Quarter Sheet Leaflet for the People's Climate Rally and other Events

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.

Click on the image for a downloadable, printable PDF (US Letter Size format):

Environmentalism as if Winning Mattered: A Self-Organization Strategy

By Stephen D’Arcy - The Public Autonomy Project, September 17, 2014

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

[Note: This article was first published on the internet as a contribution to the Reimagining Society Project hosted by ZCommunications in 2009, where it seems no longer to be available. This version is substantially revised.]

Many people doubt that the environmental movement can actually defeat its adversaries and achieve its key aims. After all, it seems clear that winning would mean introducing sweeping social change and a new kind of sustainable and socially just economy. But the forces arrayed against this kind of change – including corporations, governments, and many affluent consumers hoping to raise their consumption levels – seem to represent too powerful a force to be overcome by a relatively small and seemingly powerless group of environmental activists.

These doubts about the capacity of environmentalists to win are confined neither to the movement’s self-serving and greed-motivated adversaries in business and government, nor to the many indifferent bystanders who cast an equally skeptical eye on all attempts to transform society by means of popular mobilization from below. As it happens, many environmental activists themselves are no less convinced that failure is all but inevitable.

When this sort of pessimism overtakes environmentalists, they tend to adopt one of several familiar responses. First, there is the response of those who retreat from the movement altogether in favor of “lifestyle” environmentalism, replacing their former activism with “conscious” shopping. Second, there are those who reject activism as naïve compared to their own approach of apocalyptic “survivalism” which leads them to prepare for the day when “civilization” collapses, such as by stockpiling food or learning how to hunt and gather. A third group responds to the apparently bleak outlook for environmental activism not by leaving the movement, but by remaining active while seeking to cultivate “friends in high places,” linking arms with Big Business or the capitalist state in a mode of “mainstream” environmentalism that tries to promote “environmentally friendly” capitalism and “socially responsible” corporations. A fourth group also remains active, but replaces the aim of winning with the more readily attainable aim of making a moral statement, by serving as a “moral witness” or by “speaking truth to power.” Finally, a fifth group also accepts the inevitability of failure but tries to seize every opportunity to put on public display the purity of their own uncompromising and self-righteous (albeit relentlessly impotent) radicalism, as a form of self-congratulatory “posturing.”

There is nothing to be gained by adopting a judgmental or holier-than-thou attitude toward people who adopt such responses. Why condemn such choices, which are all more or less understandable adaptations to the admittedly distressing predicament of contemporary environmentalism?

Nevertheless, we do need to see these stances for what they undoubtedly are: failures (in some cases) or refusals (in others) to develop a strategy for winning. Yet a strategy for winning is precisely what we need. The scale of the general environmental crisis is well known, and needs no special emphasis here: we are only too well-informed about the potentially catastrophic impact of plutogenic (caused-by-the-rich) climate change, the degradation of air quality, the erosion and poisoning of soil, the disappearance of forests and spreading of deserts, the despoliation of both fresh water sources and oceans, the historically unprecedented rates of species extinction, and so on. If nothing is done about any of this, it is not because there is any uncertainty about the gravity of these threats (notwithstanding cynical attempts by Big Business to fund “denial” research from “free market think tanks,” as a transparent ploy to muddy the waters of public discussion).

Something must be done, clearly. And most people certainly want more to be done. Globally, according to a survey of world opinion in 2010, “84 percent of those polled globally said the problem was serious, with 52 percent saying it was very serious. The number of people saying that it was not a problem averaged just 4 percent.” Even in the United States, where public awareness about environmental issues is lower than anywhere else on earth, “in 2010, 70 percent of US respondents described the problem as serious and 37 percent described it as very serious.” According to Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org (which conducted the poll), “most people around the world appear to be impatient that their government is not doing enough to address the problem of climate change.” Indeed, “on average across all nations polled, 60 percent want climate change to get a higher priority, 12 percent want a lower priority.”

Evidently, inaction on the part of governments does not reflect any pressing need to “change attitudes” or “educate the public.” If governments and corporations were even modestly responsive to public opinion, the prospects for implementing real change would be much more favorable for our side than they actually are at present.

The widespread pessimism about the movement’s prospects for success is impossible to explain without relating it to a widely understood insight registered in another recent opinion poll. According to a 2012 Harris Poll, 86% of Americans believe that “Big companies” have “too much power and influence in Washington.” An even higher percentage, 88% of Americans, believe that “political action committees that give money to political candidates” also have too much power and influence. Conversely, a full 78% of Americans believe that “public opinion” has “too little power and influence in Washington.” Americans, it seems, understand the workings of their political process rather better than many people give them credit for.

