The practice of “involuntary recognition”

(This text is a translation of “practice involuntary recognition” by Marianne Garneau) :

A few months ago, I was in a meeting with a worker I was mentoring as an organizer. This was a person who came from the Stardust campaign in New York where workers had rejected a union election and, in place, had used direct action to solve their problems and obtain gains. The meeting focused on supporting a group of workers in the organizing process. Another person at the meeting mentioned that “voluntary recognition” could be an avenue. The one I was mentoring then asked her what it was about (this is when an employer recognizes a union, for example on the basis of signature of membership cards, without its members having to hold and win a supervised election) then, he laughed and replied : « At Stardust, we practice ‘involuntary recognition’”.

Since that time, I proudly state this formulation. It is indeed something very characteristic : What Stardust workers do, it is to constantly terrorize their employer with direct actions and/or threats to take them.

A few years ago, the employer tried to force them to have a union election by claiming that it would then act as “exclusive negotiating agent” (free translation of “exclusive bargaining agent”, a statute in U.S. law that formalizes the existence of a union through a union election or recognition agreement with the employer). In other words, the employer wanted to try to force him to color only within the lines of the labor law, possibly because he believed the union would not win its elections. The workers stopped this attempt immediately, even if they would have won the election anyway. Their goal was quite different ; they wanted to resolve their problems on the floor via an indefinite and unlimited process that only they would control !

People often believe that labor laws restrict employers, but note that in this specific case, it was he himself who wanted what the law prescribed. Why ? Because the law ensures that the recognition of a union is a formal procedure and a LEGAL issue. It is designed to replace the disruptions generated through “direct negotiation” with an orderly exchange of proposals at a negotiating table.. This diverts workers from where they have the most power to what the law says and what is written on a piece of paper..

I recently dug up a leaflet from 1912 from IWW organizer A M Stirton. Stirton was a member of the American Socialist Party who ran for governor in the state of Michigan. He had come to believe that the balance of power against the bosses was more important than winning union elections. This leaflet was a scathing critique of the quest for formal employer recognition and is remarkably relevant even today..

[This section has been edited to simplify the text]


“Being recognized is all we want. We are not striking for better wages or fewer working hours. All we want is for the company to recognize the union so we can negotiate.”

Sounds familiar, non ? It is indeed very important for a union to be recognized. However, an uncertified union can also be certified, like he can get anything he wants if he does it the right way.

The method to follow to achieve recognition by your employer is the same as to obtain any other concession from them : Force him to do it ! 

This is not something that can be accomplished by a small craft union going on strike while the three or four other similar unions employed by the same company continue to work., nor even if all these unions go on strike while the other employees, non-unionized, continue to work and are ready to take their place.

Non, the method to achieve recognition consists of having a union that the bosses will have no choice in recognizing; a union that organizes everyone and binds the entire company when there is a strike; a union for everyone !

This is what the IWW does. And the bosses recognize the IWW without having to do so officially, since it is not possible to deny its existence.

If a highwayman tries to steal your wallet and you hit him with a stick and he passes out, you don't have to make him sign that he acknowledges that you had a stick, non ?

From the moment you knocked him out and got away with it, you will keep your wallet, whether or not he admits to being knocked out, you agree ?

here ! If your union can prevent capitalist bandits from stealing from you by retaining part of the value of your work, what additional recognition will you need ? Any !

If you have a sword and want to let your opponent know that it is indeed made of sharpened steel, the best way to do this is to hit him with. Him signing a paper acknowledging it won't make your sword more dangerous or make him more fearful if he's already felt it cut into his body.. The only thing that can happen is that you let your guard down once the paper is signed and he takes the opportunity to attack you.

If you buy a bag of potatoes, would you need a written certificate from the grocer to prove to your wife when you get home that you have potatoes ? Non. And this certificate would be even more useless if you took it instead of potatoes. Yes, you could go back to the grocery store, debate with the grocer and possibly manage to leave with a bag of potatoes, declaring victory, but all these steps (implying an uncertain victory) would have been useless if you had brought the potatoes home in the first place.

This is why it is better to organize a union that brings in the potatoes rather than the certificate. Organize your colleagues by ensuring that you will stick together and that you will not need your bosses to acknowledge your existence.

The IWW is, Anyway, now good (re)known. Bosses all over the country have heard of us and recognize us. They recognize that the IWW is an organization that does not just want to take back some of the wealth they are stealing from us., but eliminate their existence and everything we produce comes back to us.

This is the only recognition we need. She's the only one that's really worth anything.

“Recognition” is the right word, but the first step for workers is to recognize their own interests and organize to defend them. When this is done, employers will in turn recognize us.

A year after Stirton wrote this tract, the local 8 of the IWW took control of the Philadelphia docks and obtained wage increases and better working conditions without signing a contract. Three years later, the IWW shook Midwest farmland owners, again without being formally recognized. Some went so far as to falsely threaten to “blacklist” those who did not want to tear up their card in front of their boss’ eyes. (to then send them a replacement card by mail). They never asked to be recognized by their employers; only better wages and better conditions.

This approach did not come out of nowhere. Again and again, workers come to the same conclusion : It is possible to win requests without legal recognition and come out It is also possible to lose on your demands while being legally recognized and come out weakened.

What motivates workers to fight is not what the bosses think of them but rather how much they believe they are able to do something to solve the problems. who touches them.

When you win on demand, we gain the only recognition that really matters.

For other critical texts of labor law (in English) :

If not, Lucy can also popularize it for you 🙂

, ,

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 ".


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.

