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Hoffa Ally, Rome Aloise Facing Charges. Organized Labor's Rank and File Must Clean House

By Richard Mellor - Facts for Working People, February 15, 2016

In October 2104, supporters of this blog spent time on the picket lines at Waste Management, the company that handles refuse from Oakland and parts of San Leandro. The strikers were mostly the low paid sorters, sorting through trash every day for $12 an hour. They were mostly Latino, members of ILWU Local 6.

The truck drivers at waste Management are in the Teamsters union, but due to the usual pissing contests that take place between different sections of the labor hierarchy the drivers, whose job is crucial to the operation of the company, drove through the picket lines. As the drivers drove in to the plant we could see by the expressions on their faces that they didn’t like doing it. It goes against the grain for any class conscious worker to do such a thing, help the bosses’ break a strike.

What was even more sickening were the Teamster officials, alongside the bosses ushering their members in, making sure they weren’t impeded. In other words, they took action that helped undermine the strike, increased the suffering of the workers on the lines and increased the chance of a victory for the multi-millionaires that profit from the waste business. According to PR Watch,Waste Management's top executives combined made $119,201,381 from 2006 to 2012.

I approached one driver who had his window open and asked him how he felt about crossing the lines: "I don't like it but our leadership says we have to.", he replied.  He drove through and I turned and asked the striker for a copy of the leaflet they ere handing out appealing for help and solidarity..  The Teamster official then came scurrying over and told me to "Stop harassing my drivers, if you want to harass anyone harass me." As if he cares about his drivers.

As if being on strike isn’t bad enough and having the overpaid officials of a potentially powerful union ally act as strikebreakers by telling their members to work across a picket line, top union officials were busy attacking the striking workers in the media. Rome Aloise, who is a VP of the Teamster Joint Council 7, a Teamster International Vice President and also an official in Local 853 that represents the drivers at Waste Management, told the Mercury News that the fight against Waste Management is “unrealistic” and that the workers were just “pawns” of the ILWU leadership and that the campaign for these workers , “…is based on a promise that cannot be met and is designed to create false hopes for the workers.”

Aloise was joined in the public offensive against these $12 an hour workers who sort through garbage 8 or ten hours a day, by Don Crossato, an official with Machinists union probably on over $100,000 a year, and Felix Martinez, of Teamsters local 70. They both agreed that what the workers were asking was “unrealistic” with Crossato claiming the differences didn’t “warrant a strike”. The workers were asking for a raise from $12 to $20. 

Rome Aloise made $346,722 in salaries and allowances in 2014 according to the Teamster for a Democratic Union that’s beside all the other perks like double pensions. Aloise, the strikebreaker and union bureaucrat is now in hot water as the members of an Independent Review Board have recommended to the IBT General Executive Board that he be brought up on charges for “requesting and receiving things of value from IBT employers..” and among other things “entering in to sham collective bargaining agreements with the GrandFund” and interfering in union elections.

The reality is that pretty much all union contracts are “sham”, contracts in the sense that the entire labor leadership from the AFL-CIO on down has thrown in the towel when it comes to fighting the bosses; they don’t have to openly act criminally in the sense that they break the law. They simply refuse to fight and hold back any rank and file movement from below that challenges the relationship they have built with the bosses’ based on labor peace.They don’t even pretend any more. They openly call for concessions and that their own members must sacrifice in order to help the employers out. This entire strategy flows form the dominant philosophy in the trade union movement today, the Team Concept. This manifests in many forms, Labor/Management partnerships, Focus Groups, Quality of Life Circles, Interest Based bargaining etc. The union hierarchy practices this Team Concept strategy on the job in the form of cooperation with the boss and in the political arena through their association with the Democratic Party acting as agents of this major capitalist party in the workers’ organizations.

The likes of Aloise and others who suck the life blood out of the labor movement betray their members, and live high on the hog at their members’ expense are the lowest type of human being. To betray workers, to side with the forces of capital against labor, to use the workers' organization for one’s own advancement, is criminal.

