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The COINTELPRO Papers: Documents from the FBI's Secret Wars Against Domestic Dissent (Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall)

By Ward Churchill and Jim Vander Wall - South End Press, 1990

The FBI documents collected in this book offer a unique window into the inner workings of the U.S. political police. They expose the secret, systematic, and sometimes savage use of force and fraud, by all levels of government, to sabotage progressive political activity supposedly protected by the U.S. constitution. They reveal ongoing, country-wide CIA-style covert action - infiltration, psychological warfare, legal harassment, and violence - against a very broad range of domestic dissidents. While prodding us to re-evaluate U.S. democracy and to rethink our understanding of recent U.S. history, these documents can help us to protect our movements from future government attack.

This is the final volume of what amounts to a South End Press trilogy on domestic covert action. Ward Churchill's and Jim Vander Wall's Agents of Repression' details the FBI's secret war on the Black Panther Party and the American Indian Movement. My War at Home shows that such covert operations have become a per-manent feature of U.S. politics. It analyzes the specific methods used against progressive activists and opens a discussion of how to respond.

Now Churchill and Vander Wall have reproduced many of the FBI files on which our books are based. Some of these documents illustrate recent FBI cam-paigns against the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES). Others reveal early attacks on Marcus Garvey (1920s) and Alger Hiss (1950s). The bulk are from the counterintel-ligence programs (COINTELPROs) that the FBI mounted to "disrupt, misdirect, discredit or otherwise neutralize" the civil rights, black liberation, Puerto Rican independence, anti-war and student movements of the 1960s.

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The 1916 Minnesota miners' strike against U.S. Steel

By Robert M. Eleff - Minnesota History, Summer 1988

An article by Robert M. Eleff detailing a 1916 strike which involved the IWW, in the Iron Range of Minnesota. Originally appeared in Minnesota History (Summer 1988)

PDF File

Video: ROCKING THE FOUNDATIONS - A HISTORY OF THE GREEN BANS MOVEMENT

Documentary Film - 1985

For the full documentary, please visit this page (YouTube).

The film "Rocking the Foundations" is about the Builders Labourers' Federation of Australia who fought victoriously for their rights as a union, the rights of indigenous people, against gentrification, and in defense of the environment. They did this by performing the first of what are now known as the "green bans" or an environmental strike.

The Ecology of Freedom (Murray Bookchin)

From Murray Bookchin's introduction:

This book was written to satisfy the need for a consistently radical social ecology: an ecology of freedom. It had been maturing in my mind since 1952 when I first became acutely conscious of the growing environmental crisis that was to assume such monumental proportions a generation later. In that year, I published a volume-sized article, "The Problems of Chemicals in Food" (later be republished in book form in Germany as Lebensgefiihrliche Lebensmittel). Owing to my early Marxian intellectual training, the article examined not merely environmental pollution but also its deep-seated social origins. Environmental issues had developed in my mind as social issues, and problems of natural ecology had become problems of "social ecology"--an expression hardly in use at the time.

The subject was never to leave me. In fact, its dimensions were to widen and deepen immensely. By the early sixties, my views could be summarized in a fairly crisp formulation: the very notion of the domination of nature by man stems from the very real domination of human by human. For me, this was a far-reaching reversal of concepts. The many articles and books I published in the years after 1952, beginning with Our Synthetic Environment (1963) and continuing with Toward an Ecological Society (1980), were largely explorations of this fundamental theme. As one premise led to another, it became clear that a highly coherent project was forming in my work: the need to explain the emergence of social hierarchy and domination and to elucidate the means, sensibility, and practice that could yield a truly harmonious ecological society. My book Post-Scarcity Anarchism (1971) pioneered this vision. Composed of essays dating from 1964, it addressed itself more to hierarchy than class, to domination rather than exploitation, to liberatory institutions rather than the mere abolition of the State, to freedom rather than justice, and pleasure rather than happiness. For me, these changing emphases were not mere countercultural rhetoric; they marked a sweeping departure from my earlier commitment to socialist orthodoxies of all forms. I visualized instead a new form of libertarian social ecology-or what Victor Ferkiss, in discussing my social views, so appropriately called "eco-anarchism."

Downloadable PDF File

Plant Closings and Technological Change: A Guide for Union Negotiators

By Anne Lawrence and Paul Chown - Center for Labor Research and Education, Institute of Industrial Relations, University of California (Berkeley), Date Uncertain, likely early 1980s

American industry today is under going a massive transformation which gravely threatens the job security, wages, and benefits of union workers. Economic recession, the flight of capital overseas, and to low wage areas, the declining competitiveness of domestic industry, and the introduction of labor saving technologies are producing an epidemic of plant closings and layoffs.

