An Interview with IWW Barista Alex van Schaick by Andrej Grubacic

Interview with Alex van Schaick, a worker at Starbucks Coffee Corporation and an organizer with the IWW Starbucks Workers Union. First published in Z Magazine.

Submitted by Bubbles on June 5, 2007

GRUBACIC: Tell me a bit about yourself and the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

VAN SCHAICK: I've been working for Starbucks in Manhattan at 29th Street for almost five months. I went public with my membership in the Industrial Workers of the World recently. Since I began my involvement with the IWW, I have become an active participant and organizer in both major IWW campaigns in New York.

In 1905 the organizers of the Industrial Workers of the World (or "Wobblies") founded "one big union" to abolish wage slavery for the entire working class. This IWW strategy contrasted starkly with that of the conservative craft unions in the American Federation of Labor (AFL). The craft unions took care of only their own members. Thus, they divided the working class, allowing it to be conquered by the owning class. By embracing the entire working class, the Wobblies' industrial unionism included all workers, regardless of race, gender, ethnic origin, or religion. The Wobblies organized lumberjacks in the Deep South to form the first fully integrated lumberjacks union. They organized multiracial locals of southern mill workers, iron miners, agricultural workers, and black longshore workers in New York City and Baltimore. One of the high points was their successful strike in 1912 in Lawrence, Massachusetts where 20,000 textile workers, a majority of whom were young women, won a long, bitter strike, in spite of police truncheons and militia bayonets.

GRUBACIC: What are the most important campaigns and organizing efforts of the New York City IWW today?

VAN SCHAICK: The IWW has two major union drives in New York City at the moment: the Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) and the Food and Allied Workers Union. The SWU is part of the IWW's local of retail workers while the FAWU falls under the union's food service and distribution. The SWU emerged almost three years ago and has become one of the most vibrant IWW campaigns in a long time. Since then, Starbucks workers have publicly declared their IWW membership in four states and many more continue to organize all over the country and the world.

GRUBACIC: What are the issues that you see with Starbucks? I thought they were a responsible corporation that treated their workers with respect and dignity.

VAN SCHAICK: Starbucks talks a "socially responsible" talk, but the reality is less pleasant. Starbucks fails to pay a living wage to its workers and shift supervisors. Through agitation, the union has pressured Starbucks to raise the initial wage in New York City from $7.75 an hour in 2004 to $8.75 an hour. However, Starbucks still has a nationwide policy that discriminates against long-term employees: after one substantial raise at six months with the company, you are only eligible for raises of 10-20 cents and your wage is capped at $11.00 an hour.

Starbucks' scheduling policy compounds the low wages. All Starbucks workers and shift supervisors are mandatory part-time employees. Schedules change every week based on the managers' discretion and business demands. On top of this, Starbucks does not guarantee a minimum number of weekly hours. A worker could receive 30 hours one week then 15 hours the next. This schedule makes it extremely difficult to live. Also, ironically, while many workers want more hours, Starbucks stores across the country are chronically understaffed.

Scheduling is one of the areas where the union has been able to make a difference on the shop floor. When workers in New York organized with the IWW and went public with their union membership, they received an "unofficial" minimum guaranteed schedule of hours and gained more control over their scheduling.

GRUBACIC: I was reading recently the book Dynamite, a book about class violence in the U.S. by Louis Adamic. He discusses the diversity of tactics used by the Wobblies throughout history, always celebrating "abundant guts and revolutionary fervor." Can you talk about the tactics chosen by the New York IWW?

VAN SCHAICK: Organizing at Starbucks, a powerful anti-union company, is an uphill battle and we constantly seek to refine our strategy to ensure sus-tainability. The union has won significant victories, such as higher wages, better scheduling in union shops, and a number of individual grievances. Initially, we tested the waters with a union certification petition through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) as one part of a broader strategy. However the election petition resulted in an appeal. We felt we would either lose the appeal or the process would be drawn out for years, so we withdrew the petition.

Since then, we have emphasized "solidarity unionism." Rather than focusing on winning majorities in every shop, we have used pressure tactics to resolve individual or store-wide grievances. When, for example, management began discriminating against a union member for wearing a pentagram, a symbol of her Wiccan beliefs, the union issued a press release and passed out leaflets to customers at her store detailing the situation. Within a week, we resolved the situation.

Still, Starbucks' anti-union campaign has made organizing extremely difficult. Starbucks illegally fired two IWW organizers in 2005. A year later the NLRB bro- kered a settlement that forced the company to reinstate both organizers and agree to cease and desist all illegal surveillance, discrimination, and bribery in its efforts to bust the union. Since the agreement, Starbucks has fired another six organizers and has continued other illegal means of discouraging union membership.

One of the most potent weapons the Starbucks Workers Union does have is publicity. The union has developed a sophisticated campaign, which aims to hold Starbucks accountable and create a more favorable climate for organizing.

GRUBACIC: I have met some NYU students who seem really excited about the Justice from Bean to Cup campaign. Is this a related effort?

VAN SCHAICK: Part of Starbucks' formula for success has been its socially responsible brand. Starbucks makes customers feel like they are doing "good" while getting their coffee fix. Each one-pound bag of beans reads: "Good coffee, doing good. We believe there's a connection between the farmers who grow our coffees, us and you.... By drinking this coffee, you're helping us make a difference." By the same token, the company also touts its "stellar" treatment of its employees.

The SWU launched a Justice from Bean to Cup campaign to force Starbucks to live up to its socially responsible image. Justice from Bean to Cup combines a number of different approaches. Students at NYU joined the campaign and asked NYU to stop serving Starbucks bottled Frappuccino beverages on campus; a worker-led delegation went to meet coffee farmers in Ethiopia; and we have just released a short documentary entitled Partners? and a Starbucks "Corporate Irresponsibility Report" that highlights our experiences in Ethiopia as well as organizing on the shop floor.

GRUBACIC: The IWW in New York is more than just Starbucks, right? Haven't you won some victories in Brooklyn?

VAN SCHAICK: The Food and Allied Workers Union (FAWU) aims to organize low-wage, mainly immigrant workers in the hundreds of restaurant distribution warehouses that pepper the industrial districts in Northern Brooklyn and Queens. The campaign started in the summer of 2005 when IWW organizers met two warehouse workers at the Bushwick community center. The workers complained of terrible conditions at Handyfat Trading. They received $280 for a 60-plus hour week (roughly $4.50 per hour with no overtime-in 2005 the New York State minimum wage was $6.00 per hour), they had no sick or personal days, and their manager would frequently launch into tirades, calling them "dirty Mexicans."

As the campaign developed, the IWW learned that these working conditions characterized the entire food distribution industry, as well as the kitchens in most restaurants. Warehouse and restaurant owners- often immigrants themselves-systematically abused and paid below minimum wage to their mostly immigrant workforce and relied on inter-ethnic ties or the threat of deportation to keep their workers quiet.

By December 2005, nine of Handyfat's employees had joined the IWW and marched on their shop to declare their union membership and demand proper wages. Within several months, the union won a minority contract, complete with wage increases, sick days, vacation time, and other perks. More importantly, the threat of worker action silenced the most abusive manager.

In 2006 the union organized four other warehouses. In late April the owner of Amersino Marketing Group rigged the union election by bringing in a fictitious "night shift" to vote against the union. The following day he illegally fired several union leaders. After ten months in court, an NLRB judge ordered Amersino to reinstate two of the fired workers. The union plans to appeal to win reinstatement for a third worker who was erroneously left out of the decision.

At EZ-Supply/Sunrise Plus Marketing Corp., workers won their NLRB election and forced their employer to pay the legal wage. In November 2006 the union finally dragged management to the bargaining table and hammered out a tentative contract.

Instead, in December 2006, the owners of several warehouses, including Handyfat and EZ-Supply, decided to play their trump card. Also in December the union filed back wages class action suit on behalf of workers at these same shops. Over Christmas, workers at Handyfat, EZ-Supply, and a third warehouse, Top City Produce, received identical letters from management requesting them to furnish immigration papers or be dismissed. Many of the workers had been employed at these warehouses for over a decade and had never been asked to show any documentation of their immigration status. Legally, an employer must request proper documentation within the first 72 hours of work. The week after Christmas, the management at EZ-Supply fired all 14 union workers. The next day IWW representatives served them with a summons regarding the union's back wage case. The next week, Handyfat followed suit.

GRUBACIC: What was the role of the community in this struggle?

