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St. Louis Metro Workers Stripped Of Civil Rights-St. Louis ATU 788 Metro Workers Launch "Oreo" Ad Campaign To Stop Race Baiting

Current News - Sat, 09/13/2014 - 12:09

St. Louis Metro Workers Stripped Of Civil Rights-St. Louis ATU 788 Metro Workers Launch "Oreo" Ad Campaign To Stop Race Baiting
http://www.atu.org/media/releases/st-louis-metro-workers-stripped-of-civ...
ATU Calls for End of "Race Baiting" in Contract Talks, METRO Responds with Gag Order, Demonstrations continue Tues.
Media Contact: Todd Brogan, 202-340-2001 or David Roscow, 202-537-1645 x254

St. Louis, MO – Within hours of receiving a letter from ATU International President Larry Hanley demanding that METRO management end “race baiting at the bargaining table,” METRO issued a gag order to prevent workers from talking with the people of St. Louis.
The letter to METRO CEO John Nations was in response to an incident at a July negotiating session during which a member of METRO’s bargaining team distributed what he called “a gift” to Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 788: a recipe for OREO Cookies. The bizarre event followed a series of attempts by the agency to “drive a wedge between the mostly white maintenance employees and its drivers and other members,” “incite discord among our members,” and “splinter our local,” the letter said.
“We are appalled by this blatant insult and transparent race baiting,” Hanley wrote. “Such arrogance has no place at the bargaining table or anywhere, especially in today’s climate of unrest. We hope you share our view that the Metro employee who did this should not continue in your employ.”
METRO transit workers began leafleting riders on Monday to highlight Nations’ poor management of the system and treatment of riders and workers. Nations, they say, promised riders and workers when he was appointed to build a transit system that worked for all. Instead, he has raised fares, refused to give workers a contract for three and a half years or a raise for more than six years, and is threatening their retirement security. All the while, Nations is lining his pockets with a $250,000 salary.
After receiving Hanley’s letter, METRO Director of Labor Relations Charles Priscu delivered a letter and bulletin banning workers from leafleting riders at METRO property to ATU Local 788 President Michael Breihan and posted it in all METRO bus garages, rail yards, and other worksites.
Hanley says the abrupt enforcement of a previously unenforced policy suggests intimidation.
“This is a serious violation of our First Amendment rights at a time when our members and riders in St. Louis need it the least,” said Hanley. “We will not be intimidated or divided. Instead, we will be back at stations to tell our riders the truth about John Nations and his role in fueling the economic injustice that holds great cities like this back.”
METRO workers plan to return to 14th Street/Civic Center station to leaflet riders tomorrow.

About ATU
The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 253 local unions spread across 47 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.

St. Louis ATU 788 Metro Workers Launch "Oreo" Ad Campaign To Stop Race Baiting
http://www.atu.org/media/releases/metro-workers-launch-oreo-ad-campaign-...
St. Louis, MO – Exposing race baiting by Metro CEO John Nations’ staff the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) has launched an “Oreo” ad campaign to stop Metro’s attempts to racially divide the workforce and to drag management and Governor Nixon into the 21st century.
The “Oreo” ads, which will run in the St. Louis American and on radio stations, expose an incident when members of Metro’s negotiating committee distributed to members of ATU Local 788 a recipe for Oreo Cookies at the end of a heated bargaining session.
The majority of Metro bus operators are African-American, while most mechanics are white. The obvious message with the recipe was that the union is “white on the inside and black on the outside,” like the cookie.
ATU International President Larry Hanley wrote Nations a letter asking him to discharge the member of his bargaining team responsible for the incident. Nations publically dismissed the “Oreo” incident as a Metro employee sharing his “baking hobby”
“Amid everything else happening in St. Louis, it is unconscionable that John Nations can act so belligerently,” Hanley says. “When a Metro worker found a noose in his locker in the year 2000, Nations’ predecessor immediately responded and laid out a zero tolerance policy for racism. Yet in the year 2014, John Nations just waves it off. He’s managed to set race relations at our agency back 20 years.”
The union’s “Oreo” ad, reads: “Everyone loves Oreo cookies. But no one appreciates being called an Oreo….“Tell John Nations his insults can’t pull us apart. Economic justice isn’t about black or white, it’s about respect.”
Hanley has also written a letter to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to remove Nations for his failure to “correct the outrageous conduct of his staff at the bargaining table.” Neither Governor has acted.
“Metro and Governor Nixon seem to be living in the days of the Jim Crow era,” Hanley continued. “It’s time they starting living in the 21st century and quit trying to racially divide the workers.”

Tags: ATU 788racismPensions
Categories: Labor News

St. Louis Metro Workers Stripped Of Civil Rights-St. Louis ATU 788 Metro Workers Launch "Oreo" Ad Campaign To Stop Race Baiting

Current News - Sat, 09/13/2014 - 12:09

St. Louis Metro Workers Stripped Of Civil Rights-St. Louis ATU 788 Metro Workers Launch "Oreo" Ad Campaign To Stop Race Baiting
http://www.atu.org/media/releases/st-louis-metro-workers-stripped-of-civ...
ATU Calls for End of "Race Baiting" in Contract Talks, METRO Responds with Gag Order, Demonstrations continue Tues.
Media Contact: Todd Brogan, 202-340-2001 or David Roscow, 202-537-1645 x254

St. Louis, MO – Within hours of receiving a letter from ATU International President Larry Hanley demanding that METRO management end “race baiting at the bargaining table,” METRO issued a gag order to prevent workers from talking with the people of St. Louis.
The letter to METRO CEO John Nations was in response to an incident at a July negotiating session during which a member of METRO’s bargaining team distributed what he called “a gift” to Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 788: a recipe for OREO Cookies. The bizarre event followed a series of attempts by the agency to “drive a wedge between the mostly white maintenance employees and its drivers and other members,” “incite discord among our members,” and “splinter our local,” the letter said.
“We are appalled by this blatant insult and transparent race baiting,” Hanley wrote. “Such arrogance has no place at the bargaining table or anywhere, especially in today’s climate of unrest. We hope you share our view that the Metro employee who did this should not continue in your employ.”
METRO transit workers began leafleting riders on Monday to highlight Nations’ poor management of the system and treatment of riders and workers. Nations, they say, promised riders and workers when he was appointed to build a transit system that worked for all. Instead, he has raised fares, refused to give workers a contract for three and a half years or a raise for more than six years, and is threatening their retirement security. All the while, Nations is lining his pockets with a $250,000 salary.
After receiving Hanley’s letter, METRO Director of Labor Relations Charles Priscu delivered a letter and bulletin banning workers from leafleting riders at METRO property to ATU Local 788 President Michael Breihan and posted it in all METRO bus garages, rail yards, and other worksites.
Hanley says the abrupt enforcement of a previously unenforced policy suggests intimidation.
“This is a serious violation of our First Amendment rights at a time when our members and riders in St. Louis need it the least,” said Hanley. “We will not be intimidated or divided. Instead, we will be back at stations to tell our riders the truth about John Nations and his role in fueling the economic injustice that holds great cities like this back.”
METRO workers plan to return to 14th Street/Civic Center station to leaflet riders tomorrow.

About ATU
The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 253 local unions spread across 47 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.

St. Louis ATU 788 Metro Workers Launch "Oreo" Ad Campaign To Stop Race Baiting
http://www.atu.org/media/releases/metro-workers-launch-oreo-ad-campaign-...
St. Louis, MO – Exposing race baiting by Metro CEO John Nations’ staff the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) has launched an “Oreo” ad campaign to stop Metro’s attempts to racially divide the workforce and to drag management and Governor Nixon into the 21st century.
The “Oreo” ads, which will run in the St. Louis American and on radio stations, expose an incident when members of Metro’s negotiating committee distributed to members of ATU Local 788 a recipe for Oreo Cookies at the end of a heated bargaining session.
The majority of Metro bus operators are African-American, while most mechanics are white. The obvious message with the recipe was that the union is “white on the inside and black on the outside,” like the cookie.
ATU International President Larry Hanley wrote Nations a letter asking him to discharge the member of his bargaining team responsible for the incident. Nations publically dismissed the “Oreo” incident as a Metro employee sharing his “baking hobby”
“Amid everything else happening in St. Louis, it is unconscionable that John Nations can act so belligerently,” Hanley says. “When a Metro worker found a noose in his locker in the year 2000, Nations’ predecessor immediately responded and laid out a zero tolerance policy for racism. Yet in the year 2014, John Nations just waves it off. He’s managed to set race relations at our agency back 20 years.”
The union’s “Oreo” ad, reads: “Everyone loves Oreo cookies. But no one appreciates being called an Oreo….“Tell John Nations his insults can’t pull us apart. Economic justice isn’t about black or white, it’s about respect.”
Hanley has also written a letter to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to remove Nations for his failure to “correct the outrageous conduct of his staff at the bargaining table.” Neither Governor has acted.
“Metro and Governor Nixon seem to be living in the days of the Jim Crow era,” Hanley continued. “It’s time they starting living in the 21st century and quit trying to racially divide the workers.”

Tags: ATU 788racismPensions
Categories: Labor News

St. Louis Metro Workers Stripped Of Civil Rights-St. Louis ATU 788 Metro Workers Launch "Oreo" Ad Campaign To Stop Race Baiting

Current News - Sat, 09/13/2014 - 12:09

St. Louis Metro Workers Stripped Of Civil Rights-St. Louis ATU 788 Metro Workers Launch "Oreo" Ad Campaign To Stop Race Baiting
http://www.atu.org/media/releases/st-louis-metro-workers-stripped-of-civ...
ATU Calls for End of "Race Baiting" in Contract Talks, METRO Responds with Gag Order, Demonstrations continue Tues.
Media Contact: Todd Brogan, 202-340-2001 or David Roscow, 202-537-1645 x254

St. Louis, MO – Within hours of receiving a letter from ATU International President Larry Hanley demanding that METRO management end “race baiting at the bargaining table,” METRO issued a gag order to prevent workers from talking with the people of St. Louis.
The letter to METRO CEO John Nations was in response to an incident at a July negotiating session during which a member of METRO’s bargaining team distributed what he called “a gift” to Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 788: a recipe for OREO Cookies. The bizarre event followed a series of attempts by the agency to “drive a wedge between the mostly white maintenance employees and its drivers and other members,” “incite discord among our members,” and “splinter our local,” the letter said.
“We are appalled by this blatant insult and transparent race baiting,” Hanley wrote. “Such arrogance has no place at the bargaining table or anywhere, especially in today’s climate of unrest. We hope you share our view that the Metro employee who did this should not continue in your employ.”
METRO transit workers began leafleting riders on Monday to highlight Nations’ poor management of the system and treatment of riders and workers. Nations, they say, promised riders and workers when he was appointed to build a transit system that worked for all. Instead, he has raised fares, refused to give workers a contract for three and a half years or a raise for more than six years, and is threatening their retirement security. All the while, Nations is lining his pockets with a $250,000 salary.
After receiving Hanley’s letter, METRO Director of Labor Relations Charles Priscu delivered a letter and bulletin banning workers from leafleting riders at METRO property to ATU Local 788 President Michael Breihan and posted it in all METRO bus garages, rail yards, and other worksites.
Hanley says the abrupt enforcement of a previously unenforced policy suggests intimidation.
“This is a serious violation of our First Amendment rights at a time when our members and riders in St. Louis need it the least,” said Hanley. “We will not be intimidated or divided. Instead, we will be back at stations to tell our riders the truth about John Nations and his role in fueling the economic injustice that holds great cities like this back.”
METRO workers plan to return to 14th Street/Civic Center station to leaflet riders tomorrow.

About ATU
The Amalgamated Transit Union is the largest labor organization representing transit workers in the United States and Canada. Founded in 1892, the ATU today is comprised of over 190,000 members in 253 local unions spread across 47 states and nine provinces, including 3,000 workers at Greyhound Lines, Inc. Composed of bus drivers, light rail operators, maintenance and clerical personnel and other transit and municipal employees, the ATU works to promote transit issues and fights for the interests of its hard-working members.