PCU and real fraudsters

At the time of this writing, The Globe and Mail just unveiled that the federal government was drafting a bill to punish "fraudsters" on the Canada Emergency Benefit, the famous ECP set up to help the millions of people suddenly finding themselves unemployed with the pandemic.

Probably that the amounts and possible penalties will change according to opinion public and if there is an outcry, but the project of current law refers to "a fine of 5000 $ as well as a second fine of double the amount pocketed. This draft [bill] also provides for the possibility of a prison sentence "of six months or less " for the guilty ".

Again once it’s the working class that’s going to take a hit explain why.

First, so that there is no ambiguity (and to cover our rear), I do not encourage anyone to do wrong statements. Whether at the PCU, Unemployed, help social, name it. The chances of getting caught are quite high and legally, is to be on the wrong side of the law. Ensuite, I will not throw a rock at anyone who snatch and who needs cash, understand me.

However, Firstly, several of these "false statements " to the PCU will not have been made in bad faith. Why? Because initially, messages addressed to the population almost let believe that everyone had access. And the "Errors administrative " will have been many. The number of people who received larger amounts, two fold, are significant.

Also, I will be told that some "fraudsters" already had access to social assistance, for example. Well, with a ridiculous amount like that granted by social assistance, I can hardly see myself saying to a person she has to be content with 670$ per month, while the government established the amount of PCU at 2000$ per month considering that this is the minimum required to meet his needs. As if the aid providers social suddenly live well with an amount 3 times less and miraculously join the ends.

More, let's be honest, people who have obtained ECPs illegally are seldom rich people. We are not talking about a person with phenomenal income. And that's without taking into account that many workers are immediately eliminated from the equation : the without status, people in the sex industry, etc. No declared income, no PCU.

Secondly, another argument will be to say that "yes but it's not honest ", or that "that will have cost a fortune in fraud to taxpayers ”. I want well, but for the number of dishonest things which have really a negative impact on our society in general, we rarely puts so many means in place to punish "the guilty ". Let me explain. Was, we are preparing the ground for a real witch hunt.

By against, how often do the different levels of government have injected huge sums for «help » private companies which nevertheless «shippent » their production abroad while granting big bonuses juicy to their executives and CEOs. We can think of Bombardier, this "flagship" of the Quebec economy. These are billions invested and who in the end will mainly benefit a handful of people who want maintain their hectic pace of life.

Or better yet. Every year, there are over 25 billion $ who are lost in tax havens. And we know the companies and people who benefit from it, who do not pay their fair share. Are they preparing a bill to bring them to justice? Fuck all. Plus, in April, at the start of the pandemic, the federal government even announced that companies known to have accounts in tax havens could benefit from state aid despite their illegal activities.

25 billion in tax havens, it pays in sacrament for months of PCU, aid services, public services, care of health, community programs, etc.

This is to say that while the federal government prepares its hunt for the poor and precarious, the real scammers will continue to take it easy.

  • A member of IWW-Montreal

Testimony : organize as bike messenger-era

Last February, 5 bike messengers were sent by QA Courier company in Montreal. These messengers had refused to get on their bikes in a snowstorm because they felt it violated their right to work in safe conditions. Following their dismissal suffered, bosses at QA had increased the working conditions of the next runner-es-eras… It was also able to attend a great wave of solidarity for those bike messengers. The 18 February 2019, More than fifty people were displaced in the early morning with the support 5 returned at a press conference to demand better working conditions for all Messengers and all the bike messengers! Here is a text written by an e-messenger-era bike comrade :

"While bikers QA returned in February will be no re-engage, the boss still increased the salary of his new biker, no 10 ni de 15%, but to 20% even with a big bonus when hiring. This tells me 2 things : what, contrary to what the bosses want us to believe, couriers are essential pieces on the board of the courier industry but also that these patterns have the means and the power to pay us better / treat.

If they do not, it is simply because no lifts. The case that has marked the industry and the community dated 13 February 2019 thus solves, would do for now, a net salary increase for new and new bikers who will be hired-e-s at QA in the present and future.

Only this, this is a huge victory in itself. When I started to mobilize with my comrades 2016 to demand better working conditions, I was winning 100$ a day and it was the best deal in town. Many of those who were dismantling us saying we would gain nothing, or that nothing would change because it was already a good 10 years nothing had move. EH BEN SURPRISE! In only 3 years, my friends and I, we boosted our salary 50% after our return.

All that is born of mobilization and perseverance. So these people, I reply that nothing moves them because nobody moves. Involved, educate yourself and stay strong and strong, comrades. If a company does not respect you, she does not deserve you! »

The male frailty and pride for use by boss

The stench WD-40 that burns in irritating the airways and making us die by inches

flat in the factory tonight. Is that my bosses prefer to use it to avoid splashing during

Steel laser cutting rather than the safe fluid especially (or less harmful, at least) designed

for that. Probably a question of price to save a few tens or hundreds of dollars

year. Worse during that time, our health, he coronation. Well yes, one is the shit, we other, we are

just working men and women.

We talk with colleagues at break. It is clear that we will do something with it, it does not stop there !

Everything is shaping up for a small single direct action, that is to say close to the cutter, which is one of

three machines or hand the job, until they have non-toxic cutting oil. Almost all

everyone agrees and stands. Yeah, all is well except for one detail : The operator of the machine not want


The champion in question is Jean (name changed). John is not a complainer ! the whiners, according to

his, it's chochottes, and be a sissy is something terrible because John, you will have it

guess, suffers from toxic masculinity. His, WD-40 toxic vapors, he says it not bother him and

he is able to endure. He even takes pride tell things like that at parties

or bar. He has a man's job, his ! Real male, was !

