Environmental or Ecological Unionism?

By Steve J Payne - The Green Red Show, September 11, 2013

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.

There is ample evidence that the people wrecking our economy are the exact same people destroying the environment. A 2007 study by Harvard Professor Stephen Pacala found that the top 8% richest people on earth (500 million people) are responsible for 50% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Further, the top 15% are responsible for 75% of greenhouse gas emissions. The bottom billion people on earth are responsible for almost no greenhouse gas emissions. The richer you are the more greenhouse gases you emit – a global redistribution of wealth would inherently entail a significant decline in greenhouse gases.

That top 15%, however, includes many people who would not be considered rich in their own country. Stephen Pacala argues for a tax on anyone globally making more than $30,000-$40,000 a year. However, people in that income range are not responsible for creating the economic system they labor and live under. Car owners did not create a transit system that favors individual automobiles. That system was created by a select few for profit.

The top 1% of Americans owns 43% of wealth in America and the top 5% own 72% of the wealth. It is here that we find the people responsible for creating an economic order that enforces mass consumption and lifestyles detrimental to the environment.

Anyone fighting the 1%; fighting for a redistribution of wealth, including labor unions, is on some level fighting an ecological fight, even if they might be loath to admit it.

But what would a unionism that actively embraced ecology look like?

June 11th International Day of Solidarity With Marie Mason, Eric McDavid & All Longterm Anarchist Prisoners 2014 Call Out

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: Marie Mason is a dues paying member of the IWW.

Though it may not seem like it from the depths of winter, June 11th is quickly approaching. As a revitalization of the day of support for eco-prisoners, the International Day of Solidarity with Marie Mason, EricMcDavid and Long-term Anarchist Prisoners has seen a huge outpouring of support and love for both Marie and Eric from all corners the globe over the past 3 years.

Significantly, in addition to the well-spring of both material and immaterial support, we've seen the proliferation of solidarity actions in many diverse contexts spreading the spirit and contributions to our struggles of those the state has attempted to disappear. Coordinated international solidarity has begun to flourish, with information about long-term anarchist and environmental prisoners crossing many geographic and linguistic barriers.

These efforts have had very tangible effects in the lives of Marie and Eric (and many others). Fundraisers have helped them remain true to their vegan principles, loved ones have been able to visit regularly even across vast distances, new generations of radical folks all over the world have reached out to them in solidarity. In short, June 11th has been greatly successful in helping to keep Marie, Eric and many other long-term anarchist and environmental prisoners in our hearts and minds, and to keep them alive in our struggles.

But this process of remembering - of "keeping alive" - is a tricky thing.

Our struggles and movements are often mired by a lack of memory, a lack of understanding and connecting with the past as a way to inform our actions in the present. This is both a product of the techno-alienation of our age as well as a consequence of tactical repression by state forces. The state, for the time being, has the ability to kidnap our comrades and bury them alive, to force them to languish in cold steel and concrete for decades on end. They're ripped from our communities, from our lives. And in their place exists a painful void.

The state, for its part, is banking on the veracity of the old adage "time heals all wounds"; it is hoping that this void will shrink and that we will "forget". If held in captivity long enough, so thinks the state, the actions of our courageous comrades will fade into the oblivion of history and we on the outside will be left without their constructive and loving presence in our struggles. We must fight against this repressive tendency; we must never forget.

Dear Governor Jerry Brown: Will you Deny the Citizens of California their Civil Rights to Safety?

By Shane Davis - Fracktivist, March 29, 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.

Dear Governor Jerry Brown:

With 2,139 oil and gas wells already fracked, will California repeat the same mistakes of the past and let a largely unregulated industry invade? Will you frack to the moon and back, or will your ‘Moonbeam’ shine a new light on harmful fracking and ban it outright in California?  Governor Brown, your environmental legacy could easily be erased by allowing fracking in California to continue. Will you have the courage to be a national leader and ban fracking altogether or will you be swayed by the multi-national ‘OILigarchy’ to destroy California’s water, soil and air for offshore profits of the few?

REWIND: Since the late 1890’s prospectors have been in search of oil deposits spanning nearly every square inch of Los Angeles County.  Oil was finally discovered at a depth of 460 feet using a makeshift drill carved from a 60 foot eucalyptus tree. WildcatterS swarmed to Los Angeles looking for land to lease and wells to drill anywhere they could find with hopes of striking it rich.

