A man is running down the street stabbing himself... The ICC

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Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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Apr 22 2006 19:32

Hi

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That is you differ fundamentally from the majority of people who have been active around the British anarchist movement over the past decade.

That’s so true. But, to be fair, he also has his bad points.

Quote:
I drink (possibly too much)

No change there.

PaulMarsh, Devrim must have been doing this to Class War personnel for over 15 years. You’d best leave it, otherwise you’ll end up naked and drunk.

Love

LR

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Devrim
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Apr 22 2006 20:16

Actually Lazy, I don't think I have done this (whatever this is) to a Class War member for about 15 years. I can remember a few of them getting to drunk to argue coherently. Did they need alcohol to get to that point wink. I don't think we ever left any of them naked, did we? embarrassed

Dev

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Alf
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Apr 22 2006 20:16

Bravo, Devrim. That took real courage (not getting CW members pissed, the posts you did earlier). And thanks to others who have at least been prepared to listen to our arguments, instead of just immediately condemning us as crazy cultists.

Paul, two questions

1. Could there be a genuine revolutionary organisation today which was not vilified as a mad cult by the bourgeoisie?

2. Do you really think we would have schlepped an international team to Manchester just to get our bulletins back?

OK, assume for a moment that we do have collective aspergers. We understand that social skills are needed and are ready and willing to learn. Why not come to some of our public meetings and help us? Or maybe there should be some live libcom meetings or conferences where we could come along and get better at interacting?

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Apr 22 2006 22:17

There's been a great deal of criticism of the way the ICC handled the issue of retrieving their (stolen) property.

It would be interesting to see what participants think about the following questions:

What is the correct way for responsible militants to leave a political organisation? Did those elements around Ingram behave in a responsible way?

Given that the departing elements had taken collective property from the homes of other militants - not simply keeping stuff they themselves had in their own homes! - what was the ICC supposed to do? Should they simply have absorbed the loss? And lets be clear about what that loss meant - the typewriters are what enabled the ICC to produce its press, the principle means of its intervention! Without a means of intervention, a revolutionary organisation is impotent. So, should an organisation allow the actions of a departing minority destroy - or severely damage - the entire organisation?

Lets make the question a bit more concrete. I don't pretend to know who owns the servers that run this website, but let us suppose that they have been paid for by a collection from all the participants of this site. Obviously they are based in a particular libcom members home - and one day this member decides that he's fed up with libcom. For whatever reason he decides to retire - and announces that he's keeping the server that we've all paid for and is going to use it to start his own internet dot.com business and libcom shall be no more! How would ... how should ... libcom react under such circumstances?

Now lets imagine that the member who has the server actually isn't the problem. Instead a small group are disillusioned with the way libcom is going and want out and want to take their money with them, despite knowing full well that their donation was not refundable. So they break into the house of the person that holds the server and take it, using it to start a new forum www.leninist.com! Would members of libcom stand by and let this happen? Call the police? Or go round and get their stuff back?

I think that when posed in this way, it becomes evident that the actions of the ICC which took place in exactly this context, are hardly as extreme as some participants have suggested. At the very least, even if you still disagree with the action the ICC took, it should at least be understandable.

Mike Harman
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Apr 22 2006 22:20

Without knowing the details of the case, retrieving that kind of infrastucture is understandable to a large extent.

I raised a question about internal bulletins which hasn't yet been answered though.

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Apr 22 2006 22:23
rkn wrote:
As for the ICC, well seeing as they only ever post on these forums to talk about themselves, never about anything else, i dont exactly warm to them!

It's not the ICC who starts the endless threads about it. They state their positions on topics that come up, or raise topics they think are important. How is that different to what any other participant does on this forum?

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Apr 22 2006 23:59

Becuase other people contribute to other threads which arent simply about themselves. Yes the ICC respond as the ICC on threads about the ICC by others, but they also only start threads about themselves and I have yet to see them contribute to a thread which isnt about the ICC.

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Apr 23 2006 00:09
Alf wrote:
Paul, two questions:

1. Could there be a genuine revolutionary organisation today which was not vilified as a mad cult by the bourgeoisie?

To be fair, it's not te bourgeoisie doing it, it's your fellow proletarians who have encountered you.

Would you really like us to come to your meetings and teach you social skills? grin grin

bastarx
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Apr 23 2006 01:30
rkn wrote:
Becuase other people contribute to other threads which arent simply about themselves. Yes the ICC respond as the ICC on threads about the ICC by others, but they also only start threads about themselves and I have yet to see them contribute to a thread which isnt about the ICC.

