Saturday, January 28, 2006

The Knives Begin to Sharpen

New York Post

The whiniest labor leader in recent memory, Roger Toussaint of the Transport Workers Union, this week quit blaming others for the rank-and-file's rejection of the deal he negotiated with the MTA long enough to reject a binding-arbitration settlement to the current contract crisis.

The MTA on Wednesday filed papers with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) - the first step in pushing the dispute to binding arbitration.

Said Toussaint: "We're saying that we want a negotiated settlement, not one imposed through arbitration."

Really, Roger?

Who cares?

Given the TWU's blatant bad faith up to this point - first, an illegal strike the week before Christmas; then, the rejection of the negotiated settlement - binding arbitration is the way to go.

Or the TWU can accept the latest offer from the MTA.


Fuck the FBI

Chilling dissent
Bill Berkowitz
Media Transparency

As the Bush Administration ratchets up domestic spying the FBI is collecting 'research' reports on 'direct action' environmental groups produced by right wing think tanks

From spying on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil right activists, to the Cointelpro program that targeted the Black Panther Party, the American Indian Movement and scores of anti-Vietnam War groups in the 1960s and 1970s, to the Reagan Administration's spying on activists opposed to its Central American wars during the 1980s, to police infiltrating groups protesting at the Republican National Convention in 2000, spying on Americans by assorted government agencies is as American as leaky breast implants, cronies getting jobs in the Bush Administration, unsafe coal mines, and Pat Robertson embarrassing himself on television on a near weekly basis.

The latest chapter in the sordid history of the government spying on its own citizens was made public when the New York Times revealed -- albeit more than a year after it had discovered the information -- that in the name of the so-called war on terrorism the Bush Administration has been using the National Security Agency (NSA), the nation's most secretive spy agency, to eavesdrop, without a warrant, on the conversations of Americans and others in the United States.

President Bush maintains that secret electronic eavesdropping is absolutely essential to keep Americans safe from terrorists. "The president has made clear that he will use his constitutional and statutory authorities to protect the American people from further terrorist attacks," said Brian Roehrkasse, a Justice Department spokesman told the New York Times. In an extraordinary Orwellian rhetorical twist, Roehrkasse added that the program provided "a critical tool in the war on terror that saves lives and protects civil liberties at the same time."


Anarchists Against The Wall Needs Cash

This is the site of an Israeli group known as “Anarchists Against the Wall” (AATW) which has been supporting the popular Palestinian resistance to the Israeli “separation wall”.

This site does not contain and should not be understood as an official party line or a manifesto. The group has dedicated all its efforts to activities on the ground, and has left propaganda and the drawing of party lines to others. The actions which AATW been involved in are direct actions such as dismantling the wall/fence when possible and participation in Palestinian demonstrations. Much has been written by and about AATW, the links below are just a sample and should not necessarily be understood as an endorsement of the opinions represented there.

Anarchists Against the Wall first started working as a group at the beginnig of April of 2003, with the establishment of the Mas'ha peace camp against the wall. As construction of the wall was nearing, the village Mas’ha was facing the loss of 96% of their lands, which the wall left on the “Israeli” side.

A camp of two tents was set up on the village's lands that were to remain on the other side of the wall. For four months a constant presence of Palestinians, Israelis and internationals was kept. During this period the camp was a base for information dissemination and direct-democracy decision-making. A number of wall related direct actions were planned and prepared at the camp. On July 28, 2003 Palestinians, international and Israeli activists forced open a gate in the wall at the village of Anin (See Haaretz article)

Late in August of 2003, with the wall almost complete, the camp moved to the to-be-demolished yard of a house in Mas'ha. Following two days of mass arrests the yard was demolished and the camp had ended, but the spirit of resistance it symbolized did not die with it.


Outing Anna

Information on the Confidential Source in the Auburn Arrests
author withheld upon request
Portland Indy Media

Through several sources across the country, the friends of Eric McDavid, Zachary Jensen and Lauren Weiner - the three environmental activists arrested outside Sacramento on January 13th - have confirmed that the name of the FBI informant is "Anna." According to the FBI's own affidavit, "Anna" was involved in gathering information on 12 separate cases in the anarchist movement. Through discussion with activists across the country, "Anna's" presence or attempted involvement in various events has come to light. She ran as a street medic during the Bio-Democracy protests in Philadelphia last June and attended both the Crimethinc convergence in Indiana and the Feral Visions gathering outside Asheville.

It was also discovered that this informant made an attempt to get involved with the Pittsburgh Organizing Group and attended one or two of their meetings ahead of the Democratic National Convention in Boston. She told POG that she had been involved with the G8 Organizing Committee in Georgia as a direct action outreach coordinator. She wanted to get involved with organizing for the DNC in Boston, and was supposedly talking to various groups about merging "talents and our outreach, [to] put a little more bang in the DNC actions."


The Battle Of Sago: Mine Company Tries To Run Off The Union

The Battle Of Sago: Mine Company Tries To Run Off The Union
Confined Space

The Alma mine in Logan Country, where two miners were killed last week, lies in the shadow of Blair Mountain, site of the famous battle between miners and company guards over unionization of West Virginia's coal mines.

This week another battle is brewing between the miner's union and the company that owns the Sago mine where 12 workers died -- International Coal Group -- over the union's participation in the investigation of the Sago mine disaster. So far, the union seems to be winning -- with the help of the federal government.

Yesterday, ICG guards blocked UMW representatives from accompanying investigators from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) from entering the Sago mine to begin the investigation. Although Sago miners are not represented by the UMW, several families of the dead miners designated the UMW as their representatives. MSHA agreed with the union and sought a court order to force ICG to allow union representatives onto company property to participate in the Sago Mine disaster investigation.


