29 October 2012

Statement of Solidarity: TSSU

The IWW Vancouver - Coast Salish Territory GMB wishes to express its solidarity with the Teaching Support Staff Union in their current labour dispute with Simon Fraser University.

The following quote is from Derek Sahota, TSSU spokesperson via press release dated July 2nd, following a TSSU strike vote:

"With 90% voting in favour of taking job action, the TSSU has a mandate to fight for an equitable collective agreement. We are serious about being treated fairly, and clearly TSSU members are prepared to take action for that purpose ... After two frustrating years of bargaining, no offer to increase wages, and not a single agreement reached, it is time for the Employer to acknowledge our concerns and engage in some real bargaining.”

The Vancouver IWW will be sending a letter of support directly to SFU President Andrew Petter. You can find a TSSU support form letter here (docx file format).

We encourage our local IWW members, supporters and allies to keep up with the TSSU's current situation via their website and to support the union however they can. Please show solidarity by respecting any picket lines.

27 September 2012

Help Stop Little Mountain Housing Evictions!

Help is needed to prevent the latest round of evictions at Vancouver's Little Mountain Housing, which has been the target of civic gentrification for several years now. The majority of Little Mountain Housing was demolished in 2009 and around 700 people were displaced from their homes into temporary housing, supposedly short term, while their new housing was to be constructed. All but a handful of tenants left the site, and the remaining families organized and refused the order to move out. Three years later, the remaining tenants are still living in their homes, but have now received an eviction notice.

The growing need for tenant organizing in Vancouver is becoming overwhelming. This is one example where tenants working together can redirect the flow of the city's quest to gentrify everything. Not only have the tenants been living in their homes for these past three years, but they can see no reason why they cannot remain there until their new promised housing is put in place. We often think about housing as a separate issue from work, however, landlords are increasingly exploiting and mistreating tenants and acting more and more like bosses. It is in the best interest of all renters to organize themselves and fight back for stable living accommodations. 

BC Housing is seeking to evict the tenants by September 30th, 2012. Please help spread the word about this injustice, and help the tenants to stop the eviction. Here's how to take action:

1. Please "like" and "share" and invite your friends to the facebook page "Stop the Eviction of Little Mountain Tenants": http://www.facebook.com/StopTheEvictionOfLittleMountainTenants

2. Please "like" and "share" the statement approved by Little Mountain tenants: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?saved&&note_id=478897828807383

3. Please sign this petition, and share it via social media: http://www.change.org/petitions/bc-housing-and-the-city-of-vancouver-stop-the-eviction-of-little-mountain-tenants?utm_campaign=autopublish&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition&utm_term=28454151

19 September 2012

2012 Work People's College Report Back

The following is a report back from the 2012 Work People's College by two Wobblies from Vancouver:

Summer 2012 saw the first IWW Work People's College (WPC) held in decades, and Wobblies from around Canada joined our comrades in Minnesota for a week of organizing, speeches, and radical labour discussions. The college participants were diverse and representative of many different locals. We met anarchist school teachers, co-op grocery store workers, and the most creative labour lawyers from the east of this continent. We shared stories and strategies, and we learned about the history of strikes from a working class historian. We learned about loopholes in the labour law and how to create profiles of our employers and target businesses. We spent hours going over the benefits and side effects of flying squads and solidarity networks.

As dual card signers, we worked side-by-side reiterating our frustration with our other more "legitimate" labour unions. We used the inconsistencies that piled up to fuel our passion to overcome and reclaim the word "union," which has been stolen from the workers by government deal makers. We gender neutrified the washrooms and had successful break out groups where we formed friendships and future goals for the IWW. We sang labour songs and shared music making and food, everyone joining in to do the dishes and clean up. It was a large community kitchen, with an extreme thrift store aesthetic, a mixture of miss matched old plates/bowls and tea cups. The hall where we sang, ate and met every day had the labour history of the community written on the walls, in picture frames, scratched into the tables in books and magazine clippings and the essence of that worker power sewn into every aspect of the structure itself. We swam in the lake and visited the largest open pit mine in the states.

