via Abolition Media Worldwide (if you can't view the video, click the link)
To combat the rise of neo-fascist street movements in #Ukraine, a group of anarchist are training and organising on the streets of Kyiv. Popular Front is the first to film with them. New doc out soon.Tags: ukraine
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti recently announced the city is scrapping plans for a multi-billion-dollar update to three natural gas power plants, instead choosing to invest in renewable energy and storage.
“This is the beginning of the end of natural gas in Los Angeles,” said Mayor Garcetti. “The climate crisis demands that we move more quickly to end dependence on fossil fuel, and that’s what today is all about.”
As a new series from the sustainability think tank the Sightline Institute points out, the idea of natural gas as a bridge fuel is “alarmingly deceptive.”
But signs are emerging that, despite oil and gas industry efforts to shirk blame for the climate crisis and promote gas as part of a “lower-carbon fuel mix,” the illusion of natural gas as a bridge fuel is starting to crumble.Tags: cost of renewable energynatural gasNatural Gas Bridge FuelDonald Trumpcoal plants
The cause is still a mystery but the impact of a dangerous chronic kidney disease was so overwhelming that the Nicaraguan town La Isla had been rechristened La Isla de las Viudas, or, the island of windows.
Back in 2011, our reporter Sasha Chavkin investigated the chronic kidney disease, or CKD, that afflicted male agricultural workers in Central America, including Nicaragua.
An International Consortium of Investigative Journalists analysis of World Health Organization data found that kidney failure killed more than 2,800 men in the region from 2005 to 2009. At the time of reporting, CKD was the second leading cause of death in El Salvador.
Yet, the workers didn’t show significant rates of hypertension or diabetes, the leading causes of CKD in North America.Recommended reading
Researchers floated multiple theories, including one that suggested the pesticides for the crops were exposing the workers to harm, and another that proposed heat stress from overworking was slowly damaging the kidneys.
In response to the epidemic, Nicaragua’s largest plantations began testing their workers’ blood creatinine, a chemical that indicates kidney function. If the results showed high creatinine, an indicator of CKD, workers would be let go.
Maudiel Martinez, a 19-year-old laborer, was dismissed after testing positive for CKD but came back to work under a fake identity. Martinez had to support his family financially — the young sugar worker had already lost his father and grandfather to the illness, and then, he and his older brothers were facing the same fate.
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“This disease eats our kidneys from inside us,” Martinez told us. “We don’t want to die, and we feel grief because we already know that we’re hopeless.”
The post From the Archives: What wiped out these Central American sugarcane workers? appeared first on ICIJ.
The post Education, Infrastructure, Insurrection: Mark Bray on Francisco Ferrer and the Modern School appeared first on It's Going Down.
On this episode of the It’s Going Down podcast, we welcome back to the program Mark Bray, an anarchist, a historian, and author of Antifa: The Antifascist Handbook and Translating Anarchy. In his new new book, Anarchist Education and the Modern School: A Francisco Ferrer Reader, which is also edited by Robert H. Haworth, Bray brings forth a new collection of writings, some translated for the first time in English, about the infamous Spanish anarchist Francisco Ferrer and the movement that he helped shape, The Modern School.
Ferrer entered into revolutionary politics at a dangerous and tumultuous time; a period of riots, revolts, and assassination attempts against pillars of authority within both the Church, State, and capital. Originally drawn to the Republican movement in Spain, Ferrer became an anarchist and around in 1901 set up the first Modern School, an anti-clerical and anarchist influenced network of schools which sought to radically transform the world of education. Soon, Ferrer’s works had spread throughout the world, yet only several years later, Ferrer would be put to death by the State, accused of having taken part in a plot to kill the Spanish King, despite a world wide campaign to save him.
Despite his passing, the movement and school system that he inspired spread across the world and Spain. As the anarchist movement grew, it incorporated the Modern Schools into its larger program, and forever changed the face of non-compulsory education in the process.
Throughout our interview we talk about the role that the Modern Schools had within the larger movement, how they were organized, how they spread out across Spain and later the world, the complicated political world and movements that Ferrer walked within, the interplay between the labor movement and insurrectionary activity, and also how Ferrer’s ideas continued to influence people and educators long after his death.
The post #BlockTheWall Hits the Streets As Anger Grows Against Trump appeared first on It's Going Down.
#BlockTheWall actions kicked off this week in response to Trump’s so-called emergency orders, which are attempting to plunder even more money for wall construction on the border. The current push by Trump is happening at a time of massive social anger at the administration and antipathy towards the State in general, rising economic anxiety, and increasing strike action. Meanwhile, much to the disdain of the political class, news of the brutality of the border regime and its police continues to seep out into the wider public, despite a near media blackout and attempts by both the US and Mexican government to keep news and images of attacks against migrants and detainees from the public. In response to these growing contradictions, the far-Right press and Trump himself has continued to revert back to cold war era demonizing of “socialism” as yet another boogeyman.View this post on Instagram
Trump may have declared a bullshit state of emergency, but for millions of people facing deportation, eviction, debt, imprisonment, or furlough, the capitalist state IS the emergency. Who can save us? We can! The current crisis has brought with it inspirational victories and new patterns for resistance — from airport occupations (which stopped the first Muslim ban), to teachers strikes (which contested neoliberal austerity), to air traffic controller and flight attendant sickouts (which ended the government shutdown). "We refuse to choose between Trump’s openly racist wall and the Democrats’ implicitly racist 'smart border.' … We choose another way: freedom of movement, solidarity, and mutual aid." #blockthewall #thestateistheemergency #abolishICE #noborders #nooneisillegal #firestormcoop #coopsnotcops (Beck & Libertie)
A post shared by Firestorm Books & Coffee (@firestormcoop) on Feb 17, 2019 at 9:48am PST
#BlockTheWall actions are also taking place against a backdrop of the release of new data showing that arrests at the border are at a recent all time low, while yet another migrant has tragically died while in a detention facility after repeatedly asking staff for medical care. These deaths in custody are not flukes or abnormalities, but part of a continued pattern of violence, that as one report wrote:
[A]re only part of a larger litany of Customs and Border Protection agency-related violence inside the US. Encounters have proven deadly for at least 97 people – citizens and non-citizens – since 2003, a count drawn from settlement payment data, court records, use of force logs, incident reports and news articles.
