Industrial Worker - January 2010 - [PDF Document] (2024)

Industrial Worker - January 2010 - [PDF Document] (1)

By Tom LevyThe weekend of Oct. 24—just one

week after I attended the inaugural meeting of the North West London Postal Workers Support Group for the Communication Workers Union (CWU) —Royal Mail held a press conference. A management spokesperson announced that the post service and the CWU had reached an interim agreement: the union would suspend all strike activity until Christmas and, in return, Royal Mail would keep good faith negotiations open on all issues. Perhaps misleadingly, the talks had been taking place at the headquarters of Britain’s largest union federation, the Trades Unions Congress (TUC). Without knowing the details of the so-called agreement, I was skeptical.

I continued in a state of disappoint-ment and, hoping to secure some more information, the following Wednesday I

London “Posties” Strike Against Privatization, Part 2took the 260 bus to the Brent Trades hall for the second meeting of our support group. We were greeted by the same two union officials, one a union full-timer and the other a rep who worked full-time as a postie. Attendance was down slight-ly, but the turnout was inspiring none-theless. Our officials began by explaining that they were still digesting the details, but that one thing was clear: there was no pledge to abandon industrial action. In fact, there remained a “live” strike ballot. All that had been agreed was that the union would review the progress of negotiations every two weeks and if the CWU determined it to be lacking, work-ers could be back out on the picket lines. Royal Mail’s attempt to convince the me-dia of a no-strike agreement was nothing more than a crass ploy. By leading the public to believe the union had agreed to Continued on 11

Industrial WorkerPO Box 23085Cincinnati, OH 45223-3085, USA


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Cincinnati, OHand additionalmailing offices

O f f i c i a l n e w s p a p e r O f T h e i n d u s T r i a l w O r k e r s O f T h e w O r l d

Anti-Privatization Protests In Serbia 9

Electricians Fight Privatization in Mexico 3

INDUSTRIAL WORKERBoston Teamsters Picket At Starbucks 5

J a n u a r y 2 0 1 0 # 17 2 2 V o l . 1 0 7 n o . 1 $1/ £ 1 / €1

ATU Local 741 delay a highway coach chartered to shuttle management to work Photo: Fred Huska,

By Alex Balch, LinchpinLONDON, Ont. — After nearly a

month on the picket lines, London transit drivers from the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 741 agreed to a raise package that sees a total compen-sation increase of 13.2 percent—wage and benefits—over a 45-week period. As a consequence, the strike has been called off.

ATU Local 741 officials said the deal was given a 72 percent affirmative nod from its members.

“While many issues remain to be ad-dressed, from violence in the workplace and understaffing, to the city’s chronic underfunding of public transportation in London, sufficient progress has been made to get the buses back on the road,” said officials in an ATU Local 741 state-ment.

Workers of ATU Local 741 went on strike at midnight on Nov. 16, when the deadline for a new contract passed

unheeded by their employer, the London Transit Commission (LTC). ATU Local 741 represents 450 bus drivers, mainte-nance workers and support staff, and the strike has effectively paralyzed London’s public transit system.

The workers of the LTC have been without a contract since June. Chief among their demands were regularly scheduled lunch breaks, a 12 percent wage increase over three years and improvements to dental and short-term disability benefits. The union has repeat-edly requested arbitration as a means of settling the dispute, but their requests were blocked by LTC general manager Larry Ducharme and the city’s mayor, Anne Marie DeCicco-Best.

DeCicco-Best slammed the workers’ demands as “irresponsible” at a press conference the day before the deadline was set to expire, citing the fact that London has been particularly hard hit by

Continued on 7

Not In Service: Ontario Transit Workers On Strike

Polish Workers Fight At The Cegielski Plant 6-7

By Aztatl Garza and Kenneth MillerHonduran workers at Russell Ath-

letic/Fruit of the Loom won a tremen-dous victory on Nov. 17, 2009. An agree-ment with Russell Athletics requires the company to re-hire all 1,200 Honduran workers that were fired for union or-ganizing activities. The agreement also calls for the following: the reopening of the Choloma, the Honduras factory re-named Jerzees Nuevo Dia (New Day Jer-zees), which was closed to lock out strik-ing workers; the recognition of the Sitra Jerzees Union; and that Russell Athletic cooperate with the Centro General de Trabajadores (Workers General Central union federation). In addition Russell Athletic will educate their employees about their right to organize a union and their right to freedom of assembly.The agreement will cover all eight Russell Athletic factories in Honduras.

The victory for Honduras workers was affected in the U.S. by a coalition of university students, United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS), which has chapters in 96 universities. The

Pittsburgh Anti Sweatshop Community Alliance began an online petition drive targeting University of Pittsburgh Chan-cellor Mark Nordenberg to do the same.

Students were able to leverage their universities’ collegiate licensing with Russell Athletics in the same way that groups like the Pittsburgh Anti Sweat-shop Community Alliance intend to le-verage the apparel licensing of the Pitts-burgh Pirates Baseball Club. This kind of an escalation is required for there to be an actual global apparel union organiz-ing drive.

Centro General de Trabajadores is now in a race to organize workers in all of these Russell factories while the North American anti-sweatshop movement remains poised to offer support.

* How will this campaign affect Rus-sell’s production volume in Honduras?

* How will it affect workers produc-ing apparel for other companies in the same industrial areas?

* Will the organizing success spread to the surrounding countries?

Continued on 11

Union To Roll Through EPZs Of Central AmericaBy Huw Jones

Imprisoned for 28 days in a Liver-pool jail for his part in direct action cam-paigns, activist Osian Jones sent greetings to Wobblies worldwide.

Earlier this year efforts were made to es-tablish an IWW branch in north Wales and Osian enthusiastically signed up as a Wobbly even though all of his time is already taken up with radical activism on behalf of Cymdeithas yr Iaith, the Welsh lan-guage rights organiza-tion.

It is no surprise to hear that he has a copy of "Wobblies! A Graphic History" in his cell. The legendary histo-ry of the original Wobblies still inspires activists and numerous campaigns the world over to this day.

On Nov. 25, Osian was imprisoned

Welsh Wobbly Imprisoned For 28 Daysfor a month for steadfastly refusing to pay more than £1,000 of fines that he picked up in a slogan-painting and

sticker campaign against a number of big businesses who, despite much public pressure, make little or no use of the Welsh language in their signs and advertis-ing. The Welsh regional government has long promised a change in legislation to expand the right to use Welsh but appears to be nervous to take further steps in the face of considerable opposition from the bosses’ organization, the Confederation of British Industries.

Osian attended a hearing two weeks prior to the beginning of his jail sen-tence, but proceedings were adjourned as magistrates feared uproar in the

Continued on 7

Osian Jones. Photo: Huw Jones

Industrial Worker - January 2010 - [PDF Document] (2)

Page 2 • Industrial Worker • January 2010

AustraliaIWW Regional Organising Committee: PO Box 1866, Albany, WA PO Box 241, Surry Hills. Melbourne: PO Box 145, Moreland 3058.

British IslesIWW Regional Organising Committee: PO Box 1158, Newcastle Upon Tyne NE99 4XL UK, [emailprotected], United Campaign: Blood Service Campaign: nbs.iww.orgBradford: [emailprotected]: [emailprotected] Cambridge: IWW c/o Arjuna, 12 Mill Road, Cam-bridge CB1 2AD [emailprotected]: [emailprotected]: [emailprotected]: [emailprotected] GMB: c/o Freedom Bookshop, Angel Alley, 84b Whitechapel High Street, London E1 7QX. Tel. +44 (0) 20 3393 1295, [emailprotected] Building Workers IU 330 Branch: c/o Adam Lincoln, UCU, Carlow Street, London NW1 7LHLeicestershire GMB and DMU IU620 Job Branch: Unit 107, 40 Halford St., Leicester LE1 1TQ, England. Tel. 07981 433 637, [emailprotected] [emailprotected]: [emailprotected] [emailprotected] [emailprotected]: [emailprotected]: [emailprotected]: [emailprotected] and Wear: c/o Philip Le Marquand, 36 Abbot Court, Gateshead NE8 3JY [emailprotected]. West Midlands: The Warehouse, 54-57 Allison StreetDigbeth, Birmingham B5 5TH [emailprotected] www.wmiww.orgYork: [emailprotected]: aberdeen@ GMB: c/o IWW PO Box 7593, Glasgow, G42 2EX. [emailprotected] and Galloway GMB: [emailprotected] IWW: c/o 17 W. Montgomery Place, EH7 5HA. 0131-557-6242, [emailprotected]

AlbertaEdmonton GMB: PO Box 75175, T6E 6K1. [emailprotected],

British ColumbiaVancouver IWW: 204-2274 York Ave., Vancouver, BC, V6K 1C6. Phone/fax 604-732-9613. [emailprotected],,

ManitobaWinnipeg GMB: IWW, c/o WORC, PO Box 1, R3C 2G1. [emailprotected], [emailprotected] GMB & GDC Local 6: PO Box 52003, 298 Dalhousie St. K1N 1S0, 613-225-9655 Fax: 613-274-0819, [emailprotected] French: [emailprotected].

Peterborough: c/o PCAP, 393 Water St. #17, K9H 3L7, 705-749-9694, [emailprotected] GMB: c/o Libra Knowledge & Information Svcs Co-op, PO Box 353 Stn. A, M5W 1C2. 416-919-7392. [emailprotected]ébec Montreal: [emailprotected]


DenmarkAarhus / Copenhagen: [emailprotected]; +45 2386 2328FinlandHelsinki: Reko Ravela, Otto Brandtintie 11 B 25, 00650. [emailprotected]

German Language AreaIWW German Language Area Regional Organizing Committee (GLAMROC): Post Fach 19 02 03, 60089 Frankfurt/M, Germany [emailprotected] www.wobblies.deAustria: [emailprotected], www.iwwaustria.wordpress.comFrankfurt am Main: [emailprotected]: [emailprotected]: [emailprotected]: [emailprotected]: [emailprotected] , 0352 691 31 99 71 Switzerland: [emailprotected]

GreeceAthens: Themistokleous 66 Exarhia Athens [emailprotected]

Netherlands: [emailprotected]

United StatesArizonaPhoenix GMB: 480-894-6846, 602-254-4057.

ArkansasFayetteville: PO Box 283, 72702. 479-200-1859, [emailprotected].

DCDC GMB (Washington): 741 Morton St NW, Washing-ton DC, 20010. 571-276-1935.

CaliforniaLos Angeles GMB: PO Box 811064, 90081. (310)205-2667. [emailprotected] Coast GMB: PO Box 844, Eureka 95502-0844. 707-725-8090, [emailprotected] Francisco Bay Area GMB: (Curbside and Buyback IU 670 Recycling Shops; Stonemountain Fabrics Job Shop and IU 410 Garment and Textile Worker’s Industrial Organizing Committee; Shattuck Cinemas) PO Box 11412, Berkeley 94712. 510-845-0540. Evergreen Printing: 2335 Valley Street, Oakland, CA 94612. 510-835-0254 [emailprotected] Jose: [emailprotected] GMB: c/o P&L Printing Job Shop: 2298 Clay, Denver 80211. 303-433-1852.Four Corners (AZ, CO, NM, UT): 970-903-8721, [emailprotected] GMB: 1021 W. University, 32601. 352-246-2240, [emailprotected] GMB: PO Box 2662, Pensacola, FL 32513-2662. 840-437-1323, [emailprotected], Petersburg/Tampa: Frank Green,P.O. Box 5058, Gulfport, FL 33737. (727)324-9517. [emailprotected] Sound: P. Shultz, 8274 SE Pine Circle, 33455-6608, 772-545-9591 [emailprotected]

GeorgiaAtlanta: Keith Mercer, del., 404-992-7240, [emailprotected]

HawaiiHonolulu: Tony Donnes, del., [emailprotected]

IllinoisChicago GMB: 37 S Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60607 312-638-9155.Central Ill GMB: 903 S. Elm, Champaign, IL, 61820. 217-356-8247Champaign: 217-356-8247.Freight Truckers Hotline: 224-353-7189, [emailprotected]: PO Box 274, 60079.

