21 December 2007

IWW Erotic Service Providers Union

This should have a lot of resonance for people in Vancouver, especially with the Pickton trial. We've had a media circus, but have we done to help street workers and erotic service providers? Our friends in San Francisco are leading by example: organize.

19 December 2007

Boycott Sun-Rype

Labour dispute for Sun-Rype Teamster members drags on:

Dec. 17, 2007

Striking Sun-Rype workers remain united despite attacks on picketers, the company's attempt to bypass the union and negotiating committee, the onset of cold weather and the approach of winter holidays.

The 260 Teamsters went on strike at 7 a.m. on Tuesday Nov. 6. Issues of concern include contracting out, job security and wages and benefits. The collective agreement expired on Aug. 31, 2006. No further talks are scheduled at this time.

The company sent its latest offer directly to employees, bypassing the union and the negotiating committee.

The union members are pleased with a recent decision from the Labour Relations Board. They went to the board looking for a declaration that the company was in violation of Section 68 regarding replacement workers. The company was using strikebreakers to haul apples. The LRB agreed with the union's position.

For extensive information about this strike in Kelowna please go to: http://www.teamsters213.org/

4 December 2007

Next IWW Vancouver Meeting

The next IWW meeting will be taking place on a special date: December 19th, 7PM at Spartacus Books (319 West Hastings St.)

Normally, we have our meetings on the last Wednesday of every month, but with the holidays coming we decided to have this meeting a bit sooner.

All are welcome to attend and we hope to see you there.

2 December 2007

From Miami to Vancouver

I'm going to post a link to a video and a story below that I really urge you to all to watch and read. It is quite powerful, in and of itself, but even more so because of the striking similarities between the city in question, Miami, and our own Vancouver.

"Wake Up Fisher Island" - http://alternet.org/blogs/video/69445/

For all intents and purposes: this is Vancouver. We have the wealthiest postal code in Canada bordering right on the poorest postal code in Canada. We have gated communities in Whistler, Shaughnessy and Yaletown, meanwhile we have people working for five dollars an hour on the Canada Line and living in sheds out in the farms.

We have students attending "private colleges" that are opening for classes one day, and closed for good the next -- along with the student's money. Women working the streets and disappearing with not a sound made about it until such a time as the body count is high enough to warrant a media circus. But only about the trial -- not about providing social services, education, or even protection for these individuals forced to sell their bodies. That doesn't sell papers, after all.

Our province, for four years now, has had the highest child poverty rate in the country, in Canada the poor officially pay more taxes than the top 1% and wealth disparity, in general, is at an all time high.

Meanwhile, our provincial legislature, specifically the government, votes to give itself 29% pay hikes, all the while refusing to even consider raising the minimum wage to a measly 10 dollars.

But, thank God, at least live in the Greatest Place on Earth™, right?


1 December 2007

A Short Comment on the French Strikes

The following is a short commentary by a fellow wobbly from the Vancouver branch. The views expressed are no necessarily those of the union:

French transit workers have returned to work this past week amidst talks between the unions and the government. The general strikes were triggered by right-wing president Nicolas Sarkozy's attempt at changing current French labour laws that allow workers in difficult occupations to retire and receive pensions after working 37.5 years as opposed to 40. The proposed reforms would affect over 500,000 public employees. In order to oppose Sarkozy's attempts at weakening organised labour in France, bus, train, and subway drivers went off work on November 13th.

This event exemplifies the usefulness of all workers within an industry walking off the job to show solidarity with one another. Contrast this with the lack of support individual groups of strikers are often shown here in Canada by their fellow workers on other jobsites. The IWW saying "an injury to one is an injury to all" more or less sums up the French workers' actions these past weeks.

The strike also provides yet another case of the French working-class' commitment to using direct action to improve their situation. The French state has a more robust system of public healthcare than most, for example, the result of the struggles of organised workers to gain and preserve such a system. The most dramatic incident of direct action in France in recent history is likely the general strike of 1968 which involved 6 million workers and, combined with the efforts of revolutionary students, very nearly toppled the De Gaulle government of the time.

