Railroad Workers Unite In Chicago

By Kari Lydersen - www.inthesetimes.com, April 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.

Chicago is known as the place where the nation’s railroads meet. And last weekend, the city also became the meeting spot for about 40 of the country’s most progressive and activism-driven railroad union workers when it hosted the biennial conference of Railroad Workers United (RWU), an independent labor organization founded in 2008 that includes members of the major rail unions, Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and other labor groups. Their gathering dovetailed with the Labor Notes conference, which brings together activist trade unionists from around the world every two years.

Those converging in Chicago for the RWU conference included locomotive engineers, rail yard workers, people who build trains and employees of contractors that service locomotives. They represent a small wedge of activism and solidarity-building in an industry that, while crucial to the country’s economic well-being and one of the cleanest freight transport options, is also notorious for retaliation against workers who agitate for better conditions or speak out about injuries and safety hazards.

IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus on Terra Verde on Pacifica Radio KPFA 94.1 FM

Originally posted here - link

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.

Earth Day is around the corner and May Day is coming up too, so what better time to discuss the ways that the labor and environmental movements intersect. Tune in to hear from three organizers who are bringing together many kinds of workers around the Bay toward a new economy with environmental aims: Brooke Anderson of Movement Generation Justice and Ecology Project, Stephanie Hervey of the Sunflower Alliance and the Action Hub in Richmond, and Elliot Hughes of the Industrial Workers of the World’s Environmental Unionism Caucus.

MP3 Audio File

For more on the Earth Day to May Day assembly, visit - earthdaytomaydayassembly.org.

In Each Other we Trust: Coining Alternatives to Capitalism

By Jerome Roos - Roar Magazine, March 31, 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 God and state, it’s money that rules. Can we still imagine alternatives? And what role will recent innovations like Bitcoin play in the struggle?

One doesn’t need to subscribe to Gilles Deleuze’s somewhat obscurantist post-structuralism to recognize that the French philosopher made at least two extremely prescient observations. First, his hypothesis in the early 1990s that Foucault’s disciplinary society, with its schools, prisons and mental asylums, had ceased to be the paradigmatic mode of governmentality under neoliberalism and was instead giving way to a nascent “state of control.” And second, his related observation that in this emerging control society the money-form assumes renewed centrality within the reproduction of capitalist power relations. “Beyond the state,” Deleuze wrote, “it’s money that rules, money that communicates, and what we need these days isn’t a critique of Marxism, but a modern theory of money as good as Marx’s that goes on from where he left off.”

Interestingly, Deleuze tied these two observations together with the chains of debt, which he considered to be the “universal condition” of capitalist control. In his widely-cited Postscript of 1992, he wrote that “man is no longer man confined, but man in debt.” I was reminded of these prescient words when I attended the fascinating MoneyLab conference in Amsterdam last weekend. Organized by the Institute of Network Cultures, the event brought together a smattering of intellectual superstars like Saskia Sassen and Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, alongside a diverse and international group of scholars, artists, activists, hackers and heterodox economists, including past ROAR contributors Max Haiven and Brett Scott. The central aim of the groundbreaking interdisciplinary gathering was to explore “experiments with revenue models, payment systems and currencies against the backdrop of ongoing global economic decline.”

Whistleblower Exposes 'Big Black Snake'

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.

Whistleblower and activist John Bolenbaugh exposes dirty tricks, lies and cover-up of oil and pipeline companies. Former Enbridge employee fought with Enbridge over the clean-up of a 40 mile oil spill in the Kalamazoo River. After many false claims by Enbridge pipeline over the clean state of the river, this year the Environmental Protection Agency ordered the cleanup of the river three years after the initial spill.

Jolly Green NGOs vs Environmental Movements

By Peter Rugh - System Change not Climate Change, April 10, 2014 (used by permission)

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.

Jolly Green NGOs are mighty popular dudes. Their donation envelopes have been at your table for years, right next to your gas bill, asking you to feed them in exchange for a tee-shirt or a tote bag.

“Collectively,” Inside Climate News reports, they have “15 million members, 2,000-plus staffers and annual budgets of more than $525 million” in their jolly, green bellies.