As The Intercept pointed out, this brutality comes out of decades of white supremacist and Nativist opposition to Mexican migrants that at times has even flown in the face of the drive by the business class to exploit Mexican labor:
The 1924 Immigration Act tapped into a xenophobia with deep roots in the U.S. history. The law effectively eliminated immigration from Asia and sharply reduced arrivals from southern and eastern Europe. Most countries were now subject to a set quota system, with the highest numbers assigned to western Europe. As a result, new arrivals to the United States were mostly white Protestants. Nativists were largely happy with this new arrangement, but not with the fact that Mexico, due to the influence of U.S. business interests that wanted to maintain access to low-wage workers, remained exempt from the quota system. “Texas needs these Mexican immigrants,” said the state’s Chamber of Commerce.
Having lost the national debate when it came to restricting Mexicans, white supremacists — fearing that the country’s open-border policy with Mexico was hastening the “mongrelization” of the United States — took control of the U.S. Border Patrol, also established in 1924, and turned it into a frontline instrument of race vigilantism. As the historian Kelly Lytle Hernández has shown, the patrol’s first recruits were white men one or two generations removed from farm life. Some had a military or county sheriff background, while others transferred from border-town police departments or the Texas Rangers — all agencies with their own long tradition of unaccountable brutality. Their politics stood in opposition to the big borderland farmers and ranchers. They didn’t think that Texas — or Arizona, New Mexico, and California — needed Mexican migrants.
Other patrollers were members of the resurgent Ku Klux Klan, active in border towns from Texas to California. “Practically every other member” of El Paso’s National Guard “was in the Klan,” one military officer recalled, and many had joined the Border Patrol upon its establishment.
Polls show that the vast majority of Americans are opposed to Trump’s wall, and currently the project is being attacked by a variety of lawsuits from State and tribal governments to home owners who’s dwellings are threatened with wall construction.
And on the streets, opposition is also building. The #BlockTheWall call was signed onto and supported by almost 50 organizations, groups, networks, and media projects, and brought together a variety of black liberation, antifascist, anti-colonial, anarchist, and autonomous anti-capitalist groups from across the country. Actions so far have ranged from marches and rallies, to mutual aid project and benefits.
Unlike much of the Left, which over the last few years has focused on pushing the Democrats into taking a more “progressive” stance, the #BlockTheWall call rejected both Trump’s push for a symbolic representation of white supremacy, along with the Democrats’ version of a “smart wall,” which would expand and normalize counter-insurgency techniques already being used by US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan across the border. Both strategies would continue to criminalize migrants, while at the same time continuing to push thousands towards their deaths in brutal border crossings. Unsurprisingly, these policies would do nothing to stop the opioid epidemic, human trafficking, or “crime,” and will only help to further militarize US society while also wasting billions in tax payer money.
The #BlockTheWall actions are also not happening in a vacuum. As we speak, hunger strikes are taking place in Boston and El Paso, Texas at migrant detention facilities. Outside, people are rallying and making noise in solidarity. Strikes are also being carried out by teachers, often involving tens of thousands of workers as well as whole communities which are showing solidarity and refusing to attend school.
The push by the elites to defund education and strip social services is part of the same attack which in turn seeks to militarize the border and all aspects of our lives. Using the fear of migrants and caravans, both parities are hoping to not only push forward a repressive agenda, but moreover, keep their broader program of class war, tax cuts for the wealthy, and mass accumulation of wealth and power from going unchecked and unchallenged.
We hope that the energy shown in #BlockTheWall is part of a larger push – one that sees the upcoming elections as a total force. The path forward is building, fighting, and organizing on our own terms – not theirs.ROUNDUP OF ACTIONS
Portland, OR: Community rally and speak out was organized.
— OCCUPY ICE PDX (@OccupyICEPDX) February 19, 2019
Olympia, OR: Over 80 people held a community gathering and then a march.
What a day!
☑️Shut down a bank for investing in the border
☑️Made new connections with each other
☑️Let people know that we don't want the Trump wall or a Smart wall
☑️Raised Funds for immigrant solidarity projects
☑️No Buisness as usual with the rise of fascism#BlockTheWall pic.twitter.com/Z4PCp6W5XR
— Olympia Stand (@Olystand) February 21, 2019
— It's Going Down (@IGD_News) February 21, 2019
— bⒶby grl (@crimethot) February 21, 2019
San Francisco, CA: Unpermitted march took to the streets, blocking traffic.