VAN SCHAICK: The response from the community has been terrific. While there have been a lot of lonely picket lines over the last year, several hundred supporters marched for justice on Martin Luther King Day and Presidents' Day. El Diario, New York's largest Spanish-language daily, has run several substantial articles on the situation, as has the Daily News and various community papers. We have also been increasing economic pressure on EZ-Supply by convincing its customers to switch to other suppliers. While we aren't waiting for the NLRB or any other government agency, the NLRB is conducting an investigation into the firings.

The Department of Justice is investigating the improper request for immigration papers, which could result in jail time for the owners of EZ-Supply and Handyfat.

The major impediment both campaigns face stems from a lack of resources. As a small labor union with a broad vision of social change, we don't have the funds and people power we need. This means we desperately need an office where we can hold meetings and keep our materials, yet New York City's high rents keep this out of reach. The Food and Allied Workers Union's organizing efforts are hampered by the lack of a volunteer organizer who speaks Mandarin or Cantonese. Fundraising efforts on behalf of the SWU and FAWU are underway and will hopefully bear fruit. Additionally, the Starbucks Workers Union and Justice from Bean to Cup hope to recruit students.

GRUBACIC: How do you explain the recent resuscitation of the IWW?

VAN SCHAICK: Although the IWW has been in existence for the last 102 years, membership rapidly declined after WWII. For the next five decades or so a small group of people kept the organization alive, without doing a whole lot of large-scale organizing. Over the last six or seven years, union membership and the number of serious IWW organizing drives have grown dramatically.

I see a lot of factors accounting for the gaining notoriety of the IWW. I think that the neoliberal revolution initiated by Reagan in the U.S. and Thatcher in the UK should put to rest the notion that employers and workers share common cause. Organized labor's response to the neoliberal assault initiated by Reagan has been remarkably timid. In the face of privatization, deregulation, and the erosion of U.S. manufacturing jobs, labor presented a defensive strategy that attempted to mitigate the damage. Even with the increase in funds spent on organizing that has followed the AFL-CIO split, the percent of unionized workers in the U.S. has continued to go down. As the ship is sinking, you have career bureaucrats like Andy Stern, president of Change to Win, proposing a "new" unionism that represents a repackaged version of conservative strategies that have dominated the AFL-CIO's thinking for the last 55 years.

The IWW, on the other hand, has always maintained a broader vision of rank-and-file unionism and democracy in the workplace that many people find an attractive alternative to the myopia of labor officials. My intent isn't to be sectarian or lambast all union officials, many of whom have spent their lives fighting for workers' rights. You will see Wobblies on the picket line of any union that has asked for our solidarity and we have very strong ties with many AFL-CIO and Change to Win locals and rank-and-file unionists in these organizations. Rather, I'm trying to argue against an age-old labor strategy that refuses to acknowledge class conflict, lacks a vision of transforming the world of work, and encourages an alienated patron-client mentality among rank- and-file members, rather than an empowered, participatory one.

Another phenomenon is that many veteran activists from the global justice movement see organizing in the IWW as a logical step forward from the street protests against corporate globalization. For this group of people, the IWW represents an action-oriented vehicle for creating positive change in the economic sphere.

Another factor is the Starbucks Workers Union campaign, which has attracted a lot of attention in the media around the country and has sparked the imagination of many young people. I hope that the experience of the Food and Allied Workers Union, as it becomes better publicized, will inspire more people to get involved with the IWW.

Z

Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist historian and contributor to Z.

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Comments

rata

16 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rata on June 5, 2007

Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist historian and contributor to Z.

You just don't know how fucked up is this guy. He ran away from Serbia some time ago because of pressure we placed on him. Wasn't able to develop a career here because of us. Wouldn't recommend you going around publishing his stuff, even if it is IWW related. It's just a bad advertisement with anybody who knows him...

Flint

16 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on June 5, 2007

rata

Andrej Grubacic is an anarchist historian and contributor to Z.

You just don't know how fucked up is this guy. He ran away from Serbia some time ago because of pressure we placed on him. Wasn't able to develop a career here because of us. Wouldn't recommend you going around publishing his stuff, even if it is IWW related. It's just a bad advertisement with anybody who knows him...

Why?

rata

16 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rata on June 5, 2007

Flint

Why?

Academic, trying to build his career on anarchism. Doesn't bother enough to know what he is talking about, but acts as a theoretician of the movement. In one of his bullshits described IWA and IWW (??) as anarchist federations.

Serbian nationalist, sexist, person detached from any practice. Wanna be Serbian Chomsky. Serious shit face. Person who doesn't understand anything, but is still acting as a master of the universe. Real bad combination.

I just don't have time nor will to discus this guy on line anymore. It is enough to read his idiotic texts, or listen to some of his speeches, and to see what he is up to, and how fucked up he is. He never says anything in his texts, expect making references to new books he read (heard of?), and his "good friends" - from Graber to Chomsky. Worthless cunts all of them. Was active in all different things (from French ATTACK to PGA), for a short period (he moved from ATTACK to PGA, with all different things in between in a period of 2 or 3 years), until people find out what a fuck he is. PGA, a notable example. Had a group here, created of artists, postmodern morons, jugglers, animal liberationists and some post-Maoists called "Different world is possible". They organized a PGA meeting some years ago. The meeting was a fiasco, and I guess one of the last nails in the coffin of the PGA shit. Tried to sabotage and stop people who came to PGA conference to join strike we organized at that time together with the union of electro-distribution workers (more than 2000 workers present, blocking central streets of Belgrade for hours), by claiming that it is organized by violent anarcho-syndicalists, and that there is a danger of everybody being arrested. Didn't engage in any organizing of the security for the camp, even if we had warned them that the Nazis are getting ready to attack the camp. So when the Nazis came, they called police to protect them, even if they were something like 100 times more numerous than the Nazis. The place which was used for the conference was got with the help of the local government social democrats. His group dissolved immediately after the PGA meeting, because of the fights about the money and individual contributions to the conference. They were just used as one of steps in developing of his career, and they felt bad about it when they realized it (can you imagine, postmodernists realizing anything!). If you mention the guy to any of his previous friends you are risking of getting hit in the head. And that coming from postmodern hipi loonies.

He is not our problem anymore, after threats we made to him he moved away to US. He can continue embarrassing the title anarchism there. Presently engaged in support for worker share-holders in several "occupied" factories in Serbia. Social-democrat bastard, like majority of his friends from Z thing.

In last few months he turned from being member of "Global Balkan" or something like that, to being an activist of "Freedom fight" "movement" in Serbia. http://www.freedomfight.net (site down at this moment, probably will go up soon) - some good people there, but no understanding of anything really. Real soup in their heads. Typical anti-globalist socialism of the imbeciles. Anarchism + Che Guevara + workers share holding - in one of interviews of their activists this person said he become anarcho-communist after lengthy research of lives and works of revolutionaries Che Guevara and Fidel Castro. Even Grubacic knows better, but he just doesn't have anybody else in Serbia who would work with him. He is publishing with them Balkan Zmag now.

Bubbles

16 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Bubbles on June 5, 2007

ever think about emailing Alex van Schaick to warn him?

Friend

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Friend on June 16, 2007

I would be careful to trust this guy Rata. I heard many good words about people in Freedom Fight. There are few good interwievs with them I found on the web.

http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/bohm040207.html

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=74&ItemID=12160

As people from other anarchists collectives from Serbia told me - the only one collective with which they won`t cooperate is Rata`s collective. Its structure is hierarhical and all they do is advertising their useless activities. They use no matter what means to do that. Only people with whom they cooperate are some stalinist organizations.

rata

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rata on June 16, 2007

AG at his best...

Friend

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Friend on June 16, 2007

Hi Jack,

you didn`t understand me. Rata`s collective is hierarhical. Rata is there something like a ruler. There are some kids doing dirty job for him and running around while he is sitting in his expensive, bourgeois villa that his daddy removed, General Manager BMP/Hyatt, bought it for him. That is the main reason why Rata hates workers shareholders. Rata probably never saw a worker in his life. And if you ever heard that something is organized by ASI in Serbia that`s a big lie. That`s the reason why all other anarchists in Serbia despise ASI and especially rata. Ask them! Don`t believe rata`s lies.

thugarchist

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by thugarchist on June 16, 2007

Friend

Hi Jack,

you didn`t understand me. Rata`s collective is hierarhical. Rata is there something like a ruler. There are some kids doing dirty job for him and running around while he is sitting in his expensive, bourgeois villa that his daddy name removed, General Manager BMP/Hyatt, bought it for him. That is the main reason why Rata hates workers shareholders. Rata probably never saw a worker in his life. And if you ever heard that something is organized by ASI in Serbia that`s a big lie. That`s the reason why all other anarchists in Serbia despise ASI and especially rata. Ask them! Don`t believe rata`s lies.

