recent fast food strikes

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laborbund's picture
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May 11 2013 22:50
recent fast food strikes

http://www.salon.com/2013/05/10/fast_food_strikes_spread_to_detroit/

So, I'm not particularly thrilled with this since it appears to be an SEIU project, and in at least one city they're targeting a chain the IWW organizes in. What to do?

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May 11 2013 23:48

I haven't paid super close attention to this, because of being busy, so this could be off base or wrong assumptions.

Similar to the Wal-Mart strikes/work stoppages last year by UE and UFCW front groups, these fast food strikes/work stoppages seem to be organized by SEIU front groups, aligned with the remnants of ACORN and some faith based organizations. Within this form of unionism, I guess this makes sense. Outside of the IWW, you can't just join some union, outside of a workplace with a collective bargaining agreement. Plus, there's probably a view that people aren't going to pay dues to an minority organization that hasn't yet won them concrete gains, unless they're already ideologically motivated to do so. There has been a similar logic to various extents within the IWW with the Starbucks Workers Union, the Jimmy Johns Workers Union being a separate but subordinate body of the IWW with lower or informally no dues rates or campaigns asking that initiation fees be waived.

So they've advanced basically two broad demands: 1) raise the minimum wage and 2)improve job conditions. The first one makes sense for a union like SEIU because for organizing in food and retail to make sense financially, the dues have to come in. If you're making minimum wage (currently $7.25, unless you're in a state where it's higher), that doesn't allow you to really pay that much dues. Secondily, the demand of an increased minimum wage is a demand of a Democratic President. SEIU sees itself as part of a broader progressive movement that partially exists to hold the Democrat's feet to the fire, while supporting them almost unconditionally (while still expecting something in return). And of course, everyone in retail and fast food wants more money. The improving job conditions thing is obvious, unions are supposed to be for improving conditions.

We're looking at the mainstream unions returning to a form of minority unionism. It's interesting to see because although in some ways its similar to the IWW, it's done with an army of staff behind the scenes most likely, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars. I think this form of minority unionism is financially unsustainable, and seems to rely more on outside pressure and action from politicians. The 1-day strikes/work stoppages are cool, but it still seems like top-down business minority unionism. And I'm not even getting into how historically collaborationist, undemocratic a union like SEIU is.

Something something militant reformism.

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May 12 2013 03:50

I would have confidence in what you just laid out Juan. That is exactly how I see it and what SEIU has said itself. It is also what they are used to for instance 1 day "strikes" and so on. Their documents from 2009 on this also said they would do it in areas where it would help put pressure for local democrat city council people to have a reason to say why they should pass living wage laws, etc. I also heard in the beginning of the year from an ex-NEFAC SEIU staffer that with just like you said Obama calling for 9 dollars that they had big plans to overshoot that and surprise labor and the left with these campaigns. For them this all makes sense too, it fits very neatly into their ideology of being the forces for a new New Deal, etc.

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May 12 2013 04:58

Thanks for the replies. I think you both probably nailed it. Its still kinda surprising to me as I've always thought of the SEIU as having no ideology but being purely a business union; they exist to pump dues money to the top officials and staffers and to the dems. As such, I always thought they'd be uninterested in organizing fast food sense it really can't give them the dues money they want, and fast food is also incredibly atomized and scattered. So I never saw them doing something like this just based on cost-benefit. The downtown fast food markets in NYC and Chicago made sense because you really can squeeze those, but Detroit? I kinda hope this craps out like ufcw-walmart did.

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May 12 2013 06:14

http://www.scribd.com/doc/31364789/SeiuRestaurantOrgzngPlanDec2009

Maybe it'll last for as long as the Democrats think they need it to?

http://jobsearch.about.com/b/2013/05/10/minimum-wage-increases-for-2013....
http://jobsearch.about.com/od/minimumwage/g/fair-minimum-wage-2013.htm

Also Obama is gonna start going on tour to push economic plan stuff:

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/may/08/opinion/la-oe-mcmanus-column-oba...

Also of interest might be this article:
http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/15852-time-to-demand-a-vote-to-increas...

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May 12 2013 08:24

Good thread and good post from Juan.

FWIW, these were the same sorts of questions I had on my mind when I wrote this blog about the NLRB at the time of the first wave of Wal-Mart strikes. I think militant trade unionism is what we're seeing appear back on the scene I don't think we need to include 'reformism' is that description either--it's inherent.

