Les griefs suspendus, les travailleurs et travailleuses de la santé se tournent vers l’action directe

Une source anonyme décrit les actions directes employées, durant la crise de santé publique en Ontario, par les travailleuses et travailleurs des foyers de soins de longue durée maintenant que le règlement des griefs est suspendu.

The 17 mars, le premier ministre Doug Ford a déclaré l’état d’urgence en Ontario. Pour la plupart des gens, il était interdit à présent de se réunir en groupe. Les centres commerciaux et les lieux publics ont été fermés, et les travailleurs et travailleuses ont été contraint.e.s de rester à la maison à tenter d’imaginer comment se nourrir et payer les factures ; mais pour le personnel de la santé, ce fut autre chose.

La déclaration d’urgence a suspendu une grande partie des conventions collectives dans le secteur de la santé. Pour l’employeur, ceci veut dire que toute les mesures de restriction des horaires, affectations, lieux de travail et tâches, ne sont plus en vigueur durant la pandémie. Toutes les vacances et tous les congés ont été annulés, au point où – lorsqu’ils ont été interrogés – les employeurs ont déclaré qu’ils pensaient maintenant avoir le droit, en vertu de la déclaration d’urgence, d’annuler un congé de maternité s’ils le souhaitaient, tout en espérant que ce ne serait pas le cas.

Les mécanismes habituels qu’utilisent les syndicats pour régler les problèmes en milieu de travail ont subi beaucoup de dommages collatéraux. L’arbitrage accéléré, où un syndicat peut demander à la Commission des Relations de Travail de l’Ontario de nommer un arbitre et de faire tenir une audience dans les 30 days, n’est pas utilisé actuellement. La CRTO échoue de façon routinière à répondre à ces demandes, de sorte que la disposition peut tout aussi bien ne pas exister. En temps normal, un ordre d’exécution de travaux dangereux peut être résolu par un refus, et en contactant le ministère du Travail pour qu’il mène une enquête et se prononce face à la sécurité des travaux requis. Depuis la crise du COVID-19, ce ministère contacte en premier lieu la direction, parle ensuite aux travailleurs et travailleuses, et termine en affirmant publiquement qu’il n’y a pas de problème. Les employeurs ignorent simplement les griefs parce qu’ils savent qu’ils le peuvent. Les représentant.e.s syndicaux ne peuvent pas visiter le lieu de travail, car ils ont été classé.e.s comme «visiteur.e.s non essentiel.le.s».

Dans certains lieux de travail, c’est désastreux. Sans visite d’un.e représentant.e syndical et sans réunions de griefs, certain.e.s travailleuses et travailleurs estiment que le syndicat n’existe pas en ce moment. Les gestionnaires en profitent pour dire aux employé.e.s que les syndicats ne peuvent les aider et qu’ils ne seront à nouveau pertinents qu’après la pandémie. Les membres appellent leurs représentant.e.s syndicaux en les implorant d’agir mais rien ne se passe puisque les méthodes habituelles sont suspendues.

Pour d’autres lieux de travail, however, c’est une chance de progresser en poussant encore plus loin les gains réalisés dans le passé. Ces unités, même si elles utilisent aussi la procédure de règlement des griefs, ne comptent pas uniquement sur elle pour faire avancer les choses. Certaines de ces unités ont une longue histoire d’action directe, d’autres fléchissent leurs muscles pour la première fois… Mais toutes ont su améliorer leurs conditions de travail !

Je voudrais partager deux de leurs histoires. L’une est une unité déjà combative ; l’autre est une unité où ils commencent à réaliser que la lutte paie. Les deux employeurs resteront anonymes.

Planification et Affectation

La première unité est une maison de soins de longue durée qui pratique l’action coordonnée pour réaliser des gains. Dans le passé, ils ont mobilisé les résident.e.s et leurs familles pour lutter contre les décisions de gestion impopulaires telles que la sous-traitance. Bien avant le COVID, ils se regroupaient déjà régulièrement pour refuser collectivement de permettre à l’employeur de remplacer les postes à temps plein par des quarts de travail supplémentaires à temps partiel. Dans un certain nombre de cas, lorsqu’un.e employé.e a été injustement suspendu.e, ils ont collectivement refusé d’accepter de pourvoir au poste suspendu pour envoyer un message à l’employeur. Sometimes, cet.te. employé.e suspendu.e a même été ramené.e au travail avant la fin de la suspension afin de maintenir les effectifs en place.

Les travailleurs et travailleuses de ce foyer de soins continuent de faire des gains malgré la suspension actuelle d’une partie de leur convention collective. L’un des éléments de la déclaration d’urgence est une ordonnance stipulant que tous les travailleuses et travailleurs de la santé ne peuvent travailler que pour un seul employeur. Lorsqu’un gestionnaire a essayé de profiter de la déclaration d’urgence pour mettre en œuvre un horaire de 12 heures extrêmement impopulaire, plus de la moitié des employé.e.s de cette unité se sont regroupé.e.s et ont dit à leur gestionnaire que si cela se produisait, ils iraient travailler dans un autre établissement de soins, obligeant le gestionnaire à revenir sur sa décision.

Dans un autre cas, des travailleurs et travailleuses ont été déplacé.e.s dans l’établissement pendant leur quart de travail, envoyé.e.s d’une unité non-COVID à une unité aux prises avec le virus, puis retourné.e.s à l’unité non-COVID pendant le même quart de travail. Après une brève discussion avec la direction, ils ont été menacé.e.s de licenciement pour abandon d’emploi s’ils refusaient de retourner dans une unité non COVID pendant le même quart de travail. Après avoir discuté de la situation entre eux, ils sont retourné.e.s voir leur gestionnaire avec un ultimatum : soit le mouvement entre les unités s’arrête immédiatement, soit chaque travailleuse et travailleur renvoyé.e dans une unité non-COVID pendant le même quart de travail appelle la Santé publique et signale une exposition aux COVID. Ils savaient très bien que la Santé publique les mettrait en quarantaine pendant 14 jours avant de leur permettre de retourner au travail, ce qui causerait un énorme problème – dû au manque de personnel – pour le gestionnaire. En travaillant ensemble, ils ont pu atteindre leurs objectifs malgré le démantèlement de la procédure de règlement des griefs.

Équipement de Protection Individuelle (EPI)

Dans une autre unité sans histoire d’action directe, les travailleuses et travailleurs commencent à réaliser leur pouvoir. Lorsque l’ordonnance d’urgence a été rendue, les gestionnaires ont déclaré aux délégué.e.s syndicaux que le syndicat n’était plus pertinent et ne le serait qu’après la pandémie. Des griefs ont été déposés et ignorés. Les délégué.e.s syndicaux ont approché la direction pour parler des problèmes, et on leur a dit de s’en aller et de revenir après la pandémie. Ne voulant pas attendre pour faire face à ces problèmes importants et urgents, ces employé.e.s avaient besoin d’un autre plan. Des réunions ont eu lieu (virtuellement, of course) et un plan d’action a été convenu.

Le premier point à traiter pour ces travailleurs et travailleuses était l’accès aux EPI. Le médecin en chef de la Santé publique a ordonné que les EPI soient facilement disponibles, mais leur employeur mettait des bâtons dans les roues. Un masque à procédure unique était fourni à leur arrivée au travail, et s’ils avaient besoin d’un autre, ou d’un masque N95, ou de blouses, ou de gants, ils devaient s’adresser à un.e responsable. Le directeur posait beaucoup de questions pour ne pas accéder à leur demande. Plusieurs fois, on leur a dit qu’un masque N95 coûte 7 $, ce qui devrait être le dernier souci à avoir en matière de sécurité. Il se trouve que la gestionnaire de soir, chargée de garder et de distribuer à contrecoeur l’EPI, n’était pas elle-même une agente de santé, mais travaillait dans un rôle de soutien auxiliaire. Une nuit, deux employé.e.s se sont approché.e.s et ont demandé des EPI supplémentaires, ce qui a été refusé. Un.e des employé.e a remis à celle-ci une copie de l’une des directives du médecin en chef de la Santé publique, qui excluait spécifiquement tous les visiteurs et travailleurs non essentiel.le.s des foyers de soins de longue durée. La gestionnaire a demandé en quoi cela était pertinent, et l’autre employé.e a déclaré: «Nous sommes trois ici, mais seulement deux d’entre nous sont des employé.e.s essentiel.le.s. On peut procéder de deux façons : soit vous donnez l’EPI à tout employé.e qui vous le demande ; soit on vous fait renvoyer chez vous dès maintenant en appelant la Santé publique si vous refusez de partir. » La gestionnaire a appelé (et réveillé) son propre directeur, et le directeur s’est présenté sur les lieux pour tenter de dissuader les travailleurs de l’EPI qu’ils avaient demandé, mais ils sont resté.e.s fermes. Finally, la direction a cédé et le lendemain matin, une nouvelle directive a été envoyée à tous les travailleurs et travailleuses les informant que «par mesure de précaution», les EPI seraient distribués gratuitement.

Un autre levier que les travailleuses et travailleurs utilisent sont les médias. Leur lieu de travail a été mis en évidence récemment dans les nouvelles, et ce n’est pas positif. La direction, qui essaie normalement de contrôler ce que les médias peuvent dire sur cette entreprise, est dépassée par les évènements. Les employé.e.s l’utilisent régulièrement pour contester les décisions de la direction concernant les politiques de dotation et de quarantaine. Lorsque la direction met en œuvre un changement, les travailleurs et travailleuses ont un rendez-vous virtuel pour répondre à une question: est-ce stupide maintenant ou est-ce que ce sera stupide à six heures, aux nouvelles? Cette phrase a fait son chemin, et les gestionnaires ne savent pas comment y répondre.

Alors que quelques travailleuses et travailleurs parlent ouvertement aux médias, beaucoup d’autres sont plus réticent.e.s. So, un.e porte-parole qui n’est pas employé.e par l’entreprise a été sélectionné.e pour transmettre aux médias des informations sur ce qui se passe à l’intérieur de la maison de soins de santé. Dans la salle de pause, il y a une télévision qui est généralement réglée sur l’une des chaînes d’information locales. A few weeks ago, un gestionnaire a bloqué toutes les chaînes d’information par dépit. Pour contourner ce problème, les travailleurs et travailleuses organisent des visionnements sur Facebook pendant leurs pauses, assis à six pieds l’un.e de l’autre dans la salle à manger, sur leur téléphone portable, le volume bien audible. Durant cette pandémie, la direction a commencé à faire allusion à la discipline pour – comme elle le dit – «rétablir l’ordre» au travail, mais elle ne peut pas faire grand-chose sans se mettre dans une situation pire qu’elle ne l’est déjà.

Cette unité prend conscience du pouvoir de l’action directe et commence à comprendre son pouvoir sur les lieux de travail. De nouveaux leaders commencent à se mettre en place. Certain.e.s représentant.e.s «officiel.le.s» tombent en déroute, tandis que d’autres jouent un rôle de premier plan dans l’action directe collective au travail.

Leçons

La conclusion que l’on peut tirer est simple. Les conventions collectives, les griefs, les arbitrages et les canaux syndicaux officiels peuvent être utilisés pour atténuer certains des dommages qu’un mauvais employeur peut faire aux travailleuses et travailleurs, mais ils ne peuvent pas tout régler. Non seulement ils sont imparfaits de par leur conception, mais ils peuvent être suspendus ou rendus inefficaces très facilement par le gouvernement en place.

Les griefs peuvent être retardés mais pas l’action collective directe. Les conventions collectives peuvent être suspendues, temporairement, comme dans ce cas ; ou même de façon permanente comme c’est arrivé au cours de l’histoire ; mais l’action collective directe s’inscrit toujours dans le présent. Les lieux de travail où les travailleuses et travailleurs ont érigé un rempart, ou ont une une histoire éprouvée d’action directe collective, se portent beaucoup mieux pendant la pandémie que ceux qui n’en ont pas.

Comment résister aux lois spéciales de retour au travail

Les travailleurs.ses des postes au Canada ont éffectué.e.s des grèves rotatives au début de l’hiver 2018 quand, suite à une loi spéciale du Gouvernement Fédéral, ils et elles ont été forcés deretourner au travail. Since that time, les négociations ont été sujettes à de l’arbitrage, qui a mené à deux prolongations. Les travailleurs.ses des postes avaient aussi été soumis à une loi semblable en 2011, sous un article qui a été ensuite prouvé être anticonstitutionnel par la Cours Suprême du Canada. However, cette jurisprudence n’a pas su empêcher la grève de l’an dernier de se terminer de la même manière.

Les Travailleurs.ses font aujourd’hui face a toute sorte de législation impromptue qui vient interrompre leurs grèves, de l’article Taft Hartley aux États-Unis, qui prévient les grèves de soutien, à la Loi Taylor de l’état de New York, qui empêche carrément les travailleurs.ses de la fonction publique de déclencher une grève. Plusieursont avancé que les syndicats se doivent de défier ces lois afin de renverser la vapeur sur ces lois draconiennes et actualiser l’activisme syndical afin de lutter pour des gains réels dans les milieux de travail. Mais comment y arriver alors que les pénalités et frais d’entrave sont si élevés? Dans le cas de Postes Canada, certain.e.s travailleurs.ses sont sujets à des amendes de $1,000 par jour simplement pour avoir participé à la grève.

J’ai parlé avec Roland Schmidt, Président de la section locale 730 du syndicat des Postes à Edmonton. Les travailleurs.ses dans cette section ont établis une méthode de désobéissance aux lois de retour-au-travail forcé et luttent contre l’instauration de nouvelles lois du même genre. Ces actions directes commencent en bâtissant un rapport de force dans leur milieu de travail pour ensuite se disperser dans un programme de formation plus large.

Comment est-ce que ces actions directes, dans votre milieu de travail, ont-elles commencées?

In 2011, notre division locale a eu une expérience d’organisation très positive auprès de plusieurs militant.e.s qui se sont battus.e.s contre un régime d’heures supplémentaires obligatoires. Tangiblement, cela signifiait que si nous étions à court de personnel, la corporation pouvait forcer facteurs et factrices à demeurer au travail. Au lieu d’engager le personnel nécessaire, les boss pouvaient donc utiliser ces mesures pour forcer les employé.e.s à demeurer au travail jusqu’à ce que les tâches soient terminées. Nous avons appelé cette mesure ‘force back’. Des travailleurs.ses auraient terminé.e.s leur route habituelle, et ensuite devaient enchaîner avec une autre heure et quarante-cinq minutes supplémentaires, soit la route d’une autre personne. Si cela arrivait une fois ou deux en quelques mois, d’accord, nous aurions simplement gagné un peu plus d’argent. But the, cette exception à la règle arrivait trois fois par semaine. Lutter contre cette mesure a été un réel tremplin pour le militantisme dans la section locale. Des comités de travail de terrain sont apparus, ont coordonnés des refus d’application du règlement et se sont tenus les coudes face à la corporation. Une campagne a émergé dans l’ensemble de la ville, regroupant tous les fournisseurs de toutes les stations. Nous avons organisé des réunions de masses. Poste Canada s’est rétracté quant aux menaces de suspensions et a changé ses méthodes d’organisation de ses employé.e.s et le problème était réglé!

