Sunday, November 25, 2007

H & M Workers Win RWDSU UFCW Representation Thanks to Innovative Pact

H & M Workers Win RWDSU UFCW Representation Thanks to Innovative Pact (11/20/07)

More than 1,000 employees of the H & M clothing store chain have won the right to be represented by the RWDSU as a result of an innovative agreement between H&M, a Sweden-based company and the union the RWDSU is affiliated with; the United Food and Commercial Workers. The pact with H & M is one of a series of agreements the company has reached with affiliates of Union Network International, a world-wide coalition of labor unions that has pressed the Swedish retailer to accept unionization.

Under the terms of an agreement negotiated earlier this year, H & M agreed to a process called “card check recognition” which required the company to respect the decision of employees to have representation once a majority signed cards affirming their support for the union. The company also pledged not to interfere with the workers’ efforts to organize.

“By respecting the right of employees to join our union, H & M is setting an example other retailers should follow,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, adding that he expects the National Labor Relations to certify the union as the workers’ collective bargaining agent.


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Got Sleep Deprivation? Get Bakunin Bio

Review: Bakunin: The Creative Passion
by Anarcho

A review of Mark Leier's excellent new biography of Bakunin.

Bakunin: The Creative Passion
Mark Leier
Thomas Dunne Books

At last! A biography of Bakunin by someone who knows what they are writing about. I have long despaired at the utter ignorance and lack of common-sense when academics and others have approached anarchism, particularly Bakunin. Whether the product of ignorance or maliciousness, they seem intend on misrepresenting Bakunin’s ideas and life. Leier refutes such accounts and sets the record straight. He does this with flair and knowledge, making his book highly recommended.

Informal, yet informed, Leier presents an excellent introduction to the life and ideas of Bakunin. Even the biggest Bakunin fan (and I admit to being one!) will find something new or of interest in Leier’s work. His account of Bakunin’s life and ideas is rich in detail and in understanding of both anarchism and the social and political times and circles Bakunin lived in. Leier presents a picture of Bakunin’s early years based on the latest research and which shows his intellectual development within Russian radical circles, showing his important role in these as well as his early commitment to women’s equality. He outlines Bakunin’s activities in the 1848 revolution, plus his period of imprisonment by numerous monarchies across Europe because the Tsar got his hands on him and placed him in solitary confinement. Bakunin’s escape from exile and subsequent return to revolutionary politics takes the reader to the First International and the conflict with Marx.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

UAW Sucks Ass

Please note that P-CRAC is not interested in discussing the farce that has gone on between the UAW and GM. Gettlefinger's such a giant pussy he should drive a GM Dildomobile.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Imbeciles down Under

Govt considers inquiry into TWU claims
The West Australian

The federal government will consider holding an inquiry into claims the powerful Transport Workers Union (TWU) diverted cash into a slush fund to assist the Labor election campaign.

Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey said Tuesday's cabinet meeting in Sydney would decide whether there should be a full investigation of these allegations.

Labor has undertaken to back any such inquiry.

"We are considering an inquiry that would have a look at the very serious allegations that have been raised involving the Transport Workers Union," Mr Hockey told ABC radio.

"The most concerning allegation is that the TWU traded off higher salaries for workers in exchange for the funds going into a secret account that is funding the ALP's campaign at the next federal election."

That follows a report on this week's Nine Network Sunday program which has forced the TWU to conduct an independent audit of its Industrial Rights Training and Education Fund.

Mr Hockey said there appeared to be a substantial amount of evidence, including testimony from individuals involved in the TWU as well as what appeared to be a large number of emails and written documents.

He said that information proved that the account existed and was being used for inappropriate purposes.

Mr Hockey said it was a good thing that Labor had promised to support any government inquiry.


Saturday, September 15, 2007

Ummmm... Industrial Strategy Anyone?

SEIU Canada: Casino Workers in Halifax Win Overwhelming Victory in Union Vote

HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA--(Marketwire - Sept. 8, 2007) - At the conclusion of long-awaited Labour Relations Board proceedings conducted this past week, ballot boxes for workers at Casino Nova Scotia in Halifax were opened after a four-month delay since their May 3rd/4th 2007 union certification vote. Workers at the Casino and representatives of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are now celebrating an overwhelming victory for gaming sector employees in Halifax.

The results of the Labour Board hearings and vote-counting proceedings, which concluded just prior to 11 pm on Friday night, determined that 231 Casino employees voted in favour of making improvements in their workplace through joining the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Local 902, while 85 employees voted against.

This overwhelming victory of over 73% of the votes counted confirms what has been termed an historic victory for the labour movement in Nova Scotia and the largest successful private-sector union organizing victory in well over twenty-five years in this province.

"This is a great achievement," says Sharleen Stewart, SEIU Canadian International Vice-President. "Halifax Casino workers now have a strong voice in their workplace."


Anarchists Buy Support: Brilliant New Strategy Unfolds

NZ strangers stun residents with gifts

Strange happenings are afoot in the New Zealand city of Tauranga.

Residents have been stunned by the generosity of strangers who are walking the streets handing out envelopes stuffed with cash.

Recipients have described a very happy looking couple, urging them to accept their gifts.

"Take it, take it," the couple simply said as they thrust an envelope of money towards Steph Morgan and Rose Bakker as they headed out for lunch.

The words "Anarchy is love of freedom" written on a purple card accompanied the money.


Sunday, September 09, 2007

Socialists Hate Andy! Boo-fn-hoo...

No More “Partnership” — Labor Needs to Organize a Fightback
By Tony Wilsdon
Socialist Alternative

As Corporate American continues to attack workers’ wages, working conditions, and benefits, the need for a fighting labor movement is more vital than ever.

Given the failure of the AFL-CIO’s leadership to successfully resist this corporate offensive, many union members’ hopes were raised when Andy Stern, leader of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), pulled his union out of the AFL-CIO promising a new direction for labor.

Stern and SEIU went on to found an alternative federation, Change to Win (CtW), that includes the Teamsters, Laborers, Carpenters, Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), Farm Workers, and Hotel and Restaurant Workers (UNITE HERE) - about 6 million members in total. But two years after the creation of Change to Win, what has been achieved?

Stern focused his criticism of the AFL–CIO on the need to put more resources into hiring more organizers. SEIU has put more resources into organizing, and the UFCW and UNITE HERE have made splashy campaign efforts against Wal-Mart and the hotel chains. But no real progress has been made in unionizing new workers. The real issue is not more resources; it’s how to organize workers, and around what program.

Stern has been going out of his way to talk to Corporate America, including working with Wal-Mart. At a recent conference of corporate lawyers, he said: “SEIU’s goal for 2006 is to bring unions and employers together as partners, not enemies.”


Monday, September 03, 2007

Anarchists Smash Corporate America

Bellevue, Wash.: Anarchists Sabotage 50 Bathrooms In Mall

On Monday, August 27th, members of Anarchist Sanitation Saboteurs (ASS) sabotaged over 50 bathrooms in and around the Bellevue Mall. This was done while Bush was in town and people were outside protesting him. This was done under the eyes of the Secret Service, the police and mall security.

The mall is a revolting symbol of capitalist ignorance and stupidity. ASS chose a day when one of the leaders of world capitalism was in town, to flood Starbucks bathrooms (with love directed towards the IWW), glue stall doors shut, remove sensitive items from toilets and leave our mark on wall after wall.

Our intention was not to inconvenience janitors. We acknowledge that janitors had to clean up after us and we are sorry. But that is their job and they receive money for their services. If you are a janitor and would like to lodge a complaint, get a marker and write to ASS on the wall of the affected bathroom.

The mainstream media did not report this action nor will they. We hope that they will prove us wrong. It takes 15 seconds to get a toilet on the road to overflow. Open the flush box. Cut the hose. Close the flush box. Walk away. Within ten minutes the bathroom will begin to flood. Spread this information widely. You are the only ones who can.

Flood the bathrooms of every corporate store!

- Anarchist Sanitation Saboteurs (ASS)

Saturday, September 01, 2007

We're getting ready! RNC Welcoming Committee Trailer

Dedicated to the spirit of middle-class angst everywhere!!!11

Eastern Washington over-run by anarchist hordes

Spokane Anarchists

Friday, August 31, 2007

Organizer Trainer

Image Hosted by

Organizers, Activists and future Labor Leaders Wanted

Image Hosted by

Service Workers Rising! Hotel Workers Rising!

The rights of working people throughout the United States and Canada are disappearing. The labor movement is looking for committeed people to organizers workers and fight for a better future. Our program involves a comprehensive training in union, community organizing and a chance to be a part of a movement that is making real change in our world.

No Experience necesary, just a commitment to social justice.

Send resumes to Sheila Gainer at before September 19th, 2007.

For more information about UNITE HERE, please check out the links below:
Hotel Workers Rising
Service Workers Rising
Congress Hotel Strike

Saturday, August 25, 2007

ChuckO Munson: Gorilla Extrordinaire

G-Men and Anarchist Bookstores Just Don't Mix
The Pitch
Nadia Pflaum

On the same day that a presidential visit snarled traffic around Bartle Hall (really, was building the convention center to straddle the highway such a great idea?), U.S. marshals paid a visit to our local anarchist bookstore – and it wasn’t to pick up some Kafka.

Volunteer Chuck Munson was manning the Crossroads Infoshop and Radical Bookstore at 3109 Troost around 3 in the afternoon last Wednesday when he found a “posse” of U.S. marshals outside the store. Munson writes on his blog that a “woman agent, who was wearing a vest and had weapons, (was) asking questions of two people inside our store.” “I challenged her to show a warrant and she responded that she didn’t need to show a warrant.”

Munson writes that he felt threatened by the female marshal after she told him that he “didn’t want to go there” with her.


Friday, August 24, 2007

NYC Taxi Drivers Alliance Promises to over GPS Plans

August 06, 2007 (Computerworld) -- New York taxi drivers have promised to go on strike next month unless the city halts plans to require that Global Positioning System technology be installed in the city’s 13,000 cabs by early next year.

Members of the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, which represents about 8,400 drivers, are worried that their bosses will track their whereabouts even when they are off-duty, according to statements from six drivers and Executive Director Bhairavi Desai.

At a press conference late last month, driver Lea Acey said a GPS is “like an ankle bracelet they put on criminals.” The alliance plans to announce a strike date in mid-August.

Diebold must fix its optical scanner by Aug. 17.
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission last week said that it does not plan to change the schedule for implementing the Technology Enhancements Service Project, which would let passengers pay fares via credit cards, eliminate some paper rec­ords and let riders watch the taxi’s route in real time on a screen.

Under the plan, all taxicab owners must sign contracts with one of four approved technology vendors — Creative Mobile Technologies LLC, Digital Dispatch Systems Inc., Taxi Technology Corp. or VeriFone Transportation Systems Inc. — this month and have the systems installed between Oct. 1 and Jan. 31.

“It’s reasonable for an employer to deploy GPS,” said Craig Mathias, an analyst at Farpoint Group in Ashland, Mass., who has consulted on GPS projects.

“This is not 1984 or tracking citizens,” he said. “It is tracking people with objects, and it will improve efficiency.”

At the same time, Mathias said he understands the concerns. “People are rightly worried about Big Brother,” he said. “It should not be used unless consent is given.”

Pigs Pose as Blac Bloc at Montebello Summite; Try to Provoke Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) Members

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Pigs Attack Trade Unionist In His Own Home

He called cops - they beat, cuffed him
Thursday, August 23, 2007

A Jersey City man called cops Monday night when he saw what looked like
burglars on his roof and said he was then badly beaten by arriving
officers, who apparently thought he was a burglar as he ran to the front
door to let them in.

Mathias Bolton, 34, of Palisade Avenue near Bowers Street, suffered a
broken arm, black eye, possibly a broken foot, and many abrasions on his
arms, back and shoulders, as a result of the incident on Monday at 10:11
p.m., he said.

On top of that, Bolton was charged with aggravated assault on a police
officer and resisting arrest, but after he appeared in Central Judicial
Processing Court in Jersey City yesterday, the charges were downgraded to
simple assault and a lesser degree of resisting arrest. The case was
remanded to Municipal Court.

Police Chief Tom Comey said yesterday that there would be an investigation
of the incident.

"I would urge everyone not to rush to judgment," Comey said.

Bolton said he heard a noise on his roof and when he looked out a skylight
saw two men trying to break in, so he called police and was told a car
would be sent. After hanging up he ran downstairs to open the front door
because there is no bell, Bolton said.

"I opened the door and midway up the steps were two thug-looking guys in
jeans and T-shirts, and they looked pretty tough," said Bolton.

In fact, they were plainclothes Police Officers Victor Vargas and Kevin Hill.

Bolton said the two didn't identify themselves or display badges - a point
the officers disputed in the police report of the incident.

"These guys rushed me and I heard sirens in the distance and my first
thought was, these guys might be connected to the burglars," Bolton said.

He said the officers were grabbing him and screaming "Did you call
police?" which Bolton said made him think they were burglars and were
angry at him.

He said the pair were trying to push him back into the building.

Bolton said he braced himself to resist being pushed in and he was punched
in the face a number of times. He was still able to stop them pushing him
in and could hear the sirens getting closer, Bolton said.

When the cruisers arrived, Bolton said, he yelled: "Officer, officer, come
get these guys off me. I need help."