I don't want to give any sort of undue credit to SEIU as a union here, but I do think that there is a new generation of organisers who are ideologically committed to these sorts of struggles. Yeah, the international wants dues money, but there are folks on the ground who have a real commitment to progressive (and even left-wing) politics and a notion of worker power on the job.

I mean, I know a lot more than one ex-Wob who is now an SEIU organiser/salt. There was also the AFL-CIO/Change to Win split a while back. While we all know it was a lot more about personality and power, emphasis on and money towards actual on-the-ground organising certainly made up a lot of the rhetoric surrounding the break. It's seems that dialog has bared some results.

What I do think is interesting is that oftentimes the American radical critique of the 'business' unions is that they don't organise new workers or in new industries. That doesn't really hold now and I hope developments such as the Wal-Mart strikes and the Fight for 15 will help drive a deeper understanding of the problems of all forms of trade unionism.

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May 12 2013 13:50
Quote:
What I do think is interesting is that oftentimes the American radical critique of the 'business' unions is that they don't organise new workers or in new industries. That doesn't really hold now and I hope developments such as the Wal-Mart strikes and the Fight for 15 will help drive a deeper understanding of the problems of all forms of trade unionism.

I share this hope but I'm actually just not seeing much of that radical critique really. I guess some may feel it would be in bad taste to start publishing lengthy critiques of this while its going on, but for me, I think it would be helpful both for my understanding and all my friends who are rooting this on.

I'm pretty cynical about these strikes actually, and its sort of making me feel like an asshole. I just want to know more I guess. I want to know what the organizing inside the shop looked like and so on. Perhaps its just too early to expect those sorts of things. . .

I'm most interested in ways to build shop-floor strength to the point of being able to hold general assemblies whenever needed. I haven't heard anything about what its like in these shops pre and post strike, and I desp. want to know the level of internal democracy.

syndicalist
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May 12 2013 15:39

Def in a rush now. But, most respectfully, alot what's being said here is sort rote. I mean, I share the criticisms and the like, but what is a libertarian or Wobbly programatic and concrete alternatives?

I'll come back to some of my intiial thinking when I have more then 30 seconds to type. Critique away and that's fine, but that's only half the loaf.

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May 12 2013 19:46

I don't think there's enough information really, but I also don't think I have to offer an alternative to trade unionism every time I criticize it, no more than I expect you to offer an alternative to capitalism every time you critique it.

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May 12 2013 20:08
Chilli Sauce wrote:
I don't want to give any sort of undue credit to SEIU as a union here, but I do think that there is a new generation of organisers who are ideologically committed to these sorts of struggles. Yeah, the international wants dues money, but there are folks on the ground who have a real commitment to progressive (and even left-wing) politics and a notion of worker power on the job.

I mean, I know a lot more than one ex-Wob who is now an SEIU organiser/salt.

That's interesting. I would like to know how these folks square their politics with their activity. Speaking personally, I would have to go through some mental gymnastics in order to convince myself that SEIU was raising class consciousness and building working class self-activity as a cultural practice. I can see how they do indeed raise wages and create better working conditions in some cases, and I have one friend who is a 'progressive' SEIU staffer who has justified his activity to me on that basis. And those things are fine or whatever, especially if you're a 'progressive,' but if you're opposed to capitalism then I don't see how working with SEIU makes any sense, since the underlying assumption (at best) is that capitalism will always be here so lets make it better.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
What I do think is interesting is that oftentimes the American radical critique of the 'business' unions is that they don't organise new workers or in new industries. That doesn't really hold now and I hope developments such as the Wal-Mart strikes and the Fight for 15 will help drive a deeper understanding of the problems of all forms of trade unionism.

I hear what you're saying here, but in all fairness, I think there is also a deeper critique out there (which has been around for quite some time) which also incorporates things like union democracy, the union's relationship to the state and its labor-relations machinery, and a bunch of other stuff that we can probably elucidate more in this thread if folks think that would be productive.

Just thinking out loud here, and as a wob, I think this is an opportunity for the IWW to reflect on our very definition or concept of what a "union" is. I think this article has a lot of good food for thought. I think that if we were to move the IWW's self-definition more towards "a voluntary, democratic association of working class people for direct action and emancipation" (probably awkward wording) and further away from what is traditionally defined as a "union" in the US, some issues we have with the business unions might just dissolve. I think that in that case we would no long see them as competition, but as just an additional target for direct action when we get screwed over.