Coke isn't good for you

New York City urges probe into Coca-Cola in Colombia

NEW YORK (AFP) - New York City's chief accountant called for a probe into alleged violence against union officials and employees at a Coca-Cola plant in Colombia.

"The New York City pension funds are concerned about the allegations of alleged human rights abuses at Coca-Cola's Colombian affiliate," city Comptroller William Thompson said in asking for a shareholder resolution on the matter.

The resolution filed on behalf of the five funds asks that Coca-Cola sponsor an independent delegation of inquiry to Colombia to examine the charges of collusion in anti-union violence made against managers and officials of Coca-Colas bottling affiliate, Coca-Cola FEMSA, and that the delegation include representatives from US and Colombian human rights organizations.


Six members of Tehran’s bus workers’ union executive arrested as workers call for a strike

Six members of Tehran’s bus workers’ union executive arrested as workers call for a strike
Labour News Network

As we reported, following the call for a strike for this Saturday (28 Jan), six members of the executive of the bus workers’ union were summoned to appear before court on Thursday. The six arrived at the court and were interrogated until this evening. However, they were then detained.

Including Mansoor Ossanlou, the head of the union, who has been in prison for over a month, a total of 7 members of the executive of the bus workers’ union are now in prison. They are:

Mansoor Ossanlou, Ebrahim Madadi, Davoud Razavi, Saeed Torabian, Mansoor Hayat Gheibi, Abdolreza Tarazi and Ali Zadeh Hossein

Several other members of the union executive have also been summoned, but they have refused to comply.

Meanwhile in an interview this evening with the state broadcaster IRNA, Tehran’s Mayor Ghalibaf described the bus workers’ union as ‘illegal’, and indirectly threatened to prevent the strike from taking place. The state radio too described the workers as ‘counter-revolutionaries’ and ‘saboteurs’. The government is also spreading rumours that 10,000 vigilante state-hired mob known as Baseej are preparing to break the strike.

These workers are in prison because they have dared to set up a union to unite the workers and defend their rights. Their crime is to demand decent pay, reinstatement of sacked workers and introduction of collectively negotiated contracts.


Friday, January 27, 2006

Anarchist Visions Argentina

Anarchist Visions Argentina
By Marie Trigona

This past month activists in Argentina marked 87 years since the violent army attack against striking workers in what is known as “La Semana Tragica” (The Tragic Week). In January 1919, a major insurrection broke out in Buenos Aires. Military officers attacked workers on strike at the Vesena ironworks plant for an eight hour workday and better salaries, killing four workers on January 7th. Argentina’s anarchist union federation, the FORA—Federacion Obrera Regional Argentina called for a national general strike paralyzing the economy to repudiate army attacks against the metal workers. On January 9th, a brigade of armed workers led a march of 200,000 people. The procession turned into a battle ground. In the midst of police open firing on the crowds and reactionary terror squads, workers struck back burning down the Vasena factories, raiding armories and forming worker militias. Historians estimate that police killed seven hundred workers, wounded 2,000 and arrested 55,000 during The Tragic Week-1919.

Activists this year organized a popular “escrache” or exposure protest against the Jesus Sacramentado convent and cathedral. Military sharp shooters targeted protesting men and women from the rooftops of the Jesus Sacramentado cathedral in the Buenos Aires neighborhood of Almargo during The Tragic Week. The Catholic Church clearly supported the violent crackdown against workers in 1919. Throughout Argentina’s history the Catholic Church has backed each military dictatorship (from General Felix Uriburu 1930 to the latest military dictatorship 1976-1983). In memoriam with the victims, local popular assembly participants and anarchist groups painted graffiti and threw garbage in front of the cathedral.


Smart Strategy or Pact With the Devil?

SEIU, Addus to sign national pact
Chicago Sun-Times

The Service Employees International Union is set to sign a national collective bargaining agreement with Palatine-based Addus HealthCare today, the first of its kind for the union, to negotiate non-economic issues for the company's home care aides.

The agreement between the nation's biggest union of home care workers and one of the country's largest home care companies covers roughly 7,800 workers, according to the company, and includes a neutrality arrangement whereby Addus agrees to remain neutral in SEIU organizing campaigns.

The workers serve seniors and people with disabilities who need assistance with daily living activities, such as bathing, housekeeping and cooking, and who receive Medicaid and state funding.

Pay and benefits will continue to be negotiated at the local level under the agreement. But issues such as work rules and grievances will be handled nationally, said union and Addus representatives.

Under the agreement, Addus home care aides will team with the company to lobby for increased funding for home care through political action. Workers will get paid time off to participate in Lobby Days, the union said.

Both the union's members and the company benefit if reimbursement rates are raised.


Just Say No

Kick Coke reinvigorated by national victories
The Phoenix

With the recent refusals to renew contracts with Coca-Cola at NYU and University of Michigan, Swarthmore students involved in the international campaign to Kick Coke are rallying behind the cause for the spring semester.

The group, led by Sarah Roberts ’08, Anna Kastner ’08, Zoe Bridges-Curry ’09 and Ruth Schultz ’09, is currently making more in-depth decisions about this semester’s plans. Organizers are considering posting informational fliers across campus, planning a Paces party and possibly inviting union leaders from Colombia to speak on the matter.

“The concept is to raise awareness, make a difference and expose the facts, but we also want students to have fun while doing so,” Schultz said. The first Coke-Free Friday of the semester will take place tomorrow. Sign-up sheets should be available for students interested in taking part in the action.

