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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.”

Are Refinery Workers Climate Enemies?

By an anonymous ex-member of the IWW (with a response by Steve Ongerth) - ecology.iww.org, April 28, 2022

Editor's Note: Since Monday, March 21, 2022, the workers at the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, California, members of the United Steelworkers Local 5 have been on strike and picketing the facility after voting down the company’s latest contract offer, which workers say contained insufficient wage increases and demanded cuts in union staffing that focused on health and safety in the refinery. The bosses have responded by bringing in scabs (including managers from other Chevron facilities). Meanwhile, USW Local 5 members have been picketing the refinery 24-7, and have been, at times, joined by members of the local BIPOC and/or environmental justice community. After IWW EUC cofounder and long-time Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch member, Steve Ongerth, brought a call for solidarity with the striking workers to the April branch meeeting, a disgruntled member (who has since resigned from the organization), sent the following letter to the branch (name deleted for privacy reasons).

Message from a Disgruntled (former) Member:

I’m sorry to say how disappointed I am in the IWW. I’m a relatively new wobbly and although I believe in standing in solidarity with fellow workers it seems at some point lines must be drawn.

As I’ve read through these last emails about the USW Local 5 and the call to action for us to stand with them as they strike, many questions come to mind. The first one is what if fellow climate activists, many of whom are wobblies were to implement a protest blockade to stall production of this refinery in defense of the environment? I wonder if those refinery workers with whom we are picketing would come outside and join our protest line? I also wonder if they would be interested in the invitation to join the 2022 Global Climate Strike that you forwarded to us? In both cases I assume it is reasonable to conclude they would not.

As wobblies, where do we draw the line? What if oil pipeline workers go to strike for hazard pay because a tribal nation, whose land the pipeline is planned to cross blocks safe access to thier jobsite in protest of the poisoning of thier waterways? Would the IWW Environmental Caucus also put a call out to picket with those Union workers? We draw the line when it comes to police unions who’s membership is hellbent on beating and imprisoning people protesting civil injustices. Why are we supporting refinery workers? This makes no sense. Iunderstand that just about every industry is to some degree tainted with These workers primary job is to process and prepare for market the product that’s catapulted us into the current global warming apocalyptic meltdown!

Extinction Rebellion Trade Unionists: a Timely Initiative

By Rob Marsden - Red-Green Labour, April 19, 2022

The incredibly clumsy, tone deaf and downright offensive tweeting by the official Labour party twitter account of a link to The Sun attacking environmental protesters shows the absolute need to build much better grassroots links between the labour movement and activist environmental campaigns, writes Rob Marsden

Recently relaunched, Extinction Rebellion Trade Unionists exists to further such a dialogue.

Building on the success of self-organised groups such as XR Scientists and XR Doctors it aims to assist Extinction Rebellion in getting its key message across to workers whose jobs are in the direct line of the necessary rapid transition away from fossil fuels.

The founding ‘mandate’ of Extinction Rebellion Trade Unionists includes the following ideas:

  • Promote XR members to join a union.
  • Promote concerns about the climate crisis and XR within our trade unions and the trade union movement.
  • To ensure that the withdrawal from fossil fuels includes a just transition for workers.
  • Lobby for XR actions to include consultation, and link actions with trade unions,
  • To support trade union and workers strikes.
  • Promote strike action as an effective form of NVDA, in the fight for climate justice.

XR recently issued a statement in support of Fawley oil refinery workers:

“On the 8th April members of XR Trade Unionists will visit the workers on their picket line in order to show support and solidarity. The dots are being joined for us all in the current context, from the wars fuelled by fossil fuel money, the exacerbating inequalities in the cost of living crisis, and energy companies shamelessly making record profits from the plight of the ordinary person and leaving workers behind. It is now clear in the UK that we’re being ripped off, our future is being burned, sold, decimated and all the while companies and the government sit back and support corporate interest over people’s live and livelihoods. Enough of the lies, deceit and deadly political failure. Unite workers are taking disruptive nonviolent action just as we are, and we wish them luck in their endeavours.”