#BlockTheWall Direct Action in San Francisco (occupied Ohlone Territory) in solidarity with the nationwide call to action. #FakeTrumpEmergency #RefugeeCrisis #CentralAmericanExodus #endUSimperialism pic.twitter.com/AceOoaT3ep
— Caravan Support Network #AsylumSeekers #Exodus (@CaravanaSupport) February 20, 2019
Tucson, AZ: Night time march takes place with flares and banners.
— No More Deaths (@NoMoreDeaths) February 21, 2019
Tornillo, TX: People mobilized outside of the Tornillo detention facility and also outside of the El Paso detention facility, where a hunger strike is currently happening. People also protested inside of the Border Patrol museum, where some stickers were put up memorializing people that had died at the hands of the border patrol and in detention centers.
Interview with Juan Mancias at the Butterfly Center in Mission, TX after the walk from Bentsen State Park
由 Somi Se’k Village Base Camp 发布于 2019年2月16日周六
Austin, TX: Block party was organized featuring music, food, and literature.
— Kit O'Connell (@KitOConnell) February 20, 2019
— Autonomous Student Network ATX (@AutoNetAtx) February 21, 2019
Denver, CO: Rally at the capitol held, money raised for support organizations.
— Workers' Initiative for Liberation & Defense (@WILDFrontRange) February 19, 2019
Columbus, OH: Rally and speak out.
— ColumbusSanctuaryCol (@CbusSanctuary) February 19, 2019
Dwight, IL: Rally against ICE facility organized.
We're here in Dwight trying to shut this ICE camp down!!!!! pic.twitter.com/FedEXLPtJN
— Marilyn Buck Edukation Comittee (@merlin_buk) February 19, 2019
Carbondale, IL: Rally and march organized.View this post on Instagram
First picture from today. If you have any pictures from today, send em our way if you dont mind. Thanks for the awesome demo today y'all. #blockthewall! #socialism #dsa #memes #political #politicalmemes #demsoc #capitalism #midwest #siu #siuc #southern #southernillinois #blockthewall #solidarity #crimthinc #carbondale #carbondaleillinois #flyover #abolishice #meltice #aoc #berniesanders #bernie2020 #sanders2020 #sanders #bernie
A post shared by SIU YDSA (@siuydsa) on Feb 20, 2019 at 1:33pm PST
Bloomington, IN: Rally on campus organized.
Thanks to everyone who came out today! #Bloomington will keep fighting to #blockthewall and make #refugeeswelcome. #FakeTrumpEmergency @UndocuHoosiers @YDSABloomington @idsnews @BtownJustice @WIUXRadioSur @bloomingtweeps @wfhbradio @WFIUNews pic.twitter.com/fl9jp0L3oM
— IU on Strike (@IUonStrike) February 20, 2019
Nashvillle, TN: Banner was dropped.
— JAM CITY ANTIFA (@JamCityAntifa) February 18, 2019
DC: Street march blocked traffic. Mutual aid events were also organized.
— Tree|H@US (@TreeHausCo) February 18, 2019
— BlackLivesMatter DC (@DMVBlackLives) February 18, 2019View this post on Instagram
A post shared by #BlocktheWall (@blockthewall123) on Feb 19, 2019 at 10:57am PST
Carrboro, NC: Banners placed up around town.
— Toughie Tees (@ToughestTees) February 20, 2019
Tampa, FL: Banners dropped, protest held.
— OccupyICE Tampa (@OccupyICETPA) February 20, 2019
Boston, MA: Noise demonstration in solidarity with ICE detainees on hunger strike.
— Trevor Culhane (@trevordculhane) February 22, 2019
Philadelphia, PA: Rally was organized against ICE.
Earlier today in Philadelphia, PA, around 9 AM, #AbolishICE protesters created a noisy disruption outside the ICE office during morning traffic.
They said they were joining in a national response to President Trump declaring a state of emergency to fund his border wall. pic.twitter.com/TzV4X3uMND
— Unicorn Riot (@UR_Ninja) February 20, 2019
From Anarchy Bang
This week we will try to have an conversation about the end of the world. Which end of the world? You decide. It could be that the end of the world will be due to climate change or a third world war. It could the end of insects (and therefore agriculture as we know it) or the end of arable land due to it having blown away. The world, or the human centric world, or the world meaning the petro-economy, or civilization as we know it may end. Will it be in our life time? Will it be with a whimper or a bang? What assumptions do we make, every day, that the world will be here tomorrow? Will it?
Sunday at noon (PST or -8 UTC) at https://anarchybang.com/
Email questions ahead if you like
The real time IRC is a chaotic mess (and pleasure). There are better ways to connect to IRC but it involves some reading
The call in number is (646) 787-8464
You can also send in a recorded message to our email (I'd recommend using https://send.firefox.com/)
NC state board votes for new election in 9th district after Harris calls for new race | 21 Feb 2019 | After a stunning reversal by Republican Mark Harris, North Carolina election officials Thursday unanimously ordered a new election in the 9th Congressional District, which has gained national attention as the last unresolved House race for the 2018 election. The state elections board's vote came after four days of testimony about what the board's staff called "a coordinated, unlawful, and substantially resourced absentee ballot scheme" in Bladen and Robeson counties. And it came less than an hour after a startling announcement by Harris, who had been fighting to have his apparent victory certified.
U.S. to leave 200 American 'peacekeepers' in Syria after pullout - White House | 21 Feb 2019 | The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday. President Donald Trump in December ordered a withdrawal of the 2,000 American troops in Syria on the defeat of the last remnants of the Islamic State militancy there. But he has been under pressure from some advisers [Deep State dirt-bags] to adjust his policy to ensure the protection of Kurdish forces [!?!] who supported the fight against Islamic State and who might now be threatened by Turkey.