Students working on the campaign have spent the past semester working with college administrators to respond to the 179 human rights violations of Coca-Cola’s workers, including nine murders of factory workers.

An investigative report released by the New York City Fact-Finding Delegation on Coca-Cola in Colombia revealed the company’s numerous crimes, such as the abduction and torture of union activists’ family members, the firing of union members who had attended union meetings and the company’s pressuring of workers to resign their union membership and contractual rights.


Labour Notes Hates Unions

New York Transit Workers Reject Proposed Contract
by Steve Downs - Transport Workers Union, Local 100
Labour Notes (Mouth Piece Front for Trotskyist organization Solidarity)

New York City’s bus and subway workers have sent shock waves through the labor movement and beyond as they demand that their employer and their union--Transport Workers Union (TWU) Local 100--give them a fair contract.

First, they walked off the job December 20, shutting down New York’s vital transit system for three days. Then, exactly one month later, they voted by a narrow seven-vote margin (11,234 to 11,227) to reject the proposed contract settlement.

Local 100’s strike rocked the city’s labor movement. Finally, a union was standing up to demands for givebacks and restructuring. And they were doing it in dramatic fashion. New York’s buses and subways were stopped cold at the height of the holiday shopping season.


The strike was called in response to the MTA’s (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) demand that future workers pay more for their pensions. But on the picket lines strikers were taking a stand against years of petty harassment and abuse from the MTA--while also demanding that there be no givebacks in the contract.

The strike drew clear lines in the city. On one side, working people showed strong support for the strike. A poll taken on the second day showed that 54 percent of the city’s residents supported the union’s position.

Many people stopped at picket lines to say that, although they didn’t like having to walk, they hoped the strikers held firm and got a good contract. Some gave strikers money to buy coffee. Others asked to have their pictures taken with pickets. Drivers honked their horns in solidarity as they drove by.


Thursday, January 26, 2006

Firms get tough on labour

Firms get tough on labour
Unions resist by forging global links Globalization a `two-edged sword'
Toronto Star

Fierce worldwide competition is making companies more militant during contract negotiations, while unions are pushing back by globalizing the labour movement, according to a report released yesterday by the Conference Board of Canada.

"Globalization has arrived at the collective bargaining table," said Christopher Hallamore, a senior research associate at the board and author of the report Industrial Relations Outlook 2006: Shifting Ground, Shifting Attitudes.

For 27 years, the non-profit research organization exploring public policy and economic trends has published an annual look at the labour climate.

The 2006 study calls globalization a "two-edged sword" for management. It offers widespread opportunities to expand into new markets. But it also creates pressure to move production to less affluent new markets so the goods can be made at a much lower cost.

"Management is coming to unions with a new (project) and saying, `We could send it to Mexico, we could send it to China, or we could do it here,'" said Hallamore. "`But if we do it here with your members, (these are the workers) you're competing against.'"

Management is demanding concessions and unions are resisting, he said. The board predicts average wage increases of 2.5 per cent for unionized employees in 2006, and doesn't see any major labour disruptions on the horizon. But the report says that a newly militant management is increasingly resorting to extremes like lockouts.

"Tough bargaining — look at the auto sector this year," Hallamore said. "It was remarkable what (Canadian Auto Workers president) Buzz Hargrove was saying after the Ford deal about having to accept in tough times agreements that don't have the kind of wage increases and benefit increases his members are used to. It's because they have to fight to hang on to their market share.

"That's remarkable to hear from any labour leader, particularly Mr. Hargrove."


Anna Comes A Courtin'

US grand jury indicts three for 'eco-terrorism'
By Michael Fitzgerald

SACRAMENTO, California (Reuters) - A federal grand jury indicted three alleged "eco-terrorists" on Wednesday on charges of plotting to blow up facilities like dams and cell phone towers.

"These three individuals planned to commit a number of dangerous and destructive acts in our region, all in the name of the Environmental Liberation Front," U.S. Attorney McGregor Scott told a news conference in the California state capital.

The grand jury indicted Eric McDavid, 28, of Foresthill, California, Zachary Jenson, 20, of Washington state, and Lauren Weiner, 20, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The trio was arrested January 13 outside a retail store in Auburn, California, following six months of surveillance of McDavid by federal authorities.

According to Scott, McDavid attended two meetings of anarchist groups, one in July in Indiana and a second in August in Philadelphia, at which he announced intentions to construct explosive devices from common household items.

He also said he planned to blow up several northern California facilities and expressed a desire to kill a police officer, Scott said.

Officials said one of the bombing targets was the U.S. Forest Service Institute of Forest Genetics in Placerville, California. Other potential targets include the Nimbus Dam and Fish Hatchery, east of Sacramento, cell phone towers and electric power stations.

The charges were not related to a separate 65-count indictment handed down on Monday in Washington involving 11 environmental and animal rights activists in the Western United States.

Scott that McDavid recruited the other two defendants and conspired with them to construct homemade bombs and scout potential target locations. He said the trio rented a house east of Sacramento in the foothills where they engaged in bomb-making.

At some point, the three were joined by an unnamed woman who was a government informant.


Solidarity with the pro-democratic movement in Swaziland

Solidarity with the pro-democratic movement in Swaziland

A woman is dead as a result of the injuries incurred from her torture, by the Swazi police, for being married to a member of the Peoples’ United Democratic Movement

This appeal for international solidarity with Swaziland comes after 16 pro-democracy activists were arrested in December after a spate of firebomb attacks. There charges have now been upgraded to High Treason. They are awaiting their sentences of possible death or life imprisonment.