Fort de notre expérience, nous avons développé un cours intitulé ‘’Taking back the workfloor’’ (Se réapproprier son milieu de travail) qui s’inspirait grandement des formations données par les IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), une organization syndicale qui a toujours été réactive dans son support au syndicat des postes lorsque nos droits se font bafoués.

Ironically, dans la même période de temps ou nous étions en train d’entrer dans le déclenchement d’une grève, (le Premier Ministre Stephen) Harper nous a balancé uneloi spéciale de retour au travail. Cette législation a vraiment dégonflé nos troupes. Nous n’avions pas de plan d’action pour se battre contre la loi. Suite à cet événement, notre section est entrée dans une grande période d’inactivité qui ne s’est terminée que récemment, dans les derniers 6 or 8 month.

Il y a encore beaucoup de réticences et d’inquiétudes qui n’ont pas été adressées – nous avons encore des enjeux autour de structures au travail et de manque de personnel qui résultent en blessures sur le quart de nos membres chaque année. Suite à la loi de l’année dernière, nos membres ont été poussé.e.s à bout, résultant en un abandon du processus syndical habituel. J’ai fait partie d’un petit groupe de militant.e.s à Edmonton et nous avons décidé que nous devions ouvertement assumer que toutes les procédures syndicales – griefs, arbitrage, le système judiciaire, la constitution – nous ont laissé tomber. Nous devons retourner nous battre pour faire revivre le militantisme de CUPW.

J’étais officier à l’organisation à l’époque, et nous avons ressorti ce cours pour former des gens au travers de ces enjeux. Notre groupe s’est élargi, from 5 personne à 30. Nous avons finalement décidé de se lancer complètement, et je suis devenu président de notre section locale en Juin (2018). Nous reconnaissons complètement les limites liées à la bureaucratie syndicale, mais nous nous sommes dit que nous pourrions utiliser cette plateforme comme levier pour promouvoir une campagne d’organisation chez l’ensemble des travailleur.se.s des Postes. Puisque je ne suis plus facteur, je passe le plus clair de mon temps au bureau du Syndicat et je peux ainsi passer la moitié de mes journées en visite dans différents bâtiments de Postes Canada afin d’expliquer pourquoi le syndicat passe son temps à perdre ses combats, pourquoi nous recevons toujours des lois briseuses de grève et pourquoi l’organisation syndicale est la meilleure manière de contrer ces mesures. Ensemble nous pouvons renverser la vapeur et mettre de la pression sur la compagnie. Je n’étais pas certain de la réaction des travailleurs.ses face à mes idées mais, avec l’aide d’autres militant.e.s, les gens se sont enrôlésen masse et nous avons remplis notre salle de cours 6 fois en Juin, with 20 personnes à chaque fois. Cette masse de gens représente le noyau de notre nouveau contingent d’organisateurs.trices et nous avions maintenant des représentants.tes dans chaque secteur de l’entreprise.

Nous avons eu plusieurs actions directes dans sept de nos onzes principaux lieux de travail, impliquant ainsi de nouveaux.elles travailleurs.ses dans des actions directes; confronter des patrons intimidants, adresser des problèmes de paies etc. Avec l’action directe, nous avons pu voir une amélioration majeure de nos conditions de travail en quelques semaines, alors que nous n’avions vu aucun changement en plusieurs années.

Avez-vous peur des pénalités, suite à toutes ces actions directes, considérant que vous êtes souscrits aux lois de retour-au-travail?

C’est une inquiétude très présente. Quelques personnes croient que ce n’est pas vraiment important de considérer les amendes, mais la réalité est qu’auprès de la majorité de nos membres, c’est un enjeux à ne pas prendre à la légère.

Beaucoup de nos actions ont lieu autour du fait que notre convention collective nous donne le droit de se plaindre. Disons que tu as un patron qui fait de l’intimidation – comme la semaine dernière, il y avait une section de 25 travailleurs.ses dans un site qui ont été aux prises avec un superviseur harcelant qui leur tombait systématiquement sur la tête. Il ne laissait pas les gens partir avant l’ultime dernière minute, ce qui est largement mal reçu puisqu’il faut mettre au moins 5 minutes pour traverser l’immense shoppe. Ils et elles se sont tanné de remplir des griefs à l’égard de ce superviseur et 20 of the 25 travailleurs.ses ont marché jusqu’au bureau du Directeur pour le sommer de les écouter. Ce dernier a quitté les lieux et les travailleurs.ses lui ont dit ‘’On va t’attendre jusqu’à ce que tu reviennes’’.Il est éventuellement revenu et ils et elles ont pu lui expliquer tous leurs problèmes avec le Superviseur en question. Le directeur l’a ensuite réprimandé et le superviseur a même présenté des excuses aux travailleurs.ses. Since that time, il semble se tenir plus droit et agir avec plus respectueusement.

La compagnie a ensuite délivré des lettres disciplinaires à tous.tes les travailleurs.ses sous le prétexte qu’ils et elles avaient stoppé la production pour une demi heure. Nous nous sommes battu.e.s contre cette mesure disciplinaire. Dans le cadre de mes fonctions de président, j’ai dit: ‘’Nous avons fait usage de notre droit de nous plaindre. Le directeur a fuit son bureau, allongeant ainsi une rencontre qui aurait pu durer seulement qu’une minute’’Même si nous avons stoppé la production, pourquoi ne nous ont-ils pas ressorti la loi ? Il y a eu plusieurs reprises ou ils auraient pu nous la remettre en plein visage, mais je pense que les patrons ont peurs de mettre de l’huile sur le feu.

À Rosedale, une des plus grande centrales de tri du courrier à Edmonton, il y a eu une erreur dans la catégorisation d’un certainflyer, les patrons ont donc insisté qu’on le délivre individuellement chez tout le monde. Cette demande ajoutait jusqu’à 4 kilomètres additionnels de marche aux facteurs.trices déjà surmené.e.s. J’étais encore facteur à cette époque et nous avons effectué unmarch on the Boss en disant ‘’ Vous devez re-classifier ce flyer’’.La direction de cette station a ensuite ordonné que l’on délivre tout de même le flyer. Plutôt que d’obtempérer, les travailleurs.ses sont passés.e.s au vote sur le sujet et ont voté non. Now, le direction leur a dit ‘’Nous allons devoir effectuer des mesures disciplinaires’’ mais nous lui avons tous et toutes ris au visage. of the 60 personnes qui ont refusé de distribuer leflyer, only 5 ont été ciblé.e.s et ont reçu une suspension d’un jour. Normalement, nous aurions reçu une suspension de 5 jours pour une telle action d’insubordination flagrante. Considérant que nous avions reçu par deux fois un ordre direct et avons quand même refusé d’obéir.

Cet incident aurait été une autre opportunité d’utiliser la Loi spéciale contre nous que le patronat n’a pas saisi. Pourquoi ne l’ont-ils pas fait et pourquoi ne sont-ils pas plus sévères sur les travailleurs.ses qui ont participé? On pense que ça n’en prend pas gros pour leur faire peur.

En quoi consiste le coursTake Back the WorkFloor ?

La formule AEIOU (Shake, Educate, Inoculer, Organiser, Unité) apprend aux travailleurs.ses à se bâtir une équipe de support dans leur milieu de travail. Effectuer la cartographie du milieu de travail augmente souvent le registre des allié.es potentiel.les. Comment organiser une réunion de collègues. Nous faisons aussi beaucoup de jeux de rôles et simulations de réunion et de confrontations potentielles – tout cela dans une journée de 8 hours.

Nous essayons de convaincre le plus de personnes possible puisque nous voulons recruter plus largement qu’auprès des personnes déjà idéologiquement convaincues. Nous inscrivons des personnes selon leurs horaires de travail. Ils et elles participent avec d’autres collègues qui partagent le même genre de tâches et le même rang. Ensuite, nous leur demandons s’ils et elles aimeraient poursuivre leur implication syndicale, et les reléguons ensuite à des groupes Facebook, Signal ainsi que la liste courriel.

Nous avons eu tellement de succès que tous les différents niveaux de notre syndicat ont été enthousiasmés à l’idée de suivre notre cours. Nous faisons partie de la région des prairies – Alberta, Saskatchewan et Manitoba – et le reste de la région semble inspirée à se joindre à l’effort tel que lancé à Edmonton. D’autres locaux nous demandent pourquoi un tel programme n’existe pas chez elles et eux. Nous partageons donc nos méthodes organisationnelles avec d’autres sections locales – Lethbridge, Grande Prairie Saskatoon, Winnipeg. So, nous envoyons donc nos formateurs.trices dans les différents locaux pour donner le cours mais aussi pour former d’autres travailleurs.ses pour qu’ils et elles puissent ensuite être autonome. Nous les aidons à prendre leur air d’allée pour qu’ensuite leur local se gère par lui-même. Avec ces différents locaux nous pouvons même créer des comités d’organisation régionale – une première pour notre syndicat!

Comment a réagit le CUPW National, a-t-il même réagit?

C’est dur à dire. Pour ce qui est de l’organisation syndicale en tant que telle, c’est intéressant parce que nous faisons face à un succès jamais vu auparavant. Nous avons presque triplé nos niveaux de participation aux Rencontres Mensuelles, résultant de l’immense participation aux comités d’organisation, aux groupes de volontaires, à tous ceux et celles qui partagent nos progrès sur les réseaux sociaux. Toutes ces choses qui font réagir des personnes sur notre page Facebook où des groupes d’au travers le pays commencent à se questionner sur ‘’pourquoi est-ce que ce genre d’activité n’émerge pas ailleurs?’’

C’est difficile de déterminer si ces personnes, au national, sont aussi sceptiques parce qu’elles n’ont pas initié le mouvement et sont maintenant gênées , sort of, de s’y rallier aussi tardivement, ou si c’est parce qu’elles sont carrément opposées à nos méthodes. J’aime comparer le syndicalisme à un oiseau. Une aile n’est que procédures; mettre les barres sur les T, gérer des griefs, arbitration, les consultations etc. L’autre aile représente l’Organisation de terrain. Notre syndicat ne s’est appuyé que principalement sur son aile procédurale depuis 1985. C’est à ce moment là que les pénalités et amendes attribuées aux grévistes sont passées de pénalités carcérales aux lois de retour-au-travail que nous connaissons aujourd’hui. Ensuite, la stratégie à changé en fonction de la réflexion suivante : ‘’Nous sommes les spécialistes dans notre domaine, c’est nous qui allons avoir de bien meilleurs témoignages pour l’arbitrage’’. L’idée n’était probablement pas de démobiliser les travailleurs.ses, mais cet entrain à mettre l’emphase sur la procédure est venue au dépit de la solidarité collective. Le danger est qu’une fois que nous sommes habitué.e.s de concevoir le syndicalisme de cette façon, il devient difficile de croire qu’il peut exister de toute autre manière. Je n’ai pas envie de prêter des intentions malicieuses aux syndicalistes procéduraux, mais je crois que nous pouvons puiser notre force collective en acceptant qu’il y a plusieurs visions et approches qui méritent d’être prises en considération. Je comprend que quelqu’un qui a passé l’entièreté de sa carrière à remplir des griefs pourrait se sentir menacé par des membres friands d’une autre stratégie.

 J’ai vu que vous avez décidé de sonder vos membres par rapport à la question du respect de la loi de retour au travail. Pourquoi avez vous décidé de procéder ainsi et quel a été le résultat de ce sondage?

C’est intéressant parce que pendant que nous étions en planification de campagne et offrons des formations syndicales à nos membres, ils et elles regardaient déjà la situation en se demandant ‘’Comment est-ce qu’on va se battre contre ça’’.

Les routes d’un département étaient en train d’être réévaluées. C’est une pratique qui survient chaque 4 or 5 years, en fonction du nombre de paquets et de lettres. Même si le nombre de lettres ne cesse de diminuer, la quantité de paquets, she, augmente plus vite, créant ainsi plus de travail pour nos membres. Notre convention collective n’a pas de clause claire par rapport à ces évaluations de nos routes et n’exige pas de l’employeur de nous fournir des nombres exacts. Ces chiffres, fournis par des observateurs du syndicat, sont envoyés à Postes Canada, qui les ajoute à ses algorithmes et sont ensuite mélangés et tordus d’une manière incompréhensible. Nous leur avons demandé de nous montrer leurs calculs, mais leur réponse à toujours été : ‘’Si vous n’êtes pas content.e.s, remplissez des griefs’’.En guise de réponse, nous avons fait circuler une pétition dans toute la ville par presque chaque facteur.trice, 800 people, en demandant les chiffres exacts et la création de 3 nouveaux postes ; des demandes basées sur les calculs de nos propres chiffres. Nous avons menacé le CEO de Postes Canada d’une escalade des moyens de pressions si P.C ne répondait pas à nos demandes. À la base ils allaient couper 8 postes, mais n’en ont finalement coupé que 3. Nous avons donc réussi à préserver 5 postes grâce à notre organisation – bien que toute coupure est, selon nous inacceptable.

Une rencontre de masse à été organisée où 120 travailleurs.ses sont venu.e.s supporter les travailleurs.ses de ce département en disant ‘’Comment allons-nous augmenter la pression, tout en étant souscrit aux lois de retour-au-travail qui nous font risquer des amendes de $1000 per day?’’ Puisque personne n’a les moyens de payer de telles amendes, nous nous sommes demandés ‘’Avons nous suffisamment de support pour se battre de manière à ce que les amendes ne soient pas exécutables? ‘’  Et nous avons décidé collectivement que nous n’avions pas les effectifs pour escalader les moyens de pression. C’était trop gros pour nous, à ce moment là ; nous avions besoin de plus de support.

On m’a demandé d’organiser un référendum en Octobre. Je suis donc allé dans toutes nos succursales d’Edmonton avec des boîtes et des ballots de vote, acourte présentation sur nos conditions de travail, la loi de retour-au-travail ainsi que plein d’exemples de moments où nos droits n’ont pas, et ne sont pas, pris au sérieux par l’employeur. J’ai aussi insisté sur le fait qu’il n’y avait pas de bonne ou de mauvaise réponse – au cas où les travailleurs ne voudraient pas désobéir à la loi. After all, on souhaite une solution réaliste, pas idéaliste. Le résultat du vote, au travers de la ville, à été en faveur de la désobéissance à la loi de retour-au-travail à 83%. However, cette désobéissance était conditionnelle au support de l’ensemble du local, en plus du national.

Ensuite, j’ai rédigé une lettre ouverte au nom du local, “Nous devons nous sortir de ce cycle sans fin de loi de retour-au-travail’’et nous avons insisté sur le fait que rien ne nous différencie des autres facteurs et factrices du pays, ici à Edmonton. Si quelqu’un allait poser ces mêmes questions à la grandeur de Poste Canada, nos collègues seraient probablement du même avis que nous. So, le national nous a donc aidé à étendre notre référendum à l’extérieur d’Edmonton.

