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strategy and tactics

Can UAW Unionize the South? Volkswagen Tennessee Vote Could Change U.S. Labor Landscape

Solidarity Forever: Building Movements Amid Today’s Crises

Heat Strike: Workplace temperature and Climate Justice

Bus Drivers Strike with Climate Activists in 57 German Cities

By Berit Ehmke and Yanira Wolf - Labor Notes, April 8, 2024

Public transit workers across Germany have broken new ground by coordinating our contracts—nearly all of them nationwide have expired over the last four months—and shutting down bus systems with strikes in 57 cities.

To add to the pressure, we’ve done something new for our union and for Germany: we’ve formed an alliance between local transport workers and climate activists, including the students who have been leading massive school walkouts.

The devastating effects of climate change are already rocking Germany: major heat waves, flooding, and water shortages. A growing movement demanding climate action has made real headway—our energy and industrial sectors have almost halved their climate pollution over the past 30 years. But on transportation, our third-biggest source, we’ve made nearly zero progress.

To beat climate change we need more buses on the road. We’re building a movement to double bus service. After three decades of cuts and privatization, we need a major federal funding boost.

But these jobs have become so tough that most agencies have huge worker shortages. To make the climate impact real, we’ll also need to raise the floor for wages, breaks, and schedules—making this a good enough job that workers will sign on and stick around.

The Green New Deal: From Below or from Above?

To Protect Labor and Climate: Protect Dissent!

By staff - Labor Network for Sustainability, March 31, 2024

There’s a war brewing against dissent.

  • In Georgia, lawmakers are attempting to make it illegal for communities to protest and advocate against environmental injustice by labeling protestors as “domestic terrorists.” 
  • Bills introduced in legislatures around the country would make it illegal to protest at industrial sites, whether publicly or privately owned. 
  • In Congress, two Republican Senators have introduced a bill that would make it a federal offense for protesters to block public roads and highways.
  • According to the Protect Dissent Network, at least 22 anti-protest bills have been introduced across 15 states in the last year alone, and more than 45 states have considered anti-protest laws in the last five years.

These bills are often justified as protection against climate protestors. But throughout American history such laws have been used repeatedly to criminalize workers who try to organize and strike. They are designed to threaten both workers and communities mobilizing to protect themselves from threats to labor and environmental rights.

The Labor Network believes that workers and communities have a common interest in preserving the basic democratic freedom to protest.

For more on protecting the right to protest: https://www.rightsanddissent.org/campaigns/defend-the-right-to-protest/

We don’t need a “Plethora of tactics”, We need a climate strategy

By Anarchy Nouveau - Freedom, February 21, 2024

In the spirit of starting a debate and dialogue, we republish this article from Conspiracy of the People in response to Matthew Azoulay’s article in Freedom:

In Freedom Anarchist Journal’s Winter 2023-2024 issue, Matthew Azoulay submitted an article introducing readers to Murray Bookchin’s ideas of the communalist assembly, which disturbed and surprised me because of how outdated it was. The means it proposes to achieve ecologically revolutionary ends are lacking, stagnant, and fall back on modes of thinking that seem directly inherited from the anti-globalisation and Occupy era, which the anarchist movement cannot afford to normalise as we continue to enter an exponentially growing ecological collapse. While there are decent ideas to take from both Murray Bookchin and Peter Gelderloos, as Matthew Azoulay has, they are both rather flawed in their own ways. There are some well thought out points and ideas within the article, so my criticisms are entirely constructive, and I aim to avoid sectarianism. But that this is what Freedom News is publishing in their own journal on climate struggle has me very concerned, to say the least.

