Radical media, politics and culture.


Quick and Dirty Pedal Power

Employees Of Mount Washington Bike Shop Go Union

From The Baltimore City Paper

Ed Ericson Jr.

It's day three of the union at Joe's Bike Shop in Mount Washington, and
owner Joe Traill steps outside to say that nothing has changed "so far."

Traill wears a worried look and chooses his words carefully so he won't
sound too defensive. On May 1 he learned that all 10 of his employees
had joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)--the storied Wobblies.

"My guess is the significance of May Day was not lost on them," he says.

The IWW formed in 1905, and while it never numbered more than about
200,000 members, its radical influence is still felt today. Wobblies got
the eight-hour day for lumberjacks, put backbone in the dockworkers
unions, integrated racially and across gender lines, were imprisoned for
sedition, and were lynched. Legendary leftists like Big Bill Haywood,
Mother Jones, and Joe Hill were red-card-carrying Wobblies, and the men
and women of the rank and file were tough, fearless class warriors
fighting mine barons and government repression.

Wobblies Organize Brooklyn Warehouses

Caitlin Esch

From the Brooklyn Rail

In 1903, when Japanese and Mexican immigrant workers wanted to unionize in California, the American Federation of Labor denied them a union charter, refusing to work with non-whites. The Industrial Workers of the World, on the other hand, embraced workers of all colors, as long as they were a little “red.” At less than $4 an hour, some Mexican workers in Brooklyn today earn little more than they would have in 1903—and these workers are again turning to the IWW.

On March 10, in the sparsely inhabited industrial graveyard that straddles the borough divide between Brooklyn and Queens, 15 to 20 people picketed outside EZ-Supply/Sunrise Plus, a food distribution warehouse, to protest labor abuses. EZ-Supply/Sunrise Plus employs about 25 workers and is the largest of five food distribution warehouses in the area where workers are trying to unionize. The others—Amersino, Giant Big Apple Beer, Top City and Handyfat—employ about 65 workers total.

IWW organizer and do-rag bestyled Billy Randel explains that the point of the small picket, far from the eyes of the public, is to remind the owner, one Mr. Lester Wen, that he is being watched. Randel elaborates, “This warehouse is really bad. It’s one of the worst. When we first came in here about a year ago, workers were working 60 to 70 hours for around $350 a week.”

"The Worker's Economy:
Self-Management and the Distribution of Wealth"
International Self-Management Conference

Buenos Aires, July 19-21, 2007

The University of Buenos Aires, Facultad de Filosofia y Letras, the Center for Global Justice and the Argentina Autonomista Project are excited to invite you to:


Faculty of Philosophy and Letters, University of Buenos Aires

Dates: July 19–21, 2007


University of Buenos Aires

217 - 25 de Mayo Avenue

Autonomous City of Buenos Aires, Argentina


Please send a 250-word (max) abstract by May 15, 2007, or any other
correspondence to:
Correspondence in Spanish: fabierta@filo.uba.ar

Correspondence in English: UBA.selfmanagement@gmail.com

The current
debates surrounding self-management: A brief overview

Workers' struggles have reemerged with force in the last decade in
numerous forms — union-based struggles, self-managed workspaces, rural
movements, unemployed workers' movements.... These are responses to the
hegemony of neoliberal globalization imposing itself throughout the
world with absolutist pretensions after the debacle of so-called "real

At the same time, the old methods and strategies of
struggle — class-based parties and traditional unions, amongst
others — have by now shown themselves to be, at minimum, insufficient.

Old debates and ideological frameworks are now in crisis. The dominant
discourses used to describe the functioning of the capitalist world
system can no longer explain quickly enough (never mind predict) the
changes in this system that have been occurring over the past few
decades, while popular struggles have had to create new paths without
having a clear horizon in sight from which to map out a final destiny.
And the plethora of means ever available for capitalism to respond to
threats against it, as well as the sheer force and relentlessness of
its repressive power, amply overcomes the popular sectors' capacity for
change...with tragic consequences.

While the taking of State power has been the driving objective of
political forces for more than a century now, more recently there have
appeared compelling movements that, on occasion, have questioned such
objectives for revolutionary action. At minimum, these movements
distance their strategies and tactics from the aims of taking State
power, recognizing the difficulties of such a task. But, as evidenced
in various Latin American contexts, some popular movements with solid
historical roots have ended up allying themselves with national
governments swept into power via electoral triumph. And so, when they
least expected it, these movements found themselves at times
controlling key sectors of the State's administrative apparatus which,
in turn, needed to be profoundly transformed in order to be oriented
towards grassroots-based policies.

Starbucks Workers Union Expands to Maryland in Spite of Harsh Anti-Union Effort

Rockville, Maryland- Employees at a Starbucks store here announced their
membership in the IWW Starbucks Workers Union today
and served a list of demands on their manager including a living wage, secure
work hours, and the reinstatement of union baristas illegally fired for
organizing activity. The action marks the expansion of the SWU to a third
state- baristas began joining the union in New York City and the campaign grew
to Chicago last August. Starbucks cafes were completely non-union in the
United States before the Industrial Workers of the World initiated its
organizing drive in 2004.

"No worker should have to deal with understaffing on one hand and the inability
to get enough work hours on the other," said Seth Dietz, one of the Maryland
baristas who declared his union membership. "Only an independent voice on the
job will win baristas the respect we deserve and that's the why the expansion
of the organization to Maryland is so gratifying."

