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INDUSTRIAL WORKER

O f f i c i a l n e w s p a p e r oF T h e I n d u s t r i a l Wo r k e r s o f t h e Wo r l d

M a y 2 0 10 #172 5 Vol . 107 N o. 4 $1/ £1/ €1

Boycott in Support Understanding Special: Interview Int’l Support for


of Providence Obama’s Healthcare with Wobbly George British Airways
Hotel Workers 5 Legislation 7 Mann 12 Strike 16

West Virginia Mine Tragedy Was No Accident


By Phil Smith, Labor Notes
Four years ago, the American people
since 2005, drawing $1.89 million in
fines.
watched their TVs in horror as 12 bod- The company’s CEO, Don Blanken-
ies were removed from West Virginia’s ship, is something of a legend in the
Sago Mine after a methane gas explo- Mountain State. He has challenged
sion. That, combined with a fire days hundreds of citations and refused to pay
later caused by criminal safety lapses at fines. Although he professes that safety is
Massey Energy’s Aracoma Mine, helped his top priority, a 2005 internal memo of
spur Congress to pass the first major his was more candid: “If you have been
mine safety legislation in 40 years. asked by your group presidents, supervi-
It seems as if the more things sors, engineers, to do anything else other
change, the more they stay the same. than to run coal (i.e. build overcasts, do
The explosion at Massey’s Upper Big construction jobs, or whatever) you need
Branch Mine on April 5 was the worst to ignore them and run coal. This memo
mine disaster in the United States in is necessary only because we seem not to
almost 40 years. Our hearts and prayers understand that the coal pays the bills.”
are with the families of the 29 miners Many outside of West Virginia first
lost, and with the courageous mine res- heard of him last year when the U.S. Su-
cue team members who put their lives on preme Court ruled that his spending $3
the line by entering a highly dangerous million on a successful campaign to oust
mine to bring any survivors to safety. a state Supreme Court justice who fre-
We don’t have all the details yet quently opposed him “had a significant
regarding the explosion, but one thing and disproportionate influence” on the
requires no further investigation. Massey election’s outcome. West Virginia sub-
Energy, like so many American employ- sequently passed a law putting in place
ers, consistently sacrifices the welfare public financing for judicial elections.
of its employees in order to boost the He has consistently used his vast
bottom line. The latest disaster repre- resources and power to thwart efforts by
sents the fourth fatal accident in 12 years his workers to gain a collective voice at
at the mine. The Upper Big Branch mine work, because he knows they would then
has racked up 1,342 safety violations Continued on 9 Graphic: Tom Keough

Union Maintains Standoff With Federal Forces At Mexican Mine


By Kristyne Peter, International safety violations in the notoriously dan- members of the United Steelworkers nately, these requests were not granted.
Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) gerous Grupo Mexico-owned mine. (USW) joined SNTMMSRM members at The SNTMMSRM has filed a com-
The international labor movement Following a Feb. 11 federal court de- the mine in the days following the initial plaint with the Commission document-
takes action as tensions remain high at cision giving Grupo Mexico permission occupation and escalating tensions. ing human rights violations and political
Mexico’s Cananea mine, where 1,300 to fire the striking workers and termi- The IMF put out a call to action, and persecution that union members face
miners have occupied a Grupo Mexico nate the labor agreement, effectively affiliates from Indonesia to Brazil, and at the hands of the Mexican govern-
copper mine defending their right to eliminating the right to strike in Mexico, from all over Europe and Africa contact- ment and Grupo Mexico. In January
strike for health and safety standards some 1,200 workers occupied the mine. ed their respective embassies urging the 2009, representatives from the IMF,
on the job. The Mexican government has threatened Mexican government to remove armed International Federation of Chemical,
Striking members of the National to use armed force to gain control of troops from the mine and seek a peaceful Energy, Mine and General Workers’
Miners’ and Metalworkers’ Union of Cananea, one of Grupo Mexico’s largest resolution to the struggle. Meanwhile, Unions (ICEM), United Auto Workers
Mexico (SNTMMSRM) at the Cananea mines. Reports from Mexico indicate affiliates also sent urgent appeals to the (UAW), USW, AFL-CIO, and the Trade
copper mine in Sonora, Mexico, blocked wives and children of the miners are also Inter-American Commission on Human Union Confederation of the Americas
the federal highway between Cananea participating in the occupation. Rights, based in Washington, D.C., re- (TUCA-ITUC), met with members of the
and Agua Prieta on March 16 and 17, News of the court decision and questing the Commission to immediately Commission, urging immediate action
demanding that the government step in subsequent standoff has sparked inter- grant precautionary measures to block on the complaint submitted by the SNT-
to help broker a peaceful resolution. national action on the part of the global the removal of union members from the MMSRM.
The miners have been on strike labor movement. The International mine and prohibit the occupation of the Recently, the TUCA-ITUC released a
since July 2007 over massive health and Metalworkers’ Federation (IMF) and mine by Mexican armed forces. Unfortu- Continued on 9

Industrial Worker Periodicals Postage


Workers Shut Down Brooklyn Coffee Shop
NEW YORK - On April 10, seven baristas The issues brought up with the owners of
PO Box 180195 PAID walked out on the job at Gorilla Coffee, a Gorilla Coffee yesterday are issues that
Chicago, IL 60618, USA Cincinnati, OH popular coffee shop in Park Slope, shut- they have been aware of for some time.
and additional
ting down the cafe for the entire weekend These issues which have repeatedly been
mailing offices
ISSN 0019-8870 and the foreseeable future. brushed aside and ignored have created
ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED According to an e-mail message sent a perpetually malicious, hostile, and de-
by the former staff, the baristas quit meaning work environment that was not
because of what they call a “perpetually only unhealthy, but also, as our actions
malicious, hostile, and demeaning work have clearly shown, unworkable.
environment” under Carol McLaughlin, “Several staff left not only recently,
one of the two owners, and demanded but also in the past few years due to
that she withdraw from daily operations these issues. The staff was recently told
at the coffee bar. that the business partner to whom these
When both owners refused, seven issues have been repeatedly attributed
baristas quit. Here’s the staff e-mail was no longer affiliated with the busi-
from April 10: ness, and the environment was going to
“We the workers would have pre- change. For six weeks nothing was seen
ferred to keep this between the people nor heard of this business partner. This
involved, thus our silence towards the separation changed the dynamic of the
press. However, we do feel it is im- business so drastically one of the de-
portant to clarify the situation for the parted staff quit their other job to return
friends and patrons of Gorilla Coffee. Continued on 9
Page 2 • Industrial Worker • May 2010

The Industrial Worker Wishes You A Happy May Day!


First of all, I want to wish everyone a spirited May Day—the real labor holiday. I hope that all of you enjoy your pickets, ral-
lies, picnics, protests, parties and however else you choose to celebrate the international workers’ holiday this year. Don’t forget,
this is YOUR holiday!
I have greatly enjoyed my second year as Industrial Worker editor so far, and it is my pleasure to work with all of you who
participate in the production of our newspaper—the voice of revolutionary industrial unionism. I don’t know what I would do
without the team of diligent and meticulous proofreaders in the IW’s Final Edit Committee. Maria Rodriguez Gil, Tom Levy, Nick
Letters Welcome! Jusino, Slava Osowska, FW D. Keenan, Mathieu Dube, Joey Pigg and Ryan Boyd are a real asset to the paper, and they deserve
much more credit than a few lines in the masthead.
Send your letters to: iw@iww.org Also, since January I have had the distinct pleasure of working with our new General Headquarters in Chicago. General Sec-
with “Letter” in the subject. retary-Treasurer Joe Tessone is proving to be the strong and organized voice we need for our union, and I’m sure he couldn’t do
Mailing address: it without our dedicated team of Fellow Workers at the office in Chicago. The Industrial Worker and the GHQ have been working
IW, PO Box 7430, JAF Station, New to keep the paper’s quality dynamic while increasing its distribution.
York, NY 10116, United States When FW Tessone first came into office, he immediately began cleaning up loose ends and revamping our somewhat archaic
database. During this process, he noticed that the IW was losing money—he found out that, in the old system, there was no way
Get the Word Out! to track the end date for an IW bundle subscription. That meant that when someone (or a branch) placed an order for a one-time
IWW members, branches, job shops and bundle of five papers, they would receive the papers forever. It was a never-ending, free subscription. Now that the GHQ is fixing
other affiliated bodies can get the word the problem with a new and improved database system, I advise all of the IW bundle subscribers to contact ghq@iww.org to find
out about their project, event, campaign out when your subscriptions runs out and pay up to receive more bundles in the future, if you haven’t already. On that note, it is
important that individual member subscribers make sure they are paid up on dues and in good standing in order to continue to
or protest each month in the Industrial receive issues.
Worker. Send announcements to iw@ This is a tough financial time for everyone, and the IW is no exception. Mailing and production costs are skyrocketing, and
iww.org. Much appreciated donations it is difficult to maintain our expenses down while keeping our subscription rates affordable without cutting the overall quality
for the following sizes should be sent to of the paper. Therefore, we would like for everyone to donate just a few dollars to help keep the voice of revolutionary industrial
IWW GHQ, PO Box 23085, Cincinnati, unionism alive! You can donate by visiting http://www.pledgie.com/campaigns/9096 and filling in your information. Alternate-
OH 45223, United States. ly, you can mail a check or money order, with a note specifying that this is a donation for the Industrial Worker, to:
$12 for 1” tall, 1 column wide Industrial Workers of the World, P.O. Box 180195, Chicago, IL 60618 USA
In other news, we have recently set up a Facebook page, where you can keep up-to-the-minute with the latest IW
$40 for 4” by 2 columns
news! Find and friend us at: http://www.facebook.com/industrialworker. And, as usual, feel free to write to the IW
$90 for a quarter page anytime with your submissions, suggestions, questions and comments at iw@iww.org. Have a wonderful May Day!
Correction: The first comic which For a world without bosses,
appeared on page 11 of the April IW was Diane Krauthamer Graphic: niu.edu
by an unknown artists, not DJ Alperovitz. Editor, Industrial Worker

