Une organisatrice et un travailleur décrivent une campagne d’action directe ayant récolté de belles victoires pour ensuite s’effondrer faute d’avoir bâtie de solides fondations.
Toute personne ayant déjà suivi la formation d’organisation 101 You ITS-IWW (OT101) sera familière avec la pyramide d’organisation partagée ci-dessous. Si vous ne l’avez jamais vu ou avez besoin de vous faire rafraîchire la mémoire, elle va comme suit: Une pointe étroite «d’actions directes» est posée sur un étage plus large de «démocratie sur le lieu de travail» (for example, des réunions), lui-même posé sur un étage encore plus large de «relations entre collègues» (bâties à travers des discussions en tête à tête) reposant finalement sur une fondation de «connaissances de son milieu de travail» (qui y travaille, comment sont divisés les lieux, etc).
Cette pyramide est parfois opposée à une autre allant «du bas vers le haut» et dans laquelle quelques travailleuses et travailleurs très motivé.es se mettent à faire des actions directes avant (ou à la place) de se bâtir une solide base organisationnelle.
Il y a plusieurs raisons pour lesquelles cette autre pyramide peut être séduisante: L’une d’entre elle est que pour bien des travailleuses et travailleurs qui n’ont pas confiance en leur habileté de persuasion ou en l’habileté de leurs collègues à les aider dans l’organisation de leur lieu de travail, une action directe concrète et victorieuse semble être une bonne preuve à montrer à leurs collègues. que «l’action collective, ça fonctionne !». Une autre est que bâtir un comité bien établi nécessite beaucoup de travail, souvent ennuyeux, alors que le recours rapide à l’action directe est excitant et mène parfois aux gains qui constituaient les raisons de vouloir s’organiser au départ.
En contrepartie, une raison évidente de s’opposer à cette méthode est que l’action directe échouera probablement s’il n’y a pas une organisation derrière pour supporter le petit groupe (what, after all, est la raison pour laquelle il faut s’organiser au départ). Il s’agit d’une très bonne observation. However, il y a un autre problème, bien plus profond encore, qui est que même si la ou les actions fonctionnent, sans le reste de la pyramide, il y a peu à faire pour utiliser cette ou ces actions afin de créer une solidarité ou une organisation durable, et sans elles, tous les gains risque d’être très éphémères. Leur durée dépendra finalement bien plus de la volonté des patrons de les retirer ou non que de la force de l’organisation à les maintenir.
Pour illustrer ce point, j’aimerais partager avec vous un exemple venant d’une campagne d’organisation que j’ai supporté et écrit par l’organisateur lui-même:
J’ai utilisé par inadvertance le modèle de pyramide du bas vers le haut quand j’étais un «bébé organisateur» qui travaillait sur sa première campagne. J’étais relativement nouveau a l’IWW et malgré que j’avais assisté à quelques formations sur la manière d’avoir des conversations d’organisation et lu quelque livres, je n’avais pas encore été en mesure de faire une formation d’organisation 101.
La compagnie pour laquelle je travaillais était une entreprise familiale dans laquelle les différent.es membres de la famille possédaient chacun.e leur département en tant qu’entreprise indépendante malgré qu’ils et elles occupaient le même bâtiment. À la place de voir cette structure comme ce qu’elle était, c’est-à-dire une tentative de séparer les employé.es, j’ai plutôt perçu mon département comme étant la totalité de l’entreprise pour laquelle je travaillais. J’ai donc commencé à avoir des conversations en tête-à-tête avec mes collègues qui me semblaient les plus réceptifs et réceptives à l’idée d’organiser notre milieu. Bien que j’avais une idée globale de la cartographie sociale de mon milieu, je n’avais pas analysé de façon approfondie les relations sociales et d’influence avant de commencer.