St. Louis ATU 788 Metro Workers Launch "Oreo" Ad Campaign To Stop Race Baiting
http://www.atu.org/media/releases/metro-workers-launch-oreo-ad-campaign-...
St. Louis, MO – Exposing race baiting by Metro CEO John Nations’ staff the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) has launched an “Oreo” ad campaign to stop Metro’s attempts to racially divide the workforce and to drag management and Governor Nixon into the 21st century.
The “Oreo” ads, which will run in the St. Louis American and on radio stations, expose an incident when members of Metro’s negotiating committee distributed to members of ATU Local 788 a recipe for Oreo Cookies at the end of a heated bargaining session.
The majority of Metro bus operators are African-American, while most mechanics are white. The obvious message with the recipe was that the union is “white on the inside and black on the outside,” like the cookie.
ATU International President Larry Hanley wrote Nations a letter asking him to discharge the member of his bargaining team responsible for the incident. Nations publically dismissed the “Oreo” incident as a Metro employee sharing his “baking hobby”
“Amid everything else happening in St. Louis, it is unconscionable that John Nations can act so belligerently,” Hanley says. “When a Metro worker found a noose in his locker in the year 2000, Nations’ predecessor immediately responded and laid out a zero tolerance policy for racism. Yet in the year 2014, John Nations just waves it off. He’s managed to set race relations at our agency back 20 years.”
The union’s “Oreo” ad, reads: “Everyone loves Oreo cookies. But no one appreciates being called an Oreo….“Tell John Nations his insults can’t pull us apart. Economic justice isn’t about black or white, it’s about respect.”
Hanley has also written a letter to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn to remove Nations for his failure to “correct the outrageous conduct of his staff at the bargaining table.” Neither Governor has acted.
“Metro and Governor Nixon seem to be living in the days of the Jim Crow era,” Hanley continued. “It’s time they starting living in the 21st century and quit trying to racially divide the workers.”

Tags: ATU 788racismPensions
Categories: Labor News

The BNSF Single Crew Initiative Defeated - Statement Of Railroad Workers United

Current News - Sat, 09/13/2014 - 11:40

The BNSF Single Crew Initiative Defeated - Statement Of Railroad Workers United
http://www.railroadworkersunited.org
Official Communique from Railroad Workers United (RWU) 9/11/14

The members of the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail & Transportation Workers (SMART) General Committee GO-001 have spoken. In a loud and clear mandate, they have told the BNSF railway, their union leaders, and the world, that they do not support single employee train crews. By a substantial margin, the rank & file voted down a tentative agreement, that – had it been ratified – would have resulted in conductorless train operations over more than half of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), the second largest rail carrier in the U.S.

The major rail carriers have been seeking to run trains with a single employee for nearly a decade now. This latest attempt was by far the most blatant and confrontational effort to date. Railroad workers know that there are grave dangers and inefficiencies should such practice be implemented. According to Railroad Workers United General Secretary Ron Kaminkow, “Single employee train operations – with or without Positive Train Control (PTC) – would compromise the safety and security of train crews, motorists, pedestrians, trackside communities, the environment and the general public. Railroad workers are ready, willing and able to fight this concept with everything we have.”

In voting down this contract, the SMART GO-001 rank and file have won a decisive victory, not just for the trainmen and engineers on the BNSF, but for every railroad worker in North America. While the victory belongs to them, it is of course shared by all those who assisted – engineers (both UTU and BLET); union brothers and sisters from other crafts and carriers who rose to the occasion and helped out; family members who took part in pickets, rallies and demonstrations; fellow unionists and citizens who grasped the importance of the struggle and pitched in to help.

Since its founding in 2008, RWU has pledged to resist the carriers' drive for single employee operation of trains. The organization had significantly ramped up that effort in 2012 with a full-blown campaign to raise awareness and understanding of the issue among both railroaders and members of the general public. Upon learning of the BNSF TA, RWU convened an “emergency meeting” of the Steering Committee and instantly mobilized the network. Thousands of buttons and sticker, flyers and leaflets, “Talking Points” and more were disseminated to BNSF railroad workers in the following weeks. A press release was issued that was picked up by a number of newspapers. RWU members spoke out on radio and TV stations, and organized rallies, pickets and demonstrations at numerous terminals, from large cities like Chicago and Seattle to small towns like Creston, Iowa. RWU members intervened in the debate at the SMART Convention in August, and held a series of telephone conference calls open to all railroad workers to voice their concerns, ask questions, and devise strategies and tactics. A regular e-newsletter with the latest flyers, leaflets, stickers, articles, songs, graffiti and cartoons were issued weekly.

Public opinion polls show that upwards of 80% of the population in the U.S. support a minimum of a two-person train crew. Citizens groups are aroused and organizing across the country for rail safety in the face of Lac Megantic. There are two-person train crew bills at the federal and state levels. And the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is considering a two-person crew regulation.

Railroad workers across North America are celebrating this victory today as the news gets out. And they ready themselves for the next round in the fight.
Join us in the Rank & File Rebellion!

Tags: The BNSF Single Crew Initiative Defeated - Statement Of Railroad Workers United
Categories: Labor News

Racial elements fuel dispute between Metro and St. Louis Transit Union ATU 788 As Bosses Use Race Baiting To Divide Workforce " “With the transit board actively trying to divide the multi-racial work force everyone understands this transparent ploy at ra

Current News - Sat, 09/13/2014 - 11:19

Racial elements fuel dispute between Metro and St. Louis Transit Union ATU 788 As Bosses Use Race Baiting To Divide Workforce " “With the transit board actively trying to divide the multi-racial work force everyone understands this transparent ploy at race baiting. Worse, Transit CEO John Nations has done nothing to discipline its perpetrator.”
http://fox2now.com/2014/09/12/racial-elements-fuel-dispute-between-metro...
POSTED 8:08 PM, SEPTEMBER 12, 2014, BY BETSEY BRUCE

ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)– A disagreement over race baiting is adding fuel a long standing contract dispute between Metro Transit and its union operators and mechanics. The Amalgamated Transit Union Local 788 has not had a new Metro contract for six years.

Pay, health benefit and pension security issues dominated talks until this July when a METRO Transit negotiator gave a recipe for Oreo cookies to the local union president at the end of a negotiating session. Union leaders say they were shocked. The term ‘Oreo’ is considered a slur by African Americans who see it as code for someone who is black on the outside but white on the inside.

ATU International Vice President Paul Bowen said the incident was another effort to “divide this local so we can`t get a fair contract.” The union is now running a paid radio commercial on KMOX that says in part, “With the transit board actively trying to divide the multi-racial work force everyone understands this transparent ploy at race baiting. Worse, Transit CEO John Nations has done nothing to discipline its perpetrator.”

John Nations, who is CEO of the Bi-State Development Agency that operates the bus and light rail system, called the recipe an “unfortunate incident” adding “certainly everyone involved knows that there was no malicious intent.”

Friday the union issued a news release from its Washington D.C. office accusing Nations of defending a ‘racial slur against Ferguson bus drivers.’ International President Larry Hanley denied the terminology was an effort to stir up racial conflict on his part even though the recipe incident happened a month before the racial unrest in Ferguson.

Hanley said, “Nations` defense of his negotiator is indicative of a racial attitude in the region that has to be stopped.” He went on to say, “This is why you have riots in the street because people are tone deaf. Mr. Nations has tried to divide union members along racial lines.”

Nations denied any racial agenda. “We have been one of the greatest opportunities for the African American community to find employment and economic advancement in St. Louis,” he said. More than fifty percent of the Bi-State Agency workers are African American.

In response to Hanley`s charges, Nations issued a statement saying “We wish the Union would put as much effort into negotiating in good faith as they do with creating diversions. We believe it is in the best interests of our customers and the region`s taxpayers that the Union returns to the bargaining table. Our goal is to focus on the contract and we are available to sit back down at the negotiating table and do that.”

Rank and file who joined a union protest outside the Bi-State and Metro headquarters in downtown St. Louis Friday were most concerned about keeping a traditional pension plan for all members.

Metro wants new hires to be covered by a 401K but 40 year veteran bus operator Bruce Williams said, “The 401K was never meant as a retirement plan; it was a supplement to the pension plan.” The union is concerned the pension fund will run dry and leave current members without their promised benefits as retirees.

Nations pointed to troubles other government pension plans are facing including the St. Louis Firefighters plan. “We believe while we still have the ability to solve the pension problem we should do so before it gets worse.”

Both Nations and Local 788 president Michael Breihan said issues over pay hikes have been settled as well as most of the health insurance matters. The pension for new hires remains the primary contract stumbling block.

Betsey.bruce@tvstl.com
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ATU Protests Injection of Racism into S.L. Contract Talks
http://afsaadmin.org/atu-protests-injection-of-racism-into-s-l-contract-...
IN OUR ISSUES IN THE NEWS / ON SEPTEMBER 10, 2014 AT 12:30 PM /
ST. LOUIS (PAI)–As if St. Louis didn’t suffer enough racial tension already, due to the police shooting of unarmed African-American teenager Michael Brown, management of the city’s Metro system has injected racism into contract talks with its top union.

That, and a subsequent gag order management wants to impose on the workers – to prevent them from telling bus and subway riders what’s going on – drew outrage from the Amalgamated Transit Union and ATU St. Louis Local 788.

Management’s attitudes broke into the open at a July bargaining session between the two sides, ATU President Larry Hanley said in an August 22 letter to Metro CEO John Nations. The two sides are trying to reach a contract to replace the old one that expired six years ago.

Then, an unnamed member of Nations’ bargaining team injected race and class into the already tense talks, which had also foundered over Nations’ demands for pension givebacks.

“There is no excuse or justification for a senior member of your negotiating team to distribute a recipe for Oreo Cookies to the union’s officers” at that bargaining session, Hanley said. Management also insinuated it would offer better contract terms to the mostly white maintenance workers than it would offer to the mostly minority bus and subway operators.

““We are appalled by this blatant insult and transparent race baiting,” Hanley wrote. “Such arrogance has no place at the bargaining table or anywhere, especially in today’s climate of unrest,” he said, referring to the racial tensions from the Brown shooting. “We hope you share our view that the Metro employee who did this should not continue in your employ.”

Management’s response wasn’t to Hanley, but to Local 788 President Michael Breihan, after the local members started distributing union literature about the foundering talks – and Nations’ $250,000 salary – at bus and subway stops. Nations pulled an order out of the Metro employee handbook banning distribution of any literature without prior management approval.

“As the agency has not granted the Amalgamated Transit Union any authorization to distribute literature as per the policy, please be advised that any person observed doing so will be removed from company property,” Nations warned. And if a bus or subway operator distributes the literature during duty hours, he or she “will be subject to discipline.”

The threats won’t stop ATU, Hanley told Nations. He sent copies of his letter to Local 788, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, both Democrats.

“With continuing assistance by the international, and outreach by local officers and volunteers, thousands of Local 788 members and allies in the community have come together in support of the demand for a fair contract and economic justice. At community meetings, rallies, on the street and in homes, we will undertake an unprecedented campaign to ensure our members and the public better understand the issues and reasons this fight has lasted so long.”

Tags: ATU 788racism
Categories: Labor News

Laredo Con-way Workers Join Local 657

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Sat, 09/13/2014 - 09:07

September 13, 2014: Yesterday the Laredo Texas Con-way terminal workers voted to join Teamsters Local 657, in a first-ever organizing win at the giant LTL carrier. Los Angeles Joint Council 42 just filed with the NLRB for organizing votes at three Con-way terminals in Los Angeles, Santa Fe Springs and San Fernando.

Is this the start of movement to organize in freight and trucking? We hope so! It’s certainly a good first step, and should spread.

Other locals are organizing at Con-way, and also among FedEx Freight workers. A conference call of locals was held two weeks ago and other one is coming up soon, to compare notes on freight organizing.

The Laredo vote among 113 drivers and dock workers at the busy terminal on the international border was 55-49 for Local 657. Los Angeles Local 63 and other locals in the initial stages of freight organizing have also taken local initiative.

The International union organizing department has so far not been involved. Freight and trucking have not been priority areas for the Hoffa administration. In fact, the Hoffa administration poured cold water on a drive at Con-way in Ohio, begun by local unions over a year ago.

Locals are taking initiative. The International union has the big resources to help coordinate this movement and drive it to victory.