But despite the widely acknowledged severity of the environmental crisis we face and the supposed-size of the environmental movement, how come we’ve seen, comparatively, so little action?

In physics, mass is a measure of inertia, yet historically we masses have shown ourselves to display a propensity for social change; from the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution in Russia all the way up to the toppling of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt in 2011. A mass environmental movement in the United States in the 1970s prompted Richard Nixon, one of the most reactionary presidents to ever occupy the White House, to create the Environmental Protection Agency — a pretty radical step at the time.

Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that the largest of our Jolly Green NGO’s are taking our Jolly Green Dollars and putting them towards lobbying politicians to pass miniscule legislative measures that don’t come close to addressing the radical change necessary to tackle the ecological emergency we’re in.

This Inside Climate info-graph sketches out who’s got the dough and where they’re spending it.

The Fight For Railway Safety & The Case Of IBT BLET BNSF Railroad Worker Jen Wallis

Jen Wallis, a railroad worker and member of IBT BLET Division 238, who works at the BNSF railroad in the state of Washington talks about her struggle for health and safety and the retaliation against her for reporting a personal injury. Wallis won a lawsuit against the railroad which is owned by Warren Buffet. This video was done on 4/5/2014 when conference of the Railroad Workers United RWU convention was taking place in conjunction with Labor Notes in Chicago.

Production Of Labor Video Project www.laborvideo.org

China: Mass Protests Challenge Polluters

By Alexander Reid Ross - Climate and Capitalism, April 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.

In spite of a media blackout, protests in the Chinese city of Maoming against a PX (paraxylene) plant have proceeded for the past week. Last Sunday, a thousand citizens took to the streets in protest, followed a few days later by 20,000 occupying the area around the government building. Pitched battles between brick-hurling protesters and baton-wielding police have led to dozens of injuries.[1] 

Protests have spread to other areas around the province of Guangdong, including Guangzhu and Shenzhen, where the 20 protesters who gathered were immediately hauled away by police.[2] The local government has proclaimed that it will not move forward with the project unless a social consensus is achieved, which indicates that the plant’s plans will be scuttled. As Chinese news site, Xinhua explains, the protests are a manifestation of “the quandary for a local government seeking a balance between development and stability.”[3]

This is not the first time that group events have struck Guangdong, among other provinces. In 2009, homeowners of Dongguan City began a protest campaign against a transformer substation and luxury business highrise. A few months later, hundreds protested a garbage incineration power plant in the village of Hujiang outside of Guangzhou City, leading to the project’s closure.

In 2011, hundreds of people from the town of Haimen in Guangdong occupied the government building, destroying the windows and office equipment in opposition to proposed power plants. Thousands then gathered at the toll station of the major local highway to gain control over crucial access points as 200 military police fired tear gas at them. Last year, ten thousand residents in the Ninshan District of Shenzhen City signed a petition against an LCD factory. The fight against PX today is a similar repetition of such past uprisings, but it bears deeper meanings when put in current context.[4]

South Africa’s Resource Curses and Growing Social Resistance

By Patrick Bond - Monthly Review, April 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 African National Congress (ANC), led during the 1990s by the late Nelson Mandela, is projected to be reelected in South Africa’s May 7, 2014 national election by a wide margin, probably with between 50 and 60 percent of the vote. But underneath the ruling party’s apparent popularity, the society is seething with fury, partly at the mismanagement of vast mineral wealth. The political and economic rulers’ increasingly venal policies and practices are so bad that not only did ANC elites play a direct role in massacring striking mineworkers in August 2012, but corporate South Africa was soon rated by PriceWaterhouseCoopers as “world leader in money-laundering, bribery and corruption, procurement fraud, asset misappropriation and cybercrime,” with internal management responsible for more than three quarters of what was termed “mind-boggling” levels of theft.

