Le Syndicat Industriel des Travailleurs et Travailleuses vous invite au Rassemblement dans le cadre de la semaine nationale des Chômeurs et Chômeuses, mercredi, le 1er Novembre. Hereby, nous endossons l’appel du MASSE et de ses allìés à une mobilisation pour une rèforme de l’assurance-chômage.
Dans le cadre de la Semaine nationale des chômeurs et des chômeuses, le Mouvement autonome et solidaire des sans-emploi (MASSE) et ses alliés, dont l’Alliance interprovinciale pour l’assurance-emploi, vous invitent à un rassemblement devant le bureau de circonscription de Justin Trudeau à Montréal.
Le but est de lancer un message clair au premier ministre : nous ne pouvons plus attendre ! Depuis trop longtemps, vos mensonges continuent de maintenir les chômeurs et les chômeuses dans l’insécurité!
Le gouvernement ne peut plus se permettre de repousser la réforme de l’assurance-chômage. Nous exigeons dès maintenant un régime accessible, juste, universel et non discriminatoire.
Trop longtemps à attendre la réforme de l’assurance-chômage : Ça commence à sentir la pomme pourrie!
An organizer and a worker describe a direct action campaign that reaped great victories and then collapsed for lack of a solid foundation.
Anyone who has already taken the organizational training 101 You ITS-IWW (OT101) will be familiar with the organization pyramid shared below. If you've never seen it or need your memory refreshed, she goes as follows: A narrow point of “direct actions” is laid on a broader level of “democracy in the workplace” (for example, meetings), himself laid on an even broader floor of “colleague relations” (built through face-to-face discussions) ultimately resting on a foundation of “knowledge of one’s workplace” (who works there, how are the places divided, etc).
This pyramid is sometimes opposed to another going “from the bottom up” and in which a few highly motivated workers start taking direct action before (or instead) to build a solid organizational base.
There are several reasons why this other pyramid can be attractive: One is that for many workers who do not trust their persuasive skills or the ability of their colleagues to help them organize their workplace, concrete and successful direct action seems like good evidence to show their colleagues. that “collective action, it works !». Another is that building a well-established committee takes a lot of work., often boring, while the rapid recourse to direct action is exciting and sometimes leads to the gains that were the reasons for wanting to organize in the first place.
In return, an obvious reason to oppose this method is that direct action is likely to fail if there is not an organization behind to support the small group (what, after all, is the reason why it is necessary to organize at the beginning). This is a very good observation. However, there is another problem, much deeper still, which is that even if the action(s) works, without the rest of the pyramid, there is little to do to use this or these actions to create a sustainable solidarity or organization, and without them, all gains are likely to be very short-lived. Their duration will ultimately depend much more on the will of the bosses to withdraw them or not than on the strength of the organization to maintain them..
To illustrate this point, I would like to share with you an example from an organizing campaign that I supported and written by the organizer himself:
I inadvertently used the bottom-up pyramid model when I was a “baby organizer” working on her first campaign. I was relatively new to the IWW and although I had attended a few trainings on how to have organizing conversations and read a few books, I had not yet been able to do an organization training 101.
The company I worked for was a family business in which the different members of the family each had their own department as an independent company despite occupying the same building.. Instead of seeing this structure for what it was, i.e. an attempt to separate employees, I rather perceived my department as being the totality of the company for which I worked. So I started having one-on-one conversations with my co-workers who I felt were the most receptive and receptive to organizing our middle.. Although I had a general idea of the social cartography of my environment, I had not thoroughly analyzed the social and influence relationships before starting.
I left the seasonal aspect of the business, the fact that it closes every winter, blind my judgment and justify a fast-track approach for this organizing campaign. So I managed to get three of my six colleagues together to do a “march on the bosson a few key issues including hours and wages. I didn't know the IWW taught a specific walkthrough for this tactic in OT101, but we were lucky and my boss's response didn't work. We had unknowingly proceeded relatively as the training suggested., for example by making specific requests and giving a deadline. However, during this march on the boss, one of my co-workers raised issues that I was unaware of because I had not taken the time to speak to her adequately. Alas, none of them have been solved.
Nevertheless, a few days after our march on the boss, we have been successful on several important demands: First, everyone except the foreman got a raise. Secondly, the workers had control of the schedule that they were able to do without constraint from the owner or the foreman, except for his own schedule. Thirdly, we had complained that employees were cut off before the end of their day and that they often missed hours and this practice stopped. Finally, we wanted a feedback on the previous summer's "dollar days" program that had lost us sales and we got it.
In the moment, I was in ecstasy! I proudly recounted our successes at the next meeting of the organizing committee of my local branch., then the questions began to tumble : “What exact questions did you ask your colleagues during one-on-one meetings? What did they say ?Since I hadn't bothered to take detailed notes, I was not able to give exact answers, so I couldn't bring back much of what I had learned to the rest of the group. “Did during the march on the boss you did X, Y and Z, as we were taught ?"I just didn't know we had an optimal path forward for this tactic..