Issues: Freight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

War on the waterfront-Chapter 4 of "Wobblies on the waterfront-interracial unionism in progressive-era Philadelphia"

Current News - Sat, 09/13/2014 - 08:08

War on the waterfront-Chapter 4 of "Wobblies on the waterfront-interracial unionism in progressive-era Philadelphia"
https://libcom.org/history/war-waterfront-chapter-4-wobblies-waterfront-–-interracial-unionism-progressive-era-phil
War on the waterfront - Peter Cole

Chapter 4 of "Wobblies on the waterfront-interracial unionism in progressive-era Philadelphia" by Peter Cole, an excellent text about the American IWW in the early 20th century, and interestingly about some Wobblies' support of World War I.

This text is being put online for two reasons. Firstly, it's to draw attention to Peter Cole's splendid book about the IWW on the Philadelphia docks in the 1910s and 1920s.

Secondly, it's to make known a rather shocking historical fact about the IWW at that time, namely just how patriotic most of the members of this most active IWW branch were during World War I. In Local 8 of the Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union, a full 100% of the membership registered for military service and many even volunteered! The union purchased war bonds and the membership voted not to strike for the duration of the war. This does not make comfortable reading, but maybe that makes it worthwhile.

War on the Waterfront
The year 1917 was one of profound changes. The United States officially entered the war in Europe in April. Three months later, on September 5, 1917, Local 8's headquarters at 121 Catherine Street and the MTW1 offices near City Hall were stormed by federal agents of the US Department of Justice. The six most important Wobblies were arrested, and all of the union's records confiscated. The raids in Philadelphia were part of a well-coordinated federal plan to destroy the entire IWW, perceived as a threat to the Allied war effort. Two months after the raids the Bolsheviks overthrew the new, already tottering, parliamentary government in Russia and declared the world's first Communist nation. The United States and entire world were forever changed by these events.

The war years presented dramatic challenges to the members of Local 8, who served the war effort loyally but also sought to protect themselves and expand their power. As other workers did, Philly longshoremen worked very hard to serve the nation, but also used the war as leverage to improve their wages. They also sought to expand their influence by working toward the One Big Union, specifically targeting the large riverside sugar refineries. Concurrently, the federal repression suffered by Local 8 and the IWW nationwide was the greatest threat the union had yet experienced. Although profoundly hurt by the loss of their dynamic leaders, Philadelphia's longshoremen emerged from this battle still holding on to job control. After the war they joined millions of other American workers in an unprecedented surge of militant strikes.

The year 1917 also saw tremendous growth for the city's many industries and its port, in both trade and shipbuilding. The Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce boldly declared, “When Uncle Sam calls the roll of those who are furnishing most to wage this mighty war, he finds that th[is] district ... leads all the rest.... Philadelphia counts in this war with the weight of a belligerent nation.” In his celebratory book Philadelphia: A Story of Progress, Herman LeRoy Collins declared, “In one war year 7000 vessels came to Philadelphia wharves and docks to sail away fully laden.” More than $600 million in exports and imports in 1917 shattered the record set the year prior. For example, grain exports doubled from 1914 to 1915 and remained at these record levels through 1918. Sugar refining also benefited from the economic upswing; production in this waterfront industry surged, making it the city's fourth largest manufacturing industry.2

Local 8 quickly capitalized on the economic upswing, in part thanks to a new leader, Walter T. Nef. Nef's presence signaled a renewed IWW commitment to organizing in the East, which, with the notable exception of Local 8, had lagged after the failed Paterson strike in 1913. Arriving from Switzerland in 1901 at the age of nineteen, “Big Nef”quickly found his way to northern California, working jobs as varied as logger and milk driver. He took out union cards in whatever field he worked, most notably in an industrial union that subsequently was split into craft unions upon affiliating with the AFL. In 1908 Nef heard IWW organizer George Speed, who later helped charter Local 8, speak on the San Francisco waterfront about the futility of craft unions. Speed's talk resonated with Nef, who shortly thereafter joined the IWW in Portland. During the winter of 1909-10 Nef helped lead the first major IWW free-speech fight in Spokane, Washington, and served time, along with hundreds of Wobblies, in that city's jail. Nef remained in the Pacific Northwest until the spring of 1915, when he was elected secretary-treasurer of the IWW's new Agricultural Workers Organization (AWO). Nef spent the next two years building up the AWO. In the process, he led the entire IWW (Local 8 included) out of the, doldrums it had experienced at the war's start. Differences with IWW General Secretary-Treasurer Haywood over the role of the AWO led to Nef's resignation in November 1916. Still, Nef remained a darling in the IWW.3

Nef had big plans for the MTW Too, intending to apply the same methods that had worked so successfully among “bindle stiffs.” As with the AWO, Nef hoped to establish a delegate system for the MTW. By increasing the number of delegates (organizers) on the job, rather than on the streets or by the docks, the union could agitate more effectively. In Philadelphia Nef was assisted by two port delegates, one Spanish and one English speaking, at the meager wage of $18 a week (still, most ports maintained only one delegate). Then, Nef promptly raised the initiation fee to $2 for taking out a “red card” in any industry, a high amount in the IWW, and $5 in any industry where the IWW maintained job control, namely Philadelphia's deep-sea piers. Nef argued that the increase was. needed to create a powerful and stable organization that could improve conditions and wages on the job and increase delegates. Nef concluded, “Now all together for the one Big, Powerful Union of all workers in all industries.”4

A second seasoned and equally well-traveled IWW organizer, Edwin Frederick Doree, arrived to help Nef. Born to Swedish immigrants in Philadelphia in 1889, Doree first experienced the migratory existence of the American working class while just a child, when his family moved to Skagway, Alaska. At the age of thirteen Doree started apprenticing in a railroad car factory until, eighteen months later, he lost several fingers in a workplace accident. He drifted down to Washington State, where he first joined the IWW in 1906, becoming an accomplished organizer but only after a stint as a professional baseball player. In 1912 Doree accompanied George Speed to Louisiana to assist the Brotherhood of Timber Workers. In those nine months he witnessed some of the most oppressive conditions in the nation, agitated to keep an interracial union alive despite massive resistance, and spent time in jail. Doree also received a nasty head wound that laid him up for several months. Afterward, Doree organized textile workers in Rochester, New York where he met his wife, Chika, a Jewish immigrant, at a strike meeting and migratory farm workers throughout the Midwest, following the workers north as they followed the harvests. Possibly, Doree met Nef when the latter took the reigns of the AWO, although they likely met in the Spokane free-speech fight. In 1916 Doree again organized textile workers, this time in Baltimore. When Nef moved to Philly, so did Doree. Nef then met Doree's sister-in-law, Feige, who soon married Walter. As its textile industry employed more than one hundred thousand workers, Philadelphia was a logical place to base a newly created Textile Workers Industrial Union (TWIU), #1000, with Doree's TWIU office next to Nef's reborn MTW. Doree also organized for Local 8 and, at times, found work as a longshoreman.5

With Nef and Doree's arrival, two of Local 8's most able organizers were dispatched to other ports. Ben Fletcher, a national organizer as of the previous fall, went to Providence, Rhode Island, to organize longshoremen, many of whom were Cape Verdean (i.e., of African ancestry). Jack Walsh spent the end of 1916 and start of 1917 in Baltimore helping Jack Lever, the main IWW organizer. Emil John (Jack) Lever, a Russian immigrant, joined the IWW in 1914 while in Salt Lake City and later that same year worked as a machinist in Toledo, where he witnessed organized labor's racism firsthand as a member of the AFL's International Association of Machinists. Lever later met Walsh and Fletcher in Philadelphia, where, according to Lever, “we found out we were in agreement” on issues like industrial unionism and racial equality. As in Philadelphia before Local 8, longshoremen in Baltimore were a mixture of African Americans, Irish Americans, and Poles, none of whom got along. The ILA had established an all-white local in 1912; as Lever put it years later, “The ILA came in and organized whites and left the Negroes out. And we said, a union is a union. And we proceeded to organize the Negroes.” Lever and Walsh signed up nearly fifteen hundred black longshoremen before Walsh requested Fletcher's presence. Walsh hoped to convince white longshoremen to switch to the IWW when the ILA's contract expired, but most whites, immigrant and native-born, stuck with the ILA.6

As Fletcher, Lever, and Walsh organized along the Atlantic seaboard, Local 8 again targeted Philadelphia's sugar workers after they spontaneously struck. Unlike longshoremen, the men and women who toiled in the sugar refineries remained weak and completely subject to their employers' will. Most received a wage of twenty-five cents per hour (some less) for twelve-hour days (or nights, the factories ran twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week), fourteen hours a shift during busy times, without higher overtime or night rates. The sugar-refining boom during the war forced employees to work even harder, until they walked out of the Spreckles Sugar Refinery on February 1, demanding a raise of five cents per hour, time and a half for any work over ten hours a day, and Sundays off. Most of the workers were immigrants, especially Lithuanians, Poles, and Russians, though some were recent Southern black migrants. At the walkout's start, the workers were overwhelmingly non-union, but hundreds quickly joined the IWW. Within two days the strike spread to the McCahan and Pennsylvania refineries, and picket lines emerged around all three plants.7

The Philadelphia sugar strike was part of a national wave of worker militancy. In fact, the number of strikes in 1917 surpassed that of any previous year in U.S. history. Sparked by the wartime labor shortage and inflation, unprecedented numbers of workers, often nonunion, struck for better wages and fewer hours. As in Philadelphia, strikes occurred in other sugar-refinery centers; in Brooklyn workers went out in late January, soon spreading to Long Island, Jersey City, and Yonkers.8

With no settlement in sight, the IWW, led by Doree, Nef, and Joseph Weitzen (the secretary of Local 8 and an African American), determined that the strike could be won only by expanding it. In an uncommon instance of skilled-unskilled worker solidarity, IWW engineers, coopers, machinists, oilers, foremen, and sack sewers joined the strike, which soon spread to the city's molasses refinery, the “Smear works.” The city's newspapers reported between two thousand and three thousand sugar workers out, the IWW claimed over four thousand. The IWW signed up more than one thousand strikers to the Sugar Workers' Industrial Union 497. A week into the strike a thousand Wobbly longshoremen who worked the refineries' piers also struck. IWW seamen refused to divert ships to alternate ports.9

From its start the strike proved quite effective, despite daily beatings and arrests from local police, assisted by private detectives hired by employers. With over three-quarters of their employees out, refinery officials admitted that production had slowed to a fraction of normal. Six large steamships and several lighters loaded with sugar were dead “in the stream.” A million pounds of unrefined sugar was diverted to other ports.10

As Philadelphia refined one-sixth of the nation's sugar, sugar prices quickly rose, which sparked female-led protests. Several thousand women, mostly immigrants, clashed with the police in what the Public Ledger called “food riots.” One wholesale grocer gave voice, no doubt, to others' fears: “The consumer ... is also tending to force the hands of the refiners to do something which the refiners may consider unwise or unjust in composing labor difficulties.” Women, some of them refinery workers, many with babies in their arms and others leading toddlers, repeatedly attacked strikebreakers despite police protection. Historian Temma Kaplan contextualizes such actions: “When women left their households to protest against certain indignities or demand changes in their own and their families' lives, they presented themselves not as political actors, but as the very conscience of the community.”11

Such protests incited thousands of strikers and sympathizers, who clashed with hundreds of police, leaving one dead, many injured, and scores arrested. After two hours of fighting one night, Martynas Petkus, a Lithuanian Wobbly and rank-and-file activist, lay dead. In an interview with the Public Ledger, Florence Sholde — the wife of a Polish striker, a mother of four, and of late a convicted criminal — spoke passionately of the strike. Revealing the close bonds in her working-class neighborhood, she claimed, “We would be starving down here now if the butcher and the grocer did not trust us until my husband goes to work. If they stop charging it on the book, we will all go hungry. All the women and their families are just the same.”12

The strikers held several large events for the fallen striker. Thousands viewed his body in an open casket at the Lithuanian Hall, despite police opposition in the name of “public safety.” The large room was full of flowers, many donated by the IWW and the Lithuanian Socialist Federation, to which Petkus also belonged. The following day many thousands, red carnations in their lapels, marched, again defying the police, which had refused a permit. After the funeral, Wobblies Joseph Schmidt, Joseph Graber, A. Mariella, and Doree spoke in Lithuanian, Polish, Italian, and English, respectively. Kaplan explains that “collective mourning at political funerals is a civic ritual that unites a community, enables it to reclaim sacred spaces, and permits it to cleanse itself of death.”13