The continued attempts by workers to struggle for the retention of the gains they have made and the expansion of those gains is an important tool in the struggle against capitalism. The lessons learned and gains made in every general strike, walkout, or slowdown are vital and are the basis of the continuing process of creating an economic system based upon common ownership and democratic planning.



24 November 2007

Wobbly Art: Anti-War Poster

This is another great anti-war poster produced by the IWW around the time of the First World War. It's asking for some "solidarity" in the trenches, if you will, from those usually blaring the bugle for war the loudest but never themselves being exposed to the horrors of war. Again, it is tragic that we are still having to tackle these issues to this day, nearly a 100 years after this poster was produced and this union was founded (actually it's a 102 years in the case of the union itself!).

22 November 2007

Next IWW Vancouver Meeting

The next meeting of the IWW Vancouver will be on Wednesday,
November 28, 7 PM at Spartacus Books, 319 West Hastings.
All are welcome to attend.

16 November 2007

"Suicide Rampant Among US Army Veterans"

The following is a short commentary by a fellow wobbly from the Vancouver branch. The views expressed are no necessarily those of the union.

Suicide Rampant Among US Army Veterans

An investigation by American television network CBS has revealed that in the year 2005 at least 6,256 American war veterans committed suicide. That is an average of 17 a day, or 120 a week. For the record, it is also more than the number of American soldiers killed in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.

This speaks volumes about the nature of the "war on terror" and the debilitating affect it has on those who are involved. The article adds that the Department of Veterans Affairs spends 3 billion dollars a year on mental health services. However, this does not get to the root of the issue; war itself. For as long as soldiers are sent to die for their wealthy masters, those who return home will face mental and physical hardships.

The fact still remains, as it has done for centuries, that wars are fought by the working-class of the world for the benefit of the ruling class. Under a hierarchical system such as capitalism there will continue to be wars as long as it is in the interests of those who rule over us. The current wars in the Middle East are no exception, as poor and working-class soldiers fight and die for the economic gains of their leaders.

Sometimes, the trauma of combat compels these men and women to take their own lives. No amount of funding for mental-health treatments can stop this tragedy if wars continue to be fought for the advancement of power and profit.



15 November 2007

"Union Busting 101: Fear"

First in the Union Buster 101 series exposing the practice of Union Busting and those who hire them.

Learn more at: www.nobusters.org

More videos at Union One TV: http://www.youtube.com/user/dawilli1

14 November 2007

Wildcat Strike at the Port of Tacoma; IWW & SDS Stand in Solidarity

- By Tacoma SDS, Indymedia- November 8, 2007

http://seattle. indymedia. org/en/2007/ 11/262632. shtml

An unannounced wildcat strike was called to push the administration of Maersk (headquarters in Tacoma) to allow union workers to join the union of their choice instead of the union the company requires them to be members of, Securitas, which doesn't provide or bargain for workers' basic needs.

The strike at the Port of Tacoma yesterday was unannounced publicly, to catch the company off-guard and to require an arbitrator from the longshoremens' union (ILWU) to come to the port and declare the picket line the Maersk workers staged was unsafe to cross. Jobs With Justice organized the strike. Tacoma SDS and other community members who heard about it went to the port to show solidarity.

Maersk is the largest shipping company in the world, Adam Hoyt said. Its North American headquarters are located in Tacoma. The workers are not granted basic needs that other union workers are, such as a pension plan. Workers are forced to join the Securitas union which is acts as a pacifier to the union workers. Maersk has tried its hardest to convince workers Securitas is a good union, and that other unions are dangerous.

Tacoma P.D. singled out Tacoma SDS members and asked for identification and phone numbers. There were no physical confrontations, but our group felt it was unfair and absurd that officers would single out SDS without any reasonable suspicion. They asked us if we were attending the Smash Tacoma ICE protest, trying to glean information about it. We told them we would not consent to any of their questions or searches. Officer Darlington said the port has been the site of conspiracies to conduct terrorism. "People ride jetskis next to tankers and then they speed off in the other direction," he said. Tacoma SDS was not convinced.

