The Twin Cities IWW recently donated $200 towards the fund to repair the roof of the East Side Freedom Library. The ESFL is a not-yet-open research resource in St. Paul, which will focus on the history of the east side of St. Paul, as well as African American history, the immigrant experience and working class studies and literature. To contribute to the ‘Raise the Roof’ fund, click here. To find out more about the East Side Freedom Library, check out their website and Facebook page.
MINNEAPOLIS– Three years ago, Jimmy John’s fired six Minneapolis sandwich workers for putting up over 3000 posters publicizing a grisly truth and a simple demand: workers at the chain are routinely forced to come to work and make sandwiches while sick by policies that discipline workers if they stay home sick without finding their own replacement, and minimum-wage pay that makes it impossible to take a day off. Following a National Labor Relations Board ruling last week ordering the company to reinstate the unlawfully fired whistleblowers, the workers have escalated their campaign for paid sick days- this time putting up the now-famous “Sandwich Test” posters coast to coast in a social media challenge.
“Jimmy John’s thought that they could silence us by firing six core members of our organizing effort. They were wrong. Starting on Labor Day, union supporters will be putting up copies of the poster Jimmy John’s fired us for publicizing in cities all across the United States, and sharing photos of the posters on social media. We have simple demands: give workers paid sick days, and comply with the NLRB’s order to reinstate the six of us who spoke out with the truth,” said Erik Forman, IWW organizer.
The bold action comes one week after the National Labor Relations Board has ordered Jimmy John’s to reinstate six workers who were unlawfully fired in 2011 for blowing the whistle on company policies that expose customers to sandwiches made by sick workers. The NLRB decision slaps down the sandwich chain’s appeal of a 2012 trial that brought to light a sickening reality behind the counter at Jimmy John’s, with sworn testimony of workers forced to work with ailments ranging from pink eye to the common flu, and even a collapsed lung. A union survey found that an average of two workers work while sick every day at the Minneapolis franchise of the chain because minimum-wage pay means workers can’t afford to take a day off, and management writes up or fires workers if they take a day off when they are sick without finding a substitute. The IWW Jimmy John’s Workers Union has announced a renewed escalation over Labor Day weekend to call on the company to comply with the NLRB ruling, and underscore demands for paid sick days, a living wage, stable scheduling and guaranteed hours, and tip jars, and better policies around driver safety and compensation.
The campaign for better conditions at the 1,900-location sandwich empire began four years ago this weekend in 2010, when workers at the Minneapolis-area Jimmy John’s franchise owned by Mike and Rob Mulligan staged a work stoppage and picket in protest of minimum wage pay, shifts as short as two or three hours, rampant sexual harassment, arbitrary firings, and being forced to prepare sandwiches while sick. In response, Jimmy John’s launched a campaign of disinformation and intimidation reminiscent of McCarthy-era paranoia, casting their own employees as a “third party” that sought to sow anarchy in the workplace. The employer’s anti-union campaign crossed over into illegality, leading to over 30 Unfair Labor Practice charges and voiding the results of an 85-87 vote against union representation at the chain in October 2010. Jimmy John’s agreed to a re-run election under the terms of a settlement brokered by the NLRB, but rapidly reneged on its pledge to abide by the law with the mass firing of six workers in retaliation for their campaign for paid sick days.
The story of the fight for paid sick days at Jimmy John’s reads like a cautionary tale on the dysfunction of the US labor law system. The six fired workers filed Unfair Labor Practice charges against Jimmy John’s immediately after the mass firing in March 2011. In November 2011, the NLRB filed a complaint against the Minneapolis-area Jimmy John’s franchise asserting that the workers were fired illegally, leading to a trial in February 2012 before an Administrative Law Judge. The Judge ruled in favor of the workers and ordered their reinstatement in April 2012. Mike and Rob Mulligan, co-owners of the Minneapolis-area Jimmy John’s franchise, refused to comply with the judge’s ruling and sought to appeal to the NLRB. Hobbled by congressional infighting for most of 2012 and 2013, the NLRB has taken more than two years to deliver a decision on the appeal. The company now has 30 days to comply or appeal the NLRB’s decision to federal court.
Meanwhile, workers at Jimmy John’s pledge to keep up the fight. Open to employees at the company nationwide, the Jimmy Johns Workers Union is affiliated with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union. Gaining prominence in recent years for organizing Starbucks workers, the IWW is a global union founded over a century ago for all working people.