Jussie Smollett Arrested by Chicago Police for 'Publicity Stunt' to Further His Career | 21 Feb 2019 | Empire star Jussie Smollett is in the custody of Chicago police. Smollett turned himself in early Thursday and is now under arrest on a Class 4 felony charge for falsifying a police report, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "Jussie [Smollett] is under arrest and in custody of detectives," CPD spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi announced Thursday morning, adding that a press briefing is expected shortly ahead of Smollett's court appearance. Wednesday, Smollett was formally classified as a suspect by police and subsequently charged.
Roger Stone cannot speak publicly about case, judge rules | 21 Feb 2019 | Federal Judge Amy Berman Jackson on Thursday dramatically restricted Roger Stone's ability to speak publicly about his case after he published an Instagram post with what appeared to be the crosshairs of a gun drawn behind her head. Stone may now not speak publicly about the investigation or the case or any participants in the investigation or the case. "Period," Jackson said. The development will in effect silence one of the most outspoken and politicized former advisers of President Donald Trump, as Stone fights against special counsel Robert Mueller in a case related to his interactions in 2016 with Russians and the Trump campaign.
NJ Senate passes bill that would keep Trump off 2020 ballot unless he releases tax returns | 21 Feb 2019 | The New Jersey state Senate on Thursday overwhelmingly voted to pass a bill that would keep presidential candidates off the state's 2020 ballot unless they release their tax returns. According to the Courier Post, the Democratic-controlled state Senate passed the measure along party lines in a 23-11 vote on Thursday, sending the bill to the Assembly committee and full legislature for a vote before it heads to the desk of Gov. Phil Murphy (D) for consideration. The controversial measure would deny candidates for president and vice president a spot on the state ballot if they do not publicly release five of their most recent tax returns at least 50 days before the general election in 2020.
Lines in the Sand. Glimpses at confrontation. We stand on the edge with immigrants, climate change refugees, and all oppressed and working people of the world against the current rise of fascism. Members of the Lehigh Valley IWW dropped two banners over highway U.S. 22 in response to the Block The Wall call to action.
U.S. 22 is the major local highway that runs through the Lehigh Valley. The banner drop happened early in the morning and went off smoothly. We had painted the banners the night before, set out in the early morning, and zip tied those things to a highway over pass with a fence. The banners were put up right before the morning rush hour traffic and snowstorm that came later that day.
You feel so alive in the early morning, standing on the edge of an overpass, semi-trailers moving below you at 80 mph. The cold in your fingers as you try and grab at bits of banner through the small holes in the fence. Your heart pounds with every truck that passes underneath and behind you. The highway is massive concrete passive experience, zombie-like driving, miles and miles, bombarded with ads, signs and logos. In a small way, we wanted to break the experience of the highway with our spray painted sheets and put something that might get someone to think about what’s going down.
This banner drop was the first direct action done by members of the Lehigh Valley IWW. Our chapter is in the process of reforming after some shitty things done by members that caused the group to break up a couple years ago. The new chapter is all fresh faces and a new start to bring anti-capitalist direct action to the Lehigh Valley. While this banner drop was small, it helped us come together more as an affinity group and was a lot of fun.
The Lehigh Valley is home to many of the warehouses that distribute goods to stores on the East Coast, including Amazon and ACME. On previous farmland, massive warehouses the size of several football fields have risen to meet the needs of the expanding consumer economy. These warehouses are staffed by many immigrant workers that live in Allentown, Bethlehem, and Easton and rural white people who mostly live in the surrounding rural towns. Many of these white workers support Trump and buy into his new brand of American nationalism.
When we went back to retrieve our banners at the end of the day, they were gone. Replaced with a Trump MAGA banner that some asshole probably bought on Amazon. We clipped that shit down and brought it home. We are planning to deface the MAGA banner and put it back up on the highway, a small revenge. Small actions like this give glimpses of what is to come in the Lehigh Valley, direct confrontation with the rising forces of fascism and with immigrants, oppressed peoples, antifascists, and their allies.
We hope to expand to do more mutual aid work, to build coalitions, alliances and expand our membership. We know we have to reach out to the community and work to help meet their needs. However, we want to continue to fight in the battle of imagery and we hope to start posting stickers, wheat pasting and doing other publicly visible imagery.
Our Valley is a strategic location on the East Coast and currently, it seems we are losing a lot of ground to the fascists. We are a small group, and we need to bring more people in. If you have any friends in the Lehigh Valley, or if you have any resources or ideas to share, we appreciate any help we can get.
A detailed look at three ways people go off the grid, plus the pros and cons of each method. From off-grid cabins to living in an RV or Boat, we take a look at the best options. [...]
The post Off Grid Living: A Real-world Guide to Going Off the Grid appeared first on Off Grid Survival - Wilderness & Urban Survival Skills.
If worker co-ops obtain such great outcomes, why aren’t they the dominant way of doing business? Many factors explain their scarcity, from difficulty attracting capital to the simple fact that few know what a worker co-op is. As a result, these businesses control tiny fractions of the market.
On the other end of the spectrum, franchising represents one of the most powerful methods for scaling businesses on the planet. In the US, one in every seven businesses is a franchise, with over 800,000 franchise outlets nationally that employ over 7.6 million people. Critics decry franchises as exploitative entities, responsible for low wages and cultural homogenization, while proponents tout their positive impact on economic development.