As the season drew to a close, the campaign gradually dismantled. I understood that one of the three participants had sexually harassed the others throughout the summer. That the boss had installed new security cameras and that had a chilling effect on our campaign. That he told everyone working under the table that he should now declare their wages. That he himself had met single people who were then suspicious of us. He finally accused me of wanting to create a union and threatened me.
Meanwhile, realizing my mistakes, I had tried to collect contacts from people I knew and to have one-on-one meetings with employees from other departments.. Sadly, the cat was out of the bag and my colleague member of the organizing committee best placed to talk to them (because she had already worked in these departments) was now far too intimidated to take a chance.
I ended up having to move and I didn't come back for the following season. Another person I had organized could not return either due to health issues. Another came back and kept her raise but no longer wanted to organize the business. I had no other contacts to keep this campaign alive and it died.
With hindsight, I can identify the key factors that made me choose to go too fast in this campaign.
Lesson learned: No to adventurism !
I wanted to accomplish something before the season ended because I wasn't sure I wanted to come back the following year. I finally understood that it is better to organize a job in which you plan to stay for a few years because you will not be tempted to do things too quickly. We must remember that the reason for which we organize ourselves is to make our job a work environment in which we will want to stay and which we will hold on to and that, even if we can't stay there, that's not a good reason to try to go too fast. It is better to start or even complete the physical and social mapping of our workplace, to have information on the employment process and then to find someone to replace us and continue where we left off, whether it is an internal person or a “salt».
I was also anxious to prove my worth to other members of the branch and I believed that deviating from the course of action was necessary because of the particularities of my work environment.. In reality, if we want to impress people in the IWW more broadly, building a sustainable and winning committee will accomplish much more than anything else, but especially, the only people we should really want to prove anything to are our co-workers. Union organizing is a risky business and our colleagues deserve an organizer who is dedicated to sticking to best practices and using methods that have proven themselves over time.. Almost everyone believes their workplace is unique, and indeed almost everyone seems to have unique conditions that justify deviating from the process., but every time someone does, the same problems occur.
I had a very adventurous vision of union action. I thought it would be great to make a march on the boss, everyone stop working, do a sit-in or whatever other action, then get earnings and honestly, it was ! But we must remember that we cannot organize ourselves alone.. We have a duty to integrate our colleagues and follow the strategy with the greatest probability of building a sustainable committee capable of improving our working conditions in the long term.. Participating in direct actions is one of the most exhilarating experiences in the world, but that's not why we do it. We do it to create a lasting counterforce on the floor. Rushing into direct action before you have created a solid foundation is not the way to go..
What if spontaneous direct action was bound to happen, whether we participate or not ?
Sometimes, and especially in a "hot shop», a group of workers may decide to confront their supervisors or stop working, slowing down or complaining about unreasonable orders from bosses in a way that affects the business. If sufficient organizational capacity has not yet been created to conduct direct action responsibly, we probably don't have enough either to stop/redirect one that could go wrong.
In such a situation, our best option is often to join the action and offer the best of our support and leadership to ensure that the action is successful while minimizing the risks to our colleagues. This kind of situation can get carried away very quickly and it is very likely that we only have time to discern who is the person with the most influence on the group and ask them a few key questions such as: “What should the boss be asked to do/change/stop ? How long do we give him to do what we ask him to do? ? Who else might want to join this action ? Are we talking to the right supervisor? ? Does he or she have the power to do what is asked of him or her? ? Who else should be part of this conversation ? What do we do if one, one or all of us are fired ? What do we do if he targets one of us as the leader? ?
Morgan M takes a look at the wave of strikes in Italy in light of the coronavirus pandemic and government and industry responses, interviewing an activist firefighter in a local grassroots union. Image: Workers at TNT FedEx facilities in Genoa and Bologna on strike 7 April for safer conditions.
When COVID-19 hit Italy, the government tried to isolate people while letting the economy roll. As the government banned gatherings and stressed the importance of isolation, he was also pushing workers to keep showing up for work, whatever the conditions. This contradiction caused a wave of wildcat strikes across the country.
In Italy, Labor is generally negotiated at two levels: sectoral agreements setting industry standards and specific agreements set for a particular company.
There are three major trade union confederations (like the CSN, the FTQ, and the CSQ) as well as two small right-wing confederations. The three major confederations are the CGIL, which is the largest and affiliated with the Communist Party ; the ICFTU which was a Christian democrat ; and the UIL which was affiliated with the Socialist Party.
On a national level, the union confederations negotiate with theConfindustri, which represents employers and government in a kind of tripartite social partnership.