None of us are exempt from such betrayals. Many a rank and file member has entered the leadership with good intentions but ended up betraying those they claimed to fight for. Many others simply quit. Any individual or group that offers themselves as an alternative to the present ideologically bankrupt leadership must unequivocally reject and abandon the Team Concept on the job and in politics through the Democratic Party. They must openly campaign against the present leaders' concessionary policies.

Rank and file caucuses based on a program that demands and fights for what workers and our communities need rather than what’s acceptable to the bosses, or “realistic” to them and the Democrats must be built from the ground up. They should be built in the workplaces, offices, and construction sites where we work and meet every day and link up with the communities in which we live and work. Rank and file committees can and must look toward the unorganized and link up with the unemployed, the student movement and the myriad of movements that have sprung up throughout the country from Flint to the urban ghettos, the movement against police brutality and mass incarceration, disproportionally people of color, the rural communities and increasingly the suburbs. Small (community business) can also be an ally of labor if approached correctly. The offensive of the 1% will not cease and will in fact intensify as a disastrous US foreign policy and the cost of it in terms of human life and money will be laid on the shoulders of workers and the middle class. It is in the workplace where out power lies, our ability to stop the machine form running, to halt profit taking and organized workers have many allies but we have to use this power in conjunction and in solidarity with other social movements.

Rome Aloise is not alone, there is this type of blatant corruption within organized labor but the main problem is not crass criminal activity, it is that the heads of organized labor are ideologically bankrupt. They worship the market, they idolize profits, they have the same world-view as the 1%.

Were there a genuine militant rank and file caucus in that local, the drivers that objected to scabbing on their co-workers at Waste Management would have had somewhere to turn, they would have had it before it happened. This is the task facing the rank and file dues payer, ridding ourselves of the present leadership of our organizations. But it has to come from below; no one will do it for us. The time for whining has long gone.

Railroad Workers Fight Proposed Job Consolidation

By Jon Flanders - CounterPunch, October 13, 2015

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.

With the unprecedented scrutiny freight railroads are now under due to oil train wrecks, and with record profits on the books, you would think that the major carriers would be unusually solicitous of their mechanical maintenance workforce, the people that are the doctors in the shop “hospitals” that treat the defects of locomotives. But you would be wrong.

One leading class 1 carrier, CSX, is demanding unprecedented changes in the working agreement of its
machinists and pipefitters, changes that could potentially turn the lives of these workers upside down. A “Master Mechanic” tentative agreement (TA) is currently being discussed in its locomotive shops.

In a promotional press release a CSX spokesman said: “This agreement is part of CSX’s focus on promoting a flexible workforce to meet changing business demands, and developing opportunities to retain and support our highly skilled workforce,” said Cressie Brown, vice president-labor relations, CSX.

The CSX press release quoted the head of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) District 19 in support of the agreement. “This tentative agreement provides new options for CSX employees, giving them more control of their careers, by expanding on the efficiencies gained from our previous partnership at Huntington, West Virginia while providing CSX with the tools they need to have the most efficient locomotive maintenance team in the industry,” said Jeff Doerr, IAM President and Directing General Chairman.

The Huntington “partnership” saw machinists and pipefitters foregoing former job descriptions in return for keeping locomotive rebuilding from outsourcing. There was no merging of union representation however, a “ratio” of machinists to pipefitters assured the two unions of their dues. The same ratio deal goes along with the proposed tentative agreement. So for example perhaps 85 percent of the jobs going forward would be machinists, 15 percent pipefitters.

Threatening major layoffs if the machinists and pipefitters, members of the International Association of Machinists(IAM) and the the Sheet Metal Workers’ International Association (SMART) fail to ratify it, CSX is pulling out all the stops to see the TA passed.

