Monday, October 25, 2010

[olympiaworkers] A New Society

A New Society
When miners get tired of being buried alive for them, the few.

When keyboard pounders get tired of wearing their hands out for them, the

When the truckers get tired of the weariness of driving endlessly for them,
the few.

When fast food workers get tired of producing large quantities of food
quickly at near starvation wages for them, the few.

When women workers get tired of being paid less and used as sex objects for
them, the few.

When farm workers get tired of picking the food for all to eat while being
poisoned and not having enough to eat themselves for them, the few.

When workers of color get tired of racism and having to labor in the worst
jobs for them, the few.

When hospital workers get tired of working for the profit of the bosses,
caring for the sick and injured for long hours for them, the few.

When construction workers get tired of building the homes and buildings of
society under dangerous conditions for them, the few.

When child workers get tired of producing the latest fashion statements of
the rich while having their childhoods robbed by them, the few.

When ship workers get tired of long hours in hot, miserable conditions and
having to be far from home for them, the few.

When older workers get tired of bodies being worn out through years of labor
for them, the few.

When younger workers get tired of getting the worst jobs and being
dehumanized just because of their age for them, the few.

When retired workers get tired of being told that they are all used up and
forced to live on less than when they labored for them, the few.

When service workers get tired of trying to serve the needs of people, while
their own needs are not met by them, the few.

When house care workers get tired of working in the houses of the rich while
hardly being able to afford housing for themselves for them, the few.

When disabled workers get tired of being treated as less for the greed of
them, the few.

When steel workers get tired of working in hot and dangerous steel mills for
them, the few.

When assembly line workers get tired of working endless hours of speed-up
conditions for them, the few.

When baristas get tired of of making and serving coffee drinks at low pay
and bad conditions for them, the few.

When immigrant workers get tired of working low paid jobs with bad
conditions while being demonized as the cause for economic problems by them,
the few.

When working class students get tired of being trained to produce profit
while being dehumanized and barely getting any compensation, instead having
to pay to be exploited by them, the few.

When shipyard workers get tired of having to work in deep dark cramped tanks
for low pay for them, the few.

When oil workers get tired of deadly explosions and hazardous exposure for
them, the few.

When sweatshop workers get tired of working themselves to death for the
decadence of them, the few.

When road workers get tired of working out in the hot sun or in the rain for
them, the few..

When newspaper workers get tired of being forced to write and print the lies
of them, the few.

When military workers get tired of killing other workers for the profit of
them, the few.

When the workers of the world get tired of being injured, sickened, and
dying for the profit of them, the few..

When the workers of the world get tired of putting up with dehumanizing
conduct where we are not only expected to labor to produce profit but also
to endure abuse from them, the few.

When the workers of the world get tired of minimum gains for us and
producing maximum profits for them, the few.

When the workers of the world decide that enough is enough and organize
together in a one big union for the day-to-day struggles for a better life.

When the workers of the world decide that an injury to one is an injury to
all and stand together in universal class solidarity.

When the organized power of the working class is greater than the organized
power of the capitalist class, then workers will refuse to produce or
provide services for them, the few, and take control of our labor, the means
of production and services, and at that time we, the workers of the world,
will have our new society. A society that ends all class conflict by
eliminating classes all together. A society where production and services
are for needs and the well-being of all. A society where the earth matters
and we workers take responsibility for the effects our labor has on the
environment that we all are dependent upon.

It is up to each of us, Fellow Workers, to build this new society, for it is
built one worker at a time.

So Fellow Workers with whom do you stand? With the exploiters and
oppressors, those who would doom our world, or with your Fellow Workers to
help create a new society? The choice is up to you!

Arthur J. Miller

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

[olympiaworkers] France - The Cold Autumn Hots Up Oct 19 2010

Students in Paris blockade their high school

Despite the colder weather, and the increasing lack of petrol, the social
movement is hotting up, fueled by fun, fire and fury. "Operation Snails'
Pace", strikes, mini-riots, schools blockades, General Assemblies,
occupations, and today the 4th 24 hour "General" Strike since 7th
September ...but where is it all going? What contradictions aren't being
confronted? Read on...

Lorry drivers yesterday joined the movement, with the explicit aim of
"blocking the economy". They have been launching "Operation Snails' Pace"
(going slow on major roads and motorways) around Lille, Toulouse, Lyon,
Bordeaux, south of Paris, Tours, Frontignan, Arras, various parts of
Normandy and lots of other places - officially there were 30 "go-slows"
around 15 different towns yesterday. This, on the day before the
Union-called "General" Strike called for today, Tuesday October 18th:
"General" is in inverted commas because clearly there've been loads of
people who have worked in those sectors which have officially come out on
strike. Some of these 'go-slows' lasted only 20 minutes, but others for
several hours. Ordinary cars go-slow in the fast lane, because big lorries
aren't allowed there.

Various petrol depots have been blockaded. Despite the government claiming
on Sunday that only 200 petrol stations have closed down, the organisation
responsible for producing petrol station statistics said yesterday -
Monday - that 1500 have closed; and the amount of petrol stations that
have run out of Unleaded 95 or Unleaded 98 must be a great deal more than
that. This shortage is as much to do with the refineries' strikes and
blockades as with the dockers strike which has left at least 60 tankers
stuck in the Mediterranean, unable to embark.

Lycees continue to be blocked (officially - ie Ministry of Miseducation
figures - 260, but 600 according to UNL - the Union Nationale de Lyceens).
There have been mini-riots and stand-offs with the CRS in at least 5 towns
- Nanterre just outside Paris, Lyon, Lille, Mulhous and Borges. So-called
"casseurs" (literally "breakers": see this text from 1994 in English "Nous
sommes tous des casseurs") have been attacking this and that all over the
country, sometimes intelligently, sometimes indifferently, sometimes
stupidly and sometimes really nastily.

