Around the union

An update on various IWW activities around the world as of April 2014.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on April 5, 2014

• The Boston IWW is in a celebratory mood because Insomnia Cookies has agreed to pay four Wobbly strikers back pay after they were illegally terminated for union activity. The Boston General Membership Branch (GMB) has been busy signing up new members, especially in the many fast food joints in and around Harvard Square in Cambridge, Mass. Conditions in the area are ripe for organizing, with rampant injustices such as the routine denial of premium overtime pay, refusal to pay workers their compensation, and managers’ insistence that employees should work off the clock. Harvard Square could emerge as the site of a new “corridor campaign” for our branch, with the goal of making this trendy neighborhood a hotbed of unionization. We’ve produced a new flyer for outreach to retail and service workers that is targeted at employees of Insomnia, where the campaign to unionize local stores continues. Our Insomnia Cookies IWW Organizing Committee has been holding productive and well-attended meetings. We are also making store visits (when managers are elsewhere) to introduce workers to the One Big Union. All fellow workers are invited to please come to Boston and visit our vibrant and growing branch! And what better place to come “salt” than our city by the sea, plagued by gentrification but also simmering with barely contained class rage?

• The Denver GMB will be hosting commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre in both Boulder and Denver, Colo. There is renewed interest in the IWW along the Front Range of the Rockies with members in Boulder, Colorado Springs, Denver, Ft. Collins and Pueblo. The Denver GMB is investigating holding an organizing training in the next couple of months.

• Lithuanian IWWs are forming a Regional Organizing Committee.

• Belgium IWWs will be attending Work People’s College in Berlin this summer.

• The Portland IWW and Portland Solidarity Network activists won several wage theft cases in February. They are still working on the campaign for back wages against a large Asian grocery store. An IWW-led campaign to raise the minimum wage by $5 per hour is going into neighborhoods with IWW and supporters canvasing. IWWs also helped blockade scabs at the Port of Vancouver, Wash., and again against a Guatemalan vessel.

• An organizer from West Scotland reports that Wobblies in the United Kingdom are sending £1,200 for the European Work People’s College in Berlin. The Clydeside GMB is also subsidizing travel for two delegates to Berlin in July. The Sussex branch was unfortunately dechartered. There are 802 members in all of the United Kingdom (with the 90 members in Scotland included in that number). The IWW National Conference will be held in London late May, but the exact date is not yet finalized. A workshop for trainers will be held in Birmingham in April.

Originally appeared in the Industrial Worker (April 2014)