Industrial Worker
The Voice of Revolutionary
IWW directory
Industrial Unionism Australia Peterborough: c/o PCAP, 393 Water St. #17, K9H 3L7, Hawaii Upstate NY GMB: PO Box 235, Albany 12201-
IWW Regional Organising Committee: PO Box 1866, 705-749-9694, ptboiww@riseup.net Honolulu: Tony Donnes, del., donnes@hawaii.edu 0235, 518-833-6853 or 518-861-5627. www.
Organization Albany, WA www.iww.org.au Toronto GMB: c/o Libra Knowledge & Information upstate-nyiww.org, secretary@upstate-ny-iww.org,
Svcs Co-op, PO Box 353 Stn. A, M5W 1C2. 416-919- Idaho Rochelle Semel, del., PO Box 172, Fly Creek 13337,
Education Sydney: PO Box 241, Surry Hills.
7392. iwwtoronto@gmail.com Boise: Ritchie Eppink, del., PO Box 453, 83701. 607-293-6489, rochelle71@peoplepc.com.
Emancipation Melbourne: PO Box 145, Moreland 3058. Québec (208) 371-9752. eppink@gmail.com Hudson Valley GMB: PO Box 48, Huguenot,12746,
British Isles Montreal: iww_quebec@riseup.net
Illinois 845-858-8851, hviww@aol.com, http://hviww.
Official newspaper of the IWW Regional Organising Committee: PO Box 1158, Europe Chicago GMB: 2117 W. Irving Park Rd., 60618. blogspot.com/
Newcastle Upon Tyne NE99 4XL. rocsec@iww.org.uk,
Industrial Workers www.iww.org.uk 773-857-1090. Ohio
Finland
of the World Baristas United Campaign: baristasunited.org.uk Helsinki: Reko Ravela, Otto Brandtintie 11 B 25, Central Ill GMB: 903 S. Elm, Champaign, IL, 61820. Ohio Valley GMB: PO Box 42233, Cincinnati 45242.
00650. iwwsuomi@helsinkinet.fi 217-356-8247 Textile & Clothing Workers IU 410, PO Box 317741
Post Office Box 180195 National Blood Service Campaign: nbs.iww.org
Bradford: bradford@iww.org.uk German Language Area Freight Truckers Hotline: 224-353-7189, mtw530@ Cincinnati, OH 45231. ktacmota@aol.com
Chicago, IL 60618 USA IWW German Language Area Regional Organizing iww.org
Bristol: PO Box 4, 82 Colston street, BS1 5BB. Tel. Committee (GLAMROC): Post Fach 19 02 03, 60089 Oklahoma
773.857.1090 • ghq@iww.org Waukegan: PO Box 274, 60079.
07506592180. bristoliww@riseup.net Frankfurt/M, Germany iww-germany@gmx.net Tulsa: PO Box 213 Medicine Park 73557, 580-529-
www.iww.org www.wobblies.de Indiana 3360.
Burnley: burnley@iww-manchester.org.uk
Austria: iwwaustria@gmail.com, www.iwwaustria. Lafayette GMB: P.O. Box 3793, West Lafayette, IN Oregon
Cambridge: IWW c/o Arjuna, 12 Mill Road, Cam-
General Secretary-Treasurer: bridge CB1 2AD cambridge@iww.org.uk wordpress.com 47906, 765-242-1722 Lane County: 541-953-3741. www.eugeneiww.org
Joe Tessone Dorset: dorset@iww.org.uk Frankfurt am Main: iww-frankfurt@gmx.net. Iowa Portland GMB: 2249 E Burnside St., 97214, 503-
Goettingen: iww-goettingen@gmx.net. Eastern Iowa GMB: 114 1/2 E. College Street 231-5488. portland.iww@gmail.com, pdx.iww.org
General Executive Board: Dumfries: iww_dg@yahoo.co.uk
Iowa City, IA 52240 easterniowa@iww.org Portland: Red and Black Cafe, 400 SE 12th Ave,
Hull: hull@iww.org.uk Koeln: stuhlfauth@wobblies.de.
Monika Vykoukal, Koala Largess, Maine 97214, 503-231-3899, redandblackbooking@
London GMB: c/o Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, Munich: iww-muenchen@web.de
Robert Rush, Ryan Gaughan, Evan 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX. Tel. Barry Rodrigue, 75 Russell Street, Bath, ME 04530. riseup.net
Luxembourg: ashbrmi@pt.lu , 0352 691 31 99 71 (207)-442-7779
Wolfson, Slava Osowska, Bob +44 (0) 20 3393 1295, londoniww@gmail.com Pennsylvania
Switzerland: IWW-Zurich@gmx.ch Maryland
Ratynski London Building Workers IU 330 Branch: c/o Adam Lancaster GMB: PO Box 796, Lancaster, PA 17608.
Lincoln, UCU, Carlow Street, London NW1 7LH Greece Baltimore IWW: PO Box 33350, Baltimore MD
21218, mike.pesa@gmail.com Philadelphia GMB: PO Box 42777, Philadelphia, PA
Editor & Graphic Designer : Leicestershire GMB and DMU IU620 Job Branch: Athens: Themistokleous 66 Exarhia Athens
iwgreece@iww.org 19101. 215-222-1905. phillyiww@iww.org. Union
Diane Krauthamer Unit 107, 40 Halford St., Leicester LE1 1TQ, England. Massachusetts
Tel. 07981 433 637, leics@iww.org.uk www. Hall: 4530 Baltimore Ave., 19143.
iw@iww.org Netherlands: iww.ned@gmail.com Boston Area GMB: PO Box 391724, Cambridge
leicestershire-iww.org.uk Paper Crane Press IU 450 Job Shop: papercrane-
United States 02139. 617-469-5162.
Leeds: leedsiww@hotmail.co.uk press@verizon.net, 610-358-9496.
Final Edit Committee : Cape Cod/SE Massachusetts: PO Box 315, West
Manchester: manchester@iww.org.uk www.iww- Arizona Pittsburgh GMB : PO Box 831, Monroeville,
Maria Rodriguez Gil, Tom Levy, manchester.org.uk Phoenix GMB: 1205 E Hubble, 85006-1758. (602) Barnstable, MA 02668 thematch@riseup.net PA,15146. pittsburghiww@yahoo.com
Nick Jusino, Slava Osowska, FW 486-9014 or (480) 946-2160. phoenix@iww.org Western Mass. Public Service IU 650 Branch: IWW,
Norwich: norwich@iww.org.uk. www.iww-norwich. Rhode Island
D. Keenan, Mathieu Dube, Joseph org.uk Po Box 1581, Northampton 01061.
Pigg, Ryan Boyd Arkansas Providence GMB: P.O. Box 5795, 02903. 508-367-
Nottingham: notts@iww.org.uk Fayetteville: PO Box 283, 72702. 479-200-1859, Michigan 6434. providenceiww@gmail.com
Reading: reading@iww.org.uk nwar_iww@hotmail.com. Detroit GMB: 22514 Brittany Avenue, E. Detroit, MI Texas
Printer: 48021. detroit@iww.org.
Saltus Press Sheffield: Cwellbrook@riseup.net DC Dallas & Fort Worth: 1618 6th Ave, Fort Worth, TX
Grand Rapids GMB: PO Box 6629, Grand Rapids MI 76104.
Worcester, MA Somerset: guarita_carlos@yahoo.co.uk DC GMB (Washington): 741 Morton St NW, Washing-
49516. 616-881-5263
Tyne and Wear: c/o Philip Le Marquand, 36 Abbot ton DC, 20010. 571-276-1935. South Texas IWW: rgviww@gmail.com
Court, Gateshead NE8 3JY. tyneandwear@iww.org. Central Michigan: 5007 W. Columbia Rd., Mason
Next deadline is California 48854. 517-676-9446, happyhippie66@hotmail. Utah
uk.
May 7, 2010. Los Angeles GMB: PO Box 811064, 90081. (310)205- com. Salt Lake City: 801-485-1969. tr_wobbly@yahoo
West Midlands: The Warehouse, 54-57 Allison Street 2667. la_gmb@iww.org .com
Digbeth, Birmingham B5 5TH westmids@iww.org.uk Minnesota
www.wmiww.org. North Coast GMB: PO Box 844, Eureka 95502-0844. Vermont
US IW mailing address: 707-725-8090, angstink@gmail.com. Twin Cities GMB: 79 13th Ave NE Suite 103A Burlington GMB: P.O. Box 8005,Burlington, VT,
IW, PO Box 7430, JAF Sta- York: york@iww.org.uk San Francisco Bay Area GMB: (Curbside and Buyback Minneapolis MN 55413. twincities@iww.org. 05402. 802-540-2541
tion, New York, NY 10116 Scotland IU 670 Recycling Shops; Stonemountain Fabrics Red River IWW: POB 103, Moorhead, MN 56561
Job Shop and IU 410 Garment and Textile Worker’s 218-287-0053. iww@gomoorhead.com. Washington
ISSN 0019-8870 Aberdeen: aberdeen@ iww.org.uk Industrial Organizing Committee; Shattuck Cinemas) Bellingham: P.O. Box 1793, 98227. BellinghamI-
Clydeside GMB: c/o IWW PO Box 7593, Glasgow, G42 Missouri
Periodicals postage PO Box 11412, Berkeley 94712. 510-845-0540. WW@gmail.com 360-920-6240.
2EX. clydeside@iww.org.uk http://iwwscotland. Kansas City GMB: c/o 5506 Holmes St., 64110. Tacoma IWW: P.O. Box 2052, Tacoma, WA 98401
paid Cincinnati, OH. wordpress.com. Evergreen Printing: 2335 Valley Street, Oakland, CA
94612. 510-835-0254 dkaroly@igc.org. 816-523-3995. TacIWW@iww.org
Dumfries and Galloway GMB: dumfries@iww.org.uk
San Jose: sjiww@yahoo.com. Montana Olympia GMB: PO Box 2775, 98507, 360-878-1879.
Postmaster: Send address Edinburgh IWW: c/o 17 W. Montgomery Place,
EH7 5HA. 0131-557-6242, edinburgh@iww.org.uk Colorado Two Rivers GMB: PO Box 9366, Missoula, MT 59807, olywobs@riseup.net
changes to IW, Post Office Box
Denver GMB: c/o P&L Printing Job Shop: 2298 Clay, tworiversgmb@iww.org 406-459-7585. Seattle GMB: 1122 E. Pike #1142, 98122-3934.
180195 Chicago, IL 60618 USA Canada Denver 80211. 303-433-1852. Construction Workers IU 330: 406-490-3869, 206-339-4179. seattleiww@gmail.com
Alberta Four Corners (AZ, CO, NM, UT): 970-903-8721, trampiu330@aol.com.
SUBSCRIPTIONS Wisconsin
Edmonton GMB: PO Box 75175, T6E 6K1. edmon- 4corners@iww.org.
Individual Subscriptions: $18 ton@lists.iww.org, edmonton.iww.ca.
New Jersey Madison GMB: PO Box 2442, 53703-2442. www.
International Subscriptions: $20 Florida Central New Jersey GMB: PO Box 10021, New Bruns- madisoniww.info.
British Columbia Gainesville GMB: 1021 W. University, 32601. 352- wick 08906. 732-801-7001 iwwcnj@gmail.com Lakeside Press IU 450 Job Shop: 1334 Williamson,
Library Subs: $24/year Vancouver IWW: 204-2274 York Ave., Vancouver, BC, 246-2240, gainesvilleiww@riseup.net New Mexico 53703. 608-255-1800. www.lakesidepress.org.
Union dues includes subscription. V6K 1C6. Phone/fax 604-732-9613. gmb-van@iww. Pensacola GMB: PO Box 2662, Pensacola, FL 32513-
ca, vancouver.iww.ca, vancouverwob.blogspot.com Albuquerque: 202 Harvard Dr. SE, 87106. 505-227- Madison Infoshop Job Shop: 1019 Williamson St. #B,
Published monthly with the excep- 2662. 840-437-1323, iwwpensacola@yahoo.com, 0206, abq@iww.org.
www.angelfire.com/fl5/iww 53703. 608-262-9036.
tion of March and September. Manitoba Just Coffee Job Shop IU 460: 1129 E. Wilson, Madi-
Winnipeg GMB: IWW, c/o WORC, PO Box 1, R3C 2G1. St Petersburg/Tampa: Frank Green,P.O. Box 5058, New York
winnipegiww@hotmail.com, garth.hardy@union. Gulfport, FL 33737. (727)324-9517. NoWageSlaves@ Binghamton Education Workers Union: bingham- son, 53703 608-204-9011, justcoffee.coop
Articles not so designated do org.za. gmail.com toniww@gmail.com GDC Local 4: P.O. Box 811, 53701. 608-262-9036.
not reflect the IWW’s Hobe Sound: P. Shultz, 8274 SE Pine Circle, 33455- NYC GMB: PO Box 7430, JAF Station, New York City Railroad Workers IU 520: 608-358-5771.
Ontario 10116, iww-nyc@iww.org. www.wobblycity.org
6608. 772-545-9591 okiedogg2002@yahoo.com eugene_v_debs_aru@yahoo.com.
official position. Ottawa-Outaouais GMB & GDC Local 6: PO Box Starbucks Campaign: 44-61 11th St. Fl. 3, Long
52003, 298 Dalhousie St. K1N 1S0, 613-225-9655, Georgia Island City, NY 11101 starbucksunion@yahoo.com Milwaukee GMB: PO Box 070632, 53207. 414-481-
Press Date: April 16, 2010. ott-out@iww.org French: ott_out_fr@yahoo.ca. Atlanta: M. Bell, 404.693.4728, iwwbell@gmail.com www.starbucksunion.org 3557.
May 2010 • Industrial Worker • Page 3

IWW Members Visit Baltimore For Wobfest 2010


By Mike Pesa the formation of a new IWW “Friends of organizers. a slide show of newspaper clippings,
“The future of the world rests on a Palestine” committee, the Red Emma’s Following these workshops, the Gen- photos and cartoons to show how the
Wobbly foundation,” declared Jasaga, a collective led a discussion on effective der Justice collective led a unique anti- IWW used humor, courage and ingenu-
spoken-word artist and IWW member, meeting facilitation and group decision- oppression training specially tailored to ity to win a hard-fought battle against
as he performed for a crowd of cheering making, an issue that many branches help the IWW better support the rights censorship and the dishonest recruit-
IWW members and supporters at the and committees are struggling with. and equality of women, transgendered ment strategies of the “job sharks” of the
Zodiac in Baltimore, Md. Several other After breaking for lunch (aided and people, people of color and other op- American West. Later, at dinner time,
IWW musicians would follow his set in abetted by a massive quantity of rice and pressed and marginalized groups, both participants engaged in a serious round-
an energy-packed show that was head- bottled water provided by the Central on the shop floor and within the union table discussion of the IWW’s strengths
lined by IWW General Secretary-Trea- New Jersey branch), the second ses- itself. The presenters (including a local and weaknesses and how we can build
surer Joe Tessone and his talented band, sion of workshops began. In one room IWW member) challenged members to the One Big Union in 2010.
the Rust Belt Ramblers. This concert was a Baltimore-based group of low wage step outside their own identity and think After a day packed with workshops,
just one part of a weekend of workshops, workers called the United Workers about how the working class is being lectures and discussions, everyone was
discussions, networking and fun called Association explained their innovative divided by prejudice, discrimination and ready to let loose. A crowd of people
Wobfest 2010. model of leadership development and inequality. gathered at the Zodiac music venue to
Wobfest was organized by the Balti- discussed their efforts to establish a “hu- After the training, Baltimore IWW dance, drink and listen to an impres-
more General Membership Branch of the man rights zone” for exploited workers member John Duda spoke about his sive lineup of bands and artists, many
IWW as a way of bringing together IWW in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Meanwhile, new book, “Wanted: Men to fill the Jails of them members of the IWW. From
members and supporters from across the in the next room, IWW Starbucks Work- of Spokane,” a fascinating collection of traditional labor folk songs straight from
East Coast and beyond. The event took ers Union founder and published author first-hand accounts of the important but the Little Red Songbook to bizarre dance
place from March 26-28 and drew at- Daniel Gross spoke about labor law as little-understood IWW Spokane Free mixes about spooning, there was some-
tendees from as far away as Chicago and it pertains to rank and file workers and Speech fight. Fellow Worker Duda used thing for everyone. The music continued
Ottawa, Canada. Altogether, about 50 late into the night and many wobblies
people from at least seven cities showed continued to celebrate at the homes of
up to share their knowledge, ideas, tal- their hosts.
ents and camaraderie. Sunday was much more relaxed.
The weekend began on Friday with Folks gradually flocked to the Red Clover
an IWW film marathon at the Baltimore collective house for a day of barbequ-
Free School, a project of the IWW- ing, games and hanging out. Mean-
affiliated Red Emma’s Bookstore and while, some members carpooled to an
Coffeehouse collective. After watching old warehouse across town to help the
documentaries about IWW history, the United Workers Association make pup-
Starbucks campaign and the ISC’s 2008 pets and other props for a massive work-
trip to Haiti, many wobblies headed ers’ rights/human rights rally called Our
down to Baltimore’s Washington Monu- Harbor Day, which will be held on May 1
ment to take part in a Critical Mass bike at the Inner Harbor. The UWA organiz-
ride. The bike ride ended at the Black ers were very appreciative and the Bal-
Cherry Puppet Theater where a group timore IWW plans to continue working
called Heels on Wheels performed a with them on this important event.
queer-femme cabaret/drag show. As the sun began to set, it was at
The next morning everyone gathered last time for everyone to go their sepa-
at 2640, a church building that has been rate ways and for us in Baltimore to say
partially converted to an organizing and goodbye to our guests. We hope that
performance space. After enjoying a light everyone found Wobfest 2010 as fun and
breakfast, participants split up to attend meaningful as we did. If folks left with a
a series of workshops. While the IWW’s little more knowledge, a few new com-
International Solidarity Commission Photo: Benjamin Ferguson rades and a renewed passion for building
(ISC) reported back from their recent GST Joe Tessone’s band The Rustbelt Ramblers played at the Zodiac in the One Big Union, then we have done
delegation to Palestine and announced Baltimore during Wobfest on March 27. our job.
IWW Constitution Preamble Join the IWW Today
T
The working class and the employing he IWW is a union for all workers, a union dedicated to organizing on the
class have nothing in common. There can job, in our industries and in our communities both to win better conditions
be no peace so long as hunger and want today and to build a world without bosses, a world in which production and
are found among millions of working distribution are organized by workers ourselves to meet the needs of the entire popu-
people and the few, who make up the em- lation, not merely a handful of exploiters.
ploying class, have all the good things of
We are the Industrial Workers of the World because we organize industrially ­–
life. Between these two classes a struggle
that is to say, we organize all workers on the job into one union, rather than dividing
must go on until the workers of the world
organize as a class, take possession of the
workers by trade, so that we can pool our strength to fight the bosses together.
means of production, abolish the wage Since the IWW was founded in 1905, we have recognized the need to build a truly
system, and live in harmony with the international union movement in order to confront the global power of the bosses
earth. and in order to strengthen workers’ ability to stand in solidarity with our fellow
We find that the centering of the man- workers no matter what part of the globe they happen to live on.
agement of industries into fewer and fewer We are a union open to all workers, whether or not the IWW happens to have
hands makes the trade unions unable to representation rights in your workplace. We organize the worker, not the job, recog-
cope with the ever-growing power of the nizing that unionism is not about government certification or employer recognition
employing class. The trade unions foster but about workers coming together to address our common concerns. Sometimes
a state of affairs which allows one set of this means striking or signing a contract. Sometimes it means refusing to work with
workers to be pitted against another set an unsafe machine or following the bosses’ orders so literally that nothing gets done.
of workers in the same industry, thereby Sometimes it means agitating around particular issues or grievances in a specific
helping defeat one another in wage wars. See what all the purring is about
workplace, or across an industry.
Moreover, the trade unions aid the employ-
ing class to mislead the workers into the
Because the IWW is a democratic, member-run union, decisions about what issues
to address and what tactics to pursue are made by the workers directly involved. Subscribe to the
Industrial Worker
belief that the working class have interests
in common with their employers. TO JOIN: Mail this form with a check or money order for initiation
These conditions can be changed and and your first month’s dues to: IWW, Post Office Box 180195, Chicago, IL
the interest of the working class upheld 60618, USA. 10 issues for:
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Initiation is the same as one month’s dues. Our dues are calculated • US $18 for individuals.
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dustry, or all industries if necessary, cease
are $9 a month. If your monthly income is between $2000 and $3500, • US $24 for institutions.
work whenever a strike or lockout is on in
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injury to one an injury to all. are $27 a month. Dues may vary outside of North America and in Regional Name: ________________________
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Instead of the conservative motto, “A Address:______________________
fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,” we __I affirm that I am a worker, and that I am not an employer.
must inscribe on our banner the revolu- State/Province:_______________
tionary watchword, “Abolition of the wage __I agree to abide by the IWW constitution. Zip/PC________________________
system.” __I will study its principles and acquaint myself with its purposes.
It is the historic mission of the work- Name:_________________________________
ing class to do away with capitalism. The Send to:
army of production must be organized,
Address:_ ______________________________ Industrial Workers of the
not only for the everyday struggle with City, State, Post Code, Country:________________ World
capitalists, but also to carry on production Occupation:_ ____________________________ P.O. Box 180195
when capitalism shall have been over- Chicago, IL 60618 USA
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Page 4 • Industrial Worker • May 2010

