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union busting

Tesla Workers File Charges with National Labor Board as Battle with Elon Musk Intensifies

By David Dayen - American Prospect, April 20, 2017 (article copublished by Capital & Main)

Workers at Tesla’s Fremont, California, electric car factory have filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), accusing the company of illegal surveillance, coercion, intimidation, and prevention of worker communications. The employees, who have been attempting to organize the approximately 7,000 workers at the plant through the United Auto Workers, claim that Tesla violated multiple sections of the National Labor Relations Act, which protects the right to unionize.

“I know my rights, and I know that we acted within them,” said Jonathan Galescu, a body repair technician. Galescu and his colleagues have previously cited low pay, hazardous work conditions, and a culture of intimidation as motivations to unionize the plant.

On February 10, several Tesla employees passed out flyers to their colleagues during a shift change. The literature featured a blog post from Medium written by Jose Moran, a Tesla production associate on the body-line. Moran’s post was the first public acknowledgment that some workers at Tesla were interested in organizing a union.

According to the NLRB complaint obtained by Capital & Main, managers at Tesla “conduct[ed] surveillance” on the workers who passed out the literature, and those who received the flyers. A month later, on March 23, Tesla management held a meeting, telling workers “they were not allowed to pass out any literature unless it was pre-approved by the Employer,” the complaint reads.

“We should have the right to distribute information to our co-workers without intimidation,” said Michael Sanchez, who works on door panels at the factory and has joined the unionizing effort. “You can’t fix problems if you’re not allowed to talk about them.”

Employees also object in the complaint to a confidentiality agreement presented last November, which vowed consequences (including “loss of employment” and “possible criminal prosecution”) for speaking publicly or to the media regarding “everything that you work on, learn about, or observe in your work about Tesla”—including wages and working conditions. Confidentiality agreements are common in auto factories to protect trade secrets, but Tesla’s was so far-reaching that five members of the California legislature wrote to the company, warning that the agreement violated protected employee activity.

Sen. Jim Smith, State Chair of ALEC, Pens Letter to PSC Supporting TransCanada’s Foreign Steel-Made, Foreign Oil-Carrying Keystone XL Export Pipeline

By Jane Kleeb - Bold Alliance, March 8, 2017

Bold Alliance president Jane Kleeb issued this response to a letter sent by Nebraska State Sen. Jim Smith, also the state chair of corporation-friendly bill mill ALEC, and other Senators to the Public Service Commission voicing support of TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tarsands export pipeline, which is abusing eminent domain for private gain, and threatening our land, water and climate:

“Keystone XL is a foreign-owned pipeline, using foreign, non-union steel, transporting foreign oil, headed to the foreign export market,” said Bold Alliance president Jane Kleeb. “We stand with the United Steelworkers union demanding U.S. steel, landowners defending their property rights from eminent domain, and our Native allies as we all take action to protect our water.”

Foreign, Non-Union Steel Destined for KXL

President Trump has betrayed the promise of his Presidential Memorandum, and numerous statements he has made publicly saying that only U.S.-made steel would be used on Keystone XL.

Despite TransCanada’s contention that “75% of the steel [for Keystone XL] is coming from North American sources,” this statement grossly misrepresents the sourcing of steel already purchased by the company for the pipeline.

It’s true that some of the pipe intended for Keystone XL was manufactured in North America — Canada to be exact (which obviously does not meet Trump’s promise to “buy American” or “American-made” steel). But the Russian company with facilities in Regina, Canada that TransCanada contracted with for 40% of the pipe, Evraz, is co-owned by Russian steel oligarch Roman Abramovich, a close ally and mentor of Vladimir Putin — and a Trump family friend.

EcoUnionist News #64: Gulf South Rising Edition

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, September 3, 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.

Ten years ago, between August 23-31, Hurricane Katrina overran the city of New Orleans, Louisiana, destroying major portions of the city, killing at least 1245 people. The destruction and death disproportionately affected the poor, mostly nonwhite, working class people and neighborhoods of New Orleans, and the response by the capitalist class and every government from the local municipal authorities to the State of Louisiana to the United States, was to render aid to the mostly white employing class while letting the working class suffer. Law enforcement and the capitalist, in an orgy of racism and class bias, displayed blatant double standards, greatly exaggerating the actions of black survivors, labeling their actions as "violent", "looting", and "thuggish" while ignoring at least as serious actions by white survivors. Then, they used the disaster to bust unions, privatize public institutions (including the public school system), and shred environmental laws, so they could remake New Orleans into a hyper capitalist mecca. Ten years later, the devastation of Katrina is still wreaking havoc on the 99%, however, as a result, broad based, intersectional working class resistance has arisen among them and they are fighting back. A good portion of the resistance is working under the banner of #GulfSouthRising and Katrina Truth. Following are just some of their stories:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC; Hashtags: #greenunionism #greensyndicalism #IWW

Greenpeace Workers Strike Amid Claims of Exploitation

By Cyrus Ward - Young Progressive Voices, August 16, 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.