In 1906 a few of the wealthiest prospectors who dominated the Los Angeles oil field thought the local ranch-lands that grew beans as a major cash-crop had  vast oil plays under them. They were wrong. There was no oil to be found, so the men quickly ripped out the farmland to create a section of land into a ‘classy subdivision’ called Beverly Hills. Before they sold a single lot in Beverly Hills, they added restrictive covenants to every deed forbidding any oil exploration or oil wells on the property. That protection was essential for any respectable neighborhood, because the oil boom had ruined one street after another in Los Angeles.  Entire neighborhoods had vanished under the forest of wooden derricks and a grimy film of oil, and the roar of the escaping natural gas and the ump-um ump- um of the pumps never ceased.

The horse-drawn wagons that carried heavy drilling equipment and pipe tore up city streets. And the blocks off Santa Monica near Vermont  Avenue had become a raucous oil workers shantytown. The saloons were busy 24 hours a day. Prostitutes often plied their trade from temporary shelters made from canvass stretched over wooden poles. Gamblers worked out of two room shacks, with a pool table and tobacco counter in the front with pinball machines, card games and a quick exit in the back. These abuses flourished because the city hesitated to clamp down on the oil industry.1

Fast-forward to 2014 where the Los Angeles City Council in a 10-0 vote, unanimously enacted the first moratorium on fracking in California. California currently has approximately 2,139 oil and gas wells that have been fracked with tens, if not, a hundred thousand more to come. The majority of the wells are horizontally fracked in the central valley which is considered the Unites States largest agricultural lands providing more than 50 percent of all the nations produce and 95 percent of the almond market.

Video: ROCKING THE FOUNDATIONS - A HISTORY OF THE GREEN BANS MOVEMENT

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 film "Rocking the Foundations" is about the Builders Labourers' Federation of Australia who fought victoriously for their rights as a union, the rights of indigenous people, against gentrification, and in defense of the environment. They did this by performing the first of what are now known as the "green bans" or an environmental strike.

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PROTEST IN THE PLAINS: We Will Die For Our Grandchildren

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.

Leaders of the Oceti Sakowin say "No more" to the Keystone XL Pipeline Project. They are making their stand and promise the construction of the oil pipeline will not get past them without taking the lives of its defenders.

California Gov. Jerry Brown Faces Protests Over Fracking as Epic Drought Looms

By Tara Lohan - Alternet, March 11, 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.

California Gov. Jerry Brown is having a hard time maintaining his green image. Like President Obama, Brown has stumped about the dangers of climate change and the need to take action. But Brown’s message runs afoul of his own actions to open California to more oil and gas drilling enabled by hydraulic fracturing and other extreme extraction methods.

Demonstrators protested the governor and the president’s hypocrisy on the issue of fracking (Obama’s been singing the praises of natural gas) when the two were part of a climate change task force (or “task farce” as demonstrators made clear) in Los Angeles last month.

It’s not the first time Brown has come under attack since signing SB4 in September, a law to regulate fracking in California. Supporters of SB4, introduced by Fran Pavley, have called it the “toughest law in the country” (though it’s an extremely low bar) but opponents say it doesn’t go nearly far enough in protecting people and the environment, and until more is known about the dangers and health impacts the practice should be halted.

Thus far fracking had taken place in California with little regulation. Almost every major environmental organization pulled their support for SB4 as the bill became more watered down as it passed through the state legislature. A Los Angeles Times editorial summed it up: “We previously endorsed the bill, and Pavley deserves praise for trying, but at this point SB4 is so flawed that it would be better to kill it and press for more serious legislation next year.”

Chapter 7 : Way Up High in The Redwood Giants

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

“I just wish Mr. Hurwitz would go out in the woods and take about a day and just sit down in inside a redwood grove. Maybe he’d have a different opinion (about) what’s going on. Rather than looking at a dollar bill, he’d be seeing a tree for its value.”

—John Maurer, Pacific Lumber shipping clerk, 1976-86.

“The employees of PL have no union or representation; they’ve been kidnapped. Whatever their employer requires, they must fulfill or risk unemployment. They’ve become forced through economics to support practices they would never have supported otherwise. PL employees are paranoid by necessity. Folks are so afraid of losing their jobs. There’s lots of fear in our community, fear that keeps us separated from one another.”