(Editor's note: some of the members of SDS are also members of the IWW).

More info at: http://www.iww.org/

11 November 2007

Wobbly Art: Anti-IWW Propaganda & Anti-War Pamphlet

In light of this being Remembrance Day, I thought it would be apt to post something along the "war" theme. Especially, the First World War. The two pieces below are of two very different characters, but both relate to the IWW.

The first, was actually an anti-IWW piece that was published in a US newspaper in response to the IWW's activism against the war. As you can see, the suggestion was being made that the union was a German front organization. This had to do, obviously, with the union's anti-war stance--but there was also a racial and ethnic component. The IWW was known for accepting all workers, organizing those which no other union, at the time, would dare touch: blacks, immigrants, migrant workers, women and so on. This obviously didn't sit well with authorities, and they would use any opportunity they could get to remind the petty and bigoted that the IWW was a union for all workers. Period.

The second piece a was a IWW pamphlet produced during the same period juxtaposing the stance of the IWW with that of the dominant American Federation of Labor (AFL). Nearly a hundred years on the question posed by the piece still rings as poignantly as ever: who is to blame for the slaughter and bloodshed of fellow workers? Who?

8 November 2007

"What Have the Unions Ever Done for Us?"

The very amusing video below is in regards to the upcoming Australian federal election, in which the local labour movement has organized to finally oust the ruling Liberal government from office. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Hopefully they'll be successful. The video was produced by Manic Times of Australia.

4 November 2007

Wobbly Art: The Pyramid of Capitalism

I'm going to try and make this a regular "column" along with the "Famous Wobblies" one. The IWW is a union well known for its creativity, both graphically and musically. Below is a graphic some of you may have seen before, but how many of you knew it was a IWW original?

Capitalism: At the Root of the “Climate Change” Problem

The following is a short commentary by a fellow wobbly from the Vancouver branch:

A recent BBC poll of 22,000 people in 21 different nations suggests that many individuals are prepared to make personal sacrifices in order to stop the effects of climate change. Evidently, four out of five respondents would make changes in their own lifestyles in an effort to stave off global warming. However, the question remains as to whether it is truly individuals at fault in this crisis and not those who control large industries.

Much has been said in recent years about what we ordinary people can do to help, but rarely is the finger pointed at the large companies who, with almost no accountability or ethics, continue to pollute with impunity. It seems as though even the most dedicated efforts by the people to recycle and conserve energy will amount to nothing if large industries remain driven only by profit with no regard for the damage they do. It seems quite strange to be encouraging the people to be more environmentally conscious while big businesses escape critique- despite being far more capable of causing great and lasting harm to the world.

The main reason for the lack of attention to the role of corporations in the global warming issue is that to question business' misuse of the earth raises awkward questions about the nature of capitalism itself. The fact of the matter is that one of the key features of capitalism is its undemocratic nature. Anyone who has ever worked will soon find that this economic system relies upon a strict hierarchy in order to function. This aspect of capitalism is so important to its defenders that they will stop at nothing to preserve it.

Over two hundred years of labour struggles, state repression, and revolt have shown that nothing is more incongruous to the capitalist system than the idea of industry being held in common and run democratically. However, were such a scenario enacted it is certain that the current problems of industry despoiling the earth would be significantly lessened. After all, with ordinary people running their workplaces with the needs of themselves and others in mind rather than profit, it is evident that industry would take a far more “green” outlook.

The BBC said itself that many people around the world are aware of the problems of climate change and are willing to do something about it. If such people struggled to gain a democratic voice in their workplaces rather than merely buying into the easy route of ethical consumerism and personal lifestyle changes, the world would be in a far better state than it is now.

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_depth/7075759.stm


Famous Wobblies: Helen Keller

Many of you might know Helen Keller as the inspiring deaf-blind woman, the first to graduate from College, who would go on to become the stuff of legend. But few know much else about her.

