This is one of the best write-ups I've ever read of the importance of the UAW. I've been reading left history since I was 13 or 14, so it's easy for me to forget that this stuff isn't at the back of everyone's minds when they encounter the world we live in today. But the UAW is the equivalent in reality to what FDR was in myth. We wouldn't even have the dull vestiges of a decent society without them. So next time you feel like shit-talking the overpaid line workers at GM (cause god knows how dare line workers expect to make a decent living in return for throwing their lives away for a fucking boss and an assembly machine) read this and think it over again.
Solidarity Demonstration for UE Local 1110 of Chicago!
TODAY! Wednesday, 12noon, Bank of America, 515 Congress Ave., Austin
Today across the nation people will be holding demonstrations in solidarity with workers at Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago. The Bank of America shut down the credit for their factory, laying off hundreds of workers with three days notice. This, despite the fact that BoA received $25 BILLION in federal bailout money, PRECISELY to encourage them to loan to job-creating industry.
Republic manufactures high-efficiency windows and doors, so not only are they axing hundreds of jobs, they're axing hundreds of GREEN jobs!
As many have read, 200 of the 240 workers at this plant decided enough was enough, and they occupied their factory last Friday. They're receiving incredible support for this daring act, from the city of Chicago all the way up to President-Elect Obama!
So, some folks may have noticed that there's a whole bunch of crap going on with the SEIU right now. They've got a civil war brewing in California, and SEIU and the CNA/NNOC (nurse's union) are taking out adjacent attack ads on progressive blogs. Very confusing. Whose side is right?
Well, I'm not going to tell you because fuck if I know, but here's a good article from In These Times, a very fantabulous lefty magazine (that we in fact carry, so come on in and support your friendly neighborhood radical bookstore AND a badass lefty magazine with great writing and magnificent journalism).
From the publisher: This oversize manual is for workers who want to take control over their lives at work. In hundreds of first-person accounts, workers tell in their own words how they did just that.
The stories run from how to ridicule a pompous boss to a years-long campaign against a multinational corporation. The workplaces represented include factory and white collar, public and private, in the U.S. and Canada.
Each chapter ends with questions designed to get you thinking strategically about how to apply what you've read in your workplace.
Jane Slaughter has written for Labor Notes for 25 years, covering the auto industry and other topics. She co-authored Working Smart, and has written and spoken widely about participation programs and management-by-stress.
* Shop Floor Tactics
* Creative Tactics
* Fighting Discrimination
* Saving Good Jobs: Fighting Lean Production and Outsourcing
* Contract Campaigns
The California Nurses Association made a few headlines recently when a new nurses union out of Pennsylvania voted to affiliate with them. The CNA has become one of the fastest growing union in the country, bringing together nurses on conjoined demands of better work standards, patient care, and promotion of national single-payer health care. They currently represent about 75,000 nurses. Their greatest success to date has been capping the patient:nurse ration in the state of California. I'm going to repost the note on their new affiliation published in The Nation below. I'm also posting links to the recent AFL-CIO press release, their website, and the website of the national organizing organization. They're organizing in Texas right now.
I'll bet you'd be surprised to learn that the east Texas/west Louisiana region was one of the strongholds of the Industrial Workers of the World, a radical union based on direct action and workers' self-management of industry. The IWW is most famous for its work out west, and folks who know about it remember the Free Speech Fights in the northwest, the miner struggles in Rockies and southwest, etc. Lesser known is the work of radical unionists in east Texas and west Louisiana who formed the Brotherhood of Timber Workers, which affiliated with the IWW in 1912. Though short-lived, this union was militant and vibrant. It was known for its radicalism and its racial integration, laudable especially for the time.
Here's the story, straight from the online Handbook of Texas:
From the publisher: Long before Antonio Negri became famous around the world for his groundbreaking volume Empire, he was infamous across Europe for the incendiary writings contained in this book. Books for Burning consists of five pamphlets that Negri wrote between 1971 and 1977, which attempt to identify and draw lessons from new conditions of class struggle that emerged in the course of the 1970s. Conceived as organizational hypotheses intended for debate among the members of the political movements Workers' Power (Potere operaio) and Organized Autonomy (Autonomia organizzata), these texts were later misread and misrepresented by the Italian state in its attempt to frame Negri as