I haven't been around these forums as long as you but my experience is that an ICC member says something on a particular topic and then people start calling them a cult etc.

Even if they are a cult, they behave in a principled manner here so why not engage them in a similar way?

Pete

alibadani
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Apr 23 2006 07:51

You know I have noticed, the ICC doesn't spend a lot of time on dicussions about people's banks, primitivism, and nepalese maoists. They stick to a few issues. Fucking Bolshies.

Like I once said before, the accounts I've personally read about the ICC in person have usually been positive. Of course these are accounts by people generally sharing similar ideas. I've had some correspondence with the editors of Red and Black notes http://ca.geocities.com/red_black_ca/ based in Toronto. I often read the Commie Curmedgeon blog http://nomorebigwheels.blogspot.com/. They see the ICC in person and don't think it's a cult. I think I believe them.

The way you feel the ICC's comes across has a lot to do with what you think about thier politics. Can we at least admit that?

And judging from the growing influence the ICC has been having lately, I think they ought to keep on running around stabbing themselves. smile

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Apr 23 2006 09:20

Catch internal bulletins belong to the organisation. If someone leaves, we ask for them back. But that doesn't mean we can't have a discussion about particular texts or numbers which the departing member may ask to hang onto. I think I made it clear that had it simply been a matter of bulletins, we wouldn't have put all that effort into retrieving material. But you seem to agree that it is justified to retrieve equipment vital for the functioning of the organisation. This thread has seen a number of advances on these questions.

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Apr 23 2006 10:03
Alf wrote:

Paul, two questions:

1. Could there be a genuine revolutionary organisation today which was not vilified as a mad cult by the bourgeoisie?

2. Do you really think we would have schlepped an international team to Manchester just to get our bulletins back?

I don't think the bourgeoise know you exist. You have certainly never done anything that has damaged them.

Bobby
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Apr 23 2006 10:09

The point is from this thread is that you have all the revolutionary principles and ´correct line' all you want, but if you cant relate to people on a day to day practicle level, then your virtually consigned to the dustbin of history! Which is what much of the `left´lacks.

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Apr 23 2006 10:25

Bobby wrote:

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The point is from this thread is that you have all the revolutionary principles and ´correct line' all you want, but if you cant relate to people on a day to day practical level, then your virtually consigned to the dustbin of history! Which is what much of the `left’ lacks.

Yes Bobby, you are right it is important to relate to people, but having the 'correct line' is not merely an abstract thing. It doesn't make you revolutionary just because you can relate to people.

Paul wrote:

Quote:
I don't think the bourgeoise know you exist. You have certainly never done anything that has damaged them.

No, I don't think that the bourgeoisie knows the ICC exist. I am sure that some of them know of the existence of Class War. What however does 'damaging the bourgeoisie' mean? Has Class War as an organization (rather than individual members) ever done anything to damage the bourgeoisie. This does not include giving hack journalists something to write about on a slow day.

The point remains that it easier to abuse an organization than to deal with its politics.

I wrote:

Quote:
To go back to England, and practical things, when I was living there( at the time of the Wapping dispute), there were two groups/publications whom the anarchists had connections with. One was run by an ex-member of the Spartacist League, and was called ‘Picket’. The other was run by a member of the Labour Party, and called the ‘Fleet Street Support Unit’. The first argued for more violence, and was backed by most anarchists while the second argued for spreading the strike to the rest of what was then Fleet Street, and had very little anarchist support. I feel that we (and I include myself within this) backed the wrong horse due to a lack of political theory. I feel that this is what comes out of just being involved in the struggle without any theory.

I think that this is a much more valid discussion than whether the ICC is a sect.

Devrim

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Apr 23 2006 10:56
alibadani wrote:
The way you feel the ICC's comes across has a lot to do with what you think about thier politics. Can we at least admit that?

Personally I agree with a lot of what they say,and I enjoyed the recent discussion on decadence. I can only speak for myself but I have often found ICC members to be robotic, dogmatic and unwilling to engage in debate. When ICC members do engage in debate, as in the thread mentioned above, I think it has been worthwhile. I think some members of the ICC have made an effort recently, I for one appreciate it, I also think that libcommers have responded positively to this change. It also helps that Devrim has explained several of your positions very well.

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Apr 23 2006 11:02
Devrim wrote:
Paul wrote:
Quote:
I don't think the bourgeoise know you exist. You have certainly never done anything that has damaged them.

