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New Junior Wobblies website

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Junior Wobblies Camp will be back bigger and better than ever in summer 2015! We are excited to announce that camp will be in session August 15th-19th at our new location, Camp Holiday in Deerwood, MN! Please check out our website and stay posted to hear updates on JRWU Camp 2015.

What is Junior Wobblies camp?

Every year families from across the United States and Canada gather to share a summer camp like no other. Junior Wobblies is the children’s camp of the Industrial Workers of the World. A chance for our children to gather together and explore the themes of our shared working class history, culture, and struggles, both historical and contemporary, in a safe and loving atmosphere embodying the themes of solidarity and mutual aid. This camp gives children a chance to find their own place within the movement and their own identities as Junior Wobblies. Located in an outdoor setting and facilitated by devoted volunteer organizers and counsellors it is a chance for children and adults to have a family holiday experience while at the same time building relationships and reinforcing their ties to the broader class struggle.

Our new website can be found at http://juniorwobblies.wordpress.com/

15 Per Hour at UPS

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From 15 Per Hour at UPS

We hear people talking about it every night. “Shit, we should be making a hell of a lot more than we do for working this hard!” “They’re gonna have to pay me way better if they want me to do that!” And we all agree, but we also know that words alone won’t turn into raises. So last month some sturdy friends of Screw Ups braved the icy terrors of winter to collect signatures on a petition calling for a $15/hour starting wage at UPS, and a corresponding $5 raise for everyone. We weren’t surprised by the positive responses–nearly 100 signatures at both the Minneapolis and Eagan hub!–and it was great to see people getting fired up about making a real improvement to our jobs.

Making a push to raise wages at UPS without waiting 4 years for the next contract is certainly ambitious. But we all know how big of a difference an extra $5 per hour would make in our lives. And let’s face it; lots of us won’t even be working here in four years. We deserve better wages now, not when (and if) union and company negotiators feel like it. That’s why we’re going to fight for it. Nobody is promising we can make it happen. But we are promising to fight for it.

Whether you’ve been at UPS for a week, or a decade, or longer, you know that they always demand MORE. More accuracy, more speed, more sacrifice. This is especially true during peak season, when UPS relies on us most to keep the operation running and their profits flooding in. Year after year, we make billions of dollars for the company, and what do we get in return? Poverty wages (and the occasional pizza at break). This is what UPS thinks all of our hard work is worth. But we’re willing to bet that most of the time, and especially at Peak, the effort you put into your job goes far beyond what most people working part time jobs for $10 (or $11, or $12, or more) an hour give.
If we want to stop the daily wishing for higher wages, we have to get serious about it. We’re smart enough by now to know UPS won’t just give us things when we ask nicely. We have to show them what we’re worth. Show UPS what you think $10/hour work looks like, and they might start to understand what we’re worth. Keep it up, and they won’t have a choice but to find a way to show that our work is actually important to them.

It is going to take a big group of us putting pressure on UPS to get this raise. If you want to join in and work for better wages, we want you to get in touch with us! We are ready to start moving forward, and there are a few ways you can get involved right away. Check us out at www.facebook.com/15dollarsUPS or send an email to screwups[at]riseup.net.

Employing & Empowering More Staff & Teachers of Color: Petition to Minneapolis & St. Paul School Boards

From Twin Cities IWW Education Organizing Committee

Minneapolis and St Paul students, educators, parents, and community, please sign and share this!

We need more staff and teachers of color who bring creative, critical, powerful things to our schools.

Sign the petition here: http://tinyurl.com/empowerMPS

Action in solidarity with Amazon workers in Poland

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From ScrewUps Newswire

In January 2015, UPS part-timers affiliated with the Screw Ups newsletter in Minneapolis, USA took actions in solidarity with striking Amazon workers in Poland. We stopped scanning Amazon packages and spread campaign propaganda to Amazon customers in the USA with pro-zsp stickers attached to their packages.

The Polish Amazon workers have faced harsh working conditions and “irregularities”, like late pay or lack of payments for some parts of their salary. ZSP, the union at Amazon Poland is fighting to get back pay for workers and to improve the overall working conditions.

Working at UPS, we see thousands of Amazon packages shipped every day to customers all across the United States and beyond. Amazon relies on a massive workforce to fulfill all of these orders. Despite their enormous profits and plans to expand their business further, Amazon workers across the world still struggle to make a living. As UPS workers, we know this feeling all too well. While we work for shit wages and low hours, UPS continues making record profits. Just as we fight for better conditions at work, we took these actions to support Amazon workers struggling to improve their lives as a gesture of Solidarity. An Injury to One is an Injury to All!