The problem of plant closures is stunning. The federal government does not count shutdowns directly, but estimates based on private research data show that over four million jobs a year were lost in the early 1970s as a result of plant closings and migrations. For every ten large manufacturing plants open in 1969, three had closed by 1976. No single area of the country was spared. Since then, hundreds of thousands more workers -- from steelworkers in Lackawanna, New York, to insurance company data processors in San Francisco; from autoworkers in South Gate, California, to tire builders in Akron -- have joined the victims of plant closings.

Technological change also poses a major threat to workers' job security. The development of the microprocessor, or "computer on a chip," has made possible an unprecedented transformation of the workplace. Electronic scanning devices at the supermarket, word processors in the office, electronic transfer of mail at the post office, robots on the assembly line, and numerically controlled machine tools in the shop threaten the jobs of the checkout clerk, secretary, postal clerk, autoworker, and machinist. Business Week has estimated that within the next decade, new technology may transform as many as 45 million jobs, half of them now unionized. As many as 25 million of these jobs may be completely eliminated.

Faced with the major job losses caused by plant closings and technological change, many unions have sought through collective bargaining to check further layoffs and lessen the hardship for those who are already out of work. Job security has always been a major concern of union negotiators. But today, with the highest unemployment since the Great Depression, it has moved to the top of the bargaining agendas of many unions. Provisions such as advance notice of shutdowns and layoffs and restrictions on management's rights to close plants, transfer work, and displace or downgrade workers are increasingly being used by unions to prevent or postpone layoffs. For workers who lose their jobs, unions are seeking improved severance pay, extension of health care benefits, transfer rights, and retraining assistance.

This manual is designed as a practical guide for union negotiators responsible for bargaining contract language on issues related to plant closings, transfer of operations, and technological change. The manual is organized by contract clause, such as advance notice or severance pay. Each section contains an introduction to the major bargaining issues and a checklist of items negotiators may wish to cover. The manual then provides samples of actual contract clauses recently negotiated by unions in a variety of different industries. Model clauses, included for each topic, may be used by negotiators in framing their own proposals for contract bargaining.

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For Direct Action (Libertarian Workers Group syndicalist anti-nuclear power leaflet)

By unknown - Libertarian Workers Group, Date uncertain; likely early 1980s

As we gather today to demand that the financial community stop its funding of the nuclear industry, we must make it clear that we are fighting not only nuclear technology, but the system whose priorities put profits before people. That system is capitalism; a system where the majority of people have no conteol over the way they live and work, and which is run by the ruling class (the owners and managers of industry, the top government bureaucrats, etc.) for its own interests...

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Green Bans: Worker Control and the Urban Environment

By Mark Haskell - Industrial Relations, May 1977

Australian trade unions, have long made effective use of the “black ban,” that is, the tactic of boycotting employers and others in order to improve wages or working conditions or to implement political goals. During the Indonesian struggle for independence shortly after World War II, longshoremen placed bans on shipments to and from the Netherlands, More recently arms shipments to South Vietnam were boycotted and an Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) black ban was imposed on French shipping to protest nuclear weapons testing in the South Pacific.

In 1971, the black ban was transposed into the “green ban” when the New South Wales branch of the Builder’s Labourers Federation (BLF) agreed to boycott a construction project in Hunter’s hill, an upper-middle class area on the Paramatta River, an arm of Sydney Harbor. In September 1970, residents of that area had organized to oppose the construction of 25 luxury homes in Kelly’s Bush, an eight-acre bushland tract which had been preserved in its natural state. The tract had been zoned as “residential” just one year earlier despite widespread community opposition. After unsuccessful attempts to interest the state in purchasing the land for recreational purposes, the newly organized group, the “Battlers for Kelly’s Bush,” approached the New South Wales BLF to request that they not work on the construction site. Construction was halted and, despite the subsequent demise of the New South Wales branch in 1975, this green ban remains in force.

Thus emerged an unlikely collaboration between community groups struggling against drastic neighborhood changes and traditionally job oriented trade unionists - a merger which has often been labeled “unique” and may, in fact, have been the product of a special set of circumstances. On the other hand, the green bans do have the possibility of becoming an example for others. This paper is an attempt to analyze this movement for the purpose of providing an explanation for its appearance at a particular time and place. Part of that explanation may lie in the nature of the union which was most heavily involved, i.e., in the characteristics of its leaders, its members, and the way in which the union’s affairs were managed. Hence, the line of questioning will focus on the New South Wales BLF-i.e. why this union adopted this unconventional tactic to achieve this unconventional goal.