I'm generally of the opinion that people who try to discredit anarchists with bullshit like this are, what we call in the US, giant fuckfaces. Argue his politics asshole.

Friend

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Friend on June 16, 2007

hey asshole,

fuck you and your bourgeois friend. About rata there is nothing to be said except that he always talk bullshit about other anarchists like he did it here. There is no such thing as his politics and especially there is no such thing as his practise. All he does is flying around the world and meeting with other asshole anarchists like the one you are. Those anarchists are enough stupid that believe in his lies about how big revolutionary he is and how many protests he organised. Just a bunch of lies! Fuck you!

thugarchist

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by thugarchist on June 16, 2007

Friend

hey asshole,

fuck you and your bourgeois friend. About rata there is nothing to be said except that he always talk bullshit about other anarchists like he did it here. There is no such thing as his politics and especially there is no such thing as his practise. All he does is flying around the world and meeting with other asshole anarchists like the one you are. Those anarchists are enough stupid that believe in his lies about how big revolutionary he is and how many protests he organised. Just a bunch of lies! Fuck you!

Yeah. I'm sure Rata really want to meet with me. He probably dreams about it. If all he does is "talk bullshit about other anarchists" and that's bad, then what are you doing here?

Friend

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Friend on June 16, 2007

What am I doing here?! Well, I`m sick of the anarchists with minds of the capitalists. And all the logic of capitalism is present in `workings` of ASI. Investements, advertising, profit, etc. All rata wants is to keep `monopol` over anarchists scene in Serbia. That`s why he attacks other anarchists. Like I said ask other anarchists in Serbia! But don`t worry he`ll lose this time and than he can go to his daddy and cry on his shoulder.

organizer

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by organizer on June 16, 2007

I met Rata at the I99 conference.

Seriously, Rata is your dad the head of Hyatt International in Yugoslavia?

organizer

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by organizer on June 16, 2007

Is Rata the son of a Hotel Corporate Executive?

Friend

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Friend on June 16, 2007

Is Rata the son of a Hotel Corporate Executive?

Yes, he is. Rata`s real name is removed and his father`s name is removed Put them in google. Rata`s father is something like an ideologist of ASI. The advice he gave to his son is well known. ``You can be even anarchist, but at least be the best anarchist!``

organizer

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by organizer on June 16, 2007

I'll wait for Rata to respond. I don't know you, but I trust that Rata will be honest about his family and their class interests.

Rata, is this true?

rata

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rata on June 16, 2007

organizer

I met Rata at the I99 conference.

???? I didn't attend I99 conference, so I really don't know what you are talking about?

rata

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rata on June 16, 2007

organizer

I'll wait for Rata to respond. I don't know you, but I trust that Rata will be honest about his family and their class interests.

Rata, is this true?

My father is working in the managment of one Belgrade hotel. I really fail to see how is that relevant to anything,

Mike Harman

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Mike Harman on June 16, 2007

Friend, posting up real names of posters will get you banned, first and last warning.

organizer

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by organizer on June 16, 2007

I guess I was wrong about I99.

Did you attend an IWW event in upstate new york then around 2000, in Seneca Falls or Ithaca...something like that?

Anyways....i thought I meet you.

But it is important to note I believe. Being involved with the hotel industry from a union side, it is odd to think that a leader in the syndicalist movement could come from such privilege.

thugarchist

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by thugarchist on June 17, 2007

organizer

I guess I was wrong about I99.

Did you attend an IWW event in upstate new york then around 2000, in Seneca Falls or Ithaca...something like that?

Anyways....i thought I meet you.

But it is important to note I believe. Being involved with the hotel industry from a union side, it is odd to think that a leader in the syndicalist movement could come from such privilege.

Dude. My uncle worked as a union buster for some years. Is that supposed to have some reflection on me? He grew up poor and became a rich asshole. I fail to see what Rata's dad's job has to do with him. On the other hand, if Rata's dad wants to by me a villa I will gladly accept.

organizer

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by organizer on June 17, 2007

nothing against Rata, as opposed to how I normally behave, this is me being nice. I am merely making certain that we know the facts. But this certainly would matter if there was an issue with the workers at those hotels.

That being said, I just wanted to make sure Rata cleared it up.

However, I am absolutely certain I met him somewhere.

David in Atlanta

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by David in Atlanta on June 17, 2007

I don't agree with everything rata says or does. I'll reserve my judgement about Grubacic, but rata is known as a gutsy and honest comrade. I certainly would not purge him or anyone else from the anarchist movement on the say-so of an anonymous poster on this or any other internet forum.
>edited for clarity

EdmontonWobbly

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EdmontonWobbly on June 17, 2007

Yeah this all sounds like activist celebrity gossip to me, I haven't heard anything worthwhile on either side of this discussion. It really sounds like a personal spat between two people with a history, unless someone gives me a substantial critique of anyone's ideas I'm going to stand by that opinion.

Bubbles

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Bubbles on June 17, 2007

Friend....what is your political activity???

rata

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rata on June 17, 2007

Friend

There are some kids doing dirty job for him

We should have stuffed you in a fish pond when we had a chance.

organizer

I guess I was wrong about I99.

Did you attend an IWW event in upstate new york then around 2000, in Seneca Falls or Ithaca...something like that?

Anyways....i thought I meet you.

I was in Philly in '99 for IWW gathering. So, that might be a place where we met.

EdmontonWobbly

Yeah this all sounds like activist celebrity gossip to me, I haven't heard anything worthwhile on either side of this discussion. It really sounds like a personal spat between two people with a history, unless someone gives me a substantial critique of anyone's ideas I'm going to stand by that opinion.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=4796 (among other things, IWW presented as anarchist federation, just showing that he doesn't know shit about what is he talking about)

http://www.zmag.org/debatesbalkans.html (debate with UK Trotskyst of Yugoslav descent, full of phrases, but without a doubt defending Serbian nationalist position regarding Kosovo, placed in the cover of phrases of liberal "anarchism")

Political development:

http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2002-11/13grubacic.cfm (promoting European Social Consulta (???) as "one of the most significant focal points of contemporary radicalism" - 2002)

http://www.osservatoriobalcani.org/article/articleview/520/1/49/ (promoting something called Initiative for Economic Democracy, and imaginary Balkan(s) Social Forum - 2002)

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?ItemID=2991 (promoting, on WSF, something called Anarchist International and attacking "traditional anarchists" of being "sectarian" - 2003)

http://www.ainfos.ca/04/oct/ainfos00397.html (Grubacic is described as a key figure of PGA's Drugaciji Svet je Moguc! (DSM!), Another World is Possible! group that I mentioned before, and which fell apart right after PGA meeting - 2004)

http://www.makeworlds.org/node/84 (Grubac and Graebers trash analyses of lack of anarchist intelectuals, presented as activist of something called "Planetary Alternatives Network" - 2005)

http://www.zmag.org/ippsradicalvisions.html (some idiotic participatory niche, he is presented as activist of "Global Balkans" - 2007)

http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2007-04/30grubacic.cfm (another nationalist bullshit text, he is presented as a "member of the post-Yugoslav "Freedom Fight" collective" - 2007)

Freedom fight collective - http://www.freedomfight.net/HomePage.htm just scroll down to the bottom, and the ghost of Che is looking at you (together with SubComandante).

As I said previously, even if Friend was trying to change the meaning of what I said, FreedomFight has some good comrades. When I say good, I mean honest. Ideologically, as can be seen on their website, they are lost. Che + Zapatistas + anti-globalisation + anarchism + fights for workers shareholding. But they are honest comrades, not very much of them and mainly young, so we don't have a problem with working with them. In fact, this Saturday we have a joint stand with them.

Friend

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Friend on June 17, 2007

This Saturday? I`ll warn them to be careful from you.

Yeah! Of course! Workers shareholding are problem for people like your daddy because they can`t buy worker`s factory easily.

Bubbles

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Bubbles on June 17, 2007

Friend

This Saturday? I`ll warn them to be careful from you.

Yeah! Of course! Workers shareholding are problem for people like your daddy because they can`t buy worker`s factory easily.

is his father a manager or a owner? If all you are going to do is yell about ratas father I'm sure you will get baned sooner or later. Why dont you answer my question and tell us about your great political activity?

Nate

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nate on June 17, 2007

Rata, Friend, and Grabacic aside, does anyone have responses to this interview?

resistence

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by resistence on June 26, 2007

Hello folks,

I, for one, I can vouch for Andrej Grubacic. I've known him for several years in the U.S. and I can certainly state with complete certainty that he is a man of extreme integrity who consistently lives his life by revolutionary values and principles.