Strawberry Jam

By Frank Bardacke - Stansbury Forum, August 12, 2015

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 April, 1993 Cesar Chavez died. In October, 1995, John Sweeney became the President of the AFL-CIO. Although the Arturo Rodriguez-led UFW was a minor supporter of Sweeney at the convention that elected him, nothing connected Cesar’s death to Sweeney’s election. But without the conjunction of those two events, there would have been no UFW/AFL-CIO strawberry campaign. Its very existence was rooted in happenstance. That should not surprise anyone interested in politics. Machiavelli claimed that half of politics was luck, or as he called it, fortuna. In the case of the strawberry campaign, at first it seemed like good luck, but by the end, for those who hoped for UFW and AFL-CIO renewal, it was surely bad.

In her eulogy at Cesar’s funeral, Dolores Huerta declared that Cesar died so that the UFW might live. It is a dubious claim—there is no indication of a Chavez suicide—but her meaning was not lost on many of the mourners. Under Cesar’s direction, the UFW had backed off organizing farm workers in the late 1970s and early 1980s, had lost most of its contracts by the mid-80s, and was, at the time of his death, no longer a force in the fields but rather a cross between a farm worker advocacy group and a mid-sized family business. As long as Chavez was alive that was not likely to change. Once he was gone, the UFW was free to make an effort to get back in the fields again.

They began, as they had to, by trying to improve their reputation among undocumented workers. Originally a union of mostly Mexican-American grape pickers, they had officially opposed “illegals” in the fields before 1975, championing the use of the Border Patrol against them and even setting up their own patrol on the Arizona border for a few months in 1974. That policy changed in 1975 with the passage of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act (ALRA), which made all farm workers, including the undocumented, eligible to vote in farm worker elections. But the changed policy never completely undid the original damage, and since the leadership of the union in the early 1990s continued to be Mexican-American and there were, by then, few Mexican farm workers left in the union, the UFW was considered by many farm workers, a “pocho” (slang used by Mexicans to describe Mexican-Americans) organization.

Thus, the UFW’s first step back into the fields was to take a leadership role against Proposition 187, the 1994 California initiative that denied State benefits to the undocumented and their children. Having made their new sympathy for the undocumented clear, the union won a new contract in the Central Valley roses, fought a victorious campaign in the mushrooms, and even signed a vegetable contract with their old nemesis, Bruce Church Inc. (although on close inspection the contract seemed to cover only a small percentage of Bruce Church workers). In 1995, the UFW leadership was lathered up, in the starting gate, and ready to race.

John Sweeney was also ready to go. Having won the AFL-CIO presidency with a rousing pledge to replace the conservative ways of the old bureaucracy with a new aggressive campaign to organize the unorganized, he was looking for an easy early victory. The UFW seemed to promise one. Relying on Rodriguez’s account of UFW popularity in the fields, and with no alternative assessment available, he went all in, put other organizing on hold, and committed his troops to what promised to be an opening victory for the New Voice coalition. As Gilbert Mireles, author of a pretty good (but also the only) book on the campaign, puts it: “It was almost inconceivable [to the strategists at the top] that workers would not be in favor of the union.”

Stop Retaliation & Hanging Noose Incidents: Defend Recology IBT 350 Member Daryl Washington

By Steve Zeltser - Labor Video Project, July 27, 2015

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.

San Francisco Recology company has retaliated against IBT 350 member Daryl Washington who reported on a "San Francisco Recology company has retaliated against IBT 350 member Daryl Washington who reported on a "hanging noose" incident at the company in 2013.

The company discriminated against him and sought to buy his silence with a bribe. Speakers pointed out that workplace bullying is a growing issue in the workplace including many other locations.

This rally/press conference which took place on July 27, 2015 was endorsed by United Public Workers For Action, Stop Workplace Bullying Group, and Transport Workers Solidarity Committee.

Additional video - http://youtu.be/g5PBHHR2m38
Production of Labor Video Project

SF Rally/Press Conference Against Racist Hanging Noose At SF Recology

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.