IndianaLafayette GMB: P.O. Box 3793, West Lafayette, IN 47906, 765-242-1722

IowaEastern Iowa GMB: 114 1/2 E. College StreetIowa City, IA 52240 [emailprotected]

MaineBarry Rodrigue, 75 Russell Street, Bath, ME 04530. (207)-442-7779

MarylandBaltimore IWW: PO Box 33350, Baltimore MD 21218, [emailprotected]

MassachusettsBoston Area GMB: PO Box 391724, Cambridge 02139. 617-469-5162.Cape Cod/SE Massachusetts: PO Box 315, West Barnstable, MA 02668 [emailprotected] Mass. Public Service IU 650 Branch: IWW, Po Box 1581, Northampton 01061.

MichiganDetroit GMB: 22514 Brittany Avenue, E. Detroit, MI 48021. [emailprotected] Rapids GMB: PO Box 6629, Grand Rapids MI 49516. 616-881-5263Central Michigan: 5007 W. Columbia Rd., Mason 48854. 517-676-9446, [emailprotected] Cities GMB: 79 13th Ave NE Suite 103AMinneapolis MN 55413. [emailprotected] River IWW: POB 103, Moorhead, MN 56561218-287-0053. [emailprotected] City GMB: c/o 5506 Holmes St., 64110. 816-523-3995.

MontanaTwo Rivers GMB: PO Box 9366, Missoula, MT 59807, [emailprotected] 406-459-7585.Construction Workers IU 330: 406-490-3869, [emailprotected].

New JerseyCentral New Jersey GMB: PO Box 10021, New Bruns-wick 08906. 732-801-7001 [emailprotected] New MexicoAlbuquerque: 202 Harvard SE, 87106-5505. 505-331-6132, [emailprotected].

New YorkBinghamton Education Workers Union: [emailprotected] NYC GMB: PO Box 7430, JAF Station, New York City

10116, [emailprotected]. www.wobblycity.orgStarbucks Campaign: 44-61 11th St. Fl. 3, Long Island City, NY 11101 [emailprotected] www.starbucksunion.orgUpstate NY GMB: PO Box 235, Albany 12201-0235, 518-833-6853 or 518-861-5627., [emailprotected], Rochelle Semel, del., PO Box 172, Fly Creek 13337, 607-293-6489, [emailprotected] Valley GMB: PO Box 48, Huguenot,12746, 845-858-8851, [emailprotected], Valley GMB: PO Box 42233, Cincinnati 45242. Textile & Clothing Workers IU 410, PO Box 317741Cincinnati, OH 45231. [emailprotected]: PO Box 213 Medicine Park 73557, 580-529-3360.OregonLane County: 541-953-3741. www.eugeneiww.orgPortland GMB: 311 N. Ivy St., 97227, 503-231-5488. [emailprotected], pdx.iww.orgPennsylvaniaLancaster GMB: PO Box 796, Lancaster, PA 17608. Philadelphia GMB: PO Box 42777, Philadelphia, PA 19101. 215-222-1905. [emailprotected]. Union Hall: 4530 Baltimore Ave., 19143.Paper Crane Press IU 450 Job Shop: [emailprotected], 610-358-9496.Pittsburgh GMB : PO Box 831, Monroeville, PA,15146. [emailprotected] IslandProvidence GMB: P.O. Box 5795 Providence, RI 02903, 508-367-6434. [emailprotected] & Fort Worth: 1618 6th Ave, Fort Worth, TX 76104.South Texas IWW: [emailprotected] Lake City: 801-485-1969. [emailprotected] GMB: P.O. Box 8005,Burlington, VT,05402. 802-540-2541WashingtonBellingham: P.O. Box 1793, 98227. [emailprotected] 360-920-6240.Tacoma IWW: P.O. Box 2052, Tacoma, WA 98401 [emailprotected] GMB: PO Box 2775, 98507, 360-878-1879. [emailprotected] GMB: 1122 E. Pike #1142, 98122-3934. 206-339-4179. [emailprotected] GMB: PO Box 2442, 53703-2442. Lakeside Press IU 450 Job Shop: 1334 Williamson, 53703. 608-255-1800. Madison Infoshop Job Shop: 1019 Williamson St. #B, 53703. 608-262-9036. Just Coffee Job Shop IU 460: 1129 E. Wilson, Madi-son, 53703 608-204-9011, GDC Local 4: P.O. Box 811, 53701. 608-262-9036.Railroad Workers IU 520: 608-358-5771. [emailprotected] GMB: PO Box 070632, 53207. 414-481-

IWW directoryIndustrial WorkerThe Voice of Revolutionary

Industrial Unionism

ORganIzaTIOn EdUcaTIOn EmancIpaTIOn

Official newspaper of the IndustrIal Workers

of the World

Post Office Box 23085Cincinnati OH 45223 USA

513.591.1905 • [emailprotected]

General Secretary-treaSurer:Chris Lytle

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Final edit committee : Maria Rodriguez Gil, Tom Levy, Nick Jusino, Slava Osowska, FW

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Next deadline is January 7, 2010.

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Press Date: December 20, 2009.

“Workers’ Power” Column Should Be About Workers’ Power


Get the Word Out!IWW members, branches, job shops and other affiliated bodies can get the word out about their project, event, campaign or protest each month in the Industrial Worker. Send announcements to [emailprotected]. Much appreciated donations for the following sizes should be sent to IWW GHQ, PO Box 23085, Cincinnati OH 45223 USA.

$12 for 1” tall, 1 column wide$40 for 4” by 2 columns$90 for a quarter page

Dear Industrial Worker,This letter is in response the article

“Sowing the Seeds of Workers Power” that appeared in the “Workers’ Power” column on page 5 of the November 2009 Industrial Worker. Let me start by say-ing that I’m a devout gardener. (I even help teach horticulture at the school where I work!). Despite this, there are some issues that need to be addressed in “Sowing the Seeds.” Most importantly, the article seems to be aimed more at building consumer power rather than workplace power. As I’m sure most Wobblies will agree, workers’ most effec-tively exert class power not as consum-ers (or ‘citizens’) but through our control of the means of production; or, in other words, through workplace-based organi-zation. Accordingly, stories and analysis of how to this ought to be the main focus of a column entitled “Workers’ Power”.

The article states, “Workers can or-ganize a factory and kick out the bosses. A very practical, relatively simple, and often overlooked opportunity for taking possession of the means of production is in the agriculture.” The author is correct that if agricultural workers take over the means of production from the bosses, then these are analogous situations. However, this does not apply to home (or even community) gardens. The first

Send your letters to: [emailprotected] with “Letter” in the subject.

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example challenges class relationships; the second, while healthy and fun, does not directly challenge the validity of the capitalist system. We shouldn’t pretend it does and the Industrial Worker should not promote it as such.

Statements such as “the potential for a union to support a bountiful com-munity harvest through urban gardens,” speak to the consumption-based prem-ises of the article. Community gardens are great and could be a tool for building contacts and solidarity, but they’re no substitute for workplace organization and action. Along the same lines, state-ments such as “I do not need to rely on an agribusiness for that part of my suste-nance” are problematic. The goal of the IWW is not for our members to some-how avoid or “drop out” of capitalism (an impossible goal in any event—even co-ops exist in a capitalist market) but for workers to take over industry from the capitalist class.

There is a very valid class interest in boycotts at the point of production in the name of sustainability. For example, taking inspiration from the Australian green bans, workers in meatpacking factories could refuse to process animals that were not raised in a 300-mile radius of the plant. Actions such as this would be much more effective at both building

class power and increasing the sustain-ability of the food supply.

X364060 concludes the article by proclaiming their support for “small farmers.” I’m curious if s/he has ever worked on a small farm. Small farms are still capitalist and, indeed, a small farmer is just as ‘petit bourgeois’ as a small shop owner. In fact, when the IWW created the Agricultural Workers Organization in the nineteen-teens it was precisely small farmers whom we were organizing against. Then, just like now, small farmers employed immigrant laborers seasonally.

Finally, the IW and the IWW in gen-eral needs to be very careful in making statements regarding individuals’ food choices. Personally, I’m a vegetarian. But, when I was involved in the Motor Transport Workers Industrial Union 530 campaign in North Carolina, we had meat at every single meeting. North Carolina is a ‘hog’ state and meat (and hunting) played a very real cultural role in the lives of those truckers. I’d be very wary of handing them a newspaper that took a prescriptive and/or judgmental stance on their eating habits.

For Workers’ Power,X361737 London, UKP.S. Accolades to X358983 for his

analysis of the G-20. Well put, FW!

Industrial Worker - January 2010 - [PDF Document] (3)

January 2010 • Industrial Worker • Page 3

__I affirm that I am a worker, and that I am not an employer.__I agree to abide by the IWW constitution.__I will study its principles and acquaint myself with its purposes.

Name: ________________________________

Address: ______________________________

City, State, Post Code, Country: _______________

Occupation: ____________________________

Phone: ____________ Email: _______________

Amount Enclosed: _________

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people and the few, who make up the em-ploying class, have all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the earth.

We find that the centering of the man-agement of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever-growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employ-ing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.

These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one in-dustry, or all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.

Instead of the conservative motto, “A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work,” we must inscribe on our banner the revolu-tionary watchword, “Abolition of the wage system.”

It is the historic mission of the work-ing class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for the everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been over-thrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.

TO JOIN: Mail this form with a check or money order for initiation and your first month’s dues to: IWW, Post Office Box 23085, Cincinnati OH 45223, USA.

Initiation is the same as one month’s dues. Our dues are calculated according to your income. If your monthly income is under $2000, dues are $9 a month. If your monthly income is between $2000 and $3500, dues are $18 a month. If your monthly income is over $3500 a month, dues are $27 a month. Dues may vary outside of North America and in Regional Organizing Committees (Australia, British Isles, German Language Area).

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The IWW is a union for all workers, a union dedicated to organizing on the job, in our industries and in our communities both to win better conditions today and to build a world without bosses, a world in which production and

distribution are organized by workers ourselves to meet the needs of the entire popu-lation, not merely a handful of exploiters.

We are the Industrial Workers of the World because we organize industrially – that is to say, we organize all workers on the job into one union, rather than dividing workers by trade, so that we can pool our strength to fight the bosses together.

Since the IWW was founded in 1905, we have recognized the need to build a truly international union movement in order to confront the global power of the bosses and in order to strengthen workers’ ability to stand in solidarity with our fellow workers no matter what part of the globe they happen to live on.

We are a union open to all workers, whether or not the IWW happens to have representation rights in your workplace. We organize the worker, not the job, recog-nizing that unionism is not about government certification or employer recognition but about workers coming together to address our common concerns. Sometimes this means striking or signing a contract. Sometimes it means refusing to work with an unsafe machine or following the bosses’ orders so literally that nothing gets done. Sometimes it means agitating around particular issues or grievances in a specific workplace, or across an industry.

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.

IWW Constitution Preamble

Mexican Electricians Fight Privatization

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nicaciones refused to honor its minimal obligations under this agreement, Luz y Fuerza joined with the SME in present-ing a counter-proposal to the govern-ment—that the public utility expand and operate the fiber optic cable system itself, creating a very lucrative source of revenue for the state-run corporation and challenging the duopoly of private

phone/TV/internet providers Cablevision and Telmex, whose 400 peso ($30)monthly rate for basic in-ternet makes the service unaffordable for many in a country where five dollars is the legal mini-mum wage for an eight-hour day.