Read the entire document (PDF File).

A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, and Construction (Chris Alexander, et. al)

Disclaimer - Neither Christopher Alexander, nor any of his coauthors are affiliated with or necessarily endorse the ideas of the IWW; this text is posted here under fair use guidelines for informational purposes only.

Written in a time when radical ideas had become somewhat mainstream and libertarian anti-state and anti-capitalist theories began to achieve popular consciousness, the ideas set forth in this book, including ecological notions taken from authors such as Aldo Leopold and E.F. Schumacher and workplace organization inspired by the anarchism of Colin Ward and George Woodcock, come very close (without necessarily realizing it) to the"green syndicalism" called for by the IWW EUC.

Unlike the specialized knowledge required to design cities, plan urban developments, or craft buildings required by conventional urban design--the results of which are often highly dysfunctional, authoritarian, class stratified, and anti ecological, A Pattern Language offers a bottom-up, "open source" set of patterns that anybody can use to design buildings and plan their neighborhoods, even whole cities, themselves.

A Pattern Language (PDF) - by Christopher Alexander, Sara Ishikawa, and Murray Silverstein, et. al.,1977

Our Lives Are at Stake: Workers Fight for Health and Safety (the Shell Strike of 1973)

By Berry Weisberg - OCAW 1-591, July 1973
Background Information by Douglas W. Erlandson - USW Local 12-591

On January 21st, OCAWIU President Bob Grospiron called over 4000 Shell OCAW members from 5 oil refineries and 3 chemical plants, out on strike. Then made a nationwide appeal to the public to boycott Shell Oil while the union continued its fight over the right to bargain health and safety issues.

The union was seeking:

  • 1) The establishment of a Joint Union-Management Health & Safety Committee
  • 2) Wanted the Union committee workers paid while performing official committee duties
  • 3) The right to call in independant Health & Safety inspectors
  • 4) Access to all Company information on both death and disease rates
  • 5) Annual Company medical examinations provided at Company expense

As a tactic for the 1973 strike, OCAW employed the first major "corporate campaign" in U.S. history. OCAW forged alliances with the scientific, academic, environmental and labor communities to fight Shell’s position that it would not bargain over health and safety. The union spent nearly half a million dollars to advertise a nationwide boycott of Shell and to educate the public about the need to protect the health of workers and the communities.

Even though 12 other major oil companies had already signed contracts that provided for the new joint union- management health and safety committees, they assisted Shell by buying their gasoline and blacklisting Shell's strikers. The oil industry's thinking was the new joint H&S committees would get in the way of production and profits.

Shell's corporate spokesman, J.H. Walter called the unions joint H&S committee 'another attempt at featherbedding since the workers could then decide how long they could safely work in the refineries and chemical plants.

Moreover, Shell stated that health & safety was none of the oil workers' business: "We are legally responsible for the health and safety of Shell employees in the workplace and this responsibility cannot be shared". The truth was the oil companies didn't want to give up control in this area.

From 1963-1969, Shell used caged canaries as 'safety devices' at their Houston chemical plant.(true story, no joke!) The canary's job was to detect the presence of carbon monoxide. If the canary died, it was time for the workers to leave. Shell went through a lot of canaries, OCAW was claiming by the time the canary died, the workers would already have been exposed.

The union was also seeking the right to inspect company records and financial reports of the pension funds Shell administered and to be able to grieve the company's arbitrary actions with regard to disability pensions. (The union suspected Shell's pension fund was under funded.) One Anacortes member who worked for Shell for 17 years, was certified by two doctors as being disabled, yet Shell wouldn't allow him disabled benefits even though he met the 15 year employment requirement. For the union, this was an item that needed to be addressed.

The International Representative assigned locally was Virgil Coragliotti, with Representative Tom Burkholder assisting on occasion. Don Yates was the Shell unit chairman and the committee members were Gil Nuessen, Wes Shull, F. D. Ferguson, Bob Melton Sr. Jerry Vrooman was the Local President and Jim Burgess was the financial secretary.

Picket pay was $25 a week. The 1-591 union brothers at General Chemical and Texaco assessed their monthly dues to help support the Shell members. Financial support was also received regularly from the Ferndale OCAW 1-590 local. Because Shell Oil’s daily production was unaffected and they didn’t lose any profits during the strike, the strikers received unemployment benefits under what was then known as the ‘dark plant rule’. Not surprising, Shell Oil later lobbied to get that section of the unemployment law changed.