Living to the ripe old age of 87, Keller spent much of her later life as a radical: an outspoken socialist and later member of the IWW. She joined the union in 1912 and became an outspoken advocate for its cause, and its organizing tactics.

The following is the full text of Helen Keller's speech from January 1918 entitled "What is the IWW?"

What is the IWW?

I am going to talk about the Industrial Workers of the World because they are so much in the public eye just now. They are probably the most hated and most loved organization in existence. Certainly they are the least understood and the most persistently misrepresented.

The Industrial Workers of the World is a labor union based on the class struggle. It admits only wage-earners, and acts on the principle of industrial unionism. Its battleground is the field of industry. The visible expression of the battle is the strike, the lock-out, the clash between employer and employed. It is a movement of revolt against the ignorance, the poverty, the cruelty that too many of us accept in blind content.

It was founded in 1905 by men of bitter experience in the labor struggle, and in 1909 it began to attract nation-wide attention. The McKees Rocks strike first brought it to notice. The textile strike of Lawrence, Massachusetts, the silk workers' strike of Paterson, New Jersey, and the miners' strike of Calumet, Michigan, made it notorious. Since 1909 it has been a militant force in America that employers have had to reckon with.

It differs from the trade unions in that it emphasizes the idea of one big union of all industries in the economic field. It points out that the trade unions as presently organized are an obstacle to unity among the masses, and that this lack of solidarity plays into the hands of their economic masters.

The IWW's affirm as a fundamental principle that the creators of wealth are entitled to all they create. Thus they find themselves pitted against the whole profit-making system. They declare that there can be no compromise so long as the majority of the working class lives in want while the master class lives in luxury. They insist that there can be no peace until the workers organize as a class, take possession of the resources of the earth and the machinery of production and distribution and abolish the wage system. In other words, the workers in their collectivity must own and operate all the essential industrial institutions and secure to each laborer the full value of his product.

It is for these principles, this declaration of class solidarity, that the IWWs are being persecuted, beaten, imprisoned, murdered. If the capitalist class had the sense it is reputed to have, it would know that violence is the worst weapon that can be used against men who have nothing to lose and the world to gain.

Let me tell you something about the IWWs as I see them. They are the unskilled, the ill-paid, the unnaturalized, the submerged part of the working class. They are mostly composed of textile mill workers, lumber men, harvesters, miners, transport workers. We are told that they are "foreigners," "the scum of the earth," "dangerous."

Many of them are foreigners simply because the greater part of the unskilled labor in this country is foreign. "Scum of the earth?" Perhaps. I know they have never had a fair chance. They have been starved in body and mind, denied, exploited, driven like slaves from job to job. "Dangerous?" Maybe. They have endured countless wrongs and injuries until they are driven to rebellion. They know that the laws are for the strong, that they protect the class that owns everything. They know that in a contest with the workers, employers do not respect the laws, but quite shamelessly break them.

Witness the lynching of Frank Little in Butte; the flogging of 17 men in Tulsa; the forcible deportation of 1200 miners from Bisbee; the burning to death of women and little children in the tents of Ludlow, Colorado, and the massacre of workers in Trinidad. So the IWWs respect the law only as a soldier respects an enemy! Can you find it in your hearts to blame them? I love them for their needs, their miseries, their endurance and their daring spirit. It is because of this spirit that the master class fears and hates them. It is because of this spirit that the poor and oppressed love them with a great love.

The oft-repeated charge that the Industrial Workers of the World is organized to hinder industry is false. It is organized in order to keep industries going. By organizing industrially they are forming the structure of the new society in the shell of the old.

Industry rests on the iron law of economic determination. All history reveals that economic interests are the strongest ties that bind men together. That is not because men's hearts are evil and selfish. It is only a result of the inexorable law of life. The desire to live is the basic principle that compels men and women to seek a more suitable environment, so that they may live better and more happily.