J’ai laissé l’aspect saisonnier de l’entreprise, le fait qu’elle ferme chaque hiver, aveugler mon jugement et justifier une approche accélérée pour cette campagne d’organisation. J’ai donc réussi à rassembler trois de mes six collègues pour faire un «march on the boss» relativement à quelques enjeux clés incluant les horaires et les salaires. Je ne savais pas que l’IWW enseignait une marche à suivre spécifique pour cette tactique dans l’OT101, mais nous avons eu de la chance et la riposte de mon patron n’a pas fonctionnées. Nous avions sans le savoir procédé relativement comme la formation le suggère, par exemple en faisant des demandes spécifiques et en donnant une date butoir. However, pendant cemarch on the boss, l’une de mes collègues a soulevé des enjeux que j’ignorais parce que je n’avais pas pris le temps d’adéquatement lui parler. Alas, aucun d’entre eux n’a été résolu.
Nevertheless, quelque jours après notremarch on the boss, nous avons eu gain de cause sur plusieurs demandes importantes: First, tout le monde excepté le contremaître a eu une augmentation de salaire. Secondly, les travailleuses et travailleurs ont eu le contrôle de l’horaire qu’ils et elles on pu faire sans contrainte de la part du propriétaire ni du contremaître, excepté pour son propre horaire. Thirdly, nous nous étions plaint.es que des employé.es étaient coupé.es avant la fin de leur journée et qu’il leur manquait souvent des heures et cette pratique s’est arrêtée. Finally, nous voulions un retour sur le programme de «dollar days» de l’été précédent qui nous avait fait perdre des ventes et nous l’avons obtenu.
Sur le moment, j’étais en extase! J’ai raconté avec fierté nos succès à la réunion suivante du comité d’organisation de ma branche locale, puis les questions se sont mises à débouler : « Quelles questions exactes as-tu posé à tes collègues pendant les rencontres en tête-à-tête? Qu’est ce qu’ils et elles ont dit ?» Comme je n’avais pas pris la peine de prendre des notes détaillées, je n’étais pas en mesure de donner des réponses exactes, donc je n’ai pas pu rapporter beaucoup de ce que j’avais appris au reste du groupe. « Est-ce que pendant lemarch on the bossvous avez fait X, Y et Z, comme on l’a enseigné ?» Je ne savais tout simplement pas que nous avions une marche à suivre optimale pour cette tactique.
Alors que la saison tirait à sa fin, la campagne s’est peu à peu démantelée. J’ai compris que l’un des trois participants avait harcelé sexuellement les autres tout au long de l’été. Que le patron avait installé de nouvelles caméras de sécurité et que cela avait eu un effet dissuasif sur notre campagne. Qu’il a dit à toutes les personnes qui travaillaient sous la table qu’il devrait désormait déclarer leurs salaires. Qu’il avait lui-même rencontré des personnes seules à seules qui se sont ensuite montrées méfiantes envers nous. Il m’a finalement accusé de vouloir créer un syndicat et m’a menacé.
Meanwhile, en réalisant mes erreurs de parcours, j’avais essayé de récolter les contacts des personnes que je connaissais et de faire des tête-à-tête avec les salarié.es des autres départements. Sadly, le chat était sorti du sac et ma collègue membre du comité d’organisation la mieux placée pour aller leur parler (parce qu’elle avait déjà travaillé dans ces départements) était maintenant bien trop intimidée pour tenter sa chance.
J’ai fini par devoir déménager et je me suis pas revenu pour la saison suivante. Une autre personne que j’avais organisée n’a pas pu revenir elle non plus à cause de problèmes de santé. Une autre est revenue et a conservé son augmentation mais n’avait plus envie d’organiser l’entreprise. Je n’avais pas d’autres contacts permettant de garder cette campagne en vie et elle est morte.
Avec du recul, je peux identifier les facteurs clés qui m’ont fait choisir d’aller trop rapidement dans cette campagne.
Leçon apprise: Non à l’aventurisme !