It should be clear, therefore, that we need a strategy for winning, and we need to develop it sooner rather than later. The approach that I pursue in this article will be to identify strategic objectives for weakening and ultimately defeating the adversaries that stand in the way of doing what science, morality, and good sense dictate must be done: transforming our destructive, unjust and unsustainable social order into a democratic, egalitarian and sustainable one.

"A Weekend to Change the Course of History"?

By David Osborn - Common Dreams, September 18, 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.

Beyond appealing to powers-that-be, climate justice movements need to focus on creating systemic change to address the climate crisis

A Weekend to Change the Course of History. That is how the call-to-action for the People's Climate March taking place this coming Saturday, September 21, begins. The appeal goes on to suggest the weekend will be used “to bend the course of history.” This raises some questions critical to climate movements. How do we make that bend? And in what direction? In other words, what understandings and methods of social change inform the New York mobilization, and where do we want it to lead? These are urgent questions. The scale of the New York mobilization and the concentration of resources for the march demands that we put such questions firmly on the table.

The answers hinge on what we understand the nature of the problem to be. There are two general kinds of problems: surface and systemic. Imagine a house. Surface problems would include paint peeling, a leaky faucet or even flooring that needs replacement. All of those repairs can be done within the structure of a home. In the political realm, surface problems might include road decay, wasteful government spending or the lack of green spaces. Systemic problems go deeper. They would include a cracked foundation or rotted support beams that are so severe that fixing them would entail fixing the structure itself — or building an entirely new home. Racism and sexism are such problems. It isn’t enough (or even possible) to integrate schools or create policies for pay equity; the very structures that support these systems must be challenged for them to be addressed.

Climate change is also fundamentally a systemic problem. The climate crisis has emerged from the structures of our society, particularly capitalism, and their arrangement of values.

There are a wide variety of activities planned in New York and I know that many environmental and climate justice groups involved in the march understand the systemic nature of the climate crisis and are articulating community-based, power building strategies. I believe this approach is essential. However, I worry that the surface-level politics of the big environmental (and other) organizations and a march and rally to pressure heads of state focus on surface-level approaches, and could drown out those voices calling for systemic change.

Socialism And Workers’ Self-Directed Enterprises

By Richard D Wolff - Monthly Review, September 14, 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.

Global capitalism has huge problems coping with the second worst collapse in its history. Its extreme and deepening inequalities have provoked millions to question and challenge capitalism. Yet socialists of all sorts now find it more difficult than ever to make effective criticisms and offer alternatives that inspire.

Part of the problem lies with classic socialism as it evolved over the last 150 years. Positions and strategies that once mobilized the victims and critics of capitalism are no longer, by themselves, effective. Not only has capitalism changed, but its celebrants also developed powerful critiques of socialist theory and especially of actually existing socialisms such as the Soviet Union (USSR). Socialism has not responded well to capitalism’s changes nor to its critiques; it has not made the necessary strategic and tactical shifts. Nonetheless, socialism retains the means to overcome its problems with some long-overdue self-criticism and innovation.

By classic socialism I mean the tradition that differentiated itself from capitalism chiefly in terms of macro-economic institutions. Classic socialists defined capitalism as (1) private ownership of means of production and (2) distribution of resources and products by means of market exchanges. The socialist alternative entailed (1) socialized or public ownership of means of production (operated by the state as agent of the people as a whole) and (2) distribution of resources and products via state planning. Socialists attacked capitalism for the injustices, cyclical instability, and gross productive inefficiencies (e.g. unemployment, stagnation, etc.) that they traced to private enterprises and markets. In the socialists’ alternative, a workers’ state would control or own enterprises and plan the distribution of resources and products – in the democratically determined interests of the majority.

Such criticisms of capitalism and that transitional program to an alternative system rewarded socialists in their political, economic, and cultural work. Socialist movements spread across the countries of the world during the nineteenth and to the last third of the twentieth century. Socialists effectively challenged capitalism, often took and held political power, and influenced many academics, intellectuals, popular organizations, artistic projects, and so on. But now socialism’s growth in many places has stalled or reversed.

Brian Tokar: Defying Apocalypse

By Brian Tokar - Institute for Social Ecology, September 18, 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.