—Pete Kayes, Pacific Lumber blacksmith, 1976-91

Earth First! was committed to their Week of Outrage Against Maxxam, whether or not their message of forests and timber jobs forever was superimposed with images of mill worker George Alexander speaking through the bandages that covered his mutilated face. Greg King worried that the negative publicity for an act Earth First! didn’t commit would indeed distract attention away from the real issue: the long term liquidation of the last remaining virgin redwood forests of Northern California. Darryl Cherney, however, assured everyone, “We will be upholding the laws. It is Pacific Lumber that is breaking them.” [1] Beginning on Monday, May 18, Earth First! planned to conduct actions in several places specifically targeting Pacific Lumber operations, Maxxam offices, and related facilities. [2] The largest and most important of these was to be a multifaceted action on Pacific Lumber land in Humboldt County itself, targeting the Booths Run “All Species Grove” THP concurrently being contested by EPIC. [3]

In preparation for the demonstrations, on the day before a group of Earth First!ers attempted to block Pacific Lumber’s main haul route into All Species Grove, while a second crew, including Larry Evans, Mokai, Kurt Newman, and Darrell Sukovitzen, conducted a group “tree sit” 120-150 high on four three-by-six foot suspended wooden platforms up in the giant redwoods nearby. Only two platforms were successfully deployed, however. Mokai had retreated at the advice of the other sitters for logistical reasons, and instead watched his would-be fellow climbers ascending their trees through binoculars. Newman was able to climb his tree, but his platform was intercepted by P-L security who arrived very quickly. From the canopies, the sitters hung large 30-foot banners with slogans such as “Save the Redwoods” and “Stop Maxxam” which also included a blood colored skull and crossbones. The sitters stayed up for several hours until Humboldt County sheriffs arrived, at which time Evans and Sukovitzen surrendered. Newman, on the other hand, remained in place until a professional P-L climber, Dan Collings ascended to his position, at which time Newman surrendered also. [4] The three tree sitters, three of their support people (Lynn Burchfield, Debra Jean Jorgenson, and Linda Villatore), and Sacramento Weekly reporter Tim Holt [5] were arrested and spent two nights in the Humboldt County jail and faced fines of up to $3000. [6] They had collectively managed to remain in the trees for between 12 and 20 hours, but had hoped to remain longer to give the next day’s action “staying power”. [7]

As it turned out, the tree sits weren’t needed anyway. The next day, the show went on at the enormous P-L log deck at Carlotta nearby, attended by 125 Earth First!ers and their allies holding banners, chanting, and singing songs, led by Darryl Cherney. [8] The tree spiking furor had brought larger than expected numbers of media representatives to the action, and they got a good look at Maxxam’s pillage and the Humboldt County sheriffs’ heavy handedness firsthand. One demonstrator was slightly injured when a pickup truck, driven by a disgruntled, unsympathetic P-L employee, attempted to storm the protesters at the logging gate. [9] A group of three women swarmed the log deck attempting to display huge banners there. [10] Although the sheriffs were anticipating the action and managed to arrest Agnes Mansfield, Aster Phillipa, and Karen Pickett [11], they were distracted long enough for Bettina Garsen, Tierra Diane Piaz, and “Sally Bell” [12] to ascend the log deck with banners conveying messages calling for a halt to old growth logging. [13] The sheriffs eventually arrested the second group, and all six arrestees each spent a night in the county jail. [14] Although the tree sit had been thwarted, the action turned out to be successful anyway, because P-L determined that it was in their short term interest not to haul any logs during the demonstration, and this nevertheless advanced Earth First!’s strategy beautifully. [15]

Towards an Ecological General Strike: the Earth Day to May Day Assembly and Days of Direct Action

By Elliot Hughes and Steve Ongerth - March 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.

We know that both the workers, the community, and the planet are exploited by the state and capitalist forces that rule over our lives, but now the ruling class is escalating that attack and we must come together to fight back or ourlivelihoods will be completely destroyed.

Recently the concentration of CO­2in the Earth’s atmosphere exceeded 400 ppm. Which greatly surpasses the 350 ppm that scientists argue is the limit to avoid run away climate change. As the capitalist class continues their “extreme energy” rampage including offshore oil drilling, tar sands mining, mountain removal, and fracking, a mass movement to oppose these forms of energy is rapidly growing and radicalizing. Recently, there has been an increased amount of oil spills, pipeline ruptures, oil train derailments, refinery fires, and chemical dumps. These disasters have not only destroyed the environment, but they have also injured and or killed the very workers whom the capitalists depend on to extract these “resources”.