The death hardened both sides. Clashes, injuries, and arrests continued unabated. Members of the state and federal governments' arbitration services shuttled between employers and strikers, yet neither side relented. Earl D. Babst, president of the American Sugar Refining Company, the parent of Spreckles, announced that his company “would not yield an inch.... would not propose to hand over the control of this industry to any outside organization [IWW].” Just as firmly, the strikers claimed, “There is no vindication of the dead unless we have a victory for the living.”14

After dragging into an eighth week, the strike fizzled. The strikers had succeeded in significantly curtailing sugar refining in Philadelphia. The strike lasted for as long as it did because the union maintained the solidarity of the strikers across craft, ethnicity, gender, and race lines with tremendous support in the diverse, working-class waterfront neighborhoods. Nevertheless, the employers' strength outmatched strikers' solidarity. Still, as often happens in strikes, employers did raise wages almost to the level demanded by the strikers (from 25 to 29.7 cents an hour). For many strikers, though, the outcome has to be seen as a failure — thousands lost two months' wages, hundreds lost jobs and were arrested, and the refineries remained nonunion.15

Perhaps more alarming, workers inside the sugar refineries found themselves more racially divided. This splintering of workers, orchestrated by employers, had profound ramifications. The Spreckles superintendent acknowledged that “Negroes had been employed to replace and 'equalize' the foreign laborers.” As a result, the governmental report Negro Migration in 1916-17 concluded that “there has been developing [since the strike] a strong undercurrent of [racial] prejudice among foreign workers, particularly the Slavs.” One “Negro dock foreman” complained that Poles “dislike to work beside the colored men, and are going to make trouble for us.” This strike, then, contributed to rising anti-black sentiment among recent immigrants — which contributed to the ultimate decline of Local 8. Notably, this same report concluded that “there had been no race trouble on the docks where whites and blacks [who were Local 8 members] had worked side by side.” Of course, unity never was a given and played a major role in Local 8's postwar unraveling.16

Local 8 and the IWW strove to keep its heterogeneous members, in particular the African Americans, committed to the union. Big Bill Haywood, the IWW's general secretary-treasurer, addressed this issue in his petition “To Colored Working Men and Women.” Haywood contended that black and white workers had the same goals — to improve their conditions in work and life. Haywood argued, however, that under the present system, black (and white) people had yet to achieve true freedom. Haywood noted that African Americans were virulently discriminated against, that “as [black] wage workers, the boss may work us to death, at the hardest and most hazardous labor, the longest hours, at the lowest pay.” Then Haywood argued that white workers did not fare much better, “regarded by the boss only as a means of making profits.” Thus, the crux of Haywood's argument (echoed by other socialists like Fletcher) was that all workers shared common interests. Haywood also noted how employers sought to divide white and black workers to keep them weak. To build a strong union, Haywood contended that “race prejudice has no place in a labor organization.” The challenge of organizing across racial lines soon was compounded by the war-induced Great Migration and — perhaps an even greater threat to the IWW's viability — the wrath of the federal government.”17

In April 1917, the United States entered World War I, and most Americans quickly rallied around the flag. The immediate cause was Germany's decision to resume unrestricted submarine warfare against all vessels sailing toward Britain. After the German announcement, American ships remained in their safe harbors, unwilling to challenge German U-boats, so wheat, cotton, and other goods piled up on piers all along the Atlantic seaboard. When President Wilson asked Congress to declare war, the citizens of Philadelphia immediately responded. To mobilize food, fuel, and workers, recruit troops, and sell war bonds, the Pennsylvania Council for National Defense was created. In Philadelphia so-called Four Minute Men marshaled an army of speakers to rally the city's populace. Philadelphians purchased a billion dollars in Liberty Bonds to help the war effort.”18

While the port of Philadelphia experienced major growth in 1915 and 1916, the true economic boom was in 1917. In the years 1910 to 1914, foreign trade hovered around $165 million. In 1917 foreign trade rose to more than $600 million. During February 1917, despite the sugar strike and though the winter traditionally was a slack time, exports from Philadelphia totaled $57 million, a stunning $48 million increase over February 1916. According to one source, fully 40% of all war-related commodities shipped to Europe left from Philadelphia. The city government worked actively to promote the port, making “liberal appropriations” to harbor development and public relations.19

In the short term, America's entry into the war materially benefited all Philadelphia waterfront workers. One MTW circular advised workers to organize to improve their wages and conditions during the war as, “on account [of] the European War, prosperity reigns on the seas. The Ship-owners are making millions of dollars.” In Philadelphia, as in other ports, the wages of waterfront workers rose during the war. Local 8 won its demand for a raise to sixty cents per hour for loading gunpowder and munitions. As for Philadelphia sailors, they also agitated for raises, knowing that ships could not get enough able-bodied seamen. Just prior to the U.S. declaration of war MTW Too struck for a $ T o raise in monthly wages across-the-board instead of striking individual ships. World War I, which simultaneously led to a tremendous increase in production and a shortage of labor, drove wages up for American workers. In other ways, the war was far more disadvantageous, especially for Wobblies.20

The IWW's stance on the war confirmed its ideology and revealed its view of American society. Like other socialist organizations, from 1914 onward the IWW labeled the European war a capitalist enterprise, caused by and solely benefiting the rich and powerful at the cost of the overwhelming majority of people, who fought and died on Europe's battlefields. In 1916 the IWW GEB declared, “We reaffirm with unfaltering determination the unalterable opposition to all wars.” Throughout 1916 and 1917 the IWW made its stance on the war clear, declaring once, “Capitalists of America, we will fight against you, not for you.” The IWW also contrasted its stand on war with the AFL, whose superpatriotism appalled many socialists. However, many in the IWW, including its leadership, took the fatalist stance that America inevitably would enter the fray.21

Yet, despite its doctrinal opposition to the war, the IWW did not tell its members to refuse registering for military service, nor did it participate as an organization in antiwar activities. IWW leaders were fully aware that, by 1917, most Americans supported the war, which was a perfect excuse for the government and employers to suppress leftist organizations, especially the IWW. Thus, the union (also demonstrating its anarchist tendencies) let individual members decide whether to register. IWW publications noted on more than one occasion that failure to register would bring only more hostility down upon the IWW. So, although no official position was taken, it was clear that the IWW leadership believed its members should, in fact, register for military conscription, which most Wobblies did.22

In Philadelphia fully 100 % of Local 8's members registered for the draft. MTW 100 Secretary-Treasurer Nef did not register because he was too old, but he advised Jack Lever and James Phillips, secretaries of the Baltimore and Boston MTW respectively, to inform their members of the Selective Service Act (Lever himself volunteered). Doree also encouraged many Socialists (some of whom were Wobblies, too), who opposed conscription, to register. Still, Doree was critical of the draft; in a letter to IWW Secretary-Treasurer Haywood, Doree wrote of “physical discrimination” practiced by the Philadelphia draft board, believing a higher percentage of working-class residents was called up than upper-class ones.23

Beyond advising members to register, both Local 8 and the national IWW left decisions about the war up to individual members. Doree and others did not believe in speaking publicly against the war; instead, during the war he resolved to “keep his mouth shut.” At his trial in 1918, Doree made it clear he opposed wars as “trouble” and that he had enough of that already. Doree registered because he saw the Allies as the lesser of two evils, citing German Socialists as useless after they failed, in 1914, 4, to call a general strike to prevent their nation's militarism. Nef, himself a German Swiss, had supported the Allies since 1914, opposing Prussian militarism from his youth.24

The rank and file of Local 8 actively supported the war effort. At its hall, the local maintained an honor roll of members serving in the military. Several local hiring bosses estimated that more than seven hundred members of Local 8 performed military service during the war. At one wartime meeting, the members agreed “that any Member of our Local Union who has been in the United States Army or Navy service and shows an Honorable discharge when he returns, his book be straightened up,” meaning a veteran could rejoin the union without paying another initiation fee or back dues. Nor was Local 8 the only IWW branch that acted so strongly on behalf of the Allies.25

Perhaps the most extraordinary example of Local 8's support of the war was a meeting organized by Ben Fletcher, Polly Baker, and Jack Lever in early 1917. At the behest of Colonel Freely, commander of the Schuylkill Arsenal, an Army supply depot in Philadelphia, the three Wobblies set up a meeting at Local 8's hall. The building was filled to capacity, six hundred strong, to hear Fletcher, Nef, and Walsh address the membership on the need to support the war effort by working efficiently. Lever later wrote that Fletcher's “high standing with his race [African Americans], who formed about 6o % of the port workers, was invaluable” at that meeting. The members of Local 8 later voted not to strike for the duration of the war.26

In addition to those already discussed, Local 8 supported the war for numerous reasons. Most obviously, the men needed work and the union needed to operate. As most work on the river was war-related, an antiwar stance was not only potentially dangerous, but it was not viable. Second, though a great many Germans and Italians resided in Philadelphia, few, if any, were longshoremen, and Nef was a vocal critic of Germany. Third, the large number of Local 8 members who served in the military, the Liberty Bonds purchased by the union, and the no-strike pledge suggest some patriotic tendencies. As for the African Americans, who made up roughly half the union, generally the black community supported this war. Most famously W. E. B. Du Bois, the influential editor of the NAACP's Crisis, encouraged blacks to rally around the flag and support the push for democracy (falsely assuming that black loyalty abroad would be rewarded at home after the war).27

The IWW, including Local 8, also saw World War I as an opportunity to organize, understanding that the war could create the sort of crisis in which revolutions happen. The IWW argued that workers should continue to prepare for the true fight, the class war. Indeed, the actions and attitudes of Local 8 members echo those of syndicalist (and later Communist) William Z. Foster. By this time Foster had broken from the IWW and focused on “boring from within” the mainstream AFL. Foster publicly supported the war and bought war bonds, but also took advantage of the war to organize a brilliant campaign in the Chicago stockyard and later the national steel strike in 1919. Whether Local 8's stance is considered patriotic, opportunistic, or syndicalist (i.e., ignoring the politics of war in favor of sticking with organizing on the job), it was not alone among Leftists.28

Philadelphia was one of the most important U.S. ports in the war effort. Out of Philadelphia went many of the men as well as much of the food, munitions, oil, and steel on its way to Europe. In 1917 more than 75 % of the cargo that left Philadelphia went to help fight the war. A report in 1919 by the recently created United States Shipping Board (USSB) stated that the longshoremen of Local 8 “loaded a large part of the munitions sent to Europe.”29

The only work stoppage that Local 8 conducted during the war was its anniversary strike. In May 1917 the union celebrated its birth just as it had in previous years, by shutting down the docks and celebrating. The membership notified employers that despite the recent American declaration of war, longshoremen would not work on May 15. As the Wobblies marched down Delaware Avenue led by three bands, IWW organizer C. L. Lambert commented, “You could see in the lines of men walking five abreast, American, Polish, Lithuanian, Belgian and colored in the same line” chanting, “No creed, no color can bar you from membership” and the official IWW motto, “An injury to one is an injury to all.” Local 8's annual strike reaffirmed its commitment to solidarity and disproved the notion that the IWW could not organize a radical yet stable union. As Nef wrote, “I have always urged the men to do their work well and if they had any complaints to bring them up at the union meetings so that they could be acted upon in an orderly fashion.”30

That the members of Local 8 stopped work during the war to celebrate their anniversary reveals a great deal about their power and how they perceived themselves. Local 8 wielded job control all along the Philadelphia waterfront and beyond. In 1917 Local 8 claimed close to four thousand paid-up members in Philadelphia, Camden, New Jersey, and down river in Wilmington, Delaware. Francis Fisher Kane, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania during the war, later testified that every longshoreman in Philadelphia was a Wobbly. Local 8's power was so complete that its members handled all of the munitions as well as the oil for the Army and Navy. William Anderson, a Local 8 member (along with his father), worked as a foreman at Murphy-Cook, which held an Army contract. Anderson said that if a ship loaded, say iron, at an unorganized dock but was slated to carry a load of gunpowder as well, activity stopped until a gang of Wobblies arrived to work the ammunition. Among the Dupont Company powder workers at both Carney's Point, New Jersey, and Wilmington, which Local 8 dominated during the war, vessels simply were not allowed to load gunpowder at a non-IWW pier. Thus, Wobblies contributed mightily to the Allied war effort, and workers, employers, and government all knew it. Local 8's power paralleled that of other IWW strongholds in important war industries, including the copper mines of Montana and Arizona and the Pacific Northwest's woods.31