As the uniformed cops approached with night sticks out, he said he figured
those punching him would get beaten, but instead the arriving cops laid
into him, Bolton said.

He told police he was the one who called them but they put him in a police
car as confusion seemed to grow among the officers, Bolton said.

In a police report filed about the incident, the cops said Bolton ran to
the door, looked surprised and was out of breath. The officers said they
identified themselves and had their badges out, and that when they asked
Bolton if he called police and did he need help Bolton responded, "What?"

The police report says Bolton tried to close the door but an officer held
it open and then Bolton punched him in the chest and tried to push his way

They grabbed him and told him they were investigating a burglary and
Bolton replied, "So get the hell off me," and then fell trying to run
away, kicking at Hill and Vargas while down, the reports said.

When the cruiser arrived, the report said, Bolton said: "Get the
(expletive) off me. Who are you guys?"

According to the police report, after the uniformed officers were on the
scene, Bolton said, "OK, I give up. I'm sorry" and was taken to the police
station and then to the hospital for treatment of what the report calls
"minor scrapes."

Bolton is director of research for a union in New York City and has a
master's degree from Rutgers University in industrial management labor
relations, said his Jersey City attorney, John Burke. Bolton said his
father is a retired Paterson police officer.

Police said the officers involved would not comment.

Bolton is to appear in municipal court on Sept. 5.

© 2007 The Jersey Journal
© 2007 All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

IDF Soldiers Hijack Taxi, Shoot Palestinian Workers in West Bank Factory

Six Israeli soldiers run amok in West Bank

AM - Tuesday, 21 August , 2007 08:12:00
Reporter: David Hardaker

PETER CAVE: Israel's Defence Forces, the IDF, are investigating six soldiers who commandeered a Palestinian taxi, tied up the driver and then shot at random at workers outside a factory in the West Bank.

The IDF denies the incident is part of a culture of abuse, but it's holding investigations into the moral and ethical conduct of its forces.

Middle East Correspondent David Hardaker reports.

DAVID HARDAKER: It's one of the darkest tales to emerge from Israel's occupation - the day half a dozen soldiers ran amok, shooting an innocent young Palestinian and then attempted a cover-up.

BENJAMIN RUTLAND: I think you can categorise this as being indecent and immoral.

DAVID HARDAKER: Captain Benjamin Rutland from the Israeli Defence Forces.

BENJAMIN RUTLAND: We're taking steps to make sure that this sort of event will never occur again in the future.

DAVID HARDAKER: It was morning in the town of Dahariya - a small, isolated place in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

An officer in the Israeli Defence forces, the IDF, had been ordered to go out on foot patrol. Instead, he and five other soldiers took off their uniforms and set off on their own black operation.

First they stopped a passing taxi at gunpoint. They ordered the passengers out, tied up the driver, blindfolded him and held him in the back of the taxi.

A young Palestinian, 18 years old - called Adham Samamara - walked outside the factory where he was working and noticed a car stopped on the road.

"Arab, I thought they were Arabs," he says. "The car had West Bank numberplates and they were wearing civilian clothes.

"It's not unusual for people to stop outside our factory, to get some water and wanting some help," he says.

So, wanting to help, Adham Samamara walked towards the car. Within a minute, and without any warning, he was hit by a bullet in the chest. He remembers the sound.

(Sound of Adham Samamara making sound of gunfire)

"And," he says, "there was lots of pain."

Here, at his home, surrounded by family, the 18-year-old lifts his shirt and reveals the scars where the bullet entered his chest and then came out through his left side.

"It was a criminal act, what happened to Adham," his uncle says. "You should've seen the atmosphere in this house, we thought he was dead, we were frantic."

(Sound of machinery operating)

Outside the tile factory where Adham Samamara works, you can still see his blood mixed in the sand.

(Sound of Adham Samamara talking)

Israeli soldiers also shot at another employee, but they missed him, and they took off from the scene, leaving Adham Samamara lying bleeding in the street. The soldiers involved at first lied about what they'd done that morning. They claimed that Adham Samamara had approached them in a threatening manner.

Captain Benjamin Rutland from the IDF.

BENJAMIN RUTLAND: The IDF takes this event very, very seriously, and as a consequence, the fact that he disobeyed orders, did not get approval and placed both his soldiers and civilian lives in danger is very, very serious for us.

DAVID HARDAKER: The junior officer who was the ringleader that morning has been charged with a number of offences and may end up in jail. The other five soldiers are being investigated.

As well, there's been an investigation into the soldiers' entire battalion.

BENJAMIN RUTLAND: We're trying to work out whether the whole battalion had some sort of ethical-moral problem.

DAVID HARDAKER: Benjamin Rutland.

BENJAMIN RUTLAND: Within any group you may have a bad apple here or there. We devote considerable attention to making sure the people are given ethical training and learn exactly where the lines are.

DAVID HARDAKER: Is it a bad apple here or there, or is there in fact a systemic problem in the IDF which critics would say has come from 40 years of occupation?

BENJAMIN RUTLAND: I don't believe that there is a systemic problem. As we denoted, this is a discussion related to one particular battalion, amongst many within the IDF.

DAVID HARDAKER: The head of Israel's Defence Forces has said the incident is now to be included in IDF training.

Adham Samamara says he's pleased Israel has admitted it was in the wrong.

His uncle, Moussa, is happy too that the soldiers' lies were found out, because, he says, normally any act in the West Bank is considered a terrorist act, but this time they were forced to tell the truth.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dude Gets Arrested for Teh International @narkiiii!!11

American anarchist faces criminal charges in Spain
Associated Press

McLEAN, Virginia: Peter Gelderloos would admit he is not your typical American tourist. While other Americans in Barcelona might be hopping between tapas bars, he was hanging out at a squatters' rights protest, lending support to the protesters.

But police in Barcelona say he was more than an innocent bystander. They charged him with public disorder and illegal demonstration for what they characterize as an instigating role in the April protest that got out of control. He could face up to six years in prison if convicted, an unusually stiff penalty because of the protest's conclusion — the explosion of a massive firecracker.

Gelderloos, 25, of Vienna, Virginia, says the charges are ridiculous. He says he barely knew the protesters and could not have been involved in organizing or leading them. He believes that his political beliefs — he is an anarchist who sometimes dresses the part — caused police to treat him suspiciously.

"The cop was sure I was a terrorist because he was sure I was a squatter, and he was sure I was a squatter because he thought I looked like one (I was wearing a political t-shirt and had some slogans scribbled on my shoes)," Gelderloos wrote in an account of his arrest that has been posted on Web sites dedicated to radical political causes.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Baltimore Stadium Workers Plan Hunger Strike for Living Wage

Baltimore Stadium Workers Plan Hunger Strike for Living Wage

by James Parks, Aug 13, 2007

The workers who clean up plastic cups, peanut shells, spilled beer and hot dogs left by nearly 49,000 fans after games at Oriole Park at Camden Yards in Baltimore have been fighting for higher wages and better working conditions for three years.

The United Workers Association (UWA), a Baltimore worker center, which represents the nearly 800 mainly immigrant workers, says the subcontractors who employ them have reneged on promises to pay a living wage. The workers make about $7 an hour. The national median hourly salary of janitors and cleaners is $9.58, according to the U.S Department of Labor.

Harriet Tubman at Daily Kos says these workers are fed up with the broken promises. They plan to launch a hunger strike Sept. 3 and continue until they are paid a living wage.

One of the workers is Valerie, a 55-year-old single woman who says she doesn’t make enough to pay her bills and take care of herself. (See video.) She says working for $7 an hour makes me feel real bad. I work hard for my money, and to get paid $7 [means] I don’t even have extra money to treat myself to McDonald’s.

In May, Maryland passed a law requiring contractors to pay workers a living wage. The Maryland law—the first in the nation for a state—requires service contractors doing business with the state to pay employees $11.30 an hour in urban areas and $8.50 an hour in rural areas. The state’s minimum wage is $6.15 an hour.

Although the state owns the stadium, the cleaning crews are not covered by the law, which exempts part-time and temporary workers. As a state agency, the Maryland Stadium Authority, which owns Oriole Park, does not have to follow Baltimore’s living wage ordinance requiring city contractors to pay workers at least $9.62 an hour. The Baltimore ordinance was the first in the nation when enacted in 1994.

Through protests, rallies and concerts, the workers are calling on the Stadium Authority to push for a hourly wage of at least $9.62 when the cleaning contract comes up for renewal next year.

Some 150 day laborers are hired to clean during and after Baltimore Orioles home games. The cleanup takes six to eight hours. Temporary workers also clean M&T Bank Stadium (next door to Oriole Park) after Baltimore Ravens home football games.

The day laborers are hired by temp agencies in Baltimore. Michigan-based Knight Facilities Management, which won the contract to clean Oriole Park and M&T stadium for about $1.9 million a year, subcontracts with the temp agencies to find workers. The state contract expires in January 2008.

The workers also say some subcontractors charge employees a transportation fee, amounting to $6 per round trip. They also say they are not paid for the time they wait to be let into the stadium after the games. Workers say they are told by the subcontractors to be at the stadium up to two hours before their cleaning shift begins. But not all workers who wait are picked for the job, they say.

The bottom line is one of fairness, Kim Thompson told the Baltimore Sun. Thompson, 32, of Baltimore, began working at the stadium a month ago. She said the work can be exhausting, wiping down seats, picking up debris and hauling trash bags.

It’s sickening how much trash is left. We have to come in and clean it up for a little bit of money.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

UFCW Statement: Bush Administration Immigration Program Would Legalize Racial Discrimination

Statement from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union: Bush Administration Immigration Program Would Legalize Racial Discrimination

Planned Enforcement Actions Threaten to Disrupt Innocent Workers and Communities

WASHINGTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The following is a statement from the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union:

On a hot, quiet August morning in Washington, DC - when the President is on vacation and Congress at recess - the Bush Administration announced an immigration reform package that essentially mandates federal racial discrimination.

The Administration's guidelines would throw the doors open to racial
discrimination to whole classes of people by placing an undue burden
on workers who sound foreign, look foreign and particularly, on the
tens of millions of Hispanic and Asian-Americans who would face
greater scrutiny in the workplace. It is irresponsible to toss out
civil rights for the sake of political gamesmanship.

Considering the circumstances, today's announcement smacks of nothing more than a publicity stunt aimed at terrifying immigrant workers. Further, this program lacks the support and mandate of the American people who have been demanding humane, comprehensive immigration reform that addresses the root causes of illegal immigration. This program offers no solutions, only punishments to workers.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has proven by its past
behavior that it is not beyond their scope to traumatize innocent
workers, including U.S. citizens, under the guise of immigration
enforcement. During its raids at Swift meatpacking plants last
December, all workers, including citizens, legal residents, were held by ICE agents and subjected to unlawful search and seizure. Law
enforcement must uphold and defend the Constitution, not violate it.

Congress and the President promised the American people it would work toward solutions to these problems but both parties have failed. It is time for our elected leaders to get back to work - not with unauthorized, sweeping gestures like this Bush enforcement program.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Stupid Independent Union Tries Organize UPS

Posted on Wed, Aug. 08, 2007
KCK UPS Freight terminal workers vote against joining union
The Kansas City Star

Workers at the area UPS Freight Inc. terminal decisively rejected a labor group’s attempt to organize them.

According to a three-day election concluded Tuesday by the National Labor Relations Board, 203 employees voted against joining the Association of Parcel Workers of America, while 66 voted in favor of the group.

Dan Hubbel, assistant director of the NLRB’s regional office, said 339 hourly employees were eligible to vote.

It was a big setback for the North Carolina-based group that has tried to establish itself as an alternative to the Teamsters union. The UPS Freight terminal in Kansas City, Kan., was the first site that the parcel workers association tried to organize.

The Teamsters represent nearly 240,000 employees at UPS parcel and package operations, which is in the middle of negotiating a new national contract, although it does not represent UPS Freight workers here. UPS Freight, a less-than-truckload carrier, was known as Overnite Transportation Co. until UPS bought it in 2005.

The Teamsters represent 125 employees at UPS Freight’s Indianapolis facility, where the union and the company are also in contract talks. Other than that terminal, the company is a nonunion operation.

Van Skillman, the parcel workers association president and a UPS package driver in Greensboro, N.C., said a straw poll taken last week indicated the Kansas City, Kan., work force would vote to join the association.

“In a week’s time, things changed dramatically,” he said. “I don’t know what happened in Kansas City. I have my suspicions, but I won’t say anything more while I’ve got our people looking into it.”

The parcel workers association also has filed with the NLRB to hold union elections at UPS Freight sites in Gaffney, S.C., and Pittsburgh.

UPS Freight said its work force in Kansas City, Kan., had spoken.

“We’ve always maintained that it’s the employees’ choice as to whether they want a union,” said Ira Rosenfeld, a UPS Freight spokesman. “We should respect that, and the employees chose to remain union-free.”

The Teamsters said it is negotiating a contract with UPS Freight in Indianapolis that will be a model for other UPS terminals around the country.

“The APWA doesn’t even have records on file with Department of Labor,” said Harold McLaughlin, president of Teamsters Local 41 in Kansas City. “Freight workers at UPS Freight should get the best workplace representation that they can — and that’s with the Teamsters union.”

