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Bay Area IWW

Bay Area IWW Resolution Defending the West Berkeley Shellmound

Passed by the Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch - January 5, 2016

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

Bay Area IWW Resolution on Railroad Worker Crew Fatigue

Whereas, all too many railroaders in North America work long, irregular hours and all too often are chronically sleep deprived; and

Whereas, most North American railroad workers have no schedule whatsoever, and are generally called to work at all hours of the day, seven days a week, with just two hours’ notice of work; and

Whereas, these long hours without enough sleep have been the cause of countless wrecks, injuries and fatalities over the years, both on and off the job; and

Whereas, this chronic fatigue contributes greatly to all sorts of problems on and off the job – physical, mental, emotional, marital, family, etc.; and

Whereas, excessive work hours means less time for other aspects of life – hobbies, interests, family, friends, community and union work, etc.; and

Whereas, the rail carriers compound the problem when they implement draconian “availability policies”, making it nearly impossible for some railroaders to take the necessary time off work; and

Whereas, countless studies have proven that fatigue -- having a very similar effect upon the brain as excessive alcohol consumption -- has been a major contributor to disastrous railroad accidents in recent years: and

Whereas, despite study after study, meeting after meeting, the unions and the carriers have more often than not been unable to reach agreement on ways and means to provide adequate and proper rest for train and engine crews;

Therefore, Be it Resolved, that the Bay Area IWW recognizes that excessive work hours and the resultant crew fatigue are major issues in the rail industry that can no longer be ignored; and

Be in Further Resolved that the Bay Area IWW supports a nationwide campaign to combat the chronic fatigue and excessive work hours that North American railroad workers are subject to.

Be it Finally Resolved that the Bay Area IWW calls on community organizations, civic groups, environmental organizations and labor unions to join with us in this important fight against train crew fatigue.

Adopted by the Bay Area IWW on March 5, 2015

Rail Workers and Environmentalists to Teach Each Other

By Ron Kaminkow - Labor Notes, January 21, 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. Several IWW branches have, however, endorsed this effort.

With public attention focused on the railroads in a way it hasn’t been for decades, the cross-craft solidarity group Railroad Workers United is seizing the opportunity to teach the general public “railroading 101”—and teach rail workers “environmental politics 101.”

Both those workshops, among others, will be offered at one-day conferences on “The Future of Railroads: Safety, Workers, Community, and Environment,” March 14 in Richmond, California, and March 21 in Olympia, Washington. (See below for details.)

“My excitement about the conference is having railroaders, who on a daily basis are moving these really dangerous, volatile, flammable materials, having a dialogue with communities who want it to be made safe,” says activist Gifford Hartman.

“To my knowledge it’s never been done,” says Seattle switchman-conductor Jen Wallis. “Rail labor hasn’t worked with environmentalists to the degree that steelworkers and longshoremen and Teamsters have. It’s all very new.”

RWU is partnering with the Backbone Campaign and other groups to organize both events. The idea is to bring together rank-and-filers, environmentalists, and the general public.

Just as important as learning each other’s issues, Wallis says, is that “we get to know each other… So we have people we can call on when we have an issue on the table, and they can do the same with us.”

Bay Area IWW Endorses "The Future of Railroads: Safety, Workers, Community & the Environment" Conference

Passed unanimously at the Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch meeting, Thursday, January 8, 2015

Whereas, there has been growing opposition to the transportation of volatile heavy and dirty crude by rail transport in recent months, and

Whereas, in 2013 there were more derailments of crude-by-rail trains than in the previous four decades combines, the most dramatic but not the last of which occurred in Lac Magantic, Quebec, and

Whereas, these derailments have resulted in destruction and death to residents of these communities, loss of life and limb to the railroad workers involved in the transport of these volatile cargoes, but little or no penalty to the profiteering employers responsible for the transport of such cargoes, and

Whereas, the opposition to such transport stems from the inherent danger to the affected communities as well as the environment--due to the destructive extraction process of the source material, the enabling of further extreme carbon fuel production and consumption, the destruction of wilderness environments, the pollution of the air and water, and the destruction of mostly indigenous lands from which the crude is extracted--and

Whereas, railroad workers are often blamed for these accidents through employer created "blame the worker" so-called "safety" cultures, and

Whereas, the actual safety hazards are the result of capitalist corner cutting, including--but not limited to--the reduction in railroad crew sizes, the deployment of overly long and heavy trains, the lack of safety monitoring equipment, and the use of unsafe tank cars, and

Whereas, railroads also carry a variety of other, equally volatile cargoes under no less unsafe conditions, but such cargoes are not scrutinized to the same extent as crude-by-rail by many environmental organizations, and

Whereas, the railroad workers and environmental organizers share a common adversary in the capitalist class who've created these conditions, and

Whereas, Railroad Workers United and the Backbone Campaign have committed to jointly sponsor a series of conferences, beginning on the Weekend of March 14-15 in Richmond, California and March 21-22 in Seattle, Washington to be entitled, “The Future of Rail: Safety, Workers, Community and the Environment”, and

Whereas, leaders in these efforts from Railroad Workers United include dues paying members of the IWW, including a member of the Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch who is also one of the cofounders of the IWW Environmental Unionism Caucus, and

Whereas, a post capitalist, ecologically sustainable society would involve increased use of transport by rail for both passengers and cargo (though not for climate destroying fossil fuels), therefore

Be it Resolved that, the Bay Area General Membership Branch of the IWW endorses "the Future of Rail: Safety, Workers, Community and the Environment" conferences organized by Railroad Workers United, the Backbone Campaign, et. al, and

Be it Finally Resolved that, the Bay Area General Membership Branch of the IWW further encourages all other IWW branches and the IWW General Executive Branch to likewise endorse the aforementioned efforts.

WHOLE FOODS CONCEDES TO IWW DEMANDS TO INCREASE WAGES! - Whole Foods Union Wins Raise for San Francisco Stores’ Lowest-Paid Employees

By Tim Maher - Whole Foods Workers Union, November 14, 2014

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - A fledgling union of workers at the South of Market Whole Foods in San Francisco used workplace actions to compel Whole Foods management to implement a $1.25 per hour wage increase for those employees at the lowest wage tier.

On November 6th, a delegation of 30 cooks, cashiers, stockers, and butchers at the store in the South of Market neighborhood initiated a brief work stoppage to deliver a petition to management demanding a $5 an hour wage increase for all employees, and no retaliation for organizing their union. Over 50 workers from the store signed the petition. In addition to demanding the $5 per hour wage increase, the petition raised issues about paid time off, hours and scheduling, safety and health, and a retirement plan.

Late last week, Whole Foods’ Northern California regional President Rob Twyman announced that starting January 1, 2015 all employees in San Francisco locations will make a minimum of $12.75 per hour - $1.25 above the current starting wage and $.50 higher than the new minimum wage of $12.25 called for by Proposition J. Mr. Twyman added that this change would be implemented four months before Proposition J’s minimum wage hikes take effect.

The $1.25 increase is nowhere near the $5 an hour the workers asked for, but workers at SOMA say it is still substantial, and that the timing of the raise is a sign that Whole Foods is taking the union’s wage demand seriously. “Whole Foods is rolling out the raise months before they even have to adjust to the new minimum wage. We’ve never seen that happen,” said beer and wine specialist Nick Theodosis who has worked at the SOMA store for 10 years.

“We’ll happily take it, but we will continue pursuing the full $5 for all workers currently working at the company as well as for those yet to come,” said a cashier who asked to be identified as Kristal Garcia. The workers have vowed to continue their fight for the full five dollar raise they asked for.

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