At the company level, there are “work councils” which represent the workers. All unions that have the support of more than 5% of employees (there is no Rand formula like in Canada) can participate in the council. There are two types of councils where the strength of the union depends on the breadth of membership within the company. The two types differ depending on whether unions appoint shop stewards or employees elect them..
in parallel, there are the Cobas unions – theCOmoths of theBASe (union). There are many Cobas unions, ranging from the very small to those who are between 40 and 50 000 members. They operate similarly to the Industrial Workers Union-IWW in North America., i.e. organized inside and outside the legal structure of work. SI Cobas has drawn attention for being able to organize strikes in the logistics sector. SI Cobas will often strike until the end (until a resolution is reached) as opposed to limited strike, which is a more common tactic.
Sadly, the different Cobas union leaderships often see each other as rivals and do not strike together.
I had the chance to interview Mariopaolo, a firefighter and grassroots activist of the Cobas union "Unione Sindacale Di Base" (USB), about the strikes that took place there. He's been working there for a few years., fighting for USB to stay out of national agreements in order to maintain its freedom to strike. He is also active in a coordination of grassroots Cobas activists, encouraging unity of action between the different Cobas unions.
When the pandemic broke, Italy has started isolating individuals in the north of the country. Can you explain the reaction of the working class to the limitation of workers' actions ?
In Italy, as in most countries – especially those where capitalism is old – the working class has for years been marked by a general passivity.
In this general passivity, a government deciding to limit the freedom of action of unions is not seen by most workers as a problem. Indeed, if we are no longer used to using a protest tool (strikes, assemblies, stakes), when it is taken away from us, we only notice it in principle: in the facts, we no longer notice his absence.
However, there were exceptions. Friday 4 mars, ArcelorMittal – the largest steelmaker in the world, owner of both Bethlehem and Republic Steel in the United States – has reached an agreement with the government over redundancy plans and dismissals at its steel mills in Italy. At the Genoa steelworks, the FIOM-CGIL union – the largest union for metalworkers and autoworkers in Italy – called a factory meeting on 9 mars, what they can do at any time for union matters. ArcelorMittal banned the meeting citing the social isolation decree the government issued that day. The FIOM union at the steel plant replied that it would declare a strike and hold a meeting outside the plant. The next days, however, the spread of the epidemic has worsened considerably, which led to the dismissal of the assemblies.
However, it should be noted that neither the government decree of 4 March nor subsequent decrees banned strikes. Therefore, for fear of contagion, that is, to defend their own health, workers went on strike in many factories over the next few days.
Has the government made it compulsory to work in isolation areas ?
The government did not stop essential activities before the 23 mars (we will come back to this later). The first cases were discovered 21 February in 10 small towns of a few thousand inhabitants in the province of Lodi (in Lombardy, south of Milan) and in a small town in the Veneto region. The government closed these 11 municipalities as “red zones”, from which no one could enter or leave. As these were small municipalities, it was difficult for the companies located there to continue production because a more or less significant part of their staff lived in other municipalities ; and these workers could therefore no longer access their jobs in the red zone. It should also be noted that these companies no longer had access to the raw materials and semi-finished products necessary for production..
However, the situation has changed 9 mars, when the government created a much larger red zone, which included the entire region of Lombardy and 14 provinces of other regions.
Thereby, the government has extended its control over the movement of people and the limitation of demonstrations, meetings and gatherings in a third of the national territory. But since no production shutdown had been announced, the companies of 11 red areas of the original municipality were able to resume production.
The same thing happened on 11 mars, when the government extended the red zone to the entire national territory.
These measures to extend restrictions on movement and assembly have begun to worry workers, which had the effect of causing them to go on strike in many factories.
Strikes spread across the country. It should be noted that the latter were not instigated by the leaders of the regime's unions. (CGIL, CISL, UIL – the trade union centers that sign the national agreements), which had not happened in Italy for many years.
The 14 mars, in front of this situation, the trade unions of the regime have signed an agreement with the government and the largest organization of Italian industrialists (the Confindustria) aimed not at stopping non-essential production, but rather to guarantee safety measures for workers.
Was there a legal way to protect yourself at work?
Government decrees have established mandatory measures to mitigate the risk of contagion. In several cases, unions have used these legal provisions to impose temporary layoffs on employers pending the implementation of these measures, as provided for in the protocol of the 14 mars.
Where unions and companies failed to reach an agreement on temporary layoffs, strikes were organized. In some cases, the unions said they were not strikes but “abstentions from work”. It goes without saying that a strike is nothing but collective abstention from work.. However, this distinction was probably used by unions – and workers – in the hope that unemployment benefits would be paid, as provided by government decrees.
How did the wave of strikes start? Were they spontaneous? From Cobas Unions? From inside the CGIL?
