Workers are Disposable in the Fracking Industry

By Walter Brasch - Dandelion Salad, March 9, 2014

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

The oil and gas industry, the nation’s chambers of commerce, and politicians who are dependent upon campaign contributions from the industry and the chambers, claim fracking is safe.

First, close your mind to the myriad scientific studies that show the health effects from fracking.

Close your mind to the well-documented evidence of the environmental impact.

Focus just upon the effects upon the workers.

The oil and gas industry has a fatality rate seven times higher than for all other workers, according to data released by the Centers for Disease Control. (CDC). According to the CDC, the death rate in the oil and gas industry is 27.1; the U.S. collective death rate is 3.8.

“Job gains in oil and gas construction have come with more fatalities, and that is unacceptable,” said John E. Perez, secretary of labor.

Not included in the data, because it doesn’t include the past three years, when the oil/gas industry significantly increased fracking in the Marcellus and other shales, is a 27-year-old worker who was cremated in a gas well explosion in late February in Greene County, Pa. One other worker was injured. Because of extensive heat and fire, emergency management officials couldn’t get closer than 1,500 feet of the wells. Pennsylvania’s Act 13, largely written by the oil and gas industry, allows only a 300 foot set-back from wells to homes. In Greene County, it took more than a week to cap three wells on the pad where the explosion occurred.

The gas drilling industry, for the most part, is non-union or dependent upon independent contractors who often provide little or no benefits to their workers. The billion dollar corporations like it that way. That means there are no worker safety committees and no workplace regulations monitored by workers. The workers have no bargaining or grievance rights; health and workplace benefits for workers who aren’t executives or professionals are often minimal or non-existent.

The Myths of “Green Capitalism”

By Brian Tokar - New Politics, early 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.

Greenwashing and the Bloombergification of the Globe’s Cities

By Peter Rugh, - System Change not Climate Change, March 5, 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.

Have you ever been caught tapping a friend’s phone calls? Called out for the exploitive maltreatment your employees? Are you a multi-billionaire prone to going through the pockets of black youth in the hopes of finding marijuana?

Consider talking about your concern for the environment, particularly the effects of climate change. Leading governments, corporations, and political figures under fire for civil and human rights violations are giving it a whirl.

Greening Injustice

After the New York Times, via documents provided by former security contractor Edward Snowden, revealed on February 16 that the NSA had spied on Indonesia and U.S. attorneys representing the nation, Secretary of State John Kerry found himself in a tough spot. He was visiting Indonesia at the time. What did he say when he took the podium in Jakarta? He warned the country about climate change.

“President Obama and I believe very deeply that we do not have time for a meeting anywhere of the Flat Earth Society,” Kerry told the press.

Never mind that the U.S. outranks Indonesia in greenhouse emissions or, that the State Department issued a bogus report claiming that the fuel fuel intense Keystone XL pipeline will have significant impact on U.S. greenhouse gas output. Forget that the U.S. has fought against reparation initiatives that would see historically high emitters in the West providing poorer nations like Indonesia with funds to move off fossil fuels. 

Brazil: Assessment After 6th MST Congress

By Itelvina Massioli - Radio Mundo Real, February 20, 2014

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

A two-and-a-half year process of work which resulted in a meeting with several thousand Brazilian peasants; “a process that didn’t start now, and that won´t end here,” said Itelvina Massioli, national leader of the peoples´ struggle for land, agrarian reform and food sovereignty, in interview with Real World Radio after the 6th Congress of the Landless Rural Workers Movement (MST).

During the interview, the leader stated that this congress “managed to mark the beginning of a new stage in our struggle for land and our class struggle in general.”  “The balance is very, very positive”, said Itelvina.

An increasingly important role for women

In the past years, the feminist agenda, specifically peasant and popular feminism, has been strongly established within Latin American peasant movements. This has come hand in hand with peasant women taking on more political roles. “We can speak of an advance in the political prominence of landless women in the building of the movement of the past 30 years, but especially on the political struggle, on the struggle for land and agrarian reform,” said the leader.

On the congress, Itelvina said that their participation was not limited to a matter of numbers: “We ensured strong participation by women from all states, not just in terms of percentages. We led the process and the development of the congress, where many of our women friends intervened at the different tables and moments of our congress”.

Who's Afraid of Ruins?

Out of the Woods - libcom.org, February 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.

Capitalism is locking-in climate change for centuries, but in the process, making radical social change more realistic than tinkering around the edges.

I : Ruins

There is an oft-quoted passage from the Spanish anarchist militant Buenaventura Durruti. Many readers will know it by heart. It reads:

It is we who built these palaces and cities, here in Spain and in America and everywhere. We, the workers. We can build others to take their place. And better ones! We are not in the least afraid of ruins. We are going to inherit the earth. There is not the slightest doubt about that. The bourgeoisie might blast and ruin its own world before it leaves the stage of history. We carry a new world here, in our hearts. [...] That world is growing in this minute.

Durruti's quote brims with the optimism of a social revolution in full-flow. The insurgent proletariat and peasantry had met an attempted military coup in the streets, and in response launched a profound social revolution. Land and workplaces were seized and reorganised along collectivised lines, moving as fast as possible towards libertarian communism.