No, I don't think that the bourgeoisie knows the ICC exist. I am sure that some of them know of the existence of Class War. What however does 'damaging the bourgeoisie' mean? Has Class War as an organization (rather than individual members) ever done anything to damage the bourgeoisie. This does not include giving hack journalists something to write about on a slow day.

Can I just say I can see Devrim is making a fair point here, not an attack on CW, so it would be good to move on with the discussion from here rather than get into a row defending CW say. Paul, your comment about the ICC is unfair - anyone can make accusations like that about anyone, they don't help anything. Regardless of their politics it pretty certain that at least ICC members would have been involved in strikes or working class movements which have won gains.

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Apr 23 2006 12:09
Peter wrote:

I haven't been around these forums as long as you but my experience is that an ICC member says something on a particular topic and then people start calling them a cult etc.

Again, this is what im saying between the difference of seeing them online and seeing them face to face - intervening in your meetings or whatever.

Its impossible to remove the personal from anyones political actions/dialogue. You cant just base your ideas/judgement about somebody on what they say they are. If people have negative experiences (offline) they should voice those opinions.

Quote:
Even if they are a cult, they behave in a principled manner here so why not engage them in a similar way?

Not from my stand point, there whole principled manner seems like a load of crap to me. If they have be doing this for the last 31 years and this is what they are still doing, it seems like the kind of people one would want to steer well clear of! Their manner seems to be only to talk about themselves.

On a personal level - What im saying is why would I (and im sure there must be some ppl like me somewhere) be interested in even noticing who the ICC are if thats how they portray themselves. They are one of the least open sounding organisations i have ever come across.

And this isnt about the ICC, this is about a myriad of leftist groups who all behave in the same way, and im sure have done since whenever they formed.

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Apr 23 2006 13:24

Hi,

formal positions of correctness are a fairly limited way to evaluate persons or groups. The ICC have a certain invariant line consisting of some basic truths of internationalism, but it's more of a fixed ideology, than a developing theory. This fixed point of view is just as true of many anarchists, except they often lack even basic internationalist principles. Struggle is about interaction, risk-taking, self reflection, challenging one's own limits to try and advance, in words and practice. I think many people see an absence of this in the ICC's relationship with themselves and the rest of the world. I have talked with a couple of ICC members separately inc. one of their 'leading lights'. What I have noticed is that, away from the stage of a political arena, in a pub one to one for example, they are much more humane and sociable. In a meeting, they tend to encourage a certain performance mode amongst each other, almost competing to be the most rigourous and condemnatory. They seem to have a persecution complex, an attitude of, its a dirty lonely job defending true internationalist positions amid the constant dangers of the (ultra)leftist 'swamp', but someone's gotta do it. So the kind of criticism they get of being cult-like, which I have indulged in myself (as a genuine impression gained from them), to them is a verification of the correctness of their position - of course the left wing of capital would say that about them. Which is a convenient get out clause for any real self-examination. It's bound up with the dynamics of political groups in general and the inevitable reproduction of the social relations of the wider society within their form - a fact which needs to be kept in mind, not repressed.

But it is all too easy for the anarcho/ultra left scene to pat themselves on the back that at least they're not like the socially inept ICC - it fulfills a similar role to leninist ideology for anarchos- the lowest common denominator that at least all can unite to agree about, if nothing else. My view is, if the ICC are as much of a pain and distraction as people seem to be implying they are, then logically just ban them (I don't propose this - Pete's point about their posting behaviour is gd) . But I think they fulfill a function for their critics as an easy collective whipping post that enables the whippers to avoid confronting their own limits - the importance and attention they have achieved on libcom is absurd in a way. Years ago I participated in a series of meetings the ICC attended, and their interventionist manner - i. e. the way their arrogance created a certain atmosphere that restricted development of discussion for the most part, the preaching of the collective line which could be absorbed fairly quickly but never led beyond their basic learned by heart truths - was becoming so annoying to the rest of us that it became a dominating topic (It had nothing to do with disagreement with their basic internationalism). In the end it was decided to announce at beginning of next meeting that anyone being disruptive would have to leave the meeting immediately. From then on the 2 ICes were much better behaved. But the importance the 'ICC issue' assumed in that meeting group was really a symptom of the lack of direction and practice of the group itself, a lowest common denominator and a convenient avoidance of that problem.