In Marseille the binmen have been on strike for over a week (joining the
dockers and the refinery workers). The rubbish is upsetting the tourists,
who are anxious to consume the new gentrified areas, brought in by artists
and the construction of a modern tramway, free from the stench of
revolting proles. The mayor is also upset. Marseille is already preparing
for the year it becomes the Cultural Capital of Europe in 2013. With
Ryanair withdrawing from its airport base there, giving the term 'capital
flight' an almost literal meaning, the project of bringing in the punters
from the four corners of the globe could well be grounded. All that
glorious regeneration of a nice cleaned up surface, designed to reduce all
sense of a past into a souvenir photo, could be destroyed by radical
subversion. A binman said, "We're the proletariat, we can't just sit and
twiddle our thumbs." Though this possibly comes from an old-style
CP-influenced guy, in the atmosphere of Repuboican ideology where everyone
is encouraged to describe themselves as a "citizen", this is a refreshing
reminder of a basic socially antagonistic truth. A 16 year old from
Marseille, Sarah Jlassi, added "This has gone beyond pensions, it's about
our unjust, divided society." (The Guardian today). Though this is
certainly at the centre of the movement, youths in the media and on the
street, from whatever background, are constantly saying how stressed their
parents are after work, how consequently they can't communicate with them.
A few years back, the mayor brought in the army to clear the rubbish.
Whether he does so again, in the current more generalised climate of class
war remains to be seen, but he could encounter more frustration than
merely Ryanair's O'Leary playing hard to get. Certainly in the longer term
- the overtly 'radical milieu' there has long been organising against
gentrification and the cultural rubbish that's going to fill the streets
in less than a bit over 2 years time (a translation of this text on art
and gentrification has become very popular there over the last 18 months).

In Languedoc-Roussillon, where I live:
Nimes (Gard county), all the lycees closed, and there were sit-ins at the
Ales (also the Gard) - a blockade of the railway lines, with fires to keep
Firemen were on strike throughout the Gard, only answering the most urgent
In Perpignan, 150 strikers blocked a petrol depot for 4 hours, with tyres
burning all over the roads. A train driver supporting the blockade said on
telly, "This is not just about retirement but about the whole future of
this society", though the different ways of understanding the implications
of that are about as many as there are people who feel the same way. 200
teachers occupied a local state institution (didn't catch what it was). A
firetruck was attacked with stones.
In Frontignan, near Sete, 300 train drivers and truck drivers, plus
others, blocked an oil depot, beginning very early in the dark morning -
stopping distribution in 3 counties. A train driver said, "We're doing
this for the future - for our grandchildren", though they were also
clearly doing it for themselves.The cops, preceded by a nicey nicey
reasonably-toned Prefet (head of administration for the area) asking for a
calm dispersal, unblocked the depot in mid-afternoon without resistance -
300, in a fairly isolated spot, not being enough against cops armed with
tear gas and flash balls. However, the expulsion was immediately followed
by a mini-General Strike in the Frontignan area.
Aude also had a blockade of an oil depot up till mid-afternoon.
In Montpellier the "concierge" (security/surveillance office) of a lycee
was completely wrecked by fire. And many of the windows of this lycee were
"broken" (they're very thick top security windows, so none of them
shattered) by 50 or so hooded youths. A teacher, who quite possibly
objected to this reasonable attack, had a molotov thrown towards her,
without touching or injuring her at all. She called them terrorists. The
school was evacuated.
On Friday 15th October, 60 or so youths attacked the blockade of a the top
notch lycee in Montpellier ("Joffre") - the BAC (anti-criminal brigade)
and suspected RG (equivalent of Special Branch) cops had been seen in
their cars outside, leaving just a minute before the crowd of youths
arrived. The youths also attacked "college" (12 - 15 yr olds) students,
and went on to attack another school nearby, this time going through the
dormitories robbing what they could. A car with a couple in it was
overturned outside this school, and apparently a tram driver was stabbed
in the hand. A radio journalist told a teenage girl he was interviewing
that he had inside information that they'd been manipulated by the police,
though he never actually broadcasted any of that (probably for fear of
losing his job). Clearly, however, the degradations of life on the estates
and the gang mentality that survival engenders, means that some youths
don't really need to be manipulated - they see everything in terms of a
dog eat dog world, and it will take some considerable risk of a dialogue
between those who identify with and participate in a more general social
movement and these more nihilistic but utterly directionless youths to
shift this to the advantage of both. Certainly moralistic finger-wagging
is the last thing that will influence any change in this area: it's part
of the world they rightly hold in contempt, but cannot see or struggle or
really want to find any way out of. This is not helped by the catch-all
condemnations of anything that involves violence as "casseurs who've got
nothing to do with the movement". The local press was full of condemnation
of these acts (though some of the worst, surprisingly, weren't reported)
but when the headmaster of Lycee Joffre pushed the gate onto the hand of a
blockading school student and broke his wrist, this was played down as an
'accident'. At another school in town, an anti-blockade teacher on the
inside of a gate blockaded on the outside pushed a large barrier (that had
been placed on top of the dustbins that are the main structure of lycee
barricades) back onto the pavement, narrowly missing seriously damaging
the faces of a couple of students. A parent who politely warned the
teacher of the dangers of what he was doing was later punched in the face
by this teacher. But blanket criticism of "casseurs" is a convenient way
of ignoring these contradictions, and of not looking at what is
justifiable and what is sick in "casseurs" actions.

Lycee youth chant of the week: "In Parliament the MPs jerk off all day"
(it rhymes in French and they sing it).

A lot more could be said, and I haven't even been to develop the answers
to the questions posed in the introduction, but I've got to go now.
Apologies for the lateness, and insufficiency, of this: internet, computer
and personal problems have caused the delay............

For the moment, check out these brilliant (well, half of them were written
by me, so that almost goes without saying) texts on some of the past
history of social movements in France:
France Goes Off The Rails (on the movement of 1986-7)
French strikes - 1995-6
Notes on the French movements 2003
Culture in danger - if only! (on the movement of casualised cultural
workers, 2003-4)
on the lycee movement, 2005[/url]
Brief notes on the riots of November 2005
All quiet on the French front (on aspects of the anti-CPE movement,
written during the movement)

Monday, October 18, 2010

[olympiaworkers] Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail for Killer Cops!

Justice for Oscar Grant! Jail for Killer Cops!
Longshoremen Will Shut Down All Bay Area Ports


Emotions ran high when longshoremen at their July membership meeting were
addressed by Cephus Johnson, the uncle of Oscar Grant, the young black man
who was killed by a cop at the Fruitvale BART station in Oakland on New
Year's Day 2009. Recounting the sidewalk mural in the front of the hiring
hall near Fisherman's Wharf that depicts two strikers lying face down with
the inscription: "Two ILA (longshoremen) Shot in the Back, Police Murder",
he appealed to the union to support justice for his slain nephew. He said,
"That mural shook me because that's exactly what happened to Oscar".