We radicals and revolutionaries in South Africa and worldwide must remember that the people of Swaziland aided South African freedom fighters during the anti-apartheid struggle and now it is time to repay the favor.

Statement and appeal for international solidarity with Swaziland and the 16 pro-democracy activists facing the death sentence.

A woman is dead as a result of the injuries incurred from her torture, by the Swazi police, for being married to a member of the Peoples’ United Democratic Movement, PUDEMO. Another 16 pro-democracy activists, arrested in December after a spate of firebomb attacks, whose charges have now been upgraded to High Treason, await their sentences of possible death or life imprisonment. And dozens of pro-democracy leaders and activists are fleeing the country in fear of their lives.

We don't endorse the bombings, as the ZACF has consistently been against terrorism in favour of mass mobilisation; and we don't assume that the 16 PUDEMO and SWAYOCO members did it; but we defend them and demand their release whether they did it or not. The fact that people have resorted to violence to make themselves heard when they speak or act out against this brutal monarchy only goes to show the gravity of the reality of life for the majority of Swazis under this agonising dictatorship, and the lengths a desperate people are prepared to go in their struggle for democracy and against the injustice of the Tinkhundla regime.

We radicals and revolutionaries in South Africa and worldwide must remember that the people of Swaziland aided South African freedom fighters during the anti-apartheid struggle and now it is time to repay the favor. We must also remember that a very similar struggle is being waged in another of our neighboring countries, Zimbabwe, against an equally authoritarian and corrupt system. In so doing we need to recognize that we cannot divorce these struggles from one another as, if either are to be successful, we need to put into practical application the regional solidarity talked about at the Southern African Social Forum and Uhuru Youth Camp in Harare in December.


P-CRAC apologizes for this, but we couldn't resist

Move toward more nonflushing urinals irks plumbers union
By Michael Gardner

SACRAMENTO – A powerful plumbers union wants to toss a wrench into plans to install more nonflushing urinals across the state.

The battle over the fixtures shifts today to San Diego, where the county water authority plans to take up whether to sponsor legislation strongly opposed by the California Pipe Trades Council.

The Pipe Trades Council, which contributed nearly $500,000 in campaign contributions last year, has sent pre-emptive letters urging lawmakers to stay on the sideline. "We respectfully request that you proceed with extreme caution," wrote Scott Wetch, lobbyist for the Pipe Trades Council.

At issue are proposals that would clarify that waterless urinals are permitted under the Uniform Plumbing Code. The fixtures have been installed in widely used venues, such as the San Diego Zoo and the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

Wetch said his letter should not be misconstrued as a threat. "It's just saying things that sound this good typically aren't that good," he insisted.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Anarchist Goulash

The Reality of the Nightmare
Barricade Collective

Privatization and unemployment

„At first the workers of Ózd were told that they could retain their workplaces, then they were told that only certain parts of the factory would be closed and the privatization would create new workplaces and they would be trained for a new profession in order to come up to the new technological demands, and so on, every day a new lie. For these people, for Hungarians as well as for other East-European millions, the turn from one-party dictatorship to democracy means simply, that now more politicians lie than before” – wrote the spring issue of the democratic newspaper „Reportage”. And the illusions of the working class collapsed… The „fantastic trip” from the one-party-democracy passed over to its direct continuation, where it’s not just one party which interferes in your life, but the totality of the bourgeois forces, which are today not less unable to solve their crises as earlier. Every rubbish and dirt settles on us, we will die earlier, we are sent to their wars – which are directed against us, we suffer from their floods, their dog-days, we freeze to death, we die of hunger: this is their vale of tears…

This writing wants not merely to describe a process, but wants to encourage everybody to organize ourselves jointly in order to burn up the world of capital, we, the ordinary, oppressed proletarians. Otherwise, we are nothing else then data, numbers and information in the statistical almanacs of the bourgeoisie.

The transition in Hungary is the process of the capitalist re-organization, which aimed at the reinforcement of the accumulation of capital. The party-state collapsed, and modern capitalism appeared. The goal of privatization is the acceleration of the movement of commodities and capital, the perfection of competitive spirit. The total bourgeois (state) property – which was created by the working class but which was expropriated by the masters of capital – contained 1860 enterprises (the total value of which was equal to 2600 billion forints), and the value of the firms, privatized until the end of the ’90s, were equal to cca. 2000 billion forints. In 1986, a „bankruptcy law” was established, and those enterprises, which showed deficit, were artifically „pumped” with capital (Láng Machine Factory, Ganz-Mávag, the mines in Tatabánya etc.). Already at the end of the Kádár-epoch the property of the enterprises Tungsram, Ganz Electric Current, Ganz Railroad Vehicle Factory, Ózd Metallurgical Works, Hungária Insurance Company etc. went into the hands of „foreign capitalists”. A lot of people naifly thought that with the „compensation law” the past owners – who were „deprived of their private property” by the bolshevik state – will be recouped – it did not happen. In spite of this, once again the old-new ambitious bourgeois locusts and their satellites could step on the way of the further capital increase. Privatization slowed down, the „foreign” bourgeois hyenas stayed away for a little time, unemployment increased, in 1991, for example, it became two times bigger and reached 7 per cent, and the initial enthusiasm of the working class turned into disappointment. This area was also transformed from the mortuary of bolshevik democracy into the prison camp of liberal democracy.


Phebus Talks Forever and Ever and Ever...

