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Boston school bus drivers vote in fired union leaders

By Brenda Ryan - Workers World, May 4, 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.

In a stunning victory, the militant, fighting rank and file of the Boston school bus drivers’ union, United Steelworkers Local 8751, voted in the full slate of Team Solidarity candidates, led by four illegally fired leaders, on the union’s Executive Board.

The April 30 election was the largest voter turnout in the history of the local and resulted in an unprecedented landslide vote by more than 3 to 1 for the Team Solidarity ticket. The membership sent a clear message to Veolia/Transdev, the union-busting school bus management company, as well as to Boston Public Schools and Mayor Marty Walsh, that they will fight and win a just contract and the rehiring of their leaders. They will also unite with the communities they serve to struggle for Equal Quality Education.

The new executive board-elect of the 850-strong union, whose members are largely Haitian, Cape Verdean and African-American, includes President Andre Francois, long-time chief steward; Vice President Stevan Kirschbaum, a founder of the local; Treasurer Georgia Scott, veteran of the 1965 Civil Rights battle on Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.; Financial Secretary Steven Gillis, the outgoing vice president and benefits administrator; Recording Secretary Claude “Tou Tou” St. Germain, a Fanmi Lavalas activist; Grievance Committee members Garry Murchison, a three-term past president, Frantz Mendes, two-term president, and Richard Laine; Trustees Frantz “Fan Fan” Cadet, Fred Floreal and Judy Long; Guide Chantal Suffrant Casimir; Guards Adriano Barbosa and Ludnay Pierre; and Accident Review Committee members Jerome Samir Stanley, Kathy Moore and Robert Salley. Murchison led the local’s last five-week strike in 1991, which ended with a 48-hour occupation of the mayor’s office.

Veolia illegally fired Francois, Gillis, Kirschbaum and Murchison in November 2013, following a company-ordered, police department-enforced lockout on Oct. 8, 2013, which occurred after the local requested an emergency meeting. The lockout occurred in the midst of a three-month fight with the new company over wage theft, its refusal to honor the drivers’ long-standing contract and Veolia’s illegal demand — because it’s in violation of the contract — made the day before, that even 40-year veteran drivers must file new hire applications.

A small clique of business-minded, company-inspired opponents, including the current president — who bowed out during the election campaign — tried to turn the membership against Team Solidarity’s fighting slate. They bombarded members with the message: “Don’t vote for the people who were fired. They won’t do you any good.”

The climax of year-long bargaining over a new concessionary contract was the company’s divisive campaign that included pushing a “final” proposal with no amnesty for the fired leaders and using false “retro-pay” payroll documents produced by management. But the members voted for the new board based on their personal experience with Team Solidarity’s leaders, who have filed hundreds of their grievances, administered and defended their benefits, and fiercely fought for them and the union’s survival during the nearly two years since Veolia and the mayor’s office began their union-busting assault.

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.

Why Is The World Ignoring The Revolutionary Kurds in Syria?

By David Graeber - Boston IWW, October 8, 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.

In 1937, my father volunteered to fight in the International Brigades in defence of the Spanish Republic. A would-be fascist coup had been temporarily halted by a worker’s uprising, spearheaded by anarchists and socialists, and in much of Spain a genuine social revolution ensued, leading to whole cities under directly democratic management, industries under worker control, and the radical empowerment of women.

Spanish revolutionaries hoped to create a vision of a free society that the entire world might follow. Instead, world powers declared a policy of “non-intervention” and maintained a rigorous blockade on the republic, even after Hitler and Mussolini, ostensible signatories, began pouring in troops and weapons to reinforce the fascist side. The result was years of civil war that ended with the suppression of the revolution and some of a bloody century’s bloodiest massacres.

I never thought I would, in my own lifetime, see the same thing happen again. Obviously, no historical event ever really happens twice. There are a thousand differences between what happened in Spain in 1936 and what is happening in Rojava, the three largely Kurdish provinces of northern Syria, today. But some of the similarities are so striking, and so distressing, that I feel it’s incumbent on me, as someone who grew up in a family whose politics were in many ways defined by the Spanish revolution, to say: we cannot let it end the same way again.