Workers at two California Greenpeace offices have gone on strike amid concerns over an unjust quota system that creates a zero-sum, high pressure environment which puts canvassers in risk of being fired, every 3 weeks.

According to a press release sent by a new organization named “Greenpeace on Strike,” many the environmental organization’s canvassers with over 1 year experience regularly raise nearly 6 to 7 times as much money as they are paid. Despite the significant payday for Greenpeace, the organization uses a quota system that doesn’t take into account the lifetime fundraising totals of canvassers. The system runs on a 3 week quota that means that canvassers can be fired for short-time lull in fundraising even if the canvassers’ lifetime totals are still above the 3 week average.

In response to the strike, 16 of the Greenpeace workers in San Diego were delivered with letters of intent to terminate by Greenpeace under a claim of job abandonment. Greenpeace On Strike’s press release claims that these letters are a direct violation of section 7 & 8 of the National Labor Relations Act.

Despite the threatening response by Greenpeace, one of the striking canvassers said “by no means are we doing this to bash Greenpeace. We love Greenpeace, and we are Rainbow Warriors. That’s why we want to make Greenpeace better.”

Regardless of the outcome, it is abundantly clear that despite its leftist political ideology, Greenpeace’s workplace is far from democratic.

Steelworkers protest racism and lack of adequate safety at the Shell refinery in Martinez, California

By x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, January 25, 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.

Inside sources tell us that rank and file members of United Steelworkers Union Local 5 in Martinez, California are none too happy with management of the local Shell refinery bosses.

Their main beef is that the company refuses to hire full time firefighters to staff the facility, and instead choose to rely on part timers. Given these refineries' tendency to--well--explode, especially in light of the fact that they're processing heavier and dirtier tar sands crude through increasingly corroded and poorly maintained pipes (due to maintenance budget restrictions in spite of the workers' warning against that), this isn't shocking. In fact, what's shocking is that more people don't know about this.

These same workers attended the recent (January 21, 2015) Martinez City Council meeting to complain about unaddressed instances of sexism and racial slurs (including a hangman's noose and graffiti of a Nazi swastika found at the facility) by the company.

The union conducted a brief informational picket in nearby Pacheco on January 22 to raise awareness about their grievances. Stay tuned for updates.

Reportedly, members of USW Local 5 will also join in a community rally in front of city hall (400 Civic Center on McDonald), in Richmond, California at 5 PM, Wednesday, January 28, 2015. At 6 PM, the US Chemical Safety Board will issue its final determination on the August 6, 2012 toxic fire and explosion at the Chevron Richmond Refinery.

Rick Berman Exposed in New Audio; Hear His Tactics Against Environmentalists and Workers' Rights

By Lisa Graves - P.R.Watch, October 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.

Ecology.IWW.ORG Editor's Note: The recently revealed news about Rick Berman's playbook of dirty tricks aimed at anti-fracking climate activists should come as no shock. Berman is well known for his virulent anti-union and anti-consumer astroturf websites, but he is only one of the more outspoken capitalist commissars, of which there are many. If any more proof is needed that environmental activists and workers have a common adversary in the capitalist system, this should more than suffice:

Rick Berman, the king of corporate front groups and propaganda, has been caught on tape detailing his attacks on public interest groups in the labor and environmental movements, including on efforts to increase the minimum wage for workers.

As noted in a new story by Eric Lipton at The New York Times, Berman met with energy company executives at the posh Broadmoor Hotel earlier this year to raise money from them to attack groups representing citizens concerned about clean water, clean air, and the future of the planet. But Berman's "win ugly" tactics apparently did not persuade all of his prospective clients for his lucrative business of creating tax-exempt non-profit front groups that then contract with his for-profit PR firm to give corporations cover for his attacks on their opponents. The way Berman profits from this arrangement has spawned a legal complaint to the IRS.

An audio tape of Berman and his associate, Jack Hubbard, has been provided by a person at the Broadmoor event to the Center for Media and Democracy, which publishes PR Watch and has long tracked Berman's deceptive PR operations.

Readers can listen to the full tape here and read the transcript here.

Freeport-McMoRan Finishes Destroying the Famous "Salt of the Earth" Labor Union

By David Correria - La Jicarita, September 31, 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.