The strikes began to multiply when the severity of the epidemic became apparent. They are also the product of escalating government measures, of 21 February 11 mars.
We need to clarify what a “spontaneous strike” is. Certainly, workers exerted pressure to strike. In many cases, they have found the support of factory representatives [union delegates] regime unions, who did not oppose the strikes. Some of the regime's regional trade union structures have declared general strikes. This was the case of the IMF (CGIL- automotive and metallurgy) in Lombardy, in Trentino and Turin; and the houses of the FILCAMS-CGIL-CGIL (the trade union CGIL, services and tourism) in Genoa.
These are the national leaders of the confederations – the CGIL, the CISL and the UIL – who did not organize the strike movement in order to stop non-essential activities on full pay. They did not call for a multi-sector national general strike and the 14 March – when the epidemic had already shown its full gravity and caused thousands of victims in northern Italy – they signed the aforementioned protocol.
Base unions – SI Cobas, USB, CUB, ADL Cobas – have called for national strikes in certain industries and, the 25 mars, USB called for a strike in all industries, except for essential workers.
However, these unions do not have the strength to promote real general strikes, even within corporate industries, with the exception of SI Cobas, located in logistics. Even after the 8 and 11 mars (with the extension of the red zone first to the whole of Lombardy and then to the whole country) and the multiplication of strikes which resulted, national strikes by Cobas unions failed to involve a significant portion of workers. This is due to the fact that the trade unions of the regime – although supporting the strikes that took place at the corporate and regional level – never try to unify the strikes at the national level.. Furthermore, even in this situation conducive to the mobilization of workers, the leaders of the Cobas unions refused to unite and continued to wage war on each other.
How were these strikes organized?
Strikes are the expression of a grassroots movement on the part of workers who, in the face of calls from the government to remain confined, found themselves forced to go to work with an obvious risk of contagion. Union delegates are themselves subject to this double constraint, this partly explains their broad support for strikes.
On another side, the lack of unification of the strikes not resulting in a national strike of all categories of work, aimed not only at not exposing workers to the risk of contagion but also at obtaining full wages, prevented the extension of the strikes. These strikes are thus limited to the areas where the epidemic was the most important, where workers were grappling with the choice “health or wages”.
CGIL and other unions seek to work with companies, like the UAW does in the United States (or the major power stations in Quebec). If I understand, the CGIL tried to work with the industry but did not succeed and wildcat strikes then broke out ?
The seriousness of the epidemic was already clearly manifested on 8 mars. Faced with the generalization of strikes, the protocol signed by the national leaders of the CGIL, of the ICFTU and UIL – together with government and industry – has enabled the complete closure of non-essential economic sectors to be postponed as far as possible. This protocol provided that the implementation of the measures (health and safety, and containment) is done in concert between the company and the unions in each production sector. The protocol also provided for a temporary suspension of production, with unemployment funds for workers, if no agreement could be reached. If that were the case, the union reserved the right to call a strike.
So, the unions of the regime do not oppose the strikes, but rather reserve the possibility of organizing them. On the other hand, unions have allowed the government to postpone the suspension of non-essential activities until 25 mars, 11 days later.
Compliance with confinement rules (agreements between the union and the company) was possible in companies where the unions of the regime had sufficient strength and where the delegates were combative and combative.
At the end, workers in most small and medium enterprises – where the majority of Italy’s working class works – are left at the mercy of the bosses.
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.
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.
Someone hears about the IWW by un.e ami.e, we contact us online and we arrange to meet and discuss ways to take to claim the stolen wages. This is how many of our start campaigns Reclaim your pay, but our most recent will is not bound to the ordinary. Tale of a victorious campaign, the biggest in the history of our industry.
In his first message in late January, a worker tells of a chic restaurant closed, checks that bounced and more hours worked but not paid. They call to ask for more details, and we learn that they are 11 employé.e.s closed restaurant have bounced checks and / or unpaid wages! The information is relayed to the voluntary union for campaigns Reclaim your pay, and at the magnitude of the case, a team of three Wobblies is formed. Quickly, a meeting is organized with the greatest possible travailleurs.euses. At this first meeting, 5 of the 11 are presented, we count all wages to demand to realize that more than 20 000$ are at stake! We also note all relevant information about the boss: in addition to the closed restaurant, He is also co-owner of a chain of coffee shops in Montreal and coffee distribution company. He also has a habit of not paying its employé.e.s; the travailleurs.euses have heard similar stories in their, which spread on 10 last years. The boss will not easily let impress. This time, against, the claim will be organized and supported by a union. We do not lose anything to wait, we immediately establish a schedule of direct action to do in the coming weeks.