Guess I missed the day that teaching students and writing articles to inform and involve broader audiences in movements was deemed "academic" or "social democratic". Thinking and teaching, who knew... Or that serious support for left media projects, grassroots left campaigns, and various other left and anarchist endeavors is "detached from any practice"- all this from someone who can't possibly know with what Andrej is actually doing in the United States.

It also seems a little hypocritical that someone who uses words like "cunt" then calls others "sexist", and who litters their posts with sectarian attacks, violent comments, and generally uncomradely language and then asks to be taken seriously.

Such sectarian attacks are precisely the opposite of what the movement needs. It is such problematic attacks that weakens us, instead of strengthening us. Its upsetting that when a good interview about an amazing and inspiring local IWW union campaign is derailed by such sectarian nonsense. Perhaps we can talk about the substance of that work?

-Brian
nyc

MJ

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MJ on June 26, 2007

resistence Posts: 1 Joined: 25-06-07 | Send pm
forum post Posted: Mon, 25/06/2007 - 22:31

Hello folks,

I, for one, I can vouch for Andrej Grubacic.

Well that clears everything up! :grin:

Bubbles

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Bubbles on June 26, 2007

resistence

It also seems a little hypocritical that someone who uses words like "cunt" then calls others "sexist"

dont even try to start that one...you will just get called a cunt.

the button

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by the button on June 26, 2007

How can I have not seen this thread until now? :(

the button

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by the button on June 26, 2007

Bubbles

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Bubbles on June 26, 2007

the button

thats what my politics mean to me!

malcolm

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by malcolm on July 1, 2007

admin: formatting fixed, that was horrible to read with all those random line breaks

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our serious concern about the defamatory attacks and outright threats made against our friend Andrej Grubacic, as well as against the anarchist students publishing Z Magazine for the Balkans, and the workers who are financing this valuable project.

One of the beautiful things about the anarchist tradition is that in itsdevotion to absolute liberty or expression, it has always left room for lively, even passionate, arguments and polemics. We fully support this tradition, and every form of substantive discussion and debate. But physical threats, insults, and intentional deception are another matter entirely.

This is simply unacceptable within our movement. There is no factual basis to any of the accusations made in these attacks and there appears to be no reason to think that even the author believes there to be any; this is nothing more than an attempt to smear another activist using any means that seems like it might work; to intimidate those doing successful work; to destroy a promising new project by any means possible. Such a campaign of defamation and threats is especially serious as they can inflict real damage to the very brave working people who are making the publication of Z Magazine possible, even as they struggling to survive and defend their workplace.

We extend our support and our solidarity to our friend, as well as to the Balkan edition of the Z Magazine, and the workers and students participating in this project. We also ask any of our comrades who might have encountered these defamatory statements to understand the real political motives of the authors and not to allow them to do any further damage to those engaged in building something exciting, important and new.

Michael Albert, ZNet
Irina Ceric, Global Balkans
Noam Chomsky, author
John J Cronan Jr, Students for a Democratic Society, IWW Food and
Allied Workers Union
Mary Dearborn, New York Metro Alliance of Anarchists
David Graeber, author of Fragments of Anarchist Anthropology
Daniel Gross, IWW Starbucks Workers Union
Edward Herman, social critic
Brian Kelly, Students for a Democratic Society
Tom Keefer, Upping the Antti
Eric Laursen, New York Metro Alliance of Anarchists; Member, National
Writers Union.
Brooke Lehman, Institute for Social Ecology, Bluestockings books
Staughton Lynd, labor historian
Alex van Schaick, IWW Starbucks Campaign
Marina Sitrin, author of Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in
Argentina
Chris Spannos, ZNet
Ziga Vodovnik, author of Ya Basta!
Tamara Vukov, Globalbalkans
Howard Zinn, radical historian

Joseph Kay

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 1, 2007

Joseph Kay

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 1, 2007

the only 'allegation' i can find, as opposed to hostility to his politics is this:

rata

Serbian nationalist, sexist, person detached from any practice.

i take it that's what's been objected to? ('academic', 'wannabe theorist' etc all seem fair comment on someone who's published stuff with one of the most prominent anarchist academics around, and the rest is criticism of shit politics, and no appeal to "absolute liberty" should exempt people from criticism of their politics. i mean david graeber bigs up hakim bey ffs)

anything to substantiate that rata?

Dundee_United

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Dundee_United on July 1, 2007

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our serious concern about the defamatory attacks and outright threats made against our friend Andrej Grubacic, as well as against the anarchist students publishing Z Magazine for the Balkans, and the workers who are financing this valuable project.

Sweet fucking Jesus! This thread is absolutely magnificent.

...Well that's a lot of the intellectuals of the world libertarian left there.

Joseph Kay

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 1, 2007

just on the front page of ZNet at the moment there's all sorts which could be labelled (lefty soft-) nationalist ...

The reasons for the despair should be obvious. The Palestinian people are no closer to national self-determination than they were when the Oslo Peace Accords were signed in 1993

those of us in the USA who support Palestinian sovereignty and national self-determination

http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2007-06/21fletcher.cfm

For Chavez, his nation and peoples' interests come first.

In Venezuela, the nation and its people will benefit most from the country's oil wealth.

It'll be up to the people of Iraq to resist and reclaim what Venezuelan people already have from its social democratic leader serving their interests above all others.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=45&ItemID=13182

Now that the tragedy has occurred, one can only hope that common sense and sanity will return and for Palestinians to rediscover, once more, that they are still an occupied nation that has no meaningful political sovereignty.

http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=107&ItemID=13184

no idea about Grubacic though, but (soft) nationalism is pretty common on the left. no idea on the sexism one either, so yeah the claims are unsubstantiated unless rata has any more info.

of course rata - and by extension the IWA of which his group is a part - has also been subject to numerous unsubstantiated slurs by an anonymous 'Friend' e.g.

Friend

Rata`s collective is hierarhical. Rata is there something like a ruler.

but he hasn't gone off and got a list of celebrities who are clearly in no position to know either way to sign a petition about it

malcolm

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by malcolm on July 1, 2007

Such a campaign of defamation and threats is especially serious as they can inflict real damage to the very brave working people who are making the publication of Z Magazine possible, even as they struggling to survive and defend their workplace.

This is the main point of this support letter. Z magazine Balkan and Freedom Fight movement are financed by the workers in Serbia. ASI is financed by the privileged class in Serbia and it doesn`t have any connection with the workers. If this is not enough, then...

Joseph Kay

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 1, 2007

well, both those claims are also unsubstantiated at this point, and the letter was clearly about grubacic, not those groups.

i mean being financed by workers doesn't make you immune to political criticism, workers finance all sorts of shit i.e. Live 8. anyway all rata said on 'freedom fight' was

rata

some good people there, but no understanding of anything really. Real soup in their heads. Typical anti-globalist socialism of the imbeciles. Anarchism + Che Guevara + workers share holding - in one of interviews of their activists this person said he become anarcho-communist after lengthy research of lives and works of revolutionaries Che Guevara and Fidel Castro.

rata

FreedomFight has some good comrades. When I say good, I mean honest. Ideologically, as can be seen on their website, they are lost. Che + Zapatistas + anti-globalisation + anarchism + fights for workers shareholding. But they are honest comrades, not very much of them and mainly young, so we don't have a problem with working with them. In fact, this Saturday we have a joint stand with them.

that's called political criticism - and the following picture does appear on freedom fight's front page so i don't think it's entirely unsubstantiated either:

all he says on Z is

rata

He is publishing with them Balkan Zmag now

if these are "defamatory attacks and outright threats" then you might be a bit fragile for revolutionary politics, or it could be the letter was referring to grubacic and not Zmag balkan and Freedom fight, in which case we're back to the nationalist/sexist claim

edit: i see rata did provide a link for the nationalist claim: http://www.zmag.org/sustainers/content/2007-04/30grubacic.cfm - haven't read it yet

rata

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rata on July 1, 2007

HAHAHAHAHAHHAA COME ON! This is way too funny! He now brought Chomsky to defend him on the forums from me. How hilarious is that? If that doesn't show how idiotic the guy is... I don't know what would.

I'm shocked and appalled that Chomsky, Graeber and Albert, who are all members of the Advisory board of "Novi Plamen" magazine together with me, are siding with that fucked up lier. No colleague honesty at all . I have been arrested, questioned and beaten up enough times so that I don't have to prove anything to no social democratic intellectual, and the fact that Grubacic is continuing to claim that ASI is financed by the money of the ruling class will get him a good beating by our "ruling class" comrades as soon as he shows his ugly face back here. Also, luckily, enough of regular poster to this board visited Belgrade, to see that slanders coming from anonymous posters are just that... slanders, which are coming as a reaction to a hurt public image of the bastard.

