A flotilla of nine fishing boats—their passengers wielding picket signs instead of fishing poles—blocked the grain ship Mary H from docking in Kalama, Washington, May 7. At the same time, a community picket onshore turned workers away from the grain terminal. The action by longshore workers and supporters was part of the escalating conflict between the region’s grain shippers and the West Coast longshore union, ILWU.
Workers say it's a new era as they become owners of their window-making cooperative. In 2008 and again in 2012 they occupied their factory to keep management from removing machinery. Now they own those machines. Photo: New Era Windows Cooperative.
Yesterday—April 24th—was a red-letter day in the annals of worker mobilization in post-collective-bargaining America. In Chicago, hundreds of fast-food and retail employees who work in the Loop and along the Magnificent Mile called a one-day strike and demonstrated for a raise to $15-an-hour and the right to form a union. At more than 150 Wal-Mart stores across the nation, workers and community activists called on the chain to regularize employees’ work schedules. And under pressure from an AFL-CIO-backed campaign of working-class voters who primarily aren’t union members, the county supervisors of New Mexico’s Bernalillo County voted to raise the local minimum wage.
What has 18 owners, no bosses and high hopes for fostering workplace democracy in America? New Era Windows LLC, a worker-owned cooperative formed last year by members of United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 1110.
On Saturday, April 6th, passers-by will be treated to the sight of a large picket outside of Minnesota’s highest volume liquor store, Chicago-Lake liquors. Picketers will hold signs and chant slogans of support for the workers of the store, five of whom were fired after asking for higher wages as a part of a union drive with the Industrial Workers of the World.
This past Tuesday evening the I.W.W. (Industrial Workers of the World) Sisters' Camelot Canvass Union made an offer to the managing collective in an effort to end the strike which has been going on since March 1. The managing collective has been given until the end of Monday, April 8 to decide whether or not to accept. This offer has consolidated the much longer original list of terms for the negotiation of the union's existence down to a list of eight terms, with the logistical details of how they would work clearly defined.
The ITUC has welcomed the release of Russian trade union leader Valentin Urusov from prison. In early 2008 Urusov, a miner and trade union leader, was detained by the authorities, alleging narcotics possession. However, his arrest coincided suspiciously with preparations for a protest rally by workers at the state-owned Alrosa diamond mining company – a rally which Urusov helped organise. He was sentenced to six years in a penal colony: http://www.equaltimes.org/news/valentin-urusov-a-trade-union-prisoner-of-conscience
Workers at a French greetings card firm on Friday sequestered the head of their company and the chief of the Dutch firm which owns it after sacked employees were told they would not get their dues. The protest at the office of French firm Edit66 and the Dutch owner Mercurius, targeted their two chiefs Paul Denis and Merthus Bezemer.
The IWW currently has two priority campaigns in London. First, there is a major campaign at John Lewis, which has just landed a major victory. Workers have won an immediate and backdated pay rise of 9 percent following the threat of strikes.
Sometimes organizers behave like jerks towards members with bad ideas, which is counterproductive. Just as often, people hesitate and look the other way in response to bad ideas. This response is a mistake. It misses the importance of what I like to call “Average Wobbly Time.” Every Wobbly decides somewhere along the line to commit to the IWW.
We periodically ask our readers and supporters to support us with a financial donation. We are hoping to raise $500 this Spring for our ongoing operations. We've been busy lately fixing technical problems, planning improvements for our tech infrastructure, and talking about how we can bring more original content in the future to our readers.
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What we've been up to lately:
Server improvements and optimization: You may have noticed that the website hasn't been down very much in the past month. Dave and Chuck have been busy cleaning up the server, slaying evil spambots and otherwise optimizing the server and websites. This is necessary so we can make further tech improvements and have a stable environment to publish more original content.
Infoshop News: We recently started a project which will upgrade Infoshop News to the latest version of Drupal, a popular content management system. This will allow us to do more interesting things with Infoshop News, from multimedia to subject tagging. This new software will also help us prevent downtime problems. We expect this project to be finished by the end of Summer 2013.
Infoshop Library: This week we will resume adding content to the Infoshop Library (http://www.infoshop.org/Library), which has been relocated to new software on our site. Content from the old library will be re-added to the library in the next couple of months. We will also be planning ways for more volunteers to get involved with this project.
Infoshop OpenWiki: The wiki is currently offline, but the old wiki content will be migrated to the website in the next couple of months.
Infoshop Forums: The Infoshop Forums will be migrated to our Drupal website this summer. We haven't decided yet if old content and user accounts will be migrated.
If you'd like to help with any of this, please get in touch!