Je voulais accomplir quelque chose avant que la saison se termine parce que je n’étais pas sûr de vouloir revenir l’année suivante. J’ai finalement compris qu’il est mieux d’organiser un emploi dans lequel on compte rester pour quelques années parce qu’on ne sera pas tenté.e de faire les choses trop rapidement. Il faut se souvenir que la raison pour laquelle on s’organise c’est de faire de notre emploi un milieu de travail dans lequel on aura envie de rester et auquel on tiendra et que, même si on ne peut pas y rester, ce n’est pas une bonne raison pour essayer d’aller trop vite. Il est préférable de débuter voir de compléter la cartographie physique et sociale de notre milieu de travail, d’avoir des informations sur le processus d’emploi puis de trouver quelqu’un.e pour nous remplacer et poursuivre là où nous auront quitter, que ce soit une personne à l’interne ou un.e «salt».
J’étais aussi anxieux de prouver ma valeur aux autres membres de la branche et j’ai cru que dévier de la marche à suivre était nécessaire à cause des particularités de mon milieu de travail. In reality, si on veut impressionner des gens dans l’IWW plus largement, bâtir un comité durable et gagnant accomplira beaucoup plus que quoi que ce soit d’autre, but especially, les seules personnes à qui nous devrions vraiment vouloir prouver quelque chose sont nos collègues de travail. L’organisation syndicale est quelque chose de risqué et nos collègues méritent un organisateur ou une organisatrice qui est dévoué.e à s’en tenir aux meilleures pratiques et à utiliser des méthodes qui ont faites leurs preuves à travers le temps. Presque tout le monde croit que son milieu de travail est unique et ils semblent effectivement presque tous avoir des conditions uniques qui justifient de dévier de la marche à suivre, mais à chaque fois que quelqu’un.e le fait, les mêmes problèmes se produisent.
J’avais une vision très aventuriste de l’action syndicale. Je me disais que ce serait super de faire unmarch on the boss, de tous et toutes arrêter de travailler, faire un sit-in ou peu importe quelle autre action, puis d’obtenir des gains et honnêtement, ça l’était ! Mais il faut se souvenir qu’on ne peut s’organiser seul.e. Nous avons le devoir d’intégrer nos collègues et de suivre la stratégie ayant la plus grande probabilité de bâtir un comité durable et capable d’améliorer nos conditions de travail sur le long terme. Participer à des actions directes est l’une des expériences les plus exaltantes au monde, mais ce n’est pas pour cette raison que nous le faisons. Nous le faisons pour créer un contre-pouvoir durable sur le plancher. Se dépêcher à faire des actions directes avant d’avoir créer des fondations solides n’est pas la bonne façon de procéder.
Et si une action directe spontanée allait inévitablement arriver, qu’on y participe ou non ?
Sometimes, et spécialement dans une «hot shop», un groupe de travailleuses et de travailleurs peut décider de confronter leurs superviseur.es ou d’arrêter de travailler, de ralentir le rythme ou de se plaindre des ordres déraisonnables des patrons d’une manière qui affecte l’entreprise. Si on n’a pas encore créé une capacité d’organisation suffisante pour conduire une action directe de façon responsable, on ne l’a probablement pas assez non plus pour en arrêter/réorienter une qui pourrait mal tourner.
Dans une telle situation, notre meilleure option est souvent de se joindre à l’action et d’offrir le meilleur de notre support et de notre leadership pour faire en sorte que l’action soit victorieuse tout en minimisant les risques qu’encourent nos collègues. Ce genre de situations peut s’emballer très rapidement et il est fort probable qu’on aie uniquement le temps de discerner qui est la personne avec le plus d’influence sur le groupe et lui poser quelques questions clés telles que: «Qu’est-ce qu’on devrait demander au patron de faire/changer/arrêter ? Combien de temps on lui donne pour faire ce qu’on lui demande ? Qui d’autre pourrait vouloir se joindre à cette action ? Est-ce qu’on s’adresse au bon ou à la bonne superviseur.e ? Est-ce qu’il ou elle a le pouvoir de faire ce qu’on lui demande ? Qui d’autre devrait faire partie de cette conversation ? Qu’est-ce qu’on fait si l’un, l’une ou la totalité d’entre nous est congédié.e ? Qu’est-ce qu’on fait s’il cible l’un ou l’une d’entre nous comme étant le leader ?