The Strike of the General Assembly:
An Interview with Nicolas Phebus (NEFAC)

Upping The Ante

In this interview Nicolas Phebus reflects on the Québec student movement and its most recent mobilization in the Spring of 2005 against cuts to education funding by the ruling Liberal Party under Jean Charest. The Liberals’ attempt to convert more than 100 million dollars in grants and bursaries into loans, thereby effectively doubling the indebtedness of poorer students, was met by an unprecedented student mobilization. The mobilization evolved into a massive general strike: at its peak, more than 200,000 college and university students were out on strike. Highlighted by a demonstration involving as many as 100,000 students in Montréal on March 16, the student mobilization also involved school occupations and a campaign of economic disruption, including a blockade of the Port of Montréal.

The strike was effectively ended when the government reversed course and agreed to abandon the loan conversion scheme. The education sector will continue to be an important front in the resistance to neoliberalism, with students in Québec once again leading the way. In this interview with Aidan Conway, Phebus provides some historical context for this most recent student struggle and reflects on the openings it has provided for developing radical perspectives on, and currents within, contemporary social struggles.


Shocking News! Day Laborers are Poor

Study touts day labor centers
Findings might have some effect in Austin debate.
By Asher Price

A nationwide day labor study released Monday suggests that cities should invest in worker centers because they can "improve conditions dramatically in the day labor market."

The study's findings come at a time when Austin is grappling with day labor issues. Some worker advocates who support Austin's center have asked the city to build bathrooms and water fountains and provide some shade at several informal hiring spots across the city; the city has resisted, saying it wants to encourage workers to use its center instead.

Based on surveys of 2,660 day laborers in 20 states and 264 hiring sites, including a couple in Austin, the authors determined that only one in five day laborers searches for work at day-labor worker centers.

Day laborers are often exposed to poor working conditions, lack safety training and are frequently insulted or even physically abused by their employers. Nearly half of all day laborers had been denied payment for their work, the study found.

"Day labor is characterized by rampant violations of labor standards, particularly when hiring is arranged through the types of informal and unregulated sites that have proliferated in recent years," the study's authors wrote.

Day labor centers often work to monitor labor standards, employer behavior and worker quality, according to the authors.


Labor Peace or Labor Pieces?

Freightliner workers file racketeering suit
Five Freightliner employees have filed a federal lawsuit against the United Auto Workers union and Freightliner LLC.
Portland Business Journal

The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, alleges a quid pro quo arrangement between the company and the UAW in which union officials agreed to wage and benefit concessions at non-union facilities in North Carolina in exchange for the truck manufacturer's assistance in organizing workers.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, accuses the UAW and Portland-based Freightliner with four violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act.


Ford screws the next generation

Young workers hard hit
Seniority shelters some employees
Cincinnati Enquirer

Monday's announcement that Ford Motor Co. will close its sprawling Batavia Township transmission plant leaves some workers with options, but for others, the future is less certain.

Under the United Auto Workers contract with Ford, workers with high seniority might elect to transfer to other Ford plants - potentially displacing some employees with little seniority at the company's plant in Sharonville.

Esther and Norbert Overbeck, who live in Bethel, have about 30 years each with Ford. The couple met when Esther was hired at the company's now-closed Fairfax transmission plant in 1977.

"I have 29 years seniority,"
Esther, 60, said. "Workers with my seniority, I think, will have options to keep working. It (plant closing) won't have the impact that it'll have on the younger employees."

"I don't have any children working there, and I'm glad I don't now."

Norbert, 59, had been planning to retire at the end of this year anyway. "I've been there 33, 34 years now," he said. "The good Lord blessed me, I guess ... the timing is good."

The announcement came as no surprise to Joe Phelps, a 15-year salaried plant employee. He said the plant had existed in a state of uncertainty since Ford entered a joint venture with German-based ZF Friedrichshafen AG six years ago to operate the transmission plant.

Phelps, a 50-year-old quality manager, said the outlook for the plant turned worse when Ford bought back ZF's stake about a year ago.

"We have known since the joint venture collapsed a year ago that the plant's future was bleak," he said.


Fund for Public Interest Research at it again

Double Standard
Union woes at human rights’ research firm
LA Weekly

Four years ago, the directors of one Los Angeles office of the Fund for Public Interest Research told their bosses that they planned to unionize. To their surprise, the Fund — a giant national umbrella group that runs canvassing and fund-raising campaigns for nonprofits like the Sierra Club and the Human Rights Campaign — responded by firing them and shuttering the office for more than a year. Last summer, Christian Miller, who works at another of the Fund’s L.A. offices, learned from his predecessors’ mistakes: When things got ugly, he went straight to the Teamsters. But despite successful union votes in two L.A. offices and no less than 14 complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Miller and his co-workers say they’ve faced a fierce union-busting effort from an organization that survives on its wholesome liberal image.

Several of the Fund’s managers refused to be interviewed for this story, responding instead with e-mailed statements from assistant national canvass director Sarah Gaudette, who writes that the Fund respects its employees’ right to organize. “We have certainly not done anything illegal,” Gaudette continues. “In fact, the NLRB has consistently dismissed charges that we have engaged in bad faith.” In fact, only two of the 14 charges filed with the labor board were dismissed.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Indian IT Workers Go For The Post-Industrial Golden Apple

Citu sticks to IT sector demand
Many workers are paid as low as Rs 4,500 p.m.
Business Standard

Employees working in 'information technology' and other emerging sectors should be given free hand to decide upon formation of trade unions which is their fundamental right, Chittabrata Majumdar, Citu general secretary said here today.