The Mexican government ignored the counter-proposal and the electricians retaliated by barring access for techni-cians of the Spanish company to Luz y Fuerza facilities. “Do you want this to go forward? Then give us our permit. If you don’t give it to us, we won’t let them in,” said SME leader Martin Esparza in an interview with Proceso, a widely respect-ed Mexican politics magazine. Proceso reports that several cabinet members within President Felipe Calderon’s government are major shareholders of WL Communicaciones. With not only a stated neoliberal policy of privatization at stake, but also the personal wealth of leading politicians, from the perspective of the Mexican government, the stub-bornly rebellious electricians were an obstacle that had to be crushed.

The government’s brazen attack on the independent electrical workers has galvanized many of Mexico’s popular movements into action, reciprocating the solidarity they have received over the years from the SME. Marking one month since the police and military takeover of Luz y Fuerza facilities and the eviction of union electricians, a coordinated day of action was held across Mexico on Nov. 11. Public school teachers in the south-ern state of Oaxaca—famous for having sparked a popular uprising in May 2006 against their repressive state gover-nor—closed thousands of schools for the day. Public secondary school teachers in Mexico City joined them, along with the students and professors of the national university. Meanwhile, community sup-porters occupied tollbooths on highways entering Mexico City, permitting free usage of the roadways by commuters. Workers at the major TRW Automo-tive—an auto parts manufacturer on Mexico’s northern border, and mem-bers of the Coalition for Justice in the Maquiladoras (an IWW ally) endorsed the struggle of the fired electricians and turned off their lights at home for two hours in solidarity.

The largest manifestation of the day occurred in Mexico City, with as many as 200,000 people marching into the cen-tral Zocolo square to oppose the shut-down of Luz y Fuerza. Esparza addressed the crowd, “We are at the point of the independence bicentennial and the Mexican Revolution centennial. And as before, we will defeat the transnational [corporations], the dictatorship, tyranny and violations of the constitution. It’s time for the people to organize.”

As commentators including labor activist Dan La Botz have noted, the shutting down of Luz y Fuerza marks a major step towards the privatization of Mexico’s energy sector, in line with the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the neoliberal Security and Prosperity Partnership between Canadi-an, U.S. and Mexican governments and corporate leaders. With the breaking of the Mexican Electricians Union, it is also a devastating attack on Mexico’s inde-pendent labor movement, of which the SME has historically been a bulwark.

It is one major example of the increasingly aggressive campaign by Mexico’s government and business lead-ers to redistribute wealth from workers and the public sector that serves them, to private investors in Mexico and abroad. The broad-based resistance provoked by this act is also symptomatic of a popular sentiment that Mexico’s ruling elites serve themselves, at the expense of a population which has suffered from unemployment and precarious jobs in a national economy among the bottom three for growth in Latin America. Social and political tension will continue to increase between these two irreconcil-able visions, while next year Mexicans mark 100 years since their nation’s first revolution.

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By Paul BockingFederal police and military troops

occupied power plants and electrical substations across central Mexico in a late night attack on Oct. 11, coincid-ing with a declaration by the national government that the state-run electrical utility Luz y Fuerza had been shut down and all unionized employees terminated. Mexico City daily La Jornada reports that the utility normally run by approxi-mately 44,000 electricians is now being run under armed guard by approximate-ly 3,500 military engineers and scab electricians brought in from other parts of Mexico. Major system failures and blackouts have occurred in the central part of the country encompassing the Mexico City metropolitan area—a region with more than 25 million residents—as the skeleton workforce struggles to oper-ate the massive energy grid.

The action has been widely viewed as an attack on the Mexican Union of Elec-tricians (Sindicato Mexicano de Electri-cistas, or SME), an independent union that has vigorously opposed attempts in the past by the Mexican government to privatize the electrical utility that employs its members, and has gener-ally served as a rallying force among the social movements and unions that have opposed the neoliberal trade and labor reforms of the Mexican government. The SME has since responded with non-stop meetings, demonstrations and organiz-ing among fired electricians, urging the refusal of a government-issued sever-ance agreement. Electricians have also been actively gaining commitments to engage in solidarity action from other independent unions, as well as allied stu-dent and community-based movements.

Abroad, influential publications including the New York Times and The Economist have approved of the Mexican state’s action against what they describe as ‘a powerful union.’ However the shutdown of Luz y Fuerza is about

more than union-busting. The Mexican government claims the state-run utility was an inefficient money-pit, requiring its absorption within the larger, more profitable Federal Electrical Commission (Comisión Federal de Electricidad, or CFE), which provides electrical services across the rest of Mexico. Like Luz y Fuerza, the CFE is a public utility, but with a docile union loyal to Mexico’s ruling national po-litical party. However if Luz y Fuerza is financially unsustain-able as the government claims, it is because its admin-istration has failed to collect over $450 million in electricity bills from its major corporate customers, says the SME. Many com-mentators believe the real motive behind the merging of Mexico’s two electrical utilities is to facilitate their privatization –possible only with the elimination of the SME.

In 1999, the Mexican government authorized Spanish-based WL Commu-nicaciones to install, operate and profit from fiber optic cables which would be attached to Luz y Fuerza’s existing electrical grid, enabling the company to potentially sell television, phone and in-ternet services to the utility’s 6.2 million residential and business customers. In return, the Spanish consortium agreed to upgrade the existing system and pay a nominal royalty fee for using Luz y Fuer-za’s electrical lines. When WL Commu-

Mexican Electrician workers. Photo:

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Page 4 • Industrial Worker • January 2010

Graphic: Mike Konopacki

By Nate HoldrenWe have nothing in common with

them as a class but sometimes we need to talk to our bosses. When we confront our bosses, for instance, we need to talk to them. A lot of bosses seem to have an instinct for turning the tables on us, and a lot of us workers have a habit of letting them do so. We spend so much time following their orders and they spend so much time giving orders that when we speak up it can be almost as disorienting for us as it is for them. That can make it easy for the boss to take back control in conversation.

For us to keep control in conversation with the boss we need to know what we want to have happen. We can’t get our way if we don’t know what our way is. If we don’t have a plan then things can’t go according to plan.

Let’s say we’re going to confront a boss about making someone stay late. Here are some ways the boss might respond: justify the decision (“we had more work, someone had to do it”), bring up some other issue (“well, you all are out of uniform”), try to guilt you in some way (“you do this after I got you that nice coffee maker for the break room?”), bring up the way you raised the issue (“you shouldn’t bring this up in a group”), point you to someone else or somewhere else (“you should bring this up at our team meeting,” “you really should go through Human Resources”), or question your right to bring it up at all (“this is a private matter between me

Talking To Bosses: Stick To The Script!and that person, it’s none of the rest of your business”). There are other possible responses. The point is, you should think about the different ways your boss will respond, and know how you will reply in each case.

The goal in replying to a boss’s re-sponse is to come back to your issue and your goal. Don’t get side-tracked. Don’t argue. At most, acknowledge what they said (“we appreciate the new coffee mak-er,” “we tried to bring this up with HR”), but don’t let them turn the conversation to be about that. State your issue again,

and what you want. “You make us work late and it causes problems for us. Will you stop that?” If they keep bringing up other things, and they probably will, say, “This isn’t about that, we’re here to

talk about you making us work late.” Then restate your issue and what you want.

The overall point is that our issue and our demand is not up for discus-sion. We are not going to be talked out of feeling like a problem at work is a pain in the neck and we are not going to be talked into having our demands disre-garded. We are making clear that the issue is a problem and we are presenting our demand to fix it. If you have to, just say, “we’re not here to debate with you or to discuss other things. We want to know if you will stop extending people’s hours or not. That’s all we want to talk about. Will you stop?”

Stick to the script and you can turn the tables on the boss.

should be avoided. It never became clear at this anti-union shop if the talk was in the context of an actual organizing drive. It was just one more alienating brick in the wall at a hard new job.

* His wife works in the human resources department at a notoriously anti-union hotel chain and attends union buster trainings. It does not feel to her like union busting… it feels to her like just another thing she needs to manage. These trainings are usually not sched-

uled in advance and occur at strange times. Eventually she is fired for what appear to be completely arbitrary reasons.

These three things, a pretty large and diverse body of experience, make him suspicious and untrusting of unions. If I were trying to or-ganize a facility where he worked. I’m not

sure I could bring him into the campaign or break through his skepticism and dis-trust. This scares the hell out of me and makes the job of organizing seem nearly impossible.

By Kenneth MillerTalk around the Thanksgiving dinner

table turned to unions this year. A young man with whom I am very good friends and whom I know to be a social progres-sive and greatly concerned with social issues began to list his experiences with unions.

*After being hired to cook at a hospi-tal and being told by the boss that he was filling an open position, he was bumped, sent home and told to wait until another position became available. He had wanted that job. The whole system of job postings seemed confusing and impenetrable. The “Executive Chef” was the shop steward and he did his explanation by way of pointing at the bulletin board.

* After begin-ning work as cook in an old person’s home … he finds himself in the midst of an anti-union campaign. Everyone around him is bad mouthing union dues and describing a union organizer as a “stalker” that

Union Talk At Thanksgiving

By Kenneth Miller Since I have been a member of the

IWW, I have gotten some of the best advice I have ever gotten from Fellow Workers. Here are a few short sayings and stories that showed me we share a profoundly similar body of experience. If you have an anecdote like this, please submit it to [emailprotected].

“My father grew up working in the agricultural labor fields of Texas and Michigan. As children, we did also. Everyone in the family had to pitch in. I worked the factories in Detroit before

going on to the university. It was in com-munity college in Detroit where a social science teacher, an African-American, Mr. Collins, introduced me to labor and community organizing. We read Howard Zinn's classic “People’s History.” I was 18 years old. In that process, he exposed us also to Wobbly history. I romanticized about being a Wobbly and carried the notion for a long time. Many years and skirmishes later I decided that the IWW was as serious as a heart attack. I joined. So far I enjoy the democracy and free-dom it offers. We are "small" in numbers but extra large in heart.” – Aztatl Garza

“When I was first credentialed as an IWW delegate, Tom Lewandowski told me, ‘It is a red hot coal. Go make your own hell.’” – Kenneth Miller

“I was once asked to go to a college for an event where they were showing the film “The Wobblies.” I guess as a real-life Wobbly in their show-and-tell. After the film, a labor professor spoke for about 45 minutes, and he then told me I had five minutes to speak. I got up there and said, ‘labor historians are to workers what anthropologists are to Indians. Don't believe a word that they say.’” – Arthur Miller

What It Means To Be A Wobbly

Graphic: Clayton Hall; Concept: DJ Alperovitz

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January 2010 • Industrial Worker • Page 5

By Teamsters Local 25BOSTON—Hundreds of working

men and women from some of the state’s largest labor unions joined with Team-sters Local 25 on Nov. 24 to bring atten-tion to Starbucks Coffee’s sole distribu-tor, DPI-Mid Atlantic. Based in Canton, Mass., DPI-Mid Atlantic delivers all bakery, sandwiches and pre-packaged food to Starbucks shops across New England.

“Today should be a wake-up call to Starbucks’ management and customers,” said Sean M. O’Brien, President and Principal Officer of Teamsters Local 25 in front of the Boylston Street Starbucks location. “DPI-Mid Atlantic does not share your values of quality, ethics and responsibility.”

“DPI-Mid Atlantic employees work hard every day to make sure that these products get to your local Starbucks so you can enjoy them. Starbucks and their loyal customers need to understand fully where their coffee beans, and all

food products, originate from. Starbucks should demand no less from their ven-dors than they would from their baris-tas,” O’Brien continued.