We chanted "There is no justice in the courts - Justice for workers comes from direct action in the workplace!" in tents under the summer sun. We made suggestions for the future of WPC and tried to imply that embedding an awareness of patriarchy and oppression into every work shop would make us much more revolutionary than just to have one meet-up about it. We argued with fellow workers about anti-banking systems and direct unionism, and came out of the conference with renewed desires to organize all unorganized "precarious" workers. We were reminded about creating a written history of our work, so that it will be there to learn from later. We also agreed that making this history accessible to all was the most relevant aspect of our writing projects, and some of us made promises to build this for the IWW. We also concluded that the future of organizing is much more than organizing labour, and also extends to renters and the jobless, because in order to fight capitalism, everyone must stick together.

We appreciate all the hard work that went into organizing such an event and can not wait to send other fellow workers to the next one.

22 August 2012

7th Annual Victoria Anarchist Bookfair

Join the Vancouver Island IWW branch and many other anarchist, indigenous, and feminist groups at the 7th annual Victoria Anarchist Bookfair on September 8th and 9th, 2012! Full event schedule and details can be seen at VictoriaAnarchistBookfair.ca.

3 April 2012

Left Bank Books Again Publishes Books and Pamphlets

The following announcement by Left Bank Books was posted recently on a listserv associated with the North American Anarchist Studies Network. It is presented here without further comment.

After several years of publishing silence, Left Bank Books Collective is pleased to announce the restart of its publishing project. We will be publishing books, as well as pamphlets, both repressings, and original works.

To kickoff the project, we are releasing to the world two pamphlets. The first is a repress of the first pamphlet Left Bank ever published, The Kronstadt Uprising of 1921, written in 1975 by one of Left Bank’s founders, Lynne Thorndycraft, with a cover printed on a letterpress (feels nice in your hands!) right here in Pike Place Market. The second is a new essay by John Zerzan titled The Origins of the 1% The Bronze Age, with covers silkscreened on shiny “bronze” paper. Both of these pamphlets will be available at the 2012 Bay Area Anarchist Bookfair, and of course, in our shop.

Upcoming is a new edition of Peter Gelderloos’ How Nonviolence Protects the State, which we swear will be finished before the 2012 Seattle Anarchist Bookfair.

Before long we should have our published wares available for mailorder on our website as well.

Left Bank Books
92 Pike
Seattle, WA 98108

29 March 2012

New Star Books Firebombing Benefit

In the early hours of March 7th, the Commercial Drive office of New Star Books was struck by a firebomb attack. New Star has long been one of Vancouver's most prolific publishing houses, having put out countless pieces of radical literature over the decades, including local Wobbly Mark Leier's Where the Fraser River Flows: The Industrial Workers of the World in British Columbia. To help the company get back on track, a benefit is being held from 3-5 PM this Saturday, March 31st, at the Western Front (303 East 8th Ave., Vancouver). Admission will be by donation.

26 February 2012

Autonomous and Anonymous

At our local IWW (Industrial Workers of the World) meetings, we talk in depth about the realities of what we as a branch can offer workers here in BC, and specifically how we can offer protection. We realize that without having the financial and institutional backing that a larger union in BC might have, we don’t have much to offer workers in terms of protection. It became obvious after much discussion that it would be more beneficial to find a group that cannot be represented by a bigger union in the first place. An industry where coping mechanisms are used day-to-day already to facilitate Direct Unionism, and where workers already have a sense of the industry's issues and setbacks. We unanimously decided that we put all of our energy into building awareness amongst the workers in the service industry in order to provide them with viable strategies accessible within our community, to fight bosses and self-organize.

This means spreading awareness across the board, creating relationships outside of work between coworkers, sharing stories, identifying industry issues and limits, and how workers can use their combined experience to make their Direct Unionism the most effective.

Especially now, at a time in Canada when the service industry is the largest-growing but yet remains the least protected, it might be time to focus on the dynamics of the service industry and what is allowable in terms of getting through to employees and being able to illustrate to them, through small possible actions, that there is power in numbers. In order for this to work entirely, the IWW may need to prioritize and adapt to these immediate needs.

Full Article Here: Direct Unionism in Practice: Undermining Service Industry Barriers to Worker Solidarity (via Libcom)

15 February 2012

Hate the Rich, Love the People: Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz's Speech to Occupy Oakland

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, an Oklahoma-born historian, feminist, and revolutionary, spoke at an Occupy Oakland rally on January 28th, 2012. Part Indian on her mother's side and true to her roots as a daughter of landless farmers, she linked the revival of class consciousness within the Occupy movement to the bold anti-capitalist stance embedded in the Preamble to the IWW constitution. She called the Preamble - from which she quoted extensively - a "roadmap" to abolishing capitalism, an exploitative system fueled by colonialism and imperialism.