Safety Not Kosher at this Slaughterhouse

Food Safety Records Add to Woes of Nation’s Largest Kosher Slaughterhouse

Nathaniel Popper | Thu. Aug 09, 2007

The nation’s largest kosher slaughterhouse, already the subject of allegations about its treatment of workers and the animals it slaughters, has also been chastised by government regulators for its food safety record, according to newly released documents

The AgriProcessors slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, received 250 non-compliance records from the United States Department of Agriculture during 2006, five of them for inadequate safeguards against Mad Cow disease, and multiple others for fecal matter in the food production area. While the entire beef, poultry and egg industry had 34 recalls in 2006, AgriProcessors had two during the last eight months, both of them Class I, the highest risk level....

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

NYC: The Deliverymen’s Uprising

The Deliverymen’s Uprising
By Jennifer Gonnerman
New York Magazine

For $1.75 an hour, they put up with abusive employers, muggers, rain, snow, potholes, car accidents, six-day weeks, and lousy tips. Not anymore.

In New York’s expanding service economy, deliverymen occupy a position near the bottom—earning less than doormen, security guards, nannies, maids, tailors, taxi drivers, and trash collectors and working in far more treacherous conditions. They work long hours and cover huge territories, often in inclement weather, dodging perils like potholes, taxi doors, and tow trucks (one of which killed a deliveryman last year)—all the while hoping they don’t get robbed along the way. And they do this for pay that is often less than the minimum wage.

But that may be about to change. Since last fall, some 70 Chinese deliverymen—including Justin and his co-workers at Ollie’s—have filed lawsuits against five Manhattan restaurants. Never before have so many restaurant deliverymen joined together to battle their bosses. It’s the Year of the Chinese Deliverymen—the year they decided to revolt.

German Railway Union Threatens Open-ended Strike

Germany faces travel chaos in rail strike

By Bertrand Benoit in Berlin

Financial Times

Published: August 6 2007 18:12 | Last updated: August 6 2007 18:12

Germany’s national railway operator is steeling itself for its toughest industrial action for 15 years after members of a rebel engine drivers’ union voted overwhelmingly on Monday in favour of open-ended strike action.

Deutsche Bahn says it has rejected an ultimatum by the GDL union for the company to come up with a new pay offer by Tuesday night. The union wants a 31 per cent rise for its 13,000 members.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Chrysler Hires Poster Boy of Corporate Greed

Chrysler's Hiring of Nardelli
Could Raise UAW Concerns
Wall Street Journal
August 6, 2007 9:02 a.m.

DETROIT -- Former Home Depot Inc. Chief Robert Nardelli couldn't have come to Detroit at a more fragile time, as the Big Three domestic auto makers are locked in critical labor negotiations with a United Auto Workers union that has made criticizing executive compensation a key rallying cry.

Mr. Nardelli, who recently made headlines with a $210 million Home Depot Inc. severance package, takes the Chrysler helm just days after private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management closed its purchase of Chrysler from DaimlerChrysler AG. Mr. Nardelli has recently become the poster boy for corporate excess thanks to the severance package that drew criticism from investors, lawmakers and unions.

That image promises to not sit well with Detroit's biggest union.

UAW President Ron Gettelfinger was initially against a private-equity takeover, mostly because he believed the firms were full of people who used other people's money to "strip and flip" corporations. The union, however, surprisingly warmed up to Cerberus after being assured former Chrysler Chief Executive Tom LaSorda's so-called Recovery and Transformation Plan turnaround plan was still intact.

Now, harmony between the deep-pocketed investment firm and the 72-year-old labor union may face a challenge. Mr. Gettelfinger, in past interviews with the media, has said he supports Mr. LaSorda, whose family has deep union ties and who had been paying his own health-care tab in a show of shared sacrifice with the UAW. Mr. LaSorda, who will remain president, took over as Chrysler CEO in September 2005, and had a rocky tenure capped by Daimler AG's decision to sell Chrysler in May.

"I believe they made the right decision by keeping Tom LaSorda," Mr. Gettelfinger said in late May. "I think it's a bold move on their part to say we know very little about this industry and we have a management team in place that does."

While Mr. Gettelfinger has been an advocate of Mr. LaSorda remaining CEO, he has also been a fierce critic of excessively high executive compensation.

Most recently, the union chief took aim at Delphi Corp. Chairman Steve Miller after Delphi dished out multi-million-dollar retention packages to executives shortly after filing for bankruptcy protection in 2005. At the same time, Mr. Miller was threatening to use court protection to rip up labor contracts for hourly workers at Delphi, an auto parts maker that had been spun off from General Motors Corp. in 1999.

Even with Delphi nearly ready to emerge from bankruptcy, thanks in part to a new UAW contract, the tension created by Mr. Miller and the compensation issues still weigh on Mr. Gettelfinger. He refuses to even say the word "Delphi" in public statements, instead calling it "GM's parts operation." He refers to Delphi executives as "swine."

As colorful as the Delphi saga turned out to be, the stakes are arguably much higher as Chrysler, along with GM and Ford Motor Co., try to hammer out a new four-year contract that cedes considerable cost concessions to the auto makers. Mr. LaSorda will keep a close hand in the negotiations, but Mr. Nardelli's high-profile figure will undoubtedly loom over the talks.

In Mr. Nardelli, GM Chief Executive Rick Wagoner and Ford Chief Executive Alan Mulally have a new negotiating partner who has attracted scrutiny from other unions, notably the AFL-CIO. That union, which has teamed up with the UAW on the political front, made a punching bag of Mr. Nardelli during his tenure at Home Depot, generating several press releases criticizing his performance and compensation.

Mr. Nardelli's compensation as Chrysler chief executive will likely remain confidential, since the company is now private. Mr. Nardelli's pay will be tied to Chrysler's performance and based on the equity value of the auto maker, people familiar with the matter said. The new CEO will have breathing room to engineer a restructuring for the auto maker without the scrutiny of shareholders and Wall Street analysts.

The UAW already has executive compensation on its mind as it enters labor talks, and that could be a strike against Mr. Nardelli. In a book distributed to media in advance of the negotiations, the UAW noted "The CEOs of Chrysler Group, Ford and GM earned a combined total of $24.5 million in salaries, bonuses and other compensation in 2006." The union calls the payouts "substantial sums." Mr. Gettelfinger also took considerable time earlier this year to rip high executive compensation during the UAW's bargaining convention, which is a public event meant to lay the groundwork for private labor talks.

On July 23, Mr. Gettelfinger, at a press conference held at Ford headquarters, reminded media that chief executives of Japanese auto makers, which are wildly more profitable than the Big Three, typically make less money then U.S. auto chiefs.

UNITE HERE Launches Website, Survey, to Engage Countrywide Borrowers

LOS ANGELES, Aug. 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The labor union UNITE
HERE has launched a website,, as an open resource on the sub-prime lending crisis and the nation's number one sub-prime lender, Countrywide Financial Corporation.

Sarkozy Goes on Anti-Union Offensive

Sarkozy’s reforms too tame for some
By John Thornhill in Paris
Financial Times

Published: August 2 2007 18:52 | Last updated: August 2 2007 18:52

The French parliament concluded its extraordinary summer session on Thursday night having adopted four big packages of legislation in a frantic burst of political activity.

However, in spite of such remarkable activism, Nicolas Sarkozy, the new president, is facing criticism from some supporters that his government is not reforming as boldly as promised.

Boasting a clear parliamentary majority, Mr Sarkozy has found it easy to push through legislation cutting taxes on overtime and mortgage interest payments, granting more autonomy to universities, toughening sentences for repeat offenders and mandating minimum service levels on public transport during strikes.

The president has made clear he is pushing full speed ahead with his promise to bring about a “rupture” with the failed policies of the past and revitalise the eurozone’s second biggest economy.

Wishing his ministers a good vacation following the last cabinet meeting of the summer on Wednesday, he told them to keep their mobile phones switched on and to prepare for even more intense work on their return in September.

But some deputies from Mr Sarkozy’s centre-right UMP party, who have already been grumbling about how many Socialist ministers have been included in his government, are now complaining he has not been aggressive enough in tackling France’s sprawling civil service and getting a grip on public finances.

Even though they faced little parliamentary opposition, ministers shied away from some of their more controversial proposals that could have provoked confrontation with the unions.

On Tuesday François Fillon, the prime minister, outlined measures to cut civil service numbers next year by not replacing 22,700 retiring staff and to trim the projected budget deficit from 2.4 per cent in 2007 to 2.3 per cent next year. However, Mr Fillon’s reforms fell well short of Mr Sarkozy’s campaign promises not to replace half those retiring from the civil service and to revolutionise the public finances.

Mr Fillon argued that reforms would acquire a momentum of their own, making it easier to move faster later to meet Mr Sarkozy’s promises over the course of his five-year term. The government’s tax cuts would also stimulate faster economic growth, which would enable the deficit to be cut more aggressively later.

Christine Lagarde, the finance minister, estimated that the €13.8bn (£9.3bn, $18.9bn) tax cuts approved by parliament this week could add at least 0.3 of a percentage point to economic growth in 2008. With the unemployment rate having fallen to 8 per cent, its lowest level in 25 years, the French economy would enter a virtuous cycle of higher growth, falling unemployment and shrinking deficits, ministers hope.

But in a biting editorial, the left-leaning Le Monde newspaper criticised Mr Sarkozy for not going further in his first three months in office. It said that Mr Fillon, who has seemed almost invisible at times in the Sarkozy administration, had finally found a role: announcing the government’s retreats on its most controversial measures.

“These evolutions show that the ‘hyper-president’ is not Superman: like his predecessors he must pull back on his campaign promises,” the newspaper said. “The man of action, elected on the slogan ‘I do what I say’ is already confronted with the limits of his power, even though the first months of a new mandate are the most favourable for passing important reforms.”

Saturday, August 04, 2007

SEIU Criticizes Clinton for Lack of Health Care Plan

ABC News' Teddy Davis Reports: Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., has undercut her standing with a politically powerful labor union with her go-slow approach on health care.

"We're disappointed in what she's released so far," Stephanie Mueller, the spokesperson for the powerful Service Employees International Union, told ABC News. While expressing disappointment that Clinton has not yet released a health care plan offering coverage for all Americans, Mueller was quick to add that when it comes to winning the union's coveted endorsement "no one has been disqualified at this point."

Friday, August 03, 2007

Nobu/De Niro Restaurants Take Cue from Snotty French Chefs: Wage Violations, ULPs

De Niro's NY restaurant latest celeb venture sued
Thu Aug 2, 2007 11:43PM BST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two former waiters employed by a Manhattan restaurant chain partly owned by actor Robert De Niro sued it over wages on Thursday in the latest legal battle involving celebrity-owned New York establishments.

The lawsuit, which does not directly name De Niro, accuses Nobu, Nobu 57 and Nobu Next Door of failing to pay overtime and unfairly splitting tips.

It is among several recent lawsuits to accuse New York restaurants of wage violations and unfair labour practices.

New York restaurant staff are commonly paid tips instead of full wages. But many including immigrant busboys and food runners are underpaid and cut out of the larger tips, worker advocates say.

The suit filed in Manhattan federal court says that more than 100 waiters and busboys were cut out of their proper tips at the three Nobu establishments, and that the tip pool unfairly included managers and other usually untipped staff.

A spokeswoman for Nobu did not immediately return calls for comment.

Other lawsuits have accused celebrity French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten of not paying proper wages or dividing tips at his upscale New York restaurants, and hip-hop producer and rapper Jay-Z of paying incorrect wages at his Manhattan nightclub.

Another famous chef, Daniel Boulud, agreed to settle a discrimination lawsuit this week after workers at his Manhattan restaurant Daniel accused the restaurant of promoting white French workers ahead of nonwhite workers.

In yet another case, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay was recently sued by a New York restaurant manager who said he exaggerated the restaurant's conditions on his television reality show "Kitchen Nightmares."

Thursday, August 02, 2007

UNITE-HERE members to Vote on Las Vegas Casino Strike Authorization

Culinary Workers Union Slates Las Vegas Strike Vote Sept 12


Culinary Workers Union Local 226 members will vote on Sept. 12 to authorize the union's negotiating committee to call for strikes at Las Vegas casinos without new contract settlements.

The union has been in negotiations with MGM Mirage (MGM) in Las Vegas since March for new agreements covering more than 21,000 workers at nine of the company's Las Vegas Strip properties.

Earlier this month, the union began negotiations with other casino operators in Las Vegas covering an additional 14,000 workers.

As of July 31 only workers at seven of Harrah's Entertainment Inc.'s (HET) Las Vegas properties have settled new contracts covering 15,000 workers.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

CTW Investment Group Calls on Vegan A-Hole to Resign

Group Urges Whole Foods' Mackey
To Step Down as Firm's Chairman
July 26, 2007

Wall Street Journal

CHICAGO -- An investment group affiliated with union pension funds said John Mackey, the embattled chief executive of Whole Foods Market Inc., should step down as chairman of the natural-foods giant in the wake of revelations that he posted anonymous comments on Internet stock-market forums.

CtW Investment Group, a branch of Change to Win, a coalition of labor unions, wrote a letter Wednesday to John B. Elstrott Jr., the lead independent director at Whole Foods, urging the board to immediately name an independent chairman "who can quickly establish credibility with regulatory authorities and shareholders."

Union pension funds affiliated with CtW own some 900,000 shares of Whole Foods, according to the letter. That's less than 1% of the Austin, Texas-based company's outstanding shares.