Sadly, Jean scrap his health and suffered as much as we. Him too, will the chopper, the cancer,

not you worry ! And probably only forty or fifty years, it will be finished and be back

three months a year off work platform worse find his life ****, so it is not really more

"Toff" than us. It's just manipulated by the bosses over his masculine fragility.

John is also against it, trade unions. According to him, it protects and prevents loose as hardworking

them to progress. This leveling down. It has plenty of stories cowards workers that were told to him

by "the guy who saw the guy who saw the bear", without context, which prevent understand that

slackaient employed on the job because they were pressure tactics and the little zealous new

scrappait their job, or the inability to move in a unionized company in

most cases a response Boss and the result of "not good enough" collective agreement.

The Jean of America

We all know and all tons of Jean. It can also be Jeanne, but typically, They are

Jean, obviously. The John are hardworking and like to let us know, worse cursed the boss

appreciate people no column like them because they can take advantage of them and they will almost

thank to the. It is that the bosses are brilliant : They managed to take advantage of male fragility

and / or the pride of John of this world and to make them see everything backwards. So, rather than seeing the act

rebellion as the heroic act, instead they got them to get into the head that is, the

opposite, the act of submission that is ! John and endure anything, see self-exploit, without

flinching or complaining to demonstrate that they are true "toffs" and not cowards. how ironic,

hein ?

It's sad, basically. Because of working people like Jean, when you think, that's what we want,

because to be honest, it's true that cowards who make our job harder to do, in the same way

as roommates who never do the dishes or cleaning, it sucks ! And unfortunately, people who

think like John propagate the myth that trade unionists and other leftists are lazy and

lazy like that then that is against what we, in reality, This is not work, it is

exploitation and injustice. And the lazy and lazy, not allowed to do either. On a

just another approach : We, rather than stalling the, they are formed, we listen, trying to

and they understand why they have not wanted to go to work and made sure that they and they come

to be happy and happy in their job and in their lives and thrive. Ultimately, we are

much more useful to stop the laziness that John who think a slap behind the head or

dismissal (but no BS) is the solution against idleness.

When you look at it like that, it's us, heroes, and jeans are loose because in addition to

even have column for themselves and themselves, they and they also dissociate from their colleagues

and ensure that they and they still suffer. Short, with the world as Jean, no one wins,

except bosses. And that is why we must end this mentality then !

What do we do ?

I do not have all the answers, but I do know that our job against, when you cross a John or a

Jeanne, it is especially not to send stroll ! It is to understand what the shit or the job,

such as with everyone, crop and bring his designs with different angles for

reorient its "fighting" and frustrations.

It can be, for example, to understand that it is not against work we fight, this is against

that of being exploited. If he or let it operate as un.e no column ? He or she more

courage it, see ! It can also be to get him to realize that it is not against "team

warehouse that pogne ass "one must cry, but rather against their cynicism in the face of years of

Non-selected applications to their supervisor that makes shit and that prevents them from organizing work

as they want and they, Firstly, and have the right to meet with people working in

other departments on working hours to communicate and make decisions together that

will facilitate the job of a stage to another factory. Etc.

Because deep, Jean or Jeanne un.e applican unionism. He or she has the drive, East

often allumé.e, wants to do things he or she will be fier.e, is travaillant.e, etc. It is necessary

just talk to him and sort out his mind. Go to the source of problems, as the saying goes.

Come on everybody, it takes everyone a John or Jane and we're going to have coffee with.

Our class needs it.

Solidarity !


Max K


S’organiser, then fight

As everyone knows, G7 was held this year at home, in Quebec. This grotesque "Party of Bourges", at 600 Pigés million of public funds, was that our elites can conspire in peace as THEIR interests (which are contrary to ours). As one of the supreme Western symbols of their contempt for us, no it was not surprised that some e-left launches his attack and tries to disrupt as much as possible.

The response of the state to this "assault" was lightning : Near 8000 police deployed, helicopters flying over the city of Quebec, submarines deployed in the river, the reinforcement army, erected temporary prisons, a zone of lawlessness where police making arrests and illegal searches, all preceded by a long campaign of fear to deter anyone from coming oppose (even peacefully) G7 and legitimize all the repression that would take place during this weekend.

Some people (including myself) it is still presented by principle, but what actually win they had hoped to get a heavy state's power demonstration? Any, except that to draw this lesson: we can not currently change things by taking the street. This fad that some, and some of us have to believe that we can get to get anything manifesting in the current conditions (that is to say, too few) must stop. The finding is that we're at the stage where we must devote energy to expand our ranks and organize ourselves!

This text will therefore aim to put the agenda some organizational bases, and more specifically the radical unions.


1. who join?

When we take the time to create genuine friendships with people around us, whether our family, our colleagues, members of our sports team, etc., it quickly becomes clear that the vast majority of workers and oppressed people in other ways (patriarchy, racism, etc) suffer and are fully aware. They and they do not always understand how these systems consist of oppression, let alone how to fight against and what could be a society rid of them, but however and they know that they and are affected by-es of injustices.

To this question of "who joined", I would say so : virtually any person undergoing some form of oppression can be reached with respect thereto. Needless, so, to focus only on people who are "already left". On the contrary, preach to the converted es prevents us from developing our influence.


2. Reaching?

The ideals of social justice are charming and are targets for people who suffer injustice, It goes without saying. However, for most people, these ideals are so distant that it is virtually impossible to consider them reach one day and it seems more practical to devote their energy to solve problems that can be set now. The good thing, is that these two thoughts are not contradictory since it is actually winning small battles, one by one, that ends up winning bigger and that will eventually win it all.