Every deep-sea stevedore and shipping firm dealt exclusively with Local 8, with the exception of two companies. The Hamburg-American Line and Furness-Withy, both of whom contracted for their longshoremen through the Atlantic Transportation Company, refused to recognize the union. All other jobs on the waterfront either went through the IWW hall or at the “hiring corner” less than two blocks from it. As Jack Walsh proclaimed: “Any time they [bosses] ran short they telephone[d] up to the IWW hall for men.” Even the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) acknowledged that Local 8 “is an extremely powerful organization locally.”32

As in other war-related industries, the federal government took an active role in labor relations in maritime transport. The government dramatically increased spending on shipbuilding to develop an American merchant marine fleet, through a new body called the Emergency Fleet Corporation. Another new agency, the USSB, was created to coordinate and regulate the industry, including labor relations aboard ships and in ports. Following the lead of the president, the National War Labor Board encouraged cooperation between employers and employees and their unions, for the sake of efficiency.33

The federal government simultaneously supported the “bona fide” labor movement, embodied by the AFL, and worked to dismantle the renegade IWW. The AFL recognized that the government had the power to eliminate the IWW, thereby ridding the AFL of its main rival; in his autobio­graphy, Samuel Gompers labeled the IWW “a radical fungus on the labor movement.” Accordingly, in August 1917 the USSB created the National Adjustment Commission (NAC), along with a committee representing shipping interests (in particular the American Steamship Association, which represented dozens of shipping lines) and the ILA (which represented at least some longshoremen in every port excepting Philadelphia). The USSB, War Department, shipping interests, stevedores, and ILA all were represented on the NAC, which resolved disputes concerning wages, hours, and conditions. The shippers, ILA, and government formally excluded Local 8 and the MTW from these discussions, despite what the USSB labeled “the important work” performed by Local 8 members. Nor did the NAC establish a local presence in Philadelphia. Crucially, T. V. O'Connor, the ILA president, and Joseph Ryan, the ILA leader in New York, sat on the commission. O'Connor later headed the USSB; in his autobiography, Gompers praised O'Connor and the ILA for trying to drive the IWW off the docks. In 1917 the ILA journal The Longshoreman ran many anti-IWW stories, accusing it of “treasonable” acts and wanting “to destroy society — to overturn civilization — to stamp out individuality, and to erase the laws of private property of any sort.”34

Local 8 continued to battle the ILA during the war. In 1916-17 the ILA chartered two locals in Philadelphia. Correspondence in June 1917 between one local president and AFL headquarters confirms that the ILA had a difficult time. Charles Goodwin, the local's president, wrote, “We have a rival organization here about 4000 strong to fight,” so he requested more money to organize. During the war an ILA local signed an agreement with the NAC to handle lumber in Philadelphia. This contract also acknowledged the power of Local 8: “The organization of Local 916 was to some extent disorganized by competitive organizations.” A few months after signing the contract, ILA President O'Connor admitted in The Longshoreman that Philadelphia was “very much in need of attention and it will be necessary for considerable organizing work to be done before we can hope to have anything like the membership we should have when the population and amount of shipping to, and from,” is considered. The ONI confirmed that the ILA “has frequently endeavored to gain a foothold in Philadelphia, but has been uniformly unsuccessful.” Both ILA locals collapsed within a year.35

As the IWW never signed contracts with employers, Local 8 would not, on principle, have participated in the NAC. Jack Lever discussed the Wobblies' direct-action approach: “We didn't get formal bargaining, but we simply told people to stop work until they got what they wanted.” Still, Local 8's exclusion from the NAC was pushed by the ILA. For in' stance, Patrick Quinlan, an AFL organizer, recommended to Todd Daniel, the senior Philadelphia agent of the U.S. Bureau of Investigation, that he work with Polish Catholic priests, who opposed the atheistic IWW, to subvert Local 8; still, there is no evidence of any Catholic parishes opposing Local 8. ILA efforts in Philadelphia parallel its actions in Norfolk, Virginia, where Earl Lewis has documented how the ILA used the USSB to displace the all-black, independent Transportation Workers Association. The AFL colluded with the government, hoping to subvert the IWW nationwide.36

Nevertheless, Local 8 maintained job control and the Wobblies performed their work admirably. Not a single work stoppage occurred after May 15, 1917. This policy even extended to their annual birthday strike. At one April 1918 meeting, the members voted “that we postpone the Celebration of the 15th of May which is our legal holiday ever since our Organization is in existence so as not to hamper the war work of the Government.” Clearly, the membership supported the war effort, shocking given the IWW's politics and the government's wartime repression — or perhaps not. Local 8's action combined one part patriotism (white hot by 1918), one part fear (of further arrests and raids), and one part pragmatism (almost all work was war-related). Rationales aside, when literally millions of tons of explosives and munitions were loaded and unloaded in the port, not a single explosion, accident, or shifting of cargo occurred in Philadelphia. In contrast, there were numerous explosions, fires, and accidents at other Atlantic ports, where ILA men worked. Incredibly, given the federal government's anti-IWW stance, the Navy did not allow any explosives to be loaded aboard a vessel in Philadelphia unless done so by Wobblies. Moreover, when a fire or explosion occurred on a ship loaded in New York (as when the Henderson caught fire at sea), it was sent to Philadelphia to be reloaded. Gompers claimed, without evidence, that such “accidents” on New York's Chelsea piers were sabotage conducted by pro-German Wobblies. Local 8 members were proud of their unblemished record and quick to point out that less efficient longshoremen were not Wobblies.37

As the city's shipping industry prospered, so did the union. Local 8 initiated dozens of new members, many African American, each week. Also of interest, the ONI reported that membership was “increasing daily, owing to the influx of a large number of West Indian negroes.” As Local 8's power increased, the longshoremen yet again set their sights on the Spreckles sugar docks, despite the brutal two-month winter strike. The campaign was part of a larger effort to increase IWW power by putting more delegates on docks and ships. This program also targeted Spanish-speaking workers by printing many pamphlets, including the union's constitution, in Spanish. These efforts, however, quickly were overshadowed by national events.38

On September 5, 1917, the U.S. Department of Justice carried out raids at sixty-four IWW halls and offices across the nation, ostensibly to prevent an IWW general strike. Federal agents confiscated more than five tons of IWW organizational minutes, official and personal correspondence, financial records, pamphlets, newspapers, circulars, books, stickers, membership lists, buttons, cards, publications, and office equipment all as “evidence.” The IWW in Philadelphia did not escape. Local 8's hall was raided, as were the headquarters of the MTW and TWIU. Walter Nef testified that “I found these officers taking everything except the framework of the desks,” including membership letters, correspondence, account books, financial records, and literature. In addition, and more seriously, the Department of Justice issued arrest warrants on the charges of treason and sedition for 166 Wobblies, including six from Philadelphia Benjamin H. Fletcher, Walter T. Nef, John J. Walsh, Edwin F. Doree, Manuel Rey, and Joseph Graeber (a Polish organizer who did not belong to Local 8 but who helped with refinery workers).39 All of those arrested were accused of interfering with the Selective Service Act, violating the Espionage Act of 1917, conspiring to strike, violating the constitutional right of employers executing government contracts, and using the mail to conspire to defraud employers. Possibly the most well-known chapter in the history of the IWW, this federal repression forever affected the union. Local 8 suffered from these raids, though it persevered far more effectively than most other branches.40

Local 8's rank and file organized to exonerate its local and national leaders. Out on bond prior to their trial, Doree and Nef volunteered for the IWW General Defense Committee (GDC), formed shortly after the raids. In Doree's words, the GDC worked “to raise funds, secure legal counsel, locate witnesses, and generally assist in the defense of the various members of the I.W.W.” Local 8 sold “liberty bonds” in order to raise money for the defense fund. The GDC also helped defendants' families. The ONI reported that Local 8 “has contributed liberally to the Defense Fund.”41

The purpose of the raids and arrests was abundantly clear: to destroy the IWW. In his deposition, Doree detailed the myriad ways in which the government obstructed the work of the GDC, by denying it mailing privileges, confiscating mails, intimidating lawyers and witnesses, and preventing the IWW Publishing Bureau from printing defense literature. Historian William Preston notes that the American entry into World War I allowed the Wilson administration to equate the threat of IWW strikes with “seditious interference in war production.” The Department of Justice's strategy was in keeping with the actions of Military Intelligence. According to historian Mark Ellis, Major General Ralph “Van Deman became convinced that the security of the United States and the war effort faced internal threats, not only from enemy agents, but also from the antiwar activities of American left-wing radicalism, in the form of unions such as the Industrial Workers of the World.” One hundred percent Americanism and the “atmosphere of war hysteria [that] colored all decisions from the local to the national level” also help explain why federal officials saw the IWW as “a vicious, treasonable, and criminal conspiracy.” At the Chicago trial the prosecution equated the IWW's anti-capitalist beliefs with pro-German sentiment and, by extension, treason.42

The repression of Local 8 lends further credence to the idea that the government's actions were geared more toward wrecking the IWW than protecting the nation since the members of Local 8 worked so diligently during the war. Philadelphia longshoremen loyally loaded thousands of vessels for the war effort, with but one short strike and no major mishaps. Hundreds of members joined the military, and others purchased Liberty Bonds. Nevertheless, Local 8 was undeniably an IWW outfit, the men proudly wearing their buttons to work — even at the Navy Yard. Although Wobblies loaded ships for the war, it was not because the government endorsed the IWW but rather because of the union's power. Even though no problems occurred, the federal government still equated Philadel­phia Wobblies with anti-Americanism, capable of subverting the war effort. Addressing this issue in a letter written to his wife while jailed at Leavenworth, Doree claimed, “I did not know then [1917], and have not since learned, of any `general strike scheme' on the part of the Industrial Workers of the World for the purpose of crippling the war program of the United States. Nothing of this was proven at our trial.” The plans for the federal raids emanated from the nation's capital, where the Departments of Justice, Labor, and War worked closely to suppress the so-called IWW threat. Since the IWW was powerful on the vital Philadelphia waterfront, it should come as no surprise that Local 8 was a main target.43

Further proof confirming the true purpose of the arrests — to crush the IWW — comes from whom the Department of Justice did not consult, namely federal officials in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia representatives of the Department of Justice were not asked in advance about the raids. Had they been, they would have told their superiors that there was no reason to suspect that the longshoremen were disloyal. Further, the Navy did not see Local 8 as a threat, despite the nature of the Depart­ment of Justice's charges. Only five monthsafter the raids did Assistant Attorney General William C. Fitts contact the Secretary of Navy requesting evidence “to show that the needs of the Navy of the United States, with respect to preparation for participation in the war, were materially interfered with and retarded by the unrest fomented and low-down methods injected into the situation during the spring and summer of 1917 by the I.W.W.” In short, there was no concrete evidence that the American war effort was being subverted by the IWW or that a general strike was in the works. In particular, the Navy never supplied one shred of evidence that Philadelphians ever sabotaged the war effort or planned to. In fact, the U.S. pardon attorney who later investigated the cases of Local 8's leaders wrote that he had “considerable difficulty” in “ascertaining just what” these longshore­men had ,done “that constitute[d] the offense of which they were convicted.” Furthermore, the federal agent who conducted the raids on Local 8 in 1917 later admitted, “I personally do not know of any crime that he [Nef] has committed against the country.” Rather, in 1922 this agent volunt­eered to the pardon attorney that “I wish to state that Walter Neff [sic] is a clean cut high class intelligent man and a perfect gentleman” ! Finally, the U.S. Attorney for eastern Pennsylvania during the war wrote on behalf of the Local 8 leaders jailed, encouraging the president to pardon them.44

