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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.

Not-for-Profit, Open for Business

By Sophia Burns - The North Star, December 15, 2016

One summer in college, I got a job canvassing for Greenpeace. We spent the morning getting pumped up by our supervisor about how we were really going to make a difference, then spent the afternoon on the sidewalk downtown asking passers-by for donations. As new hires, we had three probationary days to “make staff”: anyone who didn’t meet the quota would not be kept on, and those who did would be fired if they didn’t continue to deliver.

Every Monday, a new crop of fifteen or so recruits showed up. A week later, all but two or three would be gone. Almost nobody lasted more than a month. There was no union, the training wage was lower than the advertised staff wage, and the large bulk of the money we raised was brought in by trainees who never made staff.

While few nonprofit workplaces have conditions quite so extreme, low pay and long hours are par for the course at most NGOs. Union density in the field is quite low, and many nonprofits expect their employees to accept the conditions they impose in the name of “the mission” and a “nonprofit ethic” of selfless service. Often, members of the activist community see nonprofit jobs as very desirable – a chance to make a living by living their values and to do progressive organizing full-time. And, indeed, on-the-ground progressive politics frequently depends on the resources NGOs offer, including funding, legal infrastructure, and staffers’ time and labor. Certainly, when I worked for Greenpeace, few canvassers complained about the draconian quotas or extreme precarity – at any given time, any given worker would more likely than not be fired within a week, but we were “doing something real.” In comparison, retail didn’t seem to cut it.

Our jobs may have been precarious, but Greenpeace’s funding was not. While Greenpeace does not accept government or corporate contributions, most NGOs do, as well as foundation grants and individual “membership” donations. “Member,” of course, is an ambiguous word. A member of a book club will generally get to help choose the next book, and a member of a labor union will (in theory, at least) get to vote in internal elections and on contracts. However, a “member” of an advocacy group like Greenpeace donates money and doesn’t do a whole lot else. As a canvasser, I certainly wasn’t voting for candidates for the Board of Directors. Neither were the “members” I was signing up. And while Greenpeace is typical of policy-focused nonprofits in that it claims to speak for a broad constituency, it’s also typical in that those constituents don’t really get a say in the organizational and political decisions that determine the group’s activities. For most nonprofits, “joining” means donating (and occasionally receiving a mailer asking for even more donations).

Pitch Black: The Journey of Coal from Colombia to Italy; the Curse of Extractivism

By various - Re:Common, April 2016

By presenting the horrors suffered under the domination of multinational companies, this work by Re:Common will dispel any lingering doubt that the current economic system based on extractivism is a war against the poor (what subcommander Marcos called the “Fourth World War”).

If someone who trusts the mainstream media and academic analyses thinks that at some point colonialism disappeared from the face of the Earth, this work, based on documents and testimonies, demonstrates otherwise.

For those who believe that progress is the most striking characteristic of our times, starting with the post-World War II period, the voices of the missing that populate these pages will convince you that present-day capitalism is a just a revamped version of the Spanish conquest of five centuries ago.

Throughout this work, all the variables of extractivism can be seen: from occupation of the territory and displacement of people to the role of the offshore banking and financial system, as two complementary and inseparable parts of accumulation by theft/dispossession. In the occupied territories, the displacement occurs in the form of war, with the participation of military, paramilitary, guerrilla and the greatest variety of imaginable armed actors.

The victims are always the weak: poor women and their children, elderly men and women, peasants, Indians, blacks, mestizos, the “wretched of the Earth,” as Frantz Fanon calls them. I want to emphasize, though it may seem anachronistic, and without reference to academic sources, how the extractive model coincides with colonialism, despite the different eras. This is not only due to the violent occupation of territories and the displacement of populations, but also to the salient features of the model.

Economically, extractivism has generated enclave economies, as it did in the colonies, where the walled port and plantations with slaves were its masterworks. This colonial/extractive model held populations 6 hostage in both 1500 and 2000.

Extractivism produces powerful political interventions by multinational enterprises, often allied with States, which manage to modify legislation, co-opting municipalities and their governors. It is an asymmetrical relationship between powerful multinationals and weak states, or better, states weakened by their own local elite who benefit from the model.

Like colonialism, the extractive model promotes the militarization of the territories, because it is the only way to eradicate the population, which, recalling Subcommander Marcos, is the real enemy in this fourth world war. Militarization, violence, and systematic rape of women and girls are not excesses or errors; they are part of the model because the population is the military objective.

To understand extractivism, we must consider it not as an economic model, but as a system. Like capitalism. Certainly there is a capitalist economy, but capitalism is not just the economic aspect. Extractivism (as stated by Re:Common) is capitalism in its financial phase and cannot be understood only as an economic variable. It implies a culture that promotes not work but consumption, which has (systemic) corruption as one of its central features. Put in another way, corruption is the extraction mode of governing.

Therefore, extractivism is not an economic actor; it is a political, social, cultural, and of course also economic actor. At this point, it’s crucial that the central part of this work describes human beings and the Earth as the subjects for looting, which is much more than the theft of the commons. Understanding dispossession only as robbery places property ownership at the center of the matter, in the place of people and land; e.g., life.

Read the text (PDF).

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.

LIUNA Partners with Anti-Union Forces, AFP and ALEC Advocating with Koch Money for Risky Keystone XL Tarsands Pipeline

By staff - Bold Nebraska, January 2015

Since 2010, the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) has partnered with several anti-union organizations that are funded by the Koch brothers along with TransCanada to gain approval of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Many construction unions partner with industry to win approval for projects and secure work for their members; this is often appropriate and productive. However, the industry and political partnerships that LIUNA has forged to gain approval of Keystone XL (KXL) seriously undermines workers’ rights and unions’ strength, and display a complete lack of concern for the broader labor movement or even the longer-term interests of LIUNA members.

In fact, their partnerships with the fossil fuel industry and far right political groups, namely Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity (AFP) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), contribute to the vicious attacks on workers, unions and democracy.

Read the report (PDF).

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.

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