Teamsters Local 25 members were joined by leaders and members of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, Greater Bos-ton Labor Council, Unite HERE Local 26, the IWW, SEIU 615, New England Carpenters, business owner Steve Gross-man whose family business Grossman Marketing Group has been in Somerville for more than 50 years, and Boston City Council President Michael Ross.

“For too long, DPI-Mid Atlantic management has bullied their employ-ees, forcing them to work in an unsafe and unsanitary environment and then reprimanding those who speak up. No one should feel that their jobs are in jeopardy for demanding safe and clean working conditions. Teamsters Local 25 is proud to stand with our brother and sister labor leaders from across the state and pledge to help DPI-Mid Atlantic

Teamsters Local 25 Rallies For Better Working Conditions At Starbucks Distributor

By NYC IWWOn the morning of Nov. 25, workers

along with members of the New York City IWW marched to Flaum, a kosher food distributor in Brooklyn, after hearing of a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling which ordered the boss to reinstate the fired workers with back pay. Instead, the boss wrongfully demanded that the workers reauthorize their immigration status and denied them their right to return to work.

The workers were illegally fired in

May 2008 for engag-ing in a work stop-page over the right to form a labor union and payment in accordance with the law.

By Andrew SpinaOn Oct. 15, members and support-

ers from the Central New Jersey IWW and Hub City Food Not Bombs gathered in downtown New Brunswick to show our solidarity for the striking workers in Puerto Rico. We distributed Spanish and English language leaflets that expressed our solidarity for the Puerto Rican general strike. Free food and bread was provided by our local Food Not Bombs chapter as IWW members handed out information about joining our local

employees seek justice,” O’Brien continued.

When DPI-Mid Atlantic employ-ees complained to management, and later the U.S. Department of La-bor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Food and Drug Ad-ministration (FDA) about the unsani-tary working con-ditions, they were fired or suspended. After complaining to OSHA about unsafe forklifts, battery acid leaks, unsani-tary bathrooms, poor lighting, and an expanding rodent population around the dock area, OSHA issued a series of cita-tions and forced the company to address

Flaum Workers Reinstated, Not Allowed Back NJ Solidarity With Puerto Rican Workersbranch. This is just one of the many solidarity actions we intend to orga-nize on behalf of workers both in Puerto Rico and New Brunswick.

the outstanding problems. Employees at DPI-Mid Atlantic warehouse in Canton have decided to seek union representa-tion to improve the unsafe and unsani-tary working conditions, a substandard healthcare plan and inferior wages.

Teamsters rally at Boston Starbucks. Photo:

Photo: Benjamin Ferguson Photo: Andrew Spina

Goodbye FW Skip Porter Feb. 12, 1946-Nov. 28, 2009

By Gerry GundersonSkip was a member of the Masters,

Mates and Pilots Union, a millwright in the Carpenters Union, and most im-portantly to him, a member of the IWW (Wobblies). He contributed articles and photos to Indymedia and the Industrial Worker.

Although his presence on picket lines and in demonstrations for justice was ubiquitous, he often derided speak-ers and “piecards” at such events as “therapists.” His interests and knowl-edge were encyclopedic, and he humbly and willingly shared them, along with good food and drink. He especially encouraged young folks in their radical activism. He demanded to know, “Why aren’t we out in the streets?”—not just to show disapproval of the cause of the day but to shut the whole thing down and create the world anew.

He lived a principled life. I was privileged to have known him.

Editor’s note: FW Gunderson is putting together a more thorough obituary for future use. If you would like to contribute to this, send your thoughts to [emailprotected].


By Malcolm BrownWhen in 1964 the Queensland gov-

ernment of Sir Francis Nicklin decided to call on all its powers to crush a strike by Mount Isa's miners, one man stood in their way—the union radical Pat Mackie. He led the strike, inspiring the miners to keep going, in a period when police were given carte blanche to suppress them. The townspeople, in response, painted the town with swastikas by night. The 32-week strike, which extended into 1965, resulted in a victory for the miners but Mackie was targeted by an enraged federal government, which investigated ways to deport him.

Mackie, whose father was Australian, was born in New Zealand on Oct. 30, 1914, and according to the nationality laws in Australia at the time, he was an Australian citizen. His family name, ac-cording to the scant information avail-able on his personal life, was Murphy. Mackie went to sea as a teenager because he wanted to see America. In his own account of his life, he said he was a stowaway and that he complained to the captain about the unsatisfactory state of his accommodation. For 15 years, as a seaman, he travelled the world.

Mackie was attracted to the IWW. He worked with communists and nearly joined a branch of the Communist Party in Canada. Labor historian Greg Mallory said Mackie did not become a com-munist but vigorously opposed forces that tried to drive communists from the union movement. At some stage in his life in Canada, Mallory says, Mackie was married, but there are no records of his ever having any children.

Mackie got object lessons in how the workers could control workplace situations. He became engaged in union activities and was a ''captain of picket captains'' in a lengthy New York water-front strike in 1948, in which police used horses specially trained to rear up and kick at picketers, and gangsters acting on behalf of the agent provocateurs who were infiltrating union lines. Mackie learnt a lot about union tactics in North America and the sort of mischief that

could be visited on erring employers.At some point, perhaps to distance

himself from his past troubles, misspell-ings of his name on pay slips and other confusions, Mackie adopted the name Eugene Markey. That was later changed to Maurice Patrick Markey, Pat Markey and finally Pat Mackie. Mackie got into trouble with the law and served several prison sentences overseas. That included time in several Montreal prisons on charges indirectly related to union activi-ties. In one incident, he was to claim in his 2002 autobiography, “Many Ships to Mount Isa,” police loaded him with drugs. Mackie was deported to New Zea-land and in 1949 he ended up in Sydney.

Mackie heard there was money to be made mining in Mount Isa. He went north and worked for a few weeks in Brisbane until another brush with the law sent him north to Bundaberg, where again he clashed with the police—this time for having the cheek to complain about their treatment of an Aboriginal man. Mackie arrived in Mount Isa in 1950 and worked for Mount Isa Mines but was quickly branded a troublemaker. He decided to move out of town to mine independently and did so for 10 years, with the aim of buying a small ketch and travelling the world.

Instead, in 1961, he started again at Mount Isa Mines, operated by one of the world's largest mining companies, the American Mining and Smelting Corpo-ration. Mackie was initially a contract ''truckie,'' and later a contract mine timber worker. The strike that began in August 1964 was initially over the issue of adequate showers for the men at the end of their shift. It escalated into a de-mand for a four-pound a week wage rise and better conditions. The company op-posed the claims and had vigorous sup-port from the federal and Queensland governments. Wearing a distinctive red cap, Mackie found himself leading 4,000 mine workers from more than 40 countries.

Publicity over the strike turned Mackie into a household name through-out Australia. During the strike he met

Elizabeth Vassilieff and struck up a long-term relationship. Vassilieff was to write that Mackie ''sees his own needs very simply, voices them fearlessly and became a phenomenally effective work-ers' spokesman and trade union orga-nizer, a power to be reckoned with in the industrial world. His strength lies in his formidable combination of his mag-netic personality with high abilities in three functions of leadership: in clearly analyzing the workers' situations; in democratizing their organization; and in brilliant powers of oratory, enabling him to unite the rank and file and fire them with unshakable loyalty.''

The Australian Council of Trade Unions threatened a statewide 24-hour strike in Queensland, which caused the Nicklin government to call off its state of emergency. The strike ended when the Industrial Relations Commission granted most of what the unionists were striking for.

Mackie said it was “a living lesson in the constructive potential of rank-and-file working people … a triumph of the human spirit.” But the Nicklin govern-ment had a totally different view. Mackie was referred to as ''a vicious gangster.” Sir Francis said the strike was part of a ''communist strategy'' to wreck every major development in the state. The federal government liaised with the Aus-tralian Security Intelligence Organisa-tion (ASIO) on whether it was possible to deport Mackie, and they received advice that it was not possible.

Loyalty to Mackie was not universal in the trade union movement. He was expelled from the right-wing Australian Workers Union.

In 2002, Mackie published his au-tobiography. A reviewer wrote: ''When confronted as to his ideological posi-tion, he would clearly define himself as a Wobbly, working tirelessly to improve the working and living conditions of the rank and file.'' Mackie's achieve-ments were later celebrated in 2007 in a Queensland musical, “Red Cap,” and his legacy to Mount Isa was good working conditions and community facilities.

Rank-And-File Hero Who Led Mount Isa Miners' Strike: Pat Mackie, 1914-2009



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Crisis At The Cegielski Factory In Poland:

dismissals or the decreases in worker salaries. But IP had gained wide support, which resulted in the fact that one of its members, a lathe worker, Marcel Szary, was chosen in 2003, 2006 and 2009 by the plant workforce as its delegate for dealing with management. Each time, he won the elections resoundingly against the candidates of the big traditional trade unions present in the factory. At the same time, IP was still undertak-ing regular protest actions and gaining improvements of work conditions and financial benefits.

In the spring of 2006, IP undertook an attempt to organize a regular strike in Cegielski. The legal way of organiz-ing did not work out because through the use of threats, the management and the other trade unions managed to create a situation in which less than the necessary 50 percent of the workers participated in the strike referendum. Learning from this experience, activists of the IP decided on a radical change of tactics, starting with a series of płytas, or short wildcat strikes. These strikes often took the form of rallies during which the workers decided together and directly about further developments.

Płyta – a Type of Wildcat StrikeThe strategy of płytas (translated

as "platform” or "square”) started on March 29, 2007. On that day, IP called the management to start negotiations on wages. From the beginning, IP refused to hold the talks in the management’s offic-

es (behind closed doors) and called for the ne-gotiations to take place in the workers' club in the factory so that all interested workers could participate directly in the talks. For the first meeting, approximately 200 workers appeared, but management refused to attend. The gathered workers then conducted an assembly and decided that the next day they would conduct a płyta, a term which in the jargon of Cegielski workers describes an informal break in work dur-ing which the workers conduct an assembly. On March 30, 2007, most of the employees of the morning shift participat-ed in the płyta. As the management was still refusing participation in

negotiations, the workers went out on the street and conducted a march to the management offices (about 1 km away from the gate of the factory). The next płyta took place on April 3, 2007, when the chairman of the company appeared and promised to begin the talks.

These were the beginnings of the struggle. Management, however, was not giving up so easily. On April 16, 2007, the IP called an "absence strike,” and 90 percent of the workers did not go to work, using their right to a so-called "leave on demand." According to Polish Labor Code, every employee is allowed to demand four days’ leave at any mo-ment by simply informing the employer on the first day of the leave, so it was sort of a half-legal strike. That morning, hun-dreds of workers gathered on the square in front of the management offices for hours in order to protest and demand wage increases.

These protests continued frequently until April 3, 2008. Altogether, IP orga-nized ten płytas of 20 minutes to three hours during this period, five demon-strations of 100-400 persons and one "absence strike" in which 90 percent of the personnel participated. As a result of this struggle, wages increased by ap-proximately 700 złoty (~$250) and man-agement gave workers an extra premium of 1,000 złoty (~$350). At the beginning of 2009, the average gross salary in Cegielski was approximately 2,850 złoty (~$1,000), so in about one year

Continued on next page

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By The Workers’ InitiativeThis article describes the

historical and present signifi-cance of the Cegielski factory in Poznán for the workers' movement in Poland, as well as the history of activity of the Workers' Initiative (Inicjatywa Pracownicza, or IP) in the Cegiel-ski factory since 2002. It also describes the development of the strategy of wildcat strikes called płyta during these years, as a result of which a key activist of IP was recently sentenced by the Polish courts. Last but not least, the article shows the recent in-fluence of the global crises in the Polish shipyard industry on the situation of Cegielski workers: 500 of them were fired, which mobilized others to stage a mass demonstration in October 2009.

