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A LETTER FROM THE J20 DEFENSE CAMPAIGN OF THE MID-ATLANTIC GENERAL DEFENSE COMMITTEE OF THE IWW

PDF version can be found here

We are asking organizations to endorse our call for all charges related to these protests to be dropped. We’ve written a guide for how union members can bring it to a local meeting to endorse it.

We also have a petition for individuals to sign.

On January 20, 2017, thousands took to the streets of Washington, D.C., to protest the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. During one of the many marches held on Inauguration Day, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department showed the world how it planned to treat dissent moving forward: Shortly after the protest began, hundreds of protesters were attacked with pepper spray, rubber bullets, and batons. Police confined over 200 people within a “kettle” for hours before arresting them. Every protester’s cell phone was confiscated as evidence and rooted through. Upon being released, they were handed a riot charge. Months later, US attorneys piled on 8 additional felony charges, including “Conspiracy to Riot”. Protesters now face up to 75 years in prison – all for attending a demonstration.

Among the people arrested were over two dozen members of our union, the Industrial Workers of the World, and its affiliated legal defense and community organizing body, the IWW General Defense Committee (GDC). Within the IWW and GDC, we don’t shy away from our members’ politics, and support our members’ rights to express their politics through protests and marches, a tradition that goes back within our union to battles over free speech in the early 20th century.

Since the arrests, D.C. prosecutors and police have shown a disturbing pattern of repression as well as specific targeting of IWW and GDC members. Our members had their union cards and buttons confiscated and held as evidence. Months after the protest, three individuals (including two prominent members of the DC IWW local branch) were served with warrants for their arrest on charges of conspiracy to riot. Prior to their warrants being issued, the prosecutor’s office revealed that they had created separate trial groupings, including one grouping where nearly all defendants were IWW or GDC members. While they will not say as much in public, it has become clear that the city attorneys for Washington, D.C. are treating membership in our union as evidence of a criminal act.

This is not the first time the IWW has been targeted for repression, and it is unlikely to be the last. The crackdown on protesters in D.C. is part of a larger effort to criminalize and silence dissent in working-class and marginalized communities. D.C. is just one of more than a dozen states that are attempting to quell dissent through legislation or harsh legal penalties. This is not a coincidence. People in power want activists and organizations to be afraid to protest Trump’s agenda.

The labor movement cannot succeed if union members are treated as criminals when protesting anti-union and anti-worker politicians and their policies. No social movement can operate in repressive conditions like that. We have always stood by the principle that “an injury to one is an injury to all.” In this spirit, we are calling on our friends and allies in the labor movement, as well as in allied progressive or left groups, to share this letter and pass the following motion within your union local or organization:

“We are deeply concerned about the severe repression against all protesters facing charges for exercising their First Amendment rights on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. We assert our support of the demand to drop the charges against all protesters. We further commit to:

Contacting info@midatlanticgdc.com to add our organization’s name to those endorsing this letter, to be found at www.midatlanticGDC.com/letter

Requesting the appropriate individual post to our organization’s social media accounts that we support this letter

Requesting the appropriate officer or individual send an expression of our support for the above demand to the United States Attorney’s Office, ATTN: Channing Phillips, 555 4th Street NW, Washington, DC 20530

Encouraging our members to get involved in the effort to support all defendants at www.defendj20resistance.org and www.midatlanticGDC.com.”

(Original linkback at the Mid-Atlantic GDC site)

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Intro to the IWW “102” Class, This Friday!

Learn more about your union and how we keep it democratic.

Intro to the IWW “102” Class
Friday, Oct. 14, from 6:00 – 8:00pm
@ the Portland IWW Hall (2249 E Burnside St.)

PART 2 in our Introductory series about the IWW!

In our recent Introduction to the IWW “101” class, we discussed what makes the IWW unique in comparison to other unions, we talked about the key principles of Solidarity Unionism and Direct Action, and we had a discussion about the Preamble to the IWW Constitution.

In this second class, we will talk about the organizational structure of the IWW (both locally and internationally), some active organizing projects of the IWW, a little IWW history, and we will discuss the various resources of our union.