Nevertheless, given the anti-radical sentiments of the time, 101 Wobblies quickly were indicted by a grand jury in Chicago, where IWW headquarters were located, on five counts of conspiring to hinder eleven acts of Congress and presidential decrees concerning the war. The 1918 trial of the Wobblies was the longest in U.S. history up until that time. Nef testified to the strength of Local 8 in Philadelphia. Doree concentrated his discussion on the “brutal oppression” of timber workers in Louisiana whom he organized before moving to Philadelphia. Walsh “kept the courtroom in an undignified state of continual laughter with his references to 'Fellow Worker Nebeker' [the prosecuting attorney] and other Irish pleasantries.” Fletcher, curiously, did not testify. In a letter to the editor published in The Crisis in 1919, F. H. M. Murray wrote of running into Fletcher during the trial and asking him what he thought; according to Murray, Fletcher “smiled broadly” and replied that Judge Landis was “a fakir. Wait until he gets a chance; then he'll plaster it on thick.” After four months of testimony — in which the entire government case was based upon letters, newspaper articles, and other materials written prior to America's declaration of war — the jury delivered a verdict in less than an hour that every defendant on trial was guilty on all counts. The men from Local 8 were sentenced as severely as the other defendants. On August 30, 1918, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis sentenced Nef to twenty years in the federal penitentiary at Leavenworth and fined him $30,000 plus court costs. Doree, Fletcher, Walsh, and Graber were sentenced to ten years and $30,000 plus costs. Rey was sentenced to twenty years and $20,000. A decade later Big Bill Haywood wrote that, upon hearing the verdicts, “Ben Fletcher sidled over to me and said: 'The Judge has been using very ungrammatical language.' I looked at his smiling black face and asked: 'How's that, Ben?' He said: 'His sentences are much too long.' At one time previous to this during the great trial in a spirit of humor, Ben remarked: 'If it wasn't for me, there'd be no color in this trial at all.' I might explain that he was the only Negro in the group.”45

To the membership of Local 8, the loss of their leaders, Fletcher in particular, was devastating. Black longshoreman James Fair recalled, “Some of us were very hurt over it, because we knew what he was doing was something for us to earn a livelihood to support ourselves and families and it was just like well, I would say it was to ones who was interested in organized labor and improving our standards of life it was something near like Martin Luther King [being sent to jail].” While waiting in the infamous Cook County jail — the same prison where the Haymarket martyrs were hung thirty years before — to be loaded on a train for Leavenworth, Fletcher made light of the situation while simultaneously calling into question the authority of the entire proceedings. Haywood recalled Fletcher holding a mock court. Imitating Judge Landis, “looking solemn and spitting tobacco juice,” Fletcher “swore in the prisoners as a jury; calling the guards and detectives up to him he sentenced them without further ado to be hanged and shot and imprisoned for life.”46

After the raids, the MTW continued its mission of organizing seamen. MTW headquarters moved to South Philadelphia; the headquarters also housed other radical organizations, including the Russian Socialist Society. Most Wobbly seamen, especially in Philadelphia, were Spaniards and Italians. Nef estimated that between four thousand and five thousand seamen belonged to the MTW on the Atlantic coast. On virtually every coastwise vessel, much of the crew below decks — firemen, engin­eers, oilers, and water tenders — were Wobblies. Although not in the Navy, the merchant marine, including Philadelphia-based Wobblies, risked their lives on a daily basis for the Allied cause. Leonard Guillel and Francisco Alonso, both Spanish-born Wobs, were aboard the Standard Oil steamship Helton that was torpedoed on its way to Rotterdam; twenty-two crewmen, twelve of them Wobblies, died. To curtail the MTW's power, Rey had been sent to Leavenworth for twenty years. Another Spanish anarchist, Genaro Pazos, took Rey's place as secretary-treasurer of MTW 100. Pazos had been very active in spreading IWW-MTW propaganda throughout the Atlantic and in raising money for the IWW Defense Committee. Even though the MTW had only a fraction of the ISU's members, the ONI recommended that Pazos and the union “be kept under close surveillance.”47

Despite Local 8's record of reliable, efficient labor and having its leaders imprisoned, the federal government still did not trust Local 8. In a comprehensive report entitled Investigation of the Marine Transport Workers and the Alleged Threatened Combination between Them and the Bolsheviki and Sinn Feiners, the ONI, in close collaboration with the Department of Justice, Plant Protection Sections of the Military Intelligence Division, and Emergency Fleet Corporation, concluded: “It is the opinion of this Office that subject [Local 8] is extremely dangerous potenti­ally .... This Office recommends that ... it [Local 8] should be kept under strict surveillance by the aid for Information of the Fourth Naval District. It is further recommended that the leaders likewise be carefully watched, and punished for each and every infraction of the law, however slight.” The ONI soon placed one of its operatives inside Local 8.48

Yet, in spite of these enormous losses and threats, Local 8 achieved significant wage increases during the war. By the end of 1918 the wage rate for deep-sea longshoremen had jumped to sixty-five cents per hour, which can be attributed to a combination of labor scarcity and union power. Philadelphia's wages for deep-sea longshoremen paralleled those of other Atlantic ports, from thirty cents in the summer of 1917, to forty cents in July 1918, and sixty-five cents by the end of that year. Further, the coastwise longshoremen who had joined Local 8 received equal wages, unheard of in the era and due to the IWW's egalitarian streak — in contrast to the craft-based wage hierarchy of the ILA.49

Most of the IWW was thrown into utter turmoil as a result of wartime repression, but Local 8 maintained its power. In fact, although many contemporaries and historians consider the federal raids the beginning of the end of the IWW as a force, the ONI reported that, a year after the raids, “the shipping interests of the city generally recognize the power [of] the Local and are obliged to employ members of it exclusively. In many instances when stevedores are required a request is made direct to the [union's] headquarters.”50

With the arrests of Nef, Doree, Fletcher, Walsh, and Rey, other members, albeit with less experience, stepped to the fore. Joseph Weitzen replaced Charles J. Cole as secretary of Local 8, while his fellow union member Archie Robinson ably chaired meetings in 1917. In 1918 Weitzen took over as chair, and William “Dan” Jones was elected secretary. Polly Baker served as port delegate, and William Green was assistant secretary. With the exception of Baker, all of these leaders were African American. In 1918 longtime activist George McKenna, an Irish American, took over the position of secretary of the local from Weitzen. The orderly switch in officials was an example of the democratic impulses of the IWW. No member was allowed, according to local bylaws and MTW constitution, to hold a post for more than a year. Due to the union's commitment to its founding principles of industrial unionism, democracy, and racial and ethnic solidarity, Local 8 persevered, though weakened, and even sought to extend its gains after the war. Indeed, the 1917 sugar strike revealed how deeply committed Local 8 was to industrial unionism as an ideology and the strike as a tactic; however, it also showed that the power of the union was limited severely by the even greater power of employers, especially when assisted by the government. And, having its first cadre of leaders removed from Philadelphia reverberated loudly in the years following the war. Just as the union had been a part of the wave of wartime militancy, taking advantage of the tight labor market, so too after the war Local 8 acted to impose its will upon hostile employers, as part of a national surge in strike activity.51

• 1.Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union, the IWW union to which Local 8 belonged.
• 2.Philadelphia Maritime Exchange, Forty-Fourth Annual Report (1919), 25; Collins, Philadelphia, 375; Heinrich, Ships for the Seven Seas, 165-68; Harris, Bloodless Victories, 202-5, including Chamber quote (202).
• 3.Solidarity, January 13, 1917, 1; Nef testimony in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., 1918, 5968-75, Folder 4, Box 110; Hall, Harvest Wobblies, 107-9; Dubofsky, We Shall Be All (1988 ed. ), 178, 315-18, 344.
• 4.Minutes of Meeting of the Organization Committee of MTWIU of the IWW Industrial Union # 100, New York City, February 25, 1917; and “Summary of MTWIU 100,” n.d.— both in Record Group 65, Old German File 16005 3; Solidarity, January 13, 1917, I.
• 5.Doree testimony in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., July 2, 1918, 5902-67, Folder 4, Box 1 To; Rosen interview, January 7, 1997; Doree interrogation in McDevitt report, September 25, 1917, in Record Group 65, Old German File 67-40; personal correspondence with John Reed Tarver.
• 6.Ben H. Fletcher's Defendant's Card and “Summary of MTWIU Too,” n.d.— both in Record Group 65, Old German File 160053; Lever interview, BLMOHP; Walsh testimony in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., July 30, 1918, 934849, Folder 5, Box 114; Solidarity, February 10, 1917, I; Spero and Harris, Black Worker, 192-94.
• 7.Solidarity, February 17, 1917, 1; U.S. Department of Labor, Negro Migration in 1916-17, 136.
• 8.International Socialist Review, April 1917, 615-17.
• 9.Public Ledger, February 10, 1917, 4; Solidarity, February 17, 1917, 1;International Socialist Review, April 1917, 616.
• 10.Public Ledger, February 9, 1917, 3; Solidarity, February 27, 1917, 3.
• 11.Public Ledger, February 22, 1917, I, 9 (first quote); U.S. Department of Labor, Negro Migration in 1916-17, 136-37, I57; Kaplan, Red City, Blue Period, 106-7, 125.
• 12.Public Ledger, February 22, 1917, I, 9; and February 23, 1917, I, 15;Solidarity, March 3, 1917, 1, 4.
• 13.Public Ledger, February 26, 1917, 3; and February 27, 1917, 3; Solidarity, March 3, 1917, I, 4; Kaplan, Red City, Blue Period, 83.
• 14.[i]Public Ledger, February 15, 1917, 4; February 23, 1917, I (quotes), 15; and March 5, 1917, 3.
• 15.Philadelphia Record, March 26, 1917, and North American, March 15, 1917, in DWDF Clipping Book 7.
• 16.U.S. Department of Labor, Negro Migration in 1916-17, 136-37.
• 17.Solidarity, March 10, 1917, 2.
• 18.Collins, Philadelphia, 372-74.
• 19.Philadelphia Department of Wharves, Docks, and Ferries, Port of Philadelphia (1926 ed. ), 15, 31 (quote); Collins, Philadelphia, 371; North American, March 7, 1917, in DWDF Clipping Book 7.
• 20.ONI, Investigation of the Marine Transport Workers, 14-17 (quote);Philadelphia Inquirer, April 12, 1917, in DWDF Clipping Book 7.
• 21.Preston, Aliens and Dissenters, 88-90; Foner, Industrial Workers of the World, 554-56; Solidarity, March 24, 1917, I.
• 22.Shor, “IWW and Oppositional Politics,” 78; Preston, Aliens and Dissenters, 90.
• 23.Doree and Nef testimonies in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., July 2, 1918, 5902-10, 5941-54, 5981-83, Folder 4, Box 110.
• 24.Doree and Nef testimonies in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., July 2, 1918, 5948-63, 5982, Folder 4, Box 110; Lever deposition, January 21, 1922, in Record Group 204, File no. 37-361.
• 25.Doree testimony in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., July 2, 1918, 5942, Folder 4, Box 110; Anderson and Puller testimonies in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., 1918, 11997, 11907, Folder 7, Box 117;The Messenger, March 1922, 377.
• 26.McDevitt report, November 9, 1917, in Record Group 65, Old German File 67-40; Lever, Petition for Clemency of Fletcher, April 29, 1922; and Olmsted, “In the Matter of the Applications of John J. Walsh and Ben H. Fletcher: Brief in Support of the Applications,” 7 - both in Record Group 204, File no. 37-479.
• 27.Lewis, W. E. B. Du Bois, 525-32.
• 28.Barrett, William Z. Foster, 71-73.
• 29.Doree and Nef testimonies in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., July 2, 1918, 5934-35, 5 978, Folder 4, Box 110; USSB, Marine and Dock Labor, 87.
• 30.Solidarity, June 2, 1917, 4 (first quote); Nef deposition, January 23, 1922, in Record Group 204, File no. 37-361.
• 31.Anderson testimony in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., 1918, 11996, Folder 7, Box 117; Kane deposition, May 5, 1922, in Record Group 204, File no. 37-479.
• 32.Walsh testimony in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., July 30, 1918, 9320, 9324, Folder 5, Box 114; ONI, Investigation of the Marine Transport Workers, 31.
• 33.USSB, Marine and Dock Labor, 27-29, 40, 75, 87; Heinrich, Ships for the Seven Seas, 168-69.
• 34.National Adjustment Commission, Chairman's Report, 156; Gompers,Seventy Years of Life and Labor, 1.425, 2.336-38; The Longshoreman, September 1917, I; October 1917, 8 (quote); and November 1917, 4; Arnesen, Waterfront Workers of New Orleans, 222-28.
• 35.Goodwin to Gompers, June 21, 1917, in AFL Records, Reel 39; and Gompers to Goodwin, June 25, 1917, in AFL Records, Reel 39; National Adjustment Commission, Chairman's Report, '56-58 (second quote); The Longshoreman, August 1917, 2; ONI to Bielaski, September 28(?), 1918, in Record Group 65, Old German File 366145, Reel 12, Federal Surveillance of Afro-Americans (last quote).
• 36.Lever interview, 17, BLMOHP; Daniel to Bielaski, January 25, 1918, in Record Group 65, Old German File 67-4o; Lewis, In Their Own Interests, 58-59.
• 37.The Messenger, March 1922, 377; McKenna and Puller testimonies in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., 1918, 12014-15, 11910, Folder 7, Box 117; Gompers, Seventy Years of Life and Labor, 336-38.
• 38.ONI, Investigation of the Marine Transport Workers, 31-32; James, Holding Aloft the Banner of Ethiopia, 183-84.
• 39.Doree to Haywood, September 21, 1917, in IWW Collection, Folder 12, Box 99; Nef deposition, January 23, 1922, 2,, in Record Group 204, File no. 37-361; Renshaw, “IWW and the Red Scare,” 66; Seraile, “Ben Fletcher,” 218-19.
• 40.McDevitt report, October 4, 1917, in Record Group 65, Old German File 67-40, Entry 31; Preston, Aliens and Dissenters, 119-20.
• 41.ONI, Investigation of the Marine Transport Workers, 32; Doree deposition, January 23, 1922, in Record Group 204, File no. 37-393.
• 42.“JAF-CZC, 371-361-3773, Nef et al.,” in Record Group 204, File no. 37- 479; Doree deposition, January 23, 1922, in Record Group 204, File no. 37-393; Preston, Aliens and Dissenters, 97-99, 118-22 (last quotes); Ellis,Race, War, and Surveillance, xvii-xix.
• 43.E. F. Doree to Chika Doree, June 18, 1922 (author's possession); Rosen,Wobbly Life; Preston, Aliens and Dissenters, 93-99.
• 44.Kane deposition, May 5, 1922; Daniel deposition, May 5, 1922 (third quote); and U.S. Pardon Attorney, “Memorandum for Mr. Burns, Chief, Bureau of Investigation,” April 8, 1922, JAF-CZC (third quote) - all in Record Group 204, File no. 37-479, Box 985, 1853-1946; Fitts to Secretary of the Navy, January 3, 1918 (first quote); and Gibson to Fitts, February 18, 1918 - both in Record Group 60, Box 2219, correspondence in U.S. v. Haywood et al., File 188032, Straight Numerical Files.
• 45.“JAF-CZC, 371-361-3773, Nef et al.,” in Record Group 204, File no. 37-479; Haywood, Bill Haywood's Book, 324-25, 367-68 (first and last quotes); George, I.W.W. Trial, 81-82, 15 7, in IWW Pamphlets; The Crisis, June 1919, 60; Renshaw, “IWW and the Red Scare,” 66-67.
• 46.Fair interview, December 21, 1978, 8, in Shaffer Papers, Box 3; Haywood,Bill Haywood's Book, 328.
• 47.ONI, Investigation of the Marine Transport Workers, 27-30; Nef testimony in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., July 2, 1918, 5976, Folder 4, Box 110; Guillel testimony in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., August 8, 1918, 10790-91, Folder 3, Box 116.
• 48.ONI, Investigation of the Marine Transport Workers, 32; ONI to Bielaski, September 28(?), 1918, in Record Group 65, Old German File 366145, Reel 12, Federal Surveillance of Afro-Americans.
• 49.USSB, Marine and Dock Labor, 136-37; Arnesen, Waterfront Workers of New Orleans, 223-24.
• 50.ONI to Bielaski, September 28(?), 1918, in Record Group 65, Old German File 366145, Reel 12, Federal Surveillance of Afro-Americans.
• 51.McKenna testimony in IWW Collection, U.S. v. Haywood et al., 1918, 1201415, Folder 7, Box 117; By-Laws and Rules of Order: Used in Business Meetings of the Marine Transport Workers Industrial Union no. 510 of the I.W.W., in IWW Collection, Folder 4, Box 70.