All campaigns SITT-IWW to claim stolen wages are based on direct action. The 11 employé.e.s have everyone made a complaint to the CNESST (except one, who worked in the black), but these complaints can easily take a year to reach a payment. For more travailleurs.euses, One year is too much to wait for three to four weeks of payroll. Direct action puts pressure on the employer to convince him that he has more to lose if he does not pay, without going through the legal. It is always the travailleurs.euses who democratically choose what actions, although union members can suggest them some.
The first step is to send letters of request to the boss, to remind him of the amounts payable and to inform the union is now on the case. While the letters are being delivered, the boss contacts a worker of 11 with the intention of paying it after she complained publicly. union members accompanied to this meeting, taking the opportunity to put the application letters to the boss personally. He takes the letters without reacting and not receiving any message from them by mail / e-mail or phone. It's time to start actions.
We start by sending emails denouncing the situation in several bosses in case of partners, without results. then continues with a "phone zap", where for two hours several people continually call to shops boss to block phone lines, and a blitz of negative comments on the pages of its companies (facebook, google, yelp, etc). To raise public pressure, is published on the website of the union an article that directly exposes the boss and unpaid wages. At this stage, three weeks have passed and certain.e.s travailleurs.euses receive boss Messages for, in short, threaten them with lawsuits and tell them that the union does not scare him. The next action, early March, continues escalating pressure tactics, this time physically with cafes whose boss is co-owner to distribute leaflets at the entrance. The managers are panicking a little, but we managed to pull three days to three coffees without too much trouble.
This is the week of towing the union is finally contacted by the boss to arrange a meeting, held the 14 mars. When it, it serves us the usual stories: "This is a misunderstanding, I'm the real victim, we could just talk not need to attack me ", etc. Rest you leave the meeting about 12 000$ checks! 6 of the 11 Former employé.e.s are now completely payé.e.s, there are still a few thousand to claim for 5 other.
The rest of the campaign covers 4 month, during which we discuss and negotiate with the boss to get the rest of salaries. One time, it seems that the boss ignores us, then organized a small action of towing two of its cafes, to get back his attention. The whole story is concluded on 19 June, when the last checks we are supplied by the employer. One worker did not have any money, and it is because it has decided to stop the campaign of direct action and rely solely on complaints it filed with the CNESST. It was noted that the worker who was being paid below the table has received his money, without particular difficulty.
In total, efforts 11 travailleurs.euses and the union have helped claim 20 995$, in unpaid hours 4%. Certainly a direct action campaign involves more work than the single gesture of complaint, but this considerable victory shows us once again qu'armé.e.s solidarity, we can overcome all obstacles, and build a better world for tomorrow.
Most union campaigns are organized around the problems experienced in the workplace or in a specific industry. Workers set up committees, a campaign is launched, and the problems experienced in the workplace are explained so as to increase the support given to the union. Generally, this type of organization is obtaining formal recognition by employers in accordance with legal procedures in place, to a collective agreement is negotiated.
But what happens when it comes time to negotiate the Convention? It is wrong to believe that labor and management are involved in this process on an equal, and that this process is emerging agreement that benefits everyone. In the context of accredited unionism, unions enter into the negotiation process in a weak position : their legitimacy as a union and the satisfaction of their claims primarily depend on the good faith of the employer class, rather than the implementation of proactive responses.
The concept of "labor peace", applied in Canada including the Rand Formula and the adoption of laws for union certification, As was the case of employers that governments and union bureaucracies : employers had enough of fighting unionism and its disruptive methods (occupations, manifestations, strikes, sit-ins, etc.), governments were tired of having to help large companies to Sort this out after every labor dispute, and the trade union bureaucracy was tired of having to "manage" the members who claim to be respected. The system of collective agreements was therefore set up to give the employers a legal responsibility to negotiate the conditions of workers with union, framed by rules and laws that essentially restrict the labor scope to legal and rhetorical joust.
Traditionally, it is assumed that as the target company is profitable, unions and the employing class enjoying the renewal of collective agreements or the renegotiation of employment contracts to improve conditions for workers. However, this is not the case : it is very common that companies, unionized or not, close plants, branches or offices, abolish positions, reduce wages and benefits, and generally show no compassion for workers, even when business is good. Furthermore, it is common - and generally expected - that the agreements and contracts contain a series of clauses and managerial prerogatives completely useless and absurd, even harmful, for workers.
Since many unions seem to believe that workers should be "e-s-managed" by bosses who do what they want, Most collective agreements and employment contracts traded give the employers a total control over the workplace. Furthermore, by collecting contributions directly on the payroll of their members, accredited unions have an interest in encouraging them not to strike, or lose a portion of their income and having to support the strikers disturbances.
When we think about the means available to us to transform the trade union movement, we must take into account these elements, and can not limit ourselves to saying "better organize our workplaces"; As we have not solved the problem obliging unions which do nothing to help their members take control of their environments, we will be stuck-e-s in a loss to negotiating paradigm with an entrepreneurial class that decides the agenda.