Nous avons eu notre premier appel avec le syndical national au début de Novembre puis un second la semaine dernière. À leur défense, ils ont été honnêtes de prime abord sur le fait qu’ils ne pouvaient pas vraiment supporter des mesures de désobéissance des lois briseuses de grève. Je ne vois rien de mal sur le fait d’être honnête par rapport à ca. Si nous avions $20 millions, la moitié de nos membres auraient pu défier la loi pour seulement une journée ; et ce n’est vraiment pas assez. Mais l’idée à toujours été que si nous voulions avoir du succès dans notre compagne, ce n’est pas parce que certain.e.s d’entre nous peuvent éponger les amendes, mais bien parce que nous aurions un si grand effectif que ces amendes ne pourraient jamais possiblement être mises en oeuvre.

Le national n’avait pas les ressources financières pour nous appuyer, et n’était pas prêt à faire des sorties publiques en faveur de la désobéissance aux lois, mais a été très encourageant et présent pour notre campagne. Ils se sont donc très élégamment sortis de l’idée du référendum.

On the other hand, si tu veux faire de la désobéissance civile, ce n’est pas nécessairement en passant par le national et en attendant d’avoir la permission que tu vas réussir. C’est plutôt sur le terrain des vaches, dans lesshoppes que ce genre de chose va escalader. Une bonne façon de l’envisager est de gérer ses problèmes locaux, ensuite régionaux puis éventuellement ce sera plus facile d’avoir ce genre de conversation au niveau national.

Même si le national n’est pas emballé à l’idée de notre défiance, au moins il ne porte pas entrave à notre campagne. Pour quiconque a déjà eu àdealer avec des grosses centrales syndicales, cela représente déjà une victoire. C’est souvent nos propres organisations qui limitent notre potentiel.

Comment planifiez-vous étendre votre approche?

Nous savons que d’autres niveaux du syndicat – régional, national- ne vont pas se lancer dans un tel programme sans avoir plus qu’assez de preuve. Alors à Edmonton, nous nous sommes simplement concentré.e.s sur le processus. On continue de planter des graines et espérer que quelque chose prenne racine. Si tu donnes les bons outils aux travailleurs.ses dont les droits se font bâcler, c’est inévitable qu’ils et elles vont s’en servir. More, la rumeur sur nos succès commence à se répandre. Les réseaux sociaux nous ont beaucoup aidé sur ce front.

J’ai aussi eu le plaisir de partager nos histoires dans unforum éducatif où j’ai partagé que Edmonton serait prêt à partager ses outils et même envoyer des formateurs.trices à quiconque serait intéressé. At once, nous avons eu plusieurs réponses de la part d’autres locaux et nous allons leur prêter main forte dans la nouvelle année. Si des sections éloignées déboursent les frais, nous pouvons même envoyer nos formateurs.trices en avion pour former d’autres collègues et leur permettre rapidement de s’organiser indépendamment. Nous pensons que toutes ces actions de terrain un peu partout dans d’autres sections locales inspireront les régions à s’y joindre aussi.

C’est impossible d’avoir trop de formateurs et de formatrices. Je vais continuer à promouvoir mon cours tant qu’il y aura une demande. Si les actions syndicales se multiplient, le stigmat autour de ces méthodes diminuera sûrement et plus de travailleurs.ses s’y prêteront. Le plus longtemps nous continuons la construction de ce modèle d’organisation, le mieux préparé nous serons pour le futur et ce peu importe la situation, que ce soit des lois ou des conditions de travail indécentes. Parce que c’est en fait ce qui nous attends. C’est la suite logique de toute l’histoire de la classe ouvrière. Alors nous devons maintenir notre cap sur l’organisation. La désobéissance aux lois de retour-au-travail est la seule façon de pousser le mouvement syndical dans la bonne direction et éviter que les choses s’empirent.

Si ce n’est qu’un département à Edmonton, ils vont vous tomber dessus à toute vitesse. Mais toute la ville? Une des choses sur lesquelles j’insiste dans ma présentation pour le référendum est l’organisation syndicale comme départ de tout mouvement de contestation. C’est inévitable. Et ces travailleurs.ses vont commencer quelque chose de magnifique. Mais c’est une chose que d’y rêver, et une autre que de s’organiser en conséquence.

Article Original de Organizing Work
Traduit de l’Anglais par Elizabeth Stone
Mars 2020

Pourquoi exiger un salaire minimum à 22$/h?

On nous dira qu’on exagère : que demander un salaire minimum de 22$ de l’heure est irréaliste, utopique ou que ça n’a juste aucun bon sens. Quelques syndicats ont récemment revendiqué un salaire minimum à 18$ /h. Cette proposition, basée sur des études de l’IRIS, n’est pas inintéressante. Comme le dit un de mes camarades: « il faut le dire quand les centrales font de la bonne job ». So, good job aussi aux militant.es de la FTQ qui ont tracté au métro Frontenac il y a quelques semaines pour informer les travailleuses et travailleurs des changements à la loi sur la Santé et sécurité au travail. C’est important de laisser ses intérêts corpos de côté et d’aller vers les gens. Vous êtes plusieurs dans les centrales à pousser dans cette direction, sans doute à contre-courant, lâchez pas.

Pour ce qui est de la revendication du salaire minimum à 18$ /h, c’est malheureusement trop peu. Devant les coûts exorbitants des loyers, l’explosion des prix sur la nourriture, le prix de l’essence qui coûte les yeux de la tête, 18$ /h, de l’avis même de certain-es qui travaillent pour des miettes, c’est trop peu. Surtout que les grands patrons de ce monde n’ont fait que s’enrichir depuis le début de la pandémie. C’est sans parler des tas de subventions qui ont été distribuées aux entreprises privées en laissant de côté les gens qui en arrachaient le plus: les travailleuses et travailleurs de premières lignes, du milieu communautaire en passant par les épiceries, qui ont dû rentrer au travail dans des conditions difficiles et inhabituelles. On ne parlera pas non plus des gens sans-emploi, des personnes assistées sociales, des gens sans statuts et celles et ceux vivant dans la rue qui ont le plus souffert de la pandémie et du manque de ressources. L’Organisation populaire des droits sociaux se bat depuis des décennies pour un revenu minimum garanti. C’est étonnant de constater que cette proposition n’est pas davantage prise en compte par les syndicats et partis politiques. Faudrait les écouter.

C’est sûr que l’argent ne règle pas tout. Mais ça demeure une des ressources les plus essentielles pour survivre dans ce régime capitalisme. Avoir un bon salaire permet à des gens d’avoir un meilleur espace de vie, d’avoir accès à de meilleurs aliments, d’avoir accès à des p’tits plaisirs aussi banal que d’aller au cinéma. Avoir un bon salaire et des bonnes conditions de travail, être reconnu.es comme travailleurs et travailleuses ou tout simplement comme personne à part entière, c’est important aussi pour la santé mentale et la santé en général. Au cas où vous ne le savez pas, les boss et les riches vivent plus vieux que nous autres… Bref, l’argent ne règle pas tout, mais permet d’espérer vivre un peu mieux, plus longtemps…

As you know, le IWW n’est pas un syndicat partisan. Nous avons aucune ligne de parti. Certains de nos membres sont communistes, d’autres anarchistes; certains sont sociaux-démocrates. Bien que nos membres soient libres de leur choix politique, nous n’appuierons jamais, comme organisation, un parti politique, whatever. L’histoire du parlementarisme et des partis politiques, de gauche comme de droite, ont démontré leur incapacité à changer radicalement le mode de vie des gens ordinaires. Worst, les leaders des partis politiques ont tous plus souvent qu’autrement nui au bien commun par diverses politiques mises en place. En revanche, nous sommes un syndicat qui se bat dans le quotidien pour améliorer les conditions de vie des gens par des actions directes et de l’auto-formation. On n’est pas parfait, mais on essaie de proposer des solutions qui aideront les travailleuses et travailleurs les plus précaires. Revendiquer un salaire minimum à 22 $ /h, et tenter d’amener nos camarades à lutter pour cette revendication, c’est une solution susceptible d’aider concrètement, here and now, les travailleuses et travailleurs qui en ont le plus besoin.

Venez prendre la rue avec nous le 1is May 2022 au métro Papineau dès 12h30 pour revendiquer, among others, un salaire minimum à 22$ de l’heure.

Solidarity,

Un texte original du Blog des Wobs du Communautaire

COMMENT LA PANDÉMIE A DÉCLENCHÉ UNE VAGUE DE GRÈVES EN ITALIE

Morgan M jette un œil sur la vague de grèves en Italie à la lumière de la pandémie du coronavirus et les réponses du gouvernement et de l’industrie, interviewant un pompier militant dans un syndicat local de base. Image: Des travailleurs des installations de TNT FedEx à Gênes et Bologne en grève le 7 avril pour des conditions plus sûres.

Lorsque le COVID-19 a frappé l’Italie, le gouvernement a tenté d’isoler les personnes tout en laissant rouler l’économie. Alors que le gouvernement interdisait les rassemblements et soulignait l’importance de l’isolement, il poussait également les travailleurs à continuer de se présenter au travail, quelles que soient les conditions. Cette contradiction a provoqué une vague de grèves sauvages à travers le pays.

En Italie, le Travail se négocie généralement à deux niveaux: les accords sectoriels fixant des normes industrielles et les accords spécifiques fixés à une entreprise particulière.

Il existe trois grandes confédérations syndicales (comme la CSN, la FTQ, et la CSQ) ainsi que deux petites confédérations de droite. Les trois grandes confédérations sont la CGIL, qui est la plus grande et affiliée au Parti Communiste ; la CISL qui était chrétienne-démocrate ; et l’UIL qui était affiliée au Parti Socialiste.

Au niveau national, les confédérations syndicales négocient avec laConfindustri, qui représente les employeurs et le gouvernement dans une sorte de partenariat social triparti.

Au niveau de l’entreprise, il existe des « conseils de travail » qui représentent les travailleurs. Tous les syndicats qui ont le soutien de plus de 5 % des employés (il n’y a pas de formule Rand comme au Canada) peuvent participer au conseil. Il existe deux types de conseils où la force du syndicat dépend de la largeur du membership au sein de l’entreprise. Les deux types diffèrent selon que les syndicats nomment les délégués syndicaux ou que les employés les élisent.

in parallel, il y a les syndicats Cobas – lesCOmités de laBASe (syndicale). Il existe de nombreux syndicats Cobas, allant des très petits à ceux qui comptent entre 40 and 50 000 members. Ils fonctionnent de manière similaire au Syndicat Industriel des Travailleurs et Travailleuses-IWW en Amérique du Nord, c’est-à-dire organisés en dedans et en dehors de la structure légale du travail. Le SI Cobas a attiré l’attention pour avoir su organiser des grèves dans le secteur de la logistique. Le SI Cobas fera souvent grève jusqu’à la fin (jusqu’à ce qu’une résolution soit atteinte) par opposition à la grève limitée, qui est une tactique plus courante.

Sadly, les différentes directions syndicales des Cobas se voient souvent comme des rivales et ne font pas grèves ensemble.

J’ai eu la chance d’interviewer Mariopaolo, un pompier et militant de la base du syndicat Cobas «Unione Sindacale Di Base» (USB), au sujet des grèves qui s’y sont déroulées. Il y milite depuis quelques années, luttant pour que l’USB demeure hors des accords nationaux afin de maintenir sa liberté de faire grève. Il est également actif dans une coordination de militants Cobas de la base, encourageant l’unité d’action entre les différents syndicats Cobas.

Lorsque la pandémie a éclaté, l’Italie a commencé à isoler des individus dans le nord du pays. Pouvez-vous expliquer la réaction de la classe ouvrière à la limitation des actions des travailleurs et travailleuses ?

En Italie, comme dans la plupart des pays – en particulier ceux où le capitalisme est âgé – la classe ouvrière est depuis des années marquée par une passivité générale.

Dans cette passivité générale, un gouvernement décidant de limiter la liberté d’action des syndicats n’est pas considéré par la plupart des travailleurs et travailleuses comme un problème. Indeed, si nous ne sommes plus habitué.e.s d’utiliser un outil de protestation (strikes, assemblées, piquets), lorsque celui-ci nous est retiré, on ne le remarque qu’en principe: dans les faits, on ne remarque plus son absence.

Il y a cependant eu des exceptions. Friday 4 mars, ArcelorMittal – le plus grand aciériste du monde, propriétaire à la fois de Bethléem et de Republic Steel aux États-Unis – a conclu un accord avec le gouvernement sur les plans de licenciements et les congédiements dans ses aciéries en Italie. À l’aciérie de Gênes, le syndicat FIOM-CGIL – le plus grand syndicat des métallurgistes et des travailleurs et travailleuses de l’automobile en Italie – a convoqué une réunion d’usine le 9 mars, ce qu’ils peuvent faire à tout moment pour des questions syndicales. ArcelorMittal a interdit la réunion en invoquant le décret d’isolement social que le gouvernement avait publié ce jour-là. Le syndicat FIOM de l’aciérie a répondu qu’il allait déclarer la grève et organiser une réunion à l’extérieur de l’usine. Les jours suivants, however, la propagation de l’épidémie s’est considérablement aggravée, ce qui a conduit à la révocation des assemblées.

Il convient toutefois de préciser que ni le décret gouvernemental du 4 mars ni les décrets ultérieurs n’ont interdit les grèves. Therefore, par crainte de contagion, c’est-à-dire pour défendre leur propre santé, les travailleurs et travailleuses ont déclenché une grève dans de nombreuses usines au cours des jours suivants.

Le gouvernement a-t-il rendu obligatoire le travail dans les zones d’isolement ?

Le gouvernement n’a pas arrêté les activités essentielles avant le 23 mars (nous y reviendrons plus tard). Les premiers cas ont été découverts 21 février dans 10 petites communes de quelques milliers d’habitants de la province de Lodi (en Lombardie, au sud de Milan) et dans une petite commune de la région Vénétie. Le gouvernement a fermé ces 11 municipalités en tant que « zones rouges », d’où personne ne pouvait ni entrer ni sortir. Comme il s’agissait de petites municipalités, il était difficile pour les entreprises qui y étaient situées de poursuivre la production car une partie plus ou moins importante de leur personnel habitait d’autres municipalités ; et ces travailleurs et travailleuses ne pouvaient donc plus accéder à leurs emplois dans la zone rouge. Notons aussi que ces entreprises n’avaient plus accès aux matières premières et produits semi-finis nécessaires à la production.

However, la situation a changé le 9 mars, lorsque le gouvernement a créé une zone rouge beaucoup plus étendue, qui englobait l’ensemble de la région de Lombardie et 14 provinces d’autres régions.

Par le fait même, le gouvernement a élargi son contrôle face à la circulation des personnes et la limitation des manifestations, réunions et rassemblements à un tiers du territoire national. Mais comme aucun arrêt de production n’avait été annoncé, les entreprises des 11 zones rouges de la municipalité d’origine ont pu reprendre la production.

La même chose s’est produite le 11 mars, lorsque le gouvernement a étendu la zone rouge à l’ensemble du territoire national.

