How Many More Times? Democrats Side with Bosses Over Rail Workers!

Enough 14

Statement of Vermont AFL-CIO President David Van Deusen:

  • Democratic Party Fucks Over Rail Workers!
  • Rail Workers To Receive ZERO Paid Sick Days!
  • Rail’s Right To Strike Outlawed For This Contract Cycle!

 

U.S. Rail Unions went into this bargaining season with not a single day of paid sick leave in their Contract. Achieving paid sick leave was the top priority of Union members. And today, because of an act of Congress and because of the latest Democratic Party betrayal (the latest in a long line of betrayals), they still have no sick leave.

Every Union member and working class man and woman and child in the United States of America should be livid right now. President Joe Biden (a Democrat), the Democratic Party leadership in the House and Senate, and the vast majority of Democratic (& Republican) Party politicians in the Capital just fucked over Rail workers and sided with the billionaire bosses again. The Rail corporations, after years of record profits, shall not be required to pay workers if they have to miss a day of work due to illness. This is bullshit.

No matter how the Democratic Party apologists try to spin it, Congress had the power to grant Unionized Rail workers paid sick leave, willfully chose to not do so, and then imposed a contract which was voted DOWN by the rank & file of four Unions representing a majority of Rail workers in this country. The Democrats in the House chose to send TWO bills to the Senate (instead of tying the sick leave to the TA), and it was the Democrats again in the Senate who REFUSED to abolish the filibuster (which takes a simple majority) and instead agreed to a 60 vote threshold to pass the sick leave bill. And even after the sick leave bill failed to get the 60 votes, the great majority Democrats still voted to impose the TA. And in so doing, Congress also effectively outlawed strike activity in the Rail sector for this contract cycle. Thus the betrayal of Labor falls on the Democrats.

This is a huge win for the billionaire railroad owners, CEOs, investors, and the capitalist ruling class of the USA. And given that the two major political parties on the national stage are both firmly supported by the elite (and side with the elite at every crucial juncture), this was also a predictable outcome from the start (as was the failure of the Democrats to pass the PRO Act last year). As sad and sickening as this may be, it is a truth we must reckon with.

The national Democratic Party is NOT the friend of Labor. They are a capitalist party organized to represent the interests of the bosses. And even while they lack degrees of evil exhibited by the increasingly fascist Republican Party, we must not be so confused as to think them allies. They, like the Republicans, are a force we must struggle against (not within). If our collective aspirations as a Labor Movement is to see an empowerment of working people, these are realities we must come to grips with.

So long as the two major national parties are the Democrats (big capitalists) and the Republicans (capitalists with a fascist trajectory), we would be wise to soberly understand that the true power of workers will never be realized through supporting the better of two bad candidates in an election or spending tens of millions of dollars of PAC money to prop up a party which does not support us.

No, my friends, our true power can only be found in our labor, through our solidarity, in the factories, on the job sites, in our shops, in our communities, and by way of those actions we collectively choose to take outside bounds of the preferred limits of engagement set forth by the rigged system created by our class enemies. President Joe Biden is NOT pro-Union (even if he displays less visceral hatred of us than did Donald Trump). Congress is not pro-Union. And neither party will do the right thing unless and until they fear us.

So, let us channel our anger and put our focus and attention towards the hard task of organizing, let us be unafraid to call out and name our enemies, and let us build our Labor Movement into a force which puts the Fear of God into the hearts of those who would side with billionaires and millionaires over the people. And should the Rail Unions and their members choose to withhold their labor (act of Congress be damned), let us stand side by side with them as Brothers and Sisters, come what may, until victory, unbowed!

David Van Deusen

President of The Vermont AFL-CIO

‘Don’t Pay’ or ‘Enough is Enough’: The role of workers’ vanguards in the current moment – Lessons to learn from GKN workers in Italy and others

Angry Workers

There are moments when a particular group of workers can become the political focus for the wider working class. They can act as a pole of attraction, they can become a conduit for a wider program and new forms of struggle.

The current wave of strikes in Britain shows that significant sections of the working class feel both the need and ability to defend their own interests. It has come at a point in the deepening crisis where the mainstream political establishment is unable to present meaningful state-driven solutions.

