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Our Plan for May Day — All out to fight for the working class!

Statement by United Rank and File in San Francisco - April 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.

On International Workers’ Day, Thursday, May 1 (yes in two days) join us as we take our fight to “Smash the 2 Gate System” directly to those who profit from it.

If it is at all possible for you to be there at 5am, please do! We will need numbers in the beginning for the action to last and be successful.

If you cannot be there at 5am, get there as early as you can. Use this rough schedule to find us, and follow @UnitedRnF on Twitter to get updates. Obviously, some of this may require adjustment due to circumstances that morning but generally you should be able to meet up with us along the way.

Here is the plan:

5am – Meet at 16th and Mission

We will have United Rank and File T-Shirts and picket signs for folks, donations accepted but not required. Otherwise, wear work attire but comfortable walking shoes. Please, do not wear construction union specific (shirts/hats with bugs, etc.) apparel so as not to give the implication that this was organized by any construction union officialdom but by rank and file workers ourselves.

5:30am – March to 2 Gate Jobs

If you are not able to make there before we leave 16th and Mission, walk to Market and Guerrero. Cross Market onto Laguna. Walk a few blocks up Guerrero. Turn right, walk one block to Octavia. Walk back toward Market on Octavia. If you walk this route, you should see and/or hear us someplace nearby. There are a handful of 2 Gate jobs in that area and we will be at one or more of them.

6am – Set up pickets at 2 gate job(s)

We will have a flag at each location that we need to be at. We plan to have well organized pickets. Please know that we have a process for making decisions at this action should we need to adjust our actions. We will stay at any given location until an outcome has been determined.

10:40am – March to the War Memorial Performing Arts Center

201 Van Ness Ave. The Herbst building is currently undergoing a complete remodel. They are using the 2Gate System. A nonunion subcontractor is doing around 10 million dollars in work. This is unheard of in downtown San Francisco.

11am – Rally at the War Memorial Performing Arts Center

We will have a short speakout against the 2Gate System and building a sustained and united fight for the working class.

11:30 – March to City Hall to meet up with the Building Trades Council’s rally.

END – After this there are other rallies in the Bay Area that people should consider attending. If you are hosting or know of one, please comment with the information. 

As construction workers, are directly affected by the 2Gate system and so we strive to collectively lead this effort as organized rank and file workers. This is one part a larger struggle that affects all working people and for that reason we call on all members of the working class to come out and join us.

We also realize that solidarity goes both ways. Members of United Rank and File have gone to many other actions in solidarity and plan to continue in the future as an organization.

At this action, we ask that everyone comes in true solidarity. We ask that you be as militant as we are. We are respectful of everyone’s choice to protest in the ways that they feel are necessary at times but we ask that everyone coming to this action help make it a success in the using the tactics and strategies that we have worked very hard to organize.

We look forward to building United Rank and File and class solidarity with everyone!

See you on May Day!

Call to Action – May 1, International Workers Day

Statement by United Rank and File in San Francisco - 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.

United Rank & File Construction Workers Take A Stand on May Day

Join us as we return to a proud history of direct action to fight to protect our own livelihoods, to raise up and organize all workers and against laws that restrict us. 

On May 1, International Workers Day, we will be gathering at 16th and Mission at 5am to protest the 2 Gate System. This is a system that contractors and developers have created in order to impose the restrictive, discriminatory and repressive anti-worker laws of the Taft-Hartley act on construction unions.

San Francisco appears, on the surface, to be recovering from the economic disasters of recent years. There are cranes all over town and buildings are popping up everywhere. The people building these buildings are unable to afford the luxuries that many supposedly offer. We are also growing further and further from the chance of ever living a reasonable distance from the city in which we work. Most of us have long been unable to afford to live within the limits of the city we built. We see new wealth coming into SF all the time and yet we have gotten modest or no raises.

Many of us are lucky to have collective bargaining. We look forward to contracts coming up during this building boom. It seems the time has finally come for us to get the raises that we have lacked in the last few years while the cost of living has skyrocketed. We are looking forward to the opportunity to dig out of the financial holes we are in after years of unemployment, losing insurance for our families, losing houses and having to raid our retirement accounts to make ends meet. Now, contractors and developers need us badly and will have to give us a decent raise next contract, right? Maybe not…

Historically in San Francisco a vast majority of building has been done by workers who together, through their unions, bargain with all of their employers for a fair and equal wage rate for all of the labor done by their craft. This is still the case but we see other employers winning work contracts in SF at an alarming rate. Building has increased suddenly in San Francisco but it has disproportionately increased for the non-signatory contractors. There is an unprecedented amount of building being done by contractors who do not agree to the standards of pay and conditions that workers have fought for.

This gives signatory employers (those who employ workers under collective agreements) a powerful bargaining chip as we go into negotiations during this boom. They will argue that they need to stay competitive or the “union contractors” (and therefore workers) will all lose jobs. “Staying competitive” they argue, means that they cannot give raises, may even need some back, in order to compete. Suddenly, the snowball that has killed all the reasonably livable jobs across the country is being rolled around in San Francisco, the last bastion of hope for a decent living for those of us with blue collars.