Web Editor's Note: According to one of our members, "(The) 'Salt of the Earth' union was destroyed by the company union a long time ago. I am friends with someone with roots in Bayard, NM and whose mother was involved in the strike. The USWA recent had a 60th anniversary celebration of the film here in March. They didn't 'merge', Mine, Mill Smelter was purged." Nevertheless, the following article shows just how ruthless the copper bosses still are and why a union like the IWW is needed more than ever, not just for the workers, but for the environment as well:

Members of Steelworkers Local 9424-3 in Bayard, NM are employed at one of the world’s largest open-pit copper mines owned by one of the world’s most profitable companies, Freeport-McMoRan. They voted last week 236 to 83 in favor of decertifying the union.

The vote was the culmination of six months of union busting work by Freeport employee Irvin Shane Shores, a Deming-resident and recent Freeport-McMoRan employee. According to the National Labor Relations Board, any employee who no longer wants a union to represent him or her is entitled to seek an election to determine if a majority of their coworkers agree.

In mid-August Shores circulated a petition asking members of the Steelworkers to decertify the union. He collected signatures from more than 30 percent of members of the bargaining unit, thus triggering the decertification vote. The National Labor Relations Board scheduled the election for September 17 and 18.

The local Steelworkers union Shores decertified is the inheritor of Mine-Mill Local 890, a union made famous by the 1954 film “Salt of the Earth”, which dramatized Local 890’s 1951 Empire Zinc strike. A number of members of the creative team behind the film had been blacklisted by Hollywood. The director, Herbert Biberman, went to jail for refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee, which investigated communist “infiltration” in politics, entertainment and education, among other industries.

The film was financed by the national office of Local 890, the International Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers Union, which was expelled from the Congress of Industrial Organizations in 1950 for presumed communist influence.

The aggressive, pro-labor message made the film an instant favorite among leftists and labor unions. It found an enthusiastic audience in union hall screenings all over the US. It was banned or boycotted everywhere else. The film and its creators were condemned by the House of Representatives, investigated by the FBI; theaters refused to play it and it was widely denounced by newspapers and chambers of commerce throughout New Mexico.

It was rediscovered by Chicano Movement activists in the late 1960s and remains today a neo-realist classic for its focus on Chicano activism and feminist politics.

The strikers found success in the film but the real union found little more than struggle. Mine-Mill Local 890 organizer Clinton Jencks was arrested by federal agents in 1953 and jailed for alleged communist connections. The Kennecott Copper Company refused to negotiate with Mine-Mill Local 890 in the mid 1950s, telling the union’s members “we have refused to bargain with unions whose officers have failed to file the non-Communist affidavits required by the Labor-Management Act, 1947 [Taft-Hartley]. We believe, with Congress, that the spread of Communism in the United States is fast becoming a menace that presents a serious threat to our free way of life.”

Apparently, Kennecott defined “freedom” as its ability to reap windfall profits while its workers, on whose backs it made those profits, labored in miserable working conditions for immiseration wages. Kennecott Copper Company was the world’s largest copper producer with mines in the US and Chile. Its domestic production at four mines in Arizona, Nevada, Utah and New Mexico accounted for nearly half of all copper produced in the US and 20 percent of the world’s copper supply. The mine in Bayard was the largest industrial operation in New Mexico and accounted for 12 percent of Kennecott’s total copper output. In the years prior to the “Salt of the Earth Strike”, and despite a series of strikes that shut down mines in Utah, Kennecott reported more than $23 million in profit. It had $17 million dollars on hand in reserve and reported to its board of directors an earned surplus of nearly $165 million of accumulated profit.

While the mine recorded record profits throughout the 1940s and 50s, most Anglo workers at the mine made less than $5 per day. Kennecott paid lower wages to Spanish-speaking and Navajo workers.

Progressive Union Busting

By The Angry Syndicalist - October 9, 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.

Grassroots Campaigns Inc is in the process of being unionized by the newly formed United Campaign Workers who have canvassed for the progressive non-profit organization. The canvassers have been denied paychecks owed by the organization and have been running a campaign for the regulation and restoration of hemp. Apparently these progressives have bounced checks before as well, since management wasn't willing to discuss these problems, the workers walked off the job.

The UCW was formed in concert with the help of the IWW. A phone blast was the first response to the liberal organization, with supporters calling in for the UCW. The demands were simple, $15.00 an hour and the overtime pay they were owed. When these were handed in to the director, he apparently thought the word grassroots and the IWW were strangers, naivety abound.