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May 12 2013 21:31

Oh, of course, there's a counter current. I mean, even things like Direct Unionism didn't come out of a void. And, if you liked that article, you should definitely read Fighting For Ourselves--that article was written as a means to flesh out one of the key ideas in the book.

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May 13 2013 00:24
Quote:
I think that if we were to move the IWW's self-definition more towards "a voluntary, democratic association of working class people for direct action and emancipation" (probably awkward wording) and further away from what is traditionally defined as a "union" in the US, some issues we have with the business unions might just dissolve. I think that in that case we would no long see them as competition, but as just an additional target for direct action when we get screwed over.

So this is spot on. Its exactly where I'm at and I hope to see the idea take off in the IWW and with all folks outside of it. It was actually experience in Solnets that pushed us towards exploring ideas of putting that idea into practice for a workplace focused organization.

Call me ultra-left or naive, but at this point I'm all for fighting workplace organizations who've nothing to do with NLRB, don't seek union recognition or legal contracts with bosses, operate by assembly and enforce workplace conditions through an understanding with the boss that if things get screwy, the shop don't open. In or out of the IWW, this is what I think workplace org should look like.

edit: I just want to make it clear that my support for avoiding the NLRB and legal recognition doesn't come from the legitimately naive and idealistic position of "Its the state man, we shouldn't even talk to it on principal." It actually comes from a practical place; I don't think playing the game the yellow unions do but trying to do it more radical or something is worth anyones time. I def. don't think going into the unions and pushing them left is worth time either I think we need to present the diff. ways of organizing outside that paradigm, specifically as anarchists, if we want to be anything more then annoying anarchists critiquing the yellow unions from the sidelines.

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May 13 2013 01:27
Quote:
What I do think is interesting is that oftentimes the American radical critique of the 'business' unions is that they don't organise new workers or in new industries. That doesn't really hold now and I hope developments such as the Wal-Mart strikes and the Fight for 15 will help drive a deeper understanding of the problems of all forms of trade unionism.

Right and I think the issue is that you see the IWW or members of it go into crisis when they see these unions do things they didn't expect them to do. This is usually why they move on to SEIU or UNITE-HERE, etc because they seem to be more serious or militant at doing the things they thought the IWW was about. I and laborbund even flirted with one of these, so I am sure we could speak more to that. But like laborbund mentioned, I eventually came up to not feeling good with myself when issues of worker autonomy, control, democracy came to the forefront.

In regards to what the organizing looked like, I doubt SEIU or anyone is going to be vocal about that. The only way to find out would be from people who are willing to break "security" on that issue. I know for Fast Food Forward they had SEIU staffers outside so when people who were not already on board came off of work they'd try to convince them to join the "strikers" so I have no clue if it is all cold / outside tactics or if there is any element of salting, but it might be more developing on the community relations of NGOs/Faith groups having inside leads on discontented workers, willing to spread the word and organize.

I understand being frustrated with syndicalist here… but I also think this is something that maybe those of us that are upset about the potential of this causing crisis internal to the IWW or anarcho-syndicalists what have you have to deal with and put forward our ideas on ways forward. I know a lot of folks right now that are less developed are almost either pissed off in a sorta turf war way about this or super excited and cheering it on in a sorta labor left solidarity way. I think this leads a bit to what laborbund said about distinguishing ourselves as a workers association vs a more traditional union structure, and maybe that realness can allow for more clarity on what is going on. I often feel some join the IWW to "do unionism the right way" when they have given up on trying to reform their other unions, or on hopes of ever doing that. So again seeing some starting to do militant trade unionism messes with that. Especially if people start thinking they are doing what the IWW or any other union should be doing and they don't see the IWW or other unions doing it.

Like bozemananarchy and syndicalist said it does put the onus on us to provide alternatives, though like Juan I don't think we have to necessarily do that right here right now in this conversation. I am sure folks all have an idea about what we are for and I believe we all hear identify as anarcho-syndicalists or ultra-left communists of some sort. Lastly I don't think we will see that deeper understanding of militant trade unionism unless the left of the IWW and anarchist/communist milieu in general pushes that forward and with practical examples.

I think the bigger question is should we relate to it and if so how / why?