The "workers" who are financing the Z mag, are small shareholders from Jugoremedia factory, who, as stated on their website, "took the middle line between dictatorship of proletariat and dictatorship of capital", and, according to their social democratic leader, are preparing the factory to be bought by a "good" capitalist. Of course, nothing is black and white, and what Grubacic is trying to do now, as he tried several posts before, is to place a buffer to protect him. This time it's not only that I'm attacking Freedom Fight (this is their name in Serbia too, in English) but also Jugoremedija and Z mag. I didn't do any such thing, at least not on this thread.

His texts speak about him enough. I advice everybody interested to read the ones that I linked. Also, I would like to ask that posters who only register and send one or two messages with slanders against our union or me to be forbidden to post, and their posts erased, as their only role here is to defend the image of the intellectual retard.

This all reminds me of the case of "Raven" and Chomsky. Hihihi.

When talking about Chomsky, he recently became a member of Serbian Academy of Sciences and Art, the institution known, even by Serbian liberals, as a dark house of Serbian chauvinism. Their texts, such as the famous "Memorandum from 1986 is seen as one of the key documents of Serbian nationalist politics. Presently that institution is a hideout for the most reactionary of the Serbian intelligentsia, leading the crusaders fight for the defense of "Serbian Kosovo". That goes smoothly together with Chomsky and Grubacic nationalist politics, which are essentially defending the regime of Slobodan Milosevic, idea that Kosovo should be split between the Serbia and Albanians, denying of Srebrenica massacre etc.

Joseph Kay

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 1, 2007

i'm pretty sure chomsky never denied the srebrenica massacre, and a guardian jounalist pretty much aborted her career claiming he did

MJ

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MJ on July 1, 2007

Wow.

I don't know enough about the situation to make a judgment on either side, but I'd be curious to see a defense of Grubacic signed by political groups rather than by his individual "friends".

(Isn't Brooke Lehman the owner of Bluestockings btw? And why does Edward Herman put "massacre" and "ethnic cleansing" in scare quotes in this article? I like a couple people on the above list, but this whole thing is bizarre and smacks of personality-politics...)

rata

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rata on July 1, 2007

Joseph K.

i'm pretty sure chomsky never denied the srebrenica massacre, and a guardian jounalist pretty much aborted her career claiming he did

You should read his book on Kosovo. All of his books are translated and published by serbian nazi publishers. His statement about Serebrenica got a huge support from serbian nazis, and was blown around here. "Biggest living intelectual defending Serbs".

MJ

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MJ on July 1, 2007

Graeber and Grubacic

At the moment, there's something of a rupture between generations of anarchism: between those whose political formation took place in the 60s and 70s -- and who often still have not shaken the sectarian habits of the last century -- or simply still operate in those terms, and younger activists much more informed, among other elements, by indigenous, feminist, ecological and cultural-critical ideas. The former organize mainly through highly visible Anarchist Federations like the IWA, NEFAC or IWW. The latter work most prominently in the networks of the global social movement, networks like Peoples Global Action, which unites anarchist collectives in Europe and elsewhere with groups ranging from Maori activists in New Zealand, fisherfolk in Indonesia, or the Canadian postal workers' union. The latter -- what might be loosely referred to as the "small-a anarchists", are by now by far the majority. But it is sometimes hard to tell, since so many of them do not trumpet their affinities very loudly. There are many. in fact, who take anarchist principles of anti-sectarianism and open-endedness so seriously that they refuse to refer to themselves as 'anarchists' for that very reason.

Joseph Kay

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 1, 2007

rata

Joseph K.

i'm pretty sure chomsky never denied the srebrenica massacre, and a guardian jounalist pretty much aborted her career claiming he did

You should read his book on Kosovo. All of his books are translated and published by serbian nazi publishers. His statement about Serebrenica got a huge support from serbian nazis, and was blown around here. "Biggest living intelectual defending Serbs".

i'll add it to my list; the guardian piece and chomsky's response is here - the guardian issued a retraction

Joseph Kay

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 1, 2007

from what i've read of graeber he has no class analysis and bigs up hakim bey and crimethinc, which is in line with the above quote. someone should let him know why bey's so keen on promoting 'temporary transgressions' in lieu of social change. i do fucking hate it when political criticism is dismissed as 'sectarian' though, which ironically is the method of choice of the big tent sect.

EdmontonWobbly

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by EdmontonWobbly on July 1, 2007

he latter work most prominently in the networks of the global social movement, networks like Peoples Global Action, which unites anarchist collectives in Europe and elsewhere with groups ranging from Maori activists in New Zealand, fisherfolk in Indonesia,or the Canadian postal workers' union.

*cough* ...*cough*....

ftony

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ftony on July 1, 2007

i think graeber does at least have a vague class analysis. he has a theory of slavery in which he suggests that slavery has changed in its form, but has been essentially continued through the wage system. he is very keen (a little too keen IMO) on the old 'anarchism is a way of life, man' thing, but i don't think he'd actually advocate going totally crimethinc. apparently he's getting a post at one of the U of London colleges in sept...

Joseph Kay

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 1, 2007

ftony

i think graeber does at least have a vague class analysis. he has a theory of slavery in which he suggests that slavery has changed in its form, but has been essentially continued through the wage system. he is very keen (a little too keen IMO) on the old 'anarchism is a way of life, man' thing, but i don't think he'd actually advocate going totally crimethinc. apparently he's getting a post at one of the U of London colleges in sept...

i'll admit i've only read 'fragments of an anarchist anthropology' and the chapter of 'anthropological theory of value' that's on the commoner website. iirc in the former he explicitly endorses TAZs (linking them to Virno's 'exit'/'exodus') and crimethinc. my impression is that he's big tent, and the above quote seems to put him in the 'movement of movements/criticism is sectarian/we're all so different it's wonderful/i left my critical faculties in seattle' camp. but i may be wrong, he's obviously a bright bloke ...

rata

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rata on July 1, 2007

MJ

whole thing is bizarre and smacks of personality-politics...)

Even if the whole thing is bizarre (I have to admit, I did forward the above letter to loads of comrades for laugh), but very symptomatic for the way of working of intellectual castes everywhere, I wouldn't dismiss it as "personality-politics". I didn't deal with any of the personal issues regarding Grubacic (even if there is much to tell about that issue), I dealt only with positions he had taken publicly, in his works. I was wrong to have sexism as one of the things I brought up, because he was smart not to engage himself in that kind of public embarrassment. If it is going to help to defend me, some of our comrades here in Belgrade could produce one of old Grubacic visit-cards with "Andrej Grubacic, amateur gynecologist" title.

MJ

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MJ on July 1, 2007

rata

If it is going to help to defend me, some of our comrades here in Belgrade could produce one of old Grubacic visit-cards with "Andrej Grubacic, amateur gynecologist" title.

:eek:

Yes, I think that might help defend you! :grin:

Dundee_United

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Dundee_United on July 2, 2007

i may be wrong, he's obviously a bright bloke

I met him a couple of years back at a talk at Glasgow University. Pleasant enough but not my type of communist if you like. He's in the IWW.

MJ

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MJ on July 2, 2007

What I really don't get is why Graeber and Grubacic are both now so interested in (and in??) the IWW just three years after writing that stupid sectarian piece talking about the "generation gap" and saying those in the IWW, NEFAC and the IWA "still have not shaken the sectarian habits of the last century." (Very, very few NEFACers can be described as "those whose political formation took place in the 60s and 70s" by the way!) This just doesn't seem like a relationship they and the IWW are likely to benefit from equally...

Steven.

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on July 2, 2007

Holy shit how have I only just seen this thread? This is amazing.

pgh2a

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by pgh2a on July 2, 2007

but nobody has challenged anyone to a duel here.

Joseph Kay

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 2, 2007

patience pghwob, patience

Steven.

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Steven. on July 2, 2007

pghwob

but nobody has challenged anyone to a duel here.

Or called mine and Joseph's mums whores. But still if Chomsky and Zinn signed a letter saying that it would possibly be the best thing ever.

Joseph Kay

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 2, 2007

:D

Joseph Kay

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 2, 2007

Felt like Libcom is run by a bunch of pussies and pissant mooks? Here's your fucking proof.

The words of the moderators Joseph K and John. have finally fucking succeeded in pissing me off to an extensive fucking degree. I made contact on the Licbom website with the intention to open relaitons between the League and Libcoms community, and in truth, I found a number of good people amongst the vistors the website. However at every turn these two limp-dick moderators have sought to ban me, delete my posts and generally fuck me around on their precious little website.

I'd make it clear to all those who think Jonny Toy Boy and Jospeh KKK are sane, rational and well read people to consider what their motives are behind their creep-up-behind-you-and-stab-you-in-the-throat "politics" exactly are.

