You are here

Bay Area IWW

Engineers and Technicians at Nitricity Inc., a leader in fertilizer production, unionize

By Max Baru - IWW.ORG, April 30, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO, California — The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is proud to announce that a team of engineers and technicians building the future of sustainable fertilizer production have recently organized with majority support. On February 7, 2022 they filed for union certification under the banner of the IWW and began the election process.

Nitricity Inc., whose mission is to decarbonize the fertilizer industry, is building solar-fertilizer production assets to electrify one of the world's most important industries.

The chemical sector is highly unionized in every industrialized country in the world, except the United States. Experience shows that the improved levels of communication and organization which result from a unionized workforce lead to greater competitiveness, productivity, and innovation.

The workers at Nitricity are excited to collaborate to build a workplace with equitable treatment, benefits, and pay for all employees.

“One thing that really drew me to Nitricity is that the technology is much more mature than other startups I've seen. It's proven tech with a lot of potential, and an exciting project to work on. I also feel that the company's goal is an important one, since 5-8% of all global emissions are caused by fertilizer production and application. I think unionization is the right move, because it streamlines workplace interactions and frees us up to focus on the company's mission.” - Isaac Jackel

Nitricity Workers Launch Rare Union Drive at Start-up

By Shelby N - Indusrtial Worker, April 29, 2022

The fight for unionization continues at Nitricity, a San Francisco-based start-up company that produces fertilizer. A union election held on April 6 split 5-5 between supporters and opponents, with a single, currently uncounted vote remaining.

A variety of unsafe working conditions and lack of health insurance initially led the workers of Nitricity to begin organizing their union with the Industrial Workers of the World. Early attempts to negotiate with management prior to the unionization effort were met with limited success. Workers’ input on suitable healthcare plans, for example, was ultimately ignored.

Soon after launching their union drive with the IWW, workers also discovered unfair pay disparities. Their efforts continue to be supported by the San Francisco Bay Area IWW, which helped prepare them for anti-union attacks and to organize their own pro-union actions, such as marching on management.

Nitricity workers have endured an array of anti-union tactics. Talk of how workers and management are a team, warnings that the union is a “third party” that won’t actually represent workers and threats that the business may be unsuccessful if a union is formed were all deployed to dissuade workers from organizing. Management even hired anti-union consultants to help quash the workers’ efforts.

“They claimed that if we unionize — and if we unionize specifically with the IWW, with its very anti-capitalist stance — then venture capitalists will be more hesitant or outright deny providing funding,” says Jackson Wong, a research and development technician and union member at Nitricity.

Workers, however, don’t believe these threats to be credible, due to the continued interest from investors that they have observed firsthand.

Nitricity workers attribute the split union vote to management misclassifying one of their coworkers as a supervisor. The worker was allowed to vote, but it does not count toward certification of the union at this time.

“This person does not have hiring-firing power,” says Wong. “They don’t have the power to control salary, take disciplinary measures — anything that’s listed in that part of the National Labor Relations Act.”

California Climate Jobs Plan Continues to Gain Union Endorsements

By Steve Ongerth - IWW Environmental Union Caucus - March 11, 2022

The California Climate Jobs Plan, popularly known as "the Pollin Report"--which has been described as a "sholvel ready just transition/Green New Deal" plan--and was immediately endorsed by nineteen California based labor unions, including three United Staeelworkers Union locals which primarily represent refinery workers upon its unveiling has since gained the support of many additional unions. The following unions (so far) have since endorsed the plan (knowing that while the plan isn't perfect, it's at least a step in a positive direction):

November 2021:

  • Inland Boatmen's Union (IBU), SF Bay Region (an affiliate of the ILWU)
  • Railroad Workers United
  • IWW San Francisco Bay Area General Membership Branch

February 2022:

  • International Lonshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Northern California District Council (NCDC)

The council is composed of delegates from the following ILWU Locals:

  • ILWU Local 6 (Bay Area Warehouse)
  • ILWU Local 10 (Bay Area Longshore)
  • ILWU Local 34 (Bay Area Shipping Clerks)
  • ILWU Local 75 (Bay Area Dock Security Guards)
  • ILWU Local 91 (Bay Area “Walking Bosses”)
  • ILWU Local 14 (Eureka; combined)
  • ILWU Local 18 (Sacramento; ditto)
  • ILWU Local 54 (Stockton)
  • Bay Area IBU (already endorsed individually)
  • and the pensioners from all of the above.