Green Unionism on the Chevron Richmond Refinery Workers Picket Line

By Steve Ongerth - IWW Environmental Union Caucus, April 15, 2022

Since Monday, March 21, 2022, the workers at the Chevron oil refinery in Richmond, California, members of the United Steelworkers Local 5 have been on strike and picketing the facility after voting down the company’s latest contract offer, which workers say contained insufficient wage increases. The bosses have responded by bringing in scabs (including managers from other Chevron facilities). The strike has gotten a good deal of media coverage:

However, the capitalist (and progressive) media have mostly missed some important details.

First of all, the striking refinery workers and their elected union leaders continue to emphasize that their issues extend beyond narrow bread and butter issues, such as wages and benefits. A major concern that they continue to articulate is that Chevron continues to try and cut unionized safety jobs and refuses to hire sufficient workers to safely and adequately staff the facility. Workers have complained of 12-hour days and six-day workweeks. All of these deficiencies not only risk the health and safety of the workers, but the surrounding, mostly BIPOC communities as well. Worse still, they have adverse environmental effects, a problem that hasn't been lost on the striking workers. As stated by USW Local 5 representative, B.K White:

“If we had more people and could get a better pay rate, maybe our members wouldn’t feel obligated to come in and work as many as 70 hours a week to make ends meet. We don’t believe that is safe. (that and the use of replacement workers) is at the detriment of the city of Richmond and the environment.”

Even less noticed by the media has been the presence of environmental justice activists (including, but not limited to, the Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Communities for a Better Environment, Extinction Rebellion, Fossil Free California, Richmond Progressive Alliance, Sierra Club, Sunflower Alliance, Sunrise Movement, and 350), various socialist organizations (including DSA in particular), and members from the nearby front-line BIPOC communities, who have joined the pickets in solidarity with the workers, something the workers have also not hesitated to point out. Indeed, in spite of the fact that many environmental justice activists and community members are harshly critical of Chevron's role in turning the city of Richmond into a capital blight infested sacrifice zone, they recognize that the workers are not their enemies nor are the latter responsible for the damage done by the company. On the contrary, many recognize that the unionized workforce is one of the best mitigations against far worse capital blight (it bears mentioning that there has also been a good deal of support and picket line presence from rank and file workers and union officials from many other unions, including the AFSCME, IBEW, IWW, ILWU, SEIU, UFCW, and the Contra Costa County Central Labor Council).

Such seemingly unlikely bonds of solidarity, though delicate and, at times, fragile didn't arise out of thin air, but, in fact, have resulted from years of painstaking grassroots organizing.

Climate Strike!

By Philly Metro Area WSA - Workers Solidarity Alliance, April 13, 2022

Philly Metro WSA was visited by Lucien-Charles Tronchet-Ridel, a Quebec-based WSA activist. He met with members of the branch last month to discuss his work in Quebec with Workers for Climate Justice, a network of union activists.

The “Earth Invites Itself to Parliament” in 2019 built solidarity between workers and students, and culminated in a mass climate march in September 2019. This climate march was not only the largest demonstration in Canadian history, but also one of the biggest climate-marches in world’s history..14 unions declared a climate strike, which was mostly carried out by teachers of various CEGEP (publicly funded colleges). CEGEPs have a tradition of organizing student strikes for social causes. 

Cédric Gray-Lehoux, spokesperson for the youth network of the Assembly of First Nations Quebec-Labrador, was one of three people to make a speech in September 2019. Before this, a training camp linked non-native activists with native activists during two days to share their knowledge and experiences. There is a growing concern in the Quebec ecological movement to connect itself to First Nation struggles. The student movement mostly works to build connections with Native people.

In 2021, Earth Invites Itself to Parliament created a separate network of green unionists: Workers for Climate Justice. This network decided to have another mass mobilization for fall of 2022, when they plan to be more oppositional than in the fall of 2019. The 2019 march was mainstream enough that even the prime minister of Canada marched. The Workers for Climate Justice, for their more oppositional march, have prepared a workshop for workers to present on the workshop floor. 

Waging a strike campaign outside of a bargaining period between two contract periods is technically illegal. Since it will be a social strike, a strike for bettering society, it will be a legitimate campaign even if not a legally sanctioned strike for collective bargaining.