I'll make it plain.

Fuck them. They want to fuck things for us, then be assured we won't take it laying down with our legs spread like the whores who spawned these two fucking stronzes.

Thanks for listening, take it easy now,

Barkan
Michael Albert, ZNet
Irina Ceric, Global Balkans
Noam Chomsky, author
John J Cronan Jr, Students for a Democratic Society, IWW Food and
Allied Workers Union
Mary Dearborn, New York Metro Alliance of Anarchists
David Graeber, author of Fragments of Anarchist Anthropology
Daniel Gross, IWW Starbucks Workers Union
Edward Herman, social critic
Brian Kelly, Students for a Democratic Society
Tom Keefer, Upping the Antti
Eric Laursen, New York Metro Alliance of Anarchists; Member, National
Writers Union.
Brooke Lehman, Institute for Social Ecology, Bluestockings books
Staughton Lynd, labor historian
Alex van Schaick, IWW Starbucks Campaign
Marina Sitrin, author of Horizontalism: Voices of Popular Power in
Argentina
Chris Spannos, ZNet
Ziga Vodovnik, author of Ya Basta!
Tamara Vukov, Globalbalkans
Howard Zinn, radical historian

(parody - post real, signatories not except for Barkan)

Nate

16 years 11 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Nate on July 2, 2007

You'll notice that Grubacic didn't sign, cuz he's down w/ libcom.

Ivan

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ivan on July 11, 2007

I stopped myself several times from interfering in this silly “debate” about Andrej’s political stands, about his personal history and his mental health. Maybe I should react before, to stand for a friend, but I am usually avoiding pointless chatting on forums, and Andrej is a big boy.
But admin - named removed lies and manipulations on Jugoremedija workers were just about too much.

Dear comrade Trivunac,

When exactly did you heard Zdravko Deuric (I believe he is “social democratic leader" of Jugoremedija workers you are talking about) saying that workers-shareholders of Jugoremedija are going to sell their share of the factory to a “good” capitalist? Was it said in public, or he told it to you in person? Have you even ever met the man? I am working closely with him and with the others from Jugoremedija for the last four years, and I never heard such a thing from any of them. On the other hand, i heard Zdravko dozens of times saying in public that Jugoremedija workers are going to keep the control over the factory, i heard him hundreds of times arguing in Serbian press that the Republic of Serbia should treat equally companies owned by one boss, with the companies managed by the workers-shareholders. He is also always saying that Jugoremedija WILL ABSTAIN AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE FROM SELLING THE SHARES THEY HAVE IN OTHER FACTORIES! As you probably know, Jugoremedija is 37% owner in “Medela” from Vrbas and 31% owner in “Luxol” from Zrenjanin. In last few months, Jugoremedija put its shares together with the workers-shareholders of these factories, and they together took over the control over “Medela” and “Luxol”. I believe it is not necessary to remind you on the notorious fact that Jugoremedija is still in 3,2 million EUR debt they inherited from the mafioso management, so it is quite a challenge for a “socialdemocrat” Zdravko not to sell Jugoremedija’s shares in other two comrade factories, and not to save Jugoremedija from bankruptcy. Two weeks ago, on the annual assembly of shareholders of “Medela”, Jugoremedija voted together with the “Medela” workers against sharing the last year profit, but for investing it into production. If they didn’t do so, Jugoremedija could pull 1,7 million EUR out from “Medela”. It would help them a lot, but it would probably cause closing down of “Medela” by the end of this year, since “Medela” was also savagely robbed by the former management that was controlled by two of the worst “democratic tycoons” in Serbia, Jovica Stefanovic – Nini and Predrag Rankovic – Peconi. Of course, I am not saying that Jugoremedija will not have to sell “Medela” or “Luxol” at the end, in order to save their own skin, but for the moment they are dong their best to recover Jugoremedija from its own production, not from selling the other comrades out. What a capitalist strategy!

The most amazing thing about your bullshitting on Zdravko, is that only few months ago, in the interview you gave for Z mag, you were saying that Jagodinska pivara brewery was took over by its workers! This pathetic exaggeration and embarrassing ignorance caused lots of laughs here in Serbia, since apparently everybody but you knows what actually happened in Jagodinska pivara – the state broke the contract it made with the capitalist on selling 70% of the brewery, and the brewery is going on privatization again. You were probably confused with the fact that the breaking of the contract was caused by the long strike of brewery workers, who were asking the boss to fulfill his contract obligation concerning them. Still, you could at least read the headlines in Belgrade daily press, since most of them quoted the union leader of Jagodinska pivara saying that the workers are only asking for fast re-privatization, and for selling company to a solid «strategic partner»!

About «taking the middle line between dictatorship of proletariat and dictatorship of capital», let me inform you about some more facts you could learn from reading newspapers headlines. Jugoremedija is 42% owned by the state, and 58% by the 4500 small shareholders. Only about half of this 58% package is owned by the workers and pensioners of the factory. The other half belongs to the people who used their right on free shares in Milosevic's privatization, but who are not linked in any way with the factory. These outside-the-factory shareholders were fully supporting the fight of the workers for the last four years, they never voted together with Stefanovic, always giving their powers of attorney to Emilija Mihajlovic and Zdravko Deuric (representatives of the workers in the assembly of Jugoremedija). Still, the outside shareholders are the shareholders in a very capitalist way, and they don't have the same interest as workers-shareholders. Most of them are common, decent people, workers of some other factories who were supporting the fight in Jugoremedija like it was their own. But one day they will be tempted to sell their shares on the stock market... So, if the workers-shareholders wants to keep the control over Jugoremedija, they will have to find a common interest with the out-the-factory shareholders. Their future freedom depends on understanding and clear agreement with the comrades who are not workers, but only private owners of Jugoremedija (although themselves workers, but somewhere else). Does now «middle line between dictatorship of proletariat and dictatorship of capital» sounds less social democratic to you?

Of course, as an «activist» of the few-buddies Belgrade collective that exists only on international internet forums, you couldn't do better.

And yeah, about Freedom Fight's name in English – have you ever been in Zrenjanin, or in your workers-operated brewery in Jagodina? Take this as my very honest invitation to visit Jugoremedija sometimes. We desperately need more men with your kind of energy, but a bit more focused on real life issues.

Yours truly,

Ivan Zlatic, journalist, activist of Union Workers-Shareholders of Serbia and Freedom Fight

ludilo

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ludilo on July 12, 2007

Let me try to explain. From knowledge and experience with both. They are both fucked up. Ratitvor is a son of admin: name removed or *Bloody admin: name removed* as his workers are calling him. He is a robber barron of Serbia involved with a primitive accummulation of serbia riches. :mrt: He is a manager of Hajat Hotel but a more important thing is that he is a tajkun and a oligarch who is one of the most important people behind a Democratic Party. He was a president of a Union of Serbian Employers. All this is on web. He is a owner of many enterprises all over this country and he is one of *rulers* of a country. Every second beakery in Belgrade is his. He is bying everything to Ratismor and just bouhgt him a new house that is to become a anarchist library! :oops: Some anarchist! ASI is five people if that, and they all change every year-except Ratitvor who is always lying about it on web! What an *anarchist*! Anarcho capitalist more likely! :roll:

Trubacic is no better. He is fucked up, much the same way. He is a academic. Very arogant. Talks to you like you are his servant. Loves the tv. He only likes his career. Same with his friend Ivana Momcilovic who is not even anarchist but communist (leninist)! These are people he likes! :r: Trubacic loves big names like Comski and likes to be in spotlight all the time. He only writes for elitistic magazines.That is why he organized (useless) pga conference where everyone was working for him. Big shot academic, my ass! He is useless for a movement. Both should leave and go to Cyprus, where Trivunac Senior is acused of having his money hidden. :hand: And Trubacic can analyze movements there. I believe both of them are really friends as they are so much alike and dont talk about anything else but each other. :wall:

rata

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rata on July 13, 2007

Dear comrade Zlatic,

I'm currenttly outside of Belgrade, and my access to internet is very limited and slow. Therefore I can not spend time googling the internet, looking for statements of the people from Jugoremedija regarding their future plans. This is where I found the quotes I used. Next issue of our magazine (septembre-octobre one) will bring a pice by a comrade from the union on workers-shareholding with examples, quotes etc. and it will be translated to english. When I was talking to one of the comrades from FF about that issue, he told me that he thinks it's ok to hide your intentions some times in order to gain something. I don't really think it goes that way. I don't think you can gain things, if you are hiding what you want.