This class is FREE and open to all workers. Participation in the recent Introduction to the IWW “101” class is not required; please let us know if you have any questions.

Light snacks will be provided!

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Introduction to the IWW “101”

Friday, October 7
6:00 – 8:00pm
Portland IWW Hall – 2249 E Burnside St.

All workers welcome! Learn more about the key principles and values of the Industrial Workers of the World in an engaging and welcoming environment. We want you to join and help build the union in your workplace. This introduction class is a great first step!

Questions? Contact the branch secretary by email or by calling 503-893-2382.

Need childcare in order to participate? Email our Junior Wobblies coordinator ASAP to talk about options.

Facebook event page.

Transatlantic Workers Focus On Same Company

Jeld-WenWritten by Bill B. (Portland IWW)

The Sheffield IWW Branch contacted the International Solidarity Commission in late 2014 requesting aid in getting in contact with Marty of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers in Klamath Falls, Oregon, USA. Klamath Falls organizers are in the process of organizing Jeld-­Wen Industries. The Sheffield, England plant had been an independent company, but has since become a Jeld-­Wen division due to a buyout. Working conditions have deteriorated considerably since that time.

FW Bill B. of the Portland IWW Branch boarded the Coast Starlight heading south, and as the winter sun sank early in the west, the train made its way through the wild and snowy Cascade Mountains of Oregon. Cell (mobile) phone connectivity disappeared, only to be restored as the train approached Klamath Falls an hour late and just as the hands of the clock neared midnight.

Bill and Marty arranged to meet for breakfast the next morning. The IAMAW was threatened with gun violence by a Jeld-­Wen manager while picketing on public property outside the local plant. It perhaps goes without saying that threats of that nature are illegal. Workers at Jeld­-Wen receive strong anti­-union indoctrination upon hiring and are told that if a union representative speaks with them and they don’t immediately report it to management, they will be fired. Firing for union activity is also illegal. However workers in Klamath Falls are cowed, and feel “lucky to have a job.” It is also a small town, and word gets around.

Jeld-WenDick Wendt, said to be very anti­-union, founded Jeld­-Wen in 1960. He died in 2010 and his sons began divesting portions of the company. Onex Corporation, based in Toronto, recently purchased a controlling interest in Jeld-­Wen and has moved some of its management functions to North Carolina, including its CEO. This was said to be due to the fact that the new CEO did not want to move to Klamath Falls. It should also be noted that North Carolina is much more hostile to union organizing.

A large manufacturing complex remains in the town and is one of its largest employers. Bill and Marty drove around the various factory buildings and took photographs of the plant and its surroundings. These include a golf course. The late Mr. Wentz was very interested in sports and hoped to bring the winter Olympics to Klamath Falls. The Jeld­-Wen name was on the Portland soccer (football) stadium for a number of years.

IWW members in Sheffield are anxious to work in concert with organizing efforts in Klamath Falls. Here is to a long and productive association!

Oregon Canvassers Workers Push for Unionization at Union-Funded Workplace

Seven workers and union activists head toward the office on September 17, just before the morning shift begins, debating how to enter. Should they all parade in together? What if lower management is out front smoking before the shift begins? Should they go in early, or wait until the day’s canvassers are already inside?

They agree to head in together in a show of solidarity, a few minutes before the bell rings. As the workers file in the front door, their union representatives in tow, management declares that outside people are not allowed to enter during business hours.

“Don’t worry, we won’t be long,” says Jonathan Steiner, a rep for the United Campaign Workers, a project of the Industrial Workers of the World Workers. The workers and their union representatives enter and declare there is announcement to be made: They have joined a union and are inviting other workers to join them.

Read the FULL STORY at In These Times

Street Canvassing for Good Causes: The Worst Job in Town?

Outside of coffee shops and bookstores, crowded Whole Foods stores and worker-run co-ops nationwide, you‘re bound to find canvassers asking for donations or signatures in support of a host of causes. They’re often young people shaking the can for high-profile nonprofits. But as we get deeper into the post-crash precarious economy, the image of canvassers as idealistic college students making a few extra bucks on summer break quickly disintegrates. People are turning to this occupation as their primary source of income, according to many active campaigners. They are hired by independently contracted companies to canvas for nonprofits. The quotas are demanding, making the work one of the most difficult low-wage jobs to hold on to.