Since 2002, the IP has been working closely with the workers of the Cegielski plant in Poznań (which is owned by HCP SA), convincing the majority of them of the validity of its tactics. These tactics are based on several simple prin-ciples: end of the conciliatory politics towards management that have been conducted at this plant by other trade unions, assurance of full access of the workers to information on the situation of the company as well as on the situa-tion of particular groups of workers em-ployed in Cegielski, assurance of worker participation in the taking of relevant decisions, and, finally, establishment of the groundwork for direct actions and struggles that are controlled from below.

The Significance of the Cegielski Factory to the Polish LaborMovement

The Cegielski plant is one of the most famous in Poland. It was founded in 1846. Cegielski primarily produces various types of engines, among them ship engines—as Poland is one of the leading producers of ships worldwide—as well as wagon and tram engines. For many years, Cegielski was one of the biggest workplaces in the western part of Poland. In the 1970s, during the most productive years of the plant, more than 20,000 people were working there. In the beginning of 2009, Cegielski had 2,800 employees. Its size and impor-tance for the regional economy are some of the main reasons why the class struggle has always been concentrated in Cegielski.

The first Cegielski strike took place in 1872. In the period between the world wars (1918-1939), the workers of

Cegielski undertook both small and big actions—many times strikes and dem-onstrations. The first strike actions after the war started in autumn 1945, and in 1956 the workers of Cegielski initi-ated a militant proletarian insurgence which lasted several days and took over the whole of Poznań. In the militant clashes with forces of the Polish army and police, around 70 protesters were killed. The next wave of protests in the plant took place in the 1980s; however, Cegielski workers did not play a leading role during the revolution of 1980.

In the 1990s, the situation in the plant had become quiet because, on the one hand, the workers let themselves be scared with the threat of dismissal and, on the other hand, salaries in Cegielski exceeded the average salaries in the country. Only with the beginning of the new century did new protest actions start as a reaction to another wave of dis-missals and radical decreases in worker salaries. During this period, the IP established itself in the Cegielski plant with the intention of creating a radical struggle in the interest of the workers.

The Beginnings of the Workers’ Initiative at Cegielski

One of the first successes of the IP was a demonstration to stop the dismiss-als of workers in June 2002. Approxi-mately 1,000 workers from Cegielski and other plants in Poznán took to the streets. However, numerous actions did not manage to put an end to the

A worker protests at the Cegielski plant in Poznań on Oct. 23. Photo:

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Continued from previous page

the workers achieved an approximate 25 percent increase.

Reprisals for the PłytasOn Nov. 3, 2009, the Polish court

found Marcel Szary guilty of organiz-ing and leading three wildcat strikes in Cegielski in 2008 and imposed on him a fine of 3,000 złoty (~$1,050). The the bosses of the Cegielski plant also demanded a verdict banning him from holding office in the management of the factory. The court ultimately decided to limit the verdict to the financial fine.

It is worth noting that Szary, who was born in 1964, has been a member of the trade union Solidarnosc (Solidarity) since 1980. Between 1988 and 1991, he was head of the Cegielski plant-based Solidarnosc in the W-2, the largest and most important department of the fac-tory, which produces ship engines. In 2000, not agreeing with the conciliatory policy of Solidarnosc, he gave up his membership in the union, and in June 2004 he founded a new union: Workers' Initiative (IP). Today he is still one of its key activists.

Result of the Crisis: 500 Workers Fired, a Demonstration of 4,000

In 2008, a very deep crisis erupted in the Polish shipyard industry that af-fected Cegielski, as ship engine produc-tion is one of the most important in the factory. Some time after that, the crisis

also influenced shipyards in Germany and China, which were major customers of Cegielski. This could be seen in factory orders in mid-2009. In June 2009, mass layoffs of about 500 workers were an-nounced. While other trade unions were cooperating with management, IP began to organize protests, including several pickets and demonstrations in front of the factory, against the firings. On Oct. 23, 2009, almost 4,000 workers from different trade unions and various plants took part in a demonstration for work-ers’ rights. Members of IP and anarchists participated in that protest.

The demonstrators first gathered on the premises of the factory and then moved towards its provincial office. The common bloc of IP and Sierpień 1980, together with the anarchists, chanted slogans such as “Government out to the pavement, paving stones on the govern-ment,” “One, two, three, four, stop those damn dismissals,” “A worker dismissed, a boss hanged,” and “Capitalism isn't working! Factories under the control of workers.” Rhythms of Resistance, a sam-ba group from Poznán, supported the demonstration with its rhythms. A ban-ner saying “A worker dismissed, a boss hanged” was dropped from one building on the route of the demonstration.

When the demonstration reached the provincial office of Cegielski, the leaders of Solidarnosc declared a radical fight in defense of the workers, threatened to “burn the offices” and burned car tires. When IP members and anarchists joined

the shipyard workers in the back of the office building, clashes with the police broke out, and the shipyard workers retreated as they were told to do by their leaders. Three policemen were hurt and some activists might expect legal pro-ceedings against them for attacking the policemen.

The Present SituationIP continues to fight to save jobs in

the Cegielski factory. We are also try-ing to organize the fired workers who remain unemployed to carry out protests that put pressure on the local govern-

The Workers’ Initiative Fights For Jobs

By The Workers’ InitiativeAn agreement was signed on Nov.

25, 2009, between the Workers’ Initia-tive (IP) and HCP SA (the owner of the Cegielski factory), ending the collec-tive dispute and allowing the five IP activists who had been illegally fired to return to work. HCP SA also recognized union protection for the five activists. The Workers' Initiative agreed to sus-pend protests, while the management promised not to make further redun-dancies.

The five IP activists were fired in mid-October, just a few days after IP had informed HCP SA that the union had gotten support from enough fac-tory workers to be able to represent them. The IP had chosen these workers as representatives, so they are protect-

Thousands of of workers demonstrate on Oct. 23. Photo: London IWW demonstrates at the Polish Embassy on Nov. 27. Photo: Nic Lane

the current economic downturn. She also vowed to wage a public-relations war to inform Londoners of the “true costs” to the LTC and taxpayers of meet-ing the union’s demands.

The union responded by pointing to the fact that they are paid significantly less than their counterparts in other mu-nicipalities, and their benefit packages trail far behind workers in most other unionized sectors.

The day the strike started, the Uni-versity of Western Ontario announced the creation of a “community van” program for students living off campus. Union representatives responded by labeling the initiative a form of strike-breaking and threatened to picket the university. Despite receiving the sup-port from the university’s faculty union, the resulting outcry from students, who make up a large percentage of the LTC’s 75,000 daily fares, eventually drove the ATU 741 rank and file to vote against picketing the school.

Fanshawe College quietly announced a new contingency plan of their own—a shuttle service connecting the main cam-

pus to a secondary downtown campus that houses the college’s drama depart-ment. Fanshawe’s administration has been quick to avoid having the shuttle service labeled as strike-breaking.

“We are not trying to mount a re-placement bus system to London Tran-sit, which is a vital service . . . We respect the right to strike,” said Fanshawe College spokesperson Jeff Sage upon an-nouncement of the shuttle service.

The days following the announce-ment of the strike have seen a back-lash, perhaps best epitomized by radio announcers on London’s CJBK 1290 recently supporting callers to spit on bus drivers when they eventually return to the job. Popular social networking sites Facebook and Twitter have also seen a spike in groups and individuals heaping scorn on the city’s transit workers.

Despite this, the union remained steadfast in their demands for better benefits and modest wage increases that would set their salaries in line with their counterparts in Windsor and Kitchener.

This article originally appeared in the December 2009 issue of Linchpin.

packed court. When the officials left the room a sit-in and “peoples’ court” were held at which the government was found guilty of ig-noring the rights of the people of Wales. The subsequent hearing was moved to a brand new high-security court building where only a few members of the public were ad-mitted to the public gallery.

Osian's selfless determination, tire-less enthusiasm and bubbly personality are an inspiration to all of us who have encountered him at meetings, demos and picket lines. We look forward to his release and hope he will be able to spare some of his valuable activism time to help us set up that north Wales IWW

branch.Anyone wishing to send him a mes-

sage of solidarity can write to: Osian Jones. Prison No.DX8265. HM Prison Altcourse, Fazakerley, Liverpool L97 LH. England.

ment, which at the moment is trying to increase the price of water and public transport in the city of Poznań. Unfor-tunately, the IP activists from Cegielski have been facing repression. In addition to the sentence of Szary, four workers active in the IP from its very beginning were incarcerated, and were just recently released. Therefore, we are also orga-nizing support and protest against this repression. This struggle is important not only to the workers of Cegielski, but to all members of our union, which basi-cally was created and developed through the activity of the Cegielski workers.

ed by the Union Law. All fired work-ers were also members of the strike committee established by IP during the industrial dispute, which started in August 2009.

As a result of the IP protests, some of the workers' demands are now met; for instance, regular wages are paid to the workers for the work stoppage time in accordance with the Labor Code (before, the employer had signed individual agreements with employees, which is illegal). What is more, the em-ployer could not reduce wages in 2009. IP fought to push through the same agreement for 2010, but the manage-ment refused, stating that the shipping industry was in a difficult situation and it was impossible to say what will hap-pen this year.

Update: End Of Collective Dispute At Cegielski Factory

Not In Service: Ontario Transit Workers On Strike Welsh Wobbly Imprisoned For 28 Days

In January 2007, Osian Jones joined a sit-in at a super-market that refused to put up Welsh language signs. The sign reads "Your Language, Your Right. "

Photo: Huw Jones

Continued from 1Continued from 1


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the community that helped the work-ers of Zanon eventually transform the factory into a cooperative. Ramírez said, “We always said the factory isn’t ours. We are using it, but it belongs to the community.”

That’s a key message at the heart of this book—that these failed factories and businesses should belong to the people, not the wealthy bosses who mistreated workers and then abandoned ship. Such challenges to classic ideas of private property and workplace hierarchy course through every page in “Sin Patrón.” These examples of worker management defy the bankrupt logic of capitalism itself.

Angry workers everywhere should grab a copy of “Sin Patrón” to read of the Argentines who built new worlds when the old ones failed. As the Lavaca editors write in the introduction to their book, “The limit of all prediction is what people are capable of doing. It is not chance, but courage, that makes the future unpredictable.”

This story was originally published on Nov. 24, 2009 on

Klein, Naomi. “Sin Patrón: Stories From Argentina’s Worker-Run Factories.” Haymarket Books, 2007. 320 pages, paperback, $16.

By Benjamin Dangl Following the social upheaval in Ar-

gentina from 2001 to 2002, a book was published in Spanish that a lot of activ-ists and independent journalists in the country began trying to get their hands on. It wasn’t in all of the bookstores, but news about it traveled like wildfire. Now the legendary book, “Sin Patron: Stories From Argentina’s Worker-Run Facto-ries,” is translated and available to the English-speaking world.

The book includes a number of il-luminating interviews and chapters by Lavaca, a journalism collective based in Buenos Aires that continues to produce some of the best analysis and stories on social movements in the country. With “Sin Patrón,” Lavaca brings together dy-namic voices and stories from the hearts of Argentina’s inspiring movements.

The timing couldn’t be better for the release of this book in English. Read-ers in the U.S. seeking creative solu-tions to the current economic crisis may find some helpful suggestions in “Sin Patrón.”

Workers in Argentina during that country’s crash figured out they needed to go beyond the law to survive. “For workers in Argentina there is no law. It only exists for the powerful,” said

Eduardo Murua, President of the National Move-ment of Reclaimed Compa-nies. “If we were stuck outside [of the factory] asking the judge to keep it

open, we would get nowhere. If we were to ask politicians, we’d get even less. Only through occupation could we recover the jobs.”

