and category.”


Most of the drivers are Black, and most of the mechanics are white. So “officials of the agency have been privately negotiating with the mechanics to get them to leave the ATU, telling them they can get them more,” said Hanley. “In other words, ‘If you aren’t part of that Black bus drivers union, we’re going to take care of you.’”

The real motive, of course, was to separate workers into smaller groups so they wouldn’t have the power to stand up to management’s cuts. But management’s strategy was failing, so they stepped it up.

In July management came into bargaining, “and they say, ‘We have a gift for the bargaining committee,’ and they hand each one of them the recipe for Oreo cookies,” recalled Hanley.

The union responded with demonstrations, radio spots, and newspaper ads. When workers leafleted riders at transit centers, Metro tried to ban their leafleting on employer property. Members turned up the heat by demonstrating at the residence of Metro’s CEO, John Nations.