Now, don't you see, it is impossible to maintain an ecomnomic order that keeps wages practically at a standstill, while the cost of living mounts higher and even higher? Remember, the day will come when the tremendous activities of the war will subside. Capitalism will inevitably find itself face to face with a starving multitude of unemployed workers demanding food or destruction of the social order that has starved them and robbed them of their jobs.

In such a crisis the capitalist class cannot save itself or its institutions. Its police and armies will be powerless to put down the last revolt. For man at last will take his own, not considering the cost. When that day dawns, if the workers are not thoroughly organized, they may easily become a blind force of destruction, unable to check their own momentum, their cry for justice drowned in a howl of rage. Whatever is good and beneficent in our civilization can be saved only by the workers. And the Industrial Workers of the World is formed with the object of carrying on the business of the world when capitalism is overthrown. Whether the IWW increases in power or is crushed out of existence, the spirit that animates it is the spirit that must animate the labor movement if it is to have a revolutionary function.

3 November 2007

Why be a wob?

As promised, I thought it would be sensible to present you with some actual reasons for joining the IWW. Now, originally, I was going to write up a big long essay on why you ought to do this--but then I discovered that the fine folks at GHQ (General Headquarters) had all ready beaten me to it!

So without out further ado, some reasons for you to join the IWW.

Why Join the IWW?

It does not take long to figure out that workers and their employers do not have the same interests. Workers want shorter hours, higher pay, and better benefits.

We want our work to be less boring, less dangerous, and less destructive to the environment. We want more control over how we produce goods and provide services. We want meaningful work that contributes to our communities and world. Our employers, in contrast, want us to work longer, harder, faster, and cheaper. They want fewer safety and environmental regulations and they demand absolute control over all decisions, work schedules, speech, and actions in the workplace.


The easiest way to stand up for each other in our workplaces and communities and the easiest way to improve our working conditions is to join a union. That is why employers fight so hard, and spend so much money, to keep unions out of their workplaces. Workers with unions generally have higher pay and job security, better benefits, and fewer scheduling problems. More pay equals fewer hours at work and more hours for enjoying the good things in life. Union workplaces are safer and have less harassment, discrimination, and favoritism. This is because a union gives workers the power to make workplace decisions. The less we let our employers make all of the decisions, the better our lives and communities will be. Unions also provide mutual aid and community. This means assistance with problems at work, but it could also mean help with a community project or fighting a landlord.


Whether your job sucks or is "pretty good" (at least today), we in the IWW believe you should join us for the following reasons. We need to start sticking up for our coworkers in our workplaces and in our industries. Ask around on your next shift. How many coworkers have two or three jobs? How many are one paycheck away from an eviction? We have a duty to our co-workers, and those who will follow in our footsteps, to make things better. The only way to do this is to organize together. When we band together around our common experiences and interests, we can improve our jobs and industries. Our labor, not our bosses, is what makes our workplaces tick and we can use our labor power to improve our jobs and our communities in the short term. In a lot of ways, that is what unions are all about.

With the IWW, you also belong to a union that has a long term vision and plan to eliminate the bosses, make our industries and economy democratic, and stop war and want and inequality. So join us.

As an IWW member, you get:

    1) volunteer organizers if you choose to organize your workplace and industry.

    2) union organizing expertise in areas of strategy, media, community support, infrastructure building, and bargaining.

    3) commitment to democratic unionism, which means members control their own organizing campaigns and the direction of the union.

    4) an international organization dedicated to working together to build worker power on our jobs and in our communities.

    5) mutual aid and support.

    6) some practical things: a subscription to the Industrial Worker (union newspaper), the IWW internal newsletter, access to the IWW website, the union's constitution, your local branch newsletter (if applicable), and a member button.


Founded in Chicago in 1905, the IWW is open to all workers. Don't let the "industrial" part fool you. Our members include teachers, social workers, retail workers, construction workers, bartenders, and computer programmers. Only bosses are not allowed to join. You have a legal right to join a union and your membership is confidential. It is up to you whether you discuss the union with your co-workers. If you are currently unemployed, you can still join. We are a volunteer-driven union, and this means we, not union bosses, run the union. The IWW is not controlled by or affiliated with any political party or political movement. No money goes to politicians. Membership dues are used to maintain the union and assist organizing campaigns. As a result, monthly dues are low.