Ces mesures visant à étendre les restrictions de circulation et d’assemblées ont commencé à inquiéter les travailleurs et les travailleuses, ce qui a eu pour effet de les faire déclencher des grèves dans bon nombre d’usines.

Des grèves se sont propagées dans tout le pays. Précisons que ces dernières n’étaient pas instiguées par les dirigeants des syndicats du régime (CGIL, CISL, UIL – les centrales syndicales qui signent les accords nationaux), ce qui ne s’était pas produit en Italie depuis de nombreuses années.

The 14 mars, face à cette situation, les syndicats du régime ont signé un accord avec le gouvernement et la plus grande organisation d’industriels italiens (la Confindustria) visant non pas à arrêter la production non-essentielle, mais plutôt à garantir des mesures de sécurité pour les travailleurs et travailleuses.

Les décrets du gouvernement ont établi des mesures obligatoires pour atténuer le risque de contagion. In several cases, les syndicats ont utilisé ces dispositions légales pour imposer des licenciements temporaires aux employeurs en attendant la mise en œuvre de ces mesures, comme le prévoit le protocole du 14 mars.

Où les syndicats et les entreprises ne sont pas parvenus à un accord sur les licenciements temporaires, des grèves ont été organisées. In some cases, les syndicats ont déclaré qu’il ne s’agissait pas de grèves mais « d’abstentions de travail ». Il va sans dire qu’une grève n’est rien d’autre qu’une abstention collective de travail. However, cette distinction a probablement été utilisée par les syndicats – et les travailleuses et travailleurs – dans l’espoir que des allocations de chômage seraient versées, comme le prévoient les décrets gouvernementaux.

Comment la vague de grèves a-t-elle commencé? Étaient-elles spontanées? Provenant des syndicats Cobas? De l’intérieur de la CGIL?

Les grèves ont commencé à se multiplier lorsque la gravité de l’épidémie est devenue apparente. Elles sont également le produit de l’escalade des mesures gouvernementales, of 21 February 11 mars.

Nous devons préciser ce qu’est une « grève spontanée ». Certainly, les travailleurs et travailleuses ont exercé une pression pour faire grève. Dans de nombreux cas, ils et elles ont trouvé le soutien des délégués d’usine [délégués syndicaux] des syndicats du régime, qui ne se sont pas opposés aux grèves. Certaines des structures régionales des syndicats du régime ont proclamé des grèves générales. Ce fut le cas de la FIOM (CGIL- automobiles et métallurgie) en Lombardie, au Trentin et à Turin; et le cas de la FILCAMS-CGIL-CGIL (le syndicat CGIL du commerce, des services et du tourisme) à Gênes.

Ce sont les dirigeants nationaux des confédérations – la CGIL, la CISL et l’UIL – qui n’ont pas organisé le mouvement de grève afin de stopper les activités non-essentielles à plein salaire. Ils n’ont pas appelé à une grève générale nationale multisectorielle et le 14 mars – alors que l’épidémie avait déjà montré toute sa gravité et fait des milliers de victimes dans le nord de l’Italie – ils ont signé le protocole susmentionné.

Les syndicats de base – SI Cobas, USB, CUB, ADL Cobas – ont appelé à des grèves nationales dans certaines industries et, the 25 mars, l’USB a appelé à une grève dans toutes les industries, à l’exception des travailleurs essentiels.

However, ces syndicats n’ont pas la force de promouvoir de véritables grèves générales, même au sein des industries corporatistes, à l’exception de SI Cobas, situé dans la logistique. Même après les 8 and 11 mars (avec l’extension de la zone rouge d’abord à l’ensemble de la Lombardie et ensuite à l’ensemble du pays) et la multiplication des grèves qui résultèrent, les grèves nationales des syndicats Cobas n’ont pas réussi à impliquer une partie importante des travailleurs et travailleuse. Cela est dû au fait que les syndicats du régime – bien que soutenant les grèves qui ont eu lieu au niveau corporatiste et au niveau régional – n’essaient jamais d’unifier les grèves au niveau national. Furthermore, même dans cette situation propice à la mobilisation des travailleurs et travailleuses, les dirigeant.e.s des syndicats Cobas ont refusé de faire corps et n’ont cessé de se faire la guerre.

Comment ces grèves ont-elles été organisées?

Les grèves sont l’expression d’un mouvement de base de la part des travailleurs et travailleuses qui, face aux appels du gouvernement à rester confiner, se sont retrouvés contraints de se rendre au travail avec un risque évident de contagion. Les délégué.e.s syndicaux étant soumis.e.s eux-mêmes à cette double contrainte, cela explique en partie leur large soutien aux grèves.

On another side, le manque d’unification des grèves n’aboutissant pas à une grève nationale de toutes les catégories de travail, visant non seulement à ne pas exposer les travailleurs au risque de contagion mais aussi à obtenir le plein salaire, a empêché l’extension des grèves. Ces grèves se limitant ainsi aux zones où l’épidémie était la plus importante, où les travailleurs étaient aux prises avec le choix « santé ou salaires ».

La CGIL et d’autres syndicats cherchent à travailler avec des entreprises, comme le fait l’UAW aux États-Unis (ou les grandes centrales du Québec). Si je comprends bien, la CGIL a essayé de travailler avec l’industrie mais n’a pas réussi et des grèves sauvages ont alors éclatées ?

La gravité de l’épidémie s’était déjà clairement manifestée le 8 mars. Face à la généralisation des grèves, le protocole signé par les dirigeants nationaux de la CGIL, de la CISL et de l’UIL – avec le gouvernement et l’industrie – a permis de reporter la fermeture complète des secteurs économiques non-essentiels autant que possible. Ce protocole prévoyait que la mise en œuvre des mesures (de santé et de sécurité, et de confinement) se fasse de concert entre l’entreprise et les syndicats dans chaque secteur de production. Le protocole prévoyait également une suspension temporaire de la production, avec des fonds de chômage destinés aux travailleurs et travailleuses, si aucun accord ne pouvait être trouvé. Si tel était le cas, le syndicat se réservait le droit de déclencher une grève.

So, les syndicats du régime ne s’opposent pas aux grèves, mais se réservent plutôt la possibilité de les organiser. En revanche, les syndicats ont permis au gouvernement de reporter la suspension des activités non-essentielles jusqu’au 25 mars, 11 jours plus tard.

Le respect des règles de confinement (des accords entre le syndicat et l’entreprise) était possible dans les entreprises où les syndicats du régime avaient une force suffisante et où les délégué.e.s étaient combattifs et combattives.

À la fin, les travailleurs et travailleuses de la plupart des petites et moyennes entreprises – où travaille la majorité de la classe travailleuse d’Italie – sont laissés à la merci des patrons.

Un texte original de Organizing Work.

Organizational advice that I would have liked to receive ago 10 years

L’auteur, qui a préféré demeurer anonyme, a travaillé comme organisateur de terrain pour le plus grand syndicat de la fonction publique aux États-Unis, avant de devenir enseignant dans une grande région urbaine. Il fait aujourd’hui de l’organisation avec collègues et étudiant.es autour d’enjeux relatifs à l’accessibilité de l’éducation et l’obtention de permis de conduire pour migrants sans-papiers.

Je me suis mit à réfléchir à une série de conseils que je me donnerais, si je pouvais parler au jeune organisateur que j’étais il y a dix ans. J’ai tellement appris au courant de cette dernière décennie et j’ai aussi commis beaucoup d’erreurs. Alors voici ce que j’aurais aimé entendre il y a dix ans, basé sur mon expérience personnelle, ainsi que mes propres erreurs. Sure, ces conseils me concernent toujours aujourd’hui; je ne suis quand même pas devenu un organisateur parfait.

  • Il est important de s’organiser autour d’objectifs clairs, réalistes et qui représentent des points progressifs qui nous permettent de mesurer l’avancement et le succès de notre campagne. La sensibilisation et les réjouissances à elles seules ne nous permettent pas de mesurer ces choses là. Il faut s’organiser autour de choses tangibles qui ont un impact direct sur la qualité de vie et de travail des gens.
  • Participer aux manifestations n’est pas l’épicentre de l’organisation syndicale. Sometimes, ce peut être de bons moments, mais il ne faut pas se laisser croire que ça compte comme ‘’faire quelque chose’’ de constructif et mettre son énergie à sauter de manif en manif.
  • Écouter les opinions et l’apport des gens autour de soi. Écouter leurs idées en premier. Vérifier où ils et elles en sont, quels sont leurs problèmes et enjeux au lieu de deviner et d’anticiper ces derniers.
  • Éviter de s’organiser seulement avec des personnes issues des mêmes sous-cultures et scènes culturelles en marge desquelles nous sommes issu.es. Le résultat d’une telle organisation va créer un effet d’exclusion auprès de personnes qui ne viennent pas des mêmes milieux.
  • Ne pas se laisser emporter dans les théories super idéologiques et dogmatiques. La majorité des personnes se foutent des chicanes idéologiques qui ont eu lieu en 1936 ou de tes divergences politiques avec un tel ou une telle. Bien que ce soit intéressant comme passe-temps et que la théorie et l’histoire peuvent nourrir des idées, thegauche est parfois trop obsédée avec l’idéologie comme identité. Démontres plutôt ta méthodologie au travers de tes méthodes d’organisation.
  • Respecter le processus collectif en travaillant au travers de désaccords et en planifiant collectivement.
  • Cogner aux portes, décrocher le téléphone et faire des appels; contacter les gens sans toujours passer par les réseaux sociaux.
  • Être constant.e, comme un riff de drum. Être à l’heure et tenir parole sur ses engagements.
  • Ne pas fermer la porte à certaines personnes suite à un accrochage ou un différend idéologique. Ne pas laisser de camarades derrière ou oublier certaines personnes. Les gens ne sont pas une ressource inépuisable.
  • Inclure et aller vers des personnes qui ne sont pas déjà en position d’autorité. Too often, les organisateurs.trices vont instinctivement vers des personnes qui ont déjà beaucoup de capital social et donc plus d’autorité.
  • Le pouvoir est dans lashoppe, pas dans le bureau. Voir les rangs tels qu’ils sont sur le plancher des vaches.
  • Pas besoin de demander la permission.
  • Rester proches des travailleurs.ses.
  • Participer à construire les compétences d’organisation des étudiants.es. Considérer les étudiants.es comme des adultes et même des camarades de luttes, tout en sachant que tu es leur professeur. L’essentiel est de bâtir de vraies relations, fais-les rire.
  • Ne pas avoir peur d’être en désaccord, mais ne pas devenir odieux.se pour autant.
  • Ne pas se laisser accaparer par toutes les fioritures de l’organisation. Bien que les affiches, les tracts et les info-lettres sont de supers outils, on ne mérite pas de dessert avant d’avoir mangé son assiette!
  • Organiser la classe ouvrière, pas la gauche.

Article original dOrganizing Work.
Traduit de l’anglais par Elizabeth Stone

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Let's find other solutions than the strike!

Rasmus Hästbacka and Kristian Falk, of the Swedish trade union SAC (Swedish Workers' Central Organization, or Central Organization of Workers of Sweden), argue for a third way between the “consensual fundamentalism” of Sweden’s dominant union bureaucracy and the “idealization” of rank-and-file strikes: we need to relearn how to put pressure on our workplaces.

Let’s find alternatives to striking
1970s SAC poster: "You do the work! You have to take part in the decisions! »

What defines a trade union movement?? It is a movement made up of colleagues who stick together and act together. It must be distinguished from the union bureaucracy represented by elected officials and union officials perched far from the base and paid separately from the workers.. In the Swedish labor market, the trade union movement takes the form of small scattered islands in the shadow of the big trade union bureaucracies. These islets include the Syndicalist SAC, the Swedish Longshoremen's Union and some local labor branches within the LO central bureaucracies (Landsorganisationen i Sverige or Swedish National Organization), TCO (Central Organization of Salaried Employees or Confederation of Professional Employees) and SACO (Central Organization of Swedish Academics or Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations).

Revival of the Swedish trade union movement is hampered by “consensual fundamentalism”: senior union officials focus on building consensus (consensus) with employers through collective agreements but for decades, employers are increasingly neglecting the interests of workers in favor of the search for this consensus. The labor market is deteriorating in Sweden, and working conditions begin to resemble those of the beginning of the 20e century: there are dangerous working environments, very low wages and simply criminal employers.

As unionists, we do not reject legally binding collective agreements. In fact, at SAC, we are currently testing a new collective bargaining strategy. But we always emphasize that it is the collective struggle that gives collective agreements their value..

Romance strikes

While senior LO officials, of TCO and CESO suffer from consensual fundamentalism, the grassroots opposition often suffers from an obsession with the strike. Within the popular labor movement in Sweden, we often hear a call for big strikes, even a general strike. The use of strikes has grown in response to the questioning of the Swedish employment protection law, the proliferation of low wages and attacks on the right to strike. In 2019, groups attempted to organize a symbolic strike to highlight the climate crisis, but to our knowledge, no workplaces have been closed.

We must recognize that we ourselves, CAS members, sometimes let this obsession with the strike win us over. U.S. too, we tried to rush a few. The strike in defense of the unemployment insurance funds in 2006, which were attacked by the Swedish government, is an example. It ended in a painful defeat.

The frequency of strikes in Sweden has actually been very low since the early 1990s. 1990 and the call to strike tends to be a fantasy. The organizers of these so-called strikes idealize the French strikes, or those of Sweden before the Second World War. But the all-out strike should not be fetishized, and it has no value if it does not lead to results. This vision of the struggle is part of the fallacious myth that the strike is still the employees' best weapon..

An important fact, but little known, is that the unionist SAC has historically been skeptical of strikes. This was expressed from 1910 in the Manifesto to the Workers of Sweden, published by the SAC. Workers' struggles must not be reduced to an "arms crossed" struggle, it says in the Manifesto, and "that time is over, where it was enough to throw the shovel and the plane aside and impose our conditions on the employers.. According to trade unionists, strikes are often costly, long and can easily be ruined by scabs and lock-out. Swedish employers have often responded with lock-out of solidarity in many industries.

The objective of lock-out was not only to win the ongoing struggle. Political scientist Peter A.. Swenson talks about a longer term goal:

The lockouts enabled the ruling class to mold the unions into partners in the regularization of the labor market. The union leadership, which is closely linked to the Social Democratic Party, did not oppose the movement desired by the employers. What stood in their way, it was the lack of control over decentralized militancy in the ranks. Therefore, […] trade unionists sometimes welcomed lockouts or threats of lockouts. The employers' whiplash gave them an ideologically consistent pretext to intervene against disruptive grassroots activism.

During the golden age of strikes, in the years 1920, Swedish trade unionists have become even more skeptical of “all-out” strikes. Unionists have focused the struggle internally on union employment services (employment offices) and on increasing the influence of workers on the way workplaces are run. The internal struggle could take the form, for example, collective slowdowns. Union employment services could also stipulate that employers must follow the order and conditions dictated by unions when hiring workers.. When these services were effective, they allowed workers and the unemployed to pursue common claims against the employer party.