The Battle Of The Sandwiches:


What Does The Bosses’ Offensive Look Like?
By Erik Forman and put a note in the back room instruct-
If you read about the labor move- ing us that we were no longer allowed to
ment of the 1970s and 1980s, there is a keep the sandwiches.
lot of talk about the “bosses’ offensive,” We were outraged. She was tak-
an aggressive attack on workers move- ing food out of our mouths. Immedi-
ments by capital. ately, two workers confronted the boss
A friend of mine from Italy told me and demanded we be able to keep the
that in 1977, the bosses and pro-boss sandwiches, explaining how important
workers (we call these people “scis- it was to us, how we didn’t make enough
sorbills,” because their words cut you) money to buy lunch every day, and how
staged a march of several thousand upset all the other workers would be.
people in opposi- The boss
tion to the contin- had prepared an
ued wildcat strikes, answer in advance.
sabotage, and oc- She said it was
casional kneecap- against health code
ping, kidnapping, to keep the sand-
or assassination wiches, and that
of bosses in the her boss would not
plants of north- allow it. We went
ern Italy. This action was sufficient to back and forth a bunch of times to no
change the climate and turn the cultural avail.
tide against the workers’ insurgency. The next day, I packaged up the
In my own workplace, we have seen sandwiches and put them in a stapled-
an ebb and flow of class struggle on a shut bag, labeling it for a coworker who
micro-level. Initially, when the union worked the next morning. He got the
went public, the boss was so afraid of us sandwiches and shared them with others
that he would sneak in and out the back on his shift. This was a direct action,
door of the store without us knowing. directly contradicting the boss’ wishes.
We actually had a hard time planning I got called in the back room the
actions because we could never find the next day. I was informed that if I did this
boss to make demands. again, I would be written up. Two write-
The company replaced our boss with ups and I would be fired.
a new, more authoritarian manager. What could we do? We could do
She set about breaking the union. Many another march on the boss. A strike? A
of our fellow workers quit of their own picket? A phone-in? We couldn’t figure
volition before the union-busting really out how to escalate. Our coworkers were
started, so we were already weak when not comfortable openly disobeying the
the boss went on the offensive against boss, especially with the supposed legiti-
us. macy of “health code” behind her.
How did our new boss attack us? Our boss won. We lost the sandwich-
The same way we attacked our boss. She es. We did not have the organization we
picked a winnable issue--something that needed to defend ourselves.
we cared about but that we would be This was the first defensive battle of
unable to defend. An issue that would a long retreat. Once you lose once, the
isolate us from our coworkers, where effect can be devastating. People lose
we would not have “common sense” or confidence in their ability to win and
the moral high ground behind us. In your organization crumbles. The bosses
this case, it was the day-old sandwiches. get increasingly brazen in their attacks.
We used to keep the sandwiches we But their brazenness generates agita-
didn’t sell at the end of the night for the tion. You might have to bide your time,
workers who would come in the next but eventually, the time will be ripe for a
day to have for lunch. Since we’re all so counterattack. It’s important to under-
damn poor, this small gesture of solidar- stand this dynamic in order to be able to
ity meant a lot—it saved us money, and beat back the bosses’ offensive, but also
sometimes meant we got to eat when we to be able to take the occasional loss in
would otherwise miss a meal. stride, pick our battles, and stay on the
The boss took away our sandwiches offensive more effectively.

Are We Hiding Our Revolutionary Nature?


By Jim Del Duca Proponents of change were investing all
“It seems like the union is afraid that of their energy into futile attempts to fix
people will find out the truth about what problems through top-down government
we are trying to accomplish.” This was action. No one was ready to listen. So
FW Kristin’s comment to me the other we learned to look and act very much
day and it got me to thinking. Are we like AFL-CIO unions in order to blend in
hiding our revolutionary program, and if and “pass.” Some FWs never lost their
we are hiding, then why? revolutionary understanding, but lots of
I looked at our website’s front page. others are out of touch with our greater
I looked up and down and did not find revolutionary mission. They are stuck in
revolution mentioned even once, nor AFL-CIO thinking.
the terms collectivism, anti-capitalist, Times have changed. Today millions
industrial democracy, worker-controlled, of workers are unemployed or living
anti-globalization, radical, direct action, hand to mouth and are wondering why.
etc … To find them I had to dig deeper in Both liberal and conservative activists
other sections. Our home page doesn’t are realizing that the government is the Graphic: Mike Konopacki
look much different than a yellow union neutered lap dog of the corporations.
page. This causes me to conclude that we Everyone who is not rich is upset, but
are indeed hiding the truth about who completely lacking in constructive direc- promising revolutionary message to the repeats itself, just not exactly.
we are. tion, and ignorant of the facts pertaining workers so that the millions who are ripe The old-time Wobblies knew the
So why? Here I have to resort to to the world’s crises. The working class is for radicalization can be organized and saying “You have to make hay while the
speculation because I don’t want to becoming angrier by the day but has no empowered by the One Big Union. sun shines.” Friends, the sun is shining
invest a huge amount of time tracing clue what to do. The only outlets avail- Nature will not tolerate a vacuum. today. The millions are searching for us
the shift from widely recognized radical able as yet are reactionary groups like The millions of angry, unorganized right now. Let’s show them that we are
economic revolutionaries to little known the “Tea Party.” Conditions have finally workers will find their way into some- here and ready to welcome them to the
organized labor something-or-others. I’ll arrived at a state of affairs that we have thing that they feel will help them out of economic revolution—today!
just say that I think it is fear that keeps been predicting for eighty-plus years. the mess they are in. If we don’t provide
us wearing camouflage. This fear began Millions of workers are ready TO- a positive, constructive outlet for their
with endless capitalist-government per- DAY to hear our revolutionary message. frustration that results in real improve- “Word Out”
secution and has been held over into the Their minds are open and their pockets ment, then they will keep searching for By Lucas Alan Dietsche
present day when the bosses don’t even are empty. They are actively searching salvation. I feel we are at the tipping Composed in two prisons, “Word Out”
know we still exist. for solutions to the capitalist problem. is a uniquely radical collection for a
point between democracy and fascism.
braver, newer, Earth. It can be
There were good reasons to lay low. We have the message, program, and No doubt many others can see the re-
primarily found at
The proletariat was getting enough experience to take up where we left off in semblance between today and the times
MidnightExpressBooks.
crumbs and scraps to keep them quiet. 1925. But we have to reveal our uncom- leading to Hitler’s rise to power. History
May 2010 • Industrial Worker • Page 5

...And Back To The Grind: Protest At The Triangle


SWU Southern Midwest Tour A Success
By the Twin Cities Starbucks St. Louis, site of a giant arch, as well as
Shirtwaist Factory
Workers Union the first general strike in U.S. history in
On March 19, a delegation of IWW 1877 and the worker-owned and demo-
Starbucks baristas from the Twin Cities cratically-operated Black Bear Bakery.
crammed themselves into one worker’s The Autonomy Alliance and local IWW
three-cylinder Geo Metro and set off members sponsored a public event at the
on a journey to bring the good word bakery, providing us with an opportunity
of solidarity unionism to baristas and to share the story of our union campaign
workers across the lower Midwest. Four with local labor activists and workers.
days later, we returned to the Twin Cities After a brief night’s sleep, we were
after covering over 1,700 miles talking off across the cornfields of Iowa, heading
union with dozens of Starbucks workers to Iowa City to speak at an event orga-
and speaking to enthusiastic audiences nized by IWW members and the Wild
in Kansas City, St. Louis, and Iowa City Rose Collective. We met many workers at
about our efforts to win decent wages, the event, some with decades of experi-
consistent scheduling, and other basic ence in the struggle, others just starting
demands at the world’s largest coffee out, and we discussed the possibility of
chain. stronger regional support for workplace
Our first stop was KKFI, a communi- organizing across the Midwest.
ty radio station in Kansas City, where the Thanks to the generosity of our hosts
“Heartland Labor Forum” radio show and audience members in the cities we
was kind enough to interview us about visited, we were able to cover almost all Photo: Bud Korotzer
our organizing experiences. We then of our gas costs and had a place to stay in Demonstrators left carnations, symbolic of martyrdom, in memory of the
Triagle Shirtwaist tragedy victims and victims of similar incidents today.
made our way to the Westport Coffee every town we visited. Working-class sol-
House, where we held a discussion with idarity is alive and well in the Midwest. By Fran Korotzer, Next Left Notes the street.”
interested community members about Because of this, even a grassroots organi- On the clear, sunny Saturday after- When the procession reached the
some of the issues we workers face at zation of low-wage retail workers like the noon of March 27, about 150 women site, they found flowers that had been
Starbucks, and the possibility of building IWW Starbucks Workers Union can pose and men of every age, race, and ethnicity left two days before as part of an official
a new labor movement from the ground a threat to one of the largest corporations gathered at Union Square in New York recognition by the city and by labor of
up. We discovered that, just as in every in the world. We find inspiration in this City. Organized by the International what happened there 99 years ago.
other American city, the Kansas City fact, especially after seeing first hand the Action Center as a demonstration and Women read the names of those
working class is under attack. The Kan- devastation that the capitalist class has march against violence directed at who died there. Some told their own
sas City School Board recently decided wrought on cities across our region in the women and an acknowledgement of In- stories of being immigrant workers. One
to close an enormous number of schools last 30 years of deindustrialization, plus ternational Women’s Day, speaker after speaker reminded the group that owners
and lay off many teachers, unionized in the last two years of recession. speaker discussed issues that women are are still locking their doors to prevent
the American Federation of Teachers We plan to continue visiting workers facing: their education and their chil- theft—she pointed out that the best way
(AFT). We extend our solidarity to them in other cities across the Midwest in the dren’s education, what they are coping to prevent theft was to pay a living wage.
and hope that workers and students can coming months, hopefully helping to lay with in Haiti, and the fact that the U.S. Just a few years ago Wal-Mart was
unite in defense of quality public educa- the foundation of a new working class State Department is refusing to grant found to be locking its workers in. More
tion. movement across the region for control visas for two of the wives of the Cuban than a decade ago many workers were
The next day, we hit the road for over our lives and communities. 5, Olga Salanueva and Adriana Perez, so burned to death at a chicken processing

Grocery Warehouse Workers On Strike


that they could visit their husbands for plant in North Carolina because they
the first time in 12 years. were locked in, and last month work-
From workers.org After the rally there was a short walk ers in a garment factory in Bangladesh
On March 18, nearly 200 members down Broadway to the site of the Tri- (where many of our clothes are made)
and supporters of striking United Food angle Shirtwaist Company factory near perished in a fire because the exit doors
and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local Washington Square. In 1911, 146 people, were locked.
791 picketed and held the line outside mostly Jewish and Italian immigrant The owners of the Triangle Shirt-
Shaw’s Supermarket in Dorchester, women, some as young as 14, perished waist Company, Harris and Blanck, were
Mass., in solidarity with 310 women in a fire there. They were trapped in the put on trial in 1911, but were acquitted
and men workers from the warehouse blaze for several reasons: doors had been by the jury because the prosecution
distribution center in Methuen, Mass. locked, supposedly to stop the workers didn’t prove, despite eyewitness ac-
The warehouse distributes most of the from stealing a bit of cloth, the ladders counts by workers that survived, that the
perishable foods such as meat, fruits, of the fire trucks were too short to reach owners knew that the doors were locked.
dairy and vegetables to 194 Shaw’s and their floors, and the fire escapes—melted In 1913, Blanck was arrested again for
Star Market supermarkets across New and twisted from the heat—couldn’t hold locking the doors during working hours
Photo: “We support the Shaws Methuen
England. the workers. Rather than burn, groups of in his new factory. He was fined $20.
Distribution Center” Facebook page.
Workers voted on March 7 to strike Wells, Maine. women jumped to their deaths holding The story of the Triangle fire is part
to fight what they termed “substandard” Shaw’s belongs to a supermarket each other’s hands. Louis Waldman, an of the history of immigration in New
wage increases and skyrocketing costs chain that is part of Supervalu, the com- eyewitness, and later a New York State York City.
of health care insurance. UFCW Local pany that also owns Jewel-Osco Brands assemblyman, wrote in his 1944 memoir: Today New York is still a city of im-
791 represents approximately 5,500 and Albertsons. Supervalu’s CEO, Jeffrey “Occasionally a girl who had hesi- migrants, many of whom are still work-
members in 36 Shaw’s Supermarkets in Noddle, receives an annual total com- tated too long was licked by pursuing ing in firetrap sweatshops. Perhaps that
Massachusetts and Rhode Island as well pensation of $3.55 million, according to flames and, screaming with clothing and is why the Triangle Shirtwaist factory
as distribution centers in Methuen and Forbes.com. hair ablaze, plunged like a living torch to event still touches so many hearts.

Photo: Mark Rauterkus Photo: Ben Ferguson


Anti-sweatshop organizers at the University of Pittsburgh
march through the Athletic Department at the Peterson Events Center on April On March 6, the New York City IWW visited the of the boss of Flaum Appetizing
9. They delivered an assessment of PITT apparel done by comparing information Corp—workers were fired after organizing into the IWW in May 2008—to alert
at the university bookstore to the Workers Rights Consortium's factory database. his neighbors and anyone else walking by that he runs a sweatshop. In November
On April 13, they leafleted the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO convention with informa- 2009, the NLRB ordered the boss to reinstate fired workers with back pay. In-
tion about the Bangladesh Center for Workers Solidarity visit on April 27 and met stead, the boss wrongfully demanded that the workers reauthorize their immigra-
with the City of Pittsburgh Controller to discuss their anti-sweatshop ordinance. tion status and denied them their right to return to work.
Page 6 • Industrial Worker • May 2010

Hotel Workers Keep Westin Boycott Going


By Paul Abowd, Labor Notes The trouble started as soon as
After six months of rocky contract the contract talks opened in October.
talks, hotel workers have launched a Westin’s subcontracting threats came
boycott of the Westin hotel in downtown right on the heels of the fall firings of
Providence to protest the company’s 100 Hyatt workers at three non-union
deep unilateral wage and benefit cuts, hotels in Boston. As the “Hyatt 100”
as well as work speedups. The rain- launched a boycott in Beantown and
or-shine pickets got going right as the joined a citywide “March for Jobs” that
hotel hosted an influx of guests for the brought 1,000 people through the streets
NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic As- of downtown Boston, Providence activ-
sociation) basketball tournament in late ists resolved to keep the subcontracting
March—a big tourist boon for the city. scourge from spreading.
While hotel workers have teamed up They rallied City Council support for
with Rhode Island Jobs with Justice and a “worker retention ordinance.” The law
area unions, the boycott call is reaching requires hotels connected to the pub-
out-of-towners too. Dozens of members licly-subsidized downtown Convention
of the International Alliance of Theatri- Center—including the Westin—to retain
cal Stage Employees (IATSE), American current employees and pay them prevail-
Federation of Television and Radio ing wages and benefits for six months
Artists (AFTRA), and the Teamsters— if the company subcontracts work or
from the cast and crew filming a pilot changes hands completely.
for ABC—moved out of the Westin in the Despite the workers’ victory, the
Photo: Camilo Viveiros
last week of March. Westin went on the offensive, firing
Members of Rhode Island JwJ, IWW and UNITE HERE rally on March 29.
The boycott is the latest attempt three workers in November for joining
to fight off a wave of attacks from the informational pickets outside the hotel large crowd gathered outside the Westin in good faith.
Westin’s managing Procaccianti Group: on their work breaks. The union brought to launch the latest phase of the contract After a series of rousing speeches
threats to replace workers with subcon- a successful complaint to the National campaign. The news of the company’s from hotel workers and supporters, City
tracted labor (à la the “Hyatt 100” in Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on behalf deep cuts brought out city councilmen, Councilman John Lombardi threw his
Boston) and retaliatory firings of worker of the workers, and four months later Central Labor Council officials, and support behind the boycott—even if it
activists. The last straw came in March celebrated their reinstatement—march- leaders from the American Federation meant foregoing his regular trips to the
when the Westin broke off talks, slashed ing behind the three on their first day of State, County and Municipal Employ- hotel gym, where he’s a member.
wages by 20 percent, tripled (and in back to work. ees (AFSCME) and the Building Trades Francis Engler, organizer with
some plans quadrupled) health care The community is still behind the unions—who all vowed to keep their UNITE HERE Local 217, responded, to
premiums, while cutting sick days and workers after they voted, 138-to-2, to members out of the Westin until man- cheers: “You can get some exercise walk-
vacation. call a boycott and consider a strike. A agement rescinds the cuts and bargained ing with us, councilman!”