Boston IWW’S to Grassroots Campaigns Inc (GCI): F U!

By 6eoff - Boston IWW, October 2, 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.

Today Wobblies from Boston took to the street to support Portland OR canvassers, employed by Grassroots Campaigns Inc (GCI), who formed the United Campaign Workers* union in response to poverty pay, impossible quotas, meager training, and blatant disrespect. Canvassers’ demands included $15/hr, overtime pay, and sick leave. The company retaliated by shutting down its Portland operation, laying off employees with no notice and just two days’ wages!

GCI has its headquarters here in Boston at 186 Lincoln Street. Today local IWW’s leafleted to expose GCI’s union-busting and exploitation. We sent the message to GCI and the neighborhood: there is nothing progressive about terminating canvassers for not meeting unreachable quotas, or for banding together to negotiate better terms and conditions. GCI apparently heard we were coming, and had to arrange for special security goons, who however were camera-shy and hid demurely inside the building when we attempted to preserve their images for posterity. It was a great time & we’ll be back!

*Affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World

A Sea of Black Flags

By Max Perkins - Boston IWW, September 28, 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.

Truly the most amazing thing I have ever been a part of, the Peoples’ Climate March in New York City was beyond the biggest mass of activists I have ever seen. Have you ever seen 200-300 Anarchists before? WOW! From every part of the country and from all over the world. The day started with meeting up with our wonderful comrades from NY Black Rose / Rosa Negra Anarchist Federation, who did an amazing job organizing our Anti-Capitalist contingent. At 11:30 we started masking up, assembling our banners, unraveling our flags and meeting each other, then marched to meet 2-3 other groups that had been assembling between 90th St. and 87th St. by Central Park West. A beautiful day was in store. Never have I seen so many diverse groups: 350.org, Indigenous Rights activists, Vets for Peace, just to name a few. We assembled near the contingent from the Revolutionary Communist Party (Bob Avakian’s followers). This was at first very tense. A fight almost started when one of our comrades was explaining that a cult of personality is counter-revolutionary. However the issue was resolved peacefully.

Looking around me was stunning: A sea of black flags, red and black flags, also hundreds of folks of all ages and backgrounds — simply the most comrades I have ever seen in the US or in once place. Chanting, and singing a beautiful version of “Solidarity Forever,” the march began around 1-2 pm. It took hours for the first contingents to reach the end of the march, and even longer for us. The highlights included screaming up at the Banks, and most especially at Fake Fox News. So many people were asking, “Who are you?” And the reply was “We are Anarchists! Oh we need more of you! Yes we do!” The march was amazing and peaceful with much support for us, many people taking pictures and cheering us on. At one point a huge group of young POC on bikes saw us and there was a massive show of anti-police solidarity. Wonderful!

The march continued to Times Square, with wave upon wave of dedicated activists and no loss of energy. The changes never stopped and my voice was really gone. The follow up to this is that we made a huge statement, but received no press (not that we were seeking it, but to have so many of us (Anarchists) together, you would think that maybe someone would say something, but alas NO!). Coverage seemed, as is common, to focus on the “big” groups. Even Democracy Now did not mention the Anarchist involvement in the march. I feel that it means we have to work harder to bring the message to the people that this should not be a one-time thing, but a regular occurrence, for people forget all too quickly, and carry on with their lives as if nothing happened. Today I have been corresponding with Fellow Workers, including FW Maria, from the IWW’s Washington DC Branch, who like me wants to see better communication and solidarity actions that include many branches. Our struggle continues, and until we reach our goal of a world free from the shackles of Capitalist oppression we must carry on. For an Injury to One (planet) is truly an Injury to All! Solidarity Forever, and special thanks to Maria, DC IWW, NY Black Rose and Polish Anarchists, and any others who helped make this happen.

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