It got even hotter in the union hall when Jack Bryson took the mike. He is
the father of two of Oscar Grant's friends terrorized by police at the
train station as they sat handcuffed and helpless watching their friend
die and hearing him moan. Bryson reported that police were calling for a
rally the following Monday in the lily-white suburb of Walnut Creek to
demanding that Johannes Mehserle the convicted killer cop go free. He
asked the union members to join Oscar Grant supporters to protest the cop
rally and they did. Outnumbering the 100 or so pro-Mehserle demonstrators
by 3 to 1.

The New Year's Day horror scene was videotaped by other young train
passengers and broadcast on YouTube and TV news across the country. Grant,
the father of a four year old girl worked as a butcher's apprentice at
Farmer Joe's supermarket nearby on Fruitvale Avenue. The litany of police
killings of innocent young black and Latino men has evoked a public outcry
in California. Yet, when it comes to killer cops, especially around
election time, with both the Democratic and Republican parties espousing
law and order, the mainstream media either expunges or whitewashes the

Angered by the pro-police rallies and news coverage calling for killer cop
Mehserle's freedom, Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse
Union has called for a labor and community rally October 23rd in Oakland
to demand justice for Oscar Grant and the jailing of killer cops. Bay Area
ports will shut down that day to stand with the black community and others
against the scourge of police brutality.

Anthony Leviege, a longshore union rally organizer, said "Many unions,
including the San Francisco and Alameda Labor Councils, have endorsed and
are mobilizing for the rally. They see the need in the current economic
crisis to build unity with the community to defend jobs, public education,
health care and housing for all. And unions defending black and brown
youth against police brutality is fundamental to that unity

In this race-caste society there's nothing more controversial than a white
cop convicted of killing a young black man like Oscar Grant… or of a black
man like Mumia Abu-Jamal, framed by a corrupt and racist judicial system,
accused of killing a white police officer when the opposite was the case.
Jamal was nearly murdered by the police. His "crime" was that he didn't
die on the spot, as Oscar Grant did. Mumia, the Frederick Douglass of our
time, exposes the hypocrisy of democracy in America while fighting for his
life on death row in Pennsylvania. His possibly final hearing is set for
November 9th. Killer cops belong in jail, their victims (those who survive
like Mumia) should go free. But that's not how justice in capitalist
America works. The racist heritage of slavery is still with us.

Despite the election of its first black president, the United States has
still not moved beyond the Supreme Court's 1857 Dred Scott decision, "the
negro has no rights which the white man was bound to respect". Just how
deeply racism is embedded in the fabric of American society can be seen in
President Obama's "teachable moment" in the case of Harvard professor
Henry Gates (arrested by police for "breaking into" his own home!). The
president, a friend of Professor Gates, upon hearing of the bizarre arrest
called it a stupidity". When police loudly objected, Obama quickly and
apologetically retracted his characterization over a photo op with the
cop, the professor and him over a friendly beer.

Civil rights activists who were targets of racist attacks used to joke
that the KKK wore white at night and blue in the daytime. Killer cop
Mehserle was convicted of "involuntary manslaughter", though the
videotapes show him shooting Grant as he lay passively face down about to
be handcuffed. The media universally has tainted outraged protesters,
blaming them for rioting while favoring Mehserle whose sentencing hearing
is set for November 5. During a recent Giants' baseball game in San
Francisco Mehersle's father was sympathetically interviewed on TV. But
where is the justice for Oscar Grant's family and his now 5 year old


The police murder of two strikers provoked the 1934 San Francisco General
Strike. Seven maritime workers in all were killed by police in West Coast
ports during strike for the union hiring hall. Every July 5, Bloody
Thursday, all ports on the West Coast are shut down to honor the labor
martyrs. It's a living legacy that burns deep in the hearts of longshore
and other maritime workers.

Some have asked, what's the connection between unions and the killing of a
young black man? Plenty, according to Richard Washington, an Oakland
longshoreman. He recalled the history of the longshore union and its
struggle against the favoritism and racism of the "shape-up" hiring system
that preceded the union hiring hall. At start of the 1934 S.F. Maritime
Strike, Harry Bridges, head of the militant Strike Committee, he said,
appealed to the black community. Strikers implored blacks to support the
strike and vowed to share work on the waterfront after their victory in
the midst of the Great Depression when jobs were scarce, not unlike today.
Blacks were integrated on the docks, a shining example being set by the
San Francisco longshore local, and the union has been fighting against
racist attacks and for working class unity since then.

A wall mural in the union hiring hall depicts the Red Angel, Elaine Black,
of the International Labor Defense (ILD) during the '34 Big Strike which
defended strikers. ILD has a rich history in the radical labor movement,
originally headed up by James P. Cannon, an early leading communist. The
ILD's pioneering class struggle defense began with the mass labor
demonstrations defending Italian anarchist immigrant workers Sacco and
Vanzetti, uniting all of the labor movement regardless of political

In 2003, at the start of the U.S. war in Iraq, protesters in the port of
Oakland and longshoremen were shot by Oakland riot police with "nonlethal"
weapons. The UN Human Rights Commission condemned this police attack as
"the most violent" police attack on antiwar demonstrators. Then-mayor
Jerry Brown, now backed by the police in his bid for California governor,
gave cops the green light. The rational for the bloody attack was given by
a spokesman for the state's anti-terrorism agency newly formed by Democrat
governor Gray Davis and Attorney General Bill Lockyer. The spokesman for
the Callifornia Anti-Terrorism and Information Center in a twisted
tautology said that anyone demonstrating against a war against terror
could be a terrorist themselves. The OPD attack cost the city of Oakland a
couple of million dollars when the dust settled.

ILWU longshoremen have given up a day's wages time and again to show
solidarity with dockworkers in Liverpool, England, Charleston, South
Carolina and Australia and to protest with dock actions on moral issues of
the day like apartheid in South Africa, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,
in defense of innocent death row prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal and recently the
Israeli military killing of civilians bringing aid to Gaza by boat.