Starting on Friday, August 22nd, IWW workers at a UPS sorting facility in Minneapolis began organizing against their and their coworkers’ labor supporting the ongoing police violence against the population of Ferguson, Missouri in the aftermath of the murder of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man. In a series of actions aimed at a local company shipping questionable shooting-range targets to law enforcement agencies nationwide, workers stood up to the idea that they should have to support racism, brutality, or murder in order to make ends meet. This action was organized in conjunction with, and under the banner of Screw Ups, a rank-and-file newsletter published by IWW workers at the facility for the past year.
Shortly after the murder of Michael Brown and the deployment of militarized police and national guardsmen to Ferguson, IWW workers and in-shop allies began researching Law Enforcement Targets, Inc, a company based in Blaine, Minnesota, which produces shooting range targets and holds hundreds of contracts with police departments, federal agencies, and military branches across the country. The company has held at least 10 contracts with federal agencies in Missouri, and far more with county and local police departments and other agencies. They sell product lines like “Urban Street Violence,” featuring photos of stereotypical “thugs,” and previously were forced to withdraw a line of targets called “No More Hesitation,” featuring pictures of gun-wielding children, pregnant women, mothers, and elderly people, all as if to say that you should consider everyone you see as a threat to be gunned down. Their products are shipped through the UPS sorting facility in Minneapolis every day.
After discovering what products L.E.T. shipped, and who to, a group of workers decided they would not be silent about the connection between their work and murders such as Mike Brown’s. Some removed targets from trailers that would deliver them to law enforcement agencies, while others stood in solidarity and decided not to ferry these packages to their intended trailers. Those who were uncomfortable or unable to directly engage in these actions posed with a sign reading “#handsupdontship” in order to speak out. Actions like this took place in various work areas across the building, and were taken by people with a variety of job positions. The following Monday, several workers continued the action, setting more targets aside for the second consecutive shift. This small group included both workers of color and white workers, both IWW members and not. It was agreed that this protest would be publicized online through the Screw Ups newsletter.
For just over two years, the IWW has actively been organizing workers committees within the UPS hub in Minneapolis. One of the main outgrowths of this campaign has been the publication of Screw Ups, a regular newsletter published by IWW workers in the hub that is handed out by allies outside the building to workers on their way to clock in. This newsletter has consistently raised issues of management harassment, speed-ups, sexual harassment and sexism, racial discrimination on the shop floor, and more, while soliciting contributions from other workers via email to email@example.com. It has educated workers about their rights on the job and called out the exploitation of workers by both UPS and the Teamsters union, which is happy to collect dues from the half of UPS’ workers working in sorting hubs, while forcing concessionary contracts onto this rank-and-file which only preserve poverty wages and sweatshop conditions for those of us who allow UPS a multi-billion dollar company.
However, the newsletter has only been one part of the IWW activity at the hub. IWW Workers and others have frequently confronted management on issues of safety, harassment, and more through collective actions. CB, an IWW organizer, noted, “We all know that conditions at our work are unsafe. We all know that we work too hard for too little pay. We know that the Teamsters either can’t or won’t do anything to fix these issues. And we know that we’re going to have to fight to change things.”
The IWW has always refused to restrict itself to issues of wages and conditions, and has encouraged workers to fight against exploitation and oppression both on the shop floor and off it. Unlike other unions and workers’ organizations which see things such as police brutality as “outside issues,” the IWW has a long history of fighting against the ways that workers are forced to uphold systems of oppression. “The rules say you have to do what you’re told at work. Doesn’t matter what you’re shipping, what horrible things are being done with them, UPS doesn’t care, so you don’t care,” said J.B., another IWW worker, “luckily, breaking the rules is what the IWW does best.”
He further added, “We don’t want to take the place of the Teamsters here. What we want is for workers to have an organization that can fight for—and win—meaningful, concretes improvements in our work and in our lives. We need an organization that isn’t afraid to stand behind workers when we confront management and isn’t interested in some long, drawn out bureaucracy. If they want to keep doing that, good for them. That’s their game, but it’s not ours.”
IWW workers at the Minneapolis hub have stated that they are committed to continuing to organize with their coworkers in order to directly fight against management abuses and other issues workers face. They are also working with UPS workers in other hubs to help them form similar committees and organizations, and are happy to talk to anyone interested in doing so. They urge any interested UPS worker to email the committee at firstname.lastname@example.org, and add, “don’t wait, organize!”