Whole Foods' board said last week it had formed a special committee to launch an internal investigation into Mr. Mackey's online statements. Over a roughly eight-year period, Mackey used a pseudonym, "Rahodeb," on Yahoo Finance message boards. He touted Whole Foods, derided his rivals and got into lengthy debates with other users.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has begun an informal probe to determine if the comments violated the law.

The investment group said even if Mr. Mackey didn't violate the law or the company's code of conduct, his "poor judgment has already damaged his credibility" and jeopardized the company's proposed purchase of rival Wild Oats Markets Inc. "With Whole Foods under mounting legal and regulatory scrutiny, its share price down 37% in two years, and Mackey's leadership in question," the group wrote, "we do not believe the creation of a special committee alone is sufficient to restore investor and regulatory confidence in the company and its management."

Mr. Mackey's postings as Rahodeb surfaced as part of a lawsuit by the Federal Trade Commission aimed at blocking the $565 million acquisition of Wild Oats. The government contends the deal would reduce competition and raise prices for consumers.

For years, labor unions have been at odds with Mr. Mackey, who has opposed efforts to organize workers at Whole Foods stores and criticized the broader labor movement.

A Whole Foods spokeswoman declined to comment.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

New Plan to Bore Capitalism to Death

Parecon and Anarcho-Syndicalism: An Interview with Michael Albert
Michael Albert interviewed by
DC Tedrow

Participatory economics, or parecon for short, is a classless economic system that serves as an alternative to capitalism, market socialism, and centrally planned economies. Parecon is based upon equity, solidarity, diversity, and participatory self-management, as well as takes into account kinship/gender, community/race, and polity in addition to economic considerations. Under parecon, workers and consumers councils are responsible for self-managed decision making; workers have balanced job complexes; effort and sacrifice are rewarded, not hours worked or how much capital was invested; and planning is participatory.


News from Filthy Trots

Service Employees End California Nursing Home Partnership
Mark Brenner
Labor Notes

Following months of criticism and sharp internal debate, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) ended its controversial partnership agreement with a group of California nursing homes on May 31. The four-and-a-half-year-old deal was a quid pro quo arrangement that brought over 3,000 workers into SEIU after the union secured higher state government payments to nursing homes that care for Medicaid patients. In addition to giving SEIU organizing access to a number of nursing homes, the agreement provided “template” contract language for these newly organized workplaces.

SEIU announced it was ending the partnership just days after the executive board of United Healthcare Workers-West (UHW), one of the two SEIU locals that were party to the original deal, launched a campaign to steer the agreement in a different direction.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Pies Fly at Social Forum

Communique on USSF Pieing by Agents aNGie O'tool and Cherry Karim

Pies fly when you are having fun-- and so do fliers. The text that accompanied the media coverage of the pieing was taken from the flier distributed on the scene. The following is the statement from the agents themselves.

People are talkin, talking 'bout people
I hear them whisper, you won't believe it
They think we're lovers kept under covers
I just ignore it, but they keep saying
We laugh just a little too loud
We stand just a little too close
We stare just a little too long
Maybe they're seeing, something we don't, Darlin'
--Bonnie Raitt, "Something to Talk About"

People were talking at the historic, very first United States Social Forum. Talking. Talking talking talking. We know, because we were listening. And talking, ourselves, too, sure. Talking. Listening. Not surprisingly, a major topic was the role of non-profits in the global movement for social justice. Officially, it was the theme of workshops and presentations. Unofficially, it was the continuation of an ongoing conversation that was recently revived by the Zapatistas' Sexta Declaración de la Selva Lacandona. At least. Recently. I mean, people have been talking about that since, like, the 60's, right? So people were talking, right? Talking about the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, right?

According to LIP MAGAZINE, the US non-profit sector is the seventh largest economy in the world. At a conference put on by INCITE! in 2004 called The Revolution Will Not Be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, "movement builders from within the [Non-Profit Sector] spoke of the paralysis, disempowerment and ineffectiveness of the nonprofit world." This year, 2007, a collection of essays was released by the same group under the same title. We invite this movement to pick up copies of that book and take a look in the mirror. Like Bonnie Raitt sings, "maybe they're seeing something we don't."

On Saturday, June 30th Medea Benjamin, self-appointed spokesperson for popular movements, received a tasty banana cream pie courtesy of the Bakers Without Borders, Co-optation Watch cell. The tactic of delivering our critique of just desserts was specifically chosen as a social critique from within our peoples’ movement which mobilizes a tradition of tricksters, clowns, jesters, pranksters and yippies to make serious commentary in a playful way. And while our actions were playful, the issues which motivated us were serious. So, in the spirit of Hopi clowns, court jesters, and buffoons of all ages, Bakers Without Borders offer this movement a mirror—at the bottom of a pie tin—for self-reflection. Are these funhouse mirrors the clowns hold up? Do we really take ourselves that seriously? Have our heads really swollen that big?


Union - Palestinian Solidarity

Boycott and divestment movement spreads to Northern Ireland and USA

Bethlehem - Ma'an - Northern Ireland's biggest trade union, the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA), has yesterday unanimously passed five motions that call for solidarity for Palestinians in the face of the Israeli occupation.

The motions contained severe condemnation of Israel's illegal withholding of Palestinian tax revenues and the ongoing military assaults. Furthermore, the motions express outrage at the human rights abuses on Israel's part, such as the continued occupation and destruction of Palestinian lands and civilian infrastructure and the building of illegal Israeli settlements, as well as mass arrests, torture and extra-judicial killings.


Sunday, July 01, 2007

Beware teh Anarchy

Local unrest followed cycle of social movements
The Register-Guard

It was the late 1990s, and the Eugene scene had a backdrop of activism, tension and violence.

Bottle-throwing throngs of drunken college students confronted police.

Tree sitters drew clouds of pepper spray as they tried to halt a downtown housing development.

Anarchists regularly flooded the streets - decrying consumerism, corporate greed, excessive police force and government in general. They drew more police gas, beanbag shotgun rounds and arrests by the scores.

Vandals roamed at night, breaking business windows, torching Dumpsters and spray painting the anarchist symbol - a circled A.

Amid the helter-skelter, a secretive cell of radicals took their activism to yet another level - large-scale arsons around the Northwest for the cause of animal rights and environmentalism.

The comparative quiet of the years since then may create an impression of that period as a chaotic era, a fluke disconnected from the norm.


Fightin' Scabs in the Streets

Battle for high-rises in New York
Fight for work at building site
Hardhats face off in West Side rumble


Saturday, June 30th 2007, 4:00 AM

A union member lies in the street, separated from his prosthetic leg yesterday, after a battle erupted between workers.

Construction workers squared off on a midtown street yesterday after a nonunion laborer backed a cement mixer into a crowd of protesting union workers, police and witnesses said.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Elderly Anarchism

A West Philly-based anarchist newspaper turns 10

The conversation on that van ride 10 years ago this month spawned The Defenestrator, a collectively run anarchist newspaper based in West Philadelphia that first published a few weeks later. In August the newspaper will celebrate its 10th anniversary—a major accomplishment for a community that’s constantly in flux and doesn’t believe in hierarchy.

Against Type

A West Philly-based anarchist newspaper turns 10.

by G.W. Miller III
Philadelphia Weekly

It was the halcyon days of the mid-’90s. The economy was fast approaching the dot-com boom, welfare reform was putting people to work, the country wasn’t at war and Monica Lewinsky wasn’t yet a household name.

With the exception of an escalating homicide rate, things were pretty quiet in Philadelphia in 1997.

A little too quiet.

On a long van ride back to Philadelphia from a Boston conference for activists fighting poverty and homelessness, a group of Philly anarchists decided, “We don’t fuck shit up nearly as much as we really ought to.”

The rhythm of everyday life had beaten the once-thriving Philly activist scene into submission. Demonstrations had been too tame, they said. Protests had been ill attended. They needed a spark to bring everyone together, to inspire action, to mobilize.

The conversation on that van ride 10 years ago this month spawned The Defenestrator, a collectively run anarchist newspaper based in West Philadelphia that first published a few weeks later. In August the newspaper will celebrate its 10th anniversary—a major accomplishment for a community that’s constantly in flux and doesn’t believe in hierarchy.


Fuck the DNC

Union rooms not in cards
By Chuck Plunkett

In a significant break with tradition, no state delegations will stay in a unionized hotel in Denver during the 2008 Democratic National Convention, the national party confirmed Wednesday.

Because there is just one unionized hotel in the city, Democratic National Convention Committee officials were concerned that states with high union representation would be clamoring for the 1,100-room Hyatt Regency Denver.

The Hyatt will be used during the Aug. 25-28, 2008, convention but will probably house national party officials and support staff. Nearly 7,000 state delegates are expected to attend the convention.

The arrangement disappoints many Democrats, whose rule of thumb is to seek out union hotels whenever they travel and who are accustomed to staying at union hotels during convention week. The last time Democratic conventioneers traveled to a city with little to no union representation was 1988, in Atlanta.

But several state party officials interviewed said they considered the accommodation plan a workable solution.

"There is one union hotel in all of Denver," said New York State Democratic Party chairwoman June O'Neill. "It's the reality."


South African Strike Ends

Crippling four-week strike in South Africa ends

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (Reuters) -- South African public sector unions agreed a wage deal with the government on Thursday, ending a four-week strike that exposed sharp political divisions between the ruling ANC and its labor allies.

"The public service trade unions, after full consultation with their membership, have unanimously agreed to call off the strike action which began on 1 June, 2007," said a statement issued by the umbrella COSATU labor federation.

The decision eased pressure on the ANC leadership, which is holding a policy conference expected to provide hints on a bitter succession race ahead of a December congress that will choose a new party leader.

The protest saw some 600,000 teachers, nurses and other civil servants walk off the job on June 1 to push for a 12 percent pay hike in one of the largest industrial actions since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Angry union members marched through major cities in demonstrations of labour's power, while many schools closed due to teacher walkouts and public hospitals operated with skeleton staffing.

Unions accuse President Thabo Mbeki of abandoning the poor through his pro-business policies. South Africa's economy is booming but civil servants have complained their wages can barely keep up with rising prices.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Zambian Union Mergers

Zambia: Don't Downplay Union Mergers, FFTUZ Told
The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

THE Zambia Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called on the Federation of Free Trade Unions of Zambia (FFTUZ) not to downplay the importance of trade union mergers.

ZCTU secretary general, Sylvester Tembo, said in a statement in Kitwe yesterday that unions stood to lose if they opted to continue with the status quo.

"This is not the time for trade union leaders to take individualistic positions on serious issues at the expense of the interests of the general membership," Mr Tembo said in reaction to FFTUZ national executive secretary Lyson Mando's negative response to the ZCTU proposed merger.

Mr Mando on Monday described the ZCTU proposal contained in Mr Tembo's letter as not being serious saying it lacked details on how the merger was envisioned.

Mr Mando said the ZCTU had over the period of time been discussing the merger in the Press without putting plans on the table.

But Mr Tembo said Mr Mando's views lacked seriousness and bordered on triviality and should be dismissed with the contempt they deserved.

"ZCTU attaches great importance to issues of unity and solidarity hence our desire to initiate moves for a merger between our two federations. We did not expect to get such an immature response, which lacks credibility and seriousness from our colleagues.


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Copper Strike in Chile?

Chile Collahuasi copper workers expect to vote strike

SANTIAGO, June 26 (Reuters) - Workers at the large Collahuasi copper mine in northern Chile expect to vote for a strike on Wednesday after management failed to present them with a better offer than the one they rejected a week ago.

"We have received no new offer, except for the one last Wednesday ... and the expectations are for workers to vote 100 percent to go on strike," Union President Hernan Farias told Reuters on Tuesday.


Mobtown, Organizing and Precarity

Temporary Injustice
Union Tries To Organize Temp Laborers At Camden Yards
By Chris Landers

The men and women began arriving at 2 p.m., and half an hour later there were around 30 of them, gathered in the shade by Camden Yards' Gate B. The crowds weren't scheduled to arrive for hours to watch the Washington Nationals hand the O's a 7-4 beat-down.

During a baseball game's nine innings, fans generate a lot of trash. The people at Gate B are there at the stadium to pick up after them.

Veronica Dorsey took the No. 3 bus from Northwood to get here. Phyllis Ockimey came down after her hospital job was finished. Last Saturday she was turned away because she was wearing her slippers from the hospital. Today she's worried about her nonregulation shorts, which she wore instead of pants, but it's hot out.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

P-CRAC Goes International

Greetings Comrade-Enemies,

P-CRAC is most pleased to announce a "great leap forward" in the fight for liberation and pie-cardism!

In addition to our established chapters in Seattle-Tacoma, Chicago and New York City including revolutionary union hacks from SEIU, UNITE HERE and UFCW...

We gladly accept our first international chapter!

P-CRAC is now in London with the CWU.

Clearly this growing movement is catching on like a wildfire. We will not be stopped.

This is Class War!
This is P-CRAC!

Anarchists put the @ in N@ture!

Guerrilla Gardens
by Justin Valone
info [at]
Faultlines (San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center)

For those of us living in our modern cities land is a foreign concept. Stories of land conjure romantic images of countrysides far from our crowded neighborhoods, images that seem irrelevant to our lives. Even though we inhabit a landscape smothered with buildings and concrete, the struggles for land fought by rural people hold many important lessons for us as we strive for control over our lives and communities. When we consider the landless state of most poor people the world round and how most of us own no land, we realize we are all perpetually inhabiting someone else’s space. Our lives and communities as well as our food supply are controlled by people in far away places whose main motivation is profit. When we start to reclaim some of this space we begin to take back our lives.