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.
The Montreal branch of SITT-IWW has, for a few years now, a campaign of its own and unique, launched on 8 mars 2018 on the International Day of Women's Rights.
Its title is : ‘Claim Your Respect’.
on the idea of de-macho-izing the trade union environment and reclaiming the struggles
union, some union members decided to mount a campaign
who looks like him : end oppressions in the workplace, than
it's sexism, harassment, homophobia, racism or even
Claim Your Respect, How's it going ?
begins with an employee who contacts SITT-IWW to help them with a
problematic in his workplace. Then a switch-on is triggered
either meet the person (s), discuss and make a game plan. This
campaign aims to collectivize a problem because the victims are
often isolated and in distress (while, most of the time, many
other, on the same work floor, live the same reality).
campaign and every reality is different.
A campaign story
will talk here about my experience of a campaign, as
as an external organizer of this campaign. SITT-IWW is not a union of
service but a solidarity union : empowerer the workers
and workers under our mantra : every worker is a
have been approached by employees, Max * and Camille *, because they and
some of their colleagues were living under harassment, bullying, you
racism, homophobia and so many other horrors, And this, by their
boss. It had to stop !
of our first meeting, Max and Camille had already succeeded in bringing together the 3/4
of their colleagues around a table.
It was unreal for me to talk about how we unite our
Wow, the work was already done ! What a great meeting but at the same time with
a bittersweet taste, everyone was united because everyone had
been abused by the same boss, some men present, had not lived
the thing but were in solidarity with their colleagues.
we are stronger, exactly !
these people were talking about the horrors done by their boss and had already
decided to send a letter to their Board of Directors (C.A.), And this, in
bypassing their problematic boss / manager. The hierarchy is sometimes in
itself problematic, their boss being their only link with the C.A.
We had to find the email addresses of the C.A., make a clear list of requests while enumerating the charges, keep logbooks for evidence, plan future meetings but above all, plan what we were going to do following the various possible responses of the C.A..
was our real lever ? Here it was to achieve the public image of
started with this so-called letter, signed by the 3/4 from the shop, all in
keeping in mind that ultimately, publicly, the problem could
come out, our only real lever before collective resignations by
example. The idea being to have the big end of the stick and be able to claim a
healthy work environment ! Le strict minimum !
healthy work environment ... of course it is legitimate ! It's a right that is so
not easily accessible and the advice of Éducaloi, for example, are
ridiculous when you live in a problematic situation. Direct action and
solidarity are the key to rapid and efficient gains.
letter was sent, without forgetting to give a response time so that it does not
do not fall into the cracks of the floor. The letter was received and the boss
problematic was banned from the board meeting. next. It was a small
victory already in itself !
after ? The C.A. asked to meet people 1-to-1 and sign a
confidentiality letter. The 2 requests were refused by the group. Our
strength is solidarity and we learned from the gang that this same boss had
already fired for the same issues elsewhere ... and under cover of
confidentiality, so no one could really know ! It's indecent
to put problematic people back in a position of power again and
again and this, under the hat of the confidential shutter and therefore in all connivance ...
ark ! Rather than change and educate, that's it, shovel the problem in the
neighbor's yard putting on blinders ! Neunon !
meetings were made, in Group, applications have been accepted including :
fire the boss and have a voice, an employee representative, on the
so, it seems easy ... it wasn't. It was quite a challenge
emotional, quite a challenge to keep, During months, supportive people
between them and them without dismantling despite the strategies put in place by the
patronage. But what a great victory to get rid of an oppressor (who
despite education efforts did not change) and to be able to finally have the
chance to express workers' point of view to the most
high authority of the company !
succeeded despite the ups and downs, reluctance, errors and
learning, through all these little cumulative victories !