Comment, so, do we get out of this game which we do not have written rules? We must first and foremost stop making legal recognition and contract negotiation top priorities. Although our unions and solidarity networks must be able to act to resolve issues at the source of most union campaigns (wages, social advantages, working conditions, etc.), it is absolutely necessary to be respected as workers, as well as having control over our workplaces and on how our work connects us to our community and the world. We need to create a context in which they are the bosses and bosses, and not the unions, who want the signing of an agreement; we must create an environment in which it is the employers who fell to his guns to get our collaboration. This is an important part of the potential offered by the solidarity struggle unionism.
The objective of this unionism, as promoted by the SITT-IWW, is to organize the workers so that our power can not be ignored by employers and governments, or recovered by facade union. The Solidarity trade union movement is one of the ways to achieve it, since the goal of our struggle is not simply to sign a contract or obtain legal status.
In fact, as much as possible, we must avoid giving our collective power to substitute a contract or a legal framework; if the contracts and agreements help us make our bosses and bosses accountable by obliging them to respect their commitments, it is very good. But if negotiation is not a process by which we negotiate what we lose as rights and benefits, and by which we legitimize a total employers' control over us as workers, there is definitely something wrong.
Note: This article was translated from English and adapted to the Canada-Quebec reality by x377545. In the original text, the author evoked specifically in the American context the procedure Card check recognition and union election process, supervised by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).
The series of “minority reports” was written and published in 2002 on the website of the IWW, by Alexis FW Buss.
At the most recent General Assembly of the IWW, I had the chance to participate in a panel discussion to share ideas on how to rebuild the labor movement. My exchange theme was minority unionism. Here are some excerpts:
If the unions must become a movement, we must come out of the current model, based on a recipe increasingly difficult to prepare: a majority of workers vote union, a contract is negotiated. We must return to the kind of unrest that has earned us the eight-hour day and built the unions as a vital force. One way of doing this is what is now called the “minority unionism”. It's a question of constituting organized solidarity networks and significant improvements can win on individual workplaces, in industries and for the benefit of the international working class.
The minority unionism occurs on our own terms, irrespective of the legal recognition. It is not a question of simply creating a small clique of professional malcontents. It should rather aspire to grow, but in the short term, He gives an example of possible types of organization when we decide that our unions will exist because we need.
Diets working relationship between the United States and Canada are established on the assumption that the majority of workers must have a union, generally approved by the government in a global context, which is relatively rare. Even in North America, the idea that a union needs official recognition or majority status for the right to represent its members is relatively recent, mainly thanks to the choice of the unions to the legal trade of membership guarantees.
The labor movement was not built by the majority unionism – it could not exist. A hundred years ago, the unions had no legal status (indeed, courts have often ruled that unions were an illegal conspiracy and constituted a form of extortion) – they were recognized by their gross industrial power.
When the IWW fought for the eight-hour day in the wood and wheat fields, they have not decided to prove their majority in boss through elections. Workers have rather held meetings to decide what their claims, elected shop committees to represent claims, and used tactics such as leaving work after a quarter of eight hours to persuade recalcitrant employers to accept their demands. Union recognition in the construction trades was carried out through a combination of strikes, direct action and respect stakes grêve and of each other (and which, often, not enough).
The wave of sit-ins that have implemented the IOC in auto and steel, for example, was undertaken by minority unions who were very present in the workplace with agitating history. The union then appealed to the minority presence to take direct action that galvanized the largest workforce in their factories and have inspired the continent workers.
Trade unionism was built through direct action and through the organization of work. But in the years 1930, bosses have been increasingly difficult to recruit thugs and friends judges, and to proceed with collective redundancies. Recognizing that there was no way to crush the unions and tired of the continuous conflicts, they proposed an agreement: if the unions agreed to abandon their industrial power and instead worked through appropriate channels – the National Labor Relations Board in the United States, various provincial offices in Canada – the government would act as a referee “impartial” to determine whether the union was or not bona fide workers' representative.
Short term, unions could bypass the need to sign the workers one by one, to collect premiums directly. Bosses exchanged suit unionists for the thugs they had previously employed. And after a brief period of membership, trade unions (particularly in the US) began a long spiral. As part of this exclusive negotiation model, unions do not attempt to work on the job as long as they have not obtained legal certification. This legal process provides employers an almost unlimited ability to threaten and intimidate workers and drag out proceedings for years. It is a system designed to interfere with the right of workers to organize – and the IWW emphasized when the national law on labor relations was adopted.
