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Climate Strike!

By Philly Metro Area WSA - Workers Solidarity Alliance, April 13, 2022

Philly Metro WSA was visited by Lucien-Charles Tronchet-Ridel, a Quebec-based WSA activist. He met with members of the branch last month to discuss his work in Quebec with Workers for Climate Justice, a network of union activists.

The “Earth Invites Itself to Parliament” in 2019 built solidarity between workers and students, and culminated in a mass climate march in September 2019. This climate march was not only the largest demonstration in Canadian history, but also one of the biggest climate-marches in world’s history..14 unions declared a climate strike, which was mostly carried out by teachers of various CEGEP (publicly funded colleges). CEGEPs have a tradition of organizing student strikes for social causes. 

Cédric Gray-Lehoux, spokesperson for the youth network of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, was one of three people to make a speech in September 2019. Before this, a training camp linked non-native activists with native activists during two days to share their knowledge and experiences. There is a growing concern in the Quebec ecological movement to connect itself to First Nation struggles. The student movement mostly works to build connections with Native people.

In 2021, Earth Invites Itself to Parliament created a separate network of green unionists: Workers for Climate Justice. This network decided to have another mass mobilization for fall of 2022, when they plan to be more oppositional than in the fall of 2019. The 2019 march was mainstream enough that even the prime minister of Canada marched. The Workers for Climate Justice, for their more oppositional march, have prepared a workshop for workers to present on the workshop floor. 

Waging a strike campaign outside of a bargaining period between two contract periods is technically illegal. Since it will be a social strike, a strike for bettering society, it will be a legitimate campaign even if not a legally sanctioned strike for collective bargaining.

Lucien-Charles is helping Workers for Climate Justice to get in touch with environmental and radical ecology groups in North America, and branch members of WSA were happy to put him in touch with their contacts in Philly and Delaware County. 

When asked what pro-IWA groups can offer to this work, Lucien-Charles replied,“the IWA, I feel, can provide a critical anti-capitalist and anti-statist viewpoint, which is lacking in the mainstream Climate movement, which is largely oriented toward the Green New Deal, and is limited to the UN Recommendations for Carbon Emissions.” He added, “IWA and the IWA Climate Committee can bring a much more radical viewpoint, grounded in the creative possibilities of workers’ direct action, to such as strikes and boycotts, and the ideals of anarcho-communism/anarcho-syndicalism.”

Branch members expressed interest in how to engage on a local level with IWA Climate committee work. When Lucien presented a small film from the mass mobilization of 2019, the visual effect of the never-ending march was inspiring..Branch members shared their reactions and reflections. 

2022 Global Climate Strike: Travailleuses et Travailleurs pour la Justice Climatique

By staff - Travailleuses et Travailleurs pour la Justice Climatique, April 10, 2022

Greetings to all climate conscious workers

Who are we?

We are Travailleuses et travailleurs pour la justice climatique (TJC, Workers for Climate Justice), a Québec-based network. As workers, we are union officers, union executive or rank-and-file union activists. We are conscious of the highest relevance of Climate Justice for the future of our species, all the biosphere and the welfare of our class. Therefore we want to put pressure on fossil fuel profiteers and their politician puppets to make sure greenhouse gas emissions are kept under a secure level.

What do we want?

Our demands are to ban fossil fuels in Québec and Canada by 2030, and tax the rich massively in order to reinvest in public services and social programs. That is why us rank-and-file and local union officers intend to take action in our workplaces. We are calling for nothing else but a Québec-wide social strike for Climate Justice in Autumn 2022!

Climate strike in the past

In September 2019, we organized our first climate strike, in which 14 local unions representing around 7,500 workers across Québec participated. The strike took place alongside the historic climate march of 500,000 people in Montréal on September 27, 2019 - the largest demonstration in our history. 

Climate strike in 2022

This year, we are organizing to mobilize a climate strike on an even greater scale, seeking at least 20 local unions with 10,000 workers to initiate the strike sometime this fall. We are also organizing in solidarity with student movements and community groups in order to build broader support across the province. We will be determining the date of the strike in collaboration with our comrades in the student movement. 

Our outreach intentions

We believe that in order to fight effectively against the climate catastrophe, we must build a movement for climate strike among workers across North America. The greenhouse gas emissions have no borders; it takes an international working-class to fight against them. While the concrete demands may be different in different places, we can support each other and pressure our respective strategic targets, and ensure international visibility and create bonds of solidarity for our common cause.

