Fear and loathing in a center near you

I got lots of jobs to low wages. Warehouseman, employed in call centers or customer service, concierge, diver, clerk, assistant cook, seller fir, House painter, speaker, name it. In all cases, I always had bosses with varying degrees of shit.

One who we called moumounes when we refused to work at 10 meters in height without harness; another who always said that it was taking too long between two surveys; one who we spied remotely via cameras; others who harassed or tolerated harassment.

My first union experience has been with the Teamsters, at the Montreal Bus Station as an attendant to information. We were a new team about 10 people hired by a outsourcing company. A summer job that finally lasted six years, at 40 hours / week at minimum wage with executives too disdainful hypocrites.

As long as having a boss, as much to defend oneself, this is which is why I later joined the IWW, a Wobblie. But initially, I was not a convinced trade unionist. This first experience with the Teamsters has me even rather disgusted with unions.

By entering, I knew my hourly rate, but not much more.  Nobody said anything to us. This is our boss, One day, who told us we would be unionized with the Teamsters. It's funny, because I don't remember ever signing a membership card. AT the time, I have found that strange, even suspicious that it is our boss who finds us a union; now I understand that we were fooled, big time.

Un an (or two) later, a colleague, no longer lit at his rights, and I started to chat . Sometimes with other colleagues. Our working conditions were really harsh. We wanted more than the minimum wage, at least 3-4$ Furthermore. Especially since half of the staff had been there since more than 10 years. Many had children. We knew that if we structured, we could go get some money. And respect.

This colleague my request if we had a copy of our collective agreement. I was not even sure what it was. We went around, no one had it. To my memory, our boss gave us a copy.

After having leafed through our convention, we understood that had to elect delegates and that many of our working conditions were not respected. We contacted Teamsters offices, so that we explains a little how it all works. We were given the number of our union advisor, the one who had to answer our Questions, help us to organize and defend our rights. Joining him was painstaking. He was very busy he said. We were obviously not on his priority list.

It looked like a whole union crooked. Not too interested in we. To send us a paid guy 3-4 times our salary, that got us made very unfriendly.

We contacted the CSN, see if we could not embark with them. It couldn't be worse and maybe the idea losing our dues would wake up the Teamsters. It was very complicated for I don't know what to have a frank response from the CSN. We were however in time for the change of accreditation. After some exchanges, it fell to the water. A young friendly adviser tells us that the plant was not very interested, among other things because would not pay much in contributions.

After this episode, our negotiations arriving, even if we didn't feel supported, we tried to organize meetings by ourselves. We had to get organized and obviously nobody would do it for us. We had to talk to our colleagues and ask questions : who stands with who? Who wants what? Who is potentially trusted, who would vote for leverage, for a strike? It was messy. What now at the IWW I call from "Restlessness, education, of inoculation, you social mapping, etc. " Unionism.

We put up posters to announce an assembly. We spent small leaflets. I was really funny to put on posters with quotes from Karl Marx. Mon boss, his, laughed less. We didn't have the right to talk about a union at work. Of their edge by cons, our bosses pretended to meet individual about the schedule for threaten colleagues, know who said what ...

They used oldest used to obtain information, to spread rumors that the company is closing and that lose our jobs if we go on strike.

Our advisor union presslessly returned our calls and was rarely, never there. At our first meeting, during which we refused the boss offer, our counselor spoke aggressively, repeated the same rumors that executives were circulating, said we should accept the 50 proposed increase signs or go out with the right pegs.

We stopped trusting him the day we saw him by chance in a restaurant not away eating with our boss, looks like two good boyfriends. I was in tabarnak.

During the second Assembly, the boss’s offer made us climb by 1,50$ (about) /h. The more combative small group but inexperienced that we were tried to push for more, but the assembly voted in favor. Our advisor says that in 3 years, we might be better ... this same guy who had more in common with our boss treated us like kids, idiots. It made me hate trade unions.

Gang of sold me said to myself. The power plants and their platform managers employees, more concerned insurance companies by industrial peace that the working and living conditions of my class.

I have rediscovered unionism in a better light meeting Wobblies. When I was told that a real union, it is the workers who train it and who give it its colors. That the legal model of insurance company, it’s a resounding failure. That it is certainly not by accepting the status quo that we will avoid the wall towards which the capitalism makes us sink.

From my first experience with a corporatist union, I’m remember this : must speak to our colleagues; ask them what they do and how to get more, know what pisses them off, remind them that a boss is a boss, even if he has a smile; understand that it will not be simple, that our colleagues (and ourselves), waves complex pathways.

Still unionized with the IWW, but also by a “legal” union, I keep in mind that we have to protect ourselves from the boss, but often also from the heavily paid union, who's afraid of losing control. Especially if we don't want to be content to sign an agreement, but put the power back on the work floor.


Un memre du SITT-IWW.

The male frailty and pride for use by boss

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

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

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

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

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

just working men and women.

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Jean of America

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

hein ?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do we do ?

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

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

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

reorient its "fighting" and frustrations.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our class needs it.

Solidarity !


Max K


unionism, Community and Retreat

Day after the International Day of Workers

The 2 May, a day of reflection on the working conditions in the Community was organized by organisms at the bottom of the ladder, the popular Training Center and the sectoral grouping of community organizations in Montreal (RIOCM).