Devrim, your general contributions often hit the nail right on the head- but I think you have to recognise that most of the severest critics of the ICC are not opposed to their basic internationalist principles, but to their group social function which is alienating, and not just to hardened politicos. I've been to meetings with people with no strong political views or competitive axe to grind, who've known nothing of the ICC and they also commented on the strange group dynamics of ICC after observing them. Counterposing the worst failings of anarchism to the ICC's critics is not that useful. It doesn't invalidate the criticisms in itself. It's like using the worst excesses of all those who have called themselves communist to criticise those who defend the ICC.

The ICC are rigid - basing a group around a small number of long established basic positions is almost a recipe for it - their activity is, it appears, solely propagandising the positions and the group - as if that is identical with struggle itself. Political character armour is heavy and stiff to wear - but that's true for the whole political spectrum.

BTW, Devrim, what do you mean by 'impotent rioting in Brixton'? Which riot? I'm against uncritical fetishising of rioting, but this is another valid criticism of the ICC and other ultra-leftists who routinely dismiss this aspect of struggle. The proletariat doesn't only struggle as a worker in the workplace - though sometimes it does riot in the workplace too.

BTW, PMarsh - its incorrect to say Class War were involved in the Save UCH Hospital strike/occupation. They had no presence there - you may be unintentionally confusing the fact that an occupier some time later joined CW.

In fact, what is the point of this thread, what purpose does it serve - this now ritualised endless restatement of mutually entrenched positions, is it a timely warning for the hordes of people queueing up to join the ICC? What am I doing here? I should get out more.

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Apr 23 2006 13:33

Hi

It is true that ICC are no worse than a “myriad of left groups”. But the ICC have a unique character, and are a very handy tool when it comes to the study of the left mileu as it continues in its (presumably unwitting) agenda of stifling authentic working class autonomy.

Perception of the ICC brand is poor, and as any marketing type will tell you, this is down to the way it’s people are seen to interact with the rest of the world, and also the quality of the product on offer.

Those who “like” the ICC’s advertising are the types who find the notion of setting style above content somewhat more distasteful than the average consumer. To develop rkn’s point, the approach is bound up in the ICC’s particular brand of stoic left communism. Here the working class is seen as a mere agent in the progression to communism rather than the point in-itself. I mean, rule one, you’ve got to at least appear interested in your customer.

It’s a logical consequence of giving ideology higher precedence than desire in the decision making process.

Love

LR

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Apr 23 2006 13:55

Here here. I think that's why people call them "quasi-religious" - (their idea of) Communism is the a priori, all important thing. Not only does this mean that they maintain a wierd way of interacting, but they also make up history to suit the needs of their ideology - for instance their positions on Spain and the CNT aren't just wrong, they're based on made-up premises. Only with Stalinists will you find those who deny the Revolution which was taking place (though obviously Stalinists and hte ICC do have a very different idea of what the working class should have done).

That being said I do admire the ICC in a number of ways. Its clear they've turned around a great deal from the situation it looks like they were in in the 90s. Its too bad they persist in calling groups like the ICG parasites. When I have stable housing I'll probably even order some of their press smile

An allegory: some months back an IWW member was found to be a manager at Starbucks. He refused to use his position to do anything (steal information, turn a blind eye to an organizing drive, etc) or step down from the union - so others broke into his house, threw him to the ground, and ripped up his membership card in his face. Is there another way that should have been handled?

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Apr 23 2006 15:38

Hi

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Is there another way that should have been handled?

They could expel him by text message. Are you against melodrama?

Love

LR

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Lazy Riser
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Apr 23 2006 15:40

Hi

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how the fuck did an IWW member end up managing Starbucks

He/she was there for more than a week.

Love

LR

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Apr 23 2006 16:13
revol68 wrote:
OliverTwister wrote:
Here here. I think that's why people call them "quasi-religious" - (their idea of) Communism is the a priori, all important thing. Not only does this mean that they maintain a wierd way of interacting, but they also make up history to suit the needs of their ideology - for instance their positions on Spain and the CNT aren't just wrong, they're based on made-up premises. Only with Stalinists will you find those who deny the Revolution which was taking place (though obviously Stalinists and hte ICC do have a very different idea of what the working class should have done).

That being said I do admire the ICC in a number of ways. Its clear they've turned around a great deal from the situation it looks like they were in in the 90s. Its too bad they persist in calling groups like the ICG parasites. When I have stable housing I'll probably even order some of their press smile

An allegory: some months back an IWW member was found to be a manager at Starbucks. He refused to use his position to do anything (steal information, turn a blind eye to an organizing drive, etc) or step down from the union - so others broke into his house, threw him to the ground, and ripped up his membership card in his face. Is there another way that should have been handled?

just expelled him? confused

how the fuck did an IWW member end up managing Starbucks? confused

Why should they have given him the dignity?