If your organization or anyone you know is interested in working with us, please let us know and one of us will be in touch with you shortly. Furthermore, please spread this message to as many labour groups in your area as possible. It’s up to us, workers of the world, to act for Climate Justice. Let’s build a Global Climate Strike!

In solidarity, 

Travailleuses et travailleurs pour la justice climatique (TJC)

Coordinating Committee of TJC.

https://justiceclimatique.org/

Only Labor Can Force Canadian Pension Funds to Divest From Oil

By Tom Fraser - Jacobin, October 19, 2021

One of Canada’s largest institutional investors, responsible for managing billions of dollars in workers’ pensions, has committed to fossil fuel divestment. It’s a good step — but without pressure from the labor movement, these promises will mean nothing.

On September 28, the institutional investor and pension manager Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (CDPQ) announced that it would no longer invest in oil production. The Caisse made this decision as part of their strategy to reach net-zero by 2050. Canada’s second-largest pension fund manages the retirement contributions of over six million Quebecois. Their stability and security in old age is bound up with the Caisse’s ability to assure returns on its vast asset portfolio.

Although it comes with caveats, the Caisse’s announcement could potentially be the start of a wider movement on the part of investment companies to divest Canada’s public sector pension funds from fossil fuels. With such massive portfolios, pensions could be at the forefront of a just transition.

Labour and climate activists make recommendations for fossil fuel workers in new joint report

By Elizabeth Perry - Work and Climate Change Report, October 19, 2021

At a press conference on October 13, representatives of Climate Action Network Canada , Blue Green Canada, United Steelworkers, and Unifor launched a new report,  Facing Fossil Fuels’ Future: Challenges and Opportunities for Workers in Canada’s Energy and Labour Transitions. The report considers the challenges to the fossil fuel industry, including automation, and projects that 56,000 alternative jobs will need to be created for current Canadian oil and gas workers in the next decade. The report offers seven recommendations for a Just Transition, building on policy proposals from Canada’s Just Transition Task Force for Coal Workers and Communities, the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec, and Unifor (whose most recent statement is their submission to the Just Transition consultation process here. ) Key recommendations include: “Recognizing the expertise of workers, through consultation with workers and communities, Canada must create Just Transition policy / legislation that holds the government accountable to developing transition strategies. Similar policy / legislation should be adopted by all provinces with an emphasis on the oil and gas producing provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Newfoundland and Labrador.” Funding is seen to come from Covid recovery funds and the Infrastructure Bank, with another recommendation: “Tie public investments to employers meeting conditions on job quality, including pay, access to training, job security, union access and representation through mandatory joint committees.”

Summaries of Facing Fossil Fuels’ Future appear in the press release from Climate Action Network, and in “With Canadian fossil fuel jobs about to be cut in half, it’s time to talk about a just transition” (National Observer, Oct. 15). The latter article highlights the enhanced impact of the bringing labour unions and climate activists together, and also emphasizes that workers must be included in all transition plans, using the cautionary tale of Algoma Steel. As explained in “Why Mike Da Prat boycotted the prime minister’s Algoma Steel announcement” (Soo Today, July 6 2021) the union was not adequately consulted on transition planning when the government awarded $420 million in July 2021 to help Algoma Steel transition from coal to greener, electric-arc furnace production.

All Hands on Deck: An assessment of provincial, territorial and federal readiness to deliver a safe climate

By Nichole Dusyk, Isabelle Turcotte, Thomas Gunton, Josha MacNab, Sarah McBain, Noe Penney, Julianne Pickrell-Barr, and Myfannwy Pope - Pembina Institute, July 22, 2021

Unlocking a prosperous future for all will require bold, ambitious action on climate from governments across Canada.

To measure readiness to act on climate, Pembina Institute in collaboration with Simon Fraser University’s School of Resource and Environmental Management assessed the performance of provinces, territories, and the federal government on 24 policy indicators across 11 categories. The indicators represent foundational climate policies and measures to reduce emissions in key sectors of the economy. Governments were invited to review the accuracy and completeness of the data and summary for their region prior to publication.

The assessment shows that there have been important examples of climate leadership and success across the country. Yet, progress made — for example with economy-wide carbon pricing and the phase-out of coal-fired electricity — has been offset by emissions increases elsewhere. In particular, emissions from transportation and oil and gas production have been on a steady upward trajectory since 2005. As a result, Canada’s overall greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have dropped by only 1% between 2005 and 2019. Modelling that includes the federal climate policy published in December 2020 shows a national emissions reduction of 36% below 2005 levels by 2030 — still short of the federal government’s commitment to reduce emissions by 40-45% by 2030.

Read the Report (PDF).