For more information on the ZSP campaign at Amazon Poland, visit:
http://zsp.net.pl/zsp/english.

Work Peoples College picture (circa 1937)

Work Peoples College, Duluth, circa 1937

Here’s a picture of Work Peoples College attendees in Duluth, Minnesota, circa 1937. For more information on the historical WPC, check out “Educate, Organize, Emancipate: The Work People’s College and The Industrial Workers of the World” by Saku Pinta. For information on the current WPC, visit their website.

Picture source: The One Big Union Monthly (September 1937)

First issue of the Incarcerated Worker

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Introducing a new publication from the Industrial Workers of the World, the Incarcerated Worker! Over the last year or so, some prisoners in the U.S. and outside supporters have gotten together and formed the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee to address concerns such as prison labor and conditions.

CONTENTS

  • The IWW by Sean Swain
  • Biographical Profile: Dennis S. Boatwright, Jr. by Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan
  • Understanding the Role of Prisoner Intellectuals by Dennis S. Boatwright
  • Forgotten Warrior Waits on Death Row By Isa Abdur-Rasheed
  • Lynching: Then and Now By Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan
  • Induced Failure By Imam Siddique Abdullah Hasan
  • Crime and Punishment by Bomani Shakur
  • A Flicker Turns into a Flame: Alabama’s Prisoners want change by The Free Alabama movement

PDF AVAILABLE HERE

Anti-police brutality protest shakes things up at the Mall Of America

lushworkersLush workers walk out of the store in solidarity with Black Lives Matter at the Mall of America on Dec 202014. Photo: Nick Kozel

Last month, Black Lives Matter, which has led a number of protests, marches and rallies after several high-profile police killings of black males nationwide, organized a rally at the Mall of America. Prior to the rally, the Mall of America and City of Bloomington police waged a war of legal threats through the media, instructing protesters to gather somewhere else, or risk arrest.

The rally went on as planned, and since then, 10 organizers have been charged with a variety of misdemeanors, along with the City of Bloomington promising to seek restitution for police overtime and other costs. You can support the 10, by contributing to their legal defense fund here.

The following article appeared on the front page of January/February 2015 Industrial Worker, which is our official newspaper. It is an account from Twin Cities IWW member, x378436, about the Mall of America rally.

Anti-police brutality protest shakes things up at the Mall Of America
by x378436

On Saturday, Dec. 20, 2014, a protest organized by Black Lives Matter Minneapolis aiming to shut down the Mall of America took place. The demonstration was part of the ongoing movement against police brutality and structural racism in police departments nationwide. Thousands of protesters crowded into the rotunda of the largest shopping mall in North America with banners proclaiming solidarity with Ferguson and “black lives matter.” Chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot!” and “No justice, no peace, no racist police!” echoed through the mall and sometimes got loud enough to shake the windows. Protesters who showed up a little late were greeted by members of the Bloomington Police Department dressed in head-to-toe riot gear and plainclothes mall security guards. Several members of the Twin Cities IWW were present and a few were arrested when they tried to break through these police lines set up to block protesters’ access to the rotunda and the other half of the mall. An entire section of the mall was entirely shut down, with all the shops closed. Many food court workers walked off their jobs and stood with their hands up while still wearing their Auntie Anne’s Pretzels or Dairy Queen uniforms. Employees at the animal-friendly cosmetics shop, Lush, stood outside their store with their hands up in solidarity with the protesters. Many employees who were trapped inside their shops by the barricades that mall security guards set up stood by the shop windows looking out at the protests and raised their fists in support.

For a few hours, the Mall of America was partially shut down and the people who worked there seemed totally fine with it, and even supportive in some cases. Whether or not food court workers who abandoned their posts and joined the protest could be called a “wildcat strike” is up for debate, but it certainly speaks volumes that this is an issue that resonates with so many. It resonates enough with people that they are willing to refuse to work and instead take action against a white supremacist police state. Previous Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area have linked the Service Employee International Union’s (SEIU’s) Fight for 15 and Fast Food Forward campaigns with the movement against police violence. McDonald’s workers, still in their uniforms, blocked highways and led chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot.” Some of them participated in die-ins on the highway or in the middle of busy intersections. The fact that many people of color who experience the brunt of police violence also make up a considerable amount of those who work at low-wage fast food and service jobs speaks volumes about the white supremacist capitalist system that we find ourselves living in today. It is the hope of this Wobbly and many others within the general antipolice movement gaining traction that we can link direct action against bosses who exploit us for our labor and pay us menial compensation with direct action against a State which uses violence to enforce a white supremacist and patriarchal social order.