Three months later, Durruti was dead. The revolution was not far behind. Starved of arms and isolated, the movement stalled. Uneasy collaboration with the republican forces put the revolution on hold. Stalinism and the remnants of the republican state put it into reverse. And with the revolution dead and nothing left to fight for, Franco's forces swept the remnants into prisons and mass graves. Durruti's optimism gave way to fascism, and the unparalleled destruction of the Second World War.

Eight years, seven months, and twenty-six days after Durruti's death, the ruins got a lot scarier. The Trinity test, the world's first atomic bomb, exploded with a yield of 20 kilotons in the desert of New Mexico. Soon after, the Japanese cities of Hiroshima, then Nagasaki, were reduced to ruins in an instant. The mass destruction of World War II could now be visited on cities in a single warhead. The spectre of mutually assured destruction would dominate the remainder of the twentieth century, as warhead yields grew and delivery mechanisms proliferated, with long-range jet bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched nuclear weapons.

From D.C. to Connecticut, Obama Met with Keystone Pipeline Protests

By Dan Fischer - Capitalism Vs the Climate, March 7, 2014

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

This past week [March 1-7, 2014], Connecticut residents and students traveled as far as Washington DC and as close as New Britain to protest the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline would carry leak-prone tar sands oil from Canada into the US. Both demonstrations targeted President Obama, who has the legal authority to block the pipeline. Although Obama campaigned on promises of climate protection, his repeated embrace of fossil fuel infrastructure recently led Business Week to deem him president of “The Petro States of America.”

On Sunday March 2, students from over 80 colleges met in Washington DC and marched to the White House in a demonstration called “XL Dissent”. At the White House, many took part in a “human oil spill” and locked themselves to the gates. Police arrested some 398 people. Democracy Now! reporter Amy Goodman commented the protest “could be the largest youth sit-in on the environment in a generation.” Several Connecticut students and residents participated.

Being a Woman Organizer isn’t Easy

By Luz Sierra - Industrial Worker, March 14, 2014

The following article is written by Miami IWW member, Luz Sierra. In this piece she shares her tribulations of facing gender expectations in her family while trying to develop as an organizer.  She provides an outlook of her family  background,  her experience with women in Miami, and personal dilemmas fighting against gender oppression.  It is an amazing piece that leaves a hopeful note for women organizers everywhere.  In honor of Women’s History Month we share you this piece and encourage everyone to read it.

This past year I became politically active. I went from being completely unaware of the existence of radical politics to doing organizing work in Miami with an anarchist perspective. It has been both a rewarding and difficult journey, yet gender seems to haunt me wherever I go. I am probably not the first woman to experience this, but I believe that I should demonstrate how this is a real issue and provide my personal insight for other women to have a reference point for their own struggles.

Being raised by Nicaraguan parents and growing up in Miami’s Latin community, I have firsthand experience with the sexist culture in South Florida. Many families that migrated from South and Central America and the Caribbean arrived to the United States carrying traditions from the 1970s and 1980s. Daughters are raised by women who were taught that their goal in life is to be an obedient wife and to devote their time to raising children and making their husbands happy. Latin women are supposed to be modest, self-reserved, have the ability to fulfill domestic roles and be overall submissive. Some Hispanic families might not follow this social construction, but there are still a large number of them who insert this moral into their households. For instance, this social construct is apparent in the previous three generations of my father’s and mother’s families. My great grandmothers, grandmothers, mother and aunts never completed their education and spend the majority of their life taking care of their husbands and children. Meanwhile, various male members of my current and extended family had the opportunity to finish their education, some even received college degrees, and went on to become dominant figures in their households. The male family members also had the chance to do as they pleased for they left all household and childcare responsibilities to their wives. As the cycle continued, my mother and grandmothers attempted to socialize me to fulfill my expected female role. I was taught not to engage in masculine activities such as sports, academia, politics, and other fields where men are present. Unfortunately for them, I refused to obey their standards of femininity. I have played sports since I was 10 years old; I grew a deep interest in history, sociology and political science; and I am currently part of three political projects. Such behavior has frustrated my parents to the point that I am insulted daily. My mother will claim that I am manly, selfish for devoting more time to organizing and promiscuous because the political groups I am involved with consist mostly of men. My father will state that I am senseless for wasting my time in politics and should devote more time in preparing myself to become a decent wife and mother.

RWU Resolution in Support of Limits to Long & Heavy Trains

Adopted by the RWU Steering Committee February 4th, 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.