Now, the ILWU is calling on unions to link up with community organizations
under their banner, "An Injury to One is an Injury to All." From all
accounts it's a clarion call that will muster thousands fed up with the
economic crisis and the scapegoating of minorities.

Jack Heyman, a working longshoreman, sits on the Executive Board of ILWU
Local 10 and the Board of Directors of the John Brown Society. He has been
active in all of the union's struggles mentioned in this article.

[olympiaworkers] Oil workers, youths, truckers defy French govt

By GREG KELLER, AP Business Writer Oct. 18, 2010

PARIS – French oil workers defied the government's demand Monday to get
back to work and end fuel shortages, stepping up the fight against
President Nicolas Sarkozy's retirement reforms. Youths and truckers joined
in, facing off against riot police and creating chaos on the roads.

Strikers have blockaded a dozen French refineries and numerous oil depots
in the last week as part of widespread protests over Sarkozy's plan to
raise the retirement age to 62, a reform the French Senate is voting on

Workers are angry because they consider retiring at 60 a pillar of
France's hard-won social contract — and fear this is just the first step
in eroding their often-envied quality of life. Critics say Sarkozy wants
to adopt an "American-style capitalist" system and claim the government
could find pension savings elsewhere, such as by raising contributions
from employers.

Sarkozy's conservative government points out that 62 is among the lowest
retirement ages in Europe, the French are living much longer and the
pension system is losing money already.

The strike by oil workers has been the most disruptive tactic yet — and in
response, the Interior Ministry opened a crisis coordination center Monday
just to focus on the conflict.

Fearful motorists have flocked to gas stations in panic and found many
empty, while aviation authorities have been forced to tell short-haul
planes coming in to make sure to bring enough fuel to get back.

The government ordered airlines to drastically cut back their flights into
France on Tuesday, when labor unions plan new nationwide protests and
strikes across the public sector. Severe disruptions to air travel, public
transport, schools and other facilities are expected.

Striking oil workers piled up tires and set them ablaze Monday in front of
a refinery at Grandpuits, east of Paris, after authorities issued a legal
order insisting that some reopen the facility. Workers said they would
refuse, as curls of heavy black smoke wafted into the air.

Other employees and residents formed a "human chain" to prevent people
from entering the plant.

Dozens of oil tankers remained stuck in the Mediterranean, anchored
outside Marseille's two oil ports, where workers have been on strike for
more than three weeks to protest a planned port reform as well as the
retirement changes.

Prime Minister Francois Fillon pledged Sunday to do what's necessary to
prevent fuel shortages, saying the government won't allow such shortages
to hurt the French economy. The head of France's petroleum industry body
said fuel reserves were "enough to keep us going for a few weeks."

The protests in France come as countries across Europe are cutting
spending and raising taxes to bring down record deficits and debts from
the worst recession in 70 years. Labor leaders, students and civil
servants are fighting back.

French truckers staged organized slowdowns Monday to snarl highway
traffic. Cars and trucks drove at a snail's pace on the main highway
between Paris and the northern city of Lille, with red union flags waving
out the windows.

Youths, meanwhile, burned tires and cars, set up blockades and clashed
with riot police Monday outside some high schools in Paris and nearby

Students from Lycee Joliot Curie in the Paris suburb of Nanterre tried to
blockade their school, with about 100 facing off against police, who
responded with rubber bullets. In all, 261 schools were blocked by
protests Monday.

Rail unions, which have been on strike since early last week, prolonged
their walkouts through Tuesday to coincide with more than 200 street
protests — the sixth nationwide protest since early September.

Union leaders also called for support strikes from other sectors,
including energy, postal workers and private commerce, as well as from
employees at Eurotunnel, which runs freight and passengers under the
English Channel to London.

France's DGAC civil aviation authority ordered airlines to cancel 50
percent of their flights Tuesday out of Paris' Orly airport, and 30
percent at other airports nationwide, including Paris' largest airport,
Charles de Gaulle. Most disruptions were expected to hit short- and
medium-haul flights.

Airport operator ADP said strikes by oil workers at Charles de Gaulle
airport had already begun causing delays on Monday. Spokesman Jerome
Landras said travelers should contact their airline to check on flights.

Train traffic also continued to suffer from the nearly weeklong strike.
France's SNCF railway operator said about half its high-speed TGV trains
had been canceled Monday, but traffic on the Eurostar between Paris and
London was normal.


Associated Press writer Jean-Marie Godard in Paris contributed to this

Sunday, October 17, 2010

[olympiaworkers] India: Over 500 workers jailed in dispute with Foxconn October 15, 2010

UPDATE: LabourStart has just launched an online campaign - please click to
send your message of protest today!

We have received the following extraordinary account from Indian trade
unionists. Foxconn was the target of an earlier LabourStart campaign -- at
its factory in China, where the Apple iPhone is produced, there was a rash
of worker suicides. Now the same company is employing ruthless
union-bashing tactics in India.

Here is the text of the report we have received:

Foxconn is having three units in Kancheepuram district in Tamil Nadu.

Around 7500 workers are employed in these 3 units out of which only 1400
are regular; others are designated as 'probationers', 'trainees' and
'contractor workers'.

Workers joined a union affiliated to CITU and submitted their charter of
demands; management refused to talk to the union and threatened the
workers to leave the CITU union; on 22nd September 2010, workers went on
strike en masse demanding the right to join the organisation of their
choice and the right to collective bargaining; the state labour department
assured the union of discussions on 27th September; workers resumed work
on 23rd; however, on that day, 23 office bearers and leaders of the union
were suspended and penal wage cut of 8 days' wages, was imposed for the
strike on 22nd; the management announced that they have come to a
settlement with a union belonging to the ruling party in the state which
had no support at all among the workers.

Protesting against this all the workers went on strike from 24th September.

On 9th October around 500 workers along with A Soundararajan, general
secretary of Tamil Nadu state committee of CITU, E Muthukumar, secretary
of the Kancheepuram district committee of CITU were arrested and put in

They have been charged under non bailable sections of the Criminal
Proceeding Code.

The strike is continuing.

Solidarity demonstrations and rallies are being held all over the state by
the CITU state committee and other fraternal organisation.

Friday, October 15, 2010

[olympiaworkers] Sarkozy sends in riot police as strikers cut off airport fuel supply

Oct. 15, 2010

Riot police were ordered on Friday to remove protesters from France's
refineries after filling stations started running out of fuel and supplies
to Paris airports were shut off.