Boss viré, healthy workplace !
culture of silence must end.
Claim Your Respect this is the reappropriation of his environment
work and one more step towards fairness and respect, finally, around the
Someone had heard about the
IWW from a friend, got in touch with the union through the Internet and
arranged to meet and discuss ways to claim a stolen salary. That’s actually how
many of our Claim Your Pay campaigns begin, but our most recent one was a bit
out of the ordinary. This is the story of a victorious campaign, the biggest in
the history of our branch thus far.
In her first message sent to the IWW at the end of January, a worker tells us about a chic restaurant that had closed its doors, and workers having their paychecks bouncing back and worked hours not being paid. We decided to call her to hear more about the situation, to then find out that there were 11 workers from that restaurant who unpaid hours and/or bounced paychecks! The information is passed on to the union volunteers taking care of Claim Your Pay campaigns. Considering the magnitude of the situation, a team of 3 Wobblies is formed. Quickly, we organized a meeting with as many workers as possible. 5 of the 11 workers attended this first meeting, where we added up every salary that was to be claimed through the campaign, and came to realize that more than $20 000 were at stake! We also noted down all relevant information about the restaurant’s boss : in addition to the closed restaurant, he co-owns a chain of coffee shops in Montreal and a coffee distribution company. He also has a bad habit of not paying his employees; the workers at the meeting had heard stories similar to their own spanning the last 10 years. That meant that the boss wouldn’t be easily impressed. This time however, the claims were organized and supported by a union. Not wasting any time, we established a calendar with the direct actions that were to be undertaken in the upcoming weeks.
All the IWW campaigns to claim stolen wages rely on direct action. The workers at our meeting had all made a complaint to CNESST, except for one who was getting paid under the table. But these complaints can take up to a year or more before a worker can gain their claim, and for many workers, a year is way too long to wait when the amount due is three to four work-weeks. Direct action puts pressure on the employers by convincing them that they have more to lose if they do not pay their employees, all without going through the legal system. The workers are always the ones democratically choosing the actions that will be taken to win their claim, even though the supporting union members can always suggest some.
The first step was to send letters of demands to their boss asking for each of the stolen salaries, informing him of the precise amounts that he needed to pay and that a union was now on the case. While the letters were on their way to his mailbox, the boss contacted one of the workers, with the intention to pay her after she had just complained publicly. Members of the union accompanied the worker to that meeting, seizing the opportunity to hand him the letters of demands. He took them without any reaction, and we did not hear from him. No message, no phone call… Time to take action !
We started by sending emails denouncing the situation to many of his work partners, without any result. We continued our actions with a phone zap, during which many people called the owner’s business to block telephone lines for two hours, followed by a negative comments blitz on the business’ social media (Facebook, Google, Yelp, etc). To add public pressure, we published on the union’s blog an article exposing him and all the unpaid salaries. At this point, 3 weeks have gone by and some workers started receiving messages from the boss threatening them with a lawsuit and claiming that he wasn’t scared of a union. Still mounting the pressure, the next action began in early March, by showing up in front of the coffee shops he co-owns and flyering. The managers freaked out a little bit, but we managed to flyer for three days in a row and in front of 3 different coffee shops without much trouble.
It is during that week that the union finally gets contacted by the boss to arrange a meeting, which took place on March 14th. During this meeting, he served us the usual platitudes : ‘’It’s only a misunderstanding, I’m the real victim here, we could have just talked this out, no need to attack me’’ and etc. Nevertheless, we still got out of that meeting with about $12 000 in checks! Six out of the 11 workers were now fully paid, but there were still 5 workers with unpaid wages.