The lack of revolutionary strategic thinking on ecological struggles will be both humanity and the planet’s downfall if the revolutionary movement doesn’t get its act together soon. If a diversity of tactics was all it took to overcome the limits of social movements, as Matthew Azoulay suggests in this article (and Peter Gelderloos in The Solutions are Already Here), then comrades worldwide would not be facing defeat after defeat in what are ultimately defensive struggles for the ecology. These insurrectionary limits are visible internationally, from the massive years-long and ongoing fight to defend Weelaunee/Atlanta forest from destruction in the “Stop Cop City” movement, the French struggles in the ZAD’s and against the ecocidal Basin megaprojects, German struggles for forest defence and against ecocidal development such as the Tesla “gigafactory” and the mass movement against coal mining. In the global South, anti-extractivist movements have similarly hit wall after wall since the global descent into neoliberalism and fascism from the 70s to today. Many valiant stands have been made against imperialist extraction projects, but the power of capital has more often than not prevailed against the power of the organised and rebellious masses, except where said rebellion has reached every layer of the popular masses and turned into an all-out insurrection. For example, the recent social explosion in Panama against a proposed mining project, the Zapatista movement’s struggle for autonomy across indigenous territories in so-called Mexico, or the 1991 struggle from revolutionaries in Bougainvillea against the Papua New Guinea government, the Rio Tinto mining corporation and the “Australian” navy.

Winning Fossil Fuel Workers Over to a Just Transition

By Norman Rogers - Jacobin, March 18, 2024

This article is adapted from Power Lines: Building a Labor-Climate Justice Movement, edited by Jeff Ordower and Lindsay Zafir (The New Press, 2024).

I have a dream. I have a nightmare.

The dream is that working people find careers with good pay, good benefits, and a platform for addressing grievances with their employers. In other words, I dream that everyone gets what I got over twenty-plus years as a unionized worker in the oil industry.

The nightmare is that people who had jobs with good pay and power in the workplace watch those gains erode as the oil industry follows the lead of steel, auto, and coal mining to close plants and lay off workers. It is a nightmare rooted in witnessing the cruelties suffered by our siblings in these industries — all of whom had good-paying jobs with benefits and the apparatus to process grievances when their jobs went away.

Workers, their families, and their communities were destroyed when the manufacturing plants and coal mines shut down, with effects that linger to this day. Without worker input, I fear that communities dependent on the fossil fuel industry face a similar fate.

This nightmare is becoming a reality as refineries in Wyoming, Texas, Louisiana, California, and New Mexico have closed or have announced pending closures. Some facilities are doing the environmentally conscious thing and moving to renewable fuels. Laudable as that transition is, a much smaller workforce is needed for these processes. For many oil workers, the choice is to keep working, emissions be damned, or to save the planet and starve.

United Steelworkers (USW) Local 675 — a four-thousand-member local in Southern California, of which I am the second vice president — is helping to chart a different course, one in which our rank-and-file membership embraces a just transition and in which we take the urgent steps needed to protect both workers and the planet. Along with other California USW locals, we are fighting to ensure that the dream — not the nightmare — is the future for fossil fuel workers as we transition to renewable energy.

How Social Movements Escape Silos

By Jeremy Brecher - Labor Network for Sustainability, March 11, 2024

The principal problems of movement unity do not involve uniting the already like-minded, but drawing together those who are siloed or even antagonistic. But how do we move past such fragmentation? My observation as a historian of social movements is that a crucial reason for movements to de-silo, cooperate, and converge is from a perception of the possibility of gaining power to affect problems through greater cooperation and mutual support.

To show that such overcoming of divisions does actually happen, and that it is related to the aspiration for more effective power, let me briefly sketch four examples of de-siloing, growing cooperation, and partial convergence among movements.

Globalization from below, also known as the anti-globalization or global justice movement, brought together a highly diverse range of movements and organizations from all over the world. After gestating for years in response to “globalization from above,” globalization from below burst into public view with the 1999 “Battle of Seattle” that shut down the attempt to establish the World Trade Organization as a neoliberal economic constitution for the world. As author and activist Vandana Shiva put it in the aftermath of the Battle of Seattle, “When labor joins hands with environmentalists, when farmers from the North and farmers from the South make a common commitment to say ‘no’ to genetically engineered crops, they are not acting as special interests. They are defending the common interests and common rights of all people, everywhere.”[1] That process has continued in myriad forms, notably in the global gatherings of the World Social Forum.[2]

Climate activists join public transport workers in strike across Germany

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