For instance IWW locals in cities that don't already have campaigns and are relatively sure SEIU isn't already organizing there could like Oakland start up autonomous initiatives to Fight for 15? Or is there too much threat to just getting generally co-opted? Or should we be there despite this maybe being an reform effort that could further incorporate folks into the system, because it could give us space to break with that, or would that be too hard? Or should we not bother at all with ambulance chasing the newest schtick by the unions, etc? Like we saw with Our Walmart eventually it was left by the wayside. In some of the Our Walmart stuff they had salts, should folks seek to become salts and try to infiltrate for a break from the unions? Is that really possible when you are being bird dog for them?

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May 13 2013 02:53
laborbund wrote:
I think this is an opportunity for the IWW to reflect on our very definition or concept of what a "union" is. (...) move the IWW's self-definition more towards "a voluntary, democratic association of working class people for direct action and emancipation" (probably awkward wording) and further away from what is traditionally defined as a "union" in the US

So much this. Though I'd say that the number of people in the U.S for who there is any real definition of "union" is small. As in, the term means whatever people make it mean, and it's not worth fighting over the term IHMO, so I think it'd be a mistake to be like "let's stop saying we're a revolutionary union, and instead say we're a pro-revolutionary intermediate level formation uniting the political and the economic" or something like that. Anyway, I think we should develop more what our vision of unionism looks like. I think SolFed's Fighting For Ourselves is a great contribution to that, and I think Juan's article here is a good contribution to that for those of us in the IWW - http://libcom.org/blog/developing-iww%E2%80%99s-direct-unionism-politics... - (I'd be curious what SolFedders take from all that stuff as there's some important differences between SF and the IWW.)

Quote:
I don't think playing the game the yellow unions do but trying to do it more radical or something is worth anyones time.

I agree, though I think there are multiple reasons why this isn't worth people's time, and some of those reasons may change. There was a moment in time when the business unions could deliver the goods for some workers some of the time under capitalism, by operating within the legally laid out industrial relations formulate. If the business unions get aggressive, we may see that time return for some workers. In that case, we'll need better critiques of the unions.

Chilli Sauce wrote:
the international wants dues money, but there are folks on the ground who have a real commitment to progressive (and even left-wing) politics and a notion of worker power on the job.

I think that underestimates the SEIU international. I don't know that there are dumb and self-destructively self-interest as this. It's possible that they represent and advocate for one model or kind of capitalism, against other kinds -- against the kind that's mostly in operation in the U.S. today. If there really is a trend toward the unions getting militant, then that's what they'll be fighting for, a better capitalism (and one in which unions are much more of a player).

I recently read this article by a marxist economist - http://people.umass.edu/dmkotz/Marxist_Cr_Th_09_12.pdf One of the points I got from it: if capitalism restructures to renew the potential for accumulation, it will involve big changes. In my opinion if those changes happen they will come at the cost of some capitalists and many capitalists will oppose them. Not because those changes are anti-capitalists, but because sometimes capitalists are short sighted and don't act in the interests of their class as a whole. Militant union struggles etc could provide some of the political muscle to shove aside some capitalists to let others become dominant for a while in setting up the rules of things like labor relations, minimum wage, etc. That's definitely the kind of role that people in the pro-capitalist unions want to play. The unions and their allies played a similar in the early 20th century United States - that's a lot of where the National Labor Relations Act came from.

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May 14 2013 09:23

Syndicalist, perhaps you'll like this quote from Christian Aid:

"[We should be more focused on] solution than problem; more effectiveness than good intentions; and more proving than pleading".

HC

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May 13 2013 07:41

FWIW, I've heard Edmonton Wobbly speak about the mindset and tactics of SEIU organisers--he called it, I believe, "a cult of organising". I mean, sometimes I've heard the SF OT/IWW 101 criticized for looking at workplace psychology--a criticism I don't agree with, I should add--but that's shit's nothing compared to what he explained about SEIU. They have prepared, practiced speeches alongside particular body language as a means to minimize (some might say dismiss) worker concerns.

If EdWob's around, be good to get him to speak to that.

Nate wrote:
the international wants dues money, but there are folks on the ground who have a real commitment to progressive (and even left-wing) politics and a notion of worker power on the job.

Nate wrote:
I think that underestimates the SEIU international. I don't know that there are dumb and self-destructively self-interest as this.

Nate, I was hoping I could get you to expand on this, I'm not totally sure I understand your point?