Actions like “Hands Up Don’t Ship” (a symbolic protest by rank-and-file workers at the United Parcel Service [UPS] hub in Minneapolis in which workers refused to ship packages from Law Enforcement Targets Inc.) and these spontaneous walkouts by food court workers at the Mall of America are just the beginning of what is hopefully a new movement: a movement which can begin to combat both the mistreatment at the hands of the employing class and the mistreatment at the hands of the police; a movement that can bring working-class people together regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation and fight for its emancipation. The Twitter personality “@zellie,” who has been extremely active in reporting what has been going on in Ferguson and also in New York in response to the murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner, said “If you ever wondered what you would be doing in the Civil Rights Movement, now is the time to find out.” Let us all find out together. In the face of such blatant disregard for the lives of people of color in this nation by the police, inaction on our part is complacence.

The labor movement of the 21st century cannot avoid the presence of white supremacy or patriarchy in our society. It must combat them as well as combat capitalism. Then and only then will we begin to see a much less miserable world, one in which all of us will be free to carve out our own destinies free from the confines of wage labor, patriarchal subjugation, and white supremacist marginalization. Wobblies of the world, let’s get to work!

Common objections to the Black Lives Matter movement

On the center divide on Highway 55 in Minneapolis after grand jury decision to not indict Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson. Photo: Juan Conatz

On the center divide on Highway 55 in Minneapolis after grand jury decision to not indict Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson.
Photo: Juan Conatz

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’re aware of the protests and actions that have sprung up in the wake of the police murders of Mike Brown and Eric Garner. In Minneapolis, we’ve taken our marches onto the highways, blocked traffic, demanded to be met at city hall, and defied the Mall of America by gathering there for a rally.

Much like anywhere else though, along with a lot of support, there’s been a fair amount of negative reaction. In the comment sections of local media, in our workplaces, maybe even in our families, we’ve begun to notice a string of repeated objections.

Patrick O’Donohue, an IWW member and a participant in the local Black Lives Matter movement, responds to some of these objections.

Common objections to the Black Lives Matter movement
by Patrick O’Donohue

“People need to stop making things about race.”

Agreed. Racist institutions and people need to stop making things about race by treating people of color unfairly. Until they do, we should all point out their racism and criticize them for it.

“We need to come together, not be divided!”

Agreed. We should come together against racism.

“ALL lives matter!”

Agreed. So, when the police treat lives as if they don’t matter, we object. When the police target some ethnic groups, such as black people or Native Americans, for disproportionate abuse, we point out that racist targeting. When police continue to summarily execute black people and get away with it over and over, and treating black lives as if they do not matter, it is appropriate for us all to say, “Black lives matter!”- because all lives matter.

“Irish-Americans were persecuted, too”

Agreed. Many decades ago, but agreed. That’s why Irish-Americans should stand on the side of people who are currently going through discrimination similar to what our ancestors went through. Same goes for people whose ancestors were Italian, German, Jewish, Slavic, Spanish, or any other ethnicity that faced discrimination when they first came to America. Really, the same goes for all of us.

“All this race stuff just divides us against the real problems like class and government abuses of power”

Agreed. Racism has historically been used to keep exploited and governed populations from working together against their common interests. As such, racism is a supporting pillar maintaining the power of class and the state. Instead of allowing racism to fool us into supporting the institutions of the state and of class, we should unite with people of color against those institutions and against the racism that upholds them.

“White people get killed by the police, too!”

Agreed. We get killed at a much lower rate, and the media doesn’t demonize the white victims of police brutality to nearly the same degree that black victims of police brutality get demonized, but yes: white people get killed by the police, too– especially white queer, mentally ill, homeless, or working class people. These aspects of police discrimination should be discussed, just like the racial aspect should be- and, of course, every summary execution by the police should be condemned. The demands that the Black Lives Matter movement is making- demands like body cameras, independent investigations of police violence, community oversight of the police, and an end to ‘broken windows’ policing and the drug war- are demands that will help all victims of police brutality, regardless of our race.