Based on this idea, the best way to reach people who already so do not advocate is to sincerely discuss with them and them things that bother them today and to work with them and them so that these situations change. Needless, even against immensely productive, start talking about ideals socialist-libertarian.

However, it remains imperative to always keep backstory that all our struggles will only be palliative as long as we do not win "the" great victory; this is what we will push people mobilizing to understand that we must always continue, and many identify what concessions should not do and in what political traps must not fall.


3. What actions to take to make a difference?

If the student strike 2012 we learned something when compared with a strike of the public transport sector, for example, is a mass of people taking the streets, even very large, and even an extended time period, unfortunately has very little disruption of power compared to a mass of workers who decide to go on strike in a key sector of the economy (and that it have the support or not the rest of the population!). The immediate gains, like those long-term, existent, but remain limited.

Another thing social struggles we learn quickly when attention here (and that brings us back to the previous point) is that it is much easier to concentrate our efforts to campaign with people around us against a "small form of power" (for example, the boss of our work mileu or local administration of our school) than trying to rally the entire population to rise up through a call to solidarity which it would respond with a fantastical and illusory revolutionary spirit.

The day that most of us have struggled es, won-es, and have acquired es collective class consciousness, we can dream and even carry out such acts! But that day is NOT today. Today, if we go out of our militant circles already convinced and will really organize the fight, we know that we are still in the stages :

⁃ Carry out to those around us what really involve the injustices they and they undergo daily.

⁃ Make them realize that and have a real power to change the injustices they and they are direct victims daily.

The ⁃ engage in these struggles, forming at the same time understanding of organized left (democracy, procedural codes, committees, principle of non-mixed, etc.) and enabling them to become both leftists and "get Empowerer".



The transition to tomorrow's society is a process that will be phased. Although they do not will operate one at a time (one can very well do both syndicalism and revolutionary events of May 1, for example), it is still important to understand where we are and invest our energy in the right places avoiding fantasizing about a sudden revolutionary upsurge, or the state yield anything facing 200 protesters enraged and es demonstrators take to the streets.

If we really want to move forward, start with the basics and follow the process steps. Organizing first, then fight!


Max K.


(Writing this text is gendered bit for easier reading, and only for this reason. Thank you for taking notes)

Lastcall! It was my last shift porter.

After about six years of combined experience with it, over there, it's officially the end of my life doorman. Although I leave with a bitter taste, and despite some moments a little less clean than the profession demands, This is a profession that throughout my career will be remained as honorable as rewarding for me. Porter, this probably is not the typical business when we think of the left, whether radical or union, but it was mine. Over the years I have fed my Facebook news feed of anecdotes that punctuated my evenings with some delay and following Vanessa and Manu pressures (Thank you!), I send them here in a text which I hope the original mid-status, Mid-memory, will not come too harmful to the fluidity of reading.


My very first job security was in any holiday season around 2009-2010. Agent in a Hi-Fi Center. If standing 12 hours a day was something a bit annoying, the real alienation was really having Shreck 3 played on loop 44 screens of brands and sizes. "I have never read Marx's capital, but I have the Capital marks all over me ". And I, including Bill, and I dont.


It was two or three years later I made the leap to the world of bars. For bum down high floor to blow G.I-Jo, Marvel Comic, punks shows and bar output battles that I was, be hired as a porter at the Coop Café Chaos had been a great source of pride. Unemployed and a little on the brush, I went to see the manager to ask if he wanted a doorman. Probably in contrast with my big sister a lot more than I bum, I managed to go for a good conciliator and he referred me to the head doorman who agreed to take me, my 5 feet 9, my 165 lbs wet and me if I could get the. A deep breath and a headlock later, ask and you shall receive. I was engaged. It was a strange year, but a good year. Helping kids and kids less-cultural scenes against keeping the main bar that welcomed them to stay clean by limiting police intervention was something a bit special, but they spoke the same language. Somewhere between the end perfume Robine Sweat #5 punk of Maniks Monday and olfactory attack overflow crowd Herbal Essence of metal Thursdays, there was a common understanding of what it was the respect of a place and its staff. incidentally, because the pay was going down due to financial problems instead, but seriously after being targeted by neo-Nazis in lack of thrills, it is with great regret that I had to resign, however after a year and end this adventure in the heart of Night Life from downtown.


It was no less a shock when a few years later I landed in the quaint door frame of a small bon chic bar, right kind of gentrified northern district of the island and its clientele of young professionals such frica.


They are between 25 and 35 years, tailored navy blue suits to go with their haircuts Playboy. Their hands are as clean as what their cheeks are pink and they are not talking with humor and admiration of various crosses their tanks vendors such friends are doing to put money in the pockets on the back customers they are trying to calculate the profit margin they will next year or the best angle of approach to tumble Secretary.


Ladies and gentlemen, all that was most ugly in this world was standing there in front of me, on my street corner, smoking too expensive tops and snorting the powder they would probably have to pay more expensive.


Still relatively wealthy, but a little more variety at a glance, I am still attached to a portion of this clientele. Somewhere between nicks artists, les hipsters, the tourists, the Plateau French, showers Laval and proles aspiring to social uplift, There was something for everyone! Considered the trash bar area with several I always thought I had to basically be a rich kid to find that the ultimate trasherie it was a powder key on the side of the lane and a fast one in The bathroom (or vice versa). One of these four will be necessary and that they descend from their ivory tower to meet with the real world. Note, the rich kids that also happen to be lost at the bottom of their nostrils. They have more ways to get by you and me, their evil to be something a bit superficial when compared to what was going down the slope in the alley of Chaos, but they are not the prettiest to look at when it happens to them.