Source: http://www.iww.org/join/whyjoin.shtml

2 November 2007

So, you want to be a wobbly?

One figures it would be pertinent at this time to inform all those of you interested as to how exactly you can go about becoming a member of the IWW.

To begin with, here some stuff to know before you join: anyone can be a wobbly. That is, as long as you are not an employer yourself and pledge to the fact that you are a member of the working class. Being unemployed, a student or retired is not a problem.

Upon joining, there is a initiation fee that is equal to whatever your monthly dues will be. This can range from 3 to a maximum of 18 dollars a month. The 3 dollar dues are the so called sub-minimum dues and intended for those who are under special financial strains but still wish to join the union. In the past, these dues have been very effective at drawing in people to the union, who traditional labour organizations would never dream of organizing (i.e. squeegee workers). The IWW takes pride in having these individuals within our midst. But if you are currently unemployed or retired for example, the 3 dollars are also a good option.

From there, we have the 6, 12 and 18 dollar options which are reserved for those who make less than a 1000 dollars a month, 1000-2000 dollars a month, and more than a 2000 dollars a month respectively.

In addition to your regular dues, you may also choose to purchase assesment stamps, which are specially designed stamps (with various historical and artistic themes such as CNT-FAI designs) which go towards any number of special funds within the union, such as the Defense Committee fund (for legal expenses) or the Industrial Worker newspaper fund.

If this all sounds good, you have several options as to how to go about joining the union. If you are in the Vancouver area, feel free to come down to Spartacus Books (319 W. Hastings; about 5 minutes away from Waterfront Station and a few blocks down from the SFU Harbour Center) on the last Wednesday of every month at 7PM when we have our monthly meetings. You can check our main website for notices on the meetings, as they are always posted there, and open for anyone to attend.

If you are somewhere in British Columbia outside of Vancouver and would still like to join, then feel free to contact us via email (also on our main website) and we can promptly go about setting that up. We have numerous members in northern BC and Vancouver Island, so it's not a problem. We are also trying to grow the branch outside of the Lower Mainland anyway, and maybe you can help us with that!

You can also bec0me a member through the main IWW website (http://www.iww.org/join/joinnow.shtml) but the dues there are all in US dollars so keep that in mind.

So, that's all the relevant and technical details out of the way. In the coming days I plan on making a few posts as to why you should join as opposed to just what monetary details are involved! Nobody likes that stuff anyway, eh?


1 November 2007

"Together We Win: The Fight to Organize Starbucks"

The following is a video outlining the struggle being waged by the IWW, primarily, in the Eastern United States and Western Europe to organize the Starbucks baristas. The piece was produced by the New York City branch of the IWW. Your continued support is always needed and you can find out more about the campaign at: http://www.starbucksunion.org/

31 October 2007

"The Wobblies"

"The Wobblies" is a 1979 documentary about the IWW that is available through the branch as a part of your membership kit. The video below is from the introduction to the film and should give you an idea of what both the documentary and the union are all about. More clips from the program are available on YouTube.



Welcome friends, supporters and members to the official blog of the Vancouver branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). In order to increase our overall presence, it was recently decided that in addition to our official website it would be useful for the Vancouver wobblies to have a place where we could frequently share news, react to local, national and international news and in general make ourselves heard.

Hopefully, this project will grow and improve in time and will become a regular destination for those seeking news and opinions that matter to working people. You can expect to find both personal opinions and postings from our individual members, which may or may not be the views of the branch and union itself, as well as official releases from the Vancouver branch and IWW in general.

I also encourage all of you to let us know what you think--and especially if you have interest in joining the union! Though we are a local based out of Vancouver, we are looking to "grow the brand" as it were into the rest of British Columbia so by all means: chime in!

In solidarity,