"Employees, in many states are not given the right to form union, which is a gross violation of fundamental right as given by 'International Labour Organization(ILO)," said Majumdar at a workshop on 'Employer-employee Relationship' organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce.

He said even government workers, other than those representing the government with order issuing authority can even form trade unions.

In North India, several state governments were not giving registration to trade unions, he complained.

Citing the recent case of Honda in Gurgaon, Majumdar said, "The case with Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India Ltd in Gurgaon is a burning example which shows how much the management cares for the workers." In addition to IT companies in South India, there were no trade unions even in automobile companies, he noted.

There were several cases where workers were made to sign bonds for not engaging in union activities, he noted.

"In name of competition, management of several companies are exploiting labourers. They are made to work more than stipulated eight hours duty in name of competition but no benefit is shared with employees," he alleged.


Wayne Price: Smart as hell, but boring as fuck

Anarchist Organisation not Leninist Vanguardism
by Wayne Price - NEFAC

A look at the debate within anarchism and with Leninism on organisation

Pro-organizational, class struggle, anarchism (including Platformism) advocates radically-democratic federations built on a revolutionary program. This is counterposed to anti-organizationalist anarchism and to the Leninist program of the centralized, monolithic, "vanguard" party.

Central to pro-organizational/class struggle anarchism is the belief that anarchists should organize themselves according to their beliefs. This particularly applies to those who agree on a program of antiauthoritarian social revolution to be carried out by the international working class and all oppressed people. They should organize a specifically anarchist voluntary association. It would be structured as a democratic federation of smaller groups

This article is followed by some subtantial replies from 'anti-organisational' anarchists.

Pro-organizational, class struggle, anarchism (including Platformism) advocates radically-democratic federations built on a revolutionary program. This is counterposed to anti-organizationalist anarchism and to the Leninist program of the centralized, monolithic, "vanguard" party.



The NYC Year in Anarchy!

(From Issue #5 of The NYC RAT-- NYC's ONLY Anarchist Paper!)

With January 2006 almost a memory, we here at the NYC Rat think it is important to remember the year that was. 2005 was a year that was rich in a diverse array of projects, resistance, victories, and heartache. Anarchy is alive in New York City, and remembering what went well --and frankly, what didn't-- is a step towards creating new, more successful, projects and a means of improving those projects that already exist. We dedicate this year-in-review to the anarchists who, in spite of the odds, carried anarchy from the secret chambers of their hearts, into the streets of New York City and beyond. We hope this will serve as an inspiration for others to join in creating a new world in 2006. See you in the streets!


Slain Cambodian union leader remembered amid rights crackdown

Slain Cambodian union leader remembered amid rights crackdown

Cambodian rights groups demanded a review of guilty verdicts against two men convicted of killing union president Chea Vichea, as more than 100 people marched to commemorate his assassination.

Chea Vichea, who was head of the opposition-linked Free Trade Union of the Workers of the Kingdom of Cambodia, was gunned down at a Phnom Penh food stall two years ago.

Two men, Born Samnang, 23, and Sok Sam Oeun, 36, were arrested just days after the daylight shooting and convicted of murder, but Cambodian and international activists insist the real killers remain at large.

"Certainly, they are not the ones who ordered the killing,"
said Ou Virak, general secretary of the Alliance for Freedom of Expression in Cambodia.

"We demand a proper review of this court judgment, and further investigations by Cambodian authorities until the real culprits are caught and punished."

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court dismissed the charges against the men in March 2004, but the decision was overruled, the judge transferred and the case sent to the Court of Appeal.


WSF: Colonialism's Stepchild

Bamako: African and European trade unionists demonstrate at the opening the World Social Forum

The demonstration marking the start of the first World Social Forum in Africa brought some 20,000 to the streets of Bamako, calling for the abolition of poverty in Africa to become the number one priority for national leaders and the international institutions.

The trade union delegation consisted of members of the Malian confederations, UNTM and CSTM, and of the ICFTU and WCL African regional organisations. The Global Union Federations, particularly from the transport (ITF), education (EI) and public service (PSI) sectors, were also present.

The Malian unions, who were out in force, expressed their joy at seeing their demands supported by such a strong international presence. “This demonstration is supporting our aspiration to live in dignity and with economic and social justice. It is also showing us some of the benefits to be gained from alliances with civil society”, declared Hammadou Amion Guindo, General Secretary of the CSTM (Confédération Syndicale des Travailleurs du Mali), which has 30,000 members.


RWDSU. The part of UFCW that isn't moronic.

Labor Groups Rally Against Big Box Stores In New Bronx Mall

Labor advocates gathered on the steps of City Hall Monday to make sure that the people who live in the area near the Bronx Terminal Market are not shut out of its redevelopment.

The Related Companies is planning to build a shopping center called the Gateway Center on the waterfront property on the Harlem River near the market.

However, members of several labor unions including the New York City Central Labor Council say the Gateway Center Mall should not include big box stores such as BJ's or Wal-Mart. They say the stores don't belong there because of their history of poor labor relations.

“We will not allow Related to aid and abet Wal-Mart and BJ's attempt to avoid the proper scrutiny they deserve from their anti-community and anti-worker practices,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “We oppose this deception, and we urge the City Council to say no to these bad neighbors."


Monday, January 23, 2006

Squeezing the Work Force

Squeezing the Work Force
remaking unions in the workers' image
by Charles Sullivan

More than fifty years ago two of the most powerful labor unions—the American Federation of Labor and the Congress of Industrial Workers—merged into one. Since that time union membership has steadily declined. In 1953, thirty-six percent of private-sector workers belonged to unions; today that percentage has dwindled to less than eight percent. Most American workers are now classified as ‘at will’ employees who have no protection against their employers. At will employees can be terminated at any time at the discretion of their employer, for no reason at all, with virtually no recourse to the legal system for redress of their grievances. This is an intolerable situation that exposes workers to widespread abuse by their employers.