This commentary appears on the occasion of the forthcoming “Apocalypse Now?” issue of the Occupied Times of London, as well as the People’s Climate March in New York City and events before and after, and also the publication of the newly revised and expanded edition of my book, Toward Climate Justice.  It also appears on Counterpunch, ZNet and Toward Freedom:

Today it often feels as though we are hopelessly mired in apocalyptic thinking, both in our social movements and in popular culture. From Hollywood blockbusters to art house dystopias, and from hip-hop lyrics to “serious” literature, images of irreversible climate chaos, interminable warfare, and total societal collapse seem increasingly inescapable. Apocalyptic visions appear equally-pervasive in current radical discourse, from Derrick Jensen’s popular “end of civilization” treatises from the US west coast to the more contemplative but perhaps equally despairing works of Paul Kingsnorth and the rest of the UK Dark Mountain group.

For some, such outlooks are simply the logical conclusion of even a cursory examination of current climate science. If we don’t stop burning fossil fuels within the next few years – a prospect that seems unimaginable in the current political context – we could face global warming of 4-6 degrees C by the end of this century, resulting in the collapse of the relatively stable patterns of weather and climate that have helped sustain human life on earth for thousands, and likely tens of thousands of years. Absent any semblance of a meaningful global agreement to curtail climate pollution, how can we possibly fend off utter catastrophe?

For some youthful radicals, the prospect of a civilizational collapse is invigorating: the more dire a future we face, the greater the urgency of revolutionary action and the more inviting the challenge. But for most people, facing the unthinkable is merely a path to despair and disengagement. If apocalypse is inevitable, why bother with activism at all? More people will prefer to just dig in, refocusing their energies toward the private sphere and the pleasures (or struggles) of everyday life. One recent study suggests that broad scientific literacy only correlates strongly with climate awareness in relatively progressive-minded circles; for most people, it appears far more important to fit in with the inclinations of one’s own social group than to embrace any particular understanding of the truth.

A recent book, Catastrophism: The Apocalyptic Politics of Collapse and Rebirth, by four North American activist-scholars, describes in some detail how apocalyptic thinking has historically been a dead-end for the left, a chronic enabler for the right, and an outlook that radical movements embrace at their peril. “The politics of fear,” they argue, “play to the strengths of the right, not the left,” and best serve those interests that are “against equality and for war, hierarchy and state violence.”

In contrast, as social movement historian Richard Flacks has shown, people will willingly disrupt the patterns of their daily lives to engage in the project of “making history” once they have a tangible sense that a better way is possible. This, for Flacks, is among the historic roles of democratic popular movements: to further the idea “that people are capable of and ought to be making their own history, that the making of history ought to be integrated with everyday life, that [prevailing] social arrangements … can and must be replaced by frameworks that permit routine access and participation by all in the decisions that affect their lives.”

Jobs and the Planet: is it Really Either/or?

By Jean Parrey and Carole Ramsden - Socialist Worker, September 18, 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.

WHO HAS the power to stop climate change?

Demonstrations like the People's Climate March in New York City on September 21 are important in showing the determined and growing opposition to a system that is driving the planet toward ecological devastation. But protests--while they can bring together and galvanize a growing movement--aren't enough by themselves.

One group in society with more potential leverage is workers in the energy and transportation industries, and those employed in sectors (like health care, for instance) directly impacted by climate change. Especially if they are members of unions, these workers can affect the operations of the fossil fuel industry by taking actions related to their work.

If this power were utilized, even if only partially, such actions could dramatically increase the pressure on the political and business establishment to do something to stop the carbon industry.

Yet organized labor has a notorious reputation for opposing measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and pollution. Union leaders insist these initiatives will cost union jobs--that it is a zero-sum game between jobs and the environment.

Therefore, the role of labor in the People's Climate March is a particularly important question.

Mobilizing for Justice in the Anthropocene: Autogestion, Radical Politics, and the Owl of Minerva (2/2)

By Javier Sethness Castro and Alexander Reid Ross - Notes toward an International Libertarian Eco-Socialism, September 18, 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.

This is part II of an interview on Grabbing Back: Essays Against the Global Land Grab (AK Press, 2014). Read part I here.