One story of occupation and worker control told in “Sin Patrón” is that of Sime Quarry, located in the province of Entre Rios. The owners of the quarry ran the busi-ness into the ground, but it was taken over by its workers and kept in operation under worker-control. Leading up to the closure, the bosses abused the workers verbally and physically. María del Huerto said that in December 2002 the bosses of the quarry “gave us a 35-day unscheduled vacation.” The “vacation” lasted until Jan. 20, 2003, when the workers went back to the quarry to find it aban-doned. It was “a pasture with no lights, running water, or telephone service. Nothing. It was desolate,” María said. Just a few machines were left.

María met with fellow workers and members of the Movement of Recuperat-ed Companies, and they discussed taking over the quarry themselves. They de-cided to arm themselves before the take-over in case they ran into any resistance. “We took firearms, and some neighbors lent us shotguns. We announced that we didn’t want to shoot anyone, but wanted to defend our workplace and keep the bosses from stealing anything else.”

It was a terribly hot time of the year and mosquitoes were everywhere. No one had any money, so they used the guns to hunt. “To eat, the men hunted apereá rabbits—they’re brown; they look like big mice. They also fished caruchas from a nearby lagoon, and Don Joaquín would send us tarpon fish from the market. What had happened to us? We thought of ourselves as middle class, and here we were, begging and hunting to make ends meet,” María said. At one point, the workers were getting so des-perate they had to sell furniture in order to buy meat.

Over time, they formed a cooperative and a judge ordered the plant be given

over to them in April of 2003. Now the quarry is back in business, fully opera-tional under worker-management.

The Zanon ceramics factory was also occupied and put under worker control around the same time. Reinaldo Gimé-nez, a long time worker at Zanon, spoke of when the business was closing down and the boss refused to pay the work-ers what was owed to them. The boss “put everyone in the same boat, and the workers with the longest tenures said, ‘This scumbag should have paid me. I gave him my life, but he has no feelings, no compassion, and he makes no distinc-tions.’”

The tension with the boss blew up, and the workers went on strike, setting up tents outside the factory, march-ing, picketing and organizing a com-munal kitchen. Local schools, workers and neighbors helped out however they could; even prisoners in jail supported the workers by donating their food. The workers reached out to the community, explaining their plight to passersby. Lo-cals empathized with them because they were hard-working people with families. It was this connection and support from

The Unpredictable Future: Stories From Worker-Run Factories In Argentina

Director: Travis Wilkerson. “An Injury To One.” Icarus Films, 2003. 53 min-utes.

By Benjamin FergusonHovering between a dream and a

flash presentation, “An Injury To One” is a strange and beautifully photographed film about legendary wobbly organizer Frank Little’s attempt to organize the workers of the Anaconda Copper Mining Company. Anyone searching for cinema remotely similar to what typically comes out of Hollywood will want to flee in the opposite direction; this is a 53-minute deeply expressionistic depiction of the horror and violence a company resorted to when its interests were threatened.

Images of Butte, Montana’s past and present are the backdrop for the copper miners’ struggles and the lynch-ing of Frank Little. With a haunting soundtrack of guitars and violins from Low, Will Oldham and Jim O’Rourke, viewers learn about a company called Anaconda—ironically named after one of nature’s most vicious predators—which controlled the local government and newspapers. Anaconda’s battles against organized labor included the first use of the black list in this country, and the worker mortality rate was higher than those dying in World War I. Little was giving speeches to thousands at a time and organizing the miners who pro-

Book & Movie Reviews

duced 10 percent of the world’s copper, a crucial element in the war effort. The prediction of violence by the local papers finally came true at 4:00 a.m. on Aug. 1, 1917.

The connection of the progressive mystery writer Dashiel Hammet to the events is also explored. Lefty playwright Lillian Hellman, who was his girlfriend for 30 years, claimed that Hammet, a Pinkerton agent at the time, was offered $500 to kill Little. The plot of Hammet’s book “Poisonville” mirrors what was transpiring in Butte when Little arrived. It was a prophetic choice for the book’s title in that Lake Berkley is considered the most polluted lake in the country as a result of Anaconda’s reckless environ-mental policies.

Unions need more cinematic mate-rial to convey their struggles and ideas with an originality that can appeal to a wide audience, and director/narra-tor Travis Wilkerson’s 2003 film has an aesthetic which can’t be compared to any movie on labor or anything else. There are no talking heads here, just an emotionally-charged graphic construc-tion which captures a tragic event in our union’s history.

“An Injury to One” serves as an ex-cellent outreach tool for teaching poten-tial members about the IWW principles that inspired Frank Little’s courageous organizing.

The Little-Known Life Of Frank Little

“Zanon belongs to the people.” Photo:


Graphic: Benjamin Ferguson

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January 2010 • Industrial Worker • Page 9


Anti-Privatization Protests In SerbiaBy the Global Balkans Network

Earlier this year the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded a one-week mission to Serbia, during which it extended the second-tranche of a 4.3 bil-lion euro loan package to Serbia. At the time it gave the government until late October to reign in public sector spend-ing as a condition for disbursing the third-tranche of the agreement (worth 1.4-billion euros) by the end of 2009.

The tough negotiations came at a time when the incumbent government of Serbia was facing a 4 percent contrac-tion in its economy and a determined workers movement that refuses to bear the burden of economic restructuring after years of corruption which bound together key Serbian business and politi-cal interests in the squandering of public funds. The end of 2009 was also the self-imposed deadline set by the government for completing the sell-off of all ’socially owned’ (i.e. formerly self-managed) companies in Serbia.

In September, there were more than 30 strike actions throughout the country, many of which have taken on radical forms in recent months, including fac-tory occupations, railway blockades, city-hall and police station takeovers, sleep-ins, “boss-nappings,” hunger strikes and even a case of self-mutilation. In these actions workers are often seeking to prevent shady privatization deals from occurring or trying to save their jobs and enterprises from bankruptcy following such privatizations. The main concern of most workers in these actions is to en-sure the continued payment of salaries, compensation, etc., upon which their survival and the survival of their com-munities depends. Many of these strikes have been organized at the factory level, with little input from the mainstream unions in Serbia.

Following these actions, a num-ber of strike committees have come together to form a Coordinating Com-mittee for Workers Protests in Serbia (CCWPS). Five strike committees joined the CCWPS, representing workers from three cities and five branches of industry (electrical components, pharmaceuti-cals, rail-products, food-processing, and confectionary products).

Global Balkans Interviews Milenko Srećković

The following is an interview with Milenko Srećković, spokeperson for the Freedom Fight anarchist network:

Global Balkans: The IMF was just recently in Serbia to negotiate regard-ing the disbursem*nt of a 4.3 billion euro loan to the country. What is the current situation in Serbia with respect to the economic crisis? What makes 2009 an important year in Serbia’s privatization attempts?

Milenko Srećković: The current economic collapse in Serbia would have occurred even without the “economic crisis.” It’s the direct result of a range of neoliberal economic measures. The privatization process in Serbia, which is a central component of the neoliberal project, brought about the ruin of many factories and the near total de-indus-trialization of the country. This process began in 2001, in its most extreme form, when the new “democratic” government of Serbia introduced a new Privatiza-tion Law. At that time all socially owned property was confiscated and its priva-tization became mandatory. A deadline was imposed by state authorities for the completion of the privatization process.

However, following eight years of privatization, the general opinion is that privatization only served to ravage an economy that somehow managed to survive the sanctions of the 1990s and a [three month] NATO bombing campaign in 1999. Of course, it wasn’t the most prosperous economy in Europe at the time, but it had the potential to develop

and employ a large number of people given the right approach.

By 2002, a number of domestic development banks [Beobanka, Invest-banka, Beogradska banka, Jugobanka], which could have extended credits to industry at low-interest, were delib-erately driven into bankruptcy by the government. With this move the space was created to open branches of foreign banks (none of which had a developmen-tal function). This [financial reform] was supported by the IMF and the World Bank and implemented by the IMF’s domestic cadres. These cadres have been permanent fixtures in every Serbian gov-ernment [since October 2000]. Domestic industry, already shaken up by 10 years of crisis, suddenly found itself without a source of favorable credit.

The state has shown little inter-est in maintaining production in those enterprises that employ a large number of workers. Receipts from the sale of factories were used to fill the state-budget and purchase social peace, while enabling a favorable infrastructure for foreign investors to be created so that they could engage in green-field invest-ments in the newly opened “free zones.” These “free zones” are characterized by working conditions that offer minimal pay, thereby allowing foreign investors to use cheap labor, which is cynically called our “comparative advantage” by local neoliberal economists.

Currently there is a marked increase in labor protests largely due to the non-payment of wages and benefits or be-cause of layoffs. Workers are increasing-ly demanding the Privatization Agency put an end to a spate of bad privatiza-tion deals. In fact, this Agency is the best evidence that the new ’democratic’ authorities totally retained the model of a centralized state from the Communist period, because they now need this ap-paratus to introduce neoliberal reforms. That is to say, this type of agency is an integral part of the state wherever such massive privatizations occur. Such a powerful state agency has never existed in Serbia (regardless of which empire ruled in the region!).

Of course, it was precisely such a strong Privatization Agency that was needed to secure the ultimate goal: to allow new private owners to purge these newly acquired assets of their workers, while retaining ownership over all the plant, capital and land of these factories. They could then either sell or rent this newly ’freed’ space to other businesses. In this way they were able to create a high-rate of unemployment, an im-portant precondition for “green-field” investments. Workers have taken to pointing out the persistent involvement of the Privatization Agency’s functionar-ies in criminal activities that have driven many factories to ruin [often in direct violation of the stipulations regulating their privatization]. However, the legal system is set up in such a way that the agency is always right, and even when it has clearly failed to uphold the law, [it will face no repercussions]. This is because a good portion of the proceeds from privatization have gone into the fi-nancing of political parties (both among those in the current government and for those in the opposition’s ranks).

GB: How has the workers’ move-ment responded?

MS: The independent, grassroots workers’ movement in which we’re par-ticipating draws on the experience of the workers’ struggle in the city of Zrenjanin from recent years. This is a model that we’re trying to spread to other cities in Serbia. Zrenjanin, which was one of the industrial centers of both Serbia and the former Yugoslavia, suffered a total collapse of local industry. The current unemployment rate there now stands at 35 percent.

However, in Zrenjanin there were

also factories where workers of-fered strong resistance, like in the Jugoremedija pharmaceutical factory where they succeeded in removing the new owner who was leading the company into bank-ruptcy. These workers recently succeeded in installing their own management, restarted production, and saved their jobs. Having solved their own existential problems, they continued to struggle in solidarity with their local community, establishing a working-class political party known as Ravnopravnost (Equality) and extending their solidar-ity to workers from other factories in Zrenjanin that were caught-up in similar struggles. The movement has received the support of the local community, as well as many organizers and public fig-ures from outside Zrenjanin, including some engaged intellectuals like Nebojsa Popov (the editor of Republika) and Ivan Zlatic, an activist from the Freedom Fight movement.

The movement we’re building is based on the right to work, or more pre-cisely, the right of workers to decide on the fate of the factories in which they’re employed and from which they them-selves, along with their families and their local communities, live.

Another important stronghold of this movement is in the city of Raca, near Kragujevac. Raca has become the site of one of the most determined and most radical workers’ struggles for the preser-vation of their workplaces. We managed to link together the representatives of strike commitees from several enter-prises and suggested that, in moments where there’s a real possibility and need, they could coordinate their efforts and struggle for their rights together. On this basis we founded the Coordinating Com-mittee for Workers Protests in Serbia (CCWPS).

GB: Tell us about the new Coordi-nating Committee?