The rest of the campaign scales over 4 months, during which we discussed and negotiated with the boss to get the rest of the stolen salaries. At some point, it seemed to us that the boss was ignoring us, so we organized another small flyering action at two of his coffee shops, to get his attention once more. The campaign was fully victorious last June 19th, when the remaining paychecks were finally delivered by their employer. One worker did not receive all of her wages, because she decided to stop the direct action campaign and to throw all of weight behind her complaint to the CNESST. We care to mention that the worker that was working under the table has had her full salary paid, and without any particular difficulty.
In total, the efforts from these 11 workers and the union have helped claim $20 995 in unpaid work hours and indemnities. Without any doubt, a direct action campaign means more work than simply filing a complaint, but this victory shows us once more that armed with solidarity, we can overcome any obstacle and build a better world for tomorrow.
Someone hears about the IWW by un.e ami.e, we contact us online and we arrange to meet and discuss ways to take to claim the stolen wages. This is how many of our start campaigns Reclaim your pay, but our most recent will is not bound to the ordinary. Tale of a victorious campaign, the biggest in the history of our industry.
In his first message in late January, a worker tells of a chic restaurant closed, checks that bounced and more hours worked but not paid. They call to ask for more details, and we learn that they are 11 employé.e.s closed restaurant have bounced checks and / or unpaid wages! The information is relayed to the voluntary union for campaigns Reclaim your pay, and at the magnitude of the case, a team of three Wobblies is formed. Quickly, a meeting is organized with the greatest possible travailleurs.euses. At this first meeting, 5 of the 11 are presented, we count all wages to demand to realize that more than 20 000$ 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.
# A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCERS IN THE GAMES INDUSTRY # A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME
Wednesday 17 July 2019, 19h Notman House (51 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal), near the St. Laurent metro https://www.facebook.com/events/2752751641465255/
→ → (The following French) ← ←
Want to understand your workplace rights in Québec? Come to our “Know Your Rights” workshop, co-hosted by disabling Montreal, S’ATTAQ and Pixelles.
In this free workshop, we’ll cover the most important workplace rights for contractors, freelancers and employees. There will be a Q&A period following the presentation, so bring your questions about contracts, working conditions, and your rights as a worker! Afterwards, all are welcome to stay, chat, and find out a little more about what we are up to.
The workshop is located at Notman House (51 Sherbrooke St W, Montreal), near Saint-Laurent metro. Unfortunately, the space is not wheelchair-accessible. Please contact us if you have any accessibility needs or concerns.
The meeting location sits on the traditional territory of the Kanien’kehá:ka people. We welcome everyone to the workshop, and are committed to facilitating an anti-oppressive space. This workshop is free.
You want to understand your rights in the workplace in Quebec? Come to our workshop "What are my rights? », presented by GWU Montreal, S’ATTAQ et Pixelles.
During this free workshop, A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME. A question period will follow the presentation, for any question you may have about contracts, A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME! Thereafter, A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME.
The workshop takes place at home Notman House (51 Rue Sherbrooke O, Montréal), near the St. Laurent metro. The workshop will be held in English, but a whisper translation available. This space is unfortunately not wheelchair accessible. Please contact us for any need for accessibility. This event is held on the traditional territory of the people Kanien'kehá:ka. We invite everyone to this workshop and are committed to creating an anti-oppressive space. This workshop is free.