In the interviews you hold with Chomsky and Hardt in Grabbing Back, both thinkers point out the irony whereby the so-called “socialist” governments that have been elected throughout much of Latin America in recent years—Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Uruguay, for example—notoriously have in fact been engaged in a significant intensification of the extractivist trends which their neoliberal precedecessors oversaw. This developmentalism has inexorably brought these “Pink Tide” governments into conflict with indigenous peoples, and it certainly has not been auspicious for nature, however much posturing Rafael Correa and Evo Morales like to advance in terms of the “rights of nature.” The fate of Ecuador’s YasuníNational Park is emblematic in this sense. As editor of Upside-down World, Grabbing Back contributor Benjamin Dangl has written at length on these tensions. How do you see indigenous concepts like sumak kawsay (“living well”) as realistic alternatives to State-capitalist depredation?

I think the implications of Dangl’s analysis of extractivism is as important today as, say, Rosa Luxemburg’s work on the Accumulation of Capital in the 1910s or David Harvey’s work on the Limits to Capital in the 1980s, and it fits with some really important thinking going on by people like Silvia Rivera CusicanquiRaúl Zibechi, and Pablo Mamani Ramírez. The Pink Tide governments are interesting to me, because they show how rhetoric centered around land can lead to a kind of fixation on natural resources and infrastructure, which precludes the Prebisch-style development of the Third World. So I wonder, does the focus on “the land” come about through the export-based economies that were generated by the annihilation of industrial infrastructure vis-à-vis globalization, and does it also reflexively work to thrust into power a so-called populist leadership that makes gains in the social wage by simply speeding up the process?

It seems strange to me that so-called neo-Peronism (if there ever was a populist moniker, that was it) could dismantle and sell Mosconi’s YPF, a highly technical model of a nationalized energy industry, to the former colonial power, the Spanish oil giant Repsol, for pennies on the dollar while basically forfeiting huge gas fields despite the resistance of the Mapuche, whose land they are destroying in the process. Former Argentine President Carlos Menem became one of the most despised figures in the Latin American Left, but now Kirchner is selling off the Patagonia oil fields to North Atlantic powers and Malaysia while bringing in Monsanto. What if the “populist wave” has just ridden an exuberant surplus of popular political involvement, and is returning to the kind of elite populism expressed by people like Menem? We might say, “let us not be so hasty in condemning the governments of Latin America, because look at what happened with Manuel Zelaya and deposed Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, let alone the Central African Republic. They have to work with global hegemony, and that means either bringing in Chinese investors as in Ecuador, or US investors as in Argentina.” But we should not concede the reality and the basis of what made “¡Que se vayan todos! such an important global position.1

In contradistinction to these problems, there is the Indigenous idea of sumak kawsay, as you mentioned, which places spirit and land along the same axes, and is epistemologically less driven to accept the division and privatization of land. It will be interesting to see changes in the ways that this concept is used over the next decade or so. Mahmood shows how the Islamic concept of dawa changed over generations to become tools of more general liberation—both from neoliberalism and from strict gender norms. But signifiers can be hollowed out through capitalism as well, so I think that it’s also important not to separate concepts from the people who produce them; for example, the ayllus that form Indigenous “microgovernments,” as Pablo Ramírez calls them, are profound structures that provide an interesting example of popular representation as opposed to the general diplomatic-discursive field of “geopolitics.”

It is also important to take note of Simon Sedillo’s excellent work tracking the mapping projects underway by Geoffrey Demarest and the Department of Defense in Colombia and Oaxaca, which are defined by this bizarre concept of “geoproperty” that mixes old English and Jeffersonian ideals of private property with contemporary land-titling strategies developed by economists like De Soto.2 Geoproperty is the conceptual artifice of a rather brutal strategy that deploys paramilitaries in order to separate Indigenous peoples from their lands, and it works both on a level of what Mignolo calls “geography of reason3 and a level of pragmatic force (defoliation, paramilitaries, and militarization). Connecting neoliberalism to geography, James C. Scott notes how, during the commercialization of the ejidos in Michoacán, “the first task of the state has been to make legible a tenure landscape that the local autonomy achieved by the revolution had helped make opaque.”4

It’s here that Guillermo Delgado-P’s article in Grabbing Back becomes so crucial, because it takes back the notions of territory and land, and provides a kind of alter-anthropology that thinks Indigenous cultures with agrarian polyculturalism and a kind of negotiation between the popular concept of the commons and Indigenous practices of conservation. So the challenge for local activists is, perhaps, to create growth from within the “Pink Tide” by learning from those who have always existed in a kind of threshold of state practices, and to do this in such a way that is, perhaps, illegible to the “great powers” in order to dodge the military incursions and counterinsurgency strategies while protecting increasing amounts of land. I find the more autonomized urban structures that sparked the mass movements in Chile in 2012 to be very inspirational along these lines, and in conversation with some of their organizers, I was told that they do have a relatively high level of respect and solidarity with the Mapuche. At the same time, these movements are different on several fundamental levels, and solidarity also becomes a question of recognizing ones limits, keeping the borders open, but understanding that the urban organizer is not the savior of the Indigenous peoples or the rural campesinos. In a sense, this is an inversion of politics in the classical sense, which relies on the polis for its basic way of thinking in Plato and Aristotle, but that is why anarchism today manifests a fundamentally different method of thinking than is possible within a strict adherence to the tradition of Eurocentric thought.