With such degeneration from above, the country’s impotent socialist left was pleasantly surprised last December when the largest union in Africa, the 342,000-strong National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (“Numsa”) split away from the ANC. Numsa pledged to organize mineworkers and any other disgruntled workers, and steadily to reconstruct a new South African left from below, including radical social movements once derided as “ultraleft” (because from the early 2000s they had already broken with the ANC). The “Numsa Moment”—which I think can be contrasted to some local trade unionists’ “Lula Moment” advocacy, akin to Brazilian labor corporatism—is of enormous importance, especially if it leads to a “united front approach” and the “movement towards socialism” as promised in Numsa’s “Breaking New Ground” congress of 1,300 shop stewards, just a week after Mandela’s death. However, up against such a strong and prestigious national liberation movement, whose most famous leader stayed in the ANC until the end of his life, Numsa and its new allies are not yet contesting power in the next election. They must work hard on local alliance-building, and the underlying socioeconomic conditions must continue to deteriorate, if Numsa is to rekindle the confidence of older revolutionaries and create a new generation of activists.

Read the entire article here.

Ecology, Ethics, Anarchism: In Conversation with Noam Chomsky (Updated with Transcript!)

By Javier S. Castro - Notes Towards an International Libertarian Socialism, March 31, 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.

This is a video of my interview with Noam Chomsky that took place at his office at MIT on Friday, 28 March 2014.  We discussed the place of anarchism and anarcho-syndicalism vis-à-vis the profound and ever-worsening environmental and climatic crises today.  Specifically, we conversed about Immanuel Kant, the Enlightenment, participatory economics (Parecon), indigenous struggle, the commons, direct action, really existing capitalist democracy (RECD), vegetarianism and veganism, conservatism, democracy, and reform vs. revolution.

Transcript courtesy of truthout.org - used by permission

There can be little doubt about the centrality and severity of the environmental crisis in the present day. Driven by the mindless "grow-or-die" imperative of capitalism, humanity's destruction of the biosphere has reached and even surpassed various critical thresholds, whether in terms of carbon emissions, biodiversity loss, ocean acidification, freshwater depletion, or chemical pollution. Extreme weather events can be seen pummeling the globe, from the Philippines - devastated by Typhoon Haiyan in November of last year - to California, which is presently suffering from the worst drought in centuries. As Nafeez Ahmed has shown, a recently published study funded in part by NASA warns of impending civilizational collapse without radical changes to address social inequality and overconsumption. Truthout's own Dahr Jamail has written a number of critical pieces lately that have documented the profundity of the current trajectory toward anthropogenic climate disruption (ACD) and global ecocide: In a telling metaphor, he likens the increasingly mad weather patterns brought about by ACD to an electrocardiogram of a "heart in defibrillation."

Rather than conclude that such distressing trends follow intrinsically from an "aggressive" and "sociopathic" human nature, reasonable observers should likely associate the outgrowth of these tendencies with the dominance of the capitalist system, for, as Oxfam noted in a January 2014 report, the richest 85 individuals in the world possess as much wealth as a whole half of humanity - the 3.5 billion poorest people - while just 90 corporations have been responsible for a full two-thirds of the carbon emissions generated since the onset of industrialism. As these staggering statistics show, then, the ecological and climatic crises correspond to the extreme concentration of power and wealth produced by capitalism and upheld by the world's governments. As a counter-move to these realities, the political philosophy of anarchism - which opposes the rule of both state and capital - may hold a great deal of promise for ameliorating and perhaps even overturning these trends toward destruction. Apropos, I had the great good fortune recently to interview Professor Noam Chomsky, renowned anarcho-syndicalist, to discuss the question of ecological crisis and anarchism as a remedy. Following is a transcript of our conversation.

JAVIER SETHNESS FOR TRUTHOUT: Professor Chomsky, thank you so kindly for taking the time today to converse with me about ecology and anarchism. It is a true honor to have this opportunity to speak with you. Before we pass to these subjects, though, I would like to ask you initially about ethics and solidarity. Would you say that Immanuel Kant's notion of treating humanity as an end in itself has influenced anarchist and anti-authoritarian thought in any way? The concept of natural law arguably has a "natural" affinity with anarchism.

NOAM CHOMSKY: Indirectly, but I think it's actually more general. My own view is that anarchism flows quite naturally out of major concerns and commitments of the Enlightenment, which found an expression in classical liberalism, and classical liberalism essentially was destroyed by the rise of capitalism - it's inconsistent with it. But anarchism, I think, is the inheritor of the ideals that were developed in one or another form during the Enlightenment - Kant's expression is one example - exemplified in a particular way in classical liberal doctrine, wrecked on the shoals of capitalism, and picked up by the libertarian left movements, which are the natural inheritors of them. So in that sense, yes, but it's broader.