SEIU Healthcare Launch

Union creates health care arm
SEIU unit to oversee 38 locals across U.S.
By Hanah Cho
Sun reporter

The Service Employees International Union, hoping to better coordinate its resources, organizing strategies and direction nationally, has created a new health care union.

SEIU is expected to launch the health care arm of the larger organization tomorrow in Baltimore. Leaders and members will meet until Sunday to discuss the new union, which is designed to better unify about 1 million health care members - including nurses and service workers at hospitals and nursing homes. The parent union has a total of 1.8 million members.


Interview with Dennis Rivera

Labor adapts to service economy
Boston Globe

Dennis Rivera, president of the New York-based 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, recently rose to the job of chief of all SEIU healthcare workers in the country. He spoke with Globe reporter Christopher Rowland about the union's efforts to organize workers at Boston's teaching hospitals.

Q Why are you having success organizing healthcare workers when other unions are having trouble increasing membership?

A The American economy right now is basically going to a service economy, and we are in areas where the economy is growing. By this time next year, we will have 2 million members in our union, and that will be a milestone -- 1.1 million to 1.2 million will be healthcare workers. There are about 10 million healthcare workers in the United States that could potentially be organized. We believe this year we are going to organize around 100,000, including, we hope, 22,500 personal care attendants here in Massachusetts.


Friday, June 22, 2007

WSM on Turkey

Modernization, Authoritarianism and Political Islam
Red and Black Revolution #13

The following article is to appear soon in "Red & Black Revolution" no.13 (magazine of the WSM, Ireland). It examines the recent evolution of Turkish society, after the 1980 coup, and how it expresses in the current conflict between the military and the Islamist parties that is nothing but the conflict within sectors of the bourgeoisie for hegemony.

Almost ten years after the post-modern coup of 1997, in which the coalition government of Islamist Welfare Party (WP also known as Refah) and right-wing True Path Party (DYP) were forced to step down and later banned, another move by the powerful Turkish military came as a reminder of the role they keep in politics. Following the nomination of Abdullah Gül as president by Prime Minister Erdog(an in April, there was a parliamentary boycott organised by the secularist opposition of the White Turks, lead by the RPP (Republican People’s Party). Although there were past decisions supporting the case of the government, the Council of State favoured the opposition, but not before the military issued a warning on April 27th, resurrecting fears of military intervention and renewed repression that have plagued the last century of Turkish public life -signalling that the political might of the army is well and strong[1].

Two days later a massive demonstration as a part of a series of “Republic Meetings” was held in Istanbul. The concept was created by the pro-army Republic newspaper months before the presidential election and the participants came from secularist moderate or pro-army NGO’s. These urban secularist middle and upper classes were also denoted as White Turks. The demonstrators chanted against an Islamist government, but also, against military intervention. This added a new dimension to the crisis.

The current impasse with the army came to pose blatantly one of the paradoxes of Turkish life: that of secularism as being an authoritarian force, while political Islam is left to play the democratic cards[2]. But to understand the real nature of this apparent paradox it is important to dig a little bit into the history of Turkish society.


West Coast Grocery Strike?

UPDATE 3-California supermarket workers to vote on strikeBy Dana Ford

LOS ANGELES, June 21 (Reuters) - Unions representing 65,000 workers at three Southern California supermarket chains asked members to authorize a strike after contract talks broke down on Thursday, raising the possibility of a repeat of 2003's crippling stoppage.

Union spokesman Mike Shimpock said members at Safeway Inc.'s (SWY.N: Quote, Profile , Research) Vons and Pavilions units and Kroger Co.'s (KR.N: Quote, Profile , Research) Ralphs chain, will begin voting on Sunday. Workers at Supervalu Inc.'s (SVU.N: Quote, Profile , Research) Albertsons stores authorized a strike in March.

"It authorizes the leadership and the negotiators to call a strike if and when they reach an impasse," Shimpock said in a conference call.


Peasants Vs Lula!

Brazil’s Landless Workers Confront Lula
Isabella Kenfield
Canadian Dimension

Last week the Brazilian Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) held its fifth National Congress in Brasília, the country’s capital. The power the MST has garnered throughout its 23 years was palpable, as more than 17,500 delegates from 24 states and almost 200 international guests marched to the Square of the Three Powers, situated between the buildings of the executive, judicial and legislative branches of government. Marchers hung a huge banner in the square that read, “We accuse the three powers of impeding agrarian reform.”

In the minds of most MST members, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and the Workers’ Party (PT) have failed to implement the radical economic and social reforms that were promised, especially agrarian reform. According to José Maria Tardin, who was elected as the first PT mayor in the state of Paraná in 1989, and now works in the MST, “For the left, Lula is the biggest political tragedy in the history of Brazil.”


Thursday, June 21, 2007

An anti-capitalist call to organize against the SPP - the “NAFTA+”

Mexico, An anti-capitalist call to organize against the SPP - the “NAFTA+”

To the companer@s of: La Otra Campaña in Mexico, La Otra Campaña del Otro Lado and in Canada, Anarchist collectives in Mexico, Canada and the US To anyone who shares our rage and indignation, --- On August 21st, the three representatives of Mexico's, Canada's and the United States' transnational interests - the fascist figureheads Calderon, Harper and Bush - will meet in the Montebello Castle in Québec, Canada. Their objective is to follow up on and accelerate the implementation of the North-American Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) – another criminal plan imposed on the peoples of our three countries, yet another antidemocratic initiative deepening the NAFTA, this time on energy and security issues. These illegitimate agreements have nothing to do with the interests of the people. They never had and never will.


Precariats of the world, unite!

'Precariat' workers are starting to fight for a little stability
Kyodo News

The new rallying cry of nonregular workers may become "Precariats of the world, unite!"

"Precariat" is a new Japanese word combining the English words "precarious," referring to the insecurity of part-time and contract work, and "proletariat."

Part-time workers dubbed "freeters" and nonregular contract employees, who together accounted for about a third of the overall workforce of some 51 million in 2006, are increasingly standing in open rebellion against the wide-spread claim in the "self-responsibility" debate that the youth of today prefer an unsettled life.


On the Track of the Molly Maguires

On the Track of the Molly Maguires
The Day of the Croaker*

On Black Thursday, June 21, 1877, in eastern Pennsylvania ten coal miners were hanged by the neck until they were dead. They were called Molly Maguires. They were born in Ireland coming over during the Famine, or their parents had, but one hesitates to call them Irish-American, since both terms of the copulative were being debated in relationship to these coal-miners, or Molly Maguires. Over the next two years ten more were hanged, making twenty all in all.

Six hanged at Pottsville (James Carroll, James Roarity, Hugh McGehan, James Boyle, Thomas Munley, Thomas Duffy) and four at Mauch Chunk (Edward Kelly, Michael Doyle, Alexander Campbell, John Donahue) where they all swung at once. In Pottsville the Sheriff hanged them successively two by two rather than build a special gallows. An immense crowd gathered covering the surrounding hills. Screams and sobbing as husbands and fathers were bid goodbye. Boyle carried a blood-red rose and McGehan two roses in his lapel. Carrol and Roarity declared their innocence from the scaffold. In co. Donegal McGehan's relatives met in the kitchen and, it was said, the sky blackened at the moment of hanging.


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Wayne "The Hammer" Price vs Bob "The Chairman" Avakian

A Maoist Attack on Anarchism
An Anarchist Response to Bob Avakian, MLM vs. Anarchism
by Wayne Price

In the 60s and 70s, Maoism was a major current on the Left internationally. Today it is much shrunken in influence. To a great extent, its far-left niche has been taken by anarchism. I only know of one theoretical response to this situation, which is the pamphlet MLM [Marxism-Leninism-Maoism] vs. Anarchism, written by the Chairman of the Revolutionary Communist Party (U.S.), Bob Avakian. (The pamphlet itself is undated; it is composed of articles which Avakian wrote for the Revolutionary Worker paper in 1997.) The RCP is the largest Maoist group still existing in the U.S. and has international associations. It has a cult around Avakian, who is not merely its Chairman. He is The LEADER, constantly referred to in their press as the man with all the answers, the genius who understands the world and who will lead the downtrodden into the promised land. While he does not speak for all those who consider themselves Maoists, it is worth looking at what he calls, “our fundamental answer to anarchism.”


No "Jobs for Comrades"

Union Condemns 'Jobs for Comrades'
The Namibian (Windhoek)
By Christof Maletsky

THE slogan "jobs for comrades", which has even been echoed by some trade unionists, is to blame for the mess some parastatals find themselves in, the Public Service Union of Namibia (PSUN) claims.

The union's President, Awebahe Hoeseb, said liberation struggle credentials, and not corporate gumption and acumen, were the most crucial criteria considered in the appointment of many heads of parastatals.

"This ushered in a new era of nepotism and favouritism, because some Chief Executive Officers managed to get their friends and acquaintances appointed, without them necessarily having the qualities and skills to perform well.


Nigerian General Strike

Strike Begins as FG, Workers Talks Collapse
Daily Trust (Abuja)
By Abdullahi M. Gulloma, Abdul-Rahman Abubakar

Last ditch efforts by government to avert a nationwide strike by labour failed last night. The NLC, TUC and JAF after a meeting yesterday rebuffed government's offer that fell short of reversing increase in fuel price.

The workers made their decision known in a letter to government delivered through the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Babagana Kingibe. The SGF took the letter to the villa and after a meeting with President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, the government issued a statement declining to accede to labour's demand. The statement signed by Kingibe reads in part:

"The federal government notes with regret the decision by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Trade Union Congress (TUC) and "JAF" that notwithstanding government's overtures of the last 48 hours, to declare an indefinite general strike and mass protest beginning Wednesday, 20 June, 2007 unless their four-point demands were addressed.

Any well meaning Nigerian in whose name labour purports to speak can see that the tone and content of this press statement (Labour's) clearly indicated a political, rather than an industrial agenda.

"Indeed, in the press statement, the labour leaders widened the scope of their demands to include elements which they never raised in the course of their engagement with government.

"In arriving at these decisions, government took into consideration the overall national interest and they are not, and should not be, misconstrued as a response to the agitation of any group or individuals.

"Government is aware of and sensitive to the plight of the Nigerian people and is resolved to address them squarely. Policy initiatives towards this end are being finalised. This resolve was underscored by President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua in his inaugural address on May 29 this year when he said: "Let us join together to ease the pains of today while working for the gains of tomorrow."


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Specific Organisation

The Specific Organisation
by Jaime Cubero - Centro de Cultura Social - São Paulo

The specific organisation of the anarchist movement is an instance of how it is implicit in the designation, with peculiarities that define basic principles, on whose practice its existence depends.

The revolutionary project extolling libertarian socialism demands an organisation in which it defines strategies and, similarly, alternatives for all instances, at the same time as its practice is an anticipated exercise of the project. Therefore, freedom, responsibility, ethics, federalism, solidarity, self-management, etc. do not only have to be concepts of a theoretical discourse, but that which defines the practice and behavior of anarchists in the organisation. Thus as the individuals are the cellular unit of the organisation, the groups and collectives are its basic nucleus.

The affinity groups are constituted by militants whose relationship, established on peculiar interests, is so much more intense in the measure in which it is nourished by revolutionary ideas and practices. Each group has a limited number of participants that guarantees a greater degree of intimacy between its members. They are autonomous, where its members can be reorganised both individual and socially. They function as catalysts of the movement providing initiative and conscietisation. The union or seperation of each group is determined by circumstance and interests, and not by any centralised decision. The adhesions or departures are made spontaneously and freely, without pressure of any nature. During periods of political repression the affinity groups are very resistant. Due to the high degree of cohesion that exists between the participants it becomes dificult to penetrate the group, and also under the most difficult conditions, the affinity groups manage to maintain contact. Nothing hinders the groups from working together at whatever level made necessary. They can join with local, regional and national groups, in a permanent or fortuitous form for the formulation of common plans. Each group looks to congregate the resources necessary to function with maximum autonomy.


Boss News on Culinary - Harrah's Contract

Tentative labour agreement: Harrah's, union sign deal
18 June 2007
by Howard Stutz
Las Vegas Gaming Wire

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- After a marathon negotiating session, Harrah's Entertainment early Friday became the first casino operator to reach a tentative accord on a new collective bargaining agreement with the state's largest labor union.

Terms and details of the new contract, which covers some 15,000 workers represented by Culinary Local 226 and Bartenders Local 165 at Harrah's Las Vegas, Caesars Palace, Bally's, Paris Las Vegas, Flamingo and the Rio, were not released by the union or Harrah's.

The tentative agreement was negotiated by representatives of Harrah's and a committee of rank-and-file members of the Culinary and Bartenders unions employed at the different Harrah's properties.

Harrah's employees will hear details of the contract proposal today during two separate meetings at Paris Las Vegas. A vote on ratifying the contract will take place after each meeting. Culinary officials said they expect to have results by early in the evening.

"The tentative agreement was overwhelmingly approved and recommended by our negotiating committee, which had several hundred members," Culinary spokeswoman Pilar Weiss said.