Tags: IWWPhiladephia Waterfront
Categories: Labor News

Boston United Steel Workers Local 8751 school bus drivers won't back down

Current News - Sat, 09/13/2014 - 06:33

Boston United Steel Workers Local 8751 school bus drivers won't back down
http://socialistworker.org/2014/09/10/boston-bus-drivers-wont-give-up

Keegan O'Brien reports on a union struggle in Boston against attempts by city officials to roll back busing and break the school bus drivers' union.

September 10, 2014

Supporters surround union activist Steve Kirshbaum at a solidarity protest (Howard Rotman)

UNION-BUSTING is back in Boston. Dozens of school bus drivers have lost their jobs and a leading union activist has been arrested on felony charges--as part of what drivers and their supporters say is a deliberate attempt to dismantle busing and intimidate union members.

In September 2013, just as the school year was starting last year, Veolia, the company contracted by the City of Boston to transport public school students, began an illegal lockout of its workers for protesting the company's union-busting practices. Veolia, the media and the city's political establishment falsely tried to depict the lockout as a wildcat strike in an effort to erode public support for the union.

The company then fired four members of the Boston School Bus Drivers Union. All four of the fired workers were leading militants in , United Steel Workers Local 8751: Vice President and Pension Administrator Steven Gillis; Recording Secretary and Charlestown Chief Steward Andre Francois; Steward and former three-term President Garry Murchison; and Grievance Chair and founding member Steve Kirschbaum.

Veolia expected it would be able to crack the union, which represents some 700 drivers, and move on--but it was wrong. In response to the firings, the union has spent the past year building a vocal, public campaign win reinstatement for the union leaders and force an end to the company's anti-union attack.

As a result, you'd be hard-pressed to find community members in Boston who are unaware of the ongoing assault on the bus drivers union. Rather than pursuing a don't-rock-the-boat approach, the union has actively sought support from other labor and community organizations and social justice movements around the city.

WHAT YOU CAN DO
If you're in the Boston area, pack the Dorchester District Court, 510 Washington St., on September 15 at 9 a.m. to show your support for Steve Kirschbaum and the Bus Drivers Union.
Call the office of District Attorney Daniel Conley at 617-619-4000 or fax 617-619-4210 to demand that all charges be dropped.
This past March, when Northeastern University Students for Justice in Palestine was under attack from pro-Israel forces, and again this summer, when Boston saw its largest pro-Palestine protests against Israel's slaughter in Gaza, the bus drivers union was present, drawing connections between Veolia's support for re-segregation here at home and its investments in Israel apartheid and illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Yet just when it seemed this fight could get any dirtier, it did. This June, Boston Public School officials voted to officially end busing for middle school students--a program that was fought for and won by Black communities as part of the battle to desegregate the city's public school system and end the practice of de facto educational apartheid. Dozens of bus drivers lost their jobs as a result.

Then, in early July, police filed multiple felony charges against Kirschbaum for his involvement in a large rally of union workers and supporters. Kirschbaun is accused of breaking into Veolia headquarters during the demonstration and assaulting an employee--charges that he and the union vehemently deny. In fact, the union informed the company and police in advance that members would be asserting their right to access the property to conduct union activity--a right specifically guaranteed to them under their contract.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

VEOLIA'S EFFORT to dismantle the Boston School Bus Drivers Union has been backed at nearly every level of the city's political establishment, from former Mayor Thomas Menino and the newly elected mayor and supposed "labor ally" Marty Walsh, to the majority of the City Council, which has refused to participate in hearings against Veolia for its illegal practices. Walsh even went out of his way last year to condemn the union in the Boston Globe.

In several important ways, however, this struggle is about more than just the school bus drivers. The attack against the union needs to be seen in the context of a decades-long, nationwide assault by employers and the government to weaken the power of organized labor. This assault intensified in recent years when the Great Recession was used as an opportunity to drive through austerity measures in the name of "shared sacrifice." Silencing those who try to fight back has been central to the austerity agenda.

The campaign against the union is also connected to the city's larger effort to re-segregate Boston's Public School system and roll back the gains won for communities of color and working people in the wake of the civil rights movement. In the eyes of city officials, ending busing for Boston's public schools will also help to gut a union that has been unafraid to position itself as an advocate for racial justice.

The Boston School Bus Drivers Union has earned a reputation as one of the city's more militant social justice unions, with a history of fighting against school closings and budget cuts, and linking up with other causes, including the antiwar and immigrant rights movements. For city officials eager to make Boston a place for the 1 Percent, union-busting and re-segregation go hand in hand.

The fight to defend the bus drivers union, win back the jobs of the fired workers, and get the bogus charges against Steve Kirschbaum dropped isn't just a union fight--it is a fight for all of us. In a time of ramped-up gentrification, increasing budget cuts and austerity, and record-high levels of police brutality and incarceration in Boston, the city's 1 Percent are hoping they'll be able use their campaign against the Boston School Bus Drivers Union to set an example for the rest of us.

Their message is crystal clear: Don't fight back. That's precisely why we have to fight--and build solidarity with the union in Boston and beyond.

Tags: United Steel Workers Local 8751
Categories: Labor News

Seattle Area ATU 587 Metro Transit workers reject wage freeze recommended by Executive Board

Current News - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 15:24

Seattle Area ATU 587 Metro Transit workers reject wage freeze recommended by Executive Board
http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2014/09/metro-transit-workers-reject...
September 11, 2014 at 10:17 AM
Washinton DC Metro Transit workers reject wage freeze
Posted by Mike Lindblom
King County Metro Transit workers have overwhelmingly rejected a contract offer that would have frozen wages for 2014 and 2015, followed by an inflation-indexed raise in 2016.

The count by Amalgamated Transit Union Local 587 on Wednesday night was 839 yes, 1,595 no, a pass rate of only 34 percent. A total 2,434 ballots were cast, indicating nearly two-thirds of the 3,800 members participated. Local 587 is the largest transit union on the West Coast, including bus drivers, train operators, mechanics and electricians.

The next step is likely to be arbitration between the union and the county, drawn out for many months. This is the second offer union members have rejected, to cover the three-year period starting Nov. 1, 2013. Transit workers here are not allowed to strike, but a few have suggested some type of workplace action.

President Paul Bachtel and the union’s executive board had voted 14-2 to recommend passage, fearing that to roll the dice with an arbitrator could yield a worse contract. Bachtel said Wednesday this was the first time the board recommended a “concessionary” contract in which employees lose ground on wages.

There was one big upside to the offer — it would have guaranteed break times for bus drivers, who often get delayed by traffic, so they lack enough minutes between trips to use the restroom or eat a sandwich.

A veteran driver earns around $63,000 a year, not including benefits and overtime pay. That’s fifth-highest in the U.S., and for a brief time in 2013, Local 587 ranked first, Bachtel said. Historically, Metro pay was eighth- to 15th-highest, but Metro pay gradually increased last decade, while other cities pressed downward on transit wages.

In arbitration, the county could argue Seattle-area pay is already higher than in mid-sized cities such as Minneapolis or Boston, said Bachtel. Metro also provides benefits that could be jeopardized, Bachtel said, such as supplemental income for workers on injury leave, beyond what state workers compensation pays.

These arguments didn’t sway most union members.

Randy Steinman, an executive board member who opposed the offer, said the local economy is picking up; he saw 14 construction cranes while standing in one waterfront spot. The top 10 companies based here do $300 billion in business a year, and Metro moves many of their workers, he argued in the union newsletter. “Why not us?” he said, reprising the motto of Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.

Meanwhile, Metro is proposing to cut roughly 300,000 to 550,000 service hours a year, due to a $75 million structural deficit. Seattle voters face a fall ballot measure of a sales-tax increase and a car tab to preserve certain Metro routes within the city.