Whereas, the North American rail carriers continue to run longer and heavier trains each year, and have expressed their desire to run even longer trains in the future; and
 
Whereas, the  last year has witnessed a number of long and heavy train wrecks, resulting in a loss of life and property, wholesale evacuations, injured train crews and environmental devastation; and
 
Whereas, the rail carriers have a professed interest in operating such long and heavy trains as a way to perceived savings on fuel costs, motive power and labor costs; and
 
Whereas, rather than face the reality of the situation, the rail carriers and law makers choose to focus on irrelevant issues like inward facing cameras; and
 
Whereas, such overly long and heavy trains create a dangerous and unsafe situation for a number of reasons:
 

  • 1 -- the longer and heavier the train, the more difficult it is and the more time it takes to slow or to stop such a train;
  • 2 -- the longer and heavier the train, the more slack action is in the train, increasing run-ins and run-outs, increasing the potential for break-in-twos, emergency brake applications and derailments;
  • 3 -- the longer and heavier the train, the more severe the train wreck if and when such a train does derail;
  • 4 -- the longer and heavier the train, the more difficult it is for the train crew to safely run, inspect, work, test, and otherwise get such a train over the road.
  • 5 -- such trains tend to make for longer tours-of-duty for train crews, resulting in fatigue, more time at the away-from-home terminal, and a lower quality of work and home life;
  • 6 – such trains are more likely to have air brake problems, especially in cold weather;
  • 7 -- the longer and heavier the train, the greater likelihood of blocked road and pedestrian crossings, creating a best an inconvenience to the public and at worst an inability to provide emergency services when needed;
  • 8 -- these blocked crossing in effect “train” motorists and the public to “run the gates” to avoid being blocked for long periods, resulting in grade crossing accidents and fatalities.

 
Therefore, Be it Resolved that Railroad Workers United opposes any expansion of the current length and tonnage of existing trains; and
 
Be it Further Resolved that RWU supports a reduction in length and tonnage of already existing trains, especially those hauling hazardous materials, traversing steep grades and /or cold temperatures; and
 
Be it Finally Resolved that RWU urge the unions in the U.S., Canada and Mexico to further these ends legislatively and/or contractually.

Crying for Lec Megantic… and Learning the Lessons

By John Reimann - Oakland Socialist, February 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.

On February 24, Marilaine Savard, from Lac Megantic Canada gave a presentation in Pittsburg, CA, on the train tanker car explosion that rocked that little town last July, killing 47 people (it would have been far more if it had been later in the morning) and destroying most of downtown. The explosion was of Bakken crude oil, the most explosive oil being pumped nowadays. The Obama administration has ordered “emergency safety rules” for transporting Bakken crude. Those rules are merely that the oil has to be pre-tested for explosiveness. That means absolutely nothing, and even if they did impose more rules, they will not be enforced, if simply by underfunding so there aren’t enough inspectors (a very common trick). From the well head to the refinery and all along the way, fracking is deadly. And that doesn’t even include how it adds to global climate disaster – global warming.

Here is a video of  Marlaine’s presentation:

Against Kamikaze Capitalism: Oil, Climate Change and the French refinery blockades

By David Graeber - Originally posted at Libcom.org, September 16, 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 Saturday, 16th October 2010, some 500 activists gathered at convergence points across London, knowing only that they were about to embark on a direct action called Crude Awakening, aimed against the ecological devastation of the global oil industry, but with no clear idea of what they were about to do. The plan was quite a clever one. Organizers had dropped hints they were intending to hit targets in London itself, but instead, participants—who had been told only to bring full-charged metro cards, lunch, and outdoor clothing—were led in brigades to a commuter train for Essex. At one stop, bags full of white chemical jumpsuits marked with skeletons and dollars, gear, and lock-boxes mysteriously appeared; shortly thereafter, hastily appointed spokespeople in each carriage received word of the day’s real plan: to blockade the access road to the giant Coryton refinery near Stanford-le-Hope – the road over which 80% of all oil consumed in London flows. An affinity group of about a dozen women were already locked down to vans near the refinery’s gate and had turned back several tankers; we were going to make it impossible for the police to overwhelm and arrest them.

It was an ingenious feint, and brilliantly effective. Before long we were streaming across fields carrying thirteen giant bamboo tripods, confused metropolitan police in tow. Hastily assembled squads of local cops first seemed intent on provoking a violent confrontation—seizing one of our tripods, attempting to break our lines when we began to set them up on the highway—but the moment it became clear that we were not going to yield, and batons would have to be employed, someone must have given an order to pull back. We can only speculate about what mysterious algorithm the higher-ups apply in such situations like that —our numbers, their numbers, the danger of embarrassing publicity, the larger political climate—but the result was to hand us the field; our tripods stood, a relief party backed up the original lockdown; and no further tankers moved over the access road—a road that on an average day carries some seven hundred tankers, hauling 375,000 gallons of oil—for the next five hours. Instead, the access road became a party: with music, clowns, footballs, local kids on bicycles, a chorus line of Victorian zombie stilt-dancers, yarn webs, chalk poems, periodic little spokescouncils—mainly, to decide at exactly what point we would declare victory and leave.

It was nice to win one for a change. Facing a world where security forces—from Minneapolis to Strasbourg—seem to have settled on an intentional strategy of trying to ensure, as a matter of principle, that no activist should ever leave the field of a major confrontation with a sense of elation or accomplishment (and often, that as many as possible should leave profoundly traumatized), a clear tactical victory is nothing to sneeze at. But at the same time, there was a certain ominous feel to the whole affair: one which made the overall aesthetic, with its mad scientist frocks and animated corpses, oddly appropriate.

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