Gettelfinger's a total cock

Union sees need for Chrysler cost concession

DETROIT, June 18 (Reuters) - United Auto Workers President Ron Gettelfinger said on Monday the union needs to find a way to grant health care cost-saving concessions to Chrysler Group (DCXGn.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) (DCX.N: Quote, Profile, Research).

"We are talking with Chrysler quite frequently," Gettelfinger said in an interview on WJR-AM radio in Detroit. "We do need to find a way to fix the problem there now that Chrysler is in a downward mode."

Chrysler executives had been seeking a concession from the UAW similar to the groundbreaking deals clinched with General Motors Corp. (GM.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and Ford Motor Co. (F.N: Quote, Profile, Research) in 2005, under which UAW workers and retirees pay more for health care.


Monday, June 18, 2007

RICH Zine and Individual wealth redistribution

by Tyrone
June 2007

P-CRAC Editor's note: Further discussion by a bunch of asses can be found here.


I wrote this zine for a few reasons. When I was growing up, I knew my family had money but I didn’t really get the concept of “privilege.” Then I became an activist and started thinking about systems of power and oppression and how privilege played a role in them. I started thinking about my own privilege, mostly as a white person, and about how I could challenge the racist systems that gave me privilege while others were oppressed. Then I started thinking about class privilege, and about how I was raised with a lot of it, and about what that meant. Then I learned that I had a $400,000 trust fund and became incredibly self-conscious about it. Then I realized, mostly through the urging of smart friends and fellow activists, that it was useless (and counter-productive) to try to hide or otherwise not deal with my class privilege, and I started thinking about how I could take responsibility for it in ways that reflected my values as an activist.

I began talking to other people about class privilege, and about the ways that having it or not having it affects our lives. In 2005 I went to a conference called Making Money Make Change – a gathering of young people with class privilege to talk and strategize about “leveraging” privilege for social change. I left that first MMMC feeling both inspired and critical, but excited enough that I volunteered to join the organizing committee. Organizing MMMC served as my entry into the world “donor organizing,” and I started thinking a lot about how social justice work is funded, how funding can co-opt or damage movements, and how people with access to more financial resources than they need can use those resources to support radical movement work led by people in oppressed communities. Donor organizing can mean different things. It can mean moving wealthy people to give money to social justice organizing rather than traditional forms of philanthropy. It can mean working in established and informal networks of rich people to direct energy, resources, and influence to support the goals of movement work. To me, donor organizing especially means working with other class-privileged folks to challenge oppression, capitalism, and economic injustice.

When I volunteered to help organize MMMC for the second year in a row, I decided to simultaneously embark on a self-education project. I wanted to learn more about my own financial situation; the details of my trust fund and the history of where it came from. I wanted to learn more about how my family came to be wealthy (a new thing for my parents, who both grew up working-class). I wanted to learn about the political and economic processes that create wealth disparity and economic injustice. I wanted to learn about the landscape of “social change philanthropy” and of philanthropy in general – a world that was unfamiliar to me when I first arrived at MMMC, but which I soon learned is totally connected to both the existence of economic injustice and some attempts to remedy it. I wanted to develop strategies for leveraging privilege, and to connect my work with other class-privileged folks to my other activism and to a greater social justice movement. And I wanted to figure out how to give away my trust fund in a way that reflected my values and supported radical social movements.

So I read a ton of books. I talked to a million different people about movement building, privilege, activism, class, and every related topic. I had lots of conversations with my dad about his and my class history and financial resources, and about how we fit into a bigger picture. I looked at my trust documents and started learning about how the money was held, who controlled it, and how to give it away. I pushed myself to work hard on organizing MMMC and to challenge the aspects of it I was critical of. I got involved in more projects that pushed me to start conversations in my communities about money and class. I started trying to leverage my own privilege by raising funds for social justice organizing from people I know.

This is one of the results of that self-education project. It’s the product of my own perspective as a white queer person with inherited wealth. I made this zine because I wanted to challenge myself to articulate some of my thinking by writing it down. And I wanted to challenge other class-privileged folks to think about this stuff too, or think about it more, and to keep thinking about it and keep pushing ourselves to be more accountable, honest, and critical.

I also wrote this as a way to explain to friends and fellow activists outside of this donor-organizing/challenging-class-privilege/social-justice-funding world what the hell I’m doing; and to connect this work to other forms of organizing. The whole point of working in class-privileged communities to “leverage” privilege is to support a greater social justice movement. We need to be having these conversations in all the work we do, not just in insular circles of lefty rich people.

Every thought in this zine was developed and processed through conversations with genius people like Laura, Rogue, Anna Elspeth, Kriti, Sam, Holmes, Karen, Vanessa, Tanya, my dad (David), my mom (Annie), Jamie, Killer, Socket, Drew Christopher, and many others. I hope to continue to have as many amazing, inspiring, lengthy conversations in the future.

Please write to me and tell me what you think.

June 2007

Money Stories

“Storytelling often represents the most ideological moments; when we tell stories we tell them as if there was only one way of telling them, as the ‘of course’ way of understanding what is happening in the world. These are moments when we are ‘least aware that [we] are using a particular framework, and that if [we] used another framework the things we are talking about would have different meaning.’”

-Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Racism Without Racists1

When I was growing up, I never thought of my family as rich. Even when I became involved in donor organizing work, I resisted identifying my background as owning class – I knew I had class privilege, but I thought of myself as “upper-middle class” for a long time. After doing some probing about my family’s wealth and doing plenty of reading about class in the U.S., I finally realized that this perception of my family’s class status had more to do with dominant ideology around wealth and my own resistance to identifying as “really” rich than with actual reality.

The more I’ve learned about wealth and class privilege, the more I see my incorrect interpretation of my own class status as symptomatic of a bigger problem. An important first step in taking responsibility for class privilege is to begin looking at our personal stories as part of a larger system. Or actually, multiple intersecting systems that work together; systems of institutionalized oppression like racism and patriarchy, the economic system of capitalism, and systems of ideology that keep all the other systems in place.

I’ve had anti-capitalist politics since before I became involved in donor organizing and began to look closely at my own class position. When I finally did start to examine my personal privilege, I began trying to figure out where I, as a person with inherited wealth, fit into my anti-capitalist analysis.

In the process of thinking about this, I called my dad to ask him some specific questions about our class status as a family and his interpretation of it. I’m trying to create an ongoing dialogue between my dad and I about class and privilege, and part of it focuses on learning more about how – as a first-generation owning-class individual (he grew up upwardly-mobile working class) – my dad came to accumulate wealth and power. He’s always had a very simplistic story about how he “made it”, basically centering on a combination of luck and hard work. He started a company around the time that I was born that produced some kind of software publishing product; the company ended up taking off and the stock value skyrocketed; hence, new owning-class status for my family.

I respect my dad a lot; he’s thoughtful and kind, and doesn’t at all fit stereotypes of greedy corporate CEOs. The point isn’t to dis my dad and call him out as being oppressive, but to look at our position as wealthy people within a greater structure of capitalism and oppression. If we don’t step back and challenge the broader framework that we’re situated in, it’s easy to play a complicit role in oppressive systems; that’s how privilege works. Sociologist Allan Johnson describes this at the “path of least resistance.” He writes: “Good people with good intentions make systems happen in ways that produce all kinds of injustice and suffering for people in culturally devalued and excluded groups…If we participate in systems the trouble [of oppression] comes out of, and if those systems exist only though our participation, than this is enough to involve us in the trouble itself.”2

My dad’s story of wealth accumulation – the way he tells it – is straightforward, honest, and true to his experience. It also could have been ripped verbatim from the pages of the Resource Generation book Classified (check out the bibliography in the back of this zine); specifically the chapter on money stories, which describes some of the myths and archetypes that go into creating ruling-class ideology. Karen Pittelman, the author of Classified, writes,

…the majority of the money stories begin to take on a strange similarity to each other. They focus on one person, often a man, and they center on how his hard work, intelligence, ingenuity, willingness to take risks and temerity lead to eventual financial good fortune. While the details of each story vary, the same plotlines – even the same phrases – occur again and again: “pulled himself up by the bootstraps,” “wise investor,” “rags to riches,” “worked day and night,” “never took a handout,” and “self-made man.”3

My dad’s story is a lot like this. It can be hard to talk about the oppression that is linked to wealth accumulation for him personally; because of course he doesn’t see himself as an oppressor. He’s a liberal. He sees his wealth as having been acquired basically in a vacuum, without negatively affecting others in any way. He spent his work life in offices and board meetings, not cracking the whip in a factory or overseeing the plantation. He isn’t making policy decisions and he doesn’t support the Bush administration. He isn’t an active participant in outsourcing jobs overseas, privatizing public services, breaking up unions, deregulating trade laws, exploiting immigrants, or most of the other obvious methods by which power is concentrated in the hands of a few.

But his ability to accumulate wealth was influenced by more than just his hard work and blind luck – although both of these played a part. As an entrepreneurial white man, he was well positioned to benefit from capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy. He was able to make business connections, leverage influence, wield power in the worlds of business and technology, and be taken seriously to an extent that wouldn’t likely be available to a man of color or to any woman, thirty years ago or today.

In the book You Call This a Democracy?, Paul Kivel gives a good analysis of how wealthy people in the U.S. benefit from and support oppressive systems, even if we don’t directly make the decisions that create and enforce them. He draws a distinction between the owning class (which he defines as the wealthiest 20% of the population) and the “power elite” – a much smaller group within the owning class who are leaders in business, politics, philanthropy, and culture, and who are directly involved in high levels of society-shaping decision making. Though most rich people aren’t members of the power elite, we benefit in various ways from their decisions. Even if we have leftist politics and a scathing critique of neoliberalism, colonialism, global corporate takeover, militarism, and the rest of the U.S. power elite’s evil agenda; if we are in a position to benefit from the systems that support this agenda (like capitalism, white supremacy, and patriarchy) we are implicated in it. It’s very easy for wealthy people to maintain an individualistic perspective on our lives when the realities of most people in the world are invisible to us. So we end up with stories like those that Classified describes – ideological narratives that keep the focus off the owning class and shield us from blame or responsibility for oppression.

It’s important to note the way these stories play out not just in our own lives as people with wealth, but in the greater society. As members of a dominant class, wealthy people hold systemic power – which allows us to frame everything from our perspective. This framing takes place not just on a personal level, but in all upper-class-controlled institutions (media, government, philanthropy, etc.). Classist ideology creeps into nearly all of the institutions that exert power over our lives. Reagan’s racist characterization of “welfare queens” created the climate for deeply harmful welfare “reform.” Invisibility of poor people (except as criminals) in media and popular culture erases the realities of the majority of U.S. citizens and encourages a blame-the-victim mentality that helps corporations and the government get away with deeply oppressive policies and practices. Philanthropic rhetoric that deems rich people to be the ones best equipped to fund social services allows for increasing erosion of the federal safety net. The myth that racism is over takes the responsibility off the government and private institutions (corporations, universities, foundations) to respond to the movement for reparations.

I think it’s crucial to draw connections between media storytelling and the stories we tell in our families; between the racism of politicians and legislators and the racism that those of us who are white learned in our homes growing up; between the paternalism of philanthropy and the privilege that we as individuals unconsciously enact; between the oppression by obvious perpetrators like police, military, and sweatshop-owning, union-busting multinational corporations and the oppression underlying our personal family fortunes.

Anti-capitalist social justice movements continually inspire me to challenge myself as a rich person and to challenge other rich people, because they situate us as players in systems that deeply harm the majority of people on the planet. It’s crucial to me to incorporate a radical critique of capitalism into both my understanding of my own wealth and privilege and into the donor organizing work I do. The “progressive philanthropy” world tends to take a stance that resists truly challenging capitalism and oppression in order to accommodate more moderate wealthy donors. Much of the landscape of social change philanthropy seems designed to make rich people feel better about ourselves and to channel some funds to progressive (or even radical) organizing without actually challenging the roots of inequality.

You don’t have to look hard to find a clear explanation of how capitalism is inextricably linked to multiple oppressions; racism, though (for example) slavery, imperialist acquisition of land and raw materials, and dividing white and POC workers to keep them from organizing; sexism, though exploiting the labor of women (who are already culturally devalued) and relying on women’s unpaid and unrecognized labor; ableism, through laws allowing companies to hire people with disabilities at less than minimum wages; and so on.

We should talk about these things when we talk about having class privilege, because as the beneficiaries of capitalism we are implicated whether we like it or not. For white folks with class privilege, the history that gets erased when we tell our simplistic “pulled-himself-up-by-his-bootstraps” money stories is the (continuing) history of explicit and institutionalized racism in the U.S. Some of us can trace our inherited wealth to slavery or other systems in which white people directly profited off of the stolen labor or land of people of color. Even for those of us with “new” money, previous generations of our families are more than likely to have benefited from racist policies and institutions that helped white people and discriminated against people of color (Homestead Act, G.I. Bill, land grants, New Deal, loans, jobs, contracts, unions…). Throughout U.S. history, people of color have been explicitly prohibited by racist government policy from building assets; and since the most important indicator of wealth is how much money your parents had, cultural myths about a “level playing field” start to look pretty empty.

For class-privileged people to be allies in social justice movements, we have to take responsibility for the bigger picture behind our own wealth. Our personal decisions about money and the stories we tell (to ourselves and others) have reflections and repercussions connected to our place in the larger class system; challenging these decisions and narratives, and challenging ourselves to look deeper, is a good way to start shifting our participation in oppressive systems.