In Portland, Oregon, one union local as formed precisely to take on this precarious world of street canvassing, and they are growing at a pace no one could have predicted.

Last week, the United Campaign Workers union, an affiliate of the Portland Industrial Workers of the World, announced its second organized workplace in its less than two months of existence. (The first was the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp.)

Read the full story here.

Starbucks Workers Union Releases Critical Report on Starbucks

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Sarah Madden, Sarah.starbucksworkersunion@gmail.com

August 12, 2014

Starbucks Workers Union Releases Critical Report on Starbucks

Company Enriches Shareholders While Maintaining Inadequate Working Conditions

NEW YORK, NY – The Industrial Workers of the World, Starbucks Workers Union released a report today, “Low Wages and Grande Profits at Starbucks” with an analysis of company performance over the last decade. The report describes how Starbucks has dramatically improved profitability at the company since the Great Recession of 2008-2009, and that the company has enriched shareholders at the expense of its nearly 200,000 workers.

The report finds that “an analysis of company performance and staffing before and after the Great Recession of 2008-2009 shows that the stores are now staffed at a lower level, workers are working harder, and they are bringing in much more profit for the company. Instead of funding a living wage for workers, the company has transferred almost $4 billion to shareholders in the past few years, equivalent to over $3 per hour for every worker at the company.”

At a time when retail and fast food workers are organizing for higher wages and the right to organize a union, the working conditions at Starbucks remain inadequate for its “partners” to support a family. Despite the company’s reputation for social responsibility, barista wages are often below the $9.00/hour national median wage. Many workers also lack access to affordable health care, with less than half of the workers participating in the company health plan. There is also erratic scheduling and inadequate hours, with many workers assigned only 20-30 hours per week.

The report calls on the company to compensate its workers with a living wage, ensure better store staffing and scheduling, and respect the workers’ rights to organize a union. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has expressed support for a federal minimum wage increase, but he has the ability to raise wages dramatically for workers at the company now.

Former Starbucks workers Sarah Madden states “The wages and hours at Starbucks result in poverty level compensation, and consistent and stable scheduling is important for workers. Companies like Starbucks claim to offer ’flexible scheduling’ as a benefit of employment. This means workers are given 7 to 1 day notice for their work times and hours vary week to week, making it nearly impossible to schedule doctor’s appointments, plan for childcare, get and keep a second job or internship and maintain a budget.”

The report can be found here.

WORKED Discussion Nights

WORKED Discussion Nights are a space for workers* to learn, share and act. Come share struggles and successes, learn from peers and allies, and strategize ways to take action on our dreams of fair and democratic workplaces.
6:30-8:30pm
Back Stage Bar – 3702 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Kimball Room on the 3rd Floor

Three different Discussion Nights include:

  • May 29 – Office Space: Surviving the Modern Workplace
  • June 12 – Serving the Community: Work in the Nonprofit and Public Sector
  • June 26 – Precarious Life: Internships, Temp Work, and Underemployment

Free food and drinks!

RSVP here to let us know that you can make it to any of the WORKED Discussion Nights.

*Work doesn’t always get a paycheck! Students, interns, and volunteer and unemployed workers are encouraged to join the conversation. To build a space for all workers, we ask that employers and supervisors with hiring/firing power not attend. Please be prepared to be respectful, supportive, maintain confidentiality and promote a safer space.

May Day 2014 in PDX!

Fellow Workers!

On Thursday, May 1, we invite you to march with the I.W.W. during the May Day celebration in downtown Portland!

ALL WORKERS are welcome to join us! Our strength lies in our numbers, and working class solidarity is our goal and the tool with which we will create a better society within the shell of the old.

We’ll see YOU on May Day, at Park Ave. & SW Main St. in downtown Portland, at 3:00pm!

(look for the red balloons!)

May Day 2014 – People Over Profit! on Facebook

March with the I.W.W. on May Day!

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