Several hundred forecourts were out of supplies, according to the Union of
Independent Oil Importers. Workers were on strike in all 12 of the
country's oil refineries, for the first time since 1968 as opposition
hardened to Nicolas Sarkozy's pension reform.

It which will raise the legal retirement age from 60 to 62 and full
pension age from 65 to 67.

The country was braced for more mass protests on Saturday.

Officers launched a dawn raid to open the gates of Fos-Sur-Mer, in
Marseille, the principal fuel depot in southeastern France, along with
three others in Bassens and Lespinasse in the south-west and Cournon
d'Auvergne in the centre of the country.

Workers belonging to the main CGT union said they were under orders not to

The refinery stoppages caused the closure of a fuel pipeline feeding the
south of Paris and the Orly and Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airports. Orly
has two weeks of kerosene but Roissy has enough for only a few days.

In a further sign of escalation, Air France protesters shut a terminal at
Orly and lorry drivers said they would block roads.

France's main unions have upped the stakes in their battle against the
reform, currently being debated in the Senate, by calling a fifth street
rally in just over a month on Saturday and another on Tuesday.

Strikes and demonstrations around the country brought more than a million
people on to the streets last Tuesday, and workers in sectors including
rail and energy have kept up stoppages since.

Besides rolling strikes, the government is concerned about secondary
school protests, which turned ugly on Friday. A policeman was injured by
pupils throwing stones in Cannes and surgeons tried to save the sight of a
16 year-old boy hit by a police "Flash-Ball", a gun that fires a soft
rubber ball, in a Paris suburb. Some 300 schools were affected.

Polls show the unions have massive public support. "The government is
betting on this movement deteriorating, even breaking down. I think we
have the means to disappoint them," said Bernard Thibault, leader of the

Mr Sarkozy, however, has shown no sign of backing off.

He sees the reform as key to his re-election in 2012 and is understood to
have told aides: "If we must face a long strike, we'll do it. A part of
the country will be thankful that we brought the extremists to their
knees. We can still win the battle of public opinion."

Thursday, October 07, 2010

[olympiaworkers] Solidarity


Down in an old buoy tender, a small ship that places buoys in the water
and repairs buoys, I am working down in a very small tank below the bilge.
We are working on rebuilding a sea water system that supplies sea water to
the ship. On ships sea water is mainly used for the firemain, cooling water,
flushing water, and ballast. The sea water comes up into the ship in what is
called a sea chest, that is an opening in the bottom of the ship that is
like a square box. Most ships will have a number of sea chests, depending
upon their needs. If the piping of the system goes above the waterline that
system will need a pump to move the water down the line. If the system stays
below the waterline head-pressure will move the water.

The system I am working on needs pumps. This means that the pumps also
must be below the water in order for them to be primed. The forward sea
chest is located down in a tank and has a 6 inch pipe coming out of it. Most
piping used is schedule 40 pipe, that has to do with the wall thickness of
the pipe, and it is good for up to 150 PSI (pounds per square inch). But on
salt water pipes schedule 80, double the wall thickness, is used because
salt water corrodes steel pipe. So 6 inch schedule 80 pipe is rather heavy.
Because of where the water line is most of the piping must be run through
two tanks then up to the pumps. These tanks are small with not much room to
work and only two people can work down there at a time. That means one
pipefitter and a welder. My pipes come down through a soft patch in to the
ship, but getting them to the tank and down through tank cover, I need help.
"Hey buddy can you give me a hand?" I ask a nearby pipefitter. That worker
knows that in order to get the job done at times we need to help each other.
Without question, without having to be told by some boss, that worker helps
out. You can see this on most jobs. This is natural solidarity, the
willingness to give a hand when needed.

Wake up in the middle of the night. Try as you may, you just can't go
back to sleep. So many worries, so damn alone. Bills adding up like maggots
on a corpse. You pay some some of the bills, then don't have the money to
pay the other bills. Do you pay your rent and not pay your lights? Do you
pay the tickets on your old clunker of a car or do you buy clothes for the
kids? Do you fix your car so that you are legal or do you buy medicine for
your aching body?

The judge asks you if you have anything to say and you tell that beast
that you only have so much money and if you fix your car and buy insurance
then other needs will go unfulfilled. The judge says, as that beast has said
to countless folks just like you, "The law is the law and there are no
exceptions to the law!" But you know that the laws are all written for the
rich and damn the poor wherever they maybe.

So there you are alone, worrying about the way things are. It seems you
were born into a world that ain't meant for you to ever make it. But you see
on TV all them well off people and wonder why, no matter how hard you work,
you will never be among them. They are well off because you and millions of
other folks aren't. Countless times throughout your life you are told about
personal responsibility. How whatever happens in your life you and you alone
are the one to blame.

You seek help and though there are programs, they all belittle you, shame
you for the idea that someone else has to help you out.

Charity is the act of those that have more than they need giving to those
that have less than they need. Their hearts bleed for you all the while they
make it known that they are the better people and one such as yourself
should be forever thankful. Though you are taught not to question the way
things are, can you help but wonder why most of the people are just like you
and the better off folks are so few?

The answer is greed. The rich folks believe that it is their God-given right
to exploit the world and all who live upon it for their personal wealth.
And that the bad people of the world are those that seek to change that

We bleed and die for the rich, fighting their wars where we try to kill
people of other lands who are just like us. We bleed and die for the rich in
the factories producing their wealth. So what can we do about this? Line up
behind politicians and parties where we delegate to others our hopes for a
better life? That be nothing more than a fool's path for there is no one out
there we can depend on but ourselves. There is something out there that the
rich folks fear. They fear it more than an enemy's army or even the wrath of
their God. That dreadful horror of the rich is solidarity of the exploited
and oppressed. While plundering the earth and robbing the people to amass
their great wealth, the capitalist class has also wielded epic effort
historically to keep working people divided and fighting among themselves.
They know that if working people stood together in solidarity, their way of
life would end. Solidarity is more than a slogan or a song, it is a
natural instinct. Solidarity is people helping each other fulfill their