# WHO ARE WE? # WHO ARE WE?
Montreal weary is the local chapter of Game Workers Unite, an international organization of people dedicated to advocating for workers’ rights in the games industry. Tire is not a Union, but is helping build labour power across the globe. Montréal is notable for the number of game companies it hosts – workers here are a powerful force. Together, we can achieve better working conditions, recognition, and mutual support for all. (gwumtl.com, [email protected])
GWU Montreal is the Montreal Chapter of Game Workers Unite, A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME. GWU is not a union, A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME. Montreal is a city notable for the number of companies in the field of video games it hosts - here, we have great power. Together, we can get better working conditions, A WORKSHOP FOR EMPLOYEES AND FREELANCE IN THE FIELD OF VIDEO GAME. (gwumtl.com, [email protected])
SATTAQ (Associative Syndicate of Self-Employed Workers of Quebec) is an organization that exists to unite freelancers across diverse fields in order to improve working conditions and further our common interests as a labour class. SATTAQ has come together in its common concerns to form a non-hierarchical democratic labour union with a commitment to mutual aid and social justice. (http://sattaq.xyz, [email protected])
SATTAQ (Associative Syndicate of Self-Employed Workers of Quebec) Associative Syndicate of Self-Employed Workers of Quebec. The SATTAQ converge around a common goal to build a democratic union and non-hierarchical, engaged in mutual aid and social justice. (http://sattaq.xyz, [email protected])
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.
union experience has been with
the Teamsters, at the Montreal Bus Station
as an attendant
to information. We were a new
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
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
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
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.
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.
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. "
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 ...
oldest used to obtain information,
to spread rumors that the company is closing and that
lose our jobs if we go on strike.
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
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
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.
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
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.
With the International Day of Workers which is nearby, I started thinking about my job, society in general, a little while. Worse things go wrong in shop, looks like another.
Social inequalities explode for years. Our wages stagnate while our rents are rising constantly. Go to a grocery store or pay the hydro bill is more an accounting period. Patrons and CEO, them, give themselves big bonuses and often even the money the state takes from our pockets to save their ass. The environment, his, during that time, continues to make good slaps to satisfy rich track Industries shareholders (U.S) disappear. Our rights as workers, it notes the willingness of courts, almost always there to make life beautiful for our boss. And to make sure to have a nice social atmosphere, add to this racist policy that only divide us while we are impoverishing.
At least macro scale, it's been a few years that I am involved and I must say that I find it difficult. Not so much the job, because I deeply love the people I coach and I work with. But it is difficult to see these people, my colleagues like e-s-participant our organization, duty to struggle against a system of increasingly violent attempt to get services or enforce rights that we are supposed to be acquired. It's tough to see more and more people into poverty while we are asked to fill statistical and respond to thick bureaucratic expectations. And rough to see my colleagues (and myself) burning at both ends to try to compensate with crumbs for a state that has nothing providential.
But it is not as isolated-e-s as you think. If my colleagues and myself is the feel we heading straight toward a wall, that means we are not alone-e-s to have ras-le-bol. Worse it forces me to think. It forces me to think that I can wait after my coordos my direction and collaborator who tell me to shut up, there is nothing to do, while they are managing it, Community. As said a comrade, we can not afford to have blurred class. Plus, it forces me to do a portrait of the situation and to wonder where we are going in general, as a society.
So, collectively, what do we do to stop these attacks? What can we do to not only stop eating the fly, but to get what is rightfully ours, either better living conditions worse the last word on how it is rolled, this society? How to use our best weapon, or solidarity?
My answer is this : a complete shutdown of the machine (and all smaller), to bend the government and our boss, try the general strike.
And I fantasizing too (I hope). In 2014, several groups, including the IWW and community groups, including the Coalition Red Hand, called for a general strike on May 1 2015. For one year, activist-e-s of the IWW and community groups have organized meetings, multiplied times when to meet to work together and prepare for a day of general strike. Many student associations and some unions, including education, followed suit. The context lent itself well : the public sector fell by negotiation and cutbacks were the common enemy. The word "austerity" has been on the map.
The current context differences and similarities. always subject to the same policies that favor the class of bosses. There is a new provincial government in, which continues to set foot in the flat and was quick to show his contempt for workers (we only think of Legault words about the lockout ABI, a boss it's still a boss).
Next year, the public sector is back in negotiation. Nurses have demonstrated for over a year their widespread disgust. The CAQ s'attaque enseignant aux-and-s, whether through his bill on religious symbols or their obsession with creating nursery 4 years, while there is a glaring lack of staff to fill these future positions, as undesired or election promise. Student associations have changed, but the movement for internship remuneration of talk.