County Executive Dow Constantine took a relatively hard line this cycle. “Our transit workers work very hard and diligently,” he said while voting was under way Wednesday. “We obviously want them to be fairly compensated. We are, it’s no secret to anyone, in difficult times financially.”

Tags: ATU 587Concession Bargaining
Categories: Labor News

Teamsters Mobilize to Fight Climate Change

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 11:50

September 12, 2014: The labor movement is joining up with the biggest mobilization against climate change in history.

World leaders will converge on New York City later this month for a United Nations climate summit.  

Unions are converging on New York City too. The Teamsters are joining forces with unions, environmental groups, students, and over 100 social and economic justice organizations for the biggest climate change march in history on Sunday, Sept. 21

The purpose of the march is to demand that countries at the UN summit take action to reduce global warming pollution and create good union jobs as part of a more sustainable economy.

TDU members are mobilizing Teamsters to join the march too. Hear from them on why their marching:

“Come join us on Sunday, September 21! I’ll be there with Local 805 members. The same corporations destroying our jobs and unions are destroying our communities and our planet with air pollution, poisons in our water, greenhouse gases and much more. They are doing anything they want to make a profit and it’s going to take all of us to stop it! We must demand that our elected officials get their collective heads out of the sand and take some serious actions to stop this destruction.”

Sandy Pope, Local 805 President, New York City

“Climate change is real—it’s happening and it’s going to affect all of us, including workers and the union movement. As labor, we’ve got to make our voices heard on this and other social issues. We’re all in this together.”

Thanddnes Palmer, UPS, Local 804, New York City

 

 

 

“Hurricane Sandy showed what can happen if we don't do something about climate change. Local 814 members got involved in the relief effort. Now it's time for union members to take a stand against climate change and for labor to make sure that green jobs are decent-paying and safe.”

Walter Taylor, Local 814, New York City

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Why Is United Parcel Service Upping The Ante In China?

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Fri, 09/12/2014 - 07:58
Seeking AlphaSeptember 12, 2014View the original piece

America's largest parcel delivery company United Parcel Service (NYSE:UPS) earns the lion's share of its total revenue from domestic operations. Now, the company's keen on widening its international reach, particularly in the emerging markets. With rising per capita income leading to higher discretionary spending among the middle-class population, emerging economies are offering huge growth potential to courier companies. Over the last decade, UPS has tried to make its presence felt in China, Poland, and Turkey.

UPS has been in China for more than two decades, gradually expanding its operations, but in 2009, after China put restrictions on foreign courier companies asking for license renewals, expansion came to a standstill. Good news is that the nation has issued licenses allowing foreign courier companies to expand operations regionally. As prospects in the Mainland are encouraging, can the Atlanta-based giant capitalize on the same, and contest home-grown companies that have become stronger during this period?

Click here to read more at Seeking Alpha.

Issues: UPS
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Bombshell BART report slams hiring of union-busting negotiator Tom Hock

Current News - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 22:43

Bombshell BART report slams hiring of union-busting negotiator Tom Hock
http://www.sfbg.com/politics/2014/09/10/bombshell-bart-report-slams-hiri...
09.10.14 - 4:45 pm | Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez | ()

A new report analyzes the mistakes that led to two BART strikes and two fatalities last year.
Rebecca Bowe
Independent investigators analyzing BART's recent turmultuous, rollercoaster-ride labor negotiations issued their report yesterday, concluding that last year's pair of damaging strikes could and should been avoided. The opinions that the analysts collected from the unions, management, and BART's Board of Directors covered a wide spectrum, but there were a couple of common themes.

First, the strikes and the death of two BART workers who were killed on the tracks when BART management ran scab-run trains while the workers were on strike, were devastating to the district and its personnel.

"We just walked out of a war," one anonymous BART employee (or manager) told the report authors. Other anonymous quotes follow a similar theme: "It was like Vietnam... Labor massacare... The bloodiest strike ever... He was our hired gun... They threw bombs."

The second thing everyone agreed on, from management to the unions, was thathiring union-buster labor consultant Tom Hock as a negotiator was a bad idea.

"I think a lot of the stakeholders involved and unions have identified that Tom Hock was the problem," Tom Radulovich, a BART board director, told the Guardian. "This (report) validates my concerns. They talked to everybody."

Agreement Dynamics Inc., who conducted the investigation on behalf of the BART board, did in-depth interviews with a multitude of BART union representatives, employees, managers, and labor negotiators. Through the report, Agreement Dynamics found a culture of distrust between labor and management that they described as entrenched and multi-generational. On top of that already potent powder-keg, Hock was hired as a negotiator. Seven board directors cast "aye" votes to hire Hock, including Radulovich. Directors Fang and Murray were absent from the room at the time of the vote.

According to the report, Hock came in with guns blazing. Mixing that attitude with what the report describes as BART General Manager Grace Crunican's lack of experience in labor negotiations, and there was a perfect recipe for conflict.

"When Tom Hock took over as chief negotiator, Grace had become hard line," one source told Agreement Dynamics. "There wasn't enough trust built... Tom Hock thought a strike was inevitable. I don't know how we thought we could win. We did not even have the whole board supporting this."

But despite the lack of groundswell support, Hock perpetuated a strategy to push the unions to strike, according to the source.

"Tom pushed it to strike because Grace would not budge financially," the source said. "So Tom said to Grace, 'You will have to strike with your position.' Management thought we could win the PR battle and the unions would cave. But the unions had politicians. The press can turn on a dime. They did and our strategy backfired."

Two managers told Agreement Dynamics that lack of planning exacerbated this problem.

"We did not have a Plan B to prevent a strike," one manager told the investigators. Another told them, "This strike was not productive. We never did a course correction and then there was another strike. Two people got killed. We spent millions to end up getting creamed, and engendering hate."

In interviews with the investigators, Hock told them he believed the strike would be very short and the unions would "have to come back and reach an agreement" before management would have to give in. He based this on the Bay Area's sentiment against the unions, the report wrote. He told investigators that media reports also heavily favored management's perspective. (The report also outlines how management believed their 'good strategy' helped sway big media, like the San Francisco Chronicle, to take their side. Good job, guys.)

The negotiators were told by Hock that a number of factors led to the strike, as he tried to deflect blame. But the report's analysis said "the conditions cited by Tom Hock (elected board, politically strong unions, ineperience in labor negotiations) have existed in prior negotiations when no strike resulted."

So Hock pushed the unions to strike, the same strike that led to two workers' deaths, the report seemingly implies. But that was not his only misstep, according to the report. He also didn't read the contract he signed off on.

After labor negotiations concluded, BART management brought celebrations to a screeching halt. For those that remember, a provision on family medical leave, section 4.8 of the labor contract, was disputed by BART management. They said they never signed that provision, which could cost BART upwards of $40 million in sick leave, if approved.

BART management said it signed the provision due to a "clerical error," which BART board director Zachary Mallet confirmed to the San Jose Mercury News. "The cause of this incident has been confirmed as a miscommunication-based clerical error during the write-up of a tentative agreement," Mallet told the Merc.

But Hock and district negotiators Paul Oversier and Rudy Medina all told Agreement Dynamics that they signed it without reading it. "If Tom Hock had read it before he signed it, 4.8 would not have happened," one BART staff member told the investigators.

But as much as Hock comes under fire in this report, the report also found that he came at a time of deep division between labor and management. The report shows a way out for that: leadership from the BART Board of Directors. Radulovich told the Guardian he agrees. The board must take the reins in righting the historic bad blood between all sides at BART.

"A lot of it is the culture of your organization," he said. "When I was a baby BART director, [employees and management] were complaining about things that happened back in 1979. You do feel like you’re walking in on a fight going on long before you got there, and going on long after you leave."

"That antagonism has been there from the beginning," he told us. "The question I ask myself is: how can I change that?"

Tomorrow morning at a press conference at 9am, some of the BART board will present the report and talk about its findings. Maybe we'll find those answers then.

Tags: BARTHOCK
Categories: Labor News

Bahamas: Union Says 'illegal' General Strike To Continue

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: Tribune 242
Categories: Labor News

Global: VIDEO: STOP Precarious Work at Rio Tinto

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: IndustriALL Global Union
Categories: Labor News

Global: The reason why the world needs a pay rise

Labourstart.org News - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 17:00
LabourStart headline - Source: This Working Life
Categories: Labor News

Teamsters' Efforts Advance At Con-way, FedEx LTL Units

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 11:40
Rip WatsonTransport TopicsSeptember 11, 2014

Teamsters union organizing efforts are advancing at FedEx Freight and Con-way Freight, the two largest nonunion less-than-truckload carriers, according to National Labor Relations Board records.

At Con-Way, Local 657 led the effort for a representation election supervised by the National Labor Relartions Board that has been set for Sept. 12 in Laredo, Texas, according to NLRB officials.

Click here to read more.

Issues: Labor MovementFreight
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Rail Workers say “No” to Single-person Crews

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 10:57

September 11, 2014: Rail workers have shouted a loud “No” to single-person train crews. The contract rejection was delivered by conductors who work for the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), who are members of SMART (Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers union).

“Rail workers told the BNSF railway, their union leaders and fellow rail workers that they will not support single-person crews,” said Ron Kaminkow, an engineer for Amtrak and member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers (BLET) affiliated with the Teamsters.

Kaminkow is an activist in Railroad Workers United (RWU), a network of rail workers in various unions, including the Teamsters. RWU seeks to build solidarity and break down petty rivalries fostered by certain union officials.

RWU noted that the SMART top officials negotiated the deal in secret, then tried to sell it with smoke and mirrors and a “signing bonus.”

“The surprise attack, coming from the union, on the 2 person train crew, lit a fire under the rank and file like I have never seen in my 13 years of railroading” said JP Wright of BLET IBT 740 and Co-Chair of RWU.

RWU’s press release notes that the contract rejection is “a decisive victory, not just for the trainmen and engineers on the BNSF, but for every railroad worker in North America.”  

It is especially important for the 33,000 rail engineers of the BLET-IBT. These Teamsters would be under the gun to accept single-person operating crews, if the second-largest rail line in North America had won that concession.

RWU was instrumental in coordinating the opposition to the contract among trainmen and engineers, with conference calls on strategy, leaflets, stickers, rallies and media coverage.

Kaminkow said the priority now is to build on the solidarity that powered this win. The RWU statement calls this “the opening shot in a protracted war” to preserve union jobs and public safety on North America’s rail lines.

Click here to read the Railroad Workers United press statement for more information.

Issues: Rail
Categories: Labor News, Unions

Make Workers’ Rights into Civil Rights

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 10:16

September 11, 2014: It’s time to make a worker’s right to speak out for unions, without employer retaliation, a civil right. Two members of Congress have introduced the Employee Empowerment Act, to give the right to organize protections found in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

You can learn more and sign a petition of support.

The bill has little chance of passing at present, but is an important part of building a movement to defend workers’ rights and revitalize the labor movement.

Now is the time. Recently we have seen workers at Walmart and other anti-union giants start to stand up, but face firing with little protection. Present NLRB protections are slow and inadequate, so many employers routinely violate them.

Corporate spokespersons claim that unions are in decline because workers don’t need them anymore. But in other countries, such as Canada or Germany, the picture is very different, because workers have more legal protections.

The labor and civil rights movements have always had a lot in common. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it should be remembered, was gunned down in Memphis in 1968, where he was supporting striking black sanitation workers who marched carrying posters with the message “I Am a Man.”

As Dr. King stated to the 1961 AFL-CIO convention referring to the labor and civil rights movements, “Together, we can be the architects of democracy.” Workers deserve legal protections to allow that to happen.

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

A Bill to Get the Labor Movement Back on Offense

Teamsters for a Democratic Union - Thu, 09/11/2014 - 08:20
George ZornickThe NationSeptember 11, 2014View the original piece

For years, the American labor movement has been on the defensive as it has become harder and harder for workers to join or maintain a union. But some House Democrats are planning a dramatic counter-offensive: a bill that would make union organizing a civil right.

Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis plan to introduce a bill Wednesday that would make labor organizing a basic freedom no different than freedom from racial discrimination. That sounds like a nice talking point—but this isn’t just another messaging bill.

Click here to read more at The Nation.

Issues: Labor Movement
Categories: Labor News, Unions

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