It is an evening in November, a customer just happened, it had been three months since she had not come. She tries to stop coke. 15 minutes after his arrival, one of his friends had already given him a baggies. consumption requires, it is not bloody remember my name, but seems it I have the mouth of someone who has just confide or seek advice. I would have liked it to find cool words, but I have found nothing better than to suggest him to go home to what pajamas before Netflix and jump on a Friday night about us all is to look 50 and last 50 coming. In an hour or two, his eyes will become a bit empty, his jaw will tighten and she will start to drool the same empty phrases. She'll wake up tomorrow morning after said it was just tonight, return to 0 to addiction, 50$ less in the pockets, and two or three guilt. Is that without it lacks something in the evening. A large vacuum.

I open the door to the dealer. He wishes me a good evening, I return the favor.


In a bar everyone plays some role. The bartender is your friend, to you and 150 other The waitress is cute you, not your name is not interested. I'll put you out if you consume, but I know the first name of all dealers.


Moreover, do not get mad, customers also play a role. Already it shows the clothes that people put. I have no particular opinion on the aesthetics of high-heeled sandal, but if the purpose of the evening is to engage in a competition shooters, I always suggest the boot of walking or running shoe. (porter profession, ascending shoemaker, tend not fashion designer.). Ensuite, there report to work. Because it must really be a lawyer or an architect to think that yelling frantically bouncer to the ears that advocate or architect turns automatic an injustice for pissing on the terrace or insult another customer about sexual orientation. Finally, there are lifestyle, as hot customer stiff bar, a little problematic. Category : I was a guy in 20 years, I have today 50 and not only life did not miss me, but in addition the tavern where I was going to become a trendy bar or I'm not beautiful enough to be welcome in the eyes of the manager.

Me: I apologize for my boyfriend, going to have to come with me, the evening is over.

Client: *look around to be sure that people see us * Ok ok, but I can you join you in 2 minutes? I do not want the world to see I'm getting out.


I swear, there are conversations that have done more harm to my little porter heart that many of the punches that my angel face received.


Let there be no mistake, Also a slight shift in terms of social class, I have enjoyed working with this last job as all the others before. All other except security in a Hi-Fi Center Christmas. Staying up, still for 12 hours I can do it, but before Shreck 3 on repeat displayed in 43 screens of different shapes and sizes, it's just torture. But I loved the ending partys political science session, as punks shows Monday night, through the first Word Up Battle or the victories of the amateur team Rugby. Thursdays rainy evenings when there are a handful of lost souls who come to drink their loneliness. The Saint John or patriotic pride equaled the amount of vomit in the gutter. just cross side of the day Love of year, Extra testosterone as the little guy who puts a Halloween mask. I enjoyed every moment.


I got to thinking tequila-soaked beads: "I think it's the cellar bar fights. As long as you beat me I want to do something real. Tse as fight for my homeland. Something intellectual anything. "I've mostly been partners in gold and staff, when he does not question your decision to leave a customer was always funny. Most regulars with good humor saved I do not know how many of my evenings some trouble. And it was always a pleasure to make sure the regulars, as the neighborhood, have a good time. I still probably would if it had been an accumulation of fatigue and lack of pathological respect of senior management from the first to last day. Because we will tell, the only thing that is more harmful than working night, it is the work itself.


Thank you to everyone who made the last few years, a nice experience. No hard feelings to clients that I went out to kick in the ass. Do not take your car starting siouplait, one at a time in the bathroom and not piss on the tree I said. This is my Last call.


Cheers guys!




Photo credit:


The tragedy of Lac-Mégantic is not over

At the time of this writing, an oil-filled wagon train can still be parked up the coast in Nantes, the coast where the train is gone, slope considered particularly steep in the railway environment. The regulations permit. As it allowed the company to run the train with one employee.

Furthermore, we still don't have a bypass, although the federal government has committed to building one before his election. The trial of MMA employees brought the matter to the fore and the government finally relaunched its project, after a long silence. Let's say it was time!

As you understand, trains still run right through the city center. A desert city center with just a few new modern buildings, far from the sometimes centenary architecture of the old city center, which was still standing after the derailment. Only the ugliest building remains, that of the communication company, a company that has a lot of money. The old inn with a splendid architecture which had just enlarged the year before the derailment and which had hosted my first evenings in a bar with my friends is no longer. He had survived the disaster and was even further away than the communications company building. It was nevertheless demolished, like the rest of the city center. This city center should not have been demolished after the derailment, not at this point. We don't know exactly what happened with the city. We did not know what would happen with the land of our family home burned for more than a year because of the confusion with the city.

That’s how we ended up with a new city center right next to ground zero, a mini dix30 as it is not affectionately called at all in the region. We don't really know where it comes from as a shitty idea. Hello citizen discussion eh! Speaking of citizens, the latter did not wait for any authorization to organize. We will think of the Coalition of citizens and organizations committed to railway safety in Lac-Mégantic which, since its creation, has demanded a bypass and a commission of inquiry. We will think of this engineer, Mr. Bellefleur who went himself to inspect the railroad tracks in the vicinity of the city and was tapped on the fingers by the order of engineers for wanting to learn more and to expose his discoveries on rail safety more that failing in her own community.