The point I was making is that while the Int'l could be totally callous, opportunistic, after dues money, and only seeking a kinder form of capitalism in which unions and their bosses have more power and more say, I also think the on-the-ground organizers can be committed to a type of militant trade unionism that they actually believe to be empowering to workers and threatening to the wider social order.

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May 13 2013 14:00
klas b. wrote:
Lastly I don't think we will see that deeper understanding of militant trade unionism unless the left of the IWW and anarchist/communist milieu in general pushes that forward and with practical examples.

Exactly, what I was thinking when it comes to offering public critiques of these campaigns as well as broadening that understanding amongst the NA milieu. If we don't offer effective alternatives those close to us and the yellow unions themselves would have every reason to laugh it off.

Nate wrote:
I agree, though I think there are multiple reasons why this isn't worth people's time, and some of those reasons may change. There was a moment in time when the business unions could deliver the goods for some workers some of the time under capitalism, by operating within the legally laid out industrial relations formulate. If the business unions get aggressive, we may see that time return for some workers. In that case, we'll need better critiques of the unions.

I think we are starting to see that, I guess I should wait and see if wages in fast-food do get driven up or not, but yea, I think its starting to happen. I think the main angle we need to push is that as far as workplace org. is concerned, "getting the goods" doesn't end at wages or the improvement of other conditions. We have to put forward that the paramount "goods" that need getting is actual workplace democracy through assemblies and that demands for changes in material conditions should draw directly from those decisions rather then "Fight for 15" campaigns dreamed up by the trade unions and parachuted in on workplaces from the outside (I actually don't know if this is the case with SEIU, but I'm pretty damned sure it is).

Quote:
Or should we not bother at all with ambulance chasing the newest schtick by the unions, etc? Like we saw with Our Walmart eventually it was left by the wayside. In some of the Our Walmart stuff they had salts, should folks seek to become salts and try to infiltrate for a break from the unions? Is that really possible when you are being bird dog for them?

I would say a definite no to this. I don't think we should dream up or copy these Fight for 15 style campaigns. I mean, its a no brainer, 15 is better then 7 and anyone earning that is going to agree but this is important. We need our organizing to be focused on building structures in our workplaces that magnify the dreams and aspirations of the people actually working there. If its a demand for 15 then so be it, its just important that the agency for deciding demands is housed in democratic structures. In fact, these campaigns smack of traditional, paternal trade unionism, and the "Don't worry, we have this under control" business union attitude that has the distinct feature of being super focused on increasing material conditions (at least in the beginning) at the expense of what I think should be the more important result of unionism, self-confidence.

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May 13 2013 19:34
Chilli Sauce wrote:
while the Int'l could be totally callous, opportunistic, after dues money, and only seeking a kinder form of capitalism in which unions and their bosses have more power and more say, I also think the on-the-ground organizers can be committed to a type of militant trade unionism that they actually believe to be empowering to workers and threatening to the wider social order.

I agree with that. But I think that there may be really serious conflicts in the U.S. over what kind of capitalism there will be. The International's commitment to one vision of capitalism may not be so callous and self-interested, in the sense of selling out struggles etc all the time. Their interest in a sense in the short term is for there to be really intense struggles so that unions can be renewed. That may lead to a kind of collective self-interest on their part, just a limited one that's still pro-capitalist. I think we may be seeing versions of this in their funding things like Occupy Homes, We Are Oregon, and this fast food organizing. That wouldn't change any of the fundamental criticisms we have, of course, but it could make them a slightly different animal. To put it another way, I think people like you describe among their staffers could well become the leadership of the international and it would make some differences but not from the perspectives of our fundamental criticisms. Not sure that's any clearer, best I can do just now. This is related to what I was saying on your post here - http://libcom.org/blog/wither-nlrb-05122012

BTW if folk haven't read that blog post of Chili's, I recommend it, it's a good one.

syndicalist
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May 14 2013 01:02

Right quick. Sorry for not having time for a detailed reply for a few more days. Swamped here with work.

So, my initial comment was really in reply to the question asked by the starter of this thread:

My posting wasn't directed at anyone person. More like, ok folks are making solid critiques (here and elsewhere), then what? What would folks propose during this historic moment?

In addition to critiques, it would be good for the libertarian left and Wobblies in particular to develop stuff beyond critiques. After all, the IWW has done some pioneering work in the food industry and has initiated a specific union (Food & resturant Workers) in the field.