Increase the pressure

In SAC education programs, we have learned to emphasize that the road to successful strikes is usually a long one. Workers can simply start by speaking up, for example by asking to have their say on the schedules. Ensuite, they can have a petition signed to ask that the employer pay for their work uniforms. If the workload is high, the next step may be to ask for more people to be hired. If management is unresponsive, maybe it's time to start refusing overtime.

It takes time to develop the ability to lobby employers. We end up forgetting it by focusing all our attention on implementing epic strikes. Our colleagues must learn to win small battles before seeing if they are ready to take the next step.

We present below a series of means of pressure that contribute to strengthening the ability to strike. These options impose four different types of pressure: morale, psychological, economic and legal.

1) moral pressure

Exercising moral suasion means that workers appeal to the will of bosses to do what is right according to their own moral compass., or the desire to be seen as fair in the eyes of staff. for example, workers can question decisions made at staff meetings, conduct employee surveys and critique management actions in their local union newspaper.

Moral suasion is humiliating for bosses. of course, but it often happens that the bosses do not care about being perceived as unfair and that they and they do not perceive this pressure as a punishment. In such cases, moral suasion will have no effect, but psychological pressure might do the trick.

2) psychological pressure

Psychological pressure is shamelessly putting bosses in hot water. The goal is to disturb them. for example, unionized workers could send warnings to bosses who treated their co-workers badly. According to Swedish labor law, only employers can take disciplinary action, but that does not prevent the union from issuing written warnings to bosses and informing all employees..

Another example is to sow discord between bosses.. Employees can try to ally themselves with bosses who are receptive to worker demands and oppose bad bosses together. Workers can also visit senior managers to persuade them to put pressure on their subordinates.

Another variant of psychological pressure is to distance oneself from management. The bosses are then made to understand that the workers do not want to have anything to do with them until they come up with sensible solutions.. They and they could, for example, boycott the company party, organize Christmas dinners without the bosses or give up a business trip.

3) Economic pressure

Workers can certainly exert economic pressure on their employer by lowering their income or increasing their expenses., but they can also do it by playing the leadership game. How can this be done ?

One method is to scrupulously follow all the rules. This is called a “work to rule”, because it allows workers to remain in their workplace while significantly extending the time required to complete all tasks.

We can also think of “union subcontracting”. This means that pressure is put on an employer through another employer who has some connection with the first one.. for example, if a labor dispute arises in a cleaning company that works with other companies, the management of the cleaning company may be put under pressure by a union notice sent to client companies.

The best-known forms of economic pressure are strikes and blockades. Strikes generally cause a complete stoppage of work, while blockages lead to the interruption of certain parts of the work process. In Swedish labor law, blocking is also called “partial industrial action”.

Blockages come in many forms: refusal to work overtime, refusal to perform certain tasks, refusal to use certain work tools, refusal to participate in business trips, blocking the transfer of the labor force between different workplaces within the same company, refusal to deliver goods to certain companies, blocking the hiring of new and new employees (new employment blocked), etc.

Blocking the hiring of new people is a call for solidarity from job seekers: they are asked not to accept employment in the workplace until the conflict is resolved. Swedish law stipulates that job seekers then have the right to neutrality, which means that the public employment service must not refer jobseekers to this workplace.

Another method, called "good strike" or "good blocking", originated in the customer service industry. It consists of offering consumers a cheaper or better quality service at the expense of the employer.. It can be done, for example, by having employees only perform tasks that directly affect customers and ignore other tasks.

The struggle through the unions affects the means of production. It can be combined with actions on the part of consumers., whether the people who own the means of production call for such actions. Boycotting is a well-known method, but its opposite is less so. Unions can offer certification to employers who meet certain requirements and recommend the public to buy from them: this is what we could call a “union label”.

4) legal pressure

legal pressure, as for her, relevant when employers violate laws and agreements. According to Swedish labor law, legal remedies are mainly exercised by individuals and it is up to the union to initiate a process of collective bargaining under the codetermination law (The Co-determination Act). However, it is better for staff to keep things under control in the workplace and combine legal pressure with other types of pressure.

Reviving the labor movement

A strike is the result of a long process. Over this one, workers may find that other actions work better than striking in their workplace. Ultimately, it's the results that count: the goal is to create a better society and a more ethical professional world.

Within the SAC, union officials have a duty to help locals who decide to strike, even if they are skeptical of the strike. Locals are also well advised to think carefully about the chances of winning a strike before undertaking one.

The organization of work is not always a long calm river, but humor generally strengthens the fighting spirit. In his memoirs, Swedish trade unionist John Andersson tells the story of a wage dispute at the port of Gothenburg in 1912.

In response to longshoremen who had slowed down, foremen had been sent to the holds to compensate for losses. The workers then responded by working even more slowly and singing the Christian hymn. The prince of darkness descends ("the devil descends"). and, when the exhausted foremen started to climb the ladder to get out, the workers sang Your clear sun rises again ("Your glorious sun rises again in the sky").

Rasmus Hästbacka is a lawyer and member of the Umeå local branch of the SAC. Kristian Falk is an economic historian and member of the Enköping-Heby section of the SAC. Another version of this article was posted in Swedish.

Original text by Rasmus Hästbacka and Kristian Falk for Organizing Work
Translation: Alex V. et Florence M. for SITT-IWW Montreal.

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A History of SITT-IWW Organization Formation

Marianne Garneau presents the development of the IWW's unique training program and its innovative approach to union organizing.

IWW trade union training is virtually unique. It consists of two intensive two-day workshops. These workshops are open to any member or worker to teach them the skills needed to organize their workplace.: information gathering, the contacts of their colleges, one-on-one encounters, the construction of an organizing committee and the collective treatment of problems. The aim of the first workshop, "Organizational Training 101: Build the committee ”, is to ensure that any participant — with no previous organizing experience — can undertake their own organizing campaign at work and even organize a modest direct action with their colleagues to settle a grievance or obtain a concession. The second workshop, the "Organization Training 102: The Committee in action", presents a systematic approach to dealing with grievances based on action in the workplace, as well as the practical details and strategic issues of maintaining a shop committee.

Its curriculum is not designed for personnel employed by power plants, but good for workers, in order to teach them how to organize their workplace without the intermediary of paid union staff. The ultimate objective of the SITT-IWW approach is to build a structure whose actions are mainly carried out by the workers concerned., through a committee representative of the workplace, where decisions are made horizontally and who is able to organize direct actions on the floor to resolve grievances and secure new gains. This approach is an alternative to the steward system and the standard bargaining process, grievances and arbitration, that takes place away from the work floor and relies on lawyers and other professionals. The position of the IWW is that in addition to the fact that this process is expensive and slow, its purpose is to limit actions in the workplace, especially those that cause disruption to the economy of the business or society . To resume their language: "Work now, file a grievance later. »

It is for all these reasons that the formation of the IWW is exceptionally democratic compared to other trade union formations.. It is also democratic in its structure, since its objective is to train future trainers. Any member can attend the trainings and then apply to take a certification course and become a trainer. The program is overseen by an elected committee of five trainers and is remarkably stable and able to ensure its sustainability., considering that it is entirely run by volunteers and has a limited budget (trainers are reimbursed for the cost of travel and receive a small per diem). Its capacity has been increasing systematically — in number of trainers and in frequency of training given — since its inception, almost ago 20 years, thousands of people have been trained. This accessibility and this horizontality are among the most popular and appreciated aspects of the IWW., as well as the cornerstone of the union's most effective organizing campaigns.

The design of the IWW organization formation is an interesting story, because it follows the establishment of a unique approach to the union in recent decades. For a long time, following the loss of Cleveland heavy machinery premises in the 1950s, the union was struggling with an almost non-existent presence in the workplace and with volunteer activist members (anyone except a boss can take their "red card") that there were only hundreds. Each time the IWW attempted to reinvest itself as a labor organization, its approach was borrowed from that of traditional unions and the results were mostly disappointing. What motivated the training program was another form of "back to business" in the late 1990s and early 2000s, as the IWW began to organize campaigns again. The program was an attempt to provide best practices for standalone campaigns, then marked by cycles of expansion and weakening.

Initially, the IWW again borrowed educational materials and technical knowledge from traditional unions thanks to dual-carding members who worked as organizers or delegates in other unions, and thanks to members who had been trained by other unions, as by the "Organizing Institute" of the AFL-CIO. Through a set of scattered techniques and strategies, supplemented with a political critique of labor law, the union saw the birth of its shop committee system by developing a qualitatively different approach to the organization of workers' power.

 The "fight for gains" approach, not for recognition ” situates the IWW on the margins of the trade union world, as it always has been, but this is how he finally found his revolutionary roots by rejecting collective agreements and cooperation with employers. " The IWW does not recognize any rights to bosses ", said Big Bill Haywood to the Commission on Industrial Relations of the US Congress in 1915. "We say that no union has the right to sign an agreement with the bosses...because it is the inherent mission of the working class to overthrow capitalism and take power in its place. Throughout its long period of dormancy — as collective bargaining agreements containing clauses on the right to strike and clauses on employers' rights became normalized — the IWW maintained that the labor law was not a gift to society. working class. However, it was a somewhat abstract position, since the union had no distinct alternative in terms of organization and few active premises.

Although in recent decades, other unions have become more cynical about the National Labor Relations Board and the courts, the IWW remained unique with a workplace bargaining model separate from certification votes, certifications and conventions, nor is it based on funded activism or electoral coalitions, but relies instead on worker power in the workplace.

The following is the story of the IWW's conception of its own organizational formation and general trade union approach as it has evolved over almost five decades.. I begin with organizing manuals distributed to members in the 1970s and conclude with the latest developments of the current program.. This research is based on a review of every training manual the union has published since the 1970s., on archival material such as the newspaper Industrial Worker and the General organization bulletin, as well as a dozen detailed interviews with members, former and current.

Prehistory of today's program: Organization pamphlets and manuals from the 1970s to 1990.

« A Worker’s Guide to Direct Action » (1974)

Prior to the development of in-person training led by the Organizer Training Committee, members had access to several pamphlets and organization manuals, posted by members and available at headquarters or local branches.

One of them was "A Worker's Guide to Direct Action"., a pamphlet of 15 pages that briefly described tactics like slowdowns, work to rule, sit-down strikes, sick leave strikes and whistleblowing. This pamphlet was in fact an abridged reissue d’un pamphlet published by Solidarity in the UK in 1971. The IWW version presented these tactics as an alternative to two things: the "slow and clumsy" grievance procedure, where "a dispute goes through a series of meetings and ends up being decided by an arbitrator, usually a lawyer or a professor" and the "long strikes", which "cost too much and are too exhausting to be used often". Furthermore, the pamphlet notes that “the AFL-CIO-CLC executive…hoards large strike funds. »

The pamphlet has been reprinted and very modestly updated over the years, for example by the Lehigh Valley branch in the 1990s, who rewrote the introduction to describe the historical origins of the labor law framework, which would aim to contain the class war, and to define direct action as "guerrilla". The pamphlet was also republished by the Edmonton branch in the 2000s under the title "How to fire your boss"..

Although the use of actions on the floor is consistent with the historical approach of the IWW, these writings are addressed to individual workers and do not contain advice for the restlessness or development of one's co-workers, nor for the construction of a camp and even less for the resistance to the reprisals which follow the direct action. The pamphlet notes that to use its tactics, you have to have " organization at work ", at least in the sense of a "general agreement that working conditions must change", but the colorful examples quoted out of context are somewhat ambitious, maybe even irresponsible.

Organization manual (1978)

Another series of pamphlets—this time written by members of the IWW—were published in the 1970s.. There is an organization manual and a negotiation manual.. « The problem of growth — how to reach people and organize — dominated the convention [from 1971] », according to the memoirs of Ottilie Markholt, a longtime labor activist from the Pacific Northwest, but at the time a new Wobbly. A femma with the deceptive air of a grandmother who was in fact a hard-line trade unionist », according to a posthumous tribute published in the Industrial Worker thirty years later. According to Markholt, in light of this new priority, « a group of delegates met informally to plan the writing of an organizing manual for the IWW… The convention approved our plan and appointed me coordinator.“The group has”reflected on the problem of member-organizers with an ever-growing circle of correspondents», including Fred Thompson, emblematic figure of the IWW. The group has produced a manual for 23 pages that will be sold by the headquarters.

 From a practical point of view, the manual includes the usual good advice of the time in terms of organization: he advises getting a list of workers — though without providing much technical advice — and making house calls. He emphasizes the importance of direct contact, but also discusses having big meetings to tell workers about the union (the use of mass meetings for the development of contacts has been abandoned in the current training program: these meetings are too permeable to leaks and are often limited to what in the industry is called the lowest common denominator). The manual soberly advises to create a committee representative of the entire workplace - therefore "each department and/or shift" and "each ethnic and racial group".… balanced in terms of age and gender according to the proportions of the workplace ”. He insists on the fact that the union "must be a majority movement or it will be nothing" and on the importance of developing "democratic working rules".

The manual replicates traditional trade union approaches, including the campaign to win a certification vote. Most of his advice focuses on the use of alternative means such as picketing or striking to win a certification vote or legal recognition. (today’s trainers would argue that gaining legal recognition through these other means still opens the door to formalized working relationships). The section on union busting focuses on legal certification-blocking tactics used by management. A membership card template is included.

It is fascinating to see this focus on accreditation despite the presence of the following disclaimer:

Contrary to the official myth of liberal unionism, the right to organize and bargain collectively has not been codified… out of love for the working class. Rather, this legislation was passed to contain the growing rebellion of trade unionism… Therefore, although you can meet friendly investigators and attorneys at NLRB regional offices, you are essentially under the control of a hostile judiciary.

In fact, a long section at the beginning of the manual laments the IWW's recent capitulation to the labor relations framework. He maintains that in doing so, the union has lost sight of its fundamental intuition: worker power is based on worker action, not government intervention:

In recent campaigns, we have ignored the fundamental difference between the IWW and all other unions: recognition of the class struggle and the fact that the only way to end it is to abolish the wage system. We presented ourselves as a bargaining union with cheap dues and officers with little or no pay. We attributed the failures of other unions to bureaucratic and/or corrupt officials.

The authors make it clear that other unions are not corrupt because of the moral shortcomings of their officers, but because these unions are prisoners of a government framework that ties the hands of workers :

Conventional unions are based on the premise that labor and capital are partners, with the government as arbiter, in a class collaboration system that will benefit both parties… By recognizing the right of the government to arbitrate the partnership, these unions are giving up their only real source of strength, economic power…

Local officials reflect these contradictions. They can be very honest and sincere people, but they are immobilized by these contradictions. Even if they themselves understand the class struggle and would really like to see their locals negotiate on this basis, they just can't accomplish much against the weight of the rest of the union.

Once again, the authors point out the absurdity of thinking that the IWW can participate in the labor relations system without falling into the same traps as other unions. Their manual emphasizes the fact that participation in this legal framework is tantamount to abandoning the founding idea of ​​the IWW.:

We tried to cut the IWW in half and separate the preamble [who asserts that the working class and the employer class have nothing in common and that the wage system must be abolished – MG] and the union as a vehicle for obtaining immediate demands. In fact, our campaigns now say: "Forget those visionary ideas. We believe it, but we don't expect you, ordinary workers believe it. Just think of us as an outright union for now. “We tried to sell ourselves as a union which is good, young, poor and clean, in opposition to a union which is bad, vieux, rich and corrupt. These campaigns were uniformly doomed.