The Center for Family Life (CFL) is a program of SCO Family of Services.1 The Center for Family Life, based in Brooklyn, provides social services—and, since 2006, has also become a developer of worker co-ops.
Go to the GEO front page
Friday, April 12, 2019 -- 9am-6pm @ CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
Can the economy be democratized? How can we transform it into a more socially inclusive and ecologically sustainable system? How can we combat the growing concentrations of power and wealth? What current practices point toward a participatory democracy and resilient next system?
Our current political economy is unjust, anti-democratic, and ecologically unsustainable. This reality has led to a host of efforts to transform our political economy. This conference will bring together leading academics, researchers, advocates, and practitioners for a day of discussion on how we can achieve systemic transformation and make a political economy that is equitable, democratic, and sustainable.
Go to the GEO front page
The Trump administration just took a big step closer to handing the Koch network one of it biggest wins yet under this presidency. Bloomberg has reported that there will be no deal between the Trump administration and California on fuel efficiency and emissions standards for cars and light vehicles.
This move sets the stage for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to attempt to revoke California's special waiver under the Clean Air Act, which allows the state to set its owns standards that are more stringent than federal standards.Tags: californiakoch vs cleankoch industriesclean carsTrump Administrationcalifornia waiver
Patrick McGuire recounts an organizing drive at a grocery coop in Winnipeg in the late 1990s, before the IWW developed its Organizer Training program.
I went to a Propagandhi concert in 1993 and decided to become a vegan. After becoming a vegan, I needed to find tofu, soymilk and lentils, so I started shopping at Harvest Collective. Harvest was a natural and organic food consumer co-op that had operated in the Wolseley neighbourhood (or the Granola Belt) of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada for about 20 years. The store was ridiculously small, crowded and always had some weird scent that I couldn’t quite place. Due to its relative longevity and success, a second location was opened across the Assiniboine river on Corydon Ave in the Little Italy district. Originally, this breakaway shop was a separate consumer co-op called Sunflower, but, due to poor management, it was eventually acquired by the original Harvest Collective. These two stores would come to be the first workplaces ever organized into the IWW and certified by the Manitoba Labour Relations Board in the history of our prairie province.
I started volunteering at Sunflower in my grade 11 year. I needed some job experience and it was a way to put my food politics into action: I could bag bulk organic raisins and peanut butter for a few hours every weekend. It felt good, I helped out the co-op and I got a discount on my purchases at the store. When summer rolled around I got an offer to start working part-time. People would be travelling and there were always shifts to fill when the store experienced a hippy exodus to the Winnipeg Folk Fest. My job at Harvest was primarily working as a cashier, but I also stocked shelves, maintained the produce display, cashed out and cleaned the bathrooms and floors. In a small workplace like Harvest, workers needed to be adept at a lot of tasks (including catering to the food whims of an eccentric customer base). Between the two locations, there were probably about 25 staff employed by Harvest and this would include a general manager as well as produce and grocery managers in each store.
Conditions in the workplace were mixed. On the positive side, there was an amazing diversity of workers at the store who were fascinating and passionate. Anarchist BMX racers, feminist student organizers, revolutionary rappers, queer Mennonite folk artists, bookish wiccans, intense tattoo artists, flamenco instructors, sexy older punks, taoist bicycle ecologists, genuine slow-talking hippies, etc. It was an awesome group of people who shared an interest in sustainable food systems and who needed to work. Also, we had a decent amount of flexibility and job control because of the relatively laid-back nature of the workplace. We could listen to whatever music we wanted to — and there were a lot of musicians on staff. I remember sneaking off into the walk-in cooler to do shots of organic maple syrup and debate politics with my co-workers on the regular. It was a heady place for a suburban kid who was into the intersectional politics of the vegan, straight-edge, hardcore scene. I ate it up.
On the negative side, Harvest had a consumer co-op model where consumers bought memberships for a nominal fee and then elected a board. The volunteer board then hired a general manager to oversee the stores. The managers that Harvest had while I was there (I can recall at least 3 in the 5 years) were generally not very competent and mostly invisible. None were particularly authoritarian, but they didn’t provide amazing leadership or solidify the store’s bottom line well enough to be allowed to stick around for too long. In addition, things were loosey-goosey when it came to promotions and wages. Most of us made just above the minimum wage. It was a classic case of people being expected to put up with poor wages in exchange for doing “meaningful” work that helped the “cause” and built “community”.
Interestingly, the issues that started the IWW organizing drive at Harvest came mostly due to the actions of the board, not management. One overly exuberant board member (let’s call him Armand) wanted to get directly involved in how the store was running on a day-to-day basis. He wanted to lecture cashiers about the proper way to sell tomatoes. He suspected that two staff members who both had facial piercings and dreadlocks must be in a sexual relationship. He also thought that their image wasn’t right for the store and they were likely anarchist troublemakers. Rumours started to circulate that Armand was going to try to get these two staff members fired. This caused other workers to panic and want to band together to protect each other. Finally, Armand didn’t like jazz or rap music and so one day he decided to walk into the Corydon location and remove the stereo system without speaking to staff. As I recall it, this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Workers were outraged by this attack on our ability to listen to music of our choosing during our shifts and union talk started quickly.