Workers at Fracked Wells Exposed to Benzene, CDC Warns Amid Mounting Evidence of Shale Jobs' Dangers

By Sharon Kelly - DeSmog Blog, September 18, 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.

For years, the oil and gas industry has worked to convince Americans that the rush to drill shale wells across the country will not only provide large corporations with lavish profits, but will also create enormous numbers of attractive and high-paid jobs, transforming the economies of small towns and cities that greenlight drilling.

The industry's numbers are often picked up by policy-makers and politicians who back drilling, in part because talk of job growth is an especially alluring idea in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.

But numerous independent studies have conclude that the industry vastly overstated the number of jobs that fracking has created, and that the economic benefits have been overblown.

A growing body of research suggests that not only does the industry create fewer jobs than promised, the jobs that are created come with serious dangers for the workers who take them.

Research made public late last month suggests that some of those jobs may be even more hazardous to workers than previously believed, calling into question the true benefits of the boom.

Chapter 27 : Murdered by Capitalism

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

“They intimidate the workers by fear and that’s why they have him there. Everybody around here is so afraid that if something gets crossed up…lumber gets crossed up…they will try to fix it without stopping the machine for fear of being yelled at by the foreman if they do not stop the machine. It’s a constant environment of fear, totally.”

—Randy Veach, L-P Millworker, interviewed by Judi Bari, August 1992 [1]

“Management doesn’t care about our feelings—it’s insignificant to them. OK? Basically we’re nothing but a paid robot. And we’ve been told…our jobs are graders…both of us we’ve been told graders are a dime a dozen.”

—Don Beavers, L-P Millworker, interviewed by Judi Bari, August 1992 [2]

Earth First! – IWW Local #1 knew about the state of affairs in G-P’s and P-L’s mills, thanks to the efforts of its members, but what were conditions like at L-P? Local 1 had tried, unsuccessfully, to try and get one of their members, Allen Anger—who had relocated from Washington, hired at an L-P mill in order to try and organize the mill from within. [3] Without a willing organizer in the plants, IWW Local #1 had to settle for using information supplied by underground dissidents within the mill to provide a picture of what took place on the inside. Luckily, thanks to the coalition being forged in opposition to L-P’s outsourcing, at least two, Don Beavers (a grader who had once worked in the Potter Valley Mill before it closed) and Randy Veach, were able to reveal that if safety and working conditions were bad enough in the nominally union Georgia-Pacific mill in Fort Bragg, they were substantially worse in Louisiana-Pacific’s nonunion mills. Yet, the L-P workers were least likely to openly declare their opposition to such repression. As Judi Bari explained in 1991, it wasn’t difficult to understand why:

“How does a company as cold and crass as (L-P) keep their workforce so obedient? A look behind the barbed wire fence that surrounds their Ukiah mill might yield some clues.

“‘It’s their little world, and when you step through the gate you do what they say or you don’t stay in their little world,’ says one millworker. The work rules are designed to turn you into an automaton. There’s a two-minute warning whistle, then the start-up whistle. You have to be at your work station ready to go when the start-up whistle blows, or you can be written up for lateness (three white slips in a year for the same offense and you’re fired). You stay at your work station doing the same repetitive job over and over for two and a half hours (two hours in the planing mill and a half hour in the sawmill) until the break whistle blows. Then you get a ten-minute break, except that it takes you two minutes to walk to the break room and two minutes to walk back, so you only get to sit down for six minutes. And don’t get too comfortable, because there’s a two-minute warning whistle before the end of break time, then you have to get back to your station ready to go when the start-up whistle blows again. If you ever wondered what they were training you for with all those bells in public school, here’s the answer—life at L-P.