“You’re inconveniencing people!”

Agreed. That’s the point of civil disobedience- we aim to make it impossible to continue ignoring the problem of police brutality and racism. We aim to make our movement a constant problem for those in power and for those who’ve ignored the problem, because we have seen that politely asking for the state to please stop summarily executing people doesn’t work. If you only support social change when it’s convenient, non-disruptive, and doesn’t interrupt business as usual, then you don’t support social change at all. Change is disruptive by definition.

“You protestors are breaking the law!”

Agreed. The law is breaking human beings and communities every day. The law targets working class people and people of color for mass incarceration through the racially targeted drug war, ‘broken windows’ policing that gives unforgiving punishment for minor ‘offenses’, and policies of minimum sentencing. The law operates as a back-door tax on the communities the police target, and as a way to funnel people into prisons to be used as cheap labor. The law covers for the police when the police murder unarmed people. We are absolutely breaking the law, and hope to break it so thoroughly it can no longer be used to target and oppress working class people and people of color.

IWW snapbacks!

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Like the IWW? Like snapbacks? Want a union-made IWW snapback? The Twin Cities IWW has them available for $30 plus shipping & handling!

Available here: http://twincities.iww.org/Donate/

7th Annual ‘Red November, Black November’ a success!

Setting up for the 2009 Red November, Black November (Photo: Erik Davis)

Setting up for the 2009 Red November, Black November (Photo: Erik Davis)

 

Red November, Black November
Red November, black November,
Bleak November, black and red.
Hallowed month of labor’s martyrs,
Labor’s heroes, labor’s dead.

Labor’s wrath and hope and sorrow,
Red the promise, black the threat,
Who are we not to remember?
Who are we to dare forget?

Black and red the colors blended,
Black and red the pledge we made,
Red until the fight is ended,
Black until the debt is paid.

— Ralph Chaplin (1932)

This is a somber month for labor.

The Haymarket Martyrs were executed in November. Joe Hill was put before a firing squad in Utah during November. Bueventura Durruti was killed in November.  The Centralia, Everett and the First Columbine massacres all occurred in November.

It is for this reason that the Twin Cities General Membership Branch (GMB) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) began to put together a yearly social event called ‘Red November, Black November’ (RNBN). Recognizing the importance of this month to organized labor, RNBN is held to remember and reflect on both our own efforts, as well as those who came before us.

November 22nd marked the seventh time RNBN has been held. A $10 ticket ($5 for kids) bought you a pozole dinner with two beverages, along with a full program of reports, music, a kids’ skit, a quiz, raffles and conversation with other IWW members. Although a Twin Cities focused event, Wobblies from Winnepeg, Toronto, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Indiana were in attendance. This year also coincided with an Organizer Training 102 that happened the same weekend.

After dinner, and interspersed with labor songs throughout, attendees heard reports from the outgoing Branch Secretary-Treasurers. The two officers went over some of the better practices they had tried to establish in 2014, as well as announced the branch’s move to a new, larger office in December.

Next were reports from campaigns that members have been involved in over the year. How the #handsupdontship job action came together, contacts with prison laborers and activity from ‘dual-carders’ in education were among some of the things talked about. Extra time was set aside to watch a video greeting recorded by a branch member currently in South Africa.

Moving on to perhaps the highlight of the night was the kids’ skit. Organized by the Junior Wobblies with the assistance of some of their parents and siblings, the skit featured the kids poking fun at the campaigns and experiences of the Twin Cities IWW. As usual, it received a lot of laughter and a standing applause.

A staffer from General Headquarters in Chicago attended, and gave a broad report of what has been going on in the union. This was followed reports from The Organizer editor and the Junior Wobblies. This was the last of the reports.

The event then moved on to a “Trivia Pub Quiz” with the winning table getting an extra entry into the raffle. The raffle, which every attendee got at least one entry in, consisted of a number of prizes, including items from May Day Books, thoughtcrime ink, Recomposition and individual members. The last part of RNBN involved making toasts. Wobblies raised their glasses and saluted each other’s efforts. It was a display of appreciation for tasks not always recognized. This concluded the 7th Annual Red November, Black November.

Twin Cities GMB member, Emmett D said after, “It was a successful event that captured the energy and hilarity of our union. I think a lot of people left feeling energized and excited to see what we can accomplish in the year ahead.”

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