However, if the labor law system is designed around this majority-majority unionism, he does not really require. As long as workers act together, they enjoy the same basic legal rights – such as those – whether or not in an officially certified union. Indeed, in some cases, they enjoy more rights, the courts have ruled that most union contracts implicitly refer to the right to strike. It is illegal to fire members of a minority union for trade union activity, to discriminate, to dismiss for strike, to refuse to allow union representatives to attend disciplinary hearings, etc. An organized group of workers have legal rights, but it would be wrong to expect that labor boards more vigorously apply than they do for unions that have been certified. And an organized group of workers, even if it is a small minority, has much more power than the unorganized individual workers.
In most of the cases, you have as many legal rights as a majority union as a minority union – with the only exception being certified as the exclusive bargaining agent and sole authority to negotiate a contract. A minority union has the right to file grievances (even though there may be no formal complaints procedure); engage in a concerted activity, make requests to the boss; seek meetings, or even trigger a grêve (even if it's not a good idea if you do not have the support of the majority).
If you choose well your problems and use them as an opportunity to talk with colleagues and mobilize, you can fight together for better conditions and build a 'union'. By campaigning on issues that matter to your colleagues, you acquérerez experience in self-organization, you will learn that you can trust, and you establish that the union of workers on the job and they are there for a long time.
The labor movement was built when workers groups have banded together and began agitating for their demands: sometimes, they persuaded their colleagues to approach their boss and ask that some problems are corrected. Sometimes, they refused to work under working conditions or unsafe manner, and persuaded their colleagues to do the same. Other times, they acted individually, sometimes they were demonstrations across the city on issues of common interest such as working hours and hazardous work.
The crucial point is that they acted. They identified the key elements of their problems; they got together, they agreed to an action plan, then they executed. It is the trade union action. It does not require official recognition, it requires no contract. It requires Workers who join together and act collectively.
If the unions must become a movement, we must come out of the current model and return to the type of agitation on the ground that we won the eight-hour day and built the unions as vital force. The minority unionism is to form organized networks of solidarity and significant improvements can win on individual workplaces, in all industries and the benefit of the international working class. This is a process, a process that offers hope to transform our greatest weakness – the fact that our members are scattered in many workplaces largely disorganized – into a force.
The series of “minority reports” was written and published in 2002 on the website of the IWW, by Alexis FW Buss.
These last years, I have occasionally contributed to a section named "Wobbling the Works”, which put the & rsquo; focus on & rsquo; impact of laws governing the world of work on & rsquo; union. I will continue to write about it from time to time, but recently my attention was focused on a concept that I designate as "minority unionism", is a way of describing a method of organization that does not wait after the majority of workers d & rsquo; a place of work to earn the legal right to negotiate. This month, I will share some aspects that have sparked my interest and led me in this direction.
Recently, j & rsquo; I had to rewrite the constitution SITT-IWW for our comrades Regional Organizing Committees, who were tired es of US spelling mistakes such as "labour”and "organising”. Scrutinize the Constitution made me think of the idea of the branches job. A job sector is a group of five or more members of the IWW-SITT in the same workplace and to meet at least once a month. This implies a more or less implied that them discuss their grievances, that & rsquo; he creates them strategies to address and establish a union presence in their work.
I am working on a project that was intended to be a video version of the classic pamphlet IWW, “A Worker’s Guide to Direct Action”, but has gained momentum after it began. By making the search for the video, I saw Miriam Ching Yoon Louie talk about his book, Sweatshop Warriors, which provides excellent examples of how the centers of Immigrant Workers es have helped many workers understand their rights and organize themselves around various problems at work and in the community. I also had the chance to interview Barbara Pear, a maid at the University of North Carolina and president of the EU branch number 150, When & rsquo; she visited the maintenance staff at Swarthmore College, leading a campaign for living wages for more than six years. The University union has no legal right to negotiate, but has nevertheless been successful thanks to the & rsquo; use of pressure tactics aimed at bringing administrators at the negotiating table and d & rsquo; secure improvements for workers and the least-paid workers are.
I often think of ways that workers, who do not have the legal right to negotiate or who have no collective agreement, can put the & rsquo; before to act as a union, using the law to amplify their work. This came to mind because Staughton Lynd asked me to repeat our pamphlet "Labor Law for the Rank and Filer"At a time when I had become particularly cynical with regard to the use of laws governing work in & rsquo; union. I was returning from a weekend with the family Lynd, the people "Youngstown Workers Solidarity Club"Disruptors and their cohorts, interference, veterans and vétéranes activism and d & rsquo; d & rsquo organizers, organizing student-es, from d & rsquo; across the US.