Gotta shove off, but here's something I wrote elsewhere. Some of which I'll expand on when I can sit down and write a proper email:

Quote:
syndicalist wrote:
Just a US observation.

From an A/S perspective, without a strategy and long term commitment
to organize.it's hard to go up against or around unions who have
money to spend and full time staff at work doing this stuff...or folks
close to the union salting....this is why some mainstream trade unions
are able to recoup some of the "minority unionism" stuff now (warehouse, fast
food, etc).

This opens up a number of questions. But as I am no longer active on a daily basis,
I'm loath to give advice and tell others what to do. But if I was young, footloose
and committed to shopfloor work, I'd prolly try and get together with IWW folks in the
FRWU and try and devise a way to engage in meaningful concentration. A target company/ies
in a few cities. Same in logistics industry.
http://libcom.org/comment/reply/46587/515631?quote=1#comment-form.

syndicalist
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May 14 2013 01:11
bozemananarchy wrote:
I don't think we should dream up or copy these Fight for 15 style campaigns. .

The Panthers used to have a slogan: "Seize the Time!" ..... and some of this is being able
be part of the moment...not to replicate, but to try and use the spolight in this area to "our" "advantage" as best as "we" can.

More again.

syndicalist
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May 14 2013 01:28
happychaos wrote:
Syndicalist, perhaps you'll like this quote from Christian Aid:

"[We should be] more solution than problem; more effectiveness than good intentions; and more proving than pleading".

HC

Ummmmm....not sure, because I don't think "we're" the problem. Not to say "we" don't have problems.

I just think there are times when solid critiques alone aren't enough. And sometimes maybe that's all we can do.

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May 14 2013 09:22

Apologies - should have read "We should be more focused on solution than problem etc."

syndicalist
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May 14 2013 15:34

Although dated and from the bosses press, I found this article to be interesting: http://www.qsrmagazine.com/store/union-leaders-arent-giving-your-crew

Found this to be instructive. And continued hat-tip to those who have pioneered IWW organizing. Also note comment about SEIU at the end.

Quote:
The IWW’s steadfast attitude—combined with the growing influence of social justice organizations that campaign for similar labor issues—presents a challenge to a quick-service industry still looking to rebound from the recession.

A Checkered Past

The first modern-day whiff of unionization in the quick-service ranks came in 2003, when Starbucks employees in New York City attempted to organize.....

Yet, quick-service restaurants possess some of the traditional elements that stir organized labor: low wages; few, if any, benefits; and a working environment that presents several dangers. Aaron Kocher of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union contends that the low pay and dangerous conditions in quick-service restaurants highlight the necessity of unions to protect workers’ rights.
“Some people have the idea that unions are necessary in some industries, but not in others,” he says. “This all comes down to workplace democracy and about giving workers a voice, as they should have a 100 percent expectation for being treated fairly and with respect and dignity.”

By and large, today’s organized labor groups have adopted a new approach. They’re taking to traditional media as well as social media, utilizing research and data to drum up favor, and inviting religious and educational institutions to work with them on protests and lobbying. T......

“We’re trying to set a new precedent. Starbucks was the spark showing it was possible and should be done,” says Ayo Collins, an IWW Jimmy John’s Workers Union member.
Quick serves possess some of the traditional elements that stir organized labor: low wages; few benefits; and a working environment that presents several dangers.
If unions were to infiltrate the quick-service ranks, the impact would be significant, particularly for mom and pop operations that would struggle to meet the wage and benefit demands of organized labor. While most operators want to provide positive employee relations in a safe working environment, any aggressive resistance would stem from the massive cost increases union laborers would require.
“You can’t force a business to stay in business if they can’t afford it,” Richmond says.

What the Future Holds

While Starbucks remains locked in a multiyear unionization battle and Jimmy John’s October vote was organized labor’s first close call in the quick-service arena, many say unions in this sector will continue to fall flat. Rolfes points to the influential Service Employees International Union’s reluctance to enter quick-service battles and falling union penetration across the country as noteworthy trends.

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May 14 2013 18:31

About intervention...

Nate mentioned in another forum that there is a good chance that since these oneday walkouts are geared towards legislative pressure, etc and that a lot of workers are going to have grievances that are channeled into that, and/or not addressed by the unions, or even unfair firings or other dealings related to this activity that possibly groups like SolNets and the IWW could fill that gap.