The union believes that consistent pressure applied against the company at
Starbucks locations, in the community, and in the public arena has resulted in
higher wages and more steady work hours for baristas. After about two and half
years of organizing, many NYC baristas saw their wage increase almost 25%. The
SWU has also remedied individual grievances with the company in areas as
diverse as sleep-depriving work schedules, unsanitary working conditions, and
abusive managers. The campaign has captivated imaginations around the world
with support for the baristas coming from Europe, Korea, and New Zealand, among
other places.

Peter Waterman writes:

The International Union Merger of November 2006:
Top-Down, Eurocentric and…Invisible?
Peter Waterman

At a conference in Vienna, early November, 2006, there will take place the unification of most of the major international and of certain national trade unions in a new organisation. Unlike previous such launchings, however, this is occurring without any general global upsurge of union protest or expressions of labour self-confidence, and without public knowledge. Although the parties involved talk about the creation of a new union international, the word ‘merger’ seems rather more appropriate. This for two reasons.

Wobbly Union Gets Support - City Council sides with Industrial Workers of the World in dispute with Starbucks

Virginia Fisher and Nicholas Tabor

From The Harvard Crimson

You may soon be able to get a shot of
“anarcho-syndicalism” with your mocha Frappuccino, if
the Cambridge City Council has its way.

In its meeting last night, the council passed a
resolution supporting the right of Starbucks employees
to organize under the aegis of the Industrial Workers
of the World (IWW), or "Wobblies," a union made famous
in the early 20th century for a brand of radical
socialism known as “anarcho-syndicalism.” The IWW
advocates “aboliton of the wage system” on its

“Starbucks is an international corporation with many
assets, and millions and millions of dollars, [and]
they should refrain from interfering with the workers
right to organize,” the resolution reads.

Labor organizing efforts began in 2004 with the
founding of the Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) in New
York City. The group sought a living wage and
consistent work hours for Starbucks employees. They
also claimed that Starbucks facilities violated local
health codes.

Organizers claim that they have experienced systematic
intimidation from Starbucks management over the past
four years. However, the organizers also take credit
for the wage increases that baristas across the U.S.
and Canada received this September.

Kim Müller writes

Proletarian Management:
Informal Workplace Organization
Kim Müller

The emancipation of the working class can not only be conquered by the working class themselves but the emancipating practices of the working class are of its own making too. So the question about workers autonomy isn’t primarily a political question but a question about organization, and this article deals with concrete and actual workers autonomy and how it exist in Sweden today in the 21st century.

Our main thesis is that the workplace struggles are not first and foremost happening through the mediation of the unions, but through the informal organization that often tend to take place among fellow workers. However, this organization is not something that creates itself; it has to be produced, and can therefore be developed and extended. Our basic assumption has always been that the potentiality of radical anti-capitalist workers’ struggle exist where it is actually taking place. Today this struggle is not carried out under the regime of the unions, but through informal workplace organization, and it is the independent, informal, and immediate character of this struggle that makes it truly radical and anti-capitalist.

Union for Starbucks Workers Expands to Chicago

First Group of Baristas Outside of
New York City Joins the IWW Starbucks Workers

Chicago, IL- Baristas at Chicago's Logan
Square Starbucks store announced last night
their membership in the IWW Starbucks Workers
, becoming the
first U.S. workers outside of New York City to
declare union membership at the world's largest
coffee chain.

Workers served Starbucks management at the cafe,
located on 2759 W Logan Blvd., with a
declaration of union membership and a set of
demands including a living wage, guaranteed work
hours, reinstatement of IWW baristas fired for
organizing activity, and respect for an
independent voice on the job through union

New York City IWW Internship Description

Position: Union Organizer

What is The New York City IWW?

The New York City IWW is one of many rejuvenated
branches of the Industrial Workers of the World. The IWW is a grassroots union that places
emphasis on union democracy and direct action. In
NYC we are currently organizing in sectors of the
economy where few unions are daring to go.

The IWW is forging new ground among retail workers.
Under the principles of solidarity unionism we are
organizing workers at Starbucks. Through direct
action we have been able to raise wages, get
consistent schedules, receive guaranteed hours and
address individual grievances. As Starbucks attempts
to silence workers by firing organizers our union
continues to grow.

In Brooklyn the IWW in conjunction with Make the Road
by Walking is currently organizing among undocumented
warehouse workers. Workers who have been receiving
less than the minimum wage are standing up for better
conditions. Although employers have put fierce
opposition towards the union we have made several
gains and are currently in negotiations.

Wendy Babcock writes:

"Sex Work vs Construction Work"

Wendy Babcock

If you ask most sex workers why they do what (who?) they do, most would tell you it's because a blow job is better ithan no job. I disagree. After trying out other types of work I have to say that a blowjob ISN'T better than no job, a blowjob is better than MOST jobs.

Take construction for example. After 9 years of sex work I decided to try my handjob at... OOPS! I mean, hand at construction. I figured it wouldn't be too different than sex work, as both involved getting physical with a bunch of men, neither required a formal education and, most importantly, they both worked on erections. And since I already had a lot of experience banging, cocking, and screwing nuts that it'd be an easy transition.

I remember my first day doing construction. It was also a lot like my first time doing sex work as I had just spent almost the entire shift getting dirty on my hands and knee's while banging studs. Plus, just like after my first time doing sex work I had trouble walking the next day.
Those weren't the only similarities either. With construction, just like with sex work, the client has to pay up front for his job. As well, it's often difficult for us to estimate just how long each job will take. You've also got to have a lot of skill handling large tools, as well as knowledge on the multiple functions of industrial lubricant. As well, not wearing protection could be hazardous to your health. Another thing I noticed was that johns are quite a lot like floor tiles, if you lay them right you can walk all over them.

Of course, sex work and construction work have their differences, like how only one of these professions left me feeling tired, degraded and exploited.
Plus, the hardhat really messed with my hair.


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