MS: During the Aug. 11 Zastava-Elektro workers protest in front of the Privatization Agency in Belgrade [during which the workers spent the night in front of Agency], we invited workers from similarly affected enterprises that we’ve been working with to join us. The intention was to extend the solidarity that existed between workers in a given city to workers from other cities that might be at quite a distance from each other. It was in this way that we created the basis for a Coordinating Committee that was established by the represen-tatives of workers from the Zastava-Elektro [electrical components] factory in Raca, the Srbolek [pharmaceutical] factory in Belgrade, as well as workers from Sinvoz [rail-car production] and BEK [food processing] plants in Zren-janin. We put a callout for other strike committees in Serbia to join us.

A few days later, workers from the Ravanica [confectionary] factory in Cu-prija joined the Coordinating Commit-tee. We’re expecting more strike com-mittees to join us in the coming days. The plan was to be prepared for the fall when an escalation in worker discontent and rebellion is expected throughout Serbia. The main aim is to struggle in solidarity with one another against the collapse of our factories and the protec-tion of our jobs. The government has already put together its team for the suppression of workers protests, with the aim of silencing our concerns. Now we must demonstrate that we’re strong, united, and organized, because other-wise the entire democratic potential of the workers movement will disappear into case-specific negotiations with the government working group.

GB: What concrete successes has this Committee already had?

MS: We are struggling to ensure that the government’s “working group” accepts the [democratically elected] rep-

resentatives of the strike committees as their interlocutors in any future negotia-tions. The government has already cho-sen its own partners in carrying out the so-called “social dialogue,” which were obviously chosen from the leadership of the mainstream unions. The workers in Serbia are deeply disillusioned with the behavior of the big unions, especially in the course of the past year (and especial-ly since the onset of the economic crisis), because they’ve shown themselves to be allies of the government in attempting to slow down the current strike-wave. In some cases they were even directly involved in sabotaging some actions by workers. It is for this reason that we’re asking that the governments main interlocutors on the side of the workers be a coordinating body that represents the interests and demands of the actual workers’ strike committees [at the fac-tory level]. We’ve put some real pressure on the government, and we’ll continue to do so. We’re hoping for positive results.

However, if this question is hinting at the success achieved in light of the recent offer by the owner of Zastava-Elektro, Ranko Dejanovic, to return the factory to the ownership of the workers (following six months of radical strike action)... I have to let you know that we’ve rejected the owner’s offer. The negotiations with the government are always tied up in avoiding a number of traps that they’re trying to set for us. This offer [from Dejanovic] is one of these traps, even though the media pre-sented it as a big victory for the workers. In fact, all they’re giving us is a factory that the current owner has overburdened with serious debts and mortgage issues. It would be only a matter of days before such a factory faced bankruptcy. It would be hard to resume production so long as the state refuses to cancel all the debts accumulated by Dejanovic.

The struggle for the future of Zastava-Elektro continues to this very moment. Today, workers will again hold a protest in front of the Privatization Agency (unless, of course, the police again try to prevent bus companies from driving the workers from Raca to Bel-grade). If this happens, we’ll again have to blockade either the communal police station, the city council, or the main railway-line near Raca.

GB: What can folks from the outside do to support local resistance to neo-liberalism?

MS: The most important thing is that information about our struggle be disseminated in an accurate way. Even though the problem of workers and oppressed groups in society are simi-lar throughout the world as a result of globalization, every context also has its own specificities which we must come to know in detail before making any con-clusions. These specificities can often be the source of misunderstandings, since everywhere one can find opportunists and grandstanding individuals among leftist activists who do things only to impress their friends on the interna-tional scene. Such activities may not be related to the local context in which they operate in any way, but they’ll still take such actions. Such opportunists in fact can bring real harm to actual struggles occurring in their local context. For this reason it is important that the situation in Serbia is understood and transmitted in a precise way, so that there is no room for manipulation.

This story was edited for length. It originally appeared on Sept.9, 2009, on

The Little-Known Life Of Frank Little

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Union To Roll Through EPZs Of Central America

such an ar-rangement, if workers walked out manage-ment could just blame the union for preventing a resolu-tion to the long-running dispute. This was hardly a show of good faith.

The second item that was dis-cussed—and another thing that was abundantly clear to both officials—was that the workers were not at all happy. The union full-timer told us he’d had calls on Monday morning with workers who wanted to quit the union and that workers felt “sold out” and abandoned by the leadership. According to him, workers in North West London sorting offices were ready to walk out on their own accord. All it would take would be one word from local officials or any pro-vocative move from plant management, and mail service would cease in North West London. His advice to his members was that while he shared their indigna-tion, they should at least try to let the agreement work. If it failed, the other options could be considered. (It’s worth noting that allowing unofficial strike ac-tion has been a tactic of the CWU in the past. While this no doubt speaks to the militancy of the posties, it also speaks to how the CWU presents itself to the Royal Mail: a vehicle of containment as much as a vehicle of militancy).

Our lay official, while agreeing on the level of anger felt by the rank and file, offered a differing analysis. He felt that—at least in his depot—the formal cessation of strike activity had led to a loss of momentum on the ground. Even with the live strike ballot, it’d be tough to regain the energy and potential there’d been a week prior.

A postie then spoke up from the audience. Surely Royal Mail was dishon-est and manipulative, but the TUC and the CWU’s national leadership played a role as well: “If the strikes continued, the union could lose control. And they don’t want that.” Voicing the anger that must have been felt by posties across the city and, indeed, across all of Britain, he told us that since going back to work that Monday the bullying that had been such a factor in the dispute hadn’t changed.

In some instances workers were being taunted by their supervisors, some of whom even went so far as to declare, “We’ve won.” Despite sections of the in-terim agreement that obligated manage-ment to address the culture of bullying immediately, nothing had changed. On a more cautiously optimistic note, he offered his view on the timing of mail strikes. The conventional wisdom is that Royal Mail is most vulnerable during the Christmas season. He felt that while there’s truth in this, if orchestrated properly, strikes at other times of the year could also severely disrupt the mail cycle. Even if the workers were indeed sold out this time around, all hope is not lost.

As I prepare to send this in for publication, I’m planning on going to the fourth meeting of the North West London Postal Workers Support Group in two days’ time. According to the email invitation I’ve received, “The London Division [of the CWU] has unanimously agreed to demand that the national union announce national strike action. This is a national agreement they’re breaking; it’s a national union, therefore it requires national action.”

I’m not in any position to judge where this dispute will go next. The issue of the “seasonal workers” men-tioned in the December 2009 Industrial Worker, and the crater-sized pension hole, remain unresolved. However, this article will be going to print in the Janu-ary issue. By the time of publication, what’s done will be done. I can’t stress enough the importance of this dispute. The posties have been called the “van-guard of the British working class.” In a time when the private sector is shedding jobs and slashing wages and both major parties are calling for a minimum of ten percent cuts in public spending, a suc-cess for the postal workers is a success for us all. I can only hope for the best.

London “Posties” Strike Against Privatization, Part 2Continued from 1

By Tom LevyThe following interview was conducted during the first round of strikes the

Industrial Worker covered in the December 2009 issue. It should help provide further background to the causes and importance of the dispute.

Tom Levy: How have the strikes been organized, i.e., is there a strike committee, and how are the committees elected/selected? How privy is the membership to what goes on during negotiations? How does the union dis-seminate that information?

Postal Worker: In terms of how the strikes are organized, I don’t know of any strike committees as such, but there are workplace reps and every branch has a branch committee made up of the reps and branch officers. All these are elected by the workforce. It’s also their job to [try and] keep the workers in-formed about [such things as] negotiations, strike days and support. As far as the negotiations are concerned, we are really not kept informed at all at any level. Other information is disseminated by the national union via the website and email. There is also the monthly union newspaper sent to all members.

TL: What’s your view on the tactics of the rolling strikes? PW: I, like many others, am in two minds about the rolling strikes. On the

one hand—as in the latest ones—they cause two days’ disruption while only los-ing us one day’s pay. On the other hand, it can be confusing, not to say demoral-izing, when some sections are out and others are working.

TL: Have there been unofficial/wildcat strikes within Royal Mail? Relat-ed, what are your thoughts on the balloting process? Do you feel it inhibits the ability of workers to take action?

PW: There have been a lot of unofficial [“wildcat”] strikes in Royal Mail, usually spontaneous local walkouts over some management action, such as ha-rassment or a sacking. There has been some unofficial action during the course of the current disputes, particularly over the crossing (or, rather, not crossing) of picket lines. These usually only last [for] a day or two. The legal balloting pro-cedure for official strikes prevents immediate reaction to management actions. It means it takes several weeks to respond to anything.

TL: Have there been attempts by the CWU, or by workers working outside the union, to spread the struggle? By this I mean in terms of industrial action, beyond resolutions or donations to the hardship fund.

PW: To date, no.TL: What is your view on the ACAS [Advisory, Conciliation and Arbi-

tration Service]? Do you feel they’re truly a neutral agency? What are your thoughts on the use of negotiating agencies in general when it comes to labor disputes?

PW: [I’m] not keen on ACAS or any other mediating organizations. At their best, they only propose to find some kind of compromise/middle way. I don’t see why workers should settle for that. That’s bad enough, but more usually they tend to come down on the side of the employer. [I’m] not sure what “neu-tral” means in the context of the class struggle.

TL: Can you describe the relationship between CWU members and the unionized managers and, if a different dynamic exists, between the CWU itself and the managers’ union? Presumably the managers have been crossing the picket line?

PW: Our managers don’t just cross our picket line. They [try and] do our work on strike days, volunteer to travel around the country doing the same, and organize and encourage workers to scab. We’re not sure what proportion of them are members of the Communication Managers’ Association [CMA, a sec-tion within Unite], but that doesn’t make much difference. In the past the CMA has boasted about their strikebreaking activities. Relations are dreadful. Postal workers have a good record of not crossing other workers’ picket lines [when delivering the post], but, like it or not, would not hesitate to cross CMA picket lines. At national level the CWU has attempted to get the CMA to be more coop-erative, but to little effect.

The power of a global justice move-ment, including the student movements, is a powerful display of internation-al unity for the struggle of working people. It shows that the power of capitalist colonialism and occupa-tion in Latin America and Mexico, which has enslaved workers at low wages, can be broken. The experience also demonstrates the unity between people in spite of racism, sexism, and national chauvinism. The victory of the Honduran working class, in the face of

a repressive military coup, could have worldwide repercussions and will be an

inspiration for other libera-tion struggles.

The International Solidarity Commission (ISC) of the IWW is mak-ing inquiries to determine whether or not an actual union label was ever a subject of bargaining between Cen-tro General de Trabajadores

and Russell Athletics.

To read the agreements between the union and the company, visit the Workers Rights Consortium website at

Interview With A Longtime Member Of The CWU

London CWU members strike in October. Photo:

USAS at SUNY Binghamton in Nov. 2008. Photo: Paul Poulos

By Kenneth MillerThe National Basketball Association

(NBA), much like the National Football League (NFL), conducts all of the licens-ing for all of the teams and distributes the revenue from apparel licensing to each of the teams through a “Revenue Sharing Agreement.”

Sweat-Free Baseball is committed to turning these agreements on their head by demanding that the Pittsburgh Pirates assert themselves to protect the rights of workers sewing our team’s logo.

This ongoing campaign targeting the NBA would be exponentially more pow-erful when a local group brings its con-cerns to the local team. The Pittsburgh Anti Sweatshop Community Alliance and the IWW International Solidarity Commission (ISC) are asking our col-leagues in the anti-sweatshop movement to support our efforts by redirecting any discussion about workers’ rights in the apparel supply chain to local groups and their respective teams. This was made explicit in an IWW ISC Resolution delivered to the AFL-CIO Union Label Committee and the 6th Annual Sweat-Free Communities Conference.