In desperation, the controlling Tory party has ditched Johnson and created several months of vacuum where they don’t even pretend to generate plans to ease hardships. That convulsion in the governing party is not unique to Britain. Unable to respond to crisis and pacify the population, governments elsewhere in Western Europe have also dissolved. In France, Macron’s party have lost control of the National Assembly and, in Italy, Draghi’s coalition government has collapsed.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the British Labour Party has been intent on showing themselves as the next Government to prop up the capitalist status quo in Britain. They are so keen to prove that point that, week in, week out, they have gone to great lengths to distance themselves from struggling workers.

While the absence of a plan is lamented by the reformists, we think it opens up an opportunity to strengthen the chance for workers’ struggles to progress from singular defensive battles to a wider political program for the working class.

Things are churning

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AngryWorkers’ Daily Dose of Class Hatred #4

AngryWorkers

Their borders – Our misery…

(This text was written a few days before the most recent tragedy in the Channel, during which 27 people drowned)

Syrian man found dead on Polish side of border with Belarus
Polish police say cause of death not determined after body discovered in woods near village of Wolka Terechowska.
“A forest worker informed the police about finding the body of a young man,” Tomasz Krupa, a Podlaska police spokesman, told Reuters.
“It is a young man of Syrian nationality around 20 years old,” Krupa said. It was not possible to determine the cause of death at the scene, he added.
At least nine people are reported to have died in the migration.

Death and misery has returned to an area of Europe which was the scene of unimaginable slaughter and destruction during the two 20th century imperialist bloodbaths. Today, the imperialist rivalries remain at a level of hostage taking, cyber attacks, altering the flow of resources, building alliances and eroding the opponents’ blocs and so on. The immediate trigger for the horrors in Eastern Europe has been the decision by the Belarus state to tempt refugees to fly to the capital Minsk from where they are moved to the border areas with Poland, Lithuania or Latvia – all part of “Fortress Europe”. The thousands of refugees already at or heading for the border between Belarus (an ally of Russia) and the states in the European Union (also part of NATO and the EU’s own military arrangements) are the pawns in the game of world capitalism in crisis.

Those are the particular features behind that hell hole but across the world desperation forces migration. In the deepening horrors of the 21st century, wars without end, ecological disasters and the absence of any hope of adequate paid work all overlap to make starvation, at whatever tempo, the only alternative.

Our siblings drown in the English Channel or Mediterranean, they suffocate in sealed lorries, have their primitive settlements and shacks destroyed and are beaten or worse by the state forces. Their possessions and money are sucked away by the “people traffickers”, now including the travel operators and airlines who flew desperate people to Minsk. Many of those who reach their “promised land” are enslaved by the gangs who robbed their money, gambled with their lives and still brutally control them and their family members that stayed behind.

For the bosses, we’re all “It”s of this or that nationality fit to be transported, trapped and tormented according to the whims of capital. Despite the systems of production and exchange having spanned the world for more than 100 years, it suits the bosses to keep their national states and to exercise their strength and control in each area.

In the case of the atrocities at the borders of Belarus it is poisonous for us to try and argue in favour of one set of state gangsters or another. The delusions of “national identity” and support for “our” national state and borders have always meant death and suffering for workers. Lest we forget!

Bristol CEX solidarity pickets.

Bristol Solidarity Federation have picketed electrical goods retailer CEX in solidarity with their workers in Barcelona who have suffered bullying, dismissal and unfair disciplinary measures.

Multinational CEX may be known to you a seller of video games but it also becoming known as terrible exploiter of worker’s rights. One serious concern is how a CNT-AIT member has been not allowed a reduction of hours even the care for a child, actions will continue until their demands are met.

Solidarity Federation is the British section of the International Workers’ Association (IWA-AIT)

An injury to one is an injury to all.

National Labour Relations Board Rules in Favour of Voodoo Doughnuts Workers

IWW-NARA

On October 6, 2021 NLRB found merit in and are reaching a settlement to bring back Voodoo Doughnut staff who were fired during a strike in June of 2021

Portland, OR — On October 6th, 2021, Doughnut Workers United-IWW (DWU) received word from the National Labor Relations Board that 7 of the 9 striking workers who were terminated will have their jobs reinstated with back pay upon the conclusion of our most recent Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) charge against Voodoo Doughnut. DWU was informed that two ULPs have settled in the union’s favour. These ULPs include charges concerning topics of managerial surveillance, the posting of union information in communal work spaces, workers entering the building off the clock, as well as the recall of seven of the nine terminated workers who were fired for going on a health and safety strike around the growing concerns of temperatures inside the restaurant, knowingly in direct violation of the national labor law.