In other words, worker action directly at the point of production is essential to building working class power and securing its demands, and that is exactly what the NLRB system has worked to make disappear. By adopting this system, the IWW can't do better.

This organization manual confronts us with the contradiction of a lucid analysis that recognizes these constraints, but who resolves to advise IWW members to pursue the same legalistic strategies as other unions. While the IWW had set itself the goal of tearing itself away from historical insignificance and reorganizing workplaces, the union did not yet have a model to achieve this. In this first manual, the strategy did not match the goal — the practice was disconnected from the theory. There was no way to institutionalize the idea of ​​a worker-led or class-based organization. The IWW did not yet have its own organizing program.

Collective Bargaining Handbook (1978)

The organization manual was published at the same time as a 33 collective bargaining pages, also edited by Markholt and presumably also written largely by her.

There is also a reflection on the power of workers in its introduction.. It presents bargaining as fundamentally a struggle for control of the workplace and its conditions.. Despite this, the advice that follows are fairly orthodox and technical documents relating to the definition of the accreditation unit and the three categories of security clauses, working conditions and remuneration. It is recognized that the constitution of the IWW prohibits the deduction at source of dues, because " the increased efficiency does not compensate for the loss of personal contact between the members and the union ".

Generally, the trading manual is somewhat unrealistic, disconnected from what would be necessary to apply his advice: workers power. for example, a note explains that "reducing working hours without reducing wages should be a long-term goal for all trade unionists" and suggests that "to start, you have to try to go to a week of 30 hours with 5 days of 6 hours" — without really developing a strategy that would allow you to develop sufficient bargaining power to make your company an exception in its sector, even in the economy.

Updates to these manuals

These two manuals have been updated over the years, but not really on the successes or failures of the union's campaigns. The trading manual was updated in 1983 by Paul Poulos and Rochelle Semel, two longtime members from upstate New York, who also wanted the IWW to get "serious again" and start organizing workplaces and negotiating contracts. At that time, the union was mostly made up of radical activists — union-oriented anarchists and communists, union officers subscribing to the class struggle, alumni who remembered the golden age of the IWW, stubborn supporters and sympathizers. The total membership of the union was a few hundred, at most.

Poulos and Semel removed Markholt's introduction to the power struggle between workers and management. Other technical sections have been added (for example on probation periods) with templates for the wording of each section of a convention.

However, it is not certain whether the negotiation manual or the organization manual was used. The IWW managed to win a few accreditations and negotiate a few conventions in the 1980s: University Cellar Bookstore, le People’s Wherehouse (a grocery warehouse) and Leopold Bloom's Restaurant in Ann Arbor; Eastown Printing à Grand Rapids ; SANE and Oregon Fair Share in Portland; and recycling plants in the San Francisco area. With the exception of the People's Wherehouse (which lasted ten years) and recycling plants (who still have IWW conventions to this day), most of these campaigns were short-lived, often ending when the business closes. Many other attempts at accreditation, often accompanied by a strike, just failed.

In 1988 a one 1994 or 1996 (records are imprecise), the organization manual is updated, incorporating feedback from across the union. This most recent version has moved away from the model of the organization of a majority to file a request for certification, noting that "much can still be accomplished by a small group on the floor that strives to mobilize colleagues around particular grievances and coordinate direct action campaigns…While the earlier version recognized the various legal tactics available to management to subvert or defeat a union certification vote, updates took a harder line, noting that

even when you "win" thanks to labor laws, you end up losing — endless hours are spent pursuing the case, momentum is lost and power shifts from the workplace to the corporate courts. Although it is useful to know the law in order to make informed decisions on all possible options, the workplace remains your true source of strength.

He acknowledges that the unfair practices complaint process sometimes takes "five or seven years before resulting in a “victoire” complete. At this moment, the union was almost certainly disbanded and most of its activists found other employment. This is most likely a reflection on the IWW experience at Mid-America in Virden, in illinois. In 1977, the IWW recruited six of the seven workers there and called for a certification vote:

the long march through the courts sees union members dwindle in numbers, until there was only one left in June 1978… Two years later, in the fall of 1980, all appeal procedures having been exhausted, Mid-America finally agreed to recognize the union and begin negotiations. At this moment, of course, the union was no longer present in the workplace… The Industrial Organization Committee… [has sent] letters to current Mid-America employees informing them of the campaign and suggesting that the IWW negotiate on their behalf. There was no response and Virden's campaign was consigned to history.

This experience repeated itself in almost exactly the same way decades later, when in 2013, the IWW won an accreditation vote at Mobile Rail Systems in Chicago, only to lose all presence in the workplace (relatively small) during the negotiation of the collective agreement. The union eventually agreed to drop the campaign in 2020.

However, although this version of the organizing manual was more critical of legalism in labor relations, and even if it recognized " the possibility - and even the legality - of fighting for specific grievances, or even to ask for union recognition, without going through the NLRB ", most of his advice was geared towards formal accreditation in anticipation of contract negotiation.

Implementation of the current training program

It should be noted again that these manuals do not appear to have been used much. En1996, the year the organization manual was apparently last updated, there were several high-profile IWW campaigns. However, the members of these campaigns interviewed by the author did not declare having used it, although some have known about it. The Wobblies groped their way through their heady campaigns, guided by the advice of sporadically present members, with mixed success.

Always in 1996, the IWW narrowly lost a legal accreditation vote at Borders Books in Philadelphia. An organizer at the center of the campaign was fired and a high-profile national campaign was launched to protest the dismissal and boycott the channel, with strong participation from more than a dozen branches of the IWW. In stride, a series of new campaigns have emerged – at the MiniMart convenience store in Seattle, at Applebee's in New Orleans, at Wherehouse Entertainment in the San Francisco area, at Snyder's Pretzels in Pennsylvania, at Sin Fronteras Bookstore in Olympia and several Portland businesses.

Alexis Buss, a member from Philadelphia who later became general secretary-treasurer, said: "After Borders, we only got crumbs, and people had no other way to get involved. The nature of a union was always assessed in light of the question: “How many contracts do you have?” »

She was often sent personally to assist in these campaigns. John B, who later served on the Organizers Training Committee, described the situation as:

We had several national campaigns, very public, very visible, which totally imploded… these were essentially situations where workplaces were already under high pressure, then three guys would stand on a table shouting: “workers of the world, unite!” before being fired on the spot. Alexis looked into these campaigns and developed a training day dedicated to best practices in organization.

According to Buss: "We tried to take the time to learn and improve after each failure. » She began to organize one-day workshops for campaigns and branches:

Let's say you have a [censored name] from Applebee's contacting your branch, what are you doing? You don't give them membership cards or pamphlets about how bad their boss is telling them: " Good luck, kid. " So, we really wanted to try to build a workplace committee… We tried to explain the shortcomings of the external organizers who did the organizing work, the dangers of not having a committee, the risks of ignoring social leaders at work…

A little after, a group of four members of the IWW began to seriously collect documents from the traditional unions. It was about Buss, de John Hollingsworth (Steward in Ottawa of OPEIU local 225 at the time and researcher hired by the Canadian Association of University Teachers), de Josh Freeze (member of the Amalgamated Transit Union and later steward of the Association of Flight Attendants) and Chuck Hendricks (of Baltimore and later Connecticut, became a UNITE HERE organizer). Hendricks recalls that the group "began collecting AFL-CIO training materials, of UNITE HERE and other unions to create an organizing manual" and "trainings on the model of a school class".

Hendricks was among a number of Wobblies who attended the AFL-CIO's "Organizing Institute". This three-day workshop allowed to acquire the necessary skills to carry out a " home visit ", especially with the use of role-playing games, after which the successful participants were recruited by the unions. This role-playing class model has become the basic structure of Organization 101 training..

So, the IWW found the original core of its training program in other unions: gather contacts, socially and physically map the workplace, identifier les leaders, have individual conversations with colleagues following the AEIOU scenario (Shake, Educate, Innoculer, Organize and ”Unioniser”). An analysis of the difference between the IWW and other unions has been added. (no paid staff, no political party affiliation, no deduction of contributions), as well as a critique of labor law and a "chronology of an unfair practices complaint" written by Buss, intended to warn participants of the slowness and inefficiency of legal processes.

The first Organization 101 training was held in Portland in August 2002. According to the report of the Organizers' Training Committee at the annual convention:

Forty members came from across the western United States for a weekend of formal talks, presentations and role plays. We covered topics ranging from developing contacts, activists and leaders in workplace mapping; encourage colleges to take on more responsibilities and tasks in negotiations; challenges of high-turnover workplaces to U.S. labor law… Without a doubt, the most frequent comment we received in the ratings was that there should be more roleplaying. The trainers agree and for most future training, their place will be considerably enlarged.

In the years that followed, other members of the IWW often coming from a more traditional unionism have developed other modules: two Minneapolis organizers who both had experience with AFSCME designed a captive audience meeting and "One Big Organizer" exercise in which participants take turns asking questions to a potential union member, to stir it up and educate it. Generally, the evolution of IWW organization training has moved it from a lecture format to a popular education model.

So, from 1996 at 2003 about, the training program has been consolidated, moving from informal workshops run by Buss to a formal program run by the Organizers Training Committee. This committee has written and updated a training manual, coordinated training and accredited new trainers. When the committee structure has actually been put in place, she became a stable resource that no longer depended on Buss' talents, who had since moved on to other projects.

However, since it had borrowed heavily from traditional unions, this organizational training program still bore the hallmarks of traditional approaches in its early days. MK Lees, who would become a trainer and sit on the Training Committee for Organizers, recalls taking his first Organization 101 training in Chicago in 2002, while organizing bike couriers with the Chicago Couriers Union of the IWW. “Training continued to progress towards solidarity unionism… She was very critical of the organization as part of the NLRB, but she always had one foot in both worlds. It provided that it could be used for the organization via the NLRB or not ” — as for bicycle couriers, classified as self-employed and not as employees — "but many examples were drawn from legal accreditation campaigns. » Even if it did not train or encourage participants to apply for accreditation, the narrative of the two-day training culminated with a public outing from the union, as accreditation campaigns do. The workshop also presented the "stages of a campaign" culminating in a "recognition strategy" followed by "negotiation" — the IWW essentially presented a traditional approach that bypassed the NLRB.

In other words, the union was still forging its own approach to organizing.

Field applications and program reviews

From 2003, the organizational training curriculum begins to evolve in light of the experiences of the IWW campaigns.

Even though the Organization 101 training never advised filing an application for certification and instead warned participants against labor law, this lesson came to fruition with the credentialing campaigns in Portland in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In 2003, Portland published a document entitled "Learning from our mistakes", a look back at four different campaigns: a bicycle courier company, two separate grocery stores and a non-profit community organization. The conclusions are unequivocal: " The NLRB has slowed down the organization "; “The NLRB bureaucracy slowed down the process, slowed our momentum and took up a lot of time for several people "; " We did not consider the campaign without NLRB accreditation "; "We failed to recognize that direct unionism worked well without NLRB accreditation"; "The organization has focused on the certification vote rather than worker issues and fighting for concrete gains"; "Things to avoid in the future: have a vote with the NLRB ”; "Using the NLRB ; " Seek official union recognition "; " Aim to obtain an official collective agreement "; " Abandon the democratic construction within the organizing committees to focus on the immediacy of an accreditation vote ". For a campaign where accreditation was won: " The real problems were not addressed during the negotiation "; " The union was more of an idea than a reality ". "Things to do differently next time: more direct action unionism tactics ”. " Experimenting with more minority/direct trade unionism tactics ".

However, le Starbucks Workers Union, launched in New York in 2004, et le Jimmy John’s Workers Union, launched in Minneapolis in 2010, initially sought formal recognition by filing applications for accreditation with the NLRB. The former abandoned this campaign when a judgment declared that the accreditation unit must include all stores in Manhattan. The runner-up narrowly lost a certification vote, and even though that result was later overturned by the NLRB, the union never filed a petition again.

However, as these campaigns progressed from store to store and city to city, they have increased their ability to use direct action tactics at work to achieve gains, including floor mats, tip jars, temperature controls, schedule changes, toilet breaks, increases, paid holidays, the end of employer intimidation and the reversal of certain layoffs.

Since campaigns were more successful with direct action than with legal approaches, the training program has developed further in this direction. Workshops, sometimes given in addition to the training 10, became in August 2010 a full-fledged 102 course: " The committee in action ". Nick Driedger, former member of the Organizers' Training Committee and veteran "dual-carder" of the IWW at Canada Post (see below), notes that the program was created following the concretization of several efforts in organization of the IWW:

The 102 was created after the establishment of a dozen workshop committees in different workplaces. So we started developing a system to collect issues, target the appropriate manager level and bring claims to fruition in a concerted manner (direct action grievance procedure). Emphasis has been placed on creating committees that can last for the long term; some of our committees have existed for about six years.

The training consisted of two parts. The first is tactics March on the boss, where several employees confront a boss about a particular policy or the treatment of employees. First an exercise requiring detailed written answers, this training was transformed into role plays with assignment of roles (lookout, applicant, switch, etc.) and where the trainers took on the managerial role.

Another section of 102 was a section titled " Parts of a Direct Action ", dividing it into ten parts. Among others: " Requirement ", "participants", " witnesses ", " target ", " tactics ", " the results ". This section highlighted the importance of escalating pressure. Furthermore, remarks were made on the difference between "workplace contractualism" and the IWW approach, now called "solidarity unionism". The training discussed referees who make decisions without consequences for their own living conditions, agreements that make most strikes illegal and postpone the treatment of many problems until the next round of negotiations, of these agreements which "make workers lose power during the duration of the contract, usually through clauses prohibiting the right to strike and promoting management rights, and by the recognition of the employers' legitimacy in spirit, in practice and in law ”. The training opposed this model to that of the " workshop committee ". She also discussed onboarding new hires, effectiveness of staking, dealing with retaliation such as dismissals and having good meetings.

As the campaigns multiplied and the training program gained popularity, sections on direct action have been integrated into training 101, which was offered much more frequently than the 102. For its part, the 102 program has become a systematic study of the maintenance of committees and a comprehensive process for handling direct action grievances. The grievance procedure was developed after the success of the "dual carding" campaign at Canada Post in the early 2010s. IWW members within the Canadian Union of Postal Workers created and led a training program titled "Taking Back Control of the Work Floor". Their method was to identify social leaders on the floor and send them through training., using CUPW education infrastructure. Still Driedger:

We have provided these trainings to approximately 160 people and then added them to a text message list…to ensure coordination between shop committees… We have achieved great victories, especially when we forced Canada Post to hire 200 people as management attempted to cut positions through March on the boss style actions involving approximately 2000 workers [and] when we reversed a 30% wage cut for rural letter carriers through a four-day wildcat strike. D’innombrables March on the boss, with blows 8 at 120 workers at a time, have won demands ranging from changes in disciplinary measures to the application of seniority in the selection of delivery routes, through the stoppage of compulsory overtime (which we ended for about 1000 workers for about six years, while it was a widespread practice everywhere in the posts for decades before).