IWW Supports Westin Workers!


Members of the Providence IWW have been active
in supporting the Westin workers as well, showing
their support at rallies, pickets and events. FW Gray
Sutherland added a Wobbly’s opinion of the situa-
tion:
“The Westin Providence situation is simply
a matter of justice. The Procaccianti Group
[owners] got the go-ahead to do business in our
community, with the help of taxpayer money,
promising that they would really create stable,
honest jobs. A few years down the line they cut
the workers' pay by 20 percent and, one might
say spitefully, force a tripling of the workers'
weekly health care payments from $25 to $100.
Not to mention refusing to negotiate for a year.
They are trying to break the union. In my opinion
this gives the workers every right to fight back
economically via use of a boycott. It is class war.”

Providence community rallies for Westin workers on April 8. Photo: Lucie Guillemette Burdick

‘Body Of Evidence’ Cast And Crew Honors Westin Providence Boycott


By Rhode Island Jobs with Justice portant than ever to patronize employers changed my wages and
and UNITE HERE! who respect workers and provide good health insurance right
Over 30 cast and crew members jobs for our communities,” said Camilo in the middle of contract
working on the new “Body of Evidence” Viveiros, Executive Director of Rhode negotiations,” said Chris
ABC TV pilot had moved out of Westin Island Jobs with Justice. Cook, a Purchasing and
Providence Hotel in solidarity with the Workers and community members Receiving Agent at the
Westin workers’ boycott. The stars of the have held pickets mornings and after- Westin and an Executive
pilot, Dana Delany (Katherine Mayfair noons in the sun and in the rain, since Board member of UNITE
on “Desperate Housewives”) and Jeri the Westin Providence Hotel workers HERE Local 217, the
Ryan (Borg Seven of Nine on “Star authorized a boycott of the hotel by a Union at the hotel. “The
Trek: Voyager”), were among those who 138-to-2 vote on March 18. The vote was Procacciantis are making
switched their accommodations to the taken in response to a series of unfair me choose between put-
Providence Biltmore Hotel. The cast and labor practices at the hotel, culminating ting food on the table and
crew, members of International Alliance in the abrupt imposition of 20 percent keeping health insurance
of Theatrical Stage Employees (IA- pay cuts, harsh increases in housekeeper for my wife and five-year-
TSE) Locals 600, 52, 798, 161, 481, and workloads, and new unaffordable health old son.”
American Federation of Television and insurance rates by The Procaccianti The boycott means
Photo: Lucie Guillemette Burdick
Radio Artists (AFTRA) said that they will Group management at the Westin. The that the employees of the
Members of RI JwJ and UNITE HERE! on April 8.
not be staying at the Westin Providence union has filed charges with the National Westin Providence are
Hotel as long as the boycott remains in Labor Relations Board over The Procac- officially asking visitors and conventions Support Westin workers
place. Additionally members of Team- cianti Group’s conduct. not to patronize the hotel. Some people The Westin Providence Hotel unilat-
sters from Locals 251 and 817 working Pete Kuttner, of IATSE, stated and organizations have already decided erally imposed a 20 percent reduction
on the production respected the Westin “When the men and women I work with to cancel events they had planned at the in wages for all workers. They tripled
Providence workers’ picket line. heard about the cuts in wages and ben- hotel or have booked rooms at another employees' health insurance costs and
Westin Providence workers, UNITE efits our sisters and brothers of UNITE hotel because of the dispute. significantly reduced employees' sick
HERE, and Rhode Island Jobs with HERE 217 were dealt, there was no way Westin Providence workers say days, vacations, and holidays. The Wes-
Justice commended the cast and crew we could continue staying at the Westin. they will reconsider their boycott if The tin Providence is forcing the workers to
for their actions. “We’re pleased that the The unions who represent the work- Procaccianti Group management re- bear the brunt of a financial crisis that
cast and crew of ‘Body of Evidence’ took ers on ‘Body of Evidence' support the solves the unfair labor practice charges, the workers didn't create.
a stand to support workplace justice and boycott.” including payment to the workers for the To view and sign the petition, visit:
moved to the Biltmore hotel. In our cur- “It’s an outrage that the Procac- money they have lost as a result of the http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/
rent economic situation, it is more im- cianti management has unilaterally cuts. westinworkers.
May 2010 • Industrial Worker • Page 7

IWW Members Tackle Obama’s Healthcare Legislation


By Eugene Lerner and availability of generic drugs. The only cantly reduced, there is nothing in the individuals choosing plans will not opt
Leah Danger “burden” placed on the pharmaceutical legislation to prevent massive annual for the extra coverage, leading to most
The recent U.S. healthcare reform companies is an annual fee paid by those rate increases. Discriminatory rating abortions becoming a costly out-of-pock-
legislation is apparently the cause of yet with sales in excess of $5 million a year— is also still allowed; the bill does not et expense.
another irreconcilable controversy be- a fee so small that it is for all intents and prevent insurers from charging higher Small business owners will be
tween the two favored parties of capital. purposes purely symbolic. This legisla- premiums for older consumers or for provided with tax incentives to provide
According to the Democrats in Congress tion manages to avoid placing the most women participating in large workplace insurance for their employees, and
and their apologists, it is undoubtedly essential controls on the overall system- plans. employers of 50 or more workers who do
the greatest single act of state since wide cost of drugs and care. For a law There are plenty of people today not offer coverage will be fined $2,000
Lincoln freed the slaves and Roosevelt that was supposedly drafted to control whose low wage jobs neither cover their annually per employee for any work-
electrified the Tennessee Valley. But the cost of healthcare for individuals and basic cost of living nor are low-paying ers receiving subsidized insurance—but
to hear their Republican counterparts communities, this is unforgivable. enough to allow them to qualify for suf- the first 30 employees don’t count. Like
tell it, it is in fact the worst thing since The chief premise behind the need ficient public assistance. And as surely many other “incentives” in the bill, these
Lincoln freed the slaves and Roosevelt for reform is the fact that the U.S. as this is an honored tradition within provide employers with a way of paying
electrified the Tennessee Valley. Right- healthcare regime is broken. The new the American welfare state, there will off the government in lieu of provid-
ist pundits call legislation presents be plenty of people who will fall into the ing the necessary coverage. Low-wage
it “socialism”—a us with a series of gap between the government subsidies employees who are not insured by their
word to conjure tweaks, but noth- that are available to them and the cost of workplaces will remain a taxpayer bur-
with if ever there ing that can be an insurance plan which they can actu- den; previously it was through emergen-
was one. But mistaken for an ally afford. For many working people, it cy room visits, now through subsidies for
when the actual actual fix. Instead will come down to the cheaper of these private health insurance. Employers who
content of this of rebuilding the options: a bottom-of-the-barrel insur- pay their workers off the books will not
new law is taken broken system from ance policy that balances its low premi- only persist in not providing insurance
into consider- the ground up while ums with co-pays so high that to term to employees and not being penalized
ation, the Demo- making temporary it “insurance” is laughable or having a for it, but with the legislation officially
crats’ incessant arrangements to portion of their income culled directly by barring undocumented immigrants
self-congratu- keep people covered the IRS. from purchasing insurance through an
lation and the while institutions Additionally, some provisions of the exchange, those without papers will
Republicans’ are restructured, bill reduce benefits that citizens already continue to seek all treatment for injury
teeth-gnashing this law accom- have. For instance, those under age 65 or illness in emergency rooms. Resident
and doom-saying plishes nothing less will have to spend more than 10 percent aliens must live in the U.S. for five years
become utterly Graphic: jwjblog.org than the long-term of their income on health care costs be- before they can qualify for Medicaid,
befuddling. One can’t help but get the preservation of a fundamentally unwork- fore they can receive a tax deduction for although during that time they can be
sinking feeling that these reactions able system. Instead of adopting proven them. At the present time, one need only penalized for not buying health insur-
are motivated by the mere fact that a methods such as universal single payer spend 7.5 percent of one’s income to be ance.
healthcare reform bill was passed rather coverage, the government has instead eligible for the deduction. Although the new law is (taken as a
than anything in the bill itself. And the decided to simply force everyone to par- For those who did receive expen- whole) a disaster, there are some provi-
truly terrifying thing is that this attitude ticipate in a system that has proven to be sive, comprehensive health care from sions contained therein which are actu-
seems to be reflected every bit as much a disaster. There is no “public option,” their employers the new excise tax of 40 ally beneficial; albeit many of them are
in the content of the legislation as it is there is no real universal coverage and percent encourages employers to provide offset by the rest of the legislation, and
in the discourse surrounding its passage there is no path to a single-payer system. plans with higher co-pays and reduced are only tentative half-steps in the right
into law. Let us then delve into the vital “Too big to fail” has now officially been services, and there is no reason to be- direction at best. The increased pay-
question which the political parties of extended to cover the vast, needless, and lieve that the money they save on insur- roll tax for Medicare for those earning
the capitalist class seem to be avoiding extravagantly redundant profit-driven ance will be passed down to workers. more than $200,000 annually will not,
with a vengeance: what does all of this bureaucracies of the insurance corpora- Most egregiously, the President has by itself, fix the many budget shortfalls
mean for working folks? tions. sold out American of the program. The
The new healthcare law was largely As is quite common in U.S. politics, women in order to get extension of Medicaid
drafted by the very actors whose preda- the snake oil of ‘the market’ has been this mostly worthless to those earning less
tory—though highly lucrative—practices offered up as a grand panacea— embod- legislation passed. He than 133 percent of
would have to be curbed and ultimately ied in this case in the internet-based signed an executive the federal poverty
legislated out of existence by any ef- insurance markets mandated by the new order in exchange for level, the allowing of
fective healthcare reform. The legisla- legislation. If nothing else, the mere fact the votes of roughly a dependent children up
tion passed by Congress and signed by that the health insurance industry is ex- dozen anti-abortion to age 26 can remain
the President is nigh identical to a bill empt from federal antitrust laws all but Democrats opposed on their guardian’s
that was presented by a health insur- guarantees that these markets will not to the idea that tax- insurance plans, and
ance industry trade group in 2009. For be free, fair, and open conduits for the payer money could the insurance of those
the price of a small annual fee used to acquisition of assured care. An industry go towards clinics or in the ‘high-risk pool’
maintain the exchanges, the insurance unbound by the conventional prohibi- insurance policies will have immediate
companies receive the vast majority of tions on collusion and price-fixing will that might provide benefits. Of course 133
the U.S. population as a legally-bound be presented with millions upon millions abortion services to percent of the Fed-
captive market. And just about every of customers legally obligated to pur- women who were eral poverty level is by
new burden placed on these corpora- chase its services. This is not a system not the victims of no means the upper
tions is offset by either the presence or that creates marketplace incentive to rape, incest, or life- income limit of the
glaring omission of another provision in keep premiums down. threatening illness. working poor who can-
the legislation. For the vast majority of working- This order will create not afford health care,
The drug companies get their class Americans, the bill provides no abortion coverage Graphic: raymondpronk.files.wordpress.com there are limits on
money’s worth too—there is a conspicu- benefits. While government subsidies riders, which have to be chosen and paid which family members can join an indi-
ous absence of any provisions regarding will be available to a few, buying private for separately from a customer’s regular viduals’ insurance policy, and the defini-
collective national drug price nego- insurance is mandated for all. Not only insurance premium. Faced with these tions for what conditions place a person
tiations or the broader and timelier will insurance premiums not be signifi- circumstances, most employers and in the ‘high-risk pool’ have yet to be
determined. And though there is a provi-
sion that seeks to prevent some people
from being dropped by their insurers
after developing permanent medical
conditions, insurance companies will be
allowed to retain their favorite tool for
doing just that. Using a blanket assertion
of “fraud” under the flimsiest pretenses
to rescind coverage will remain perfectly
legal.
There is most certainly some wisdom
in not allowing the perfect to become the
enemy of the good. However this vast
bailout of the parasitic health insurance
industry is the clear enemy of both. No,
the perfect should not be the enemy
of the good, but the just-good-enough
ought always to be the enemy of the
intolerably god-awful. As a wholesale
reform of the U.S. healthcare system,
this legislation is indefensible on any
reasonable grounds.
The opinions expressed in this piece
are those of the authors, and do not
reflect the IWW’s official position.
Page 8 • Industrial Worker • May 2010