In June of 2021, twelve workers went on strike due to

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Another Bournemouth TEFL case: bogus contracts at Anglo-Continental School of English.

In June 2021 a language teacher who we shall call ‘Jo’ asked us to help prepare a case against Anglo-Continental School of English regarding the fraudulent use of “fixed term contracts” after reading about the successful outcome for staff at Kaplan School.

Jo started work at Anglo-Continental on a fixed term contract in 2010. This ended when the school closed for its December break. Jo returned to the school in January and the contract was extended for one year.

This pattern was repeated over the next eight years. They worked in the same job at the same site for at least 11 months each year with 4 weeks paid holiday, being upgraded to Co-ordinator in the summer months. The HR manager even admitted they had to break the contract annually to deny them full employment rights; often when they requested a holiday they were given a P45.

After four years, according to UK employment law, Jo became a permanent employee by default, however they were never informed of this fact by management (a breach of its contractual duty of “trust and confidence”).

In March 2020 the school shut and Jo was put on ‘furlough’ until 31st July. Their contract was then terminated on the grounds there was no work; in law this is simply ‘dismissal by reason of redundancy’. They were not consulted over redundancy selection nor told of their entitlement to compensation (another contractual breach).

Had Jo contacted the union at the time we would of course have taken it to tribunal. Unfortunately these cases are time limited but we believe if a sum is owed to a Fellow Worker, it remains owed until it is paid.

In March 2021 Jo returned to the school with a new contract which ran until they took a week off on 4th June after which it was again renewed.

In July the TEFL union wrote claiming compensation and passed the casework to Dorset branch. Within days Jo was fired. Dismissals for Trade Union activity and ‘whistle-blowing’ are automatically unfair so no need to quibble over length of service. We’ve now exhausted the grievance procedure and ACAS Conciliation so we are, at last, taking it to the Employment Tribunal.

Sinister: Guido Shillig

We have sight of internal e-mails that show Anglo-continental as a dysfunctional organisation with no clear demarcation of responsibility (and a limited grasp of the English language). Five members of staff, including senior managers were overruled on a whim of their sinister boss Guido Shillig, who we’re told “doesn’t like unionists”.

The IWW will not rest until we obtain for our members the full fruits of their labour. If you teach English as a foreign language join the TEFL union and help put this villain in his place.

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IWW (WISE-RA) joins ICL-CIT

IWW WISE-RA 11th September 2021 Fellow Workers,

It gives me great delight to inform you that we are now members of the ICL-CIT, thus strengthening our ties with Fellow Workers and, importantly, other anarcho-syndicalist and revolutionary unions, internationally. For those of you less familiar with this organisation, their project is exactly the same as ours, namely:

Its main goal is to contribute to deep social and economic transformation worldwide.

Our membership to the ICL-CIT will ensure that we remain focused on our project of empowering workers at a grassroots level, while also enabling us to co-ordinate the use of the weapons we have at our disposal in our fight against the forces of capitalism.

If you would like to get involved, please get in touch.

In solidarity, William Sharkey Secretary for the IWW (WISE-RA)

The Great Pause – Seven interviews on Covid with workers in India.

Angry Workers

“We were always told one must work to survive, but for the first time we witnessed a situation where to stay alive, one must stop working.”— A factory worker in Delhi (Our friend and comrade Anumeha Yadav interviewed male and female workers in different industries about their experiences during and after Covid.

We document these interviews here. We engaged in similar interviews here in the UK, if you haven’t read them yet, check out the summary) When the central government announced a lockdown with four hours-notice on March 24th, workers responded in multiple ways. Some queued up for hours to get food rations as relief, others walked or cycled over hundreds of kilometers, leaving slums and the work-sites they reside in, to return to villages for wheat harvest or paddy planting, or to be with their families during a health emergency. Most of these workers lacked any formal contracts and association. But they organised at work-sites to demand being allowed to return to their homes in villages. At many sites, the agitations even turned violent. The government was pressured to run special trains to labour-surplus regions in north and east India.