Enough Is Enough! - Stop Racist Noose Incidents & Workplace Bullying At SF Recology

Monday July 27, 2015 12:00 Noon
Recology Company 501 Tunnel Avenue, SF

Daryle Washington, an IBT 350 member and worker at the Recology Company in San Francisco  has faced a hanging noose and other racist attacks at the Recology Company. For speaking up against these assaults Washington faced retaliation and workplace  bullying  when he blew the whistle on these racist incidents against him and other workers at the facility.
We call for Recology to immediately take action to stop these incidents and end the retaliation against Daryle Washington.

Other workers and trade unionists will be speaking out against the continuing hanging noose incidents and also the epidemic of workplace bullying.

Sponsored by

For information contact info [at] upwa.info | (415)282-1908

Background Information

Endorsed by Michelle Smith, Bully Free Workplace, Derrick Boutte, James Charas, Harold Fong, Brenda Barros, Daz Lamparas, Carrie Clark

“If It Isn’t Rank and File, It Isn’t Anarchist”

By Anarchist Materialism - Anarchist Materialism, April 20, 2015

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.

“Our duty, which was the logical outcome of our ideas, the condition with which our conception of revolution and re-organisation of society imposes on us, namely, to live among the people and to win them over to our ideas by actively taking part in their struggles and sufferings” — Errico Malatesta

In order for the Anarchist movement to mature in this country, we must address a particularly troubling dilemma.  Are we to continue our historical struggle within the working class or do we evolve into a professional class of labor organizers and bureaucrats?? Addressing this question isn’t only about disagreements in methods but in affirming an anarchist conception of organization from the base.  Whether in garment factories and ports or in hotels and retail, our focus on the rank and file has always been obvious–without the revolutionary self organization of the workers, we will never overthrow this unjust system of economic and political domination.

Unfortunately there exists a layer of self proclaimed anarchists as well as other leftists today who have not only chosen to separate themselves from the rank and file, but to defend their activity as a strategic form of social insertion.  Such a view is heavily deluded and guided in no small part by years of NGO influence on social movements.  In the current political environment, there are anarchist staffers in every union imaginable from the SEIU and UFCW to the UAW and UNITE HERE.

Students interested in labor are directly recruited out of universities into internships with Jobs with Justice and other business unions, while militant rank and file workers are tempted off the shop floor with higher pay and benefits.

Though this sad state of affairs shows a severe weakness of the left in offering alternatives, it is also a deliberate tactic of the union leadership.  By placating agitated workers with radical staff who “get it”, the union leadership is able to control mobilization and to later use their staffers to push through harmful cuts and “reforms.”

EcoUnionist News #30

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, February 9, 2015

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 following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

  • Register now for the Future of Railroads: Safety, Workers, Community & the Environment Conferences: Richmond, California (March 14, 2015) and Olympia, Washington (March 21, 2015) - railroadconference.org

USW Refinery Workers Strike News:

Crude by Rail:

Carbon Bubble:

Green Jobs and Just Transition:

March for Real Climate Leadership:

Other News

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

Building Their Own Gallows: The Oil Pipelines

By David Goodner - Truthout, January 20, 2015

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 debate surrounding labor's support for oil pipelines has largely centered on a false "jobs versus climate" dichotomy. But labor's position is also alienating them from their potential allies while strengthening the hand of their sworn enemies.

There's a popular saying on the left that organized labor would build their own gallows if they were offered the jobs, and nowhere is this more true than in labor's support for the environmentally disastrous Keystone XL, Enbridge Sandpiper and Bakken oil pipelines.

As in much of the debate surrounding climate change, proponents of the Keystone XL pipeline, like Teamster president James P. Hoffa, generally argue that short-term job creation and economic growth trump environmental concerns about the long-term fate of the planet.

"America needs more good-paying jobs that support middle-class families. This project supplies them," Hoffa wrote in a letter published by The Detroit News in December 2014. He went on to claim that environmental concerns have been addressed by state and federal regulators, as well as by the oil company itself.

"It will be safer than any other domestic oil pipeline system built under current code," he added.

In reality of course, it is the jobs argument that is overblown, and it is the environmental threat to the survival of every living thing on earth that labor habitually understates or ignores.