The club was developed as a parallel trade union center that filled a missing when the local plant could not provide adequate support for a strike. Hold me with these people was the antidote to the cynicism that I felt; it's not that I have more confidence in the law, but I now feel able to see the possibilities ... There's a month I saw a documentary, American Standoff, on the shore of the trucking company Overnight, I have criticized in the latest issue. “Standoff"Illustrated many problems that the working class has not adequately confronted. How can we organize ourselves in companies that are so anti-union they are willing to spend millions of dollars just to keep worker-are far from the negotiating table? The campaign Teamsters in Overnight, which is currently in a difficult situation that it is not even certain that it can be taken in hand, is the latest example of a long list of campaigns that left the trade union left scratching their heads wondering how to deal with self-destructive employers and labor laws completely backward. Sure, the answer, it is not to give up. But it s & rsquo; is not to simply d & rsquo; a clique of agitators and d & rsquo; agitating minority on each workplace. It s & rsquo; is to create real solidarity networks that are organized and able to win improvements in individual workplaces, through industries, and for the benefit of the international working class.
And, finally and especially, several comrades on the other side of the Atlantic sent me an article on minority unionism that appeared in a recent edition of the magazine The Nation. L’article, written by Richard B. Freeman et Joel Rogers, argues that theAFL-CIO should develop a d & rsquo plan organization that does not depend on recruiting the majority of d & rsquo workers; a workplace. What was amazing to receive multiple copies of this article in my emails was not the astonishment of American trade unionists who sent. The quite upside which we do chaisons is absurd. Few countries practice trade unionism as we do in the US (and Canada) with the union as the sole bargaining agent of a declared majority. I think it would help a lot if a majority of workers with whom I discuss were aware of how things are done elsewhere, and it would also be nice if people d & rsquo; elsewhere could see the consequences of the way we & rsquo; organize.
Now, that is the purpose of this section. I want to share these stories and experiences. I want to connect my classmates with resources that others have found useful in their union work. I can not offer a recipe for success. These examples will not always suitable for everyone. But an intelligent reflection on a way forward is not only a possibility, it s & rsquo; is something that is already short. And developing resources to try these ideas, we will give us the confidence to turn comments like "what a great idea!"To" I'll try it!”.
The series of “minority reports” was written and published in 2002 on the website of the IWW, by Alexis FW Buss.
* Remi contacted us because his former employer, who has a housekeeping company, had not paid him the wages he owed him for nearly two months. Not far from 300$. Either the food for a solid month, or a good portion of the rent.
He had worked for her boss a full weekend. Fourteen hours. The boss had to get back to him and send his schedule earlier this week. After a few days without news, Rémi concluded that it would not make other shifts. He started trying to get the salary that was rightfully his.
You will be more to recognize you in his situation. When a boss wants to talk to you, you are better respond rapidly worse. Enwoye, press it, there is no time and money to waste. When the reverse against by, suddenly, there is no urgency.
Call after call, no answer. The boss finally replied to a text message asking Remi sent him an email by sample check in order to make him a bank transfer, which he did on the spot. A few days pass, nothing. Rémi against him by, it is hard and he rewrote his boss, only to be told to send back an email with a sample check. Once again, without new, no transfer.
It will retry again, but radio silence, his former boss gave no sign of life. Few weeks later, Rémi happening by chance to one of our posters Reclaim your pay and we called.
He explained his situation and how we operate. So we established a game plan quickly. Direct actions to the menu. On the other hand, as we ask anyone who contacts us : a final call is suggested, but this time mentioning having contacted a solidarity union!
Well, the word union is still afraid! When Remi told his former boss that he had called and we were about to get in step, suddenly, the boss has become ben ben conciliatory and a few minutes later, he shed his unpaid wages!
All this to say, ensemble, when one is standing and we stick together, results are obtained. And the small victories, it is essential to build a little solidarity. Congratulations for your perseverance Rémi!
The 8 March, during the international day of struggle for women's rights, Industrial Union of Workers and Workers (SITT-IWW) was the demonstration against capitalism and patriarchy, organized by Women of Diverse Origins. Several hundred people gathered to protest against the impoverishment of women, against war and against sexual violence. On this occasion, the campaign "Reclaim your respect!"SITT-the IWW was launched!
During the event “Women standing against capitalism and patriarchy!” the 8 mars 2018. Photo credit : Cedric Martin
To make visible everyday sexism and report harassment at work, women were asked to share their experience on plates that formed a collective fleeting wall. The testimonies of abuse and sexism were many, to the point where a rope had to be added. We should not have to endure comments like " You smile not? You have your period or what? "In our workplaces or" I hope you're not planning to have children, I want me to have to dealer with maternity leave ' in job interview. The difficulty in denouncing abuses and violence experienced at work is even greater for women without status of their extremely precarious and invisible status, as evidenced by the one of the suspended plates.
Harassment in the Workplace, it is racist, sexist, homophobic or a combination of oppression, should not be tolerated whatever its form : degrading comments, abuse of power, blackmail, termination, touching, etc. The campaign "Reclaim your respect!"Is there to counter all these forms of direct action and organization in the workplace. In the wake of the wave of recent months #MoiAussi, this campaign is more than necessary!