Petition to Recall Anti-Democratic IWW GEB Members

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klas batalo's picture
klas batalo
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Jun 14 2021 21:02
Petition to Recall Anti-Democratic IWW GEB Members

The current IWW General Executive Board has put the union on the fast track to being unrecognizable: a top-down, staff-driven, unaccountable non-profit that is spending down the treasury as quickly as they can.

Concerned rank-and-file IWW members have submitted a petition to recall four GEB members for consistent participation in multiple actions that contradict the IWW Constitution since taking office in January 2021.

klas batalo's picture
klas batalo
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Jun 15 2021 15:04
Quote:
Criticism of Staff
———————

Per GEB Motion JW-11 (2021) IWW members are no longer allowed to criticize union staff in the GOB, for the first time in the IWW’s history.

The type of anti-democratic censorship rank and file are dealing with lately.

Lucky Black Cat's picture
Lucky Black Cat
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Jun 15 2021 19:15

This is horrifying stuff. If these General Executive Board members succeed in making the changes they want, it would mean the end of the IWW in anything but name. It would destroy its radical, class struggle, syndicalist nature and making it just another business union.

asn
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Jun 16 2021 11:02

This rightward shift toward copying the corporate unions in certain ways and associated bureaucratisation is an inevitable result of the fantasy that syndicalist minority union movements can incrementally grow bigger and bigger and become mass syndicalist industrial union movements. Encircled by and competing with the corporate unions, its outcome is always likely to be significant splits toward the business/corporate unions. As occurred in the mid 1950's with the US IWW and now it seems. Some years back there was a significant rightward split in the Swedish SAC (Swedish Workers Centre) associated with several ombudsmen - union officials toward the corporate unions . The SAC has been involved in this incremental approach and drawn into collaboration with the Swedish IR system and subsequently welfare State since the late 1920's. The key to building mass syndicalist unions remains more in the development of strike wave movements, major splits from the corporate unions and associated long range strategic organising to achieve it and transitional steps toward mass syndicalist unionism.

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Felix Frost
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Jun 16 2021 13:22

While I agree that there are valid reasons to criticize the current General Executive Board, the language of this recall petition (and on this thread so far) is a bit hyperbolic. I haven't looked into all the issues in detail, but I have noticed that there have recently been endless anti-GEB threads on the internal IWW forum which unfortunately mostly just consist of endless moaning about disagreeing with the forum moderation policy. If the rest of the issues brought up in the recall petition hold the same standard as the complaints about censorship, I can't say I'm very impressed.

There are actually some valid discussions to be had here about how it's possible to grow to become an actual mass organization without becoming bureaucratized and falling into reformist traps. It's a bit sad that having actual political or ideological discussions seems to be frowned upon in the IWW, so all disagreements instead take the form of denouncing individuals for their personal failings.

This whole debacle might also be an illustration of why it may not be that great an idea to entrust oversight of your whole organisation to a handful of more-or-less randomly elected individuals.

syndicalist
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Jun 17 2021 17:11

Yikes.... I mean, I'm not a big IWW fan (nor against it) , but this is quite odd. How did these folks become elected in the first place? I mean, yes, by ballot, but weren't their views known in advance?

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Jun 18 2021 23:53

Felix, you may be right in a lot of what you say (or maybe not, I honestly don't know), but I think we can agree that item #11 should set off alarms. I don't think it's hyperbolic to say that accepting no-strike clause contracts would change the fundamental character of the Canadian IWW.

2021 GEB Recall Evidence Summary wrote:
11. Declaring Canada exempt from the IWW Constitution.

At the April 26 GEB meeting, a majority of the Board voted to approve a memo that discusses a
few items related to the IWW’s ban on no-strike clauses and how that applies to Canadian labor
law, ultimately stating that “the GEB will henceforth recognize that Canada is exempt from any
and all constitutional rules that are in contradiction with Canadian provincial and federal laws.” Aside from the fact that the GEB does not have the power to void the Constitution, there is
nothing in the Constitution that directly contradicts Canadian law on the issues discussed in the
memo, not to mention that any contract containing a no-strike clause would not be allowed per
the IWW International Guiding Principles and Rules. Additionally, no Canadian IWW bodies
were consulted on the decision to release this memo.

ajjohnstone
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Jun 19 2021 00:06

I think that reconciling IWW with mainstream unionism is something that has always faced them over the decades as they tried to become more effective where the strength of numbers from its pioneering days has disappeared.

The original stance was no signing of any employment contracts whatsover and solidarity alone was power enough but that position ended when membership diminished.

The IWW now also makes use of employment tribunals and industrial relation laws when need be.

For the uber and gig workers, the IWW seemed to be have been superseded by other grassroots unions such as the IWGB and other models of organising.

What depresses me is not the acceptance of the real polik of the changing conditions and endeavouring to adapt but its internal democratic administration being questioned but I am in no position to pass judgement over who holds the high ground.

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Felix Frost
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Jun 19 2021 17:57
Lucky Black Cat wrote:
Felix, you may be right in a lot of what you say (or maybe not, I honestly don't know), but I think we can agree that item #11 should set off alarms. I don't think it's hyperbolic to say that accepting no-strike clause contracts would change the fundamental character of the Canadian IWW.