Now view the situation against the larger economic back drop in which inflation has outpaced salaries for the first time in fourteen years. This in effect equates to lower wages for working people. The result is erosion in the living standard of working class people across the board. During this same period of time the economy has expanded at a four percent rate.

Meanwhile, corporate profits are soaring to record levels because management has squeezed significantly more production from the workers, without raising their wages. In addition, businesses—even the most profitable among them—are paying fewer benefits to their employees, thereby placing yet another financial hardship upon them. As evidence of this, pay rose only 2.4 percent in 2004, while benefit costs jumped seven percent. The result is less income in the pockets of the workers, and more money into the bank accounts of the employers.

It is clearly a big bonanza for business whenever workers increase productivity, without a corresponding increase in wages, with the result that wages are no longer keeping pace with inflation. Furthermore, this is occurring as CEO salaries rise astronomically and exponentially. Thus the fat cats on Wall Street are reaping enormous profits, as always, on the backs of the workers who produce the wealth. In effect, the work force is being raped by their employers, and only a small percentage of them have union representation.


P-CRAC loves our Unions but this is fn retarded

Unions use the homeless to picket for labor issues
News Tribune

WASHINGTON – You’ve heard the panhandler’s common refrain, “Will work for food.”

How about “Will picket for food”?

In Washington, Baltimore, Atlanta and elsewhere in the country, union organizers are scouring shelters and recruiting homeless people to work their picket lines, paying just above minimum wage and failing to provide health benefits.

The national carpenters union, which broke from the AFL-CIO four years ago in a bitter dispute over organizing strategies and other issues, is hiring homeless people to stage noisy protests at nonunion construction sites.

“We’re giving jobs to people who didn’t have jobs, people who in some cases couldn’t secure work,” said George Eisner, head of the union’s mid-Atlantic regional council in Baltimore.

The carpenters who belong to his union, Eisner said, already are gainfully employed. With homes and offices being built or renovated and real estate still booming in many urban areas, he said, the union carpenters are too busy to join the picket lines.

“Work is good, and our members are working,” Eisner said. “This is just the best thing for us to do at this point.”

But the new strategy of placing homeless in picket lines disturbs some labor experts.


Union-run charter school in New York draws scrutiny from all sides of debate

Union-run charter school in New York draws scrutiny from all sides of debate
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- In a small, brightly decorated wing of a middle school in Brooklyn, an unusual experiment in the national debate over charter schools is taking place.

The wing contains a small school of kindergarteners and first-graders that is believed to be the nation's only charter school operated by a teachers union.

Charter school observers say the success or failure of the United Federation of Teachers Elementary Charter School could affect attempts to unionize charter school employees. The school could also factor into the debate over limiting the number of charter schools in New York state and impact the strained relationship between hard-core school choice backers and teachers unions.

"It's potentially a big deal whether it succeeds or fails because there's implications in New York and there's implications nationally of initiatives like this," said Andrew Rotherham, co-director of Education Sector, a Washington think tank and a board member of the New York Charter Schools Association.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools that are independently run. Such schools are typically granted charters, their operating agreements, through authorized agencies. More than 3,600 charter schools operate nationwide, according to the Center for Education Reform.

Supporters, who have President Bush in their corner, tout the charter movement as a way for educators to rid themselves of red tape _ including union-negotiated contracts and rules _ while pursuing higher student achievement. Critics say such schools shift much-needed money away from regular public schools.


Ford to Cut 25,000 to 30,000 Jobs by 2012

Ford to Cut 25,000 to 30,000 Jobs by 2012

DEARBORN, Mich. - Ford Motor Co., the nation's second-largest automaker, said Monday that it will cut 25,000 to 30,000 jobs and idle 14 facilities by 2012 as part of a restructuring designed to reverse a $1.6 billion loss last year in its North American operations.

The cuts represent 20 percent to 25 percent of Ford's North American work force of 122,000 people. Ford has approximately 87,000 hourly workers and 35,000 salaried workers in the region.

Plants to be idled through 2008 include the St. Louis, Atlanta and Michigan's Wixom assembly plants and Batavia Transmission in Ohio. Windsor Casting in Ontario also will be idled, as was previously announced following contract negotiations with the
Canadian Auto Workers. Another two assembly plants to be idled will be determined later this year, the company said.


P-CRAC Postpones Features

Dear Comrade-Enemies,

P-CRAC is postponing both the Worker & Parasite and Profiles of Legendary Anarchists for this week as we are all involved in Bargaining Team Elections and don't have time. These wonderfull features will be back next week. We hope our loyal readers understand, but don't give a shit if you don't.


This is Class War!

This is P-Crac!

Vote cripples union president

Vote cripples union president

NEW YORK - Just last month, many of the city's 33,000 transit workers hailed union president Roger Toussaint for his bold leadership in calling for a three-day strike.

On Saturday, Toussaint was nobody's hero after his rank and file turned on him by rejecting a new contract.

"This was basically a vote of no confidence for Roger Toussaint," said David Gregory, a professor of labor law at St. John's University in Queens.

"It undermines his credibility back at the bargaining table."


Sunday, January 22, 2006

Potential leadership stunted

Potential leadership stunted
By Miriam Pawel
Los Angeles Times

At 21, the farmworker from the Central Valley with an eighth-grade education hopped an airplane for the first time, with $20, a bag of UFW buttons to sell and the name of a Chicago postal worker loyal to the union cause.