The Lac-Mégantic tragedy is therefore not over. It continued long after the derailment, during the destruction of our city center, left in the hands of contractors rather than those of the general public. She continued with the suicide of this young firefighter from 25 years old who had discovered the body of his girlfriend in the rubble. It continues with the train derailment in Hochelaga in the fall 2015 and the one in downtown Sherbrooke in the spring 2017. At least, these trains did not explode.

It is the tragedy of a society and its economic model that puts quantity before quality. An economic model serving the whims of the big bosses of finance and fossil fuels to the detriment of the population. We are not fools, we know that the real leaders are at the top of the companies and in government too soft with these. Things would be different if employees had a say in safety rules. But when are employees listened to by their employer?

Indeed, what would be the first reflex of a business managed directly by members of the community? By the people who work in it, know how to build, know their machinery, invest their workplaces and above all, are most likely to know how to give meaning to this work done? I frankly doubt that it would be to think of how to hide the profit of their company in tax havens in order to avoid the taxes, that it must be said, fund our schools, our hospitals, our public services and the social safety net. I doubt it would be to make the cheapest viaducts that fall on us. I doubt that it is to maintain our dependence on fossil fuels that endanger our lifestyles and places.

Non, maybe i'm naive, but I think the first reflexes would be to think how to be the most useful to society by meeting its needs. It would be to create efficient infrastructure, thought to be used by one's own community and oneself therefore goodbye the cheap. It would be like thinking how not to pass trains filled with dangerous products in the middle of residential areas.

Who is afraid to democratize their workplace and their neighborhood? And especially, who is afraid that we will take over the wage-earning world as workers?




Photo credit: photo of the author


The absurdity of the world: The use of technology

In the context of this chronicle of’Live Action I decided to talk to you about technological progress. It’s a bit related to everything we hear about the benefits of the famous participatory economy. In any case, benefits for employers and the elite who governs us. I decided to go there with a philosophical question today and ask you the following question : "Is our society progressing ? Is humanity progressing ? ». At first glance, we all want to answer "Well yes, we are now able to go to the moon, to cure cancer, we have hybrid vehicles ”. But if you scratch a little and decide to go a little further, is technological progress necessarily progress for humanity as a whole ? Because we born will not lie, who, in our society, has the technology ? Before it hits Wal-Mart shelves as a consumer product, who benefits from this technology ? The answer is very simple, she belongs to the wealthy class, the one who sends us memos at our workplaces to say that there will be less services for employees, the one who prefers to have a machine to replace cashiers in your grocery store or at McDonalds around the corner. Obviously for them, technological progress is useful : Ways to Cut Production Costs Are Found. Short, technology will always benefit first and foremost the wealthy and thex bourgeois of our society. You could call it class progress.

Offer a useful service or get rich?

If we start from the base, according to you, what is the purpose of a good capitalist ? Offer a quality service or product useful to humanity ? Offer quality jobs to its employees ? Non… The first goal of a capitalist is to get rich, to get rich, to fill your pockets. Based on this principle, obviously, his primary goal will be to cut his business expenses. By a strange coincidence, one of the main expenses of any business is workforce or if you prefer Newspeak : Human resources. If we can cut employees and replace them with robots, cheaper computers or other machines, what do you think the capitalist is going to want to do ? Ask the question, it's a bit respond… So, who benefits from technology in our wonderful system ? To the boss who saves production costs or to the employee who will be put in unemployment, because replaced by a robot ? It's the same principle as when a boss pays you for a cell phone, especially don't think he does it for your well-being : he knows very well that like that, you will be reachable 24 hours a day 24 and that, it suits him a lot more. It's the same with the so-called participatory economy like Uber and AirBnB. If we can get around the laws in force and save money by saying it's participatory, any capitalist will jump at the chance. Who will benefit ? To the drivers of taxi who pay their licence to do the same job as an Uber ? To the neighbors of AirBnB who will see their rent increase because its block has almost become a hotel ? Sure, non, only to the people who are going to get rich with these new technologies. Sure, if all these technologies belonged to the working class, you could say that humanity is progressing, that it’s progress for everyone to replace an ultra repetitive task with robots and thus, everyone has less work to do. But unfortunately, this is not how our society works.

Consumption and environment

A good capitalist, to get even richer, must always produce more and expand its market. How good, elite-funded studies and research are constantly trying to try to produce more and at a lower cost. This is where we come the phenomenon of overproduction. Since I am young, we are taught virtuously that we must not overconsume for the good of the planet. But what is the cause of this overconsumption ? Sure, it is the overproduction of the capitalists. They produce all kinds of kids who are worthless and who have no use in order to always get rich. Do you think the ownerstole of Dollarama has in mind the well-being of the planet when it fill his cheap junk shelves which he knows very well that the lifespan does not exceed 6 month ? Of course not, he only thinks ofx juicy profits that he will be able to put in the pockets and those of the other shareholders and that's it. Meanwhile, we blame the consumer, but we never don't blame the producer, the capitalist behind useless objects like fidget spinners. It’s always the buyer (so generally the working class) the problem and not the one who sells and markets shit products. Technology allows us to produce more at the expense of resources, produce more poor quality products, for one purpose : the one to enrich the employers. So I ask the question again, who benefits from technology ?