End Corporate Feudalism With Industrial Pensions


By Walt Weber Many workers have greatly benefited
from these programs; retirees have lived
Private Pensions in Crisis out their lives without having to work
Over the past two years of economic and with expansive medical coverage
crisis, the system of workplace benefits that is very affordable or free. But now
in the United States has been under with the system crushing under its own
attack from greedy executives as well as weight and the pyramid turning upside
prevailing capitalist economics. Pensions down, it is time to return to the alter-
have been devalued and many of the native visions that were offered in the
funds have failed. Health benefits have 1930s. Wobblies at that time had ideas
become increasingly more expensive, for regional-based benefit pools, or pools
with many companies forcing workers to that covered entire industries, with con-
pay more for their healthcare or refusing trol of the funds resting in a democratic
to offer it at all. organization based in local communi-
Through this all, the blame for these ties. As a complement to the struggle
problems has been placed squarely on for industrial unionism, this would be a
the shoulders of the workers themselves. struggle for industrial pensions: a pen-
The myth of the auto worker who makes sion that moved with you from job to job
$70 per hour is probably the most popu- in a fund that is managed by workers
lar example, with the capitalist press and not bosses.
and government blaming the unions and The goals of these funds would be to
the workers for the inability of the “Big ensure that workers do not turn over one
Three” automakers to compete with oth- Graphic: badattitudes.com more of their hard-earned dollars than is
er companies. If only the company did UAW workers engage in a sit-down strike against GM in Flint, Mich. in 1937. necessary to the capitalists and to ensure
not have to abide by the union wage and workers both pay into a fund, and when workers. This technological change led that workers’ pension money is used to
benefit scale, they claim, the companies workers reach a retirement age, they re- to higher profits and efficiency and less advance the cause of the working class,
would be free to compete with Japanese ceive a monthly payment from the fund, workers to pay for all of the retirees. not the employing class. Instead, this
and other auto makers who built their with the amount based on the number of Eventually, the capitalist system took money could be used to build schools, to
factories in right-to-work states where years of service to the company. its toll, and the situation reversed. Now make loans to construction projects that
they would not have to worry about When these plans began, there were retirees vastly outnumber the active use union labor, offer low Annual Per-
unions. far more workers than retirees. So, if a workforce, and for each person working centage Rate (APR) mortgages to union
After the United Autoworkers worker was 64 when the pension was in the auto industry, there are several members, or to supply low-cost medical
(UAW) and other CIO-affiliated unions created, and they retired at 65, they retirees collecting pensions. The system treatment in our communities. The most
formed and displayed militancy in the would receive a full pension despite only is short a great deal of money, and the important principle has to be that if the
1930s, their sit-down strikes set the bar paying in for one year’s worth of bene- companies claim that they don't have to fund will be used for investment, then
for establishing unions in auto plants. fits. This creates a shortfall, because cur- make up the difference. workers' money must benefit the work-
However, during World War II, the rent workers are paying in and benefits The companies that once masquer- ing class and not the employing class.
federal government moved towards a go to the current retirees. Companies aded as benevolent patriarchs are now There are potential pitfalls with
government-planned war-time economy, promised to make up this difference with looking for ways to skip out on the check these models. Managing large sums of
and many unions were forced to accept a lump sum payment sometime in the after years of dining at the worker's money can lead to corruption and bitter
a no-strike pledge and a wage freeze to future. Instead, the employers tried to table. Hundreds of thousands of retir- arguments. The craft business unions,
produce for the war. close the gap by investing pension funds ees and workers are wholly dependent such as the Carpenters and the Team-
Despite the wage freeze, many for profit and hoping that there would on these corporate behemoths, who for sters, give us a vision of what that could
workers continued to agitate and strike, always be more workers than retirees, so years sold the lies that “we are all in this look like. The answer to these problems,
and employers needed to find a way to the shortfall could be put on the back of together” and of collaboration between however, is transparency, democracy,
placate them. Employers found that the the workers, not the company. workers and bosses for the benefit of and education. If workers will manage
solution, with the help of the unions, During this same time period, the both. Now the companies want to cut their own retirement funds, everyone
was complimentary benefits—namely capitalists worked to find ways to shift them off and destroy their retirement must know what the fund is being used
pensions and healthcare. Pensions production towards highly mechanized income as well as their access to afford- for, how this will benefit all involved,
were supposed to be simple. Bosses and factories, which needed fewer and fewer able healthcare. and most of all, have a democratic say in
the process. These other funds lack these
Putting Workers' Wealth toward elements, and that has led to drastic
the Benefit of the Working Class problems.
This privatized benefit system cre- Nonetheless, as we reflect on work-
ates what Wobblies at the time called ers struggle this May Day with the
“corporate ceudalism.” Corporate feudal- current system of corporate feudalism
ism confuses the interests of the working collapsing under its own weight, we have
class with those of the employing class, an opportunity to look to the future. We
and workers and retirees become wholly can all imagine a world where all work-
dependent on the survival of a single ers are able to retire, live in a home, get
corporation. Corporate failure is tied to enough nutritious food to eat, and have
the current and future success of work- access to healthcare and education. But
ing people, and the rhetoric of “we are only the destruction of the capitalist
all in this together” takes hold. Like the system can ensure the end of instability
serfs in feudalism, workers produce all in all workers' lives.
for the company, and when they are too Destroying this system of corporate
old to work anymore, workers are depen- feudalism will not, in and of itself, end
dent on the benevolent kings of industry the capitalist exploitation of workers, but
to care for them. taking back the workers' wealth and put-
Under the capitalist system of wage ting it to the benefit of the working class
labor, workers are forced to work for would deal a devastating blow to the
a wage that is far less than the value capitalist bosses who have profited off of
of what they produce and the bosses this terrible and manipulative system for
keep the surplus value. This is one of so long. We will never destroy capitalism
the primary relationships of capitalism. unless we also destroy corporate feudal-
Under feudalism, however, there was no ism!
currency. In exchange for labor, work- Walt Weber is the Branch Secretary
ers received food, housing, healthcare, of the Philadelphia IWW GMB. He can
and retirement care. Corporate feudal- be reached at walt@iww.org and can be
ism mixes these systems, with workers found blogging about politics at http://
generating greater surplus value for their www.daringdepravity.com.
bosses in exchange for benefits instead
of higher wages. If you dare leave the
industrial plantation, however, your
benefits evaporate.
With corporate-managed pension
funds, this situation gets even worse.
Bosses use the workers' pension money
to support other anti-union enterprises
and increase class oppression. In addi-
tion to the surplus value, workers turn
over a portion of their wages to the boss,
who then invests it at their whim, some-
times losing money and always to the
detriment of the workers. Graphic: badattitudes.com
May 2010 • Industrial Worker • Page 9

May Day - The Real Labor Day May Day Movie Marathon
By Jon Hochschartner until one day a labor organizer shows
In honor of May Day, the interna- up in town. He's a Yankee and, perhaps
tional worker's holiday, I'd like to pres- worse from the locals’ perspective, a Jew.
ent five films based on class struggle. It But he slowly wins the trust of Norma,
was through struggle that workers won and together they rally her coworkers to
the eight-hour day, the minimum wage, fight for better conditions. Sally Field,
Social Security, and the abolition of child who plays the eponymous role, won an
labor. And it will only be through con- Oscar for her performance.
tinued struggle, by everyday women and 2. “Reds” (1981) – As histo-
men, that economic justice is achieved. rian Christine Stansell writes, “Reds
So enjoy these films. Then give your boss is something of a marvel, possibly the
hell. only big-budget Hollywood film to take
5. “Matewan” (1987) – Starring socialists, feminists, and Communists
Chris Cooper and James Earl Jones, this … and package them gorgeously and
movie tells the true story a bloody min- sympathetically for a mass audience.”
ers' strike that took place in 1920 West Unfortunately, the audience didn’t show
Virginia. Black and Italian scabs are up. That the film flopped is hardly a sur-
trucked in to replace the locals, and the prise, considering Ronald Reagan had
disparate groups must overcome racial just been elected, ushering in an era of
prejudice to recognize their common en- harsh neo-liberalism. But it was Ameri-
emy. As Cooper's character says, ”They ca’s loss on both counts. Nominated for
got you fighting white against colored, 12 Academy Awards, this epic boasts an
native against foreign. all-star cast, including Warren
When you know there Beatty, Diane Keaton, Jack
ain't but two sides to Nicholson and Gene Hackman.
this world: them that At its heart, “Reds” is a love
work and them that story centered on the compli-
don't.” It's a valuable cated relationship between the
lesson, given how often radical journalists John Reed
anti-immigrant hys- and Louis Bryant. Emerging
teria is stirred today. from the intellectual ferment
The film can be slow at of Greenwich Village, circa the
times, with period dia- 1910s, the pair view monogamy
lect, but culminates in a as little but a bourgeois con-
western shoot-out that ceit. We watch as they try to
would make Peckinpah ignore the natural heartbreak
proud. Graphic: utoronto.ca and jealousy their “free love”
4. “You Can't Be Neutral on a philosophy produces, with pitiful results.
Moving Train” (2004) – Howard In 1917, Reed and Bryant sail to Russia
Zinn, the man behind “A People's His- to witness the Soviet Revolution first-
tory of the United States,” died this past hand. It’s here, sadly, that Reed becomes
January. He lived an incredible life that an apologist for the Bolsheviks, defend-
this documentary tries to do justice. The ing them as the Russian Constituent As-
film follows him from his days as an Air sembly is suppressed, and real socialism,
Force bombardier, to his professorship which must be inherently democratic, is
at a black college, to his Civil Rights betrayed.
era activism, to his arrest for speaking 1. “Harlan County, USA” (1976)
against the Vietnam War. Zinn was an – If you watch one film on this list, I
agitator, in the best sense of the word, highly recommend it be this documen-
right until the day he died. On a personal tary. Nowhere else is the class divide
note, I was in the process of scheduling so stark. Directed by Barbara Kopple,
an interview with him just days before the film follows a Kentucky coal miner
he passed. I never got to speak with strike against Duke Power Company. It’s
him, but I have little doubt he'd want his riveting. State police drag away wives
admirers to heed Joe Hill's advice not to and mothers who lie before scab trucks.
mourn, but to organize. Take inspiration Private thugs, hired by the company,
from this life well lived. commit drive-by shootings on union
3. “Norma Rae” (1979) – It’s al- members. But the workers are undaunt-
ways nice when average schmoes get the ed. “It's time for us to stand together
Hollywood treatment. Norma is a single and get just as violent as they are,” one
mother living with her parents, working woman argues. “By God, you fight fire
at a textile factory in Alabama. It’s the with fire.” And so they do. Strikers are
West Virginia Mine Tragedy Was No Accident kind of job that constantly demands one
do more and more, faster and faster, for
soon armed with sticks, bats, pistols and
rifles. If workers today showed half such
Continued from 1 less and less pay. Maybe that sounds fa- militancy, our country would be a lot
be empowered to refuse unsafe work. organizing and the labor law reform that miliar. She lives a zombie-like existence more equitable.
As Representative George Miller of would give workers the power to protect
California put it in hearings following
the 2006 disasters, “people are in a situ-
themselves every day on the job.
And now another 29 miners are dead
Workers Shut Down Brooklyn CoffeeContinued
Shop from 1
ation where they can be intimidated if because employers like Massey believe with the understanding these changes representing the rest of the staff) was
they speak out because they really don’t they can get away with it. were permanent, and those who had ten- one of respect and positivity. A collec-
have the security of a safety committee” dered their resignation, or were drafting tive instant resignation was an agreed
and “union representation.”
Underground coal mining is some of
Union Maintains Standoff it, decided to stay. When the business
partner returned without explanation,
upon last resort and not a bargaining
chip. It was simply that without change,
the most dangerous work in the world, With Federal Forces At staff approached the owner hoping to we all felt unwilling to undergo another
and requires an enormous amount of
cooperation and communication among
Mexican MineContinued from 1 find out the reason for this sudden and
unannounced return. Work environment
day in that environment. Hence, out of a
collective feeling of self respect and job
workers and with management in order and workplace issues aside, the workers insecurity, the staff decided it would be
to safely complete a shift. Union mines statement blasting the Mexican govern- collectively felt deceived and that they in their best interest to find employment
are significantly safer—last year, there ment for failing to uphold internation- had been shown a lack of mutual re- elsewhere.
was one union member among 18 ally recognized human and labor rights, spect. This only served to highlight and “This isn’t political and it isn’t a
fatalities—because workers elect their and called on President Calderon to reemphasize the previously expressed strike. The staff quit and the matter will
own safety committees and they know withdraw troops from Cananea and as- concerns. As the staff was well aware, not be resolved. It’s a matter of busi-
they can report hazards without fear sist in reaching a peaceful resolution. both through experience and through ness, and a personal matter for each of
of retribution. Union representatives Government interference in union affairs conversation with past employees, Go- the staff. Everyone at Gorilla Coffee,
accompany government officials during and gross labor rights abuses against rilla Coffee has a history of this pattern including the owners and the staff, are
inspections as well. SNTMMSRM members is the subject of repeating itself. skilled, passionate, and hard working.
Yes, the Mine Improvement and an ongoing complaint submitted to the “It should be emphasized that the in- It is unfortunate for everyone involved.
New Emergency Response (MINER) Act International Labour Organization by tent of the meeting was above all to find The workers are grateful to the many
passed in the wake of the 2006 disasters the IMF in March 2006. In March 2010, a solution to this unhealthy situation, a wonderful patrons over the years, and
significantly boosted mine safety. But members of the Committee on Freedom solution which involved the maintenance we apologize that it was necessary to
much more remains to be done. of Association discussed the complaint of these improvements to the work en- inconvenience them in this way. All we
Employers like Massey remain deter- and will release their findings soon. vironment, and that would prevent any can say is ‘thank you for the support and
mined to avoid and delay regulation, and For more information, visit: http:// future returns to the previous unhealthy all the best.’”
they use their dominance in the mines www.labourstart.org/cgi-bin/solidari- dynamic. Above all the attitude of the The Workers of Gorilla Coffee
and in the statehouses to kill union tyforever/show_campaign.cgi?c=637. staff involved in the meeting (who were Source: The New York Times.
Page 10 • Industrial Worker • May 2010