“In the Land of the Free, democracy stops at the plant gates. The Bill of Rights is supposed to protect against unreasonable or warrantless searches. But not at L-P. Their drug policy reads like the Gestapo: ‘entry onto company property will be deemed as consent to inspection of person, vehicle, lockers or other personal effects at any time at the discretion of management. Employee refusal to cooperate in alcohol and other drug testing, or searches of other personal belongings and lockers are subject to termination [sic].’ And, before you even get hired you have to submit to a urine test and sign a consent form to let them test your urine any time ‘for cause,’ again at the discretion of management.” [4]

Such rules were obviously designed to maximize production and quell dissent, particularly about the lax safety standards, which—had they been stronger—would have threatened Harry Merlo’s “log-to-infinity” profit-oriented forestry.

“Loss of life or limb is a constant danger at L-P, but it doesn’t happen every day. What does happen every day is the mind numbing tedium of the job, and L-P’s constant rush for production. Take the job of lumber grader. Rough cut lumber, 2x12 and up to 20 feet long, comes up on the chain, and the grader has to scan it, turn it over, decide the best way to trim it for length and split it for width, and put the grade marks and trim marks on the board. You have two to three seconds to perform all these tasks, while the chain keeps moving and the next board comes up. All night long. Back injuries, tendonitis, and shoulder strains, common among graders and other millworkers, are caused by turning over the heavy lumber. But the company just wants its production quotas. ‘We broke a production record in our section,’ said one of my sources. ‘We used to get pizzas and beer for that, but this time they just got us one of those six-feet submarine sandwiches. We probably made them $200,000 in L-P’s pocket that night and they gave us a sandwich.’

“...In such a petty, dictatorial atmosphere, some petty dictators are bound to arise. And there is none better known at L-P than Dean Remstedt, swing shift foreman in the planing mill. Remstedt runs his shift with threats and favoritism and is known as a racist. A few years ago he passed out a flyer making racist jokes about Jesse Jackson. It offended some of the millworkers so much they took it to the Ukiah Daily Journal (anonymously of course). Remstedt denied that there was a problem. ‘It was something laying in the break room that we was laughing about,’ Remstedt told the Journal. But Hispanic workers, who make up about one-third of the shift, were not laughing. ‘To me, when I got that, that was from the company,’ One of them told the Journal reporter. And of course, L-P’s upper management did nothing to change that impression. [5]

This wasn't just a case of a petty dictator throwing his weight around however. Evidently such behavior was rampant throughout L-P. For instance, in April 1989, African-American sawblade filer Cigam Nam X sued L-P for five years of racial discrimination he experienced while working at the Samoa mill. In his complaint, he stated that he was routinely called “nigger” and even subjected to images of lynched blacks with the slogan “KKK all the way!” at his workstation. His supervisor dismissed his concerns by telling him that KKK was “just letters of the alphabet.” He was also demoted from his job and told that the company “would make it hard on him” if he complained. [6] Remstedt was the rule rather than the exception, and he did not especially set a good example either:

“Millworkers say Remstedt is ‘a fanatic about production’ and that he ‘intimidates people into taking chances [with safety] for fear of being disciplined or of losing their job.’ He sets the example with his own reckless behavior, which has led to him having several on-the-job accidents himself. He once climbed onto an automatic lumber stacking machine that was not properly turned off, and he was knocked to the ground when the auto-cycle started up and the lumber moved forward, sending him to the hospital with minor injuries. Another time he stood on the forks of the forklift raised to a high position so he could reach something overhead. He fell off and knocked himself out cold. They wrote up the forklift driver for that one, but they never write up Remstedt, even though the injuries to others on his shift have been a lot more serious than his own, including a woman who lost her leg walking between roller cases on a machine that bands lumber.” [7]

Randy Veach and Don Beavers elaborated further a year later when they finally openly criticized the company. According to Veach,

“…A board got crossed up on what’s called the landing table that comes out of the planer. We had to stop the landing table chains to get this cross up fixed. Well, one of the workers was trying to do it, the chains were turned off and he was trying not to get up on the landing table, he was trying to do it from his work station so he wouldn’t have to lock everything out...because he was safe from where he was. (Remstedt) came along and started yelling at that particular employee. He told him, ‘We don’t have all night to run this stuff.’ And that intimidated that employee to jump up there and fix it immediately. And that’s what happened. The employee jumped up on the landing table. Nothing was shut down.” [8]

Under such conditions it was inevitable that someone would eventually be killed, and sure enough, that is exactly what happened.

Video: Brother Earth - with Boots Riley and Josh Healey

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.

Overheating and fed up, Brother Earth delivers one final PSA to the people of the world. Climate change is fucking up his atmosphere, and he's not feeling it.