The Course 102 grievance process now included a grievance triage and prioritization activity, as well as an exercise where workers had to be told that their own grievance cannot be dealt with at the moment. The training also addressed issues of democratic accountability related to horizontally worker-led campaigns.

Latest developments

The last revision of the 101 program was spread over the year 2018-2019. It was again the result of new experiences: feedback on the success of the IWW campaign at Ellen's Stardust Diner and the challenges faced by other IWW campaigns.

At Ellen's, the workers went public with their union in August 2016. Management retaliation was felt in the staggering number of 31 unlawful dismissals within the next five months (16 in one day). The union ended up winning the case by reversing the layoffs and winning back wages in a settlement overseen by the NLRB. However, the campaign survived—and the settlement was imposed—thanks to sustained organizing efforts, including the recruitment and training of other workers and the continuation of direct action campaigns in the company, in addition to pickets and pressure campaigns on the issue of reinstatement. Meanwhile, the union has achieved an impressive series of victories, including a new scene, security measures, a breastfeeding room, an increase in staff, substantial repairs, raises for cooks, divers and hosts, and an end to unpaid repeats and tip theft, all without official recognition or negotiation. All of this was made possible by faithfully adhering to existing 101 training guidelines and putting in place a formal structure — union membership and dues payment., elected leadership positions, meetings and motions, a budget. This structure is a counterexample to non-NLRB campaigns which tend to be loosely organized affairs revolving around strong personalities.

In light of this experience, training 101 has been revised to remove the original "campaign timeline" that culminated in the "public release". MK Lees and this author have written two articles in an attempt to summarize the lessons learned from Stardust. The first is called « Do Solidarity Unions Need to “Go Public” ? » (Do the Solidarity Syndicates need to go public?) and underlined that this process was only a vestige of a certification campaign during which the management is officially informed of the union effort and which, from the experience of the IWW, only resulted in retaliation and loss, while the permanent struggles based on grievances did not suffer this kind of decisive backlash.

The other article, « Boom without Bust: Solidarity Unionism for the Long Term » (Explode without bursting: Solidarity Syndicalism in the long term) , was a reflection on how the IWW could maintain its model of non-contractual solidarity unionism in the long term, now that he had a few models to do it. (It must be recognized that the IWW campaigns at Jimmy John's and Starbucks themselves lasted ten years., but they were not very structured and over time, they relied more and more on advertising and the media and less and less on presence on the floor.) The article described the stabilizing organizational characteristics of the Stardust solidarity union. The training program, For its part, refocused on recruiting workers as full members in good standing, and on adopting a systematic approach in general.

The section of the training 101 on employment law, then became an incisive presentation, albeit relatively long political and historical context of the Wagner Act and Taft-Hartley, is now reduced to an inoculation against complaints of unfair labor practices and a general warning against legal procedures. This almost two-hour section has always been very controversial: she was either the most beloved, be the most hated of the participants in their evaluations, but the trainers responsible for reviewing this section realized that its length effectively contradicted its message, to know: set aside labor law and focus on direct action.

Training 101 now ends with a note on "committee sustainability" and "next steps", advising on how workers can "level up" in their campaigns without pulling the trigger on a certification vote or going public to reward their organization, whether envisioned as a triumphant moment or a desperate move to reverse a dip in energy. Rather, we suggest: " to increase the number of members " and "to take care of greater demands ".

Conclusion

The IWW's training program now matches its political rejection of class collaboration and its cynicism about labor rights. However, it was not developed in an ideological or "a priori" way; on the contrary, it gradually condensed about 25 years of experience in real campaigns.

While his original material was borrowed from traditional syndicates, it now stands out in every detail. The AEIOU version of the IWW, for example, is focused on direct action and not on signing a membership card. The program aims to develop broad skills and class consciousness in all workers. The rating scale indicates whether a worker actively contributes to the campaign by participating in one-on-one meetings, direct actions or administrative work, or if his support for the campaign goes beyond words (at the other end of the spectrum: workers passively or actively opposed to the union effort).

This approach also reflects the very structure of the IWW.: very low contribution rates which generally do not allow the financing of paid staff, committees and boards of directors made up of volunteer members, and campaigns in low-wage sectors, with small circles and high turnover, such as retail, fast food, restaurants and call centers, where union members tend to work and where other unions generally do not attempt to certify bargaining units for obvious cost-benefit reasons.

However, not all IWW campaigns subscribe to the approach of solidarity unionism (and this article has only touched on a fraction of the campaigns of the last five decades). There are still certification and convention campaigns within the union, in addition to other organizational models, which is made possible by the fact that the IWW is very decentralized. The 2010s saw a series of accreditation and recognition campaigns — 18 sure 20 have been formally successful — which have resulted in the closure of several of these stores or the disappearance of the union presence in a few years. Le Burgerville Workers Union (BVWU) in Portland, which ran a conventional campaign from the start and is now entering its third year of trading, now asks the rest of the union to allow him to sign a clause prohibiting the right to strike, currently prohibited by the IWW statutes, and has already committed to a grievance arbitration system (where the losing party pays!). This reflects the contradictions, as the first organization manual said, to try to build workers' power within the legal framework of labor relations. In other words, the experiences of the IWW campaigns, even those that do not follow the pattern set in the current organization formation, always reflect the lessons and warnings distilled into its program, if only negatively. But the union as a whole, thanks to its solidarity union model, has passed the stage of a "negotiating union" which is only differentiated by its "cheap dues and the absence of paid leaders". Finally, the union can once again put its revolutionary ideals into practice.

Original text by Marianne Garneau, Chair of the SITT-IWW Department of Education Council and Editor of the Labor Think Tank Organizing Work.

Translation done in January-February 2022 by Felix T. Member of the Montreal local SITT-IWW.

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Covid-19: Community without plexiglass

If you've taken the Montreal metro in recent days, many of you are a proletarian. You are a cook, cashier, attendant. to the interview, manufacturer, packer, clerk, waiter/waitress in a waiter/waitress in a, short, waiter/waitress in a. waiter/waitress in a, or, waiter/waitress in a, waiter/waitress in a, waiter/waitress in a. waiter/waitress in a.

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it is even more obvious. it is even more obvious, taking risks to get food on the shelves or to get someone to a safe place to inject. taking risks to get food on the shelves or to get someone to a safe place to inject. taking risks to get food on the shelves or to get someone to a safe place to inject.

taking risks to get food on the shelves or to get someone to a safe place to inject, taking risks to get food on the shelves or to get someone to a safe place to inject, workers and community workers, taking risks to get food on the shelves or to get someone to a safe place to inject.

taking risks to get food on the shelves or to get someone to a safe place to inject, taking risks to get food on the shelves or to get someone to a safe place to inject, taking risks to get food on the shelves or to get someone to a safe place to inject, of course.

Members of the SITT-IWW Community Workers Union.

Photo credit: Cedric Martin

Rent strike

While the rent strike seems a certainty in major North American cities like Toronto, Montréal, usually if left, seems to have trouble adjusting his violins. This is not because it felt less need. On the contrary. This morning the newspaper Le Devoir revealed that half of workers have less than a month of financial cushion and for half of them and they it is only a short week before completely dry. It is in this context that various channels are heard to address the pressing issue of rent from April 1.

The communications team SITT-IWW Montreal offers here speaking to Tim, Chloé and Alex and Sarah. The first is Tim whose thinking was shared on the RentStrike group Strike rent Montreal, with close to 3500 members. A recent survey shared on the group shows that nearly 20% of them and they will strike at all costs and that 55% Additional questions arise, but would love to participate. Following the announcement internally that we were going to publish this article, two members wanted to add their two cents. Chloé, formerly the Committee Bails Hochelaga-Maisoneuve, currently working in the events and in favor of a more combative line and Alex and Sarah are salaried in housing committees and activists for a long time for the right to housing. They share with us how things are done internally for the organizations in their networks..

Reflection on RentStrike / rent strike – Montréal
Tim, active voice in the movement for the rent strike in the US

I see many calls go to the rent strike from people who have never organized movement of tenants who are not involved in local and national efforts to implement such organizations.

On the one hand, it is a form of dangerous amateurism; the followers of spontaneity like to believe that "if we make claims and people's support, everything will fall into place ". It's suicide, and this is the result of a trend too lazy left to set up the necessary organizations to the struggle in periods of surf between moments of crisis.

Here's what makes a fight is victorious : broad support of our communities, trusting relationships existing between strikers, funds to support strike, and strategy. For the time being, None of this is in place in the "rent strike 2020 ».

On another side, the tenants will not pay money qu'illes lack. Most tenants do not pay their proprios next month not because of ideological beliefs but because qu'illes have no cash. In this sense, we are in the presence of a spontaneous movement, created by last need material needs rather than the extreme left of militancy.

The claims of the rent strike also affect a central political issue : why should we give half our income to a class of parasites that offers us nothing in return? The rent is nothing but a form of racketeering : " paid, I sent you the police to get you out of your home with guns and batons ".

The fact that many cities have put in place moratoria on evictions shows that we have a political momentum to force big concessions to the ruling class. A moratorium on rents and organizing tenants against their landlords to fight for an immediate amnesty for rent (or at least a significant reduction rents) are battles that we can win, and activists should not reduce their efforts just when new opportunities are made possible.

So do not pay your rent if you do not have the means! More, and more importantly, get organized! The fact of organizing will be a thousand times more effective politically only if we act individually in isolation, I can guarantee you! Currently, the movement lacks the capacity to implement its rent strike claims. and activists should not reduce their efforts just when new opportunities are made possible : girls there are uses that are in trouble lorsqu'illes. and activists should not reduce their efforts just when new opportunities are made possible, and get involved in your union nearest tenants, as quickly as possible.

To move forward - and that is probably even more important than whether to support or not the strike claims, moratoria, etc. - we need to prepare our movement for when the ruling class and its government will try to get things in order and impose a return to normal.

A rent strike is questionable in the context where the courts are closed and evictions are not implemented. But in all cases, even if the wheel of justice turn slowly it always ends up crashing his target. Without political intervention sustained basis, we will witness a wave of evictions once the immediate danger is gone coronavirus. and activists should not reduce their efforts just when new opportunities are made possible.

The thing, with radical rhetoric, is that it must be accompanied by actions at some point. It's very nice to chat to strike comfort rents his house behind our screens, and activists should not reduce their efforts just when new opportunities are made possible?

Second reflection on rent strike
Chloé, member of the IWW and ISTC-old employee of the Committee Bails Hochelaga-Maisonneuve

Disclaimer ; I worked in a housing committee 2011 at 2014, So I'm not a person "never organized movement of tenants". On the other hand, I must admit I'm a little disillusioned the community movement. And also, I'm not actively involved currently in the rent strike.

I too have seen pass calls to the strike of the rent. I also read some comments from activists who have reservations face this movement. If I am concerned about how it might take shape outside of social networks, I am disappointed in the response of those who are critical of the initiative.

With almost one million person in Canada, I lost my job in the last days due to the pandemic. I wonder how I'll pay my rent in April and May, because we were told that EI checks take minimally 1 months to arrive. In truth, I know I do not pay you. When I saw the strike call, I felt less alone and I have seen that many other people were in the same situation as me. It reminded me of one of the first things I learned when I started to get involved in the movement for housing rights ; have housing problems, it is not my fault, it is a collective issue and policy. I also learned that the answer to these problems should also be collective and political.

It criticized the initiative of the rent strike for not having followed the logic of organization that has a proven ; be following an already established movement, having made a mobilization-e a-e in our communities, a legal defense strategy, etc. But the situation we are experiencing is unprecedented for our "era". We are confined-e-s home, we can not come together, our housing committees are closed, etc. So we have no choice to change our strategies in the immediate. I think we can not just say that, once the crisis behind us, it will restart more firmly. We can build on the momentum.

The housing committees have already taken the first gain in this fight ; suspension hearings and judgments leading to the eviction of tenants. I think it set the table for the future ; a strike which claims as the rent freeze and mortgages. Otherwise what's the result ? Some-e-s talk seek emergency supplements ? This measure often debate in the middle of the right to housing as it does not question the private rental system, the same cause of our housing insecurity.

Short, I do not understand why people are so reluctant to what the word strike is tacked to our inability to pay our rent. I do not see why not pay in silence would be more favorable. I do not see how not to be part of a movement, although not perfectly organized, will help us.

I think that many questions are legitimate ; what will we do when the Housing Authority will be re-opened and thousands of tenants will receive an eviction notice ? How solidarity will be based out of Facebook after stroke ? ... well we do not strike or, we will face these situations ... so both consider now and plan accordingly, ensemble.

Third reflection on the rent strike
Alex, membre du SITT-IWW, and Sarah, sympathetic, work in housing committees and have long campaigned for the right to housing.

We are workers in Housing Committees or involved for several years in groups for the right to housing. Our opinions are our own and do not represent the positions of the organizations we work for, neither of their groupings.

The massive unemployment of a large part of the population brings its share of worries. Gradually, as the stores, convenience stores and other restaurants close, feeling of insecurity increases. Several workers and salarié.e.s workers submitted their application for employment insurance and still await any sign of the Canadian state that their request has been lodged and well fed. Others have applied for financial assistance from the Government of Quebec and are waiting to know whether they will be eligible or not. There are also those who were already on last-resort assistance programs and whose incomes are greatly limited, whose health is at risk or who are not eligible for any program because on social assistance and / or living on the black market.

We wonder how we will survive if we eat the rest of our savings on the 1st of the month. several tenants, in addition to the stress of payment (or not) their rent, live a package of housing problems that accumulate for some time.

Following pressure by FRAPRU and RCLALQ, many gains have been made, but it is still insufficient. Hearings deemed non-essential have been suspended. For the duration of the health crisis, the tenants will not see or expulsé.e.s évincé.e.s their homes. Still, we expect massive crowding out once the health crisis is over, whether for non-payment, frequent delays, or in connection with a lease agreement or terminated following judgment. The Quebec government now recommends not to visit physical housing for the duration of the crisis. The inspecteurs.trices municipal services and extermination services are maintained, but everything is in slow motion, and there is intervention only in urgent cases. It is also asked to provide emergency rent supplements, to facilitate and accelerate access to financial assistance from the various levels of government, and finally that any eviction attributable to the non-payment of April is prohibited.

Meanwhile, more or less organized individuals and autonomous collectives have launched calls for a rent strike. Some facebook pages have been created as well as discussion groups. Several conflicting and sometimes false then circulated : the owners would have a tax holiday and mortgage payment, people who do not pay their rent would not be prosecuted, etc. We will not comment on the falsehoods that circulate, but rather invite you to consult your local housing committee as well as this page : : https://grevedesloyers.info/legal/. If a ban on evictions of tenants who have not paid their rent by April 1 was decreed, nothing indicates that political strikers, those who have written publicly and informed their owner that he or she does not pay, support to tenants unable to pay, would be spared.