We were three members of the Community Committee of the IWW Montreal to attend. It was an interesting day and well organized. There was material to brainstorm ideas with more than a hundred people. Congratulations to the transition to the organization. Several proposals have been put forward; we will mention some, explaining the pros and cons, and issuing certain criticisms we hope constructive.



Three workshops framed discussions : labor conditions, the work-life and the workplace. The issues raised were mainly lack of funding (mostly), overwork, les burnouts, the large staff turnover, martyr culture, the few links of e-s-employee with their board, sexism in the workplace, la bureaucratisation, project funding (and thus insecurity), etc.

Those are, in sum, problems that most of us who work in the community and have already seen weighing on our shoulders every day.

Before moving forward, an aside is necessary to explain the context of discussions. We said, a hundred people were present. However the majority of these people were either in leadership positions, coordination with a power of hiring and dismissal or board member of directors. That is to say that we were talking about our working conditions with boss. Bosses obviously conscious of their employee-e-s (and suffer themselves and themselves some of the issues discussed), but the boss still. And the discussions were tinted.

Also, to be clear : reflections and critical that we bring here are ours, those unionists.


Calling versus employment

Several people mentioned : there is a culture of martyrdom in community organizations. That of not including overtime, to accept the often precarious conditions, And this, just because our work is a care. We work with the world of precarious and often messed up, our work is essential. Somewhat the same speech that is served to nurses and called women's jobs. A random? Probably not. It is often also said that the EU is a work '' militant ''. The boundary between work and activism is not always clear. It is common to see people overwork at work on this basis, that '' because '' is worth a couple of unpaid overtime!

Interesting proposals have emerged. Deconstructing this speech first. Explain the nature of our jobs, to denounce these situations overwork, just as the health care workers have for months with strength, either via public texts or videos. Refusing to do more (with less means).

An expression is however emerged repeatedly from the mouth of managers or directors of organizations, is the need to "educate their employee-s in overtime". Manner of providing the fault of overtime on the shoulders of the employee-s, but neither on directions or the structure of organizations, and even less on donors. If employers accept imposed performance requirements donors, knowing we often "low staff", it is inconsistent to require e-s-employee to provide the same services, but in less time.


Funding, bureaucracy and paperwork

Sure, the main issue remains : under-funding and project funding. Some people have raised the possibility of pressuring the political parties in the context of election campaigns. Trying again to strike the Community, perhaps with clearer objectives and decentralized than the aborted 7 February. And look more broadly and talk more. But above all to mobilize the very foundations of organizations : either the employee-e-s!

[On this subject, a personal story and a parallel with the Retreat : nowadays, very little employee-s organizations with a health mandate and social services (Such prevention of STIs) I talk to had heard of this missed strike 7 February. As few of my colleagues intervention had heard of this day of reflection on our working conditions. Visibly, if these are the coordos directions or who receive an invitation to talk about workplace conditions, there is little chance of that is transmitted to the employee-s. Imagine then speak to strike ...]

In terms of insecurity issues related to project funding rather than mission, few solutions have been put forward, Furthermore to make a strike Claim. We have mentioned a few times to tackle some private donors such as the United, who actively participate in the entrepreneurial culture, but no one picked up the ball, which in itself speaks volumes about the lack of analysis we have our own "industry" working.


Be heard as workers

An announcement was made, namely that a national association and workers Community workers would be created in the coming months. Few details were unveiled. As the creation of meeting has not taken place, it is difficult to say what its mandate, but we suspect that this will be our rights, to demand better funding, etc.

By asking a few questions in the following weeks to people involved in its creation, we have some, or concerns, but the project still interests us.

Already, have a space where propose actions, where share and talk about our working conditions is interesting in itself. Can come together is almost a luxury, considering all the tasks and we weigh. This will definitely be a project in which it may organize actions on trades that we.

However, some concerns remain. First, that will be part? Will be qualified-e-s Workers people who have hiring and dismissal powers within our bodies? Suppose we begin to talk about organizing, are we going to face an internal group that fiercely oppose it? Or simply to speak of self-management, internal conflicts, power relations within our bodies ... Will speak are we working conditions or just general underfunding? The question is valid.


Trade union solidarity and self-management

Sure, we preached for several solutions like us. Against some reluctance to join unions under a traditional model, we talked about putting forward a solidarity unionism. Namely mobilize, We base, by and for ourselves, so not only talk about underfunding, but also to bring up to date the self in community organizations in which we work. But also to be able to address issues such as harassment, the employee-s reports versus directions / boards, etc. This is why our trade unionism is voluntary, to enable people to be heard according to their needs.

We mentioned the importance of not remain impassive when an organization is cut. And I believe that this goal remains for us one of our key mandates : asserting solidarity among people working in the Community. Because it is together that we have a balance of power and that we can protect our bodies.



in short, it was an interesting meeting. We hope it will not be an isolated exercise, and it will be followed by a more general and broader. Organizations that have started organized something important, we hope it continues and that it be given suites.

The meeting was after all the Community Image : we are well aware of the problems we are experiencing, we have a good idea of ​​the solutions within our reach, but taking action is unclear, or uncertain.

Anyway, our side, we will provide all the help we can in our midst colleagues, and we invite them to contact us. The more we are many and many, more our voice will.


An injury to one, an injury to all!


Members of the union workers and community workers.