A question of Marketing

To sell all these useless kids, the capitalist invented a new science : Marketing. Today, universities are overflowing with research chairs whose aim is to deepen this pseudoscience that we could define by this expression : "The art of creating an artificial need in the mind of the consumer in order to make him buy something". Therefore, it makes our company overflowing with advertising everywhere to sell us something : on TV, in the newspapers, on the radio, in the streets, in the toilet, on our phones, on the Internet, at school, the job, etc. We create images of Mark to say that such a company is ethical because it gives money to the cause of sick children or to that of mental health. Bell cause for cause, what does that tell you ? The company that crunched at the door full of operators in Montreal to relocate its services at a lower cost. What a beautiful ethical company. All thanks to marketing. All that energy spent trying to sell junk like a vulgar peddler. Imagine if this research was more about creating better behavior in humans. We could in particular align research on issues like eliminating the culture of rape or racism. But no, we prefer to sell you auto insurance or an RRSP, it pays more for the capitalist. That brings me to a question : Who Benefits from Advances in Marketing ?

Sure, overproducing and inventing false needs, it is not yet enough to sufficiently enrich our good capitalist leaders. So they used technology to invent another concept : the one planned obsolescence. Does that remind you of something ? Planned obsolescence, is when a capitalist designs a consumer product to make sure it breaks after a certain time. Like that, well, no choice to buy another. If not, how is it explained that my parents have a fridge that dates from 40 years and that I never could in keep a nine over five ? This must be technological progress, right ? Seriously, technology has never been so advanced and we are led to believe that our fridges, our cars, our bulbs and most of the products we have now last less ? Yet this is what the capitalists do. Let's put ourselves in the shoes of the owner of the company Frigidaire and think for a moment. Yeah, I know, it’s not the most enjoyable is it… So, you are shareholders of the company Frigidaire, what is best for you : 1- Produce good quality refrigerators that will last a minimum 20 years or 2- Producing a lower quality refrigerator, which will therefore cost you less to produce, and that this one has a lifespan of 8 years ? You think, which will bring you more money ? The first one you will sell only once in 20 years or the one that you will be able to sell once and that after eight years, you will be able to resell a second ? Is it a conspiracy theory to think that the capitalists can see things as the number choice 2 ? This brings me to ask the question again : Whose profite technological progress ?

Big Brother and safe drift

Which brings me to safety technologies. Because by creating social inequalities like the capitalists do, it forces them to develop all kinds of technologies to monitor their employees or the plebs in general or even control the movements of revolt of those they crush. This is why we are witnessing a technological boom in the security technology world.. Surveillance cameras to avoid being robbed, or better yet, to be able to monitor its employees remotely. Anti-theft systems in stores. Alarm systems everywhere. Nuclear weapons to protect its privileges against the interests of other countries. Paramilitary police to intimidate any movement of revolt. Technology computer science in order to track people's consumption habits. Fleas that can be embedded under the skin of employees. The list is extremely long, but the conclusion remains the same. Who benefits from all these technological developments, if it’s only capitalists, to the rich and the bourgeois of our society. Our society will progress the day when these technologies will belong to the people and will serve the interests of all and not only the interests of a privileged few. Technology Will Be Useful Once In The Hands Of The Working Class, but for now, she only to contribute to increase the balance of power of the dominant class at the bottom of the pyramid.

Eric Sedition


Photo credit:

A union to reframe the conflict

I'm sitting in the dust at the door of the warehouse loading dock in which I work, feet dangling outside, steep sick of my week, watching backyard full of cigarette butts and plastic pieces flying in the wind and that will end up in water, somewhere, to reduce our life expectancy to support a self-destructive system. I took me a while only break this afternoon. To be honest, I did not often takes; I prefer to take an hour rather than half an hour for dinner or go 10 minutes before the end of the story day to arrive early at home, but I'm in there ... tabarnaque, and there I had a little breakdown.

What happened ? What pisses me off ? Hmm ... it would be complicated to simply explain, but if I wanted to try to summarize the, I would say that I can see over the lack of culture of solidarity and democracy of our society is that my job (and almost all other, even those that are unionized by "traditional" unions), it's a pain in the ass constant ! It is an endless series of problems that never manages to settle for the simple reason that we can not think outside the box ! I look forward to the one returned in the head once and for all, everyone together : it absolutely useless to try to improve our working conditions if not take control of the company to complete, and that, almost nobody, even traditional unions, seems to understand !

However, for someone who, like me, constantly working in direct democracy outside his job and who knows how that changes the whole way to settle (or rather avoid) all conflicts that cause hierarchy, it is a simple fact : As long we're going to struggle to increase our power against the boss (or in the form, but let's focus on the boss today) rather than to abolish, we will continually trying to divide us !

What I mean by that ? I give you two reasons why I went outside ventilate, you've probably seen you so your job, and you will understand everything :


The conflict overtime

In my work that works very seasonally, my boss used until recently the operation of the labor code called "the spread of hours" of paying all their employees 40 hours per week, they have worked 15 or 50, in order to, they said, "They ensure a steady income", then, to accumulate their extra time and pay them single hourly rate (rather than rate 1.5) six months or paid vacation. Without wishing to dwell on the details, this maneuver I found unlawful because the company I work for meet any of the criteria necessary to do, meant that, on the 100 at 200 hours of overtime they accumulated individually by six months, we had the equivalent of flying 50 at 100 working hours, either 750 at 2500 $ each !

When I started this fight alone, not having had the time to organize my colleagues because of a time constraint, their lack of awareness of the need to take control of the company is that they have quickly leveled in two positions that clash and there are still : The first, adopted primarily by young people - and strongly influenced by the intervention of Boss while on holiday - is that if we go ahead with the idea of ​​forcing the company to meet labor standards, it will hire additional staff to avoid having to pay us extra time to rate 1.5 and short, we can do more overtime, some need to get to the end. It is better, according to these colleagues-there anyway, work overtime single rate than not do at all (What a wage increase could very well do the job too but ... one thing at a time).

