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6/8 The Chicago Couriers Union: Challenges and Potentials

The Institute for Anarchist Studies presents

The Chicago Couriers Union: Challenges and Potentials

A talk by Colin Bossen of the IWW

Friday, June 8 at 7pm

Provisions Library, Washington, DC

(Dupont Metro, above Ann Taylor Loft on Connecticut)

$5 suggested donation

For the last four years, courier Colin Bossen has been
organizing with the Chicago Couriers Union, a minority
labor union of primarily bike couriers affiliated with
the Chicago General Membership Branch of the
Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Due to both the
nature of the courier industry and the ideological
orientation of the union’s organizers, the CCU has
been organized using what Staughton Lynd has called
"solidarity unionism." Solidarity unionism is the idea
that workers have the most power when they organize
around specific workplace grievances rather than
struggle for legal recognition and the right to
negotiate a contract. Using this model, the union has
met with modest success, and over the past three year
it has built a small but stable base of militant
workers in the industry and won several small
victories including a wage hike effecting
approximately 100 workers at the third-largest courier
company in Chicago.

This talk will examine the CCU as an example of
solidarity unionism, chronicle its success and
failures, and suggest the lessons the union has to
offer anti-authoritarian and anarchist workplace
organizers.Colin Bossen is a Unitarian Universalist minister and
labor and international solidarity activist. He is a
founder of Colectivos de Apoyo, Solidaridad y Acción,
an indigenous solidarity and human rights organization
with collectives in San Cristobal de las Casas,
Chiapas, and Oaxaca City, Oaxaca. He was a volunteer
organizer with the CCU from late 2003 to summer 2005.
Colin, his wife Sara, daughter Emma and son Asa are
currently in transition between Washington, DC, and
Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where Colin will be serving
as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society
of Cleveland.