About a week before the strike Snelsons’ had contracted with Shell to do maintenance work on a recently shutdown furnace. Their plan was to use the Boilermakers union, Local 104 out of Seattle. OCAW had gotten wind of it and a group of about 60 Shell brothers were on site waiting for the 14 building trades members when they attempted to cross the picket line, being led through by Bill Snelson. Several Shell picketers became so upset that they turned over both of Snelsons’ trucks and trailers. At the same time, someone smashed out Snelson's rear window. Out of fear, Snelson romped on the gas throwing John Garner, who was standing in front of him, onto the hood of his car. Garner was able to roll off as Snelson bolted on through. The Sheriff was immediately called.

Fred Nelson, Bob Melton and Charlie Pyburn were identified as the lead individuals involved and were fired. Later, after two days in court, Judge Deierlein had Melton and Pyburn jailed, then sharply criticized Shell management for not maintaining better communications with the union and local law enforcement officials in trying to prevent emotional blow-ups. Later Snelson took OCAW 1-591 to court and won $6700 for the damage done to his vehicles. Shell also fired Virgil Avey for breaking windsphrlds with his picket sign. While the other three were unable to get their jobs back, Fred Nelson was eventually rehired. Old time Union members refer to this incidence as the "Day of the Windstorm."

OCAW also had trouble with the Teamster's Union from Seattle. The same teamster leadership that was scabbing on the United Farm Workers, had ordered their drivers to disregard the picket line established by OCAW. And since there was an injunction limiting the number of pickets to two per gate, the union was unable to do much about the Teamsters pushing through with their trucks.

To keep in the health and safety issue in front of the public, OCAW had teams that traveled the northwest speaking to the news media and public about the need for work place safety. Shell later admitted the mobile speakers bureaus were very effective.

Finally, Shell, in the face of public pressure, bargained a compromised health and safety clause as well as meeting the union's demand allowing the pension fund to be reviewed and grieved if necessary. On June 1st the strike was officially ended.

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Radical Agriculture

By Murray Bookchin - Anarchist Library, 1972

Agriculture is a form of culture. The cultivation of food is a social and cultural phenomenon unique to humanity. Among animals, anything that could remotely be described as food cultivation appear ephemerally, if at all; and even among humans, agriculture developed little more than ten thousand years ago. Yet, in an epoch when food cultivation is reduced to a mere industrial technique, it becomes especially important to dwell on the cultural implications of "modern" agriculture—to indicate their impact not only on public health, but also on humanity's relationship to nature and the relationship of human to human.

The contrast between early and modern agricultural practices is dramatic. Indeed, it would be very difficult to understand the one through the vision of the other, to recognize that they are united by any kind of cultural continuity. Nor can we ascribe this contrast merely to differences in technology. Our agricultural epoch—a distinctly capitalistic one—envisions food cultivation as a business enterprise to be operated strictly for the purpose of generating profit in a market economy. From this standpoint, land is an alienable commodity called "real estate," soil a "natural resource," and food an exchange value that is bought and sold impersonally through a medium called "money." Agriculture, in effect, differs no more from any branch of industry than does steelmaking or automobile production. In fact, to the degree that food cultivation is affected by nonindustrial factors such as climatic and seasonal changes, it lacks the exactness that marks a truly "rational" and scientifically managed operation. And, lest these natural factors elude bourgeois manipulation, they too are the objects of speculation in future markets and between middlemen in the circuit from farm to retail outlet.

In this impersonal domain of food production, it is not surprising to find that a "farmer" often turns out to be an airplane pilot who dusts crops with pesticides, a chemist who treats soil as a lifeless repository for inorganic compounds, an operator of immense agricultural machines who is more familiar with engines than botany, and perhaps most decisively, a financier whose knowledge of land may be less than that of an urban cab driver. Food, in turn, reaches the consumer in containers and in forms so highly modified and denatured as to bear scant resemblance to the original. In the modern, glistening supermarket, the buyer walks dreamily through a spectacle of packaged materials in which the pictures of plants, meat, and dairy foods replace the life forms from which they are derived. The fetish assumes the form of the real phenomenon. Here, the individual's relationship to one of the most intimate of natural experiences—the nutriments indispensable to life—is divorced from its roots in the totality of nature. Vegetables, fruit, cereals, dairy foods and meat lose their identity as organic realities and often acquire the name of the corporate enterprise that produces them. The "Big Mac" and the "Swift Sausage" no longer convey even the faintest notion that a living creature was painfully butchered to provide the consumer with that food.

This denatured outlook stands sharply at odds with an earlier animistic sensibility that viewed land as an inalienable, almost sacred domain, food cultivation as a spiritual activity, and food consumption as a hallowed social ritual.

Read the report (PDF).

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