The other position, adopted mainly by fathers better paid and busier than they, is applauding the idea that despite the loss of potential earnings that decreased our hours may incur, we will finally be able to live a little and take care of our families, and that's exactly what everyone is almost needed.

But there, is shit ! Everyone is divided ! And while the two side clash and, if not think outside the context in which "was boss" and where "employees do not control the company from A to Z", absolutely right, I know very well (and I try to make them understand) that if we, the workers, all decisions were taken together, sans boss, we would not even have this debate here insolvent !

Think about it : Already, we would have much more income to the base because we would have no astronomical salaries bosses pay, Moreover, one could also ourselves reach an agreement that ensures that those who want to work more could do so and those who want to work less could do it too. It is even us who would control how many employees we engage or not ! It would fully, control on overtime, and fathers can see their children and spouse-es while young could work like crazy and buy a house, pay for their education or making the rounds of all the festivals in Quebec if it enchants. It sounds like you are not a solution for everyone that ?!?

But no ... as not take power, neither option is currently good for everyone, and during that time, everyone pisses, divides itself, and my boss continue to roll with the chariots 100 000 $ we pay them.

The "Yes-mans» against the "Slackers»

Because there is only one person (myself) in the warehouse of a company in which he could easily have three, the company's warehouse for which I work is continuously the position neck, that is to say one in which he clearly lacks staff, forcing everyone to regularly interrupt his work to come give me a hand even if they themselves are also kept busy. Is repeated every day, nonstop, and for months : you have to hire one more person in the warehouse because I always have to run and cut corners to reach the end of the day and it generates lots of errors and problems that make life miserable for everyone, except my boss, of course.

Here again, only because we are trying to solve the problem other than taking control of the company from A to Z, two opposing views, divide us, and make the unbearable work environment : The first is that, while actively asking our employers to hire an additional person until they find (but they do not because they have a salary of more pay), one must "work as a team and help each other", and so, when a position is overwhelmed, we must not abandon our or our colleague(s) only(s) and leave our work at the end of the day without giving him a hand. Let's, it's a great mentality, solidarity ! But as part of a job in a workplace where there is no 100 % power, it is rather a mentality yes-man or larbin. This is nothing more than to kiss his slavery to want to be exploited more for the same salary in exchange for "pride in being hard-working guy", and it is a hosts of shit mentality in that context !

In the reverse, the second (very individualistic, many corporatist unions adopt, and that costs a fortune grievances) is that we should not play the game bosses by helping each other or by working harder if the problem is, originally, that lack of staff, because no matter how much work we will do, we will earn the same salary, and short, the more we will work, the more you will actually use, So we stick to our job and it ends there. I would call this mentality then that of slacker. But the problem with it, This is what must be realistic and realize that, as it is still capitalism that I know, the job must be done a day or another if we want the company continues to roll and generate income, and that if we simply make the minimum all the time, all the money, beautiful condition, holiday weeks, etc, we could go looking through our unionism, where he lost the !

Put another way, while being slackers, we diminish our hourly output, so, even if we fight fiercely for our excellent wages by unions, we will need to work more hours to get to finally consecrate our camp with us at the end of the day, or more years before they can finally take our retraire, and more, allowed our single-es overworked colleagues while you listen to YouTube videos rather than going to help or go home, because we want to do our 40h, but by doing as little as possible.

It, when it is YOU poor overloaded moron for six months, I can tell ... it makes you want to freak as I am trying to do then dret ! Short, in a hierarchical framework, this shit is as much a mindset as that of yes-mans, at the end.

So if we look at it from afar, without considering the option to take full control of the company and dismiss boss, we realize that on the one hand, work hard is not good, and secondly, do not work hard either, this is not good, and short, no matter what we do, c'est-à-dire qu'on soit of a extreme to the other, or even in the center, was ALWAYS a mentality of shit. This is ridiculous eh ?

Well that's why he must stop fooling around and divide between yes-mans and the slackers, and only take total control of the site to appropriate 100% revenues (or rather 100% the power to appropriate the). It should blow up in our faces it seems : The day the money that wins or loses our workplace will be ours, nobody will be exploited, but especially, nobody will have the incentives to do as little as possible and will put his colleagues in trouble by doing. And if you look even further, the day when all the whole economy will be finally controlled by workers, and collectivized, we will not even have to give trouble to compete and to self-operate to prevent competitors make us close.



As my two examples show, how we see the problems at work (and society, as well), it is often in "framing" things within a necessarily hierarchical world, and it limits our ability to see the problem itself well ... it is often PRECISELY hierarchy. It is important to take it back there! You really think that a horizontal dynamic, direct democracy, would be, and what would change in our close relations, our block, our neighborhood, our workplace, our region, and the relationship between all the different parts of the world, if not, we always turn around in circles, repeating endlessly the same mistakes and trying the same loop "solutions".

We need to get into the habit, the reflex, think about it every day, in every conflict, in each issue that involves somewhere people experiencing hierarchy, and I swear that we will soon collectively understand this analogy a bit simplistic here, I use all the time, but that sums up the stuff anyway, which is that "while the reformists are wondering whether to use a large low-flow pipe or a small broadband pipe to fill the pool leaking, the anticapitalist, we, proposed to plug the leak !»

it plugs, this leak out !




*The absence of constant feminine endings is not an error or failure; rather it reflects the sad reality that there is no woman in my workplace now, and it is not a coincidence, but it will be the subject of another text.


Photo credit: led-lighting-product