Natural solidarity can be found throughout our society. It could be just
helping someone whose car broke down. Or in times of great need lending a
hand. I remember a few years ago when a river was flooding its banks and I
went down there to help build a wall of sandbags. I knew the people who
needed help. As I was doing my part I looked around and saw that there were
a number of people helping out that did not live there. I asked one person I
knew who were those people and he said that some of them he had never seen
before. They were just there to help out. There were even kids there helping
out. As I was working a young girl, no more than 8 years old, comes up to me
and hands me some water to drink. I looked into her eyes and I could see
that she wanted to help, no one had to ask her to do that. Natural
solidarity is an instinctive part of humans. She was no less important than
anyone else there because she, like everyone else, was doing what they were
able to do to help. Natural solidarity does not need bosses or great
philosophers, people can see what needs to be done and they do it. I later
asked around to try to find who asked that little girl to hand out water
bottles. I found out that she saw a box of water bottles and just started to
hand them out to people working to hold off the flood. That is natural

No society can function without natural solidarity. In the society we live
in we have this thing called capitalism that seeks personal profit for
services and the production of goods. This system suppresses natural
solidarity and replaces it with personal greed. Everything is looked upon by
the capitalists as how it can be exploited for profit for a few. It is for
that reason that working people are exploited, the environment is polluted
and so on. This has created a world where most people do without so that a
few can have far more than they need and it is doing great harm to our world's
ecosystems. This will continue as long as we are forced to live under this
system. Capitalism cannot be reformed.

Shall we leave the survival and well-being of the people and the planet to
a system that cannot change its direction away from the exploitation of all
for the benefit of a few? It does not take a great look at our world to
clearly see that a change must take place. History has given us many
examples that changing who runs the system or even changing the name of the
system does little or nothing to change the exploitation of people and the
planet. Matter of fact some of the worst polluters have been so-called
socialist states.

The change that must take place has to, in my view, take place not only in
changing systems but also in changing the way we live. We must not longer
seek to rule over each other by competing for political power. Political
power and greed must be replaced with a common goal, the well-being of all.
And for that to become a reality, solidarity must become a way of life.
Solidarity is not charity. Charity only reinforces the class system.
Solidarity is helping each other out when needed.

In order to make solidarity a way of life we need to look upon each other
in a different manner. Though we all are distinctive individuals, each
having their own desires, hopes, skills and talents, we are all in the same
social boat together. All of us who are not of the ruling or managing
classes are exploited and oppressed in some manner. Some are exploited and
oppressed more than others, but as long as there is a class system in place
there is the reality of exploitation and oppression that we will always
face. In this society it is common to look at others as lesser than we are
and not realize that only helps keeps us in our place. That viewpoint only
aids the capitalist class in their purpose and helps keep all of us
exploited and oppressed.

It may be race or sex or religion or ethnicity, it could be what part of
town someone lives in or what their culture is, the list of reasons people
use to think they are better than someone else is almost endless. It is not
a matter of having to like everything, but rather realizing what you do like
is directly connected to what everyone else likes. There are forms of music
and culture that I don't care for. That is based upon my personal likes and
dislikes. But that does not mean that I should view what I don't care for as
lesser than what I like or that those who like other music or cultures
should be oppressed.

The only way oppression and exploitation can be challenged is to organize
against it and to stand up to it. This needs to be done by those of the
different types who directly oppression affects. Oppression and exploitation
strips us of control over our lives and seeks to suppress our
self-expression that defines who we are. Thus the struggle for liberation
from oppression and exploitation needs to include self-determination both as
individuals and as groups of people based upon the different forms of
oppression and exploitation.

The culture of the class system grants privileges that are denied to
others. The further up the hierarchy of the class system one is, the greater
those privileges become. Thus how real other privileges are is based upon
class privilege.

Such privileges as race privilege and sex privilege are designed to keep
people in their "place" and the system uses other oppressed and exploited
people to enforce this. Even though at the bottom of the class system these
privileges don't amount to much, the poor folks are told that if others,
such as people of color or women, makes gains through struggle that they
will lose something and thus those people are a threat to them. The fact is
that for those of the working class there are really only two things that
privilege grants them:

1. The right to be less oppressed. A White worker is oppressed by class
but is not oppressed by race, and so on.

2. The right to help maintain the system and culture of oppression by
helping to enforce it.

Back in the days of the old south (that is the south of the US) there was
a system and culture of segregation and heavy oppression of black people.
Black people organized a Civil Rights Movement to directly challenge
institutional racism. Many poor whites were used to try to help suppress
this movement. Some bought into the lie that black people were trying to
take something that they had. Some just sat on the sidelines not wanting to
get involved. But a few realized that if you ain't got nothing, you ain't
got nothing to lose and those who were trying to use them were those that
had most everything and thus were the reason they had nothing at all. And
thus it was not black people who were the threat to them but rather those
who exploited them who were to blame.

Long ago when I lived in New Orleans a black veteran of the Civil Rights
Movement told me that economically poor whites gained more from the Civil
Rights Movement than did poor blacks. The reason was that when the rich
white power structure, as seen in the White Business Councils, mostly
collapsed, that gave room for poor whites to make gains. Though the system
of oppression and exploitation continued, and racism was still a part of it,
the struggle of black people was a threat to poor whites but they also
benefited from it in real terms.

All resistance to the way things are is connected in two ways. First, all
oppressed and exploited people are that way because of the class system and
capitalism. Next, the privileges granted by the system are only a means to
help keep the system in place. Thus, all resistance benefits all of the
oppressed and exploited. And the only protections from oppression and
exploitation are to get rid of all oppression and exploitation.

We need to respect the importance of self-determination and not interfere
with that process. Some may point out that self-determination does not
always go where they would like it. But we all must realize that all
struggle for liberation from oppression and exploitation is a continuing
process, even among high minded anarchists. If we believe that true liberty
and self-management are the only means to get rid of the class system then
we must understand that others will reach the same conclusion. For example,
the Black Panther Party was a self-determination organization and was a
progressive step in the process. It collapsed because of government
repression and the conflicts created by a hierarchical structure. Learning
from that a number of former Black Panthers became anarchists. Some people
of color have organized as anarchists and for them anarchism has become a
part of self-determination organizing.

Though we need to respect self-determination organization, but we also
need to realize that we do have connections and how well our liberation goes
depends on all of us. Thus we do not seek to control or interfere with
self-determination organizations but in times of need and when asked, we do
need to stand in direct solidarity with them.