The same capitalist economic system is destroying the Earth is destroying the lives of the workers. Some of their methods of class warfare include eroding health and safety standards, downsizing and outsourcing the workforce, establishing a “blame the worker” safety culture, and creating dangerous labor conditions all around. These same conditions that endanger the workers are also directly harming the communities around them, for example while the oil town communities develop cancers and asthma from air pollution, the workers often breath in a higher density of these toxins because they work in direct proximity with them.Yet, these same bosses through their use of propaganda are able to convince many of these exploited workers that environmentalists are their enemy and threaten their jobs. We must debunk this myth and come together to take direct action for health and safety and a halt to the destruction of our world.

My Environmentalism Will be Intersectional or it Will be Bullshit

By Adam Ramsey - Open Democracy, March 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.

There is no such thing as neutrality. If you are neutral in situations of oppression, you have chosen to side with the powerful. Desmond Tutu's mantra is a key tenet of my recently adopted trade – journalism. It is often uttered by activists in movements against injustice – a cry of those attempting to shake people out of passivity. In the world I live in at least, it has become a platitude.

Like all platitudes, it's easy to ignore. But to do so is risky. Whether it's class or gender or race or sexuality or disability or nationality or religion or age, our civilization is built on pyramids of oppression. If politics is the art of living together, then any conversation about politics, including environmental politics, is in part a conversation about people of unequal power living together, and so a conversation about injustice.

This doesn't mean that the injustice is always mentioned. Just as you can talk about the weather without referring to the climate, it's possible to discuss politics without talking about power. When detailing the intricacies of a technical issue, it's often easy to lay to one side the various pertinent inequalities. In individual conversations this can be fine. You can't be expected to always mention everything about an issue all at once.

But as rain becomes rivers, conversations become narratives. And as rivers shape the land, narratives shape our politics. If a national political conversation takes place without discussing power, then we are being silent in the face of injustice. We are siding with the powerful. For most of the environmental movement, the main influence we have is our contribution to the flow of public debate, so how we use it has to matter.

Talking about power in general isn't sufficient either. Because power is complex. Injustices are manifold. There is a word, coined by Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw which explains this: 'intersectionality'. “My feminism will be intersectional” Flavia Dzodan famously wrote “or it will be bullshit”. The point is that if you seek to attack one power structure but do so by treading on other oppressed groups, then you are still perpetuating oppression. This is an immoral thing to do. But if you believe that injustices stem from a system, and if you therefore wish to dismantle that system, then it is also strategically foolish. The person you just stood on should have been your key ally. We need to build links – intersections – between movements against all kinds of oppression. Our struggles are bound up together.

Chevron Buys Newspaper, Advertising To Push Dirty Energy

By Thor Benson - Vice.Com, March 27, 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.

Richmond is tucked into California’s western tricep, a former wine town with a population just over 100,000. Under the administration of Mayor Gayle McLaughlin, the town is the largest city in the United States with a Green Party mayor. It’s also an oil town—in 1901, Standard Oil set up a tank farm, choosing the location for its easy access to San Francisco Bay. Soon after, a western terminus of the Santa Fe Railroad was built in Richmond to handle the outflux of crude. Over the course of the 20th century, Standard Oil became the Standard Oil Company of California (SOCAL), and later, Chevron.

Throughout the 90s, the Richmond refinery was fined thousands of dollars for unsafe conditions, explosions, major fires, and chemical leaks, as the plant oozed chlorine and sulfur trioxide into Richmond’s atmosphere. In August of 2012, the Richmond refinery exploded after Chevron ignored the warning of corroding pipes from the local safety board. The disaster was linked to aging pipes, which were simply clamped instead of replaced altogether. Some 15,000 residents in the surrounding area were forced to seek medical treatment, and Chevron’s CEO, John Watson, got a $7.5 million dollar raise.

Now that some time has passed, Chevron has decided to modernize the refinery and has simultaneously sponsored the creation of the Richmond Standard, an online newspaper that is decidedly positive about anything the company does. The paper, whose name is a sly reference to the company that Chevron grew out of, covers minimally reported local stories on crime, public meetings, and sports. It also features a section called “Chevron Speaks,” which works as a place for the company to put forth its ideology. According to SF Gate, “the idea of the nation’s second-largest oil company funding a local news site harkens back to an era of journalism when business magnates often owned newspapers to promote their personal, financial, or political agendas. Now that mainstream newspapers are struggling to survive, online news sites are testing ways to fund their operations.”

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