The campaign has been gathering signatures for I-21, the Oregon Cannabis Amendment, which would end all legal penalties for marijuana products and extend growing permissions to Oregonians. It’s paired with the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act, I-22, which would override existing laws to create a new regulatory framework and funnel money from marijuana sales into state programs.

The crew pulls 600 signatures a day and it would make sense since they are in favor of the campaign they'd be brought back to work? No. The canvassers have support in the community in the form of Jobs for Justice and other union members.

Nonprofits have been using methods normally reserved for the conservative wing of liberal politics to bust unions i.e. Sisters Camelot, which has left a sour taste in many Wobblies mouths. Who resorted to a lawyer whose goal was to destroy the union, despite the fact the NLRB recognized them as workers.

I do not put it past progressives to have the not in my backyard mentality if it affects them. So much so, they hired scabs who ironically were offered $15.00 an hour. Since then the workers have done what they can to get management back to the bargaining table, including demanding enough dignity from the work they perform in the payment of bonuses so they can feed their children.

A confused liberal called this heteronormative, however I question if this liberal has ever had to starve before.

Part II: Boston Wobblies in Solidarity.

GCI has had their reputation for union busting spread throughout the local community in Boston(where their HQ is). Their quotas were unrealistic and union busting isn't a thing a labor democrat would do would they? Anyways, they resorted to hiring private security who were too cowardly to show their faces to the world.

Grassroots Campaigns was founded in December 2003. By April 2004 Grassroots Campaigns had opened offices in 40 cities throughout the country. By July 2004 they had over 2,000 staff knocking on doors and fund raising on behalf of the  Democratic National Committee With continued work on behalf of MoveOn PAC to run "Leave No Voter Behind," (LNVB). This was a "get out the vote" (GOTV) program intended to give Democratic candidate John Kerry an edge in the swing states. 

Grassroots Campaigns, Inc clients are a who's who for those who like to name drop, from the ACLU to the SPLC to the Sierra Club. It's one big club and the canvassers aren't in it. Praise be to the liberal elite with college degrees and Starbucks addictions.

SpaceX Sued for Laying Off 400 Workers Without Proper Notice or Wages

By Natasha Tiku - Valley Wag, August 8th, 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 Monday former employees of SpaceX, Elon Musk's own private NASA, filed a proposed class action lawsuit. The complaint alleges that SpaceX "ordered the mass layoffs of between 200 and 400 workers" in late July without properly notifying them or paying the wages they were owed.

Law360 reports:

"Plaintiffs and other similarly situated employees also seek recovery of waiting time penalties as a result of defendants' failure to pay employees all wages due and owing at the time of their termination," the complaint says.

The plaintiffs allege that SpaceX's decision was "willful," according to the legal news site:

Among the fired workers were plaintiffs Bobby R. Lee and Bron Gatling, who worked as structural technicians in the company's Hawthorne facility. They claimed SpaceX's failure to pay the fired employees all wages earned before termination in accordance with the California Labor Code was willful.

SpaceX is based in Hawthorne, California, where those named plaintiffs worked. The company was recently offered $15 million in incentives to build a new launch facility in Texas. I have reached out to SpaceX and will update the post if I hear back.

Update: Here is a copy of the complaint.

Complaint Against SpaceX for Lost Wages after Mass Layoffs

Capital Blight - Aristocracy Forever

By x344543 - June 12, 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.

When the union leaders' payoffs by the bosses has begun,
There will be no labor trouble anywhere beneath the sun,
For the AFL trade unions and the management are one,
The union keeps us down.

Chorus
Aristocracy forever,
Aristocracy forever,
Aristocracy forever,

--lyrics excerpted from Aristocracy Forever, by Judi Bari

It happens far too often. Big corporate industrial polluters rape and pillage the Earth, whether by tar sands mining, fracking, mountaintop coal mining, offshore oil drilling, clearcut logging, and more. What's more, much of what they extract they export elsewhere, choosing to remove even the economic benefits of local production from the affected community. These corporations claim to be "good neighbors", but they suck up all the wealth (in the form of profits), and they outsource the costs to the community. And the workers who actually do the labor to produce all of this wealth? Not only are they not paid the full value of their labor, they're often the first to bear the brunt of the toxic pollution and chemical poisoning these companies create in their wake.

It's no wonder that time and time again we witness communities organizing and mobilizing opposition to this state of affairs, often assisted by environmental organizations of various types. What's curious, however, is how often the unions (if the workers in these facilities are fortunate enough to have union representation) defend the companies and even promote the companies' messages--even though it's ultimately not in the workers' interest to do so.

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