Gaining prominence in recent years for organizing Starbucks and Jimmy Johns workers, the IWW is a global union founded over a century ago for all working people. It is a member-run union for all workers, dedicated to organizing on the job, in our industries and in our communities. IWW members are organizing to win better conditions today and build a world with economic democracy tomorrow.
Around 8 years ago, the Twin Cities IWW decided to resurrect the idea of Work Peoples College with a series of workshops, one-day educationals, and presentations. This eventually transformed into a multiple day event up in the Iron Range of Northern Minnesota in 2012 and 2013. In Germany, European Wobblies began their own WPC just this summer. But where did this concept come from?
Saku Pinta’s “Educate, Organize, Emancipate: The Work People’s College and The Industrial Workers of the World” gives background on WPC. Originally appearing in the PM Press book Anarchist Pedagogies: Collective Actions, Theories, and Critical Reflections on Education, Pinta’s chapter focuses on the school, which was established by Finnish socialists in Northern Minnesota in the 1910s. It eventually became affiliated with the IWW and continued operation into the 1940s.
Published with permission from the author and PM Press. Read more
Second Youth Track Meet-Up this coming Tuesday at Penumbra – all (but especially young folks) are welcome to attend
Originally posted on Classroom Struggle:
We are excited to host the second Twin Cities Social Justice Education Fair Youth Track Meet-Up next week. Please join us if you are interested in helping to plan and recruit youth-led workshops and creatively vision other activities and meaningful spaces for youth at this year’s fair. All folks but especially young people of color, young queer folks and young women are welcome here!
Tuesday, August 26, 2014
270 N Kent St, St Paul, MN 55102
Hope to see you there!!
A sequel to a previous article we’ve published, a Twin Cities IWW member writes about how he’s dealt with homophobic remarks and sentiments at work. This originally appeared in YOU BETTER WORK: queer, trans, feminist workers stories #1, which has a Facebook presence and can be purchased here. Read more
During the 109 years of the existence of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), there have been many organizers and members whose name has come to prominence within the union. Some were respected, a few have been hated, and others triggered feelings that are a mixture of the two. But arguably, no one has been as admired in the IWW as Vincent St. John. Read more
Originally posted on Classroom Struggle:
Youth Track Meet-Up Next Week:
We are excited to host a Twin Cities Social Justice Education Fair Youth Track Social Gathering next week. Please join us if you are interested in helping to plan and recruit youth-led workshops and creatively vision other activities and meaningful spaces for youth at this year’s fair. Young people of color, young queer folks and women are especially welcome here!
Thursday, August 14, 2014
Neighborhoods Organizing for Change
911 W. Broadway Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55411
At last week’s campaigns meet-up, educators, students, community organizers, and parents came together to discuss a wide variety of campaigns and organizing in the Twin Cities social justice education movement. Stay tuned for more information about upcoming meet-ups for the campaigns track and parent track!
Help us meet our fundraising needs for this year’s fair!
Based on last year’s costs and our expected…
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UPDATE 8/19/14: Added 21 titles. Cleaned up some formatting. Put ‘Unknown/Unclear Dates’ in alphabetical order.
UPDATE 8/3/14: Added 5 titles to list. Corrected date on 1 title. Added 1 more to the criteria.
Here’s a list of IWW pamphlets. Most have links to PDFs or text, some may not be on the internet yet. Recognizing this is a work in progress, if you have information on pamphlets that aren’t on this list, please let us know in the comments!
Here is the following criteria for this list:
-Must have a cover (some “pamphlets” have the text starting on the “cover” and are more like handbills or leaflets, rather than the booklet-like pamphlet I’m more interested in).
-Must be under 100 pages (beyond that I think it can be considered a book).
-Must be put out by some official body of the IWW (or consist of material that was) or independently, by IWW members, as long as it is about, for or aimed at other IWW members or people who may be interested in the union.
-Must be directed more outward than inward (so pamphlets on how to do delegate tasks, fill out paper work or run a meeting are excluded).