The majority of Harvest staff identified as leftists and anarchism would have been the most dominant ideological tendency. Someone knew of the IWW and a dual-carder from the Winnipeg General Membership Branch named Bruce Mackay came to our shop and made the OBU [the IWW is referred to as the OBU or “One Big Union” –Ed] pitch to us. Eight of us joined in May of 1998 and then at a meeting a few weeks later another eight or so signed up. The five managers had the power to hire and fire so they couldn’t join. There were two or three holdouts who were either scared of the IWW’s politics, thought that the workplace was too small for a union, or were too friendly with management to want to challenge their power.
We did very few one-on-ones. People were already radical and they cared about each other enough to just get involved when the union drive started. The IWW was anti-capitalist and had a vision of green syndicalism which fit our industry nicely. It just seemed to make sense. Inadvertently, management had organized us by hiring a staff where 90% of us were radicals of one sort or another.
I think one of the key things to understand about the Harvest drive is that it happened in the dark ages before the development of the Organizer Trainer program that began around 2002. In 1998, the IWW was about half (or even a third) of its current size. The GOB was still hand-typed and cut-and-paste assembled. There had been very few successful workplace organizing victories in recent memory and there was very little in the way of literature, supports or models to follow. There was no Recomposition or Organizing Work. Hell, there was wasn’t even Red Card Holders on Facebook. On the plus side, the IWW had recently seen the organizing campaign at Borders Books in Philadelphia and Portland seemed to have a number of IWW shops. But as workers in Winnipeg, we were pretty ignorant of all these things.
What the Winnipeg General Membership Branch did have in 1998 was a small core of dual-carders who were baby-boomer age and who had years of experience in established larger union struggles. In particular, the Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Canadian Employment and Immigration Union. These dual-carders had formed the Winnipeg GMB to express their frustration with the mainstream unions and to keep the ideas of the One Big Union alive. They were incredibly helpful to us and were amazing mentors, but their strategy for the Harvest drive was to run it like a traditional union campaign. There was no discussion of solidarity unionism or minority unionism. There was no strategizing of shop floor actions to build our power. We simply followed their advice about how to act like a “real” union and pursued certification by the Manitoba labour board. We held a certification vote around September of 1998 and handily won with around 80% of the vote. At the time this seemed easy and legitimate. Most of the workers at Harvest were between the ages of 18 and 30 and very few had any experience with unions or workplace organizing. But this strategy would end up having serious consequences in the long run.
We did take on some issues and enjoyed a few victories. To begin with, we forced Armand (the board member with limited musical appreciation) to return our stereo system. Further, the fears of the two anarchist “ring-leaders” being fired dissolved once management saw they had a organized workplace to deal with and didn’t want to go terminating anyone while they were under the microscope. Another small victory was the reclamation of the communication binder used in each store. The communication binders were originally for passing along routine information such as, “Give the romaine extra love; it needs it.” or “Don’t forget to lock the back door because the blowing snow is making it difficult to close.” One thing that we did was to start openly discussing policies and vision in the communication binder. It wasn’t used to directly call out individual managers, but it became a democratic internal discussion board that gave workers a voice and way to air grievances and support each other across different shifts.
We were far more organized than management and the board of the co-op. As a delegate, I recall joining a co-worker in a discipline meeting and serving as a shop steward of sorts. In this way we helped workers to not feel intimidated by management and we tried to keep records and hold them accountable.
Once our campaign went public we also had a button campaign and union members were pretty religious about wearing them prominently on their company aprons. One ambitious idea we had was to get union members and community supporters elected to the board. The short-term goal was to have a worker’s voice present in planning and visioning for the organization. The long-term goal was eventually to try to stack the board and move towards a worker co-op model rather than a consumer co-op structure. This attempt was beaten back by management and the board, but it was one of the few times that the Harvest drive tried to organize beyond the shop floor and draw on community allies.
It’s sad to say, but the principal activity of the Harvest drive was to draft our first collective agreement. Probably 90% of our activity from the fall of 1998 through September of 1999 was dedicated to creating our dream contract so that we could present it to management when we entered bargaining. On the plus side, this proposed contract might possibly be the most democratically derived union document in Canadian history. We had monthly union meetings with 75-90% of our members present. For hours we hashed out how we could achieve living wages while simultaneously collapsing the wage differentials between all workers in our two shops.
We finally got to negotiations with a board member in the early summer of 1999. We sat down in a neutral meeting room on the University of Winnipeg campus and presented the volunteer board member with our 20-page contract. He just looked at it and said, “Oh, this is way more involved than I thought it would be. I don’t have the time to negotiate something like this.”
And that was our first, and only, bargaining session.
Then we got notice about a month later that the co-op was going out of business. When Harvest Collective shut its doors, all the workers who carried red cards lost their jobs. That would definitely have to be our biggest loss.
Harvest Collective went under, but a board member re-opened the store a few months later as a private business. Almost every worker who hadn’t been a wob (three of the five managers, and one holdout non-union floor worker) got a job under the newly branded Organza. In keeping with our legalistic approach, we filed for a Labour Board determination on whether or not the IWW had successor rights as the bargaining agent at Organza. The Manitoba LRB found that because it was the same industry and location we did have successor rights. But when we tried to get the jobs of individual members back, the labour board determined against us on a technicality. It turns out that it was just a coincidence that all the resumes submitted by wobs to Organza were “lost”. We did convince a few new workers at Organza to take out red cards, but they were vastly outnumbered and management had learned to be very selective about not hiring “activists” or employees who were “too political”. Two years later Organza applied for a de-certification and the IWW’s “representation” of any workers in the natural foods industry in Manitoba was officially snuffed out.