Lucien-Charles is helping Workers for Climate Justice to get in touch with environmental and radical ecology groups in North America, and branch members of WSA were happy to put him in touch with their contacts in Philly and Delaware County. 

When asked what pro-IWA groups can offer to this work, Lucien-Charles replied,“the IWA, I feel, can provide a critical anti-capitalist and anti-statist viewpoint, which is lacking in the mainstream Climate movement, which is largely oriented toward the Green New Deal, and is limited to the UN Recommendations for Carbon Emissions.” He added, “IWA and the IWA Climate Committee can bring a much more radical viewpoint, grounded in the creative possibilities of workers’ direct action, to such as strikes and boycotts, and the ideals of anarcho-communism/anarcho-syndicalism.”

Branch members expressed interest in how to engage on a local level with IWA Climate committee work. When Lucien presented a small film from the mass mobilization of 2019, the visual effect of the never-ending march was inspiring..Branch members shared their reactions and reflections. 

2022 Global Climate Strike: Travailleuses et Travailleurs pour la Justice Climatique

By staff - Travailleuses et Travailleurs pour la Justice Climatique, April 10, 2022

Greetings to all climate conscious workers

Who are we?

We are Travailleuses et travailleurs pour la justice climatique (TJC, Workers for Climate Justice), a Québec-based network. As workers, we are union officers, union executive or rank-and-file union activists. We are conscious of the highest relevance of Climate Justice for the future of our species, all the biosphere and the welfare of our class. Therefore we want to put pressure on fossil fuel profiteers and their politician puppets to make sure greenhouse gas emissions are kept under a secure level.

What do we want?

Our demands are to ban fossil fuels in Québec and Canada by 2030, and tax the rich massively in order to reinvest in public services and social programs. That is why us rank-and-file and local union officers intend to take action in our workplaces. We are calling for nothing else but a Québec-wide social strike for Climate Justice in Autumn 2022!

Climate strike in the past

In September 2019, we organized our first climate strike, in which 14 local unions representing around 7,500 workers across Québec participated. The strike took place alongside the historic climate march of 500,000 people in Montréal on September 27, 2019 - the largest demonstration in our history. 

Climate strike in 2022

This year, we are organizing to mobilize a climate strike on an even greater scale, seeking at least 20 local unions with 10,000 workers to initiate the strike sometime this fall. We are also organizing in solidarity with student movements and community groups in order to build broader support across the province. We will be determining the date of the strike in collaboration with our comrades in the student movement. 

Our outreach intentions

We believe that in order to fight effectively against the climate catastrophe, we must build a movement for climate strike among workers across North America. The greenhouse gas emissions have no borders; it takes an international working-class to fight against them. While the concrete demands may be different in different places, we can support each other and pressure our respective strategic targets, and ensure international visibility and create bonds of solidarity for our common cause.

If your organization or anyone you know is interested in working with us, please let us know and one of us will be in touch with you shortly. Furthermore, please spread this message to as many labour groups in your area as possible. It’s up to us, workers of the world, to act for Climate Justice. Let’s build a Global Climate Strike!

In solidarity, 

Travailleuses et travailleurs pour la justice climatique (TJC)

Coordinating Committee of TJC.

https://justiceclimatique.org/

War in Ukraine: reflections and proposals for internationalist union action

By Simon Pirani - Europe Solidaire Sans Frontières, March 31, 2022

From the Solidaires Union web site. These notes from the Solidaires Union bureau set out its approach to building solidarity with Ukrainian working-class resistance to Russian military aggression. They are a useful starting point for discussion.

This statement is based on the assessment made during the Solidaires national board meeting in March, the contributions of our member organizations, the work of our international commission, and inter-union exchanges both nationally, through the inter-union CGT/FSU/Solidaires, and internationally, through the International Labour Network of Solidarity and Struggles. All of this has also been fuelled by the exchanges and reflections held within larger unitary frameworks in which we take part. [1]

Beyond producing assessments and analyses, union commitment is about action. The following proposals are based on the international work that Solidaires has been doing for years and are expressed in the initiatives, connections and publications of recent days. They aim to respond – on the basis of concrete actions and not useless polemics – to the sectarianism displayed by some statements from other trade union organisations, and especially to the hypocrisy of government and employers’ declarations.