Socialists Debate Nuclear, 2: Still No Nukes!

By Michael Friedman - Climate and Capitalism, November 18, 2013: a response to A socialist defends nuclear energy, by David Walters.

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.

Retired nuclear power plant operator David Walters seeks to make a socialist case for nuclear power as the alternative to fossil fuels. Unfortunately, he parts from the unfortunate and worn-out progressive infatuation with capitalist productivism, the technology that it employs and the technological determinism that justifies it and brings forth a host of magic bullet non-solutions for every problem it engenders. This is succinctly confirmed by his assertions that “the center of this discussion can be narrowed down to one technological and scientific issue: the generation, use, and distribution of energy” and “human use of energy set us apart from all other species, including the higher ones such as dolphins and apes.”

These formulations fly in the face of a Marxist understanding of human development, reducing ‘all hitherto existing human history’ to the history of energy development. That is technological determinism, no more. For Marxists, the “center” of this discussion is the capitalist mode of production, and concretely, its method of appropriation of human labor and natural resources.

Driven to privatize and turn the natural world into marketable commodities incorporating human labor, capital rips natural processes such as biogeochemical cycles or trophic webs to pieces in order to isolate profitable components. We are presented with abominations like monocrop agriculture, fracking and Fukushima.

This mode of production and the reductionist, mechanistic worldview attendant upon it, has turned Homo sapiens’ biological connections to the rest of the natural world upside down; under capitalism, humans are not only alienated from their labor, and each other, but from the nature with which they are inextricably bound. This is the cause of the environmental crisis. Global warming is far from the only major element of this crisis. Many ecologists regard the dramatic decline in biodiversity as just as devastating to humans and all life on this planet as global warming. Deforestation, ocean acidification, the proliferation of human waste and toxic contaminants, the introduction of genetically engineered organisms and invasive species, all of these are, of course interconnected consequences of the market economy, but it is meaningless to subsume them under the rubric of “generation, use and distribution of energy.”

Capital Blight: The Yellow Unions' "Green Coalition" Blues

By x344543 - September 21, 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.

In a recent In These Times article, Rebecca Burns laments that the recent announcement by AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka to "open up the labor movement in order to regain political (sic) clout" by partnering with progressive NGOs, such as the Sierra Club, NAACP, and Council de la Raza, has not been well received by more conservative elements within the federation, namely the building trades.

“Giving people a seat where they have governance, and they don't represent workers--that was a bridge too far for lots of folks," Building Construction Trades Department (BCTD) union President Sean McGarvey told the (Wall Street) Journal. McGarvey, whose union has been a strong backer of the Keystone XL Pipeline because of the jobs it will create, also said that the Sierra Club’s attempts to dissuade the AFL-CIO from issuing a resolution supporting the pipeline last year “just highlighted the audacity of people in the radical environmental movement trying to influence the policy of the labor movement.”

There are so many problems with that statement (from McGarvey and Burns alike) it's difficult to know where to begin.

McGarvey's claim that Keystone XL Pipeline is being opposed by people in the "radical environmental movement" (and his identification of the Sierra Club of all organizations as being the leader of it) is absurd. The very idea that the Sierra Club is the leader of the "radical" environmental movement, or even radical at all is nonsense. The big NGOs opposing the project include Corporate Ethics International, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club, 350.org, National Wildlife Federation, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace, and Rainforest Action Network, and as we have pointed out, these groups are anything but radical. Furthermore, Over 1,000,000 individuals have gone on record as opposing the Keystone XL pipeline, and it's highly unlikely that they're all "radical" in any sense, and don't get me wrong, it would be nice if they were, but I'm a realist! Does McGarvey understand that many of these people are union workers? Would McGarvey also include the growing number of unions who've gone on record opposing Keystone XL?

One might want to ask McGarvey to what extent the building trades themselves represent workers, because the evidence suggest that for the most part, they represent the capitalist class more than anything else. He also doth protest too much, because those so-called "radical" environmentalists, for the most part are fixated primarily on Keystone XL and ignoring the other pipelines--such as the Bluegrass Pipeline, Enbridge's Line 9, Transcanada East, and others--a strategy which Barack Obama might use to expedite the latter. Fortunately, the real radical environmentalists (who're not beyond criticism, certainly) are focused on those and doing quite well at fighting them.

In any case, McGarvey has little to worry about, because what Trumka is proposing is hardly anything close to a meaningful Blue-Green alliance and is, more likely than not, going to be more old wine in new bottles, namely building coalitions to keep the labor movement (and the progressive NGOs) firmly tied to capitalism and the Democratic Party. If the AFL-CIO's combined efforts with the Sierra Club et. al. amount to anything more than intensified lobbying and get-out-the-vote (for Democrats--and even occasionally Republicans) it will be a huge surprise.

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