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Apr 23 2006 17:18

The idea that the bourgeoisie doesn't have a fairly detailed knowledge of every 'subversive' organisation, especially international ones, shows incredible naivety and flies in the face of a large body of experience.

But the point about the bourgeoisie vilifying revolutionary organisations is this the idea of revolutionary organisations as fanatical sects is a key aspect of contemporary bourgeois propaganda campaigns against marxism. This ideological poison is extremely widespread and corrosive. It can therefore affect the anarchist milieu as well.

alibadani
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Apr 23 2006 17:24

The anarchist milieu influenced by bourgeois ideology? Can't be.

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OliverTwister
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Apr 23 2006 17:28

Yes, the German Social Democratic party was at one point a real expression of worker's consciousness!

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Apr 23 2006 17:36
Alf wrote:
The idea that the bourgeoisie doesn't have a fairly detailed knowledge of every 'subversive' organisation, especially international ones, shows incredible naivety and flies in the face of a large body of experience.

But the point about the bourgeoisie vilifying revolutionary organisations is this

When have the bouregoisie ever villified the ICC?

Why would they possibly care what the ICC says or does (assuming the ICC does things, as all I have ever seen the ICC do in the past 15 years is turn up at other people's meetings and give those present the benefit of their analysis)

Do you still think you will be doing the same things in 15 years time?

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Apr 23 2006 19:11
OliverTwister wrote:
An allegory: some months back an IWW member was found to be a manager at Starbucks. He refused to use his position to do anything (steal information, turn a blind eye to an organizing drive, etc) or step down from the union - so others broke into his house, threw him to the ground, and ripped up his membership card in his face. Is there another way that should have been handled?

Firstly, as revol points out, if this was even that contraversial why the fuck didn't they just expell him. Secondly what authority do you think a starbucks shopfloor manager has? Would you extend this kind of immaturity to anyone in a supervisory position? Last time i checked my supervisor was just some bloke who earned a pound an hour more than me not my ''class enemy'' you muppet!

All in all this just sounds like patetic anarcho-posturing of the worst type.

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Apr 23 2006 19:51

I don't know the whole story. I don't know why he wasn't simply expelled through bureaucratic methods.

A manager at Starbucks gets paid (large) bonuses to keep labor costs down. Thusly yes part of their job function is on the other side of the class line. Not to mention the IWW constitution does not allow anyone who has the power to "hire or fire" to be a member of the union. Supervisors make neither these bonuses nor have the power to hire or fire, they are slightly better paid baristas with experience. That being said I'm sure they wouldn't have done this to any old manager but did it to someone who was a self-proclaimed revolutionary working as a boss and taking a hostile stance to the organizing efforts of his own "comrades"!

To make things more complicated: this happened in the northeast, where most classist anarchists identify at least in the proximity of NEFAC. This guy, and some of the other principal players in the story, were to my understanding involved with NEFAC on different levels; so this may also have had to do with the reaction that would have happened if an anti-union manager had been involved with NEFAC.

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Apr 23 2006 20:57
OliverTwister wrote:
I don't know the whole story. I don't know why he wasn't simply expelled through bureaucratic methods.

A manager at Starbucks gets paid (large) bonuses to keep labor costs down.Thusly yes part of their job function is on the other side of the class line. Not to mention the IWW constitution does not allow anyone who has the power to "hire or fire" to be a member of the union. Supervisors make neither these bonuses nor have the power to hire or fire, they are slightly better paid baristas with experience. That being said I'm sure they wouldn't have done this to any old manager but did it to someone who was a self-proclaimed revolutionary working as a boss and taking a hostile stance to the organizing efforts of his own "comrades"!

To make things more complicated: this happened in the northeast, where most classist anarchists identify at least in the proximity of NEFAC. This guy, and some of the other principal players in the story, were to my understanding involved with NEFAC on different levels; so this may also have had to do with the reaction that would have happened if an anti-union manager had been involved with NEFAC.

Ah makes a bit more sense now i guess, although it still seems ridiculous why they didn't just expell the guy.

Although i'd be carful about the defintion of 'manager', in company's like starbucks and mcdonalds. Since that title is given to anyone who runs a shift who otherwise you';d hardly see as a manager. Also a supervisor does have the power to hire and fire in most instances, a shift manager can realistically. I've always thought its a bit of an outdated defintion for membership.