Reviews
‘The Value Of Nothing’ Defines The Value Of Solidarity
Patel, Raj. “The Value of Nothing: How “Volkswagen was heading for tough says the Zapatistas have
to Reshape Market Society and Rede- times. Imagine you’re a trader who feels and the workers’ collectives
fine Democracy.” Australia: Black Inc., in your bones that the stock price can in Argentina have and, as
2009. 256 pages, paperback. $24.95. only fall. One way to cash your hunch in members of Vía Campesina
is to sell Volkswagen stock today, and have. If we can be like them,
By Mike Ballard buy it back when the price falls. Since we’ve got a shot at saving the
Raj Patel has written a fine book in you don’t walk around with Volkswa- planet from almost every-
which he describes the value of human gen stock falling out of your pockets, thing evil, including climate
tenacity, the value of people standing up you’ll turn to someone who does, like an change. Well, that’s what
to their rulers, the value of persistence institutional investor. You borrow their Raj thinks. In short, Patel’s
and the value of solidarity; in other stock, for a price, and promise to return organizing vision doesn’t aim
words, the value of nothing. Nothing all of it very soon. The institutional at abolishing wage-labor, but
which has a price that is. Nothing which investor is happy because they make of achieving a fair day’s pay
is a commodity sold for the profit of its money from lending out the stock, which for a fair day’s work and fair
owners, unless they’re small owners. they will get back in one piece. You’re price for commodities which
Starting off his critique of the happy because you can sell this stock, issue out of small businesses.
prevailing ideology, which can be sum- wait for the price to fall, buy it back and He wants workers, farmers,
marized in Gary Becker’s concept of with the profit, not only pay back the peasants, women, along with
“homo-economicus,” Patel writes, “The institutional investor, but make the next assorted nationalities and
dazzle of free markets has blinded us to installment on your yacht in Monaco. ethnic groups to self-man-
other ways of seeing the world. As Oscar This practice is called ‘shorting.’” age their own wage-labor
Wilde wrote over a century ago, ‘Nowa- But, here’s the deal. Raj Patel wants and capital through small,
days people know the price of everything the market for commodities to function democratically-run business-
and the value of nothing.’ Prices have in less fickle ways, to wit, in grassroots es mostly at the municipal
revealed themselves as fickle guides: The democratic ways. He wants us to exam- level. It seems to this reader
2008 financial collapse came in the same ine our concept of value, price and profit, that he does so because of
year as crises in food and oil and yet we but not through, “the false prism of his sincere belief that there
seem unable to see or value our world markets” prone to corporate driven price is no “realistic” alternative
except through the faulty prism of the bubbles which blow out way beyond as- to making and marketing
market.” Patel is keen to link Becker’s set values. Instead, Patel wants his read- useful goods and services as
prescriptions for realism to commodi- ers to tame the fickleness of market so- commodities and that a kind Graphic: portlandmercury.com
fication, making literally every human ciety by making it operate through their of populist, municipal socialism is
activity and nature into commodities for own ideals. There will be a lot of subjec- realistic to work for. involved in spending one’s life doing
sale. He succeeds quite well and this is tive commitment required to keep value As a result of his faith in the value laundry with a washboard down by the
important in a day and age when becom- in line with price, but Patel believes we of grassroots, democratically influenced river; going from human to horse-drawn
ing a “maximizing animal” in the global can do it. Patel wants us to compare our free markets, free time is not the focus plough and then to tractors—those and
market is lauded by capitalist apologists ideals with actually, existing capitalist of his programmatic thrusts. Working other assorted tasks associated with the
world-wide. outcomes. When we contrast the two, he small farms to gain Patel’s version of reduction of the expenditure of human
“The Value of Nothing” is chock full believes that we can then achieve that “food sovereignty” plays a major role in drudge time, have been historical mo-
of useful insights and history. Patel’s primary ideal of left-liberal discourse, thinking behind “The Value of Noth- tivators, based on the human desire for
summation of Polanyi’s take on the social justice. We will attain this ideal by ing.” It’s a reformist time sink, in this more freedom. Over the course of his-
“enclosure of the commons”—that is, gradually reforming our way to a more Wobbly’s opinion. Instead of advancing tory, these innovations and economies of
the gradual privatizing of what had been democratic market system, one where to a new way of organizing time, work scale have led to large scale industrial-
land held in common by the peasantry the market is more and more controlled and industrial production to maximize ized production. Granted, in class society
during Britain’s Middle Ages—is articu- by grassroots organizations and less free-time, Patel seems to prefer spend- up to and including the capitalist system
lated with verve and clarity. His history controlled by corporate capital than they ing free-time away from production of the here and now, the free-time
includes a fine overview of the British are today. in achieving consensus at meetings à implicit in large scale production has
peasant revolt of 1381 and is, itself, But, of course, we must change our la Zapatista or Vía Campesina. What been available mostly to the wealthy and
worth the price of the book. But like existing ideals first for, as Patel observes, is not said by Patel is that no matter the unemployed, in great amounts with
Wat Tyler, methinks the flaw in Patel’s most of us suffer from “Anton’s blind- how democratic and small commodity different outcomes. But in a hypotheti-
analysis and suggested practice is to ness,” or the ideological domination production is and can be made, it usually cal classless society (such as this Wobbly
be located in a reverence for the ruling known as “hegemony,” which most of us means less free time because the produc- imagines) where there is equal political
system of contemporary class political absorb as we mature within capitalist- tion of goods and services, even just for power amongst humans and common
power: the wage system. dominated cultures. In other words, Pa- use and need, takes more human labor control over socially produced wealth
Patel accepts markets and prices tel wants people to take charge of mar- time, thus reducing the potential of free within collective goals (goals which
to value useful things. He sees them kets as opposed to letting the markets time for ourselves. include most importantly the expansion
as being natural, but he also points rip, à la Reagan or Thatcher-inspired Of course, we could always shoot of free time and living in harmony with
to the flaws of equating price with its neo-liberal agendas. He believes this can for living with a LOT LESS in the way of the Earth), a free association of produc-
exchange-value. Bubbles occur in the be done, indeed, that it is already being good and services, and this is a solution ers cannot make a fetish out of smallness
global, corporate-dominated economy accomplished in various ways by varying which Patel strongly suggests. But what and decentralization without serious
and when they do, price can become out NGOs and peoples’ organizations at the is forgotten is that small scale produc- consequences for say, the four-hour day.
of balance with value. As Patel points municipal level. tion is where humanity came from Where decentralization and small-
out, the 2008 deflation of the finan- Patel is a democrat and as a demo- historically, and there are reasons why ness function to promote more freedom,
cial bubble in real estate was a prime crat, he wants the people to rule. He most humans don’t want a return to fine; where they end up becoming a time
example of a whole lot of pricey nothing- rightly sees that corporate capitalism back-breaking, time-consuming produc- sink, they should be discarded. Cer-
ness frothing around value. is undemocratic and he believes that tion and consensus politics as a way tainly, we need to have the self-discipline
In “The Value of Nothing,” the read- small, decentralized, democratically-run of life, when it really isn’t necessary. to curb mindless consumption based
er will also find easy to read explanations capitalism is the answer to most of our However, if carried out with enough on competitive status building, i.e., the
of many concepts used in offhanded political, economic and social problems. idealism, Patel argues that the political inanity of keeping up with the Joneses.
ways in today’s capitalist media, “short- We, the people can do this, if we can trajectory he proposes would take us to We should do this for our own sanity,
ing” for example: develop and maintain our ideals, as he a free market society, one always kept if not just to promote environmental
small by our idealist convictions. Mind- health and shorter work time. But, we
Subscribe to the Industrial Worker less, conspicuous consumption is being
critiqued in “The Value of Nothing,” and
don’t need to do this by adopting Bud-
dhist ethics of ascetic denial. Rather,
Subscribe or renew your Industrial Worker subscription. Patel’s Buddhist angle is presented as a a free association of producers can kill
kind of ascetic cure, a kind of generalized overproduction by using already exist-
Give a gift that keeps your family or friends thinking. monasticism as a way out of mindless, ing productive capacity to reduce the
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May 2010 • Industrial Worker • Page 11

Reviews
How Wall Street Destroyed Jobs, Pensions, and Prosperity
Leopold, Les. “The Looting of America.” put it all down on “something called a of a “modicum of regulation.”
Chelsea Green Publishing, 2009. 224 ‘synthetic’ CDO.” Incredibly the Wis- None other than Alan Greenspan,
pages, paperback. $14.95. consiners had invested and borrowed the Oracle of the Fed, “drowned
to insure billions of dollars in debt held out” these cautionary warnings,
By John Maclean by another Canadian bank. It has been while lobbyists began a campaign
Les Leopold, in “The Looting of reported that over $1.2 trillion of these to “expunge the word ‘derivatives’
America,” says he felt uninformed, and collateralize debt obligations have been from the press,” in favor of securi-
didn't fancy “ideological blinders,” so sold throughout the United States. The ties. Leopold compares the activ-
he decided “to figure some of it out and author calls this “fantasy finance.” ity in derivatives markets to the
share it with [his] fellow ignoramuses.” In honor of the citizens of Whitefish speculation on stats which occurs
He questioned the experts, their won- Bay, Leopold proposes “a new iron law in “fantasy sports.” Derivatives are
drous financial products, and whether of economics” which states that if “sur- fashioned to dump risk onto oth-
or not they should be left to write the plus capital" from workers' productivity ers, or to “speculate by picking up
history of what happened. Leading into is allowed to flow to a few, it will end the risk.” The author mentions the
the crash of 2008, the financial sector up in the “fantasy-finance casino” and work of Satyarjit Das, and the story
made up 20 percent of GDP, and 27.4 when the economy crashes workers will of a veteran banker, who trains
percent of all corporate profits. During pay again “in lost jobs…pensions” and salespeople: “Sonny, you give the
the 1940s and 1950s there were more bailouts. The old law was supposed to be guy a win first up. A nibble. He'll
than seven jobs in manufacturing for that toilers would receive the benefit of be hooked. Then, you reel him in
every one job in finance, and today the their productivity. Leopold says: “Had real slow...” Leopold then tells of
ratio is less than two-to-one. Because wages increased along with productivity, the Orange County treasurer Rob-
of the “unholy spawn” of Wall Street, the current average real wage for non ert Citron, who heeded the “siren's
Collateralized Debt Obligation (CDOs) supervisory workers would be $1,171 call” of the derivative “pushers”
and their “synthetic” kin, jobs are being per week—$60,892 per year instead of and lost more than $1.5 billion,
bailed overboard, and tax monies up. today's average of $31,824.” Since the as services to the poor got slashed
The inhabitants of Whitefish Bay 1970s this benefit has been diverted to and the county lost jobs. Then the
(White Folks Bay), Wis., with its man- an investment elite, and we have been baby of John Meriwhether, Long
sions overlooking Lake Michigan, were made to borrow it back, and pay again Term Capital Management, col-
hit by the recent speculative bust. Wall and again. lapsed. The little known Brooksley Graphic: chelseagreen.com
Street, prior to the crash, had targeted The “leave-it-alone” liquidation- Born, as head of the Commodi- ing that future loan defaults are covered.
school district trust funds, like those ism of Andrew Mellon, the Secretary of ties and Futures Trading Commission, As Leopold says this is not unlike fantasy
in Wisconsin, which in 2006 held over the Treasury under former President sought to bring regulation to this mess, sports, which is a “synthetic derivative”
$100 billion nationwide. Leopold calls Herbert Hoover, died during the Depres- but Greespan, Leavitt, Rubin, and Sena- operating over “real” sports. Based on
it “an old-fashion financial romance”— sion. Leading up to the Crash of 1929, tor Gramm said no. “junk debt” financiers sold an estimated
a “perfect match.” David W. Noack, the “usual suspects” were “easy credit, When the trouble came in 2008, the $70 trillion in swaps, almost “four times
of Stifel Nicolaus, got school districts market manipulation, few regulatory media picked up a narrative of shared the value of the entire U.S. economy”
throughout Wisconsin to “buy securities safeguards, and a large dose of herd blame but the problem is that only elites and some believe that the “real number”
that offered higher returns than treasury euphoria.” The New Deal put in place the “can play fantasy finance” and “very few is $600 trillion. The reality is that “no
notes [and] were just about as safe.” Securities and Exchange Commission of us had anything to do with the melt- one knows” but this is surely “the largest
Noack began by stressing the crisis the (SEC); the Federal Deposit Insurance down or the financial toxic waste that casino game in human history.”
districts faced with retirement costs; Corporation (FDIC); the Glass-Steagall [was] polluting the economy.” During The explosive trigger which exposed
then he added that all the districts “to- Act, the Federal Housing Administration the Depression, Fannie Mae was created the derivatives was “the bursting of the
gether” risked little and that the school (FHA), a homeowner program for people to buy up good bank mortgages, tak- housing bubble.” With this adjustment
boards could somehow “authorize” but of modest incomes; and it extended ing them off of the bank's books so they pension funds, insurance companies,
not “obligate” in voting. The locals put bankruptcy protections to some wage were free to continue lending. Decades university endowments, banks, and local
up $37.3 million, and borrowed $165 slaves. This period also saw the resur- later, the mortgage backed security was governments saw their supposed triple-A
million more from the Irish bank Depfa, rection of the housing market through invented, for VA Mortgages and other investments “turn to junk.” The small
owned by a larger German outfit, and the creation of “the long term fixed-rate, mortgages, and Ginny Mae was founded town of Narvik, Norway, lost $64 million
self-amortizing to sell these government-backed secu- and couldn't cover its payroll or services.
mortgage” and a gov- rities to investors. In the 1980s Larry Bernanke believed, like Friedman before
ernment-created “fi- Fink, of First Boston Bank, created the him, that the Fed had failed after the
nancial instrument” “collateralized mortgage obligation” crash of 1929, and this time it would be
that, for the first and Michael Milken, of the now-defunct different; and Leopold asks the reason-
time, made home Drexel Burnham Lambert Inc., came up able question, what if they are wrong
ownership pos- with the first CDO. The idea was to gath- and the overproduction and under-
sible for the general er huge pools of “subprime mortgages” consumption coming out of class war
population. It fell to and chop them up “unequally” so that are inherent to capitalism? The “defend-
thinkers like Milton “risk and rate of return” varied between ers” and the critics of the swaps both
Friedman to under- the tranches; they used the French word got it wrong and the author doubts the
mine all this, along for slice. The three securities tranches utility of these instruments. He says real
with “the prevailing were piled up from the “equity tranche,” “production takes place on the surface of
common sense about for Leopold toxic waste, to the “mezza- the earth” not in the upper atmosphere.
the causes of the nine tranche” and the “senior tranche” We must all find ways “to bring…surplus
Great Depression.” which had the first dibs on all incoming capital back to planet earth.”
Friedman and Anna “interest payments.” All that needed to The author concludes with propos-
Schwartz argued, in be done to launch “a massive global mar- als that Wall Street really won't like.
their U.S. economic ket” was to get one of three SEC granted The government must step in again and
history, that “human ratings oligarchs, Standard and Poor’s, boost demand, more than the one-tenth
error,” particularly Moody’s, or Fitch, to give a triple-A of the loss addressed by the Obama
Fed monetary policy, rating to the upper tranche. Then these administration thus far. There should be
was at the root of derivatives could be sold to “pension some form of disaster insurance which
the Depression, not funds, insurance companies, banks, and is paid into through a financial tax. And
anything inherent to the like. Big, big money.” the Tobin tax recommended by Nobel
capitalism. This was Warren Buffet called credit default laureate James Tobin, should be placed
“music to the ears” swaps “’financial weapons of mass against international currency transac-
of self-styled con- destruction.’” Leopold calls these “the tions. The United States dearly needs a
servatives, and from heart of fantasy finance” and lucrative “financial-product safety” regime, and
the 1980s up until protection for risky loans. First you set cannot continue to rely on the market for
today the fantasy up a “big bank account” somewhere this. Leopold says that most of us would
finance casinos were beyond regulation and taxes, and then rather “bitch about the rich than exercise
back with a Savings “entice investors” building the account more power and take more responsibil-
and Loan multiplied up to the desired amount of protection. ity for ruling society.” The vaults of the
vengeance. This “insurance fund” can be drawn on if rich need to be raided, their “supply of
James L. Both- any of the underlying loans go bad. Next surplus capital” should be cut off, and
well of the Govern- you deposit a little into the account every productive finance should be national-
ment Accountabil- three months “like you were paying ized. According to the economic research
ity Office warned insurance premiums” and you pass on of Jamal Rashed and Subarna Samanta,
Congress in 1994 money to the investors willing to gamble when the “discrepancy between rising
about the harm that and less to the others. You can further productivity and wage stagnation is
a growing $12.1 juggle “money and risk” by setting up large, stock markets crash, banks fail,
trillion “derivatives tranches and awarding investors differ- currencies depreciate, unemployment
casino” could inflict ently; then you invest it all in safe “trea- rises, and a longer recession or full-
on the real economy. sury bills, bank notes, an money market fledged depression may follow.” Wage
He even predicted funds” acquiring interest for the marks. slaves, join the One Big Union, be bolder
likely bailouts devoid Finally you can “toast everyone” know- than the bankers, and demand it all.
Page 12 • Industrial Worker • May 2010