Basically if we are present at these things where they do happen we can say well we fight the daily struggle and are here for you for literal solidarity in your struggles and will help fight for your grievances if the other unions wont.

Just an idea. Possibly still needs more fleshing out.

Otherwise though I don't think we should go chasing these things or trying to set up new ones. I think we should continue to stick to our convictions and organizing capacity. This is something I learned with failed interventions in Occupy, though certainly I agree with Syndicalist there is a certain need to "seize the time" or kairos to these historical events/ruptures. We just need to have as clear a vision as possible on what to do and stick with it.

syndicalist
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May 15 2013 15:44

My thinking was to jot done some constructive things that could possibly be done by the libertarian left and in cooperation with the IWW. Def. not to lay out a program for others to do. We are sorta at one of those crossroads moments and perhaps there's some opportunities to advance a movement much closer to "our" views then to the trade union bureaucracy. I dunno, just thinking out loud.

DRAFT 2...WORK IN PROGRESS

Quickly on the foodstuff ......

Some of the stuff that I've been thinking about:

A. Perhaps a summit of IWW and left libertarian food workers to discuss ways
to:

-- Learn from previous IWW organizing in this field.
-- Discuss and possibly develop an "industrial concentration"
plan.
-- Work out ways to develop resources that do not compromise
organizational integrity and principles
-- Discuss ways to develop educational materials, etc.

Other things as mentioned through above comments

B. Open discussion on other campaigns and union concentrations.
-- Relationships
-- "Boring from within"

C. Localized independent organizing outside others efforts.
-- Relationships and possible alliances.

D. IWW specific / Rough thoughts and observations

1. IWW has a track record and experience here.

2. Has specifically established a union in this field:
Food and Retail Workers United (FRWU)
http://www.frwu.net/

3. Significant amount of work has gone into the Training stuff.

4. Develop a Fact Sheet which differentiates the IWW from the other food/ unions.
In 1930s IWW did this thing in the OBU Monthly: "What the Difference between the IWW,
CIO and AFL?" Do modern up-to-date comparison. Promotes IWW form of shopfloor unionism.

Edit 1

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Nate
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May 15 2013 17:56

Who are you referring to here? I'm confused.

syndicalist wrote:
the libertarian left and in cooperation with the IWW (...) left libertarian food workers

Also who do you see as hosting and attending such an event, and what would the results/goals be?

syndicalist
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May 15 2013 18:07

I am speaking broadly and generally. Writing random thoughts, mainly. But it would basically be an effort to support an IWW push in this industry should be something feasible.

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klas batalo
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May 15 2013 21:10

My interpretation of syndicalist's suggestion is that those types that would read libcom.org and the IWW could do this. Obviously there are some who are doing work similar or could orient to similar work via solidarity networks or workers' centers.

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Nate
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May 16 2013 00:56

I'm definitely not opposed, just trying to undersand because some of this sorta replicates recent/ongoing IWW member evnets like workpeoples college, organizing summit, regional gatherings, FRWU convention. Is this meant to a be broader thing than mostly wobs though? like the "alternative models of worker organizing" conference from like 2003? (sorry for typos, hard to type just now, I'm holding the baby.)

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klas batalo
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May 16 2013 02:18

honestly syndicalist is on the frwu list and since there has been zilch discussion on this or anything else there lately i suggest maybe it just be brought up if frwu wants to think about this in relation to it's organizing program for 2013. i think mainly the idea is areas there isn't iww independent groups of libertarians/syndicalists could try to start up similar activity.

syndicalist
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May 16 2013 20:44

Right quick.

Just so there's no confusion about what I previously jotted down is not meant as any sort of formal or informal proposal(s).

Just some thoughts and how, perhaps, the libertarian left and IWW might be able to be supportive of any "our side" organizing in fast food /food industry. My general thinking is, the IWW's FRWU would be the key organizing body in this unorganized field. So that's why you'll see some thoughts on that, as well as others. And I clearly do not wish to make formal proposals when I am not in the industry, do not know others capacities or speak for others who are active in the field or way deeper and active in the IWW. I am not able to do anything other then support stuff. Or share some initial thoughts.

Again, this is just me thinking out loud and trying to offer some constructive thoughts.
Of course, it could all be pie-in-the sky thoughts, but I'll own that aspect as well.