Accountability and our Feelings

“I feel really scared when a working-class person challenges me, but I feel fine if another wealthy person does.”

-Donor at the Haymarket People’s Fund4

Working on organizing Making Money Make Change has made me think a lot about what it means to do donor organizing work accountably, and how emotions that wealthy people have around money and privilege play a role in preventing us from being accountable. “Accountability” is kind of a cliché and overused word, but I think it’s a crucial concept in any situation in which privileged people are doing social justice work. Without accountability to a larger movement and to people who experience the forms of oppression that our privilege shields us from, we aren’t really challenging systems of inequality.

There’s lots of history in social justice organizing of women, people of color, poor people, queer people, immigrants, disabled people, and other communities directly targeted by injustice challenging fellow activists to confront internal oppression within our movements. Activists with various forms of privilege – even if we have the best intentions – have a marked tendency to overlook the impact of institutionalized oppression in our own lives and in our organizing. Although it’s our responsibility to challenge oppression in our own communities, our work is not accountable to anyone if it is always done behind closed doors.

When I first came to MMMC, I was struck by language in the program about “safe space.” In the context of the retreat, “safe space” was being used to describe space where wealthy people could come together with other wealthy people to talk about the experience of having wealth. It was also used, directly and indirectly, to justify a policy in which non-wealthy activists who were invited to MMMC to lead workshops were asked to stay at the retreat only for their workshop and not to participate in any other programming.5

The “safe space” language was clearly meant as an attempt to alleviate the fear that comes up for MMMC’s attendees (many of whom have never before talked publicly about having wealth) when sharing openly about experiences of privilege. The quote at the beginning of this section echoes the sentiments of many MMMC participants, and describes a feeling that is common for people confronting personal privilege.

While I agree that it’s important – in fact, crucial – for privileged people to have the space to do the deep emotional work that comes with challenging our own privilege, the concept of “safety” in this context has a lot of problematic implications. Previous to MMMC, I had generally thought of “safe space” as a way for people who directly deal with a specific type of oppression to create a temporary space in which that form of oppression would be alleviated as much as possible (i.e. space for queer people, space for survivors, space for people of color, etc.). I think it’s also possible to conceptualize “safe space” as an intentional space where everyone present has consensed on a specific set of agreements around respect, listening, confidentiality, etc. But the implication underlying the “safe space” at MMMC was that the retreat was a space in which rich people could talk about the specific experience of having class privilege without the fear of being heard or challenged by people with whom that privilege was not shared.

I think it’s a misuse of the concept of safety to use the term “safe space” to describe a space that is exclusive to people with privilege, no matter what the purpose. We live in an unjust society that creates innumerable circumstances in which safety (in various forms) is available to privileged people at the expense of people who are oppressed. Using “safety” to justify or describe spaces that exclude people who lack a certain type of privilege not only implies that people who aren’t as privileged as we are somehow make us “unsafe,” it ignores the reality of power dynamics and the meaning of safety in the general world. As members of a dominant class, we feel “safe” within oppressive structures. Institutionalized oppression is designed to make us feel safe.

So then, what do we do with the intense emotions that arise when we talk about our own privilege? We certainly have a right to our feelings; and when we take steps to understand the roles we play in institutionalized oppression and begin to confront our own internalized supremacy, the level of emotion is bound to be high. Also, the experience of growing up with wealth and privilege can come with a whole host of connected issues related to family, self-worth, intimacy, community, and so on. This stuff is deep, and it is inevitable that when we delve into it we encounter anger, tears, frustration, and other forms of intense emotion.

But I think it is both possible and necessary to work through our feelings in a way that is intentionally anti-oppressive. Our feelings are contextual – they don’t arise in a vacuum, and we don’t express them in a vacuum. If, for example, we experience fear, shame, or anger as a response to being challenged (personally or politically) by folks who aren’t wealthy, we can respond to that by both acknowledging the validity of our emotions, and interrogating the emotions for the hidden meaning behind them; how they might be connected to classism, how they might scare us out of challenging our privilege.

There is a role for having caucus spaces around privilege, but not because we are afraid of being open with or confronted by people who don’t share our privileged experiences. It’s important for wealthy people (white people, men, or whoever) to support and challenge each other to fight oppression, to dive into the emotion and pathos specific to the experience of having class privilege, and to do some general working-out of our shit. Non-wealthy people don’t always have to be present for this – in fact they may prefer not to be.

But if we are attempting to truly leverage our privilege to support social justice (the ostensible goal of MMMC), wealthy people can’t remain the only participants in the conversation. When we create exclusive caucus spaces, we should be thinking about how to also create spaces for broader community conversation. When we give ourselves the space to cry/vent/rant about our privilege among a group of similarly privileged people, we should also be challenging ourselves to move towards increasing transparency in our personal lives and communities about our lives and our class backgrounds.

I think there’s a tendency to over-focus on the personal when talking about privilege. It’s easy to get sucked into dissecting our own privilege and the way that it affects all our life experiences, but doing this work is minimally useful if we don’t bring it into more public, institutional arenas. If the goal of the work becomes personal growth, we risk losing the broader analysis – and with it, the possibility for working within and outside of our privileged communities to challenge the roots of oppression. In an essay called “The Filth on Philanthropy: Progressive Philanthropy’s Agenda to Misdirect Social Justice Movements”, writers Tiffany Lethabo King and Ewuare Osayande describe Women With Money (WWM), a support group in Philadelphia for women with financial wealth:

According to their website, WWM “creates a welcoming, stimulating environment where women who have wealth, whether earned or inherited, can gain new perspectives on their lives and their money.” The group also provides “a place to explore issues of wealth with safety and confidentiality.” A wealthy person talking confidentially with other wealthy people about her money does not put her in a position of accountability to people who are not wealthy. Rather, it simply makes them comfortable about having more money than they know what to do with. Some of the issues explored by WWM include guilt management, accountability, personal relationships [and] political giving…The primary function seems to be to help (by and large, white) women deal with the guilt of having money and how to manage it (not give it up). Although they claim to discuss accountability, the question that begs to be asked is: accountability to whom? Nowhere on the site is there any acknowledgement or articulated participation of people of color or the poor. Within this controlled set-up, accountability exists only between white people with money and the white Left social justice groups that want access to it. This further substantiates our claim that by not openly demanding wealth redistribution, reparations, or justice for exploited workers, white social justice non-profits function as brokers for the wealthy. They simply help them manage their money and assuage their guilt for having wealth accrued from the stolen and exploited labor of people of color. 6

I want to acknowledge that dealing with/challenging privilege is nuanced and complex; but I also want to talk about how exclusive spaces created so that we can feel comfortable as wealthy people don’t push us in the direction of accountability. I think it’s important that we don’t feel comfortable – discomfort is the inevitable result of challenging class power and money taboos and the lies we are told (and tell) about wealth and the economy.

Philanthropy vs. Wealth Redistribution

“These rich young people do not give their wealth away; it is not redistributed. They give away their income and keep their capital. And, as embarrassed as it might make them feel, they symbolically carry this capital – and privilege – with them in all their endeavors. As donors they do not fully relinquish their power, although they try to share it. Sometimes they resent the fact that they are not more appreciated, that their opinions are sometimes discounted. It is difficult for them to escape the attitude of noblesse oblige with which they have grown up.”

-Teresa Odendahl, Charity Begins at Home7

That quote comes from a book about the practices, motivation, and ideology of elite philanthropy; specifically, it is from a chapter about “alternative” or “social change” philanthropy. Although social change philanthropy seeks to change the power dynamics endemic to traditional philanthropy, Teresa Odendahl’s observations point out the importance of continuing to challenge philanthropy in all its forms.

The practice that we in the U.S. refer to as philanthropy is almost always a tool for the ruling class to maintain itself. Foundations, the most common vehicle of philanthropy, were created by the wealthy elite as a way to shield their fortunes from taxation. The great majority of philanthropic giving goes to elitist institutions that largely serve and benefit the rich – private universities, ballet, opera, museums, etc. Even when philanthropic money goes to institutions that serve marginalized communities, it is within a paternalistic framework of “charity” – providing basic services without challenging the roots of inequality.

There are lots of great books critically analyzing traditional philanthropy – some of them are listed in the back of this zine. But most people in the leftist donor movement are already critical of traditional philanthropy – that’s why we’re creating new forms of giving that challenge injustice and support grassroots community organizing.

But the more I learn about/observe/participate in the world of social change philanthropy, the more I feel really dissatisfied with where we’re at. I’ve been thinking about how social change philanthropy is subject to many of the same oppressive symptoms as traditional philanthropy. Ostensibly, an aim of social change philanthropy is to redistribute not only money, but also the decision-making power that determines how the money is used. But I think that as progressive donors, we often fall short of redistributing both money and power.

A simple question that I think is important to ask in trying to understand all of this is: Why do we give? The history of philanthropy in the U.S. is a history of wealthy, ruling class people using various forms of monetary giving to maintain and hoard power, class status, and wealth. The culture of traditional philanthropy provides its own motivations for giving – membership in elite networks; influence over politics, media, and culture; participation in upper-class institutions; and so on. Since our goal as progressive donors is to challenge this dynamic, I think it’s useful to take a close look at what inspires and motivates us to give.

The concept of “incentive” comes up a lot in fundraising and philanthropy. Incentive to give money takes many forms in different situations, from tax deductions to public recognition to a feeling of satisfaction and self-worth. But I think that often, “incentive” can be translated to mean “power and control.” In Charity Begins at Home, a businessman with inherited wealth told the author: “Entrepreneurs have a great need to control. If you give them a controlling reason to give philanthropic money, you have all of the sudden got a philanthropist that might not otherwise be there.”8

Shifting Power

Philanthropy is such a horrifying institution that I feel dubious about attempts to reform it into something that is capable of supporting radical social movements. At the same time, we live in a capitalist society in which foundations play an increasingly influential role. Wealthy people, depending on our situations, have varying levels of involvement and influence in the world of philanthropy. For wealthy people with radical politics, it’s important to have a critique of these institutions whether we choose to work within them or not. It’s been useful to me to learn more about philanthropy (both “traditional” and “alternative”), because it helps me to understand the forces at play in any work that wealthy people do to “leverage” privilege for social change.

There are lots of (well, at least a few) community-based foundations throughout the country with the goal of funding social justice organizing. One thing that’s been really interesting for me to learn about is the different ways that these foundations distribute money; i.e., how they set up their grantmaking boards. I think looking at these grantmaking boards gets at the roots of some of my questions about how the ways that we give money can support or challenge class power dynamics.

The simplest model of shifting power within these types of foundations is to place grantmaking decisions in the hands of a board made up of activists and community organizers, with the majority coming from the communities that are most affected by oppression and inequality (people of color, women, queers, poor and working-class people, etc.). The idea is that these are the folks best equipped to disperse funds to social justice organizing – not only are they affected by issues of injustice in a more direct way than elite funders, but they’re experienced activists with expertise and grounding in grantee communities.

That’s a simplistic explanation, and of course there are a million ways that things get complicated. But what’s been interesting to me in learning about these types of foundations is how rarely that model is actually implemented. More often some compromise is struck that allows for greater donor control: the grantmaking board is made up of a combination of donors and activists; or there are two grantmaking boards – one for activists and one for donors, dividing up the funds and making grants independently; or the board is made up only of donors, with an expressed commitment to fund social justice work.9

I think looking at these different types of funding boards sheds some light on how deeply we don’t want to give up power. Community foundations that strictly limit donor involvement in funding decisions have a much harder time attracting wealthy contributors. And within the broader world of social justice philanthropy, activist-led re-granting institutions are just a small part of the way that wealthy people give money. Instead, we’re starting our own foundations, participating in elite donor networks with other lefty rich people, creating our own projects or nonprofits, or just giving directly to organizations doing work that we find interesting.

What are the costs when rich people are the ones making the decisions about how to fund social movements? At its most insidious, this funding dynamic can take the form of elite individuals and foundations using money as a way of manipulating movements and steering them away from forms of organizing that pose a true threat to elite power. This dynamic is elaborated on in many of the phenomenal essays in the book The Revolution Will Not be Funded, listed in the bibliography. A good example is the way that the Ford Foundation used funding to exert its influence in the Black power movement, supporting a focus of Black capitalism over Black liberation and directing movement energy away from radical organizing.10

Of course, as individual progressive donors, we don’t always set out to harm, co-opt, control, or de-radicalize movements – but unless we consciously and intentionally try not to, we may end up enacting these dynamics anyway. It’s a function of the way privilege works that systemic oppression usually manifests not through conspiracy, but as a natural reproduction of power and privilege.

Here’s an example: in the early years of the San Francisco-based Vanguard Foundation, grantmaking was done by two boards, one made up of (wealthy, white) donors and one made up of members drawn from the (activist, mostly people of color) “community”. Both had access to equal amounts of money, and would make grants separately. In a quote I found in Teresa Odendahl’s book Charity Begins at Home, a Vanguard donor board member explains:

The donor board would fund certain kinds of issues that perhaps were mainly organizations of white people – maybe more middle-class white people – doing certain, what we would consider essential work. The community board would sometimes fund the project of a community that might not be the most incisive, but nonetheless the community had been underrepresented in our funding.