However, the NCDC's endorsement does not automatically mean that each of its constituent locals have individually endorsed the plan.

The more unions that endorse and take an active role in motivating the proposal either by lobbying at the California state level, engaging in public actions to promote the goals of the plan, or even engaging in workplace actions (whereaver relevant and practiceble), the greater chances the plan has of being realized.

(That said, it should be noted that this is not an IWW organizing project, although IWW members have been active in securing additional union endorsements).

A sample resolution (a copy of the text adopted by the SF Bay Area IBU) is available here.

Download the plan - here.

Workers at Curbside Recycling Win Raise, Paid Time Off

By Elise Brehob - Industrial Worker, September 22, 2021

For workers at the Curbside Recycling Program in Berkeley, California, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for better working conditions. The truck drivers, who have been required to work every day while many California residents sheltered at home, demanded and won both a wage increase and more paid time off. The Curbside Recycling Union is organized with the Industrial Workers of the World.

The Curbside Recycling Program is operated by the Ecology Center, a nonprofit organization, under contract with the City of Berkeley. The program’s recycling truck drivers began organizing in 1988 and won their first union contract the following year. More than 30 years later, the drivers remain unionized, winning greater wages and benefits, as well as maintaining control over their routes and accident review committees.

“The purpose of the accident review committee is to give the workers the ability to discuss and vote on accident responsibility,” explains Joe, a driver at the Curbside Recycling Program and member of the union. “For instance, if a recycling truck is sideswiped by an impatient motorist, the committee has the ability to find the driver of the truck blameless.”

Joe also recalls a half-day strike that the Curbside Recycling Union staged a few years ago, which involved every driver walking off the job.

 “There was one key demand,” says Joe. “That demand was that the workers have a say in route distribution and route assignments, which the company agreed to. … That was a key moment for the union to demonstrate union power.”

Bay Area IWW Resolution Defending the West Berkeley Shellmound

Passed by the Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch - January 5, 2017

Whereas, California Public Resources Code Section 5097.98 (a) states: Whenever the commission receives notification of a discovery of Native American human remains from a county coroner pursuant to subdivision (c) of Section 7050.5 of the Health and Safety Code, it shall immediately notify those persons it believes to be most likely descended from the deceased Native American. The descendants may, with the permission of the owner of the land, or his or her authorized representative, inspect the site of the discovery of the Native American human remains and may recommend to the owner or the person responsible for the excavation work means for treatment or disposition, with appropriate dignity, of the human remains and any associated grave goods. The descendants shall complete their inspection and make recommendations or preferences for treatment within 48 hours of being granted access to the site; and

Whereas, California Public Resources Code Section 5097.98 (b) states: Upon the discovery of Native American remains, the landowner shall ensure that the immediate vicinity, according to generally accepted cultural or archaeological standards or practices, where the Native American human remains are located, is not damaged or disturbed by further development activity until the landowner has discussed and conferred, as prescribed in this section, with the most likely descendants regarding their recommendations, if applicable, taking into account the possibility of multiple human remains. The landowner shall discuss and confer with the descendants all reasonable options regarding the descendants' preferences for treatment; and

Whereas, Section 7050.5 of the California Health and Safety Code states: In the event of discovery or recognition of any human remains in any location other than a dedicated cemetery, there shall be no further excavation or disturbance of the site or any nearby area reasonably suspected to overlie adjacent remains until the coroner of the county in which the human remains are discovered has determined whether or not the remains are to be subject to the coroner's authority, and if the coroner determines that the remains are not subject to his or her authority and if the coroner recognizes the human remains to be those of a Native American, or has reason to believe that they are those of a Native American, he or she shall contact, by telephone within 24 hours, the Native American Heritage Commission, and