I think the most important lesson learned from the Harvest drive is the dangers of relying exclusively on a the labour board and a legalistic contract route. Our initial victory with certification was so easy and we just thought that winning a contract was the next step. We spent far too much time creating our proposed contract.
Considering that we had an overwhelming majority of the workers as card-carrying members, it’s tragic and laughable that we engaged in practically zero collective, direct actions during our drive. We should have taken some dramatic actions (like a march on the boss or whistle-blowing to appeal to sympathetic consumers, etc.) to hit key improvements for ourselves while we had momentum. We could have gotten raises or some other concrete improvements rather than waiting for our promised contract to be negotiated.
A related mistake was that when we all lost our jobs due to the closure of Harvest in the late summer of 1999, we didn’t take any collective or public actions. We could have picketed Organza during its opening weeks and caused a disturbance. Instead we fought Organza in the labour court — far away from the job site. We won a pyrrhic victory with successor rights, but no one ever got their jobs back or established the union again on the shop floor.
If I were doing things over I would make our legal/labour board activity 20% of our activity and building the union through actions in our workplace 80% of our focus. I don’t think pursuing certification is inherently a bad idea, but when it replaces organizing and engaging workers in their jobs, it’s a dead end. And, as the Harvest drive shows, even if you have a super-majority of co-workers holding red cards, you can still lose if you aren’t taking it to the boss in the field of battle where we actually have power. This means that having one direct action is not enough. To keep the union “real” for workers, they have to see and participate in it in action. It’s so easy to get side-tracked into the legalistic trap of fighting in the courts or relying on the labour board. Don’t fall for it.
To be clear, I don’t think the strategy we followed was entirely the fault of our dual-carding mentors. In their defense, they had spent years working in established unions. They had negotiated and defended their contracts numerous times. They can’t be blamed if, after having learned to use a hammer in their unions for two decades, they came along and saw our campaign as a bunch of nails.
Some of the blame for our strategy falls squarely on our own shoulders. We weren’t as bold or creative as we could have been. This is doubly frustrating because many of us were activists in other areas (feminist, ecological, animal rights, prisoner solidarity, etc. movements). We had experience organizing and taking action, but we didn’t transplant it very well into our own workplace. But perhaps this is another important lesson: that workplace organizing and much of what is considered left-wing “activism” are not interchangeable. There may be overlap, but direct action in your workplace has a different skill set.We didn’t have a union prepared to support organizing; you do
Finally, some blame for our strategy can also be laid at the feet of the larger IWW. The union was just not in the place to support our drive in a meaningful way. There were almost zero written resources to support us. I remember reading the “Common Sense Arguments for Workers’ Self-Management” and “Fire Your Boss” pamphlets. While there was an “Organizer’s Guide” written by Jon Bekken, I don’t think I saw that document until after our drive was over.
Therefore, my other advice to workers in the IWW who are organizing today would be to access and study the Organizer Trainings 101 and 102. These trainings have been developed by experienced organizers who’ve drawn on years of successes and failures to build a quality curriculum of wobbly knowledge. The Organizer Trainings also force you to role play different scenarios. And trust me, if you can’t have a one-on-one with a fellow wob at a training, you sure as hell aren’t going to be able to have a one-on-one with a co-worker in the shop.
Also, read the debates and literature that’s come out of IWW organizing drives in the last 15 years. These campaign stories are being archived on iww.org and in websites like Organizing Work. Some great books also exist like Wages So Low You’ll Freak. I would have died to have these resources when we were in the thick of the Harvest drive.
I’ve been a member of the IWW for almost 21 years and, I assure you, you have the collective wisdom of so many capable wobs who’ve learned the hard way to inform your practice. Back in 1998, we were groping in the dark.
From From EmbersNot Having to Choose Between Feminism and Anarchy
Feb 21, 2019
Today's episode features a conversation with some members of Feminist Action Hamilton, an anyone-except-cis-men collective organizing around anarchist principles. We talk about some of the actions and workshops Feminist Action Hamilton has been organizing over the past year; feelings and motivations around creating an organizing space without cis men; intentions and desires to support each other, learn together, and take action, and some of the messiness and difficulties of organizing when you're not pretending to have all the answers.
Feminist Action Hamilton: FacebookTags: From EmbersfeminismorganizingpodcastFacebookHamilton
From Act for Freedom!
Received by email and translated by act for freedom now!
THE SKY IS BURNING
7th February 2019: six anarchists have been arrested in Turin charged with subversive association, for carrying out a struggle against CIEs (now CPRs), prisons for foreigners without papers.
What is striking is not the charge, endlessly used against anarchists, but the aim of the struggle.
On the one hand it demonstrates that for the last twenty years concentration camps for migrants have been important for the State and rulers of all sorts not only as an instrument to deport the desperate ones who get entrapped in them back to their countries of origin, but also as a weapon to blackmail the totality of the immigrant mass in Italy; a warning to those who – for the moment – have regular documents, but could lose them at any time, and a form of blackmail to all those who on the contrary are forced to hide because they are hunted. A form of blackmail of a mainly economic nature, which serves to turn a mass of people into slaves prepared to work under any conditions whatsoever in order to survive, a form of blackmail that also affects legal migrants and poor Italians, as they are also forced to accept miserable working conditions so as not to be excluded from the slavery of waged labour, in a perverse mechanism that nourishes hatred and racism towards those who are in the same condition, rather than towards those who generate the latter.