The bottom line is there won't be any jobs, or an economy at all, if the planet is no longer hospitable to human life. There's no such thing as a safe oil pipeline because extracting fossil fuels from the ground and burning them into the atmosphere is what causes catastrophic climate change, not accidental oil spills.

Chapter 35 : “You Brought it On Yourself, Judi”

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

“A lot of social movements get called terrorism. It dehumanizes (them). People have tried working through the system for years. It didn’t work.”

—Alison Bowman, editor, City on a Hill [1]

“The vast majority of people in this world neither own nor believe in ‘private property’, not because they are communists, but because they know it is not possible to own the Earth. This applies to the animals, too, which overall are a hell of a lot smarter than most humans.”

—Darryl Cherney, May 22, 1990 [2]

Darryl Cherney returned from Arizona, refreshed and ready to resume organizing, but the situation in Humboldt and Mendocino County was as volatile as ever. The buildup to Redwood Summer was exceeding all the organizers’ expectations. It was clear to everyone that the North Coast was about to experience a civil war. Accusations of “polarization” and “violent rhetoric” were constantly leveled at the Earth First! and IWW activists preparing to organize Redwood Summer, and many of these came from both local and corporate media outlets. The picture they painted was one of a once peaceful and prosperous region of logging communities disrupted by environmental extremists bent on wreaking havoc on the struggling, hard working timber workers of the region. Such descriptions couldn’t have been more divorced from reality.

Judi Bari had made it clear from the get go that the Redwood Summer demonstrators would not engage in hostile confrontations with the loggers, even if their actions impacted them directly:

“Our very style (if you look into Wobbly history) was taken from the loggers. We’ve had, since I’ve been in Earth First, an unwritten code that the loggers should be treated as potential allies. And we should be totally respectful of them. We are the only environmental group that I know of that has established the kind of relations with the rank and file loggers that we have. We’ve spoken for their interests, we’ve met with them, we even have a union local (IWW Local #1) with them. We have all different levels of rank and file loggers working with us. At the Eminent Domain demonstrations we appeared in public with the loggers and mill workers. We are not going to be yelling at the loggers because we have respect for them as working people.” [3]

Between the months of March and April, the campaign had gone from being just Bari, Cherney, an increasingly reluctant Greg King, and about a dozen others to as many as 100 different organizers. Meetings routinely averaged 60 participants. Almost all of them were local residents and not “outside agitators.” [4]

If anything, it was the forces of reaction that engaged in the most polarization. Indeed, in just the short period while Darryl Cherney vacationed in Arizona, Glenn Simmons continued to editorialize similarly in the pages of the Humboldt Beacon and Fortuna Advance, denouncing the organizers of Redwood Summer, because (according to Simmons) they “didn’t believe in God” (specifically a Christian Fundamentalist incarnation of “God”). [5] The Mendocino County chapter of the “Associated California Loggers” (still one more employer organization) accused environmentalists of “terrorism” (but cited no specific acts as evidence). [6] L-P spent $100,000 to construct a barbed wire fence surrounding its Ukiah mill to “protect” its employees from Earth First! “terrorists”. [7] Georgia Pacific cancelled public tours of its facility in Fort Bragg, and threatened to restrict access to its lands also ostensibly for similar reasons. [8] Simpson Timber spokesman Ryan Hamilton accused Redwood Summer of “setting a somber tone (that) could become a frightening situation.” [9] A group of “pro-timber” Yellow Ribbon supporters held a demonstration in Fort Bragg denouncing Earth First!, Redwood Summer, and Forests Forever. [10] One local resident, in a letter to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat even warned against covering Earth First! in the media, lest the “good people” of the North Coast would soon find bombs inside their cars! [11]