Whereas, On March 29, 2016 construction workers uncovered what appear to be “pre-contact” Indian remains while digging a trench on Fourth Street near Hearst Avenue in West Berkeley as part of the redevelopment of Spenger’s Fish Grotto and adjoining parcels, and

Whereas, the uncovered remains are almost certainly part of the West Berkeley Shellmound (Berkeley City Landmark #227, believed to be centered at, but not limited to Second Street and Hearst Avenue), and

Whereas, On January 16, 2016 the Berkeley City Council adopted three resolutions strengthening recognition of the Ohlone people as the original inhabitants of Berkeley and recognizing the shellmound as an indigenous sacred site. One of the resolutions promised that the “informed consent of the Ohlone and other indigenous peoples of the region be integral to any alteration planning for the Berkeley Shellmound sacred site.”, and

Whereas, throughout the history of the United States, the livelihoods, cultural traditions, and wellbeing of indigenous peoples have been routinely abused, destroyed, discounted, and/or ignored, and

Whereas, continued construction of the project would effectively remove a portion of Berkeley City Landmark #227, and the partial or total destruction of previously unidentified intact archeological deposits by the Project would impair the ability of such resources to convey important scientific and cultural information, and

Whereas, the IWW Bay Area General Membership Branch has recognized the importance of protecting sacred indigenous cultural sites by passing resolutions in support of Standing Rock and against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota, and

Whereas, the universal union credo, "an injury to one is an injury to all" must apply to frontline communities in a broader sense,

Be it Resolved That, the IWW Bay Area General Membership Branch calls upon the City of Berkeley to deny any and all permits for this development, and

Be it Further Resolved That, the IWW Bay Area General Membership Branch demands that this site be given a larger protected status due to its cultural and historical significance."

The Inland Boatmen's Union has also passed a Reolution to Protect the West Berkeley Shelmound opposing the 1900 4th st. devolpment and we would like additional locals and the labor councils or the Bay Area to pass similar resolutions to stop the proposed desecration of this Sacred Site!"

Berkeley Protest of Arrests at Standing Rock

Bay Area IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus: Three Years and Going Strong

By x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, May 3, 2016; image by Jon Flanders.

The Bay Area IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus was cofounded in February 2013 by three members of the Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch. The group also helped launch the IWW EUC proper shortly after that.

The Bay Area IWW EUC quickly launched ecology.iww.org as well as the EUC social media presence on Facebook & Twitter.

Initially, the group joined in anti-Keystone X-L protests in the Spring of 2013, but also played a minor role in helping organize a labor contingent at the August 6, 2013 "Summer Heat" protest against Chevron in Richmond, CA (on the one year anniversary of the refinery fire which injured several union workers and sent 15,000 residents to the hospital seeking medical care).

Following that event, members of the Bay Area EUC helped launch the Richmond based Sunflower Alliance with several other local working class climate justice and frontline community activists. That group focuses primarily on climate & environmental justice campaigns in the Contra Costa County (northeast Bay Area) refinery corridor, which is one of the most industrial communities in all of California. That group--thanks in part to the presence of IWW members (but also do to the contributions of others) remains very class conscious and continually reaches out to the workers in the fossil fuel projects that it targets, with some degree of success.

Likewise, the Bay Area EUC also helped found and remains active in the Bay Area chapter of System Change not Climate Change (SCnCC). Thanks to open and friendly dialog, that group which is predominantly Eco-socialist is still inclusive of and welcoming to green-syndicalists and remains nonsectarian and inclusive. That group has organized several climate justice marches and rallies (with the help of others) which have included substantial rank & file Union member participation.