A Strategic Perspective for Uniting Ecosocialists in Québec

By Révolution écosocialiste - The Bullet, December 10, 2020

Ecosocialist Revolution contributes to the construction of a socialist movement in which a mass socialist party will be called upon to play a key role. This requires a renewal of the trade union movement and the development of combative and democratic social movements. To be successful, our campaigns – electoral, union or social – must be situated within an overall strategy, which must itself be based on an analysis of the economic and political system and our historical situation. Our basis of unity, which unites us, presents our strategic perspective and our vision of the socialist movement to be built.

A. For Socialism

A1 We want to help build a socialist world that will end the exploitation and oppression that are inherent in capitalism. Everyone has the right to a free and fully creative life. In a socialist society, a democratically planned and administered economy will enable us to meet the challenge of climate change and to preserve our ecosystems and biodiversity. A socialist democracy will redefine politics by extending democracy to our workplaces and within our communities.

B. The Strategic Centrality of the Class Struggle to Overthrow Capitalism

B1 Capitalism is based on exploitation and commodification. Capitalist society is divided into classes. A small minority dominates the economy and monopolizes the means of production and distribution from which the great majority subject to this domination is dispossessed. The resources to which people are entitled and what they must do to survive are determined by their social class, but also by their racialized group, gender identity, and ability.

B2 Capitalist firms are in competition and must therefore maximize profits by reducing costs, intensifying labour and adopting technologies that increase its productivity while making it more precarious. Financial companies are also competing for a share of household debt and developing more and more murky financial products for this purpose. This frantic race for profitability in the context of an unplanned economy leads to recurring crises, both economic and ecological.

B3 While immense wealth is produced, the majority of the population struggles to make ends meet, and our access to what is necessary for a dignified and fulfilling life remains far removed from what it could be. At the top, society is dominated by the capitalist class – a small minority of large property owners and their managers. The profits of this class are derived from the efforts of the vast majority, the working class.

B4 The profits of those above depend on the work of the vast majority below. This gives us enormous potential power, therefore. We have the power to stop production and the flow of profits, or to create a political crisis with a public service strike. We are the vast majority of the population and we have the power to transform a political system that protects the power of capital.

B5 Improving our lives now and eventually putting an end to capitalism requires the mobilization of this immense potential power and poses the central strategic question of the organization of the working class – the construction of its unity in all its diversity. This project is at the heart of our strategic perspective.

How Seven Thousand Quebec Workers Went on Strike against Climate Change

By Alain Savard - Labor Notes, October 25, 2019

With a crowd of 500,000, Montreal’s march for the climate was the largest in the world during the September 20-27 week of climate action. Yet it was also noteworthy for another reason.

Despite provincial labor laws preventing unions from striking over political issues, 11 locals representing 7,500 workers formally voted to go on strike for a day.

Organizing for the strike began in January with a handful of rank-and-file teachers who were also involved in grassroots ecological movements. François Geoffroy and Frédéric Legault had little experience with unions, but when they saw that the international network Earth Strike was calling for a climate strike on September 27, they decided to dedicate all their energy to organizing a real climate strike.

They linked up with the rank-and-file union network Lutte Commune (Common Struggle) to make connections with union activists on how to push forward.

The strategy they came up with was to get local membership meetings to pass a strike mandate. This mandate would be “conditional”: it would take effect only if a critical mass—at least 10 locals representing 5,000 workers—were participating. That way the locals would not strike alone and be vulnerable to repression and marginalization. It also ensured that locals could coordinate without having to use the formal structures of labor federations for communication and strategizing.

Coordination outside the formal structures was important because the unions that the organizers thought might strike belonged to various federations. They didn’t expect a majority of unions to go on strike in any single federation, and they expected the federations to be reluctant, if not hostile to the project.

What Have We Learned From the Lac-Megantic Oil Train Disaster?

By Justin Mikulka - DeSmog Blog, December 21, 2016

Brian Stevens first learned about the Lac-Megantic disaster — in which an unattended oil train caught fire and exploded, killing 47 people in the Quebec town — when he saw the news reports on TV.

Stevens is currently National Rail Director for Unifor, Canada’s largest private sector union, but he previously spent 16 years as an air-brake mechanic working on trains. At a recent conference in Ottawa examining lessons from the 2013 Lac-Megantic rail disaster, he recounted his reaction to seeing those initial scenes of destruction.  

That ain’t Canada, that can’t happen in North America because our brake systems won’t allow that,” he said when he eventually learned the images he was seeing were from Canada. “My heart sank … It was crushing.”  