Community Collective Bargaining With The Home Team

Graphic: Tom Keough

Continued from 1

Industrial Worker - January 2010 - [PDF Document] (12)

Page 12 • Industrial Worker • January 2010

Support international solidarity!Assessments for $3, $6 are available from your delegate or IWW headquarters PO Box 23085, Cincinnati, OH 45223-3085, USA.

The IWW formed the International Solidarity Commission to help the union build the worker-to-worker solidarity that can lead to effective action against the bosses of the world. To contact the ISC, email [emailprotected] From Palestine: Our First Day In RamallahThe following is an excerpt from the re-cent IWW delegation to Palestine’s blog.

Nov. 22, 2009 - Today we took the bus in to Ramallah, passing the Qalandia checkpoint with no problem, though we did see one or two cars full of people being inspected by the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). We also got our first glimpse of the infamous Apartheid Wall. Rob said it best: It’s kind of like a checkpoint on I-95, except staffed by children with M16s. They are not exactly children, but the IDF soldiers all look very, very young.

We were welcomed into the Federa-tion of Independent Unions of Palestine office by Mohammed Aruri and his col-league Ghareeb. At this small meeting, delegation members learned a bit about the Federation of Independent Palestin-ian Unions, which, as it turns out, is in-credibly similar in mission and structure to the IWW.

The Federation organizes within a wide spectrum of unions, from finance to agricultural to medical manufactur-ing to university employees to certain parts of the public sector, like village councils. Unemployment is rampant, with up to 50 percent of workers who are unemployed, and the Federation orga-nizes and provides services to workers without jobs. The Federation provides food, medicine, money and free insur-ance service to approximately 2,000 unemployed workers. Most of the money donated by the Palestinian Authority goes to paying government employees and to security measures demanded by the Israeli government, and there is little left for unemployment compensation, so it is left to unions to fill the gap. Nota-bly, 50 percent of Palestinians also live below the poverty line. Mohammed said that the occupation is the main cause for their suffering.

The Federation organizes all over the West Bank, and does some work within Gaza. They do not have mem-bers in Jerusalem, where workers tend to organize by local shops and not into federations. Aruri suspects that this has something to do with the difficulty in getting across checkpoints, but there may be other political reasons as well. The Federation is the Palestinian ver-sion of “One Big Union,” as they work tirelessly to build solidarity in the West Bank, Gaza and Israel, and all over the world. If there were a theme to our discussions today it would be “unity in struggle.”

The union was started in reaction to the larger business unions represent-ing most Palestinian workers. It has a structure that reflects a commitment to democratic unionism. The executive committee is comprised of workers who are elected by the members directly. The local leaders must be workers in the industries they represent.

Our conversation turned to the Boycott Israel movement of which the

Federation plays an active role. The boy-cott movement, created by Palestinian workers and civil society groups, seeks to put non-violent pressure on the Israeli government to abide by standards of human rights and international law. Mo-hammed said that most Palestinians are in favor of the boycott, as it will increase job opportunities, as it will increase op-portunities in Palestinian factories, and will decrease reliance on Israeli goods. Aruri asked that more pressure be placed on Obama, and noted this era as one of much opportunity. The delegation spoke of our efforts to publicize this meeting and build support for the boycott move-ment in the U.S. labor movement.

The U.S. gives $3 billion in aid to the Israeli government largely to the mili-tary. Aruri said that this money could be given to workers in the U.S. to help resolve the economic crisis workers are facing. Aruri said our job is to advocate for U.S. workers as much as it is for oth-ers internationally.

Aruri came to the U.S. in 2004 and met with many rank-and-file union members, as well as peace groups. He also met with leaders of the AFL-CIO who basically accused him of being left-wing and wrote him off. Aruri said the AFL “looks with one eye instead of two.” It should be noted that the AFL, as well as the Democratic Party, signed agree-ments with Histradut, the main Israeli union closely aligned with the Israeli state. One interesting anecdote that illustrates the nature of Histradut: the former president of the union went on to serve as the defense minister for the Israeli government and led the country into the war in Lebanon.

It has become clear throughout our discussions that the occupation of Palestine directly impairs worker organizing. It has caused factories to close and has stopped producers from shipping goods to Arab countries. Aruri noted that the union’s position on the wall is not against the Jewish people, and not even against the wall entirely. He said that Palestinians don’t need aid, that they have the resources to develop themselves. They could have a thriving tourism industry and grow plenty of fruits and vegetables. What they need is freedom.

The union mentioned three specific things solidarity workers could do: they need help fundraising for a staff position to address women’s issues, help organize a visit of members of the Federation to the United States, and connect members to other organizations, unions, women’s organizations, and others.

We returned to our hotel for a brief rest, and were then treated to a delicious supper at the home of Ghareeb, one of the members of the Federation. There, over Arab-style macaroni and cheese, we talked politics, movies, and played with the kids. A pretty great end to the day.

For more, visit A full report will appear in the February/March IW.

Steelworkers Endorse Cooperative Economic Model By Viola Wilkins

On Oct. 27, the United Steelworkers (USW) and MONDRAGON Internacio-nal, S.A. signed an agreement on collab-oration in the U.S. and Canada aiming at adapting USW collective bargaining principles to the Mondragon cooperative model and worker ownership principles.

The agreement stipulates that, “the goals of this collaboration are to develop and grow manufacturing jobs in the United States and Canada, to improve the quality of life of workers and to create sustainable jobs in a sustainable economy that supports stronger com-munities and sustainable environmental practices.”

The company advocates manage-ment model principles based on people working in cooperatives on joint projects and using participative organization for their implementation. In its turn each

cooperative is based on the principles of understanding the instrumental and subordinated nature of capital, demo-cratic organization, open admission, participation in management and wage solidarity.

Commenting on the nature of the agreement, USW International President Leo W. Gerard said, “We see Mon-dragon’s cooperative model with ‘one worker, one vote’ ownership as a means to re-empower workers and make busi-ness accountable to Main Street instead of Wall Street.”

Modragon employs approximately 100,000 cooperative members in more than 260 cooperative enterprises pro-ducing white line domestic appliances, office and home furniture, and sport equipment in more than 40 countries.

To view the full text of the agree-ment, visit

By International Transport Work-ers' Federation (ITF)

Organized by the Confederation of Public Employees Trade Union (KESK)—of which the ITF-affiliated United Transportation Employees Union (BTS) is a member—and the Turkish Public Workers' Labour Union (KAMU-SEN), the strike action took place on Nov. 25, 2009. The aviation branch of the BTS also participated by organizing a work stoppage. They were calling for an end to labor rights violations and for their fundamental rights to belong to a union to be upheld.

Public sector workers, who fall under the Public Employees’ Trade Union Act, face serious restrictions on freedom of association. The Ministry of Labour and Social Security considers collec-tive bargaining and the right to strike a violation of the act. Instead, it allows for

"collective consultative talks," which are not enforceable. The act also contains detailed provisions regarding the way in which unions are allowed to operate; these breach the principles of the right to organize.

The ITF’s European arm, the Eu-ropean Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), sent the BTS a message of soli-darity backing the strike and its struggle for union rights.

“Airports and related air services composed of public employees—such as air traffic, fire, technical, electronics and electricity, airport management and flight information services—also face re-strictions. BTS, the trade union of avia-tion public employees, always objects, protests and fights against this. We want our right to collective bargaining and to strike,” said BTS General Secretary Yavuz Demirkol.

Workers Across Turkey Go On General Strike

By Freedom Fight and the Coor-dinating Committee of Workers Protests

The following is a letter of support for the protests by Belgrade University students, written on Nov. 24, 2009.

Dear students and future colleagues,For decades already we've been con-

fronted with the irresponsible attitude of the government towards the economy in this country, resulting in increasing economic inequality and a drop in the standard of living for a large number of people. Economic decay, deindustrializa-tion, and political corruption are condi-tioned by the specific circ*mstances of our history and political life but are also reflective of global currents expressed by the increasing subordination of all as-pects of society to the exclusive needs of those individuals and corporations that have secured a monopoly not only over the market but also over political deci-sion-making. The educational system is also experiencing its own commercializa-tion and the decline of teaching stan-dards stemming from systemic reforms, known as the Bologna process, as well as the introduction of increasingly higher tuition fees.

The Bologna process is facing resis-tance across the world primarily because it annuls the autonomy of the University and subordinates it to the demands of the market. Educational programs are adapted to meets the markets need for specialized cadre, transforming the university into a factory for the produc-tion of corporate and party aparatchiks.

The survival of educational programs that aren't competitive in the market, particularly humanistic sciences, is increasingly being put into question in University's across the world. Further-more, the implementation of the Bolo-gna Declaration in Serbia has been car-ried out without the adequate reform of study programs, meaning that students face increasingly difficult circ*mstances for fulfilling degree requirements. The first generation of “Bologna students” are seen as “guinea-pigs” on whom the success of educational reforms should be tested.

Instead of state leaders creating the conditions necessary for a society in which knowledge will be accessible to all—so that a larger number of our citi-zens can be empowered for life in today's complex information age—state policy, following global trends, presents knowl-edge as a commodity that can be bought and sold and that isn't for just anyone.

Conscious of the difficult position in which you find yourselves given increas-ing tuition fees, the implementation of the Bologna process, and the irrespon-sible attitude of the government of the Republic of Serbia towards the future of our society, we wish to suggest to you that it is important that you persevere in your protests until your demands are met. Important not only for yourselves personally, but for the future of higher-education and with that the future of our society.

This story originally appeared on Nov. 25, 2009 on

Support For Belgrade University Students' Protests

MLK Day Greetings from the NYC GMB Starbucks believes that Martin Luther King, Jr. Day is not as important as other federal holidays. We are calling on

Starbucks to pay the holiday premium on MLK day. Keep up the fight!

Join us: January 18 at 11:30 a.m. at the Union Square East Starbucks in New York City. Graphic: Benjamin Ferguson

Industrial Worker - January 2010 - [PDF Document] (2024)


Is the Fair Labor Standards Act still around today? ›

The FLSA remains important for protecting workers' rights across the U.S. It establishes a federal minimum wage, mandates overtime pay for employees working over 40 hours per week, forbids different types of child labor, and has been amended to provide crucial protections against discrimination.

What did the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 do? ›

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and youth employment standards affecting employees in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

What does FLSA cover? ›

(For best printout, see the PDF version (Spanish).) The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards affecting full-time and part-time workers in the private sector and in Federal, State, and local governments.

Which group of employees is exempt from the Fair Labor Standards Act? ›

Executive, administrative, professional and outside sales employees: (as defined in Department of Labor regulations) and who are paid on a salary basis are exempt from both the minimum wage and overtime provisions of the FLSA.

What is the federal minimum salary for exempt employees in 2024? ›

Starting on July 1, 2024, the new minimum annual salary threshold to qualify as an EAP exempt employee or HCE will substantially increase. To qualify as EAP exempt, an employee must make the equivalent of an annual salary of $43,888, i.e. be paid $844 per week.

What are the updates for the FLSA in 2024? ›

Beginning July 1, 2024, the salary threshold will move to $43,888 per year ($844 per week), meaning that any employee making less than this threshold must be eligible for overtime pay of at least 1.5 times their regular pay if and when they work more than 40 hours per week.

When was FLSA last updated? ›

On April 23, 2024, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) unveiled a new final rule that will significantly raise the minimum salary threshold to qualify for certain overtime exemptions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), changing which employees will be entitled to overtime pay and affecting employer compensation ...

What did the Fair Labor Standards Act abolished? ›

The Fair Labor Standards Act established the minimum wage, legislated a standard workweek, and outlawed oppressive child labor.

What is FLSA status? ›

An employee's FLSA status describes whether they're classified as exempt or non-exempt according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). The FLSA is a US law designed to safeguard employees against unjust pay and workplace practices.


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