After June 2020, work steadily resumed at construction sites, commercial establishments including shops, malls, factories, workshops, offices, though with changes. The coronavirus pandemic strained international links in production, and the movement of people across the globe for daily business. The State as well as corporations recalibrated production. Firms cut back operations in some areas, but also expanded into new markets and opportunities, such as in bio-tech, or home deliveries.

Organizations used the flux created by Covid-19 to

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Always Against Prison — From Hamilton to Minneapolis by Northshore Counter Info

It’s Going Down

Report back on banner drop in solidarity with five people facing serious charges following a New Year’s Eve noise demonstration in so-called Minneapolis.

This evening, we dropped a banner over highway 403 going towards Toronto in solidarity with the five people in Minneapolis facing serious felony charges in connection to a New Year’s eve noise demo in that city. Although we’re glad all five are out on bail, the arrests and charges mark a significant escalation of repression against an international anarchist tradition.

In our region, New Year’s noise demos started in 2009 in response to a hunger strike campaign by anarchist prisoners, and we have kept doing them every year since. These demos let us a share a moment of celebration with prisoners, breaking the alienation through direct action. As an international tradition, they are also a thread that connects us to anarchists elsewhere, allowing us to exchange ideas and tactics with people whose contexts are quite different than ours.

We can only imagine how the context in Minneapolis has shifted following the uprising. Struggle can seem so slow sometimes, building little by little, year by year. But then you get periods like this summer. It seems calmer now, but the same kind of state violence and impunity continues: we read about how there was another police murder in south Minneapolis this past week, and how the cop who murdered Jacob Blake in Kenosha was not charged.

As anarchists, our hostility towards police and prisons doesn’t wait for the streets to fill. Conflict with those institutions is permanent and we engage on our own terms. Going out on a freezing winter night to set off fire works for prisoners is unlikely to ever be very popular, but we all do it because it’s a meaningful expression of our values. Even if it means that repression often falls heaviest on those who don’t wait for movements to act and who don’t stop acting when they fade.

Massive movements like this summer’s are incredibly powerful though, and struggling alongside others is the best way to learn and grow. This is why international exchanges are so important, because for us here in Hamilton, if we were waiting for the streets to fill, we would be waiting a long time. And relationships of solidarity also mean you’re not alone in the hard times.

Reading reflections from like-minded people in the Twin Cities about the George Floyd rebellion has given us incredible inspiration. Although dropping a banner isn’t much, we hope to send a bit of that strength and courage back your way.

Always Against Prison!
From Hami to Mpls:
For a Fiery 2021!

Ben Fletcher, Wobbly Organiser

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)

In the early twentieth century, the majority of US unions excluded Black and Asian workers. The IWW welcomed Black and Asian workers warmly with an emphasis on class solidarity with their motto “An injury to one is an injury to all”. Ben Fletcher is of one of the greatest working class heroes in American history.

Local 8 dock workers

Ben was an amazing organiser who was well loved by his comrades. Fletcher helped found and lead Local 8 of the IWW Marines Transport Workers Industrial Union. The Local 8 organised the city’s longshoremen in Philadelphia and was the largest and most powerful IWW branch in the mid-Atlantic. This branch was without doubt the most powerful interracial union of its era: members took a stand against all forms of xenophobia and exclusion.

"Notice! Seamen and longshoremen" poster

Ben played a pivotal role in the decade long campaign in Philadelphia’s waterfront. The majority of his writing and speeches came in this period. He was an important figure within the union as he was a part of a racially diverse leadership. Ben was a wobbly through and through – he was unapologetic and a radical who envisioned a postcapitalist revolutionary society. However his vision did not stop him from engaging in the reform struggle. The wobblies’ antiracist component of their radical vision was central to the day to day union that Fletcher advanced.

“I have been identified with the Labor Movement—twenty years, and I am at a safe distance from forty yet. Nineteen of those years have been spent in the ranks of the IWW and this long ago I have come to know that, the Industrial Unionism as proposed and practiced  by the IWW is all sufficient for the teeming millions who must labor for others in order to stay on this planet, and more, it is the economic vehicle that will enable the Negro Workers to burst every bond of Racial Prejudice, Industrial and political inequalities  and social ostracism.” –Ben Fletcher

This article is part of a series of posts on Black History Month.