Forms of oppression tend to overlap. For example women may organize
women's groups that include women of color. So those self-determination
organizations would overlap with self-determination organizations of people
of color.

The largest area of overlap is with working class self-determination
organizations. Yes, such organizations as the IWW or anarcho-syndicalist
unions are self-determination organizations. The reason why this is true is
because they seek to organize working folks to the point that they can take
control over their labor and determine for themselves how their labor will
be used. That is what is called worker self-management.

Like all forms of oppression and exploitation, class oppression and
exploitation is directly connected to all other forms of oppression and
exploitation. And thus the working class directly benefits by standing in
solidarity with other self-determination organizations. This is important
for three main reasons:

1. All oppression and exploitation is connected and none can be liberated
without liberation for all.

2. By standing together in solidarity people learn about the cultural
oppressions that exist even in self-determination organizing. For example
there is still racism and sexism within the working class. Black
self-determination organizing could free black people from the white power
structure, only to find some black people replacing the white bosses.

3. The capitalist class is very powerful and well organized with control
over governments. It will take even greater power to free ourselves. Thus
there needs to be united solidarity action by all oppressed and exploited

Solidarity should become a way of life for us all. It should be as much a
part of our natural life as eating, sleeping, or anything else. From giving
a helping hand to the person next to us when they are in need, to standing
in direct solidarity with other oppressed and exploited people, to walking a
picket line in support of striking workers, to standing together in direct
action against the dirty rotten system, solidarity needs to become our
reality of living and in that way we are creating a new world for the
well-being of all.

Arthur J. Miller

Friday, October 01, 2010

[olympiaworkers] The Modern Relevance of the IWW

The Modern Relevance of the IWW

by Arthur J. Miller

Working people have always existed in every society. Those who produce the
goods and services that all depend upon are the one common element that all
human communities must have in order to survive. All other human endeavors
are secondary to that. Rulers, bosses, armies, churches, political parties
and so on cannot exist without the workers. Throughout the ages there have
been those who did, or sought to, exploit the labor of working people for
their own benefit. No matter what form this exploitation comes in, it all
come down to this, the accumulation of wealth and power by a few from the
labor of the many. This has been justified in many ways by the talking heads
of the exploiters. But the single fact remands, the exploiters are not a
necessary part of human society, whereas working people are.

There has been a conflict of interest between working people and those who
exploit them since the beginning. That conflict of interest has been between
the interest of the few exploiters to gain as much as possible off the labor
of the many, and the interest of the many, the working people, to produce
the needs of society for the well-being of all.

The struggle of working people against their exploitation has taken many
forms over the years. At one point in that struggle, they started to
organize their places of labor and these organizations became known as
unions. The first organizations were that of single shops and later based
upon the trade or skill of the workers. It was found that single shop
organizing did not have the power to stand up to the employers who were able
to use the might of the State against them. It was also found that trade or
skill form of unionism tended to divide workers and left many workers

Out of the lessons learned single shops joined together in organizations of
similar shops all the way to confederations of unions. After a while the
labor movement found that organizing whole industries themselves rather than
the individual trades in industry was a much stronger form of organization,
this became known as industrial unionism.

Out of the direct experiences of labor struggles, a number of veteran union
organizers came together to discuss how a stronger labor movement could be
created and they issued an Industrial Union Manifesto that called for a
founding convention of a new organization in 1905. That new organization
became the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and its members over time
became known as Wobblies.

This new organization was based upon industrial unionism where all workers
on the same job belonged to the same union and all workers in the same
industry would belong to the same industrial union.

The IWW sought to organize workers into an organization of industrial unions
rather than a federation of unions. The difference was that there could be
greater coordination of organizing and industrial action. The IWW created an
organizational form of industrial unions, industrial departments and all
together as the One Big Union. One organization with many component parts
that all work together. Each component part dealing with the needs and
issues of its members and when the needs and issues go beyond a component
part then they are addressed by the next component part in a horizontal form
of organization. Here is how this works: the Job Branch is the workplace
organization of each shop. There the shop's needs and issues are dealt with.
The Job Branch is a branch of a local Industrial Union Branch (if there is
no Industrial Union Branch yet organized then it is a branch of the local
General Membership Branch), and the Industrial Union Branch deals with local
industrial organizing and industrial action, within its industry and deals
with the common needs and issues of all the Job Branches that it has
organized. Industrial Union Branches are branches of an Industrial Union.
All related industries are organized into Industrial Departments. There are
common needs of all IWW members and they are dealt with by a General
Administration and General Membership Branches are branches of a General

The IWW became a constitutional organization that all members agreed to
abide to and it became the common agreement between all members of the IWW.
That constitution protected the rights of all members of the IWW through
direct democracy and the constitution could only be amended or changed by a
vote of all members through a union wide referendum.

The IWW believed that the gains of any workers should not come at the
expense of other workers and thus upheld the principles of universal labor
solidarity. As the IWW Preamble puts it "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 industry, or in 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."

The IWW realized that workers divided could not carry on the struggle that
was needed. Thus the IWW opened its membership to all workers regardless of
race, sex, religion, ethnicity, or other such means of division, on an equal
level. Throughout its history the IWW has sought to educate working people
and to stand against all forms of bigotry that divided them.

The IWW sought and still does seek, to empower working people. This means
that the IWW advocates that working people act directly for themselves
without delegating others to act for them. This is what we call direct

The IWW realized that the employing class was not limited to the confines of
nation states. If the IWW were to limit its organizing and industrial action
to one nation it would be unable to stand up to the power of the employing
class which is international. Historically national unions have often
concerned themselves mostly with what they see as the interests of workers
in their country. Even when it is clear that concerns need to be
international often national unions find cooperation hindered by there fear
of losing their control over workers in their countries. Also in dealing
with the necessity of international struggle, negotiating through the
structural apparatus of many national unions would be very slow and
sometimes nearly impossible. The IWW views the working class not as divided
up by nationalities based upon nation states and confined by national
borders, but rather as an international class with common interests. Though
culturally the working class is very diverse, but the IWW sees the diversity
of workers as a strength and not a weakness. That is the reason why the IWW
did not become the Industrial Workers of the U.S. or North America, but
rather became the Industrial Workers of the World.