You have described humanity as being imperiled by the destructive trends on hand in capitalist society - or what you have termed "really existing capitalist democracies" (RECD). Particularly of late, you have emphasized the brutally anti-ecological trends being implemented by the dominant powers of settler-colonial societies, as reflected in the tar sands of Canada, Australia's massive exploitation and export of coal resources, and, of course, the immense energy profligacy of this country. You certainly have a point, and I share your concerns, as I detail in Imperiled Life: Revolution against Climate Catastrophe, a book that frames the climate crisis as the outgrowth of capitalism and the domination of nature generally understood. Please explain how you see RECD as profoundly at odds with ecological balance.

RECD - not accidentally, pronounced "wrecked" - is really existing capitalist democracy, really a kind of state capitalism, with a powerful state component in the economy, but with some reliance on market forces. The market forces that exist are shaped and distorted in the interests of the powerful - by state power, which is heavily under the control of concentrations of private power - so there's close interaction. Well, if you take a look at markets, they are a recipe for suicide. Period. In market systems, you don't take account of what economists call externalities. So say you sell me a car. In a market system, we're supposed to look after our own interests, so I make the best deal I can for me; you make the best deal you can for you. We do not take into account the effect on him. That's not part of a market transaction. Well, there is an effect on him: there's another car on the road; there's a greater possibility of accidents; there's more pollution; there's more traffic jams. For him individually, it might be a slight increase, but this is extended over the whole population. Now, when you get to other kinds of transactions, the externalities get much larger. So take the financial crisis. One of the reasons for it is that - there are several, but one is - say if Goldman Sachs makes a risky transaction, they - if they're paying attention - cover their own potential losses. They do not take into account what's called systemic risk, that is, the possibility that the whole system will crash if one of their risky transactions goes bad. That just about happened with AIG, the huge insurance company. They were involved in risky transactions which they couldn't cover. The whole system was really going to collapse, but of course state power intervened to rescue them. The task of the state is to rescue the rich and the powerful and to protect them, and if that violates market principles, okay, we don't care about market principles. The market principles are essentially for the poor. But systemic risk is an externality that's not considered, which would take down the system repeatedly, if you didn't have state power intervening. Well there's another one, that's even bigger - that's destruction of the environment. Destruction of the environment is an externality: in market interactions, you don't pay attention to it. So take tar sands. If you're a major energy corporation and you can make profit out of exploiting tar sands, you simply do not take into account the fact that your grandchildren may not have a possibility of survival - that's an externality. And in the moral calculus of capitalism, greater profits in the next quarter outweigh the fate of your grandchildren - and of course it's not your grandchildren, but everyone's.

IBEW Wildcat Honors Picket-Line in Solidarity with UAW Strike at UC Berkeley

By General Strike - Indybay.org, April 3, 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 Wednesday, April 2nd, UAW Local 2865 went on strike across the University of California system. The strike was called by Teachers Assistants and in part, shut down classes across the state. On the first day of the strike in Santa Cruz on April 2nd, 20 strikers were arrested and on the next day, two more were also arrested by police. According to a post on indybay.org by Alex Darocy, “[UC Santa Cruz strikers] successfully blocked the main entrance for the whole day, but the attempt to block the west entrance of campus was prevented when a large group of UC police arrested 20 people.” Student workers are striking against intimidation by management and police as well as over wages and class room sizes. According to a post by strikers:

“[We are striking over the] university’s unwillingness to bargain over key aspects of our employment, including class size and the length of our workweek. Also at issue is the university’s history of illegal intimidation of student workers. For example, this past November, an administrator at UCLA threatened overseas students with the loss of their visas for participating in a sympathy strike—a claim as insulting as it was untrue.”

In Berkeley, at 6:30 AM one strike supporter with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) bay area branch went to picket the construction site of Campbell Hall (located on the UC Berkeley campus). After about ten minutes, construction workers who came across the picket line approached the IWW member and decided to respect the picket line. 15-20 workers with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) decided to leave work in an act of solidarity with striking UAW workers. Also, while the picket line was set up, all laborers on the work site conducted a work stoppage.

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