Indeed, after the incident in Santa Cruz, every act of vandalism, sabotage, or even accidents were blamed on Earth First! There was often no way to tell if any of these incidents were real or manufactured either. For example, in the first few days of May, a Humboldt County gyppo operator in Redway, Van Meter Logging, received an anonymous bomb threat from somebody claiming to be from Earth First!, but this was either a crazy nut (with no association to Earth First! whatsoever), a fabrication by Pam Van Meter herself, or worse still, a another attempt by somebody to monkeywrench the monkeywrenchers in a dangerous act of subterfuge. “(The anonymous bomb threat) was definitely not Earth First!. Earth First! does not engage in attacks against people or terrorism. I sincerely feel sorry for this woman, but we had nothing to do with it,” declared Judi Bari. Van Meter was unsatisfied with this response, and still blamed Earth First!, stating, “If it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t have happened in the first place,” which was akin to blaming the victims in Mississippi Summer for inciting the racist repression against them. As it turned out, no bomb ever surfaced, at least not in Redway. [12]

There were plenty of actual threats against Earth First! and its allies, however, and not just anonymous death threats any longer. For example, Humboldt County supervisor Anna Sparks declared, “I think you’re asking for trouble, because they’re (going to be) up here protesting the jobs of the loggers and taking away their livelihoods through their protests and taking away the constitutional rights of people. You can’t help but bring violence in!” [13] This was bad enough, but in Mendocino County Charles Stone, a right wing radio talk show host with ties to actual extremist organizations (to which crypto-fascist Jack Azevedo also belonged) was now using his daily program on KDAC in Fort Bragg to whip up hysteria against Judi Bari and Redwood Summer. Following the incident in Santa Cruz, he urged his regular listeners, who included many of the local gyppos, to pressure the Board of Supervisors to “order” the Redwood Summer to appear so that the “real, god fearing citizens” of the county could pin them down and force them to admit all of their nefarious, secret agendas (whatever those were). [14] Surprisingly, supervisor Liz Henry, of all people, agreed, and placed the matter of Redwood Summer on the agenda for the May 1 meeting. [15]

Supervisor Henry no doubt naïvely assumed that she could negotiate some sort of agreement whereby the demonstrations would not result “in serious injury or economic disruption”, but this failed to understand the true nature of the problem. As was the case in the original Mississippi Summer, appealing to the rule of law was impossible when the law was bought and paid for by the perpetrators of the injustice being challenged in the first place. It was at best foolhardy to ignore the fact that economic disruption had already been occurring (at the hands of the corporations) now for over a decade. Bari faced a Catch 22. She knew that little was to be gained by appearing at what was likely to be a star chamber of hostility, but to not appear would allow the charges against Redwood Summer to go unanswered, and Bari was determined not to back down in the face of prejudice this time. Knowing that she would be hopelessly outnumbered, she enlisted as many allies as she could muster.

Better than we know ourselves: a ruling class view of the trade unions

By Solidarity Federation - LibCom.org, July 14, 2012

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.

If your only exposure to labour issues is through the torn and tattered pages of a greasy tabloid, you might be forgiven if you believe the TUC actually encourages workplace militancy. Full of contributions from beleaguered CEOs, scare-mongering columnists, condescending politicians and even tough-talking officials, you might even believe trade unions are an irrepressible engine of class struggle. For those us in trade unions, we know reality paints a far different picture. Far from encouraging and even organising industrial action, more often than not, trade unions leave militants feeling sold out, disempowered and sidelined.

Take striking for example. First, it's a struggle to get a ballot. When the ballot is secured, it passes, but the union does nothing to effectively prepare for what amounts to nothing more than a symbolic one-day strike. In fact, other unions in the same workplace send out notices instructing their members to work on the day of the strike. At the last minute the bosses challenge the ballot on technical grounds. The union caves and calls off the strike. Management then presents a marginally improved offer which the union accepts with little or no consultation from the membership. Any chance of actual struggle is squashed by the same leaders who are supposed to be looking after our interests. In the worst case scenario, the bosses and the union come after shop floor militants who agitate against the settlement or who push for independent action.

The question is simple: why is the scenario outlined above (and countless ones like it) repeated again and again in every country around the world throughout the history of the labour movement? Is it a case of conservative, or even corrupt, leaders who sell the movement? Or is it something deeper?

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