FW George Mann: Keeping The Wobbly Troubadour Tradition Alive


By Greg Giorgio GG: What other kinds of work have you the talk, you should also have to walk the And so my work with Julius was
Traveling musician, songwriter and done? walk. He served proudly in the Merchant part of repaying that debt, that collec-
union activist George Mann is a cre- Marine in World War II, survived the tive debt that all of us owe to people like
ative whirlwind. He has written dozens GM: I was a journalist and editor for blacklist that removed him from the Utah, Faith Petric, Woody Guthrie, Joe
of labor and peace songs, produced years and have always had that thread boats in 1949, worked for 30 years in the Hill and many more of those who came
a vital series of protest records and worming through my life as a source film industry, and was active in his union before us and gave us these songs, these
toured incessantly playing his latest of income. Nine years as an organizer, [the International Alliance of Theatri- stories that resonate 20 years, 40 years,
creations as well as many tunes from working for the musicians' union and the cal Stage Employees, or IATSE] right up [or even] a century later.
the Wobbly canon and beyond. He sang Communication Workers of America, until his death. His calendar was filled
with his mentor, the late Julius Margo- among others, taught me that I cannot with solidarity activities and commit- GG: Tell us about your union member-
lin, for many years and now looks at work in the labor movement and play tee meetings until he grew too sick to ships.
his music and life's work for us on these music for it—both vocations demand a participate anymore. And when he died,
pages. Don't miss his gigs in the Albany, full-time commitment. These days, I play he left such a surge of energy, love and GM: I have been in the American
N.Y. area and in Boston on May 14 and music full-time and live a lot cheaper, determination among those who knew Federation of Musicians for about 20
15. Contact the Upstate N.Y. and Boston but I am enjoying life a lot more. I have him. I still draw strength from that, as I years. Most of that time, I’ve been in
IWW branches for details. several “steady” gigs, including working continue to miss his presence and face Local 1000, the non-geographic local
as an accompanist in school plays and the challenges in my life and the disap- chartered for traveling folk musicians. In
Greg Giorgio: How did you get started playing for veterans and nursing homes pointments of everyday struggle. 2005 I joined the New York City branch
in music? on both coasts. of the IWW. While my schedule does not
GG: You have a great amount of creative permit me to be active in the branch's
George Mann: I have played the guitar GG: How did your association with the energy. Talk about some of your solo work, I believe that the IWW is the
since I was eight years old and always late Julius Margolin get started? work and collaborative recordings of the union that best reflects my beliefs and I
wanted to be a folksinger. Before The last decade or so. like to spend my money wisely.
Beatles, Jimi Hendrix and The Who, GM: I met Julius when he was 79 years
there was The Kingston Trio. I remem- old, and he was just beginning to write GM: I recorded three CDs with Julius GG: What's the latest recording?
ber being stricken, at eight years old, by songs about labor struggles and op- and I treasure the memory of each one,
this woman named Joan Baez who sang posing the Gingrich-led “Contract with as I saw Julius develop as a songwriter GM: After the Bush error ended, Julius
a song about a guy named Joe Hill on my America.” As we became better friends, and I found a production style—and and I were wondering what we would do
sister's album of the Woodstock concert. he recruited me to the New York City great musicians—to present the music in next. When I heard about efforts to help
Labor Chorus and I eventually convinced a way that did justice to our work. Along our veterans who struggle with post-
GG: How did labor and social justice him to try recording and making music the way, we were fortunate to create the traumatic stress disorder, specifically
eventually fit in with your music-mak- with me. We had no idea that it would four CDs in the anti-Bush “Hail to the the work of The Welcome Home Project
ing? turn into 12 years of fun and struggle Thief!” series—finding like-minded folk- [http://www.thewelcomehomeproject.
against the anti-union and pro-war forc- singers to present our opposition to the org], I decided to create a new compila-
GM: I was socially-conscious when es of capital! And I always knew it could Bush regime and its imperial goals. And tion CD, “Until You Come Home: Songs
younger, but not in a focused way, end at any moment, but I am grateful for the documentary film we made about for Veterans and Their Kin.” Both Julius
playing left-wing hippy music and rock the chance to have been with him during Julius, “A Union Man,” was also a col- and Utah are on it, as well as many other
and roll in various bands growing up that journey, right on through his final laborative project, with so many people great artists like Tom Paxton, John
and while going to college. Ultimately, illness and death last summer at 93. pitching in to help make this story of Gorka, Holly Near and David Rovics.
working in the union movement as an Julius's amazing life. I am also releasing my new solo CD,
organizer led me to the music of people GG: He was an incredible human being. I love the process of writing songs “Songs for Jules and Bruce,” in May.
like Utah Phillips, Woody Guthrie, Anne What was the most important lesson you and the magic of recording and produc- This project is very dear to my heart
Feeney, Billy Bragg and singers like learned from him? ing CDs. And I am finding that the folk as Julius sings on several songs, Anne
them who know that a good story and world, and the intertwining circles of Feeney and Mark Ross are among the
the struggle for justice beats pop music GM: I hope that any person who met labor/green/anti-war activism, can pro- guests, and many of the songs are about
any day of the week. I had always played or comes to know of Julius takes three vide meaning and support to my life and or in tribute to Julius and Utah. My web-
for activist causes, but singing the labor things away: his lack of ego, his militant work. That's a big lesson, not one easily site [http://www.georgemann.org] has
classics, and 10 years in the New York anger at and determination to act against learned, but I'm working on it. information on all of our work.
City Labor Chorus, helped turn my ear the ruling classes, and his love for the
more toward folk music. I began writing working class and all the peoples of the GG: Can you discuss your creative GG: What's next for your musical adven-
songs again, eventually recording CDs. world. Julius also believed in one very process a little and describe your musical ture? Any other projects in the works?
simple concept—if you are going to talk stylings?
GM: I am taking a vow not to step into a
GM: Not really, some secrets are best recording studio for a year and to spend
kept in the closet! I wish I could ex- that year touring, traveling the country,
plain the magic of writing songs, but and writing new songs that show the
it is something that is very private and hope and ability to fight back that ex-
mysterious. All I know is that I get better ists in us all, if we just seek it out. May
at self-editing as I get older, i.e., only brings the May Day concert at the Botto
writing/releasing songs that meet my House and concerts for both the Upstate
goals/standards. New York James Connolly Branch and
I think of and “see” music, and new the Boston Branch of the IWW. I would
songs especially, as the platform for love to go play for some of the other
creating an interesting combination of IWW Branches and expect to be doing
sounds in the studio, and my studio ar- a number of concerts with Veterans for
rangements tend to be fuller and some- Peace tied into the "Until You Come
times even with “rock”/electric guitars Home" CD.
and drums backing. But I am always
conscious of how that song will sound GG: How important is our music and
solo with an acoustic guitar, the way it our culture for the survival of a working
was written and is usually performed class movement?
live.
GM: What's most important for the sur-
GG: Utah Phillips urged us to “seek out vival of a working class and union move-
our elders” from the union movement. ment is for people to educate themselves
You have taken that to heart, haven't and to find the courage to stand up and
you? fight back. Songs and stories educate
people and preserve that long memory
GM: I think that one reason Utah took that Utah often spoke about, so in that
to me when we finally met was because sense music and labor culture are great
he saw I had already learned that lesson, tools. They help to preserve and present
and in bringing Julius out to the world, that long memory.
I was working in the same field that
Utah was tilling. But as I told Utah many GG: Any last words for our readers?
times, it was his music, his stories and
preservation of workers' histories—his GM: While there is always a price to pay
example—that led me down that road. for activism and challenging authority,
I'll never forget what a lightning bolt direct action is the only thing that gets
Utah's work was to me when I first heard the goods. This is another lesson im-
about him and began buying his CDs in pressed into my mind by my elders, but
the mid-1990s: his clarity, his outrage, also seen in the struggles I've been in.
his sheer skill at singing and telling sto- Power yields nothing without pressure,
ries of the workers who fought and died and you cannot build that pressure with-
for safe, fair working conditions and the out extreme commitment, strength and
*George Mann will also be performing at 10:00 p.m. on May 1 at Surreal Estate in right to a union—this did so much for me sacrifice. If you want to win, you have to
Brooklyn, N.Y., and at 8:00 p.m. on May 15 in Boston, location TBA. at that point in my life. be ready to offer all.
May 2010 • Industrial Worker • Page 13

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Page 14 • Industrial Worker • May 2010

Wobbly Arts
How To Tame The Spirit Of A Rebel
The Making Of Wobbly Songs By Ambrose Nurra
Christen a wayward street after them in the city center so that their
fatigued name on its post is no different than the gutter or plastic
By Joe Grim Feinberg
In Part I of this article, which appeared on page 11 of the April 2010 Industrial
tumbleweed bearing witness to your latest charge card triumph
Worker, I recalled the origins of Wobbly songs: how the IWW’s biting parodies and gal-
lant anthems emerged from a variety of genres to become the One Big Union’s distinc- Plaster their face on posters tshirts billboards the force of a holocaust of a
tive calling cards. The new, 38th edition of the “Little Red Songbook” will bring back thousand blazing irises dimmed on those who can purchase readymade
the best-loved songs from over the years, alongside newer pieces never printed before. REVOLUTIONS ON SALE DISCOUNT HALF OFF!!!
The Songbook Committee is counting on all of you to keep the tradition alive by singing
heartily and by writing new songs. Profane their vision in the ridiculous garbled rhetoric of academia and banish it
to their halls where it will be whipped shackled into submission so it won’t even
Part II. Present and Future recognize itself
In his “Afterword” to the “Big Red Songbook,” Utah Phillips offered “four lessons
in the craft of song making”: make your songs simple, useful, adaptable, and hopeful. I Erect a monument in their honor where those who killed them can drop a few
wanted to look a little more closely at each of those lessons. hollow words of honor like they dropped this rebels corpse with a few now
hollow bullets
Simplicity
Wobbly songs should be easy to understand, quick to remember, and simple to sing. But most of all make sure that not even for a second that they stop admiring that
But “simple” can mean a lot of things. How do we know what kind of simplicity is needed? pristine placard face stop paying tribute to a name and start believing that maybe
It helps to know your genre. If you’re writing a slogan or chant, you can be brief and
we are all this rebel…

The Mute Uprising


explicit with your message, and maybe add a clever rhyme. If you’re writing a song, it’s
often better to be less explicit. Even if your song is short and simple, you need something
unexpected or even a little bit obscure to make it worth singing. Take this song by FW
By Ambrose Nurra
Kyle Mills:
We have got a world to gain, nothing to lose but these chains.
the citizen.
Keep your hand on the union plow. the pencil.
The workers and employers share, absolutely nothing but the air. the naked seat.
Keep your hand on the union plow.
(second and fifth verses of “Union Plow,” written 2009 to the tune of “Gospel Plow”; they cast off the crust of years of slumber
sent by the author to the Songbook Committee) and slip into the part-time role of
the citizen.
A one-line internal rhyme makes each verse, followed by a short refrain. The verse
lines are straightforward, like chants. But the refrain gives us a metaphor that can be to salivate each issue imagine the smell of each bouquet of names
sung slowly and often, to reflect back on the seemingly simply verses. You don’t want a and decide with the proper gesture of
song like this to be too straightforward or too complicated—it works by stating the obvi- the pencil.
ous slowly, in some less-than-obvious way. Other songs, like the great ones by Joe Hill
or T-Bone Slim, make themselves interesting by unfolding their message obliquely in a then return, take the day off and turn away lidheavy in the electric smog
crescendo of events. By the time we reach the glorious conclusion, the message is clear of TVs hissing the headline that hails one new nation under
whether it’s restated or not: the scab will go to hell; the workers will unite; the boss will the naked seat.
cook his own meals. There are different kinds of simplicity; the thing is to find what’s
simply interesting to sing.
a ballot was too small
for
Usefulness
Wobbly songs aren’t just contemplated; they’re used. But how are they used? And
their dreams
how does this affect the way we write them?
Some songs are great for expert performers singing to silent crowds. This doesn’t
make them good for union halls and picket lines. Songs for performers can have mean-
dering or speech-like melodies, startling syncopation, tongue-twisting lines. But for rank-
and-file Wobbly singers, it helps to have a memorable and predictable melody, a regular
rhythm, and frequent repetition of phrases. Now the rules of sing-ability can be broken;
but then other means are needed to make the song work. For example, “The Eye-Double-
Double-You” by FW Jim Crutchfield combines some syllable-packed lines with a fast-
paced melody that can be hard to keep up with (tune: “The Shores of Botany Bay”):
Hooray for the Revolution!
Hooray for the Working Class!
I’ve joined the One Big Union
And the boss can kiss my ass!
I’ll fight for better wages
And shorter hours too
‘Cause I’ve got my Red Card and I’m gonna work hard
For the Eye-Double-Double-You.
(chorus; printed in the Industrial Worker, July 2007)

If this song also had abstruse lyrics or an unusual chord progression, it would be
hard for rank-and-file singers to sing (even if it were still nice to listen to). But since most
aspects of the song are easy to pick up (simple rhymes, familiar and repeated phrases),
the slight challenge of fitting the melody to the words could be easily overcome and might
actually add to the song’s interest. The important thing is to write songs not for listening
but for singing.

Adaptability
Every Wobbly song was written in a specific place and time. The songs that last are
those that get adapted and reused as their context changes. It can be deceptively difficult,
though, to make a good adaptation.
The biggest problem of adaptation stems from the difficulty of making a new version
respond to the version you’re adapting from. This comes up even with seemingly minor
additions of new verses to old songs. Some songs are designed to accept new verses; so
“Banks of Marble,” for example, functions as a catalogue of exploitation, and verses could
be added infinitely as long as they describe a new kind of exploitation. But other songs
can be hurt by adding new verses; so for example “Solidarity Forever” (in my view) fol-
lows a specific verse-by-verse development, which can be broken up by hastily placed new
verses.
The challenge is all the greater when you’re adapting a whole new song, as in the
common Wobbly practice of parody. It’s true that you can easily take any song and
change the words to give it a Wobbly message. But the best parodies do something more,
making use of the original song in creative ways. So Joe Hill used specifically religious
songs when he was lampooning preacher-hypocrites. Or the Polish-German Boleslaw
Strzelewicz used the holy calm of “Silent Night” to set in relief the violent oppression of
the working class:
Silent night, sorrowful night, Deep in the shaft, far from light,
The air, like a storm, strikes with
hideous work.
The miner digs up what the rich man
is worth.
He starves ‘mid the smell of gold…
(“The Workers’ ‘Silent Night’” [“Arbeiter ‘Stille Nacht’”]; ca. 1890; my translation;
considered but not included in the new Songbook)

Hope
There are plenty of songs that reflect our miserable world. What sets Wobbly songs
apart is that they also present a way out of this misery. Pick up almost any song in the
new edition of the “Little Red Songbook,” and you’ll see.
May 2010 • Industrial Worker • Page 15

Philly IWW Demonstrates At The German Consulate In Support Of The FAU Berlin
By John Kalwaic Consul’s office, and after sev-
Despite freezing cold weather eral attempts, was connected
on January 29, members of the to Consul Barbara Afanassiev,
Philadelphia General Member- who then agreed to meet the
ship Branch of the IWW picketed Fellow Workers in the lobby to
the Philadelphia German Consul- receive the letter. Afanassiev
ate as part of an International was already aware of the
day of action in solidarity with IWW picket, and claimed
the FAU (Freie Arbeiterinnen- that she had not ignored the
und Arbeiter-Union) in Berlin, requests for a meeting, but had
Germany. The FAU Berlin has just been too busy to follow
come under attack from the city through. The branch members
government, which is trying to Philly IWW Demonstrates at the German Consulate on Jan. 29. Photo: Chris Walters delivered the protest letter
outlaw the FAU, and from the was not a “legitimate” labor union under of euros because they have refused to in support of the FAU, and
employers of the Babylon Cinema, where German labor law. abandon their union and its members. Afanassiev said she would forward it to
workers are trying to organize. Phila- Both the mainstream ver.di union, This would be the first time the FAU has the German Consul General in New York
delphia IWW members displayed signs which is a part of the state-backed DGB been outlawed in Germany since the City. A brief exchange ensued, with IWW
in both English and German expressing (German Deutscher Gewerkschafts- Nazis rose to power in 1933 and crushed members making it clear that repression
solidarity with the FAU. In addition to bund) union confederation in Germany, all independent trade unions. of workers’ rights is not acceptable and
distributing flyers, branch members sang and the former communist “Left Party” The Philadelphia IWW made that this treatment of the FAU cannot
labor songs and chanted that workers (Linkspartei), joined with Babylon repeated requests for a meeting with continue. Again, Afanassiev stated that
had the right to organize anywhere in Cinema bosses in trying to outlaw the the Honorary German Consul, Barbara she was very powerless in this situation,
the world. FAU as a union. The staff of the Baby- Afanassiev, with no response. Instead of and that she would forward on the mes-
Originally founded in 1919, the FAU lon Cinema refused to go quietly and continuing to wait for an appointment, sage to the Consul General.
has a long history fighting for workers’ organized a boycott and protests against the Philadelphia IWW decided to stage The picket was a great success and
rights. The international day of action the cinema. Without the consent of the a picket at the German Consulate in the message was conveyed to the Ger-
was called to protest a Berlin court rul- employees, the ver.di union and the Left coordination with the day of action. The man Consul, as well as many others in
ing on Dec. 11, 2009, that strips the FAU Party negotiated an ineffective and weak protest started with an hour of picketing the building and the general public. The
of its right to call itself a union, making contract with the cinema management and distributing informational leaflets. Philadelphia IWW plans to continue to
their organization illegal. This court that was well below that of the average After the picketing, two Fellow Workers monitor the situation in Berlin, and will
ruling was a result of the refusal of the ver.di union shop. entered the building to deliver a letter of keep the pressure on until the repression
management of the Babylon Mitt Cin- Not satisfied with the lower court protest to the consul on the third floor. of the FAU is ended.
ema to bargain a contract with the FAU. ruling, the Babylon Cinema bosses Security authorities said that the FWs For more information and to find
Rather than negotiate with the FAU, the have continued their legal attacks on could not go up to the third floor, as out how you can support the FAU,
management claimed that the FAU could the workers, demanding that the FAU’s “there was no one there to receive them.” please visit http://www.fau.org.
not negotiate a contract because the FAU officers be jailed and fined thousands One of the IWW members called the Walt Weber contributed to this story.