A glaring problem in this statement – and one that I think is representative of a way larger problem – is the assumption by the donor board that the organizations doing the most “incisive” work are white middle-class organizations. Later, Odendahl indicates further what seems to be a prevailing belief of the wealthy donors – that the community board funded projects because of a desire to “see that the constituencies they represented were funded,” while donors, free from the obligation to fulfill such quotas, possessed a purer motivation to simply reflect “their politics and their sense of which groups were effective.”11 Somehow, the groups they deemed most “effective” strongly tended to be white and middle-class.

Taking Responsibility

In yet another totally awesome and useful book – Money for Change: Social Movement Philanthropy at Haymarket People’s Fund – author Susan Ostrander writes about internal processes at Haymarket, a community foundation whose grantmaking model (at least at the time this book was published) was especially strict in terms of not allowing participation of it’s wealthy donors on the grantmaking board. One of the ways that Haymarket raised money, despite its limitations on donor control, was by holding “wealth conferences” for progressive rich people.

It was kind of fascinating for me to read about these conferences, because a lot of the dynamics that came up within them were so similar to issues that I think about around MMMC. Haymarket’s wealth conferences served as a major fundraising tool, even though there was an explicit policy disallowing direct solicitation of participants. MMMC has a similar non-solicitation policy, but also succeeds (to varying degrees) in moving its wealthy attendees to give money. I think that the success of these types of “passive fundraising” brings up some important questions about why we give (i.e., what is our incentive), and what we ask in return.

Susan Ostrander describes the Haymarket conferences as spaces that focused heavily on personal growth work and relationship-building. Haymarket staff played a role in the conferences, but not to champion Haymarket or to necessarily present a case for its model of grantmaking. In fact, Ostrander indicates at one point that many of the conference participants didn’t even really know exactly what Haymarket was, even though they may have been Haymarket donors.

Although Haymarket staff might directly solicit participants at some point after the conference, during the conference their role was to hold a space for the personal development of wealthy conference attendees – and to build relationships with folks who might later become major donors to Haymarket. This required staff to do a lot of emotional labor and sociability work; Ostrander writes: “Building and maintaining these relations seemed time consuming, sometimes rewarding, and sometimes emotionally draining. A large portion of the work seemed to consist of informal ‘schmoozing’ and caretaking and what looked like, but really wasn’t, relaxed ‘hanging out.’”12

It seems a little disingenuous to attempt to build authentic cross-class relationships when funding is directly at stake. But there are tons of models in social change philanthropy that have community activists and wealthy donors working together, either to directly make funding decisions or to build a progressive donor community that will presumably eventually lead to increased funding for social change organizations; cross-class donor circles, grantmaking boards within community foundations, the Haymarket wealth conferences of yore (i.e. the 90s) and MMMC, their contemporary counterpart. While it’s safe to say that these models are a major improvement on traditional philanthropy, I think it’s important to think about how power is exercised, outwardly or covertly, in these situations in ways that mimic and enforce dominant power structures. For wealthy people, I think it is our responsibility to interrogate our role in these dynamics, and think about the ways that we resist redistributing power and resist removing the (obvious or subtle) strings attached to our money.

There’s a great article by Ira Silver called “Buying an Activist Identity” that further elaborates on the dynamic I’m getting at, although in a different context. In the article, Silver describes the grantmaking board at the Chicago-based Crossroads Fund, whose model has community activists and wealthy donors making funding decisions together. The logic behind this has to do with integrating donors more deeply into social movement work by putting them in working relationships with community organizers, which seems like a worthy goal; but the article is about the ways that relationships between the donors and the activists on the board end up reproducing class power dynamics.

A vastly oversimplified nutshell version of Ira Silver’s findings: a) wealthy donors care about social movements, want to identify as activists, and want to be down. b) They look to the community organizers on the board to validate their activist identities and assure them that they are down. c) Community organizers are committed to moving money and don’t want to alienate donors who are a major source of funding. They therefore yield to the unspoken pressure to reassure the donors that they are, in fact, down. d) Donors, secure in the belief that their participation on the grantmaking board is sufficient evidence that they are down, continue about their business as rich people reassured that there is no need for them to deeply challenge their class position or greater economic inequality. Ira Silver sums it up better: “[In] order to ensure that they get their small piece of the pie, community organizers willfully legitimate the class hierarchy that creates the very need for philanthropy in the first place.” 13

So to relate this discussion back to the question about why we give, and what we get in return: We get to feel like we are down. We get to feel less guilty about having wealth. We get to feel like we are good. We get to feel like giving some money gets us off the hook of really challenging our position of power and privilege in society.

This is the tension that I feel so often in donor organizing; we want donors to feel good so that they continue to be donors, but really challenging power doesn’t feel good. It’s been coming up in the context of MMMC, where the goals of the retreat are somewhat in dispute: is our aim to simply move money to social justice organizing, even if in doing so we risk perpetuating oppressive class power dynamics? Or is the goal for us to do real anti-oppression work that asks us to examine and challenge our privilege in a deeper way – even if we risk losing some people who aren’t interested in doing this deeper work but might otherwise have given money?

Letting Go

Obviously, I have a biased position; as a class-privileged person, I want to challenge my fellow class-privileged people to confront our privilege and support social justice movements however we can. I’m not a fundraiser at an organization that relies on the contributions of wealthy donors – if I were I might have a different perspective. But since I have the luxury of reflecting on idyllic scenarios in which wealthy people step up and use our privilege to challenge capitalism and the ruling class (and since I’m trying to figure out how to do that myself), I spend a lot of time thinking about what that would look like.

The donors described in Money for Change talked about a tension that they referred to as “living the contradiction;” meaning, being rich and also being committed to social change. This is an important tension to talk about, but it kind of glosses over the fact that having exorbitant wealth is usually voluntary.14 Divesting oneself of class privilege is often impossible depending on the circumstances – if you grew up with money like I did, it’s sure to have affected every aspect of your life, and it’s impossible to give away experiences gained by the privilege of having wealth. But often we have a choice about whether or not to hold on to our actual money.

I’d like to talk more about what it really means to “align our resources with our values” as wealthy people when our values are about economic justice. What does it mean to talk about wealth redistribution if we aren’t taking the steps to equitably redistribute our own wealth? How do we justify making the conscious choice to stay rich when that position puts us in the role of wielding influence and class power whether we intend to or not? Are we really challenging inequality and class supremacy when we continue to inhabit the role of “funders?” What does it mean to never give away our principal, or only give a little of it? What does it mean to pass that wealth down to our children?

The thing about class privilege is that it skews your perspective. My dad is always trying to convince me that our family isn’t as wealthy as I think we are, and that if I met some of the people he knows who are really rich, I would see how modest our lifestyle has been in comparison. Class privilege often means we don’t see the bigger picture – that we compare ourselves to the miniscule portion of the population who are even richer than we are, instead of to the vast majority of people on the planet who are prevented by oppressive systems (racism, capitalism, colonialism…) from being able to meet even their basic needs. This takes the pressure off of us to really examine our place in these systems as people with (often multiple forms of) privilege.

Ultimately, wealth redistribution won’t happen by rich people suddenly deciding to voluntarily give away all our money. An important way to leverage privilege is to use the power bestowed on us by our class position to advocate for involuntary wealth redistribution, and to support anti-poverty organizing and organizing that challenges the systemic oppression that creates wealth inequality.

But meanwhile let’s talk about what we can do, as individual wealthy folks who care about in social justice, to model the values we believe in. Capitalism means that anyone who has inordinate wealth has it at the expense of people who are poor. Holding on to more money than we need puts us in a position of wielding power in unjust ways. Let’s keep doing the deep, hard personal work of processing how wealth has affected our lives, let’s keep leveraging our influence in the world of philanthropy; but let’s do it with an acknowledgement that in a just world, no individual would be in the position of controlling exorbitant wealth.

The End…

Thinking about this stuff so much has left me with a lot more questions than answers. I want to keep figuring out how to work with other class-privileged people to not only move money, but to also challenge the systems that create wealth inequality in the first place. I want to find more ways of giving that shift funding decisions into the hands of a community rather than keep the decisions in the hands of individual wealthy donors. I want to continually challenge myself to leverage my own privilege in donor networks and funding institutions while also challenging the power and dominance of foundations and the 501(c)3. I want to be part of a critical dialogue about money, about need vs. luxury, and about security vs. hoarding. I want to keep these conversations going and resist the temptation to settle into privilege without challenging it. I want to push myself to go further, go deeper, and do the work I need to do to be an effective activist and organizer. I want us to push each other.



INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, The Revolution Will Not be Funded: Beyond the Non-Profit Industrial Complex, South End Press, 2007: This book should be required reading for anyone involved in funding, anyone involved in social justice organizing, and anyone, ever.

Meizhu Lui, Barbara Robles, Betsey Leondar-Wright, Rose Brewer, and Rebecca Adamson, with United for a Fair Economy, The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide, The New Press, 2006: Incredibly useful for understanding connections between racism and economic injustice. The five different authors give examples (backed up with lots of facts, history, citations, and analysis) of ways that institutionalized racism and (especially) explicitly racist government policy prevented and continue to prevent people of color from accumulating wealth and assets while helping and supporting wealth-building for white people.

Karen Pittelman and Resource Generation, Illustrated by Molly Hein, Classified: How To Stop Hiding Your Privilege and Use it For Social Change, Soft Skull Press, 2005: Funny, incisive, and good. And the illustrations rule.

bell hooks, Where We Stand: Class Matters, Routledge, 2000: bell hooks being brilliant about class. Also has a few chapters that specifically address wealth and challenge wealthy people to be more transparent/generous/honest/conscious.

Tiny, a.k.a. Lisa Gray-Garcia, Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America, City Lights, 2006: Tiny is a founder of POOR magazine, a media project in the bay area dedicated to advancing the voices of poor and otherwise marginalized people. This memoir is about how Tiny and her mother Dee came to be homeless and poor, the experiences they had trying to become not homeless and poor (using extremely creative and artistic means), and a great and accessible critique of how the system is set up to keep people homeless and poor.

Linda Stout, Bridging the Class Divide and Other Lessons for Grassroots Organizing, Beacon Press, 1999: Linda Stout founded the Piedmont Peace Project, a community organization, led by poor and working-class people, with a really awesome class analysis. She writes about how social movements have failed to create real, large-scale change in this country because they have failed to unify folks from different class backgrounds. She describes ways that middle- and upper- class people consciously and unconsciously exclude, silence and oppress lower-income people within social movement organizing.

Paul Kivel, You Call This a Democracy? Who Benefits, Who Pays, and Who Really Decides, Apex Press, 2004: Doesn’t beat around the bush in calling out the ruling class. Also lots of useful diagrams.

Anne Slepian & Christopher Mogil, with Peter Woodrow, We Gave Away a Fortune: Stories of People Who Have Devoted Themselves and Their Wealth to Peace, Justice, and a Healthy Environment, New Society Publishers, 1992: Good book profiling wealthy people who gave away lots of money, plus analysis about economics, privilege, guilt, and other important things for rich people to think about. The folks in this book go way further in their giving than most people in philanthropy; but I think the book also illustrates how much further we have to go.

Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Racism Without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in the United States, Rowman & Littlefield, 2006: A really good book about the subtle, insidious racism typical of the post Civil Rights era, and the rhetoric and ideology that holds it up. Helpful in thinking about the ways that privilege can make our own racism (or, by extension, classism, sexism, etc.) invisible to us. Bonilla-Silva interviews a bunch of mostly white people about race, transcribes portions of the interviews verbatim (with the verbal tics and rhetorical incoherence of casual speech intact), and then rips them apart using critical analysis.

Susan Ostrander, Money for Change: Social Movement Philanthropy at Haymarket People’s Fund, Temple University Press, 1995: If you are obsessively researching social change philanthropy like me (and maybe even if you aren’t), you might find this book incredibly interesting.

Ira Silver, “Buying an Activist Identity: Reproducing Class Through Social Movement Philanthropy,” Sociological Perspectives, 1998: If you don’t have access to those article databases that only students and academic types are allowed to use, feel free to email me and I’ll send you a copy of this.

Teresa Odendahl, Charity Begins at Home: Generosity and Self-Interest Among the Philanthropic Elite, Basic Books, 1990: Another book in the genre of “sociologist studies rich people in philanthropy.” Reading this made me hate philanthropy, but in the best way.

Allan G. Johnson, Privilege, Power, and Difference, McGraw-Hill, 2006: A very clear, simple, concise explanation of the ways privilege and power function. Especially useful for conversations with your family.

Paulo Friere, Pedagogy of Hope, Continuum, 2006: Paulo Freire was a class-privileged educator and theorist who used radical education to challenge oppression. This book, published 20 years after his seminal Pedagogy of the Oppressed, is kind of a reflection on his life and work. He has lots of interesting things to say about privilege, class, and liberation if you can handle the dense, rambling theory.

Web Resources Resource Generation works with young people with class privilege who are trying to figure all this stuff out. Profiles people who gave away significant portions of their assets. Essential reading about reparations. Challenging White Supremacy. Tons of really good articles about privilege and anti-oppression work. Challenging classism. United for a Fair Economy “raises awareness that concentrated wealth and power undermine the economy, corrupt democracy, deepen the racial divide, and tear communities apart.” POOR Magazine’s awesome website. Lots of good articles. More about the racial wealth gap.