Jugoremedija and other "workershareholder" projects in Serbia are the ways the social-democracy is trying to gain it's feet in Serbia. That issue is too complicated and long to go into details now, as I said I'm not at home, don't have my archive at hand, and don't have enough time to discuss it now. Z mag, crew around it, Jugoremedija and other examples of workers shareholding, while using desparate situation of the workers, who are faced with fiering and buying of by wild capitalists, are building the foundation for non-existant social-democraticmovement in Serbia. Many people that got involved, including yourself, who are coming from social-democratic position, are seeing that as a way forward. I don't think so. Social-democracy didn't work before WWII, it will not work now. The thing is that there is no middle way between dictatorship of proletariat and dictatorship of capital.

I never gave any interview for Z mag, so I don't really know what are you talking about. I did several times publiclly speak about Jagodina beerfactory, and the informations I got were first hand, since we have comrades in the union who are from the villages around Jagodina, and who were in contastant contact with the workers of the factory. Factory was taken over by the workers, demanding respecting of the contaract. When that didn't happen, workers took over the factory, and engaged in phisical confrontation, using metal bars and acid, against the security which was brought on them. That is something we, anarcho-syndicalists, call direct action. Comparing them to worker-shareholders, who are owners of other factories that they are probabbly going to sell is really out of line.

I was in Zrenjanin many times, sometimes for work, sometimes for union activities, in fact we have a local group in Zrenjanin. I never went to Jagodina, but as I said, our members who are from villages around Jagodina visited the workers, during their occupation of the factory, many times.

To repeat again, I didn't want this thread to turn into the talk about Jugoremedija, FF or Z mag. That was the result of Grubacic ("friend") interventions and interpretations. Same goes for his lapdogs, such as this "ludilo", who was his right-hand in DSM, now defunct PGA collective. You will note the suptile critique of both sides, which is helping the "honest" aproach to the topic. I would like to ask the moderators to delete his post which is full of lies (just to show how idiotic the lies presented here are, we can take a claime that my father is "one of the most important people behind a Democratic Party" - when Serbian Prime Minister Djindjic, president of the Democratic party, was killed, I was arrested because of the statement called Sudden death of a mobster that our union posted when that happened; believe me, if my father was such a big shot, and even linked to that party, nothing like that would happen, I would have not been arrested during the martial law, wouldn't be denied lawyer, held in prison etc.) personal info, and is there just to slander me, and our union. As I said before, those people are idiotic enough, not to understand that enough of regular posters to this forum were in Belgrade, to know that the whole slandering thing is idiotic. As you will notice none of these people is capable in engagin in any other discussion here. Number of their posts is usually 1 or 2. This is because they are not libertarian communists, they are social-democrats, or liberal "anarchists", and this is why they have a lot of problems of understanding anarchist critique.

Ivan

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ivan on July 16, 2007

Dear comrade,

Looks like we will have to wait for you to return to Belgrade and find the "incriminating" statements by the people from Jugoremedija.

Take your time...

And about how we, the "social democrats" are fighting, you will be glad to read that between March and August 2004 workers-shareholders of Jugoremedija were keeping the factory under their occupation, that at least once they successfully defended Jugoremedija from the attack organized by Nini's private security, and that on August 19th 2004 they were kicked out by joint action of Zrenjanin police, Belgrade Gendarmes (special unit of the Serbian police), and again Nini's private army. Four of the leaders of the occupation were arrested and kept in prison for four days, and then charged for "disturbing peace", "causing public danger" and such shit. Criminal proceedings against them are still not finished.

Needless to say that all these facts are very well known all around Serbia.

On March 1st 2007 workers-shareholders of Jugoremedija took the factory back, this time after the Supreme Court's order. That's the way we fight - with both direct and legal action. Same as the comrades in Jagodinska pivara - they occupied factory in order to press the boss to fulfill the contract. They won, the state broke the contract with the boss, and that is great! I was involved in several strikes of the similar kind (Nemetali from Vranjska Banja, Vencac from Arandjelovac, and most recently Beogradfilm from Belgrade). Some were successful, some not, and I still believe it is important to support those who are fighting only for the workers rights, not for taking over the factories. The only thing I don't get is where do you see the line between those strikes and Jugoremedija? Why is it "social democratic" to take over the factory with using the property rights (shares), but it is "anarchist" to press the boss to respect his privatization contract with the state? We really do see Jugoremedija as important victory for all the workers in Serbia, and at the moment we are discussing the best way how to use the Jugoremedija experience and their achievement to help the other comrades, who are not major owners of their factories, to establish certain level of workers control over management. If you "anarchists" were good enough to stop privatization in Serbia, we "social democrats" wouldn't have to do any of these things, but unfortunately you have failed. That if you can remind me of one single action you did to prevent privatization in 2001, and to save us from the miserable job we are doing now.

Anyway, the new strategy of our Union, after the Jugoremedija victory, will start this autumn, and I hope your associate who is writing about "the worker-shareholder projects" will inform the public about it correctly. Thanks very much for being interested in our work!

And yes, of course we were hiding our intentions all this time as much as we could, and yes, of course we are still doing it. What else do you expect us to do? To go to the Ministry of Economy, or to some tycoon who got his eye on Jugoremedija and to inform them about our future steps? Give me a break!

One more thing - please, don't mix the other shit that was said during this discussion with your response to me. I never used "the father argument", I consider it very dirty (as dirty as your "arguments" against Andrej, doesn't meter if he is my friend and associate or not, and he is, for good reasons!), at least absolutely irrelevant for what all this is about - can we do something to stop the few Serbian families and the few corporations from abroad to gain total control over the Serbian economy and over our life?

With both legal and direct means!

Best,

Ivan

PS Interview or not, your statement about Jagodinska pivara was published in Z mag, and it was untrue. Better check what your Jagodina branch is doing down there!

Ivan

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Ivan on July 16, 2007

A slice of atmosphere from the summer 2004 in
Jugoremedija, the day when "social democratic"
workers-shareholders kicked Nini's private army out
from the factory.

Catch 22

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Catch 22 on July 16, 2007

MJ

What I really don't get is why Graeber and Grubacic are both now so interested in (and in??) the IWW just three years after writing that stupid sectarian piece talking about the "generation gap" and saying those in the IWW, NEFAC and the IWA "still have not shaken the sectarian habits of the last century." (Very, very few NEFACers can be described as "those whose political formation took place in the 60s and 70s" by the way!) This just doesn't seem like a relationship they and the IWW are likely to benefit from equally...

Graeber talks highly of the heady days of syndicalism at the turn of the century. So it doesn't surprise me that much that he's gotten involved with the IWW as much as he has. Still his politics are pretty flawed. Non violent to the extreme, postmodernist, etc.

rata

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by rata on July 16, 2007

Ivan

Looks like we will have to wait for you to return to Belgrade and find the "incriminating" statements by the people from Jugoremedija.

Comrade,

In fact you don´t need to wait till I´m back. I remembered that the comrade who is writing the text has special tags for that article ("Small capitalists") on his Delicious. You can access them here: http://del.icio.us/sabate/mali_kapitalisti If you brows through them, youĺl find different text in which the people you mention are talking about their goals of selling their shares on the stock market etc. I did not go through them, as I said my access to internet is really poor here, and I do think this issue deserves a special topic to which, I hope, the text I mentioned will be a good addition. I´m sorry I used answer to you to deal with the idiot above, but it all goes back to the limited time I had for writing this messages. Again, as I said previously, I never wrote anything about personal life of Grubacic, I was exclusevly dealing with the positions he presented in his works, and actions he has taken as "activist", or, should I say, "engaged intellectual".

It seams here that the major problem we have in understanding our differences is that you believe that workers ownership of factories equals to ex-workers owning the shares of the company. This is why I see your understanding as social-democratic. I do know you for a longer period, I do believe you are a honest comrade. That doesen´t, on the other side, mean I will spare you the critique.

I hope we will continue this debate, over here when I get back home, as well as face to face when we have a chance. But I really don´t think that call for stoping several families and few corporations in their goals is a revolutionary one, in fact in that we can again find your social-democratic positions. I dont think the difference would be made if it was several thousands of families, and hundreds of foreign corporations. Small-scale capitalism is not a better option to monopolist one. I would propose to you to glance at this text http://ca.geocities.com/red_black_ca/mcdoce.htm, when you have a chance. It describes pretty well the problems with the perspective of the whole group around Z, Jugoremedija etc. even if it was not written by anarchists. In fact we printed the leaflet with that text, years ago, and distributed it at one of the Grubacic events, we changed "revolutionary communists", to "class anarchists" and few other points, but generally it was quite usable. We even left Marx and Engels there =;)

Salud y Anarquia

menko

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by menko on July 17, 2007


Although without jobs for two years, the workers of «Jugoremedija» refused to quit. Their militancy and creative direct actions made them a symbol of resistance to neoliberal capitalism in Serbia.