Stevens went on to explain his opinion of the root cause of the problem, summing up the challenges in Canada with one simple statement: “The railways write the rules.” 

He also placed blame on the deregulation of the Canadian rail industry that began more than three decades ago.

Lac Megantic started in 1984. It was destined to happen,” said Stevens, referring to the start of that deregulation.

One example of the effects of deregulation can be seen in the cuts to the number of people conducting inspections, from over 7,000 railway and rail car inspectors in 1984, down to “less than 2,000” now, according to Stevens. 

He didn't mince words about what he's seen change in the three years since Canada's worst rail accident.

“The railway barons continue to exist and continue to drive the industry and the government,” said Stevens.

Radicalization of the May 1st 2015 Strike

By Quebec IWW - SITT-IWW, March 29, 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.

English Translation. Pour lire cet article en français, cliquez ici. 

A phantom haunts the province of Quebec. It is the phantom of the General Strike. Since 2012, our elites have known that the working class, the students, and all those who continue to decry injustice and repression have the power to take to the streets and impose their legitimacy in the face of the State. Despite this dread, the high-priests of capitalism, and especially those preaching its liberal vision, can not hold back from waging an open war against everything that isn’t merchandise, against everything that isn’t financially valuable. From budget cuts to over-arming police forces, and from underpaid jobs to public insults against the poor and the exploited, everything leads one to believe that Quebec is now the foreground of unbridled capitalism. This neo-liberal paradise, protected by the State and its minions, ruins our lives and those of our families and friends, quashes what little is left of our liberty, spits in the faces of those most hard on their luck and on the misery of its own creation.

We have long ceased to believe in the regulatory capacity of this system. By destroying itself, it will destroy us too. Each new day we are reminded of this programmed failure: environmental disasters, increased inequality, the deterioration of working conditions, institutional racism, systemic corruption of our political system, and harassment of women in their workplaces or at school. Generally speaking, it is all forms of domination that are dangerously increasing, pushing the most exploited and dominated to the breaking point, all in order to install our elites on a too-comfortable pedestal.

This is why we call the rebellious among us to insurrection. We hope that the spring will bring out the most angry, those who are disgusted at the system, in the streets and in actions. Because apathy just isn’t enough, we firmly believe in our common capacity to create a better world. More than a simple timely struggle against austerity, we see on the horizon the premises of a social war, of which the 2012 strike was only a beginning. Each government, left or right, has tried time and again to impose their rotten economic and societal concepts upon us. A single day of strikes is not enough to push back a government which dearly protects the financial assets of the most dominant in society. We believe that a global revolt of all society must emerge during the spring. This revolt must be planned on the long term: in Quebec as in Europe, there are too many recent examples that demonstrate the futility of punctual and singular actions against governments that are now used to and prepared for social discontent.

Against capitalism and liberalism, we reaffirm our right to manage our own lives, whether the people who rule us like it or not. Our daily lives belong to us, our cities too. We firmly believe that capitalism must be erased from Quebec. In this goal, we will always be in solidarity with those who struggle, and always at odds with those who remain resigned and prostrate. We will be alongside workers and students in their struggles, and we will oppose all police brutality with working class solidarity. In the streets, in our workplaces and schools, in our neighborhoods, we are here to struggle and help.

Let us not fear our utopias!

Let us dare to overthrow the established order!

It fuckin worked! A reportback from MayDay 2014 in Montréal

By the Stimulator - Coop Média de Montréal, May 2, 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.

Another demo, another slaughter, another May Day, another kettle, some might say. "Not so!" say I! The media and naysayers have already rolled out the narrative that the SPVM and their SQ allies were in full control and managed to swiftly put down any attempt to take the streets during the anti-capitalist May Day demo. This is an account of what I witnessed and it's in no way a complete portrayal of what went down in the streets of Montr€€éal this 1st of May. I welcome corrections, additions and comments so that we can get a clearer picture of what went down, and so that we can further our analysis on how to re-take the streets.

The context: Following the five months of sustained social upheaval during the 2012 student strike, the powers-that-be dropped the gauntlet, a repressive law known as réglement(?) P-6 that gives the cops broad powers to mass-arrest people taking part in unpermitted marches. The police did not rigorously enforce P-6 during the first few months following the fizzling of the strike, but in 2013 and 2014, the Montréal police have successfully used it to detain and ticket over a thousand comrades with fines of $600+ dollars. The cops' preferred tactic of detainment is the kettle, basically bringing in enough police to round up protesters and create what amounts to a cop fence. Comrades are then processed on-site or at the cop shop, given a ticket, and released.

The Fine Print I:

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