The introductory statement to the debate of the national board the 9th March recalled the position of the Solidaires union from the first day of the war (actually even before the start of this war, since all that follows is part of the tradition and practice of internationalist unionism that we try to implement):

□ The immediate withdrawal of Russian troops – the right of peoples to self-determination – the need for an immediate ceasefire and for building a negotiated peace – supporting people fighting against war, especially in countries at war – the dignified and massive reception of all refugees, regardless of their origin, and the fight against all inequalities and discrimination – taking part, on our own terms, in mobilisations and demonstrations for peace – (joint) participation in the initiatives of solidarity with the Ukrainian people, such as the “union convoy” which aims to provide Ukrainian workers with relief supplies – denouncing nationalism and capitalism as the causes of war – internationalism, as an alternative to nationalism – fighting to end tax havens – the urgency of an ecological transition towards the end of the massive use of fossil fuels.

#8March – Declaration of the Peasant Women of La Via Campesina Southern and Eastern Africa

By staff - La Via Campesina, March 31, 2022

Declaration of working women of La Via Campesina and Allies during the two days’ workshop held at MVIWATA Headquarters, Morogoro, Tanzania

We women, representing our fellow working women from the smallholder farmers’ organizations from 10 countries under the umbrella of La Via Campesina, Political parties and Social movements from various African countries including Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, Mozambique, Ghana and Eswatini.

Our two days meeting aimed to advance our struggles and we have identified the following:

  1. Despite the differences we have in terms of cultures, geography and environmental conditions, together we have similar challenges that require our unity and solidarity in addressing it including the right to acquire, own and use land, commercialization of women bodies and social services including education, water, and health; the increasing violence against women and children and the general oppression of the working class, especially working women. This manifest itself in various forms of economic, social, physical and psychological.
  • These challenges are systemic and are indicative of the system’s failure to recognize and protect working women and their rights in economic, social, political and cultural spheres.
  • The existing women and men relationship are the product of a wide-ranging system of exploitation and oppression whose signs and symptoms manifest themselves in the face of increasing sexual violence especially against women, exploitation of one sex by the other, mistrust between the two sexes. The rising assumption that these two sexes are enemies, the collapse of family values ​​and the disintegration of families with the aim of pursuing employment.
  • That oppressive systems, hidden within neo-liberal policies and that use a man as a tool to abuse women through patriarchy that manifests itself through various economic, social, cultural and political relations in our society have continued to affect us and our society as a whole.
  • Gender-based violence has long and deep roots rooted in the patriarchal system that has been plagued, created and expanded over the years and so the revolution of that system is the solution to violence against women.
  • The solution to these challenges is a systematic change to create equal rights that require strategies built through unity and solidarity of peasant women and men, activists and all friends who support the struggle to overthrow the abusive, oppressive and perpetual system of violence against women.

Bristol IWW affiliates with Earth Strike UK

By staff - Earth Strike UK, March 30, 2022

We are pleased to announce that the Bristol branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) has become the first union branch to affiliate with Earth Strike UK. The IWW organises workers of all types along industrial lines. One of its stated aims is to “live in harmony with the Earth”. We look forward to working with them to bring the struggle against the climate crisis to their members’ workplaces. We anticipate this will be the first of many branches and unions to join our cause.

The climate crisis will hit the global working class the hardest. By withdrawing our labour and taking other actions we can change the catastrophic course we are currently on. Our individual efforts to reduce emissions will not be enough to avert disaster, and typical protests can be easily ignored by politicians and the capitalist class – those most responsible for the crisis we find ourselves in. We must revive worker and union power and hit those who control the economy where it hurts by disrupting their ability to make profits. Together, we aim to free unions from restrictive anti-union laws through our Empower the Unions campaign, whilst also winning environmental improvements in our workplaces. Step by step we will create the solidarity and organisation necessary to carry out a global general strike against the climate crisis. Bristol IWW has brought us one step closer to achieving these aims by affiliating with us.

If you would like your union or union branch to affiliate with Earth Strike UK please follow this link where you can find a model motion to use https://earth-strike.co.uk/action/union-affiliation/

We need unions of all types, in all industries, to join the cause!

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