The Recuperated Factory Movement Spreads to Eastern Europe: Jugoremedija Pharmaceutical Factory Workers Face Eviction

Serbian pharmaceutical factory «Jugoremedija», from the town of Zrenjanin, was privatized in 2000, in such a way that 58% of the shares were given to the workers, and the state took 42%. In 2002, the state sold it’s shares to Jovica Stefanovic, an infamous local capitalist, who made his fortune smuggling cigarettes, and who was wanted by Interpol at the time he bought the shares of «Jugoremedija». As all the other buyers in Serbian privatization, Stefanovic was not even investigated in money laundering, because the Serbian Government’s position at that time was, and still is, that it’s better to have dirty money in privatization, than to let workers manage the company, because that will “bring us back to the dark days of self-management”.

Allow us to give you a little context.

The first attack on Yugoslav self-management happened before the break up of socialist Yugoslavia. The first organized attempt to dismantle the system of self-management in Serbia dates back to the times of Slobodan Milosevic. But the real full-blown process of privatization and curtailment of workers rights happen after Milosevic was sent to the Hague Tribunal. In this context in transitional Serbia of the 21st century, with the transition to capitalism and parliamentary democracy, everything became allowed in the fight against what the new neoliberal government saw as the “ideological monster of self management” – even if it means the government and the court break laws.

Breaking all the rules, the state allowed the new co-owner of Jugoremedija, Stefanovic to become the dominant owner of the factory. Through various illegal maneuvers the ownership structure was changed: Stefanovic was given 68% of the shares and the workers portion was reduced to 32%.

In December 2003 the workers began a strike, and factory occupation, as well as a lawsuit against the recapitalization. This was the first work place occupation in the post socialist Yugoslavia!

In May 2004 the state, pressed by the workers, investigated privatization of «Jugoremedija» found that Stefanovic’s investment was in violation of the contract.

The state did nothing to enforce the violation of the contract. In response the workers, mainly women, came to the capital, Belgrade, and occupied the state’s Privatization Agency for one whole day. Only after this occupation did the state begin to take the violation seriously. Meanwhile the factory occupation continued.

During summer of 2004, Stefanovic’s private army tried several times to take over the factory, but the workers, with breathtaking courage, kicked them out. Sometimes using their bodies to block the military vehicles. This kept the boss out. … but he returned …

In September 2004, the private army was joined by the Serbian police, who had the order to evict the workers from «Jugoremedija». Police and the private army forced their way into the factory, resulting in the hospitalization of many workers and the arrest of four of the leaders of the strike. The workers were then charged with disturbing the peace. Criminal proceedings are still taking place. Now that he physically emptied the factory he illegally fired the two hundred workers.

After participating in a Peoples Global Action conference in Belgrade, in August of 2004, workers from «Jugoremedija» joined with workers from other factories to form the Union of Workers and Shareholders of Serbia. At first the Union’s mission was limited to fighting against corruption in privatization, but after experiencing different aspects of Serbian privatization, the Union came out with another demand – the call for a constituent assembly. They believe that the people should make the decisions that effect their lives and work places, and a new constitution can help make this happen. Graffiti appeared on the walls of Belgrade asking, “ Who owns our factories?”

Although without jobs for two years, the workers of «Jugoremedija» refused to quit. Their militancy and creative direct actions made them a symbol of resistance to neoliberal capitalism in Serbia.

Finally, as a response to a series of direct and legal actions, in May 2006 the Serbian Supreme Court reached the decision that recapitalization was in violation of the contract, and ordered Zrenjanin Economic Court to re-open the case. Last Friday, Zrenjanin Economic Court brought ownership structure back to 58%-42%.

According to Serbian law, workers-shareholders need three weeks to call for an assembly of all shareholders, in order to appoint their management. Stefanovic needs to be prevented from dividing up the company, and a court injunction would allow the workers to democratically decide who manages their factory, and how.

http://lnn.laborstart.org/more.php?id=756_0_1_0_M

Smash Rich Bastards

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Smash Rich Bastards on July 17, 2007

Joseph K.

Seriously, you could put out a 'Lost Dog' poster in your neighborhood and probably get Chomsky to sign on.

Joseph Kay

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Joseph Kay on July 17, 2007

i think chomsky probably died several years ago, and his continuing output is the work of a committee of Zmag types trying to inspire the wider movement, like a kind of anarcho-syndicalist mash-up of Tupac Shakur and El Cid.

ftony

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ftony on July 17, 2007

postmodernist, etc.

Graeber really seems to hate foucault. i know foucault is poststructuralist, not postmodernist, but i presume you use the two as interchangeable...

if he hates foucault (easily one of the more politically sound poststructuralists), then the proper wanky pomos have no chance.

QED :)

ftony

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ftony on July 17, 2007

Catch 22 - i would, however, agree that his advocation of nonviolence as revolutionary practice is fundamentally flawed.

Flint

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Flint on July 18, 2007

Catch 22

MJ

What I really don't get is why Graeber and Grubacic are both now so interested in (and in??) the IWW just three years after writing that stupid sectarian piece talking about the "generation gap" and saying those in the IWW, NEFAC and the IWA "still have not shaken the sectarian habits of the last century." (Very, very few NEFACers can be described as "those whose political formation took place in the 60s and 70s" by the way!) This just doesn't seem like a relationship they and the IWW are likely to benefit from equally...

Graeber talks highly of the heady days of syndicalism at the turn of the century. So it doesn't surprise me that much that he's gotten involved with the IWW as much as he has. Still his politics are pretty flawed. Non violent to the extreme, postmodernist, etc.

He's speaking tonight at Red Emmas in Baltimore. Anybody want me to ask him anything? Otherwise, I'll probably just chat about anthropology and the Iroquois.

ftony

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ftony on July 18, 2007

:grin: don't even go there sister! :hand:

MJ

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by MJ on July 18, 2007

Flint, ask him why the about-face on the IWW.

Smash Rich Bastards

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Smash Rich Bastards on July 18, 2007

Flint

Catch 22

MJ

What I really don't get is why Graeber and Grubacic are both now so interested in (and in??) the IWW just three years after writing that stupid sectarian piece talking about the "generation gap" and saying those in the IWW, NEFAC and the IWA "still have not shaken the sectarian habits of the last century." (Very, very few NEFACers can be described as "those whose political formation took place in the 60s and 70s" by the way!) This just doesn't seem like a relationship they and the IWW are likely to benefit from equally...

Graeber talks highly of the heady days of syndicalism at the turn of the century. So it doesn't surprise me that much that he's gotten involved with the IWW as much as he has. Still his politics are pretty flawed. Non violent to the extreme, postmodernist, etc.

He's speaking tonight at Red Emmas in Baltimore. Anybody want me to ask him anything? Otherwise, I'll probably just chat about anthropology and the Iroquois.

Ask him if his esteemed colleague's "amateur gynecologist" cards ever actually landed him any dates with activist girls. :D

Catch 22

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Catch 22 on July 18, 2007

ftony

postmodernist, etc.

Graeber really seems to hate foucault. i know foucault is poststructuralist, not postmodernist, but i presume you use the two as interchangeable...

if he hates foucault (easily one of the more politically sound poststructuralists), then the proper wanky pomos have no chance.

QED :)

He wrote a book called Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology. Come on! That's so wanky pomo! His writings are heavily dependent upon the recycled post modernism of the anti-globalization movement.

Modern anarchism is imbued with countless contradictions. While small-a anarchists are slowly incorporating ideas and practices learned from indigenous allies into their modes of organizing or alternative communities, the main trace in the written literature has been the emergence of a sect of Primitivists, a notoriously contentious crew who call for the complete abolition of industrial civilization, and, in some cases, even agriculture.(6.) Still, it is only a matter of time before this older, either/or logic begins to give way to something more resembling the practice of consensus-based groups.

That's so "I'm ok, you're ok" pomo activist trash.

And how does he seem to hate Foucault? One passage from one essay talking about french professors founding marxist schools?

ftony

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by ftony on July 19, 2007

none of that means he's pomo. it just means he's liberal.

the book was called fragments of an anarchist anthropology because there was no real anarchist anthropology out there and he was clutching at bits and bobs that could be reworked into an anarchist anthropology.

he also criticises foucault when he talks about how F sees state power as shifting from a discourse of external violence to a discourse of internalised control. and then he goes on to argue against it.

Antieverything

16 years 10 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Antieverything on July 20, 2007

I've finally found the holy grail of internet flame-wars. I am truly in awe!