On the other hand, the arrests in Turin also demonstrate that at a time when State racism is the mirror of a social discontent and rancour that feed each other, there are still generous individuals who choose to put their own freedom at stake and fight for the freedom of all those struggling against the disgusting aspect of our time that aims to normalise the imprisonment of the destitute foreigner trying to enter Europe and the everyday massacres happening one after the other in the Mediterranean, and not only. A disgusting feature that wants to normalise the elimination of borders to move merchandise around while making the lines more marked when it’s people who want to cross them, certain people, and in so doing is staining the border with their blood.
It’s strange that this blood doesn’t scandalize the good citizens dazed in front of screens in the same way that they are scandalized by smashed windows and burning skips… Still too little, really, in the face of what’s happening.
Twenty years of revolts, escapes, damage caused by prisoners and the struggle outside carried out by many people in solidarity have given a lot: they have closed down detention centres for long periods or for good, but we still haven’t managed to annihilate the entire mechanism of the imprisonment and deportation of undocumented migrants. The sky is burning, and six or more arrests won’t stop this struggle.
Onwards this way
Solidarity with the comrades arrested in Turin. Freedom for all
“Disordine” Occupied Anarchist Library
From Freedom News UK
Previously called #NHS4lefties, Anarcho Agony Aunts is a live-streamed relationship advice show featuring awkward questions and the hosts’ self-deprecating answers, all under the umbrella of radical feminism and anti-fascism. Hosts Rowan and Marijam are attempting to reclaim space from the alt-right in giving people (mostly men) a space to ask tricky questions in a judgment-free zone. Alex Pouget interviews the self-styled experts on how this project came to be and why is it important to talk about sex on the left.
What is Anarcho Agony Aunts?
R: Anarcho Agony Aunts (AAA) is a sex and dating advice show. So far we’ve done three live-streamed sessions where people submit questions about love, lust and relationships anonymously via Twitter and we answer them live on air. We wanted for it to be cosy and comfy, for us, and for the viewer, so we drink and sometimes smoke and just have a chat about people’s problems and try to like, come up with useful advice. We don’t discuss the questions beforehand so the conversations you see us having are totally spontaneous. That’s why we went with livestream, to make it as authentic and raw as possible. If we fuck up, you see us fuck up and I think that’s like … humanising, or something.
Why did you start the show?
M: I think one of us saw a video on YouTube where Jordan Peterson, a renowned right-wing commentator, was giving relationship advice to a couple on a talk show and we were like ‘no way we’re giving away that space to him, no way.’ How behind is the left when talking about emotions if people like him step in that place? No, thank you! The fact that *we* should do it was first it was just drunken pub chats, but the idea kept coming back. I was getting some more equipment for the Left Left Up show I do on gaming & politics and since we now had the hardware we figured we should definitely try and see if there’s interest, at least. The questions started pouring in very quickly!
What’s been the reaction?
R: Overwhelmingly positive! We’ve been really touched both by the amount of people who have reached out and submitted such thoughtful and vulnerable questions and also by the people who have watched and sent us messages of support. People seem to agree with us that it’s a necessary project and filling a vacuum, especially now, and also seem to really enjoy and engage with the way we do it – in terms of our living room vibe and that we answer the questions with honest, and sometimes embarrassing, recollections of our own dating and romance histories. I think people like it because it’s genuine. And a lot of people like it because they just find it funny. Also the fact that me and Marijam have like totally different tastes [laughs], I think is reassuring – there is a spectrum and there’s no single answer to anything, to what girls are into. We wanna show that. And people seem to like that.
Why is it a politically significant project?
M: Like we mentioned, it’s worrying when the right-wing is better at addressing the issues of alienation and loneliness. Some single men then cluster into internet-based movements like Involuntary Celibacy and Proud Boys etc. We think it is important for a left to have a response to that, a resource where men that are struggling to find a partner could go to ask, and receive an empathetic answer. The left can be so dismissive of such themes as nothing is as important as The Struggle, but how can one healthily involve themselves in political activism, if they’re having to hide a heart-break, for instance? Antifascism needs to be part of our everyday, and this is one tactic in attempting to broaden that discourse.
What have been your fears?
R: Hmmm, we are very cautious of being misconstrued or that our, like, frank honesty in answering questions might seem normative so we caveat a lot – like, before we say something potentially controversial we emphasise that we are doing this project from a feminist point of view, but that our views are only our own. We want to offer a place where it’s not scary to ask tricky or potentially “problematic” questions, but we also don’t wanna speak for or over anyone else.
What’s the toughest question you received?
R: We had a question about sex work that we weren’t qualified to answer so that was tricky, logistically. Aside from that so many of the questions are so heartfelt and, like, subjective – it’s tough to provide a definitive “answer”, but we just try to approach them from our personal perspectives and opinions and hope that helps.
What’s the question you had most fun answering?
M: All questions involving BDSM and stuff were quite fun. For me, the most important, was the one we did as the last one of the last episode – what was the biggest lesson you’ve learned from your past relationships? Tune in to watch our teary answers!
Where does the Anarcho Agony Aunts project go next?
R: Netflix special? [laughing]
M: We’ve been invited to do a couple of panel discussions / AAA live. We said we’ll agree only if we can drink on stage. [laughing]
Watch past episodes of AAA via YouTube or Twitter (#NHS4lefties – pre-rebrand) and submit anonymous questions for future episodes via curiouscat.me/marijamdid. And stay tuned for their upcoming IRL shows and also for a potential column right here in Freedom.Tags: relationshipscall inYouTubesex