In her speech, Roxanne spoke of the motivational force within directed "hate" which is often more acceptably acknowledged as "rage". She pointed out the inconsistent, selectively sanctioned manifestations of hate by the mainstream North American society towards "slavery and slaveowners, fascism, and Hitler," but shame for the same sentiment being directed towards the ruling class and the individual rich. In a short piece presciently composed a few years ahead of Occupy's birth, titled "Hating the Rich," Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz wrote: "My Oklahoma sharecropper father, son of a Wobbly, always taught me that [Roosevelt's New Deal] had rescued the rich and saved capitalism, and he was right. Passionate, organized hatred is the element missing in all that we do to try to change the world. Now is the time to spread hate, hatred for the rich."

Full Speech Transcript: "You Are Free People, Spreading Freedom" (via MRZine)

2 February 2012

London Calling: Putting Caterpillar Inc.'s Latest Outrage Into Context

Hot on the heels of an Oxfam study which concluded that income inequality is growing at the same rate in Canada as it is in India, a highly relevant class struggle is currently heating up in the manufacturing city of London, Ontario. There, workers at the Electro-Motive Diesel plant, who are organized with the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) Local 27, have found themselves drawn into a bitter struggle with multinational machinery giant Caterpillar Inc.

Meet the New Boss

After Electro-Motive was acquired by Progress Rail Services Corporation (a wholly-owned Caterpillar subsidiary) in 2010, the new management drew up plans to drastically decrease workers' income, demanding that wages be cut from $32 an hour to $16.50 - a nearly 50% reduction in pay. After the workers' union rejected the proposed pay cut, the company retaliated by shutting the plant's doors on January 1st, 2012, locking out all the employees and preventing them from working. Since then, the struggle between workers and bosses has intensified, with union members and their allies blocking the movement of locomotives from the plant and picketing outside Caterpillar stores across the country.

Caterpillar's wage cut demands were made to seem all the more outrageous on January 26th, when the company's annual year-end report announced that it had made an after-tax profit of $378 million in 2011 - a 36% increase over the previous year. Caterpillar CEO Doug Oberhelman, for his part, took home a compensation package worth over $10 million - a 50% increase over his previous year's earnings. Electro-Motive union plant chair Bob Scott took issue with the financial discrepancy, wondering aloud: "How are workers supposed to go back to earning wages last paid nearly 25 years ago, while the company is richer than ever?"

No Stranger to Controversy

This is far from the first time that Caterpillar has found itself embroiled in controversy on account of its unethical business practices. The company has been repeatedly cited by Amnesty International for supplying Israel with the bulldozers it uses to destroy Palestinian homes, olive groves, and schools. Caterpillar also built the D9 bulldozer that ran over and killed Rachel Corrie, an American citizen who was protesting against home demolitions in the Gaza Strip, back in 2003.

In December of last year, Toronto-based Caterpillar Tunneling Canada Corporation was fined $130,000 for violating Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety Act. An investigation by the Ministry of Labour found that Caterpillar had failed to follow proper safety protocols, which in turn led to a worker being seriously injured. This fine followed a $66,000 U.S. Department of Labor citation for three safety violations connected to Caterpillar's operations in East Peoria, Illinois.

Tough Times (Unless You're Rich)

The situation at Caterpillar is a particularly poignant example of a much larger conflict. Within those nations which have been so negatively affected by capitalism's most recent crisis, the public has been forced to endure the insulting rhetoric of so-called 'shared sacrifice.' Amidst budget cuts, austerity programs, and the near hollowing-out of the liberal welfare state, we are told by governments and companies alike that it is our duty to tighten our belts, to do with less, and to endure more suffering. That we are being made to suffer the consequences of a problem we did not create is bad enough; far worse, however, is the double standard that's embedded within all this talk about sacrifice. The bosses and politicians speak as if they too will be joining us, but as Oberhelman's $10 million pay day demonstrates, this is non-sense. Of course, we knew that already; we've seen this hypocrisy played out a thousand times before in the course of our daily lives. Caterpillar's most recent attack against its workers is just one more example. Their interests are not our interests.

14 January 2012

Next Meeting: Wednesday, January 25th

Our next branch meeting will be at Spartacus Books (684 East Hastings St.) on Wednesday, January 25th at 7 P.M. All are welcome to attend, and we hope to see you there!