But OK, for a general strike, must the world to launch the ball. worse especially, have a more combative speech and more inclusive than the unions, always ready to address to keep social peace.
No one is boasting, I think we can agree that workers and activists of the Community have proven more than once their ability to brew and shit (he) mobilize. Despite the elephant what the public and the attention he held during negotiations, Community could well launch a call to action for a strike in the community and thereby invite its allies in organized labor and students to do the same. Especially as nurses and teachers also seem disgusted their conditions, there would be beautiful alliances on standalone basis to.
The Red Hand Coalition and the Coalition of May 1 2015 had demonstrated their ability to join different groups and create links 2014-2015. These same groups once mobilized opted for actions within their means. Illegal strikes in more than ten colleges, disruption of economic activities in certain regions, Student strikes, of transport routes blocked; ministerial office occupations by one, demonstrations and there, what a general strike.
There is no magic formula to mobilize or obtain earnings. I do not claim to have a perfect game plan, others have better analysis and surely know best how the strongest could spank. But I am a community worker and union activist sickened, worse when I look exhausted colleagues, the burn outs that build worst in the world in general snatch more, I can not help but wonder, in 2020, in community, it is triggered when the strike?
A member of the Community Committee of the IWW Montreal.
Last February, 5 bike messengers were sent by QA Courier company in Montreal. These messengers had refused to get on their bikes in a snowstorm because they felt it violated their right to work in safe conditions. Following their dismissal suffered, bosses at QA had increased the working conditions of the next runner-es-eras… It was also able to attend a great wave of solidarity for those bike messengers. The 18 February 2019, More than fifty people were displaced in the early morning with the support 5 returned at a press conference to demand better working conditions for all Messengers and all the bike messengers! Here is a text written by an e-messenger-era bike comrade :
"While bikers QA returned in February will be no re-engage, the boss still increased the salary of his new biker, no 10 ni de 15%, but to 20% even with a big bonus when hiring. This tells me 2 things : what, contrary to what the bosses want us to believe, couriers are essential pieces on the board of the courier industry but also that these patterns have the means and the power to pay us better / treat.
If they do not, it is simply because no lifts. The case that has marked the industry and the community dated 13 February 2019 thus solves, would do for now, a net salary increase for new and new bikers who will be hired-e-s at QA in the present and future.
Only this, this is a huge victory in itself. When I started to mobilize with my comrades 2016 to demand better working conditions, I was winning 100$ a day and it was the best deal in town. Many of those who were dismantling us saying we would gain nothing, or that nothing would change because it was already a good 10 years nothing had move. EH BEN SURPRISE! In only 3 years, my friends and I, we boosted our salary 50% after our return.
All that is born of mobilization and perseverance. So these people, I reply that nothing moves them because nobody moves. Involved, educate yourself and stay strong and strong, comrades. If a company does not respect you, she does not deserve you! »
Monday 18 March, two former employees of a fast food restaurant have contacted us for unpaid wages worth more 1000$ and legal documents that were not submitted their. We met the next morning in order to help them obtain and have decided to initiate a process of claiming your payroll with them.
The next day (Wednesday), Three of our members have met the restaurant owner to give him a letter explaining the situation and our commitment that its former employees were paid. While we demand the immediate settlement of the conflict, there was very little (no see) cooperative and did not want to read the letter we handed him nor give his former employees what to them. So we left the place as we prepare the next steps of the process.
In discussing this with the two former workers at the exit of the restaurant, we learned that a third person was in this same situation. We then contacted and asked if she wanted to be involved in the process and she accepted. Immediately our phone call ended with her, We have received confirmation that the boss had decided to change his mind and that he would pay his former employees. The whole thing is set in the same day.
In conclusion : while we are often encouraged to go only by the labor standards for this type of litigation and that this process can take months, we once again proof that solidarity and direct action allow us to get there in a few days, see in a few hours!