The kid from the tiny Central Valley town who landed on John Armendariz's doorstep in 1967 was totally green -- amazed at the city traffic, baffled by Chicago's elevated trains and faced with a daunting task: Get supermarkets to stop selling grapes.

Armendariz wondered how Eliseo Medina would cope.

``His were real fears,'' Armendariz said. ``How do you introduce yourself? How do you talk to people? He did an amazing job of controlling that.''

Drawing on the kindness of strangers, his charm and his wits, Medina built a boycott operation that kept grapes out of a major Midwest supermarket chain, helping force California growers to negotiate the first contracts with the United Farm Workers.

Today the smile that lights up his face is unchanged, but the scared kid has grown into a graying giant of the labor movement. He has helped orchestrate labor's rise in Southern California, has become a key player in the national immigration debate and now oversees locals in 17 states as executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union.


What We've Learned From The Miners' Deaths

What We've Learned From The Miners' Deaths
Confined Space

We're only three weeks into the new year, and we've already lost 15 coal miners -- compared with 22 miners killed in all of 2005. At this rate,by the end of 2006...I don't even want to think about it.

As the nation once again attempts to deal with the preventable deaths of two more miners, we will once again be asked by Bush administration apologists not to "play the blame game" and "politicize the issue." Well, maybe it's time for all of us to look at some of the facts that we've learned over the past few weeks -- if we've been paying attention -- and then decide whether or not politics may have had some effect on the lives lost in America's mines over the past three weeks.


More on the Greeks

Robbery suspects charged
Police interrogate, release 25-year-old initially identified as a robber

Police continued to round up suspects connected to Monday’s attempted robbery of a National Bank of Greece branch, which left a bank guard and one of the thieves seriously injured.

An Athens lower court prosecutor yesterday brought charges of robbery, attempted murder and possession, and use of firearms against the injured robber, 28-year-old technical college student Yiannis Dimitrakis and 30-year-old Simeon Seisidis, who remains at large and whose photo has been distributed to the media by police.

Like Dimitrakis, Seisidis is said to be close to anarchist groups and has had run-ins with the police. He has been charged with car arson in 1994 and 1995, and in November 1995 was part of a massive round-up of 500 people, many of them underage, who had occupied the National Technical University of Athens for a night. He was arrested for allegedly participating in a June 2000 armed bank robbery and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment, but was released pending an appeal.


TWU Contract in the News

Transit union head tries to regroup

One day after city transit workers rejected the contract offer that ended last month's three-day bus and subway strike, still-stunned union leaders pondered their next move.

"There will be nothing happening in the next few days," Roger Toussaint, president of Transport Workers Union Local 100, said Saturday. "It is too early to say what happens now. This will take some time to figure out."


Why the NYC Transit Strike Isn't Over
Now that the transit workers have rejected the contract their leaders negotiated, what’s the next stop for NYC?

n a surprise coup at the ballot box on Friday, New York City transit workers refused to ratify the contract that their leadership negotiated for them in the wake of the three-day pre-Christmas strike, reviving fears that the city may again be paralyzed by a work stoppage.

The margin of defeat was rail-thin. Out of over 22,000 votes cast, there were just seven more nays than yeas. But short of a recount, the contract is dead—a stark reversal of fortunes for Transport Workers Union president Roger Toussaint. During the strike, the former subway car cleaner survived the wrath of millions of nettled commuters just long enough to win some real concessions from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). Toussaint faces possible jail time for the strike, not to mention the millions in fines leveled at the union, but he had managed to preserve pensions and lock in pay increases substantial enough to make New York Governor George Pataki wonder aloud if the MTA hadn’t gotten ripped off in its rush to end the strike.


MTA To Seek Binding Arbitration To Settle TWU Contract

The MTA says it will seek binging arbitration in order to work out a deal with the Transport Workers Union, days after union membership rejected the MTA’s contract proposal by just seven votes.

Metropolitan Transit Authority chairman Peter Kalikow says that he's informed union leaders that he is taking the necessary steps to settle the dispute through arbitration, which the union has opposed.

In a statement, Kalikow said, "The MTA is amendable to meeting with the union in the coming days. However, in order to ensure a timely resolution of this matter for the sake of all New Yorkers, we will also begin to take the necessary steps to pursue binding arbitration."

The TWU says it is ready to go back to the bargaining table, but there is no work yet on whether the two sides will resume contract talks.


Statement from SEIU President Andy Stern Calling for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Statement from SEIU President Andy Stern Calling for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON - January 19 - For generations, our immigrant grandparents, parents and today’s new immigrants have come to our shores expecting to work hard, pay taxes, and have their work valued and rewarded. We boast appropriately to the world about the promise of the American Dream.

“Today’s immigrants and their families who help build, clean, feed and care for our country share that Dream. Because they know that in America, we believe that it’s the contribution you make that matters, not what country you are originally from.

“Unfortunately, today our immigration system is broken and needs to be fixed. The problem is not immigrants or immigration but our laws.

“The current system is outdated and unenforceable and we’ve lost control of our borders. There is no path to citizenship for those who work hard, pay taxes and want a chance to obtain the American Dream.

“Our laws provide few orderly, legal channels to work in this country. This drives many immigrants and their families into treacherous pathways to this country and then into the underground economy.

“An underground economy – where workers have little protection and work for substandard pay in hazardous conditions – undermines standards for all workers in this country and breeds division in workplaces and in our communities.”