You are here

Bay Area IWW

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.

Whole Foods Workers Threaten Action Against The Store If They Aren’t Granted Higher Wages

By Joaquim Moreira Salles - Think Progress, November 14, 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.

Workers at a Whole Foods Market in San Francisco’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood are demanding higher wages and the right to collective bargaining without being reprimanded by management. Specific demands include a $5 wage increase, better working conditions, a comprehensive health plan with affordable premiums and deductibles, and no retaliation for forming a union. Whole Foods — a company that has long preached a philosophy of corporate benevolence — is the second-largest non-union food retailer in the country.

Today is the workers’ deadline for a response by the store, and they have pledged take “job actions” if their demands are not met, one of the movement’s organizers told ThinkProgress. If management doesn’t comply by the end of today, employees will respond by holding a rally and a press conference at Whole Foods’ California headquarters on Monday. They will also demand to speak to the company’s regional president.

The Fortune 300 company is known for its anti-union stance. CEO John Mackey once compared unions to herpes. “It doesn’t kill you,” he told a reporter, “but it’s unpleasant and inconvenient, and it stops a lot of people from becoming your lover.” Mackey seems to have maintained this belief as his company grew from a single store in Austin, Texas into an $11 billion dollar empire.

There has been one previous attempt to unionize at a Whole Foods by employees in Madison, Wisconsin. That attempt failed. Whole Foods refused to recognize the union and workers who had led the organizing effort began being fired for allegedly trivial offenses, one of the employees involved in the incident claims. When asked about the events in Madison during an ABC News interview, co-CEO Walter Robb said employees in Wisconsin had voluntarily changed their minds and opted not to unionize.

According to current and former employees, Whole Foods subjects their staff to a “routine anti-union curriculum”, as one worker told ThinkProgress. Other employees who have attended these meetings claim they are told, among other things, that unions are greedy third party institutions that interfere in the relationship between employer and employee, that workers risk losing their benefits if they choose to organize, and that laws protecting workers have eliminated the need for unions. These fear-mongering tactics have failed in SoMa, where workers are being organized by Industrial Workers of the World, one of the most radical labor unions out there.

IWW Workers Take on Whole Foods in SF

By Marc Norton - 48 Hills, November 7, 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.

Three days ago, Bay Area voters raised minimum wages in San Francisco and Oakland. There were also successful campaigns to raise minimum wages in Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska and South Dakota.

Yesterday, workers at the San Francisco Whole Foods Market at 4th and Harrison Streets took the fight for fair wages to another level.  Early this afternoon, a delegation of workers presented management with a demand for a $5-an-hour across-the-board wage increase for all employees.  Workers at the store currently earn from $11 to $19.25 an hour.

At the call of an air horn, a contingent of workers in the store stopped work and gathered at the café bar near the store’s entrance. Other Whole Foods workers, who were not on duty but who had infiltrated the store, joined them, along with a number of supporters. They then summoned the store manager.  As workers and supporters gathered around, and customers looked on somewhat bewildered, long-time Whole Foods worker Nick announced to the assembled crowd, “We are the Industrial Workers of the World.”

Nick and two other Whole Foods workers, both women, presented their demands for better wages and better treatment: “We are ready to earn enough at this job so that we can quit the other two.” Ryan Rosprim, the store manager, listened patiently, but did not respond.

The workers ended the gathering with a demand for an answer by November 14, when their next paycheck is due. At that, on-the-clock workers returned to their jobs, while the other workers and their supporters exited the store, chanting “Si, Se Puede!”

Outside, workers and supporters conducted a brief rally and picket.

“We are workers at Whole Foods Market building a movement for power and a voice on the job,” reads a petition that had been circulated at the store, signed by more than 50 workers. “This is our movement, we are capable of victory, and we are worth it.”

In addition to demanding the $5 wage increase, the petition raises issues about paid time off, hours and scheduling, safety and health, and a retirement plan.

A leaflet distributed to customers during Thursday’s job action said that a “2014 study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that a worker in San Francisco must earn $29.83 an hour just to rent a one bedroom apartment in the City.  Even with a $15 an hour minimum wage on its way [in San Francisco], that is half of what a worker must earn…  It is simply NOT ENOUGH.”

After the rally, the crowd broke into the perennial chant, “We’ll be back!”

Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch Resolution in Opposition to Single Employee Train Crews

Passed Unanimously on Thursday, August 7, 2014

Whereas, the BLET and the SMART have joined forces and have been working hand in hand to outlaw Single Employee Train Crews; and

Whereas, railroad workers universally support a minimum of two crew members on every train, an engineer and a conductor; and

Whereas, in the wake of the Lac Megantic tragedy and numerous other train wrecks in the last year, we have an historic opportunity to build alliances with community and environmental groups to outlaw single employee train crews;

Whereas, a rogue general committee of the SMART TD has recently announced an tentative agreement, that would, if implemented, eliminate the road conductor on through freight and allow single employee crews;

Therefore, be it resolved, that the Bay Area General Membership Branch of the IWW affirms our opposition to single employee train operations and that we support an engineer and a conductor on every train; and

Be it further resolved, that we condemn the backroom deal recently made between the SMART TD and the BNSF as it would undermine the national union strategy to outlaw single employee operations; and

Be it further resolved, that the Bay Area General Membership Branch of the IWW urge all rail, transportation, and other union members to actively oppose contracts that would allow single employee operations of trains; and

Be it finally resolved, that Local the Bay Area General Membership Branch of the IWW urge trainmen on the BNSF GC-001 in the strongest possible terms to stand up and fight back standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of labor and to vote NO on this tentativeagreement. 

Adopted by the members of the Bay Area General Membership Branch of the IWW on August 7, 2014


At its August 2014 General Membership Branch Meeting, held Thursday, August 7, 2014, the Bay Area IWW endorsed this event:

West Coast People's Climate Rally in solidarity with the historic September 21 NYC event called by and hundreds of local and national environmental, trade union and social justice organizations across the country.

All Out for Sun., September 21, 12 Noon – 5 PM at Oakland's Lake Merritt Park Amphitheater

The Amphitheater is at the end of Lake Merritt near 12th Street &, Lake Merritt Blvd, Laney College, and the Lake Merritt BART Station.

This historic Sept. 21 NYC protest will lead up to the UN Climate Summit of world leaders. Tragically, more inaction or inadequate action can be expected. We want to show the world that the climate crisis can no longer be ignored, that the planet earth is burning, that massive & unprecedented measures must be taken now to assure humanity’s future.

The People’s Climate March is shaping up to be one of the largest climate justice mobilizations in history, with organizers of the march setting a goal of getting a half million people to demonstrate in NYC. For additional information visit

While people all over the country are mobilizing for New York, a multitude of activists will undoubtedly be available to join us in Oakland. Let's make the  West Coast Solidarity action a great success...

  • For a world with an economy that works for people and the planet
  • For a world safe from the ravages of climate change
  • For a world with good jobs, clean air, water and healthy communities

To endorse this event, visit


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.