-Must be in English (other languages should be a separate list/project) Read more
This month marks the 80th Anniversary of a series of important strikes in American history. The West Coast waterfront strike, the Toledo Auto-Lite strike and, closer to home, the Minneapolis trucker’s strike. All 3 of them were happening simultaneously in late Spring and Summer of 1934. The victories these strikes ended in (whether full or partial), set important precedents for industrial unionism, mass picketing, unemployed involvement, radicals being the decisive factor and breaking anti-union vigilante alliances.
Here in the Twin Cities, Remember ’34, a group created to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Minneapolis strike, is holding a series of events this weekend.
Thursday, July 17
“Revolutionary Teamsters: The Minneapolis Truckers’ Strikes of 1934″ book event, 6:30–9PM, Minneapolis Central Library, 2nd floor, Doty Board Room
In commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the 1934 truckers’ strikes, Canadian labor historian Bryan Palmer will talk about his book “Revolutionary Teamsters: The Minneapolis Truckers’ Strikes of 1934.” The strikes had state-wide significance and galvanized the labor movement in Minnesota.
Friday, July 18
Labor Movie Night, 6:00PM @ Bell Museum Auditorium
In 1934, a number of citywide and industry wide strikes changed the face of labor in this country. We’ll commemorate the 80th anniversary by sharing documentary footage of the most significant strikes of that year: West Coast Longshore Workers; Toledo Autolite Workers; Minneapolis Truckers; and Southern Textile Workers. This special screening is part of the commemoration of the 80th anniversary of the strike that made Minneapolis a town. Special guest speakers include Joe Burns, author of Reviving the Strike and Strike Back, and Bryan Palmer, author of Revolutionary Teamster. Screening will be at the Bell Museum Auditorium on the U of M Mpls. Campus, corner of University Ave. & 17th Ave SE.
Saturday, July 19
Teamsters march, 3PM, starting at Star Tribune printing plant
The public is welcome to join Teamsters Local 120 for a march to the “Bloody Friday” site from a staging area near the Star Tribune printing plant at 800 North 1st St., Minneapolis. Teamsters Local 120 is the successor local to Teamsters Local 574, which waged the historic 1934 strike. Earlier in the afternoon July 19, Teamsters Local 120 will host a rally and picnic for its members at Boom Island Park. For more information, contact Paul Slattery at 651-343-1714.
One Day in July: a Street Festival for the Working Class, 4PM-10PM, 3rd St & 7th Ave N, Minneapolis, MN
Featuring: I Self Devine, Tall Paul, MaLLy, Steve Kaul & The Brass Kings, Mad Dogs of Glory, Shannon Murray, The Blowout, Kalpulli KetzalCoatlicue Aztec Dance, The Little Thunderbirds Drum and Dance Troupe and more.
For the 80th anniversary of the events that “Made Minneapolis a Union Town” we are once again holding a street festival to commemorate the 1934 Teamsters strike and to remember and honor the victims of the “Bloody Friday” shootings.
Join us for this festival of Music, Art, Performance, Historical Displays, Food, and Speeches. We are not only commemorating the struggles of the past, but also pointing to the struggles of today and the future.
We will also be showcasing the design for a planned permanent historical marker on the site that we hope to place later this year.
Sunday, July 20
80th Anniversary Teamsters’ Strike Bike Tour, 10:30am, Peavey Plaza, Nicollet Mall and 11th Street
Bring your bike and join us in celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the Minneapolis Teamsters’ Strike by touring the important sites of the historic struggle and learning of their significance. The tour will terminate at the 80th Anniversary Picnic, where bikers can join the festivities that will include music, speakers, and food.
Depart at 10:30am from Peavey Plaza
Tour Historical Sites (Mostly Downtown)
Arrive at Minnehaha Park for Picnic celebration
80th Anniversary Picnic – Minnehaha Park, 12PM, 4655 46th Ave S, Minneapolis, MN
Descendants of participants in the 1934 Minneapolis Teamsters strikes will be honored at a picnic planned Sunday, July 20, from 12 noon to 4:00 p.m. at Wabun Picnic Area at Minnehaha Park in Minneapolis (follow Godfrey Parkway north from Minnehaha Falls, turn right into Wabun Picnic Area). The event will feature brief speeches, a free picnic lunch, children’s games, and music by folksinger Larry Long and others
To contact the planners of the July 19 street festival and July 20 picnic, e-mail remember1934mpls[at]gmail.com or phone 612-802-1482. A facebook page, www.facebook.com/remember1934, also provides updates and posts featuring “this week in strike history.”