Housing committees and our groups are asked to, FRAPRU and RCLALQ, to support these initiatives. National groups currently have no mandate to support a general rent strike. Even between workers, between members of boards of directors (THAT) active national and activist groups with which we have a more frequent connection, we are very far from having a consensus, and this is not yet the case nor within the work teams, nor within local CAs. In the internal discussions we had between workers, many consider that participating in a rent strike involves risks for vulnerable tenant households which are greater than the earnings prospects of a movement does not mobilize critical mass. In short several misgivings expressed.

You should know that the level of local groups, like many other workers, we are either unemployed since Monday, is in the process of transferring our legal information services from our premises to teleworking. Renters Assistance applications are still ongoing, we have our members to reassure and inform of the situation. As any group with a certain structure, our decision making processes sometimes take a while. It operates democratically. It adopts an annual action plans, adopted by our members, which then participate in its realization in work committees or mobilization committees. Our local being closed, we are presently unable to consult, to collectively assess the pros and cons of the proposed actions, and even less to bring our proposals to groupings, something that must also be made in a general assembly. In short, for the time being, housing committees focus on providing legal information and are therefore available to answer legal questions. It will probably not be possible for them to position themselves by the rise or failure of the movement.

The permanence of our groups are currently working on a package of issues, ranging from historical claims (public housing, gel rents, register leases), claims related to the health crisis : Emergency measures for tenants, moratorium on evictions, owner of the right of, and this while the housing committees are closed or under reorganization, and many tenants are turning to consolidation to be informed about their rights. The groups therefore appear to have concrete demands they know to win the short to medium term and whose actions would quickly apply without subject of lengthy and costly disputes a government usually tries to avoid. That does not mean that these groups can not effectively support the strikers' demands, but they make choices based on these capabilities and the state of mobilization, both internally, that in our groups and in civil society.

FRAPRU and RCLALQ accumulate between them over 80 years of advocacy experience, mobilization and representation. The salarié.e.s and militant.e.s within it saw in passing rent strikes, occupations, mobilisations, economic or health crises, disaster. This long experience allows them to have an enlightened perspective on where gains are to be made., where risks are taken, and what it takes to build a strong social movement. Without necessarily agreeing with their present positioning, one must consider their reluctance and their views on the subject.

A general rent strike is an ambitious project that will require a lot of organization. From what I know, This idea came out publicly there is less than two weeks and is currently very marginal. It is true nevertheless that a social crisis is a factor accelerating the development of a social movement. Several means of action and dissemination are available but have not been discussed. Put a white cloth to signify solidarity, write to the owner, Contact our local elected officials, make poster campaigns, discuss with our neighbors, it takes time.

Are we ready to lead a rent strike? Is the goal of holding a rent strike for April 1 realistic? Is the risk taken now worth the effort? It is currently uncertain. It lacks several conditions for different groups and individu.e.s currently at work can develop a strong and combative social movement. By next month, we will have time to think of ways to meet, discuss, develop our claims, our organization and means of action in favor.

In solidarity with you,
Alex (x377511) and Sarah (sympathetic)

Photo credit: https://www.facebook.com/grevedesloyers2020/

How capitalism killed (and still kills) the music ?

It is not uncommon to hear that music was better at one time as it is today. Indeed, when looking at the great landscape of pop music, it is easy to notice a marked decrease in the quality and musical diversity, but its originality (always the same 4 accords, it has even become a running gag) and quality of texts. One might think wrongly that this is another manifestation of this old saw that "everything was better in time", but empirical data validating this claim exist (see this article for more detail).

The "old" industry then we say we come, young people, soaps not make good music. We will answer them as soon as these extremely condescending attacks and empty of substance have absolutely no place and anyone interested a bit in the middle of the underground music also knows. In the facts, originality and talent are always présent.es, but you just have to bother to look elsewhere than in industry and radio. As a professional in the field, I would say that the accuracy of devices today and unattainable quality standards which recorded music habitué.e.s us like auto-tune, realigned the percussion on the metronome, the sampling to give more power to the drummers, the voices doubled to give more texture, ultra-compression, etc., forcing artists to be more likely to live at the time performant.es! for example, know how to play the show in metronome was not a standard 1990. today if. And let me tell you it is a major challenge. The problem is not the level of artists.

So what happens there with music ? And what does it take to save ?

Well… I think an anticapitalist perspective on the situation can illuminate many dark areas that are neglected by the usual critics, but also possibly find possible solutions to the problem. Let me give you my views on the situation!

"There's been money"

In the capitalist system, The force of the war, is money. money, it is first of all the resources that allow us to do what we want (or what needs to be done), but the primary motivation behind the choice of investors. It is also important to distinguish these two things since the first defines why émergent.es artists can no longer make music quality and the second is why pop artists are "arriving" (understatement as this is deliberate) neither. They govern both human behavior, but in a different way because in different contexts, but give substantially the same result.

But back on topic : money no longer goes into the coffers ! Why? Well, several reasons for this : there including the fact that our economic conditions diminish more and more each year since the arrival and rise of neoliberal ideology that has axed the unions and the welfare state. Put another way : In 2019, everyone is poor! There are also stricter laws on drunk driving that reduce the consumption of people in bars and theaters (measure with which I obviously agree, but this effect is still verifiable). There is also the arrival of social media and the internet which we go out less than before. However, The most obvious reason is the good old hacking. This is why the industry hoarse to tell us that is the reason why nothing goes and from a strictly economic point of view, she still partially due. But ultimately, it's kind of bullshit…

I admit it, I must say that I have long had this speech too, but the anticapitalist I became in the last years sees things differently. My position today rather pushes me to ask people to explain WHY (and I wish reasons that go beyond "because capitalism") should pay for art? Tell me why art, as was the food and knowledge, could not and should not be free and available to everyone at any time and without reservation? Tell me, if we accept that patents are an obstacle to progress, imposed to meet the financial interests of his / her owners at the expense of the community, how the copyright principle is different ? Do not you think that artists should have other sources of funding and income than those from the wild capitalism? That the artist un.e value comes down to anything but the money he or she can generate? Tell me what sense finally ends up with the art if the reason behind it is partly or completely Money?

I think it is obvious that there is a huge problem when it comes to bring art in a capitalist logic. Anyone quel.le leftist, amateur.trice artist or art obviously knows the, but unfortunately, industry and private radio will never want to change about it since this would run counter to their financial interests. This is not a neoliberal government as the CAQ or conservative as the CCP understand the importance of pouring public funds into art.

Also, albeit tell the fermé.es minded artists on the sources of funding / alternative income and industry, it now seems clear that stopping to "stream" or hack a large part of the music we listen too much limit the amount of music that we could listen to one dares to bend this retrograde idea. Let's, our appetite / love for music is generally much too big for us to limit ourselves, say… 200$ music CDs or purchased online. We should dare to say loud and clear as amateurs and amateur art it is absurd that economic limitations prevent us to discover and share new talent. We should say loud and clear that art and knowledge should be disseminated without restriction and should not be owned by anyone. We should finally say loud and clear that one person steals hacking and that it is rather celleux who sell us something that should be free flying we. radical position, but assumed.

Industry class The Interest

Good… Anyone who understands the basic concepts of the Left knows she think much in terms of "antagonistic social classes" and "class interests". In French? This simply means that all the money and power of the upper classes (owners, patrons, governments, etc.), this is money and power that the lower social classes (tenants, employé.es, citoyen.nes, etc.) do not have, and vice versa. This makes us ennemi.es naturel.les because if we want something, we must remove them and vice versa. We therefore necessarily be in conflict as long as classes exist.

Why am I talking about this ? I arrive there ! It is that to understand why the quality of the artists as human beings and the content of their text seems to decrease from year to year, one must understand that the texts un.e artist and his political positions are filtered by the "machine" and its interests. As un.e employé.e can not speak out against his boss without being renvoyé.e or not to be engagé.e, artists can not criticize the music industry, sexist practices or other bars where ial occur or radios playing if this may have financial implications for elleux or industry. In the opposite case, they more and they boast that generates revenue (especially alcohol sales), and the more they risk being well accueilli.es. This helps explain why it is so common to hear and see hymns to the consumption of drugs and alcohol, to "large tanks", unnecessary luxury, etc. in pop. It is simply that the bars and sponsors radios, shows, television and tours sell.

The same thing happens at a much smaller scale and in a different way in the underground when artists become showcases for instruments companies, clothing, etc. to achieve self-financing or when they accept or to play with as one salary "visibility" (pity that the same strategy will not work with Toyota when I want to go buy a new Prius). We are then left with a world of music that self-censorship, but also that folds to market requirements in order to survive or to make more money (I also made myself at the time). It is then not surprising that the quality of texts or celebrity as a human being is poor, even fearful, but above all it is very claimant in terms of class struggle.

Short, this is why we find very few actually superstars left, actually informed, really relevant, while leftists are nevertheless on-représenté.es among artists. It is also for this reason that such a small part of the artists receive as large a share of the cake and it will be my next point.

The stars vs. democratization

The industry bombards us with its stars. They are rich and famous and it seems that we should love them for it. But why? Are they really the elite of raw talent ? Are they so interesting? Why do we need to have the stars (mostly so meaningless and more) and especially, what implies the presence of stars for others, "non-stars" ?

Think for a moment the class principle mentioned above : if industry provides (for example) 75 % airtime and media attention to say… 0.1 % artists, what is left for 99,9 % remaining? You understand that the answer is "nothing". Far be it from me whining about my fate artist who has worked for years and that was never paid accordingly, What interests me here is not the fact that the far majority of artists will never connu.es, but the extreme disproportion of attention put on a small number of people and the reasons behind this phenomenon.

First of all, it is necessary to understand how are "created" the stars, because yes, they are created! Good… as in any aspect of capitalism, it takes money to make money, and the world of music is no exception. If you believe the artists who pass on the airwaves, make movie soundtracks and are mis.es forward are because people had originally requested, you are wrong! The truth is that we rather pushes them into the groove until it clings and give them our money. for example, to a title a 'hit', record companies sometimes pay sums up to 1 million US en promotion. Only by putting the amount they manage to exceed the promotion by their competitors and maximize their investment.

Sure, million is a whopping! It ensures that the record companies do not distribute these golden tickets, such as caramels and one click selects artists within the specific framework to maximize sales will sélectionné.es to climb to the top. These are artists who become millionaires our stars who have all the media attention and airtime. And too bad for others!

Let's… it could "maybe" still pass if it were a question of talent and we recognize the meilleur.es among meilleur.es, but we are talking about business, point final ! It is not "what is the best product", but "with which the more money we will do" in question. This is what made us end up with all the candy pop and easy listening since we for many psychological reasons (you can listen to the first video I put link that explains quickly), this is the type of music that generates the most money. That's why the stars exist and how they are created.

Good, now, the flip side? Is that since all the resources are found concentrated in the hands of a few people, others starve. It's just one more version of "how capitalism works" and it keeps quality music from democratizing, to diversify and to be presented to the general public just like any other good or service, no matter what the free market apostles say, who believe exactly the opposite but are completely disconnected from reality.

Now, let's imagine for a moment that things are different, you want? Imagine a world in which there is no capitalism, so no money to make, so no advertising, so not these distortions. Do you think that the most popular artists would be those of today and to a comparable extent? Certainly not ! Art would be very different : First, all artists would be equal and equal and would start from the same point. Ensuite, artists would have the opportunity to create without thinking of selling and their audience could go to see them on stage and consume their music without having to pay and limit themselves to a budget. None of the barriers and distortions that capitalism creates would be present. We would have artists who make music and people who listen to it, and that's all ! Music would finally become what it should have always been : art ! And it would also democratize : everyone could do it and everyone could listen to it, whether performing or recording.

Alas, the industry is preventing that and you have to understand it, it cannot be reformed. The heart of the matter is not that the people at the top are stingy or that the culture around them is bad, it's just that "mechanically", it is caught in the spiral of the capitalist system and that as long as it lasts, it will keep spinning inside of it. Short, it’s a system issue, no culture.

Okay, but while waiting for the revolution, what do we do?

Well, first of all, it is important to understand that many of the actions we can do today would improve things within the system and lead us to revolution at the same time. The revolutionary syndicalist that I am thinks that it is even much more likely that we will succeed in bringing down this rotten system by passing through this avenue than by simply saying "revolution or nothing" since to make things change, first you must have learned to work as if you were no longer in capitalism while you are still inside it. The idea is that if we make the revolution and try to learn to make society work in socialism-libertarian only when it is in progress, we will realize that we should have experimented and run the process well before. The other thing, it is by organizing and fighting that we can show the world that the society we aspire to can exist and that this is how we can prove to people that we are not vulgar "shoveling clouds". But OK, I digress. Let's go back to the original subject :

What can we do today to create a left tangent for music? Well here are some ideas :

  1. Continue to encourage your favorite artists as much as you can, especially the freelancers, because they need it the most. At the same time assume the fact of pirating or listening to illegal streaming of that of others while maintaining that the solution does not go through the consumers., but by the abolition of the system or by subsidies for which you should moreover fight if you wish to be coherent.. Furthermore :
    1. Download the music you plan to listen to regularly. Artists love this and the bandwidth, it is very little ecological.
    2. Streamez sur Bandcamp, Spotify, etc. rather than unofficial artist accounts on YouTube. Not only is this better for artists, but the sound quality is better and audio formats only take less bandwidth than videos.
    3. Buy directly from artists, avoiding intermediaries as much as possible. Purchases made directly at concerts are generally the most profitable for your favorite artists.. If you hesitate between different options, ask the artists you love directly how they prefer to encourage them and you will have the answer.
  2. Artistes, unite! Organize your scene. Create unions that will allow you to demand minimum conditions to perform, but also to take out the racists, sexist and other assholes in your scene. Treat artists who deviate from conventions that you are going to have established like the SCABS that they are. Respect the conditions and conventions of the staff of the performance halls too. Solidarity is for everyone. Do it too, never forgetting that it's not about your fans that you should type, but in the pockets of the state (ask for grants) and private companies that hire you or sign contracts with.
  3. In addition to DIY (do it yourself), try to sign or work as much as possible with cooperative and / or self-managed companies. It’s better for you and it’s better for everyone at the end. Support the expropriation / reappropriation efforts of large companies / organizations by workers. Propagate this culture through your interventions in the media, in your shows, in your words, etc.
  4. If you work in the industry (labels, studios, bars, theaters, radio stations, etc.), organize your workplaces and the industry as a whole to kick the bosses out and take over the businesses and turn them into self-managed cooperatives. When the industry is left, even if we are still in the capitalist system, his values ​​and ethics will change.
  5. If you don't work in the industry yet, but want to start, obviously do it by forming self-managed cooperatives.

Short, work by uniting against your class enemies and, as is often said among IWWs : build the society of tomorrow in the shell of that of today.

If you want to discuss it with me and have an industry organization plan, all contact information is at the bottom of this article. You can also contact your local IWW branch.

Good fight !

Anar Kitty

[email protected]

https://www.facebook.com/anarkittyband

https://anarkitty.bandcamp.com/releases