Actually, the only thing this does is clarify that the Canadian IWW are allowed to sign contracts. The ironic thing is that most of the people I have seen complaining the loudest about this also agree that they are in fact is allowed to do this. So in essence they are having a huge outcry over the fact that the GEB is declaring that the Canadian IWW are allowed to do something that they themselves agree that the Canadian IWW are allowed to do.

syndicalist
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Jun 22 2021 12:57

This just didn't happen overnight, right? This must've been building for a while. Is its origins in the whole issue of contracts, NLRB elections, no-strike clauses and so forth?

klas batalo's picture
klas batalo
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Jun 22 2021 13:52

Partially that partially the remnants of WRUM type anarcho-technocracy

syndicalist
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Jun 22 2021 18:32
klas batalo wrote:
Partially that partially the remnants of WRUM type anarcho-technocracy

WRUM = Wobblies for a Revolutionary Union Movement?

Gotcha!

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Jun 24 2021 17:22

Isn't one of the officials subject to recall, Selena Caldera, a Republican lobbyist? Here's her in a list (using the name Selena Coppa) of those stumping for Ted Cruz in 2016: http://www.p2016.org/cruz/cruz043016prwa.html

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Jun 24 2021 17:34

Could someone unpack the line about "WRUM anarcho-technocracy" a bit more? I would have understood WRUM/remnants of WRUM to be very much on the other side from SC and so on.

popopop9
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Jun 24 2021 20:33

The whole thing is just part of our annual "conservative faction attacks people they don't like" routine. They throw around phrases like "anti-democratic" (i.e. you cant just treat any comrade as shitty as you want without consequences) and "business unions" (i.e. letting workers on the shopfloor decide what's best for them, even if it doesn't jibe with what some keyboard warrior thinks is the Right Way to Organize) and hope to get people riled up. I think by this point most members can see that this faction is getting desperate, they keep losing elections and they really really really don't want to see the union move past a small subculture run by a central intelligentsia.

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eugene
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Jun 25 2021 17:39

The whole “conservative” or “wobservative” slur has been ridiculous sense it’s origins and now has become a parody. For anyone not familiar, a “wobservative” in the IWW world is anyone who rejects the conservative practices of establishment unions. They are against being top down and staff driven, against the shallow organizing of an authorization drive, they are against dues check off and most importantly they are against labor peace. For some that means limited use of the legal regime provided that no contracts are signed that restrict the right of workers to take direct action on the shop floor to resolve grievances and for others such as myself, a belief that we should withdraw from the legal framework entirely.

It’s important to note that in spite of all the media hype around certain campaigns, the wobservatives are the only ones who have demonstrated that they can maintain a militant union (or any union) on the shop floor and are the only ones who have succeeded in negotiating a contract in recent memory, because it takes power on the shop floor to enforce one. This doesn’t account for the numerous shop committees winning demands on the job but whose existence is not Twitter friendly.

The shift happening in the IWW right now will fundamentally change the union if left unchallenged. What is happening is what has happened to every other union in that careerist are seeking to take advantage of a largely disengaged membership to entrench themselves as paid bureaucrats. My understanding is something similar happened in wisera IWW.

The response to this has not been “factional” and it is why like the petition to uphold the prohibition on signing a No Stike Cluase, the recall is 100% going to happen. Because people like myself who do actual organizing but have never participated in NARA drama are actually pissed off. I’m not a part of some “intelligentsia”, I’m A self educated high school dropout who does not want some rich kids siphoning off my dues so that they can have a cushy job.

popopop9
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Jun 25 2021 13:20

Honestly, we can just skip through all of those random accusations and sum it up with this quote:

Quote:
How the GEB got elected for those that asked has largely to do with the huge paper membership that is uninformed but votes in referendum. Additionally the people that do vote largely do so off of name recognition.

This is the entire reason behind the petition. The conservative faction consistently looses elections and, rather than realizing that their One Right Way To Organize™ is deeply unpopular, they blame the electorate and engage in extra-democratic shenanigans to get their way. Its especially ironic this year, given that the election had a lot of candidates, many with high-profile names, and yet they lean on this argument now, ignoring the fact that last year it was an unelected board, mostly stocked with appointed friends of the GST and GEB chair (but that kind of thing is ok when its your friends, right?).

Literally no one in the union wants it to be run by a professional class, its one of our few agreed-upon ideas that this faction seizes on and wields against their enemies. The paid positions they're complaining about? That was put to a vote, not decided by the GEB. But you cant subvert rank-and-file democracy by blaming the voters so they have to pin it on the first all-female GEB because its pretty easy to dig up some latent misogyny among the IWW.

klas batalo's picture
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Jun 25 2021 18:12

Exactly basically direct unionists and wobblyists are now somehow conservatives, while actual labor rightists in the union are somehow the “true revolutionaries”.

klas batalo's picture
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Jul 6 2021 19:29

After banning criticism of or charging of paid staff and banning the GST and GHQ from constitutionally fulfilling their duty to make mass communications to branches and members about the recall we are now seeing further obstruction of rank and file efforts to recall the leadership.

The Communications Officer is not sending emails to all members who signed the recall. They are only emailing those emails listed on Red Card database, even though they were provided the best current contact information for each recall petition signer. They are also discounting any signer who was in good standing when they signed the petition in June if they are not in good standing in July even though the petition was submitted in June.

This leaves the number of members they are choosing to verify less than the amount needed for recall. They are doing this on purpose!

It is clear that the GEB members under recall and the Communications Officer have a conflict of interest and are absolutely corrupt! They are acting like tyrant union bosses! Enough is enough!

Out with them all!

syndicalist
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Aug 13 2021 17:27

Has this been resolved?

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Lucky Black Cat
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Aug 17 2021 20:47

No not yet

syndicalist
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Sep 3 2021 19:34
Lucky Black Cat wrote:
No not yet

thank you