Carmen M. Is Not Alone: The Irresistible Rise Of Grassroots Syndicalism In Greece


By the Greek Waiters’ and Cooks’ police station, where the police “sug- ment of supplements, firings, and wage took place on March 11, when, in coop-
Base Trade Union of Propylea, gested” to Carmen that she did not sue decreases are all part of the reality we eration with the police, it distanced itself
Athens her ex-boss because he could countersue experience daily in the labor galleys. from the base unions, which resulted in
The following is a rough transla- her, which would result in all of them be- Whoever dares to speak of this is the attack of the union members by the
tion of the most recent statement by the ing detained overnight. During the entire faced with, on the one hand, the terror- riot police.
Greek Waiters’ and Cooks’ Base Trade incident Karezos repeated the phrase ism of the bosses that includes guns, Within this bleak reality, the mass
Union (σωματείο σερβιτόρων μαγείρων) “Now you got yourselves into trouble.” threats, bouncers and sulfuric acid, media are on an assignment to try to
about the firing of member Carmen M. The next day, late in the evening, and on the other hand the terrorism of convince us that it is all happening for
in February. Carmen M. was attacked by persons un- unemployment. All these take place at a our own good. According to the media,
known as she was heading to her home. time when the State, this time under the “we must all make sacrifices in order
No Worker Is Alone – War Against She was brutally hit on the head and pretext of the financial crisis, redefines for the economy and the country to be
The Bosses’ War abandoned bleeding and unconscious the terms of paid employment in favor of saved.” As it is well known, the journal-
Carmen M. is a member of the outside her house. The motive of the at- the bosses, institutionalizing the aboli- ist’s microphone reaches where the cop’s
waiters’ and cooks’ base trade union in tack was not robbery, since Carmen still tion of gained rights and opening a path baton can’t.
Athens. After returning from a short had her money and phone on her. for the intensification of exploitation and From our own labor experiences, we
medical leave she was fired by her boss, On March 26, members of the union repression. believe that EACH OF US and ALL OF
Stelios Karezos, owner of VIA VAI, a and supporters blocked off the entrance In this attempt of theirs, the State US TOGETHER must take responsibility
large coffee shop chain in Athens. At the for VIA VAI in Athens for many hours and the bosses have found as willing for:
meetings that followed to arrange for the while the up-to-that-point provocative allies the leaders of the sold-out trade * the formation of Base Unions in all
salary and compensation she was owed, boss Karezos hid in the basement. Simi- unions, giving them future government labor sections where they do not cur-
Karezos was provocative against the lar interventions followed at the VIA VAI and party positions in exchange. In this rently exist
worker as well as representatives of the cafes on Panepistimiou Avenue (opposite direction, the latter sign collective agree- * the support of existing Base Unions
base union. Propylea) and on the corner of Mpenaki ments that include the freezing or lower- * the strengthening of the General
On March 23, the day when the final and Feidiou Street. On the evening of ing of wages, ignore the assassinations Assemblies of workers
settlement was to be made, Karezos saw the same day Karezos got in touch with and butchering of workers, cover for the * the overcoming of boards of direc-
there was a mass presence of members our union, telling us he was willing to mega-contractors’ businesses, and refuse tors and all mechanisms of mediation
of the union and started photographing pay Carmen the money he owes her and to call for general strikes. When they do * our lives and all that concerns us
them with his digital camera. After a claiming it was all a misunderstanding. at times call for strikes under the pres- RESISTANCE to the terrorism of the
demand from the workers that he delete There are obviously no misunder- sure of the workers, they sabotage and bosses!
the photos, he pulled up his shirt to standings and no isolated incidents. repress them. A typical such example SOLIDARITY between workers!
show the gun he was carrying. Unpaid overtime, “forgotten” medical was the stance of the General Confedera- SELF-ORGANIZATION in all work-
The story continued at the local insurance contributions, the nonpay- tion of Workers (GSEE) at a strike that places!

******************************************************************************

May Day Salute to honor:

TOIVO HALONEN
1917-2009
Finnish-American Wobbly
and Anarcho-Syndicalist, Cleveland
Alumnus of IWW's Work Peoples College

--- Harry Siitonen, Bay Area GMB


******************************************************************************
Page 16 • Industrial Worker • May 2010

French Workers Threaten To Blow Up Factory


By John Kalwaic
Around 40 work-
ers of the Sodimatex
car parts factory near
Paris threatened to
blow up their factory on
April 2. This was due
The IWW formed the International Solidarity Commission to help the union build to a redundancy pay
the worker-to-worker solidarity that can lead to effective action against the bosses dispute. The workers
of the world. To contact the ISC, email solidarity@iww.org. have claimed that man-
agement owed them
By Matt Antosh the IWW aims to lend our support, by
more than €15,000.
action in solidarity, where it is within
For a week prior to the
Solidarity Statement with Workers our grasp to do so, in our firm knowl-
threat, workers bar-
in Struggle in Greece edge that an injury to one is an injury to
ricaded themselves
The International Solidarity Com- all.
in the factory. The Photo: theepochtimes.com
mission (ISC) of the Industrial Workers
Sodimatex workers Several thousand people demonstrate on March 23 in
of the World (IWW) supports the work- No to Union Repression Against
threatened to blow up Rennes, western France, as part of a nationwide day of
ers in struggle in Greece and their strike the People and Baby CNT Section
the factory many times protest against job and wage cuts the high cost of living,
actions in opposition to the threat of Following a strike aimed to obtain
because of disputes in and plans for pension reform. Most of France's unions
“austerity measures” by the Greek gov- better working conditions and a new di-
redundancy pay. This joined forces to organize strikes in dozens of cities, step-
ernment, who claim that those measures rection for professional practices in the ping up pressure on President Sarkozy after his govern-
action came on the
are needed to stop the country from childcare field, six workers of the Giono
eve of the conservative ment reshuffle in response to a stinging regional election.
going into bankruptcy. We are encour- day care center in Paris who had just
party’s election defeat
aged to see workers across Greece take a created a union section, have received ple came to protest reforms in March.
in parliament.
stand against the government’s gamble notice that they were being laid off. French workers have threatened to blow
There is a new wave of strikes in the
with their livelihoods and exploitation In order to justify these actions, up factories months ago over redundan-
transportation sector. Strikes happened
of their labor. They have taken to the People & Baby’s management, which cies as the global economy started to
with sea ferry workers and other trans-
streets and stopped working in a visible owns Giono day care, evoked calls to collapse. It appears the wave of factory
portation workers in France to protest
and powerful refusal to pay for the mess question the sanitary conditions of the occupations and threats of explosions
President Nicolas Sarcozy’s neo-liberal
of the banks and financial speculators. facility. However, none of these employ- will continue.
reforms. Hundreds of thousands of peo-
Rather than acquiesce to the of- ees had previously been subject to any
ficial lie of a nation united in necessary sanction or even a remark about sanitary
sacrifice for the common good, they have conditions.
Chinese Workers Engage barricade
By John Kalwaic
In First “Bossnapping”
of the worker housing where
exposed that the working class are not The Work Medical Administration
Chinese guest workers took nine of the workers were holding their bosses
the cause of the crisis. We will not suffer has countered that the sanitary concerns
their bosses hostage in the oil-rich Gulf after Chinese diplomats refused to inter-
for it. As the slogan goes, in Greece and directed at the workers actually concern
state of Bahrain near a construction site vene on behalf of the employers.
elsewhere, “we won’t pay for their cri- the management itself! On its side, the
in Zallaq, south of the capital city of Ma- The workers claimed that they were
sis!” As one of the first countries threat- Work Inspection Administration has
nama. The workers, who were employees underpaid and mistreated by the nine
ening such wide-sweeping cuts, and in sent a letter to the management, asking
of the state-owned China State Construc- bosses they kidnapped. This incident
turn verging on bankruptcy in this crisis, it to withdraw its sanctions. The par-
tion Engineering Corporation, were act- was the first of its kind in Bahrain, one
the protests of workers in Greece are for ents have also shown their support for
ing against the fact that they were under- of the few Gulf states where unions are
us all. the employees, as they were extremely
paid. They had staged a wildcat strike a legal. The bosses who were kidnapped
As governments across the world satisfied with the current staff and its
week before. Bahraini police stormed the are not planning to press charges.
respond to the current recession, fruit pedagogical project. The parents were
of the unfettered gambling by capital-
ists with the wealth of the earth and the
shocked that their children could be put
into the care of an entirely new staff. Beer Workers Strike To Oppose New Regulations
labor of workers everywhere, by further Today, the management confirms From libcom.org each and everyone to be responsible,” a
cutting into the subsistence and rights its will to fire most of the employees of On April 8, scores of Carlsberg work- company spokesman said. Carlsberg now
of the working class, we are glad to the Giono day care center! In response ers walked off their jobs in protest after wants to restrict this to lunch time only.
express our solidarity with the work- to this violent act from the management the Danish brewer tightened laid-back Around 800 workers went on strike
ers of Greece.We are grateful to them against employees, we have to act. rules on workplace drinking and re- Wednesday and around 250 walked
for refusing to comply with the lie of We invite you to join the interna- moved beer coolers from work sites. off their jobs Thursday, resulting in
“austerity measures,” which amount to tional campaign led by the CNT by send- The warehouse and production interruptions to beer transports in and
the demand of a sacrifice by the poor for ing protest emails to the management of workers in Denmark are rebelling around Copenhagen.
the benefit of the rich and for continuing People & Baby: odile.broglin@people- against the company’s new alcohol Carlsberg’s truck drivers joined the
to take a brave stand in the face of police and-baby.com, anne-laure.prieur@ policy. Previously, they could help them- strike in sympathy—even though they
repression. people-and-baby.com, emmanuel.dusso- selves to beer throughout the day from are exempt from the new rules, although
In the hope that their struggle, lier@people-and-baby.com. And please coolers placed around the work sites, by longstanding policy their trucks have
which is also a struggle for workers CC the emails to sectionpetb@cnt-f.org with the only restriction being “that you alcohol ignition locks, preventing them
everywhere, may continue and succeed, and fede.sante-social@cnt-f.org. could not be drunk at work. It was up to from driving drunk.

BA Strikes: Management Ups Its Bullying As The Dispute Goes International


From libcom.org sick. Management has warned staff that appears likely in Europe, in the form of union gets in the process. This is likely
Prior to the British Airways (BA) anyone who takes time off sick on strike boycotts or go-slows from ground staff, not what staff had in mind when they
strike that began in late March by days will be considered flight staff and air traffic con- voted overwhelmingly for strike action.
members of the labor union Unite, to be on strike and will trollers, depending on the laws The other important aspect of this
management furthered its attacks on the be disciplined and have in place in each country. dispute is the fact it has already proven
workforce, while the airline faced inter- their pay docked. Though the strike is begin- to be the testing ground for a new crop
national solidarity with BA workers. Meanwhile, BA ning to assume the status of a of employer-instigated strikebreak-
With an election on the horizon, the management could face set piece battle between macho ing activities. In particular, it was back
two powerful British parties are attempt- opposition on both sides management and workers in December that the BA cabin crew
ing to outdo each other by attacking the of the Atlantic. Senior looking to defend their terms initially voted to strike. Turnout was
BA cabin crew looking to defend their figures at Unite have Photo: libcom.org and conditions, Unite should high and workers voted 9-to-1 in favor of
terms and conditions. Prime Minister been meeting with their not go without criticism for its action over the Christmas holiday. Man-
Gordon Brown, whose party's biggest counterparts in the U.S. Teamsters. attempts to act like a junior manage- agement then went to the courts and,
donor is Unite the Union, has called the Teamsters Airline Division Director ment partner and impose a pay cut on its based on various legal technicalities,
strike “unjustified and deplorable.” The Captain David Bourne condemned membership. It is true that management secured an injunction against the strike.
Tories, damaged by revelations over the the combativity and bad intentions of have acted in bad faith in negotiations. Unite, despite the incredible mandate
embarrassing tax-dodging of their major British Airways management over the For instance, last week management it received from its members, quickly
donor, Lord Ashcroft, have claimed that weekend and issued a statement promis- had the union put an offer forward to its capitulated. Besides giving up the bar-
the labor force is hobbled by powerful ing that “should events cause the cabin members, only to retract the same offer gaining power workers would have had
unions, or the “the new militant tenden- attendants to be forced to strike, we will after the fact. Nonetheless Unite's own by striking over BA’s busiest time, Unite
cy.” Meanwhile, the media and business support them in any way possible in the offer meant a 2 percent pay cut for many refused to actually confront the U.K.’s
has clamored for the government to stop U. S. cities that are served by British BA workers, ostensibly in order to save blatantly anti-worker legal system by
the strike, which has a huge democratic Airways.” jobs. Unsurprisingly, management and going ahead with industrial action. Since
mandate from Unite members. What this support would mean in the right-wing media have pounced on then many other employers, not the least
BA management has upped the concrete terms is unclear, and could this to split BA workers. BA manage- of which is Transport for London (who
stakes by threatening to sack the Unite range from demonstrations at airports ment have described the offer as “mor- operate the London Underground), have
shop stewards at the heart of the dis- serviced by BA to boycotts of scabbing ally wrong” for the pay cut involved, and used the exact same tactics to prevent
pute. Seven members of Bassa (Unite's BA flights by the ground crews repre- have eagerly recruited scab “volunteers” strikes.
cabin crew branch) face disciplinary sented by the Teamsters (though legal to staff strike-breaking flights. The union All these issues notwithstanding,
charges over their role, charges which action from the airline is a possibility for has accepted management’s terms of ref- the anger, determination and militancy
BA has refused to drop in the course of workers taking legal action). Unite has erence—that one way or another, front- of the BA cabin crew is clear. For the
negotiations. On top of this, bosses are also approached unions in Italy, France, line workers have to pay for the airline's bravery they have shown in defending
targeting workers who are attempting Spain and Germany, and according to losses. From Unite’s perspective, the their working conditions in the face of an
to avoid disciplinary action for refus- the media has received commitments of dispute is over the form these cuts will employers' onslaught, they deserve our
ing to cross picket lines by calling in solidarity form them. Secondary action take and how much “consultation” the full support and solidarity.