The IWW realized that the class conflict between those who worked and those
who lived off that labor was not a necessary part of the human existence.
Thus the IWW sought in the long run to put and end to class conflict by
elimination of classes as a part of society. By organizing workers into the
IWW based upon their day-to-day struggles for better conditions, as that
organization would grow it was also be creating the formation of "a new
society within the shell of the old", as the IWW Preamble puts it.

The idea of creating a new society, as the IWW sought and still seeks, is
plain, simple and based upon the reality of the working class condition as
it existed then and now. The employing class is an organized power. But it
is not potentially the most powerful force that there is. Without the labor
of working people to exploit the power of the employing class is nothing.
The goal of the IWW is to organize that productive power until the organized
power of the working class is greater than the organized power of the
employing class. At that time a new society will be possible and an end to
class conflict will come about.

It has been seen throughout history that the act of organizing can create
within itself a ruling class. This can be seen in many other unions where
union leaders control the union and then there is the membership who is
being control by those union leaders. Whenever this type of situation takes
places there is a conflict of interests between the rulers and those who are
ruled and this will lead to class conflict. The interests of the rulers is
to maintain their rule and increase that which they gain by that rule. The
interests of the union membership is in improving their conditions and
controlling the means of doing that. The IWW is not interested in creating
new rulers. Thus the IWW is a rank and file controlled organization and
places limits on how long any officer can hold an office. This is important
in the day-to-day struggles of working people and it is essential to create
a new society without classes.

Since the IWW was not a top down driven organization but rather an
organization for workers, of workers, and controlled by workers themselves,
the IWW became a means of worker self-expression. Everything in the IWW is
worker self-expression because in the IWW is nothing but workers. Wobblies
learning to speak for themselves as workers created a culture of
self-expression that can be seen far beyond just official writing it can
include other class-conscious forms of expression: personal writings, songs,
art work, theatre, language, story telling, social events, that became a
Wobbly tradition. What the Wobblies did was to bring into the IWW the
working class culture that has always existed and made it an important part
of the organization and the Wobbly way of life. If working people are to
control their own labor they need to be able to speak for themselves and the
Wobbly culture created a means of doing that. Culture is a very powerful
means of creating strong bonds between people and that is very much needed
in the class struggle of working people.

The IWW does not seek to just be an organization of bargaining units,
though organizing bargaining units is important. The IWW seeks to create
Wobblies. That is workers who understand the struggle, who is the real
enemy, the need to stand in solidarity with each other and what the IWW
goals are. That takes education. The three stars of the IWW label stand for
*Education *Organization *Emancipation. Through its papers, literature,
speakers and culture, the IWW seeks to educate workers and when a worker
becomes a Wobbly, that worker becomes knowledgeable of the conditions of
working people and why they exist as they do.

The IWW does not allow any outside control of the organization. This means
all political parties or anti-political organizations are kept out of the
IWW and the IWW makes no alliances with them. Individual members may want to
be involved in such organizations and it is their right to do so, but they
can never bring into the IWW those organizations to have any standing within
the IWW. The IWW believes to do other wise would harm the unity of its

Although the main purpose of the IWW is to build an industrial organization,
but workers are affected by other issues. Wobblies have been active in peace
movements, human and civil rights movements, anti-fascism movements,
anti-racism movements, anti-sexism movements, environmental movements,
anti-nuclear movements, and so on, and the IWW as an organization has made
strong statements on such issues. The IWW views itself as the Industrial
Workers of the World and not just the Industrial Wage Slaves of the World
and thus confronts all the issues that are important to working people.

After the founding convention in 1905, Wobblies were involved in a lot of
organizing and industrial actions. Many books like to focus on the years
after the founding convention until the early 1920s. In part, this is
because in 1921 the Communist controlled Red Trade Union Congress in Moscow
demanded that the IWW dissolve itself and its membership join and work
within the AFL. The IWW would not allow any outside organizations to dictate
to it and refused to comply. We Wobblies will not take orders from Moscow or
any other group of would be rulers. Their stated complaint was that we were
a so-called dual union in that there were two organizations of labor unions
in the U.S. This was without merit because most members of the IWW worked in
industries that the AFL was unwilling to organize and the AFL was an
organization of reformist trade unions while the IWW was a revolutionary
organization of industrial unions. From that time on most communist and
fellow traveler writers viewed that the IWW died in 1921. In fact the year
of peak membership was in 1924 and the IWW continues to organize to this
day. Our longest time of shop control was in machine shops from the 1930s to
1950. We were hit hard in the 1950s by the government's witch hunts and from
the 1950s to the early 1970s we were an illegal labor union. Since then the
IWW has been rebuilding itself and has been involved in a lot of job
organizing and actions.

Like any organization that has been around for a long time, the IWW has
evolved in some ways, but our basic ideas on organization and actions are
still the same. Does this make the IWW some how out of date? No. The basic
ideas of the IWW are the most advanced union ideas ever to be expressed. .

In our modern world we have global capitalism that is mostly controlled by
multi-national corporations and their organized power is far greater than it
was in 1905. The national unions cannot stand up to the new economic
situation. Only an organization that is organized internationally with fine
turned coordination has any hope of dealing with the modern situation and
the only such organization that seeks to organize on that level is the IWW.

Just because ideas are old does not make them out of date. With great vision
the IWW saw how capitalism was developing created an organization with the
potentiality to face it. With the international organization of capitalism
with its multinational corporations, business associations, great influence
upon many governments of the world, international trade agreements and such
organizations as the World Trade Organization, and the World Bank,
capitalism has come a long way towards its goal of complete control of
everything that is exploitable for profit in our world. Though there is a
lot of good resistance to this, though it is mostly isolated, only the
organized power of the working class has any real hope in overcoming the
organized power of capitalism. An organization that is based at the source
of working people's power within industry at the point of production of
goods and services and has the organizational coordination to reach beyond
national borders and has the vision of how to create a new society. That
organization is the IWW. In our modern world of instant communication the
old idea of industrial union internationalism that once was just a hope
becomes a real possibility and all of this, the organizational ideas and the
modern means of communication makes the IWW even more relevant today than it
was in 1905.

As long as there are workers being exploited, there will always be Wobblies.
The IWW never died and it will never die as long as working people are
driven like beasts of burden by a few parasites who live off of our labor.