In February 2015, the Bay Area EUC, along with the aforementioned groups, Communities for a Better Environment, Movement Generation, the California Nurses Association, and the local chapter of the Sierra Club organized community support for striking refinery workers at the Tesoro refinery in Avon, CA (near Martinez) in Contra Costa County. There was a substantial "green" solidarity presence on the picket lines due to these efforts.

While this was happening, Bay Area IWW EUC members, along with Railroad Workers United, 350, the Sunflower Alliance, and SCnCC helped organize three "Railroad Workers Safety Conferences" that included railroad workers, striking refinery workers, and climate justice activists dialoging on common issues. The conferences were held in Richmond, Olympia, and the Great Lakes region, and were very successful. The website railroadconference.org has the information. More conferences may follow.

Since the conclusion of the railroad conferences, members of the Bay Area EUC have been involved in the "No Coal in Oakland" campaign, which seeks to prevent coal from being exported from a new bulk exports terminal being developed in Oakland by anti-Occupy capitalist, Phil Tagami (that group doesn't oppose the terminal or export of other (non fossil fuel) commodities; just coal). That group has a very strong union member participation, and has managed to get 21 unions (including four ILWU locals, the SEIU port workers local, and Bay Area IWW) to oppose coal exports. These efforts led to the Alameda County AFL-CIO CLC passing a resolution against coal exports (in the face of Teamsters and Building Trades support for coal exports) and the subsequent creation of a "green caucus" of the CLC.

The Bay Area EUC has also participated in conferences organized by the group "Bay Localize" that seek to have unions and clean power advocates work together on Community Choice Aggregation campaigns that challenge the dominance of capitalist investor owned utilities (primarily PG&E).

Bay Area EUC members have also participated in campaigns to save Knowland Park (in the southeast Oakland hills) from creeping privatization); to prevent the eviction of a homeless encampment at the Albany Bulb on the east bay shore; and in the "Occupy the Farm" campaign in the Gill Tract of Albany (northwest of Berkeley).

With the support of Bay Area EUC members, Railroad Workers United passed a resolution on "Just Transition"; those same members are hoping to get the ILWU to pass a similar resolution.

Finally, our group has participated in or organized several showings of Darryl Cherney's film, "Who Bombed Judi Bari?"

Most of these groups, campaigns, and efforts have been well covered on ecology.iww.org.

A Sierra Club love story: Remembering Bay Chapter hiking leader Louis Prisco

By Staff - Sierra Club Yodeller, February 12, 2016

A note from Jeanne Halpern, Louis Prisco’s long-time domestic partner: Louis and I met at the Hike Leaders’ Bash, the annual hike and potluck for hike leaders on Mt. Tam, in 1993. One thing people don’t realize is how much the Sierra Club brings people with like interests together. When we led the Valentine Lovers’ Hike the first time — which we’d expected would attract people who wanted to fall in love! — we stopped at the log where Louis and I had met. There we reenacted our meeting and then asked the thirty-one hikers to tell a little about themselves, maybe what attracted them to our hike. And we were amazed that almost all of them were couples who’d previously met on Sierra Club hikes! (The odd number was because Guy Mayes’ wife Nancy was home sick.) And I later learned that several couples had met on the Sierra Club hike I used to lead to movie filming sites in S.F. There, they had two things in common, a love of hiking AND of movies. The romance of the Sierra Club is not to be underestimated, but usually is.

Louis Frederick Prisco, a gentle man with a strong social conscience, died at UCSF Medical Center on December 17, 2015, with Jeanne Halpern, his partner of twenty-two years, whispering to him and holding his hand.

Born in Providence, R.I., in 1939 to a large Italian family, Louis became the first of fourteen siblings and cousins to graduate from college, with a BA in Sociology from Providence College in 1961. He entered the army as second lieutenant, serving in France 1962-64, and was promoted to first lieutenant in 1963. He earned an MA in Comparative Literature from San Francisco State in 1972.

For the next twenty-six years, Louis worked for the San Francisco Department of Human Services, where he produced the first computerized “Child Welfare Handbook.” A staunch union supporter, he was active in the SEIU Local 535 as secretary, treasurer, and executive board member. He was also a long-time member of the IWW, Industrial Workers of the World.

An adventurous Sierra Club hike leader, Louis preferred 10-15-mile hikes on Mt. Tamalpais. Sitting on a log there one sunny day in 1993, he met fellow hike leader Jeanne Halpern, a meeting that changed their lives. To celebrate the pivotal role that the Sierra Club had played in their love lives, they created the Valentine Lovers’ Hike on Mt. Tam in 1997, the year they registered as domestic partners. It followed the route of the first hike on which they met, and at every picturesque turn, they read a love poem aloud for their followers. Jeanne’s favorite was “may I feel” by e. e. cummings, and Louis’ was “Symptoms of Love” by Robert Graves. The hike ended with a potluck dinner at the Alpine Club, at which Louis sang “Sweet Little Angel,” a song first recorded by B. B. King in 1956.

Louis’ most popular city hike commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1934 S.F. Waterfront Strike. Though it started as a ten-mile Sierra Club hike, he honed it to two miles and led it every July as part of LaborFest. The accompanying booklet he wrote, San Francisco Waterfront, impressed participants with its photos, thorough notes and bibliography; it was republished three times.

East Bay Labor Unions Say 'No' to Coal in Oakland

By Darwin BondGraham - East Bay Express, September 18, 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.

The official voice of the labor movement in the East Bay has come out against plans to export coal from Oakland. This morning, the Alameda Labor Council’s executive committee passed a resolution opposing the export of coal from the bulk commodity terminal planned for construction at the city’s former Army Base.

The resolution cites health hazards and environmental harms that are likely to result from shipping and storing coal in West Oakland — hazards that will impact both workers and Oakland residents.

“Jobs involving coal are unhealthy and unsafe due to dust emissions; coal is increasingly an anti-union industry,” states the resolution. “West Oakland residents are already twice as likely to visit the emergency room for asthma as the average Alameda County resident, and are also more likely to die of cancer, heart and lung disease… .”

Terminal Logistics Solutions, the company proposing coal exports from the terminal, has claimed that the facility will be served by covered rail cars to reduce the amount of coal dust that drifts into nearby neighborhoods. TLS recently unveiled sketches on its website depicting dome-covered silos and enclosed conveyor belts that will store and load the coal onto ships for export overseas.

Opponents of the coal plan have said, however, that covered rail cars, silos and chutes are not used anywhere in the United States today, and their efficacy hasn’t been studied.

The Labor Council’s resolution states that despite the unions’ “unified opposition to coal,” they believe that the project can move forward without coal. Their resolutions welcomes commodities such as steel, wood, grains, sand, gravel ,and other "non-hazardous materials."

A special meeting of the Oakland City Council is scheduled for Monday. The city clerk’s office has already received more than three hundred speaker cards from members of the public.

EcoUnionist News #43

Compiled by x344543 - IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, March 19, 2015; image by Jon Flanders

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.

The following news items feature issues, discussions, campaigns, or information potentially relevant to green unionists:

Lead Stories:

USW Refinery Workers Strike News:

Carbon Bubble:

Health and Safety:

Other News:

For more green news, please visit our news feeds section on ecology.iww.org; Twitter #IWWEUC

Pages

The Fine Print I:

Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) unless otherwise indicated and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s, nor should it be assumed that any of these authors automatically support the IWW or endorse any of its positions.

Further: the inclusion of a link on our site (other than the link to the main IWW site) does not imply endorsement by or an alliance with the IWW. These sites have been chosen by our members due to their perceived relevance to the IWW EUC and are included here for informational purposes only. If you have any suggestions or comments on any of the links included (or not included) above, please contact us.

The Fine Print II:

Fair Use Notice: The material on this site is provided for educational and informational purposes. It may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of scientific, environmental, economic, social justice and human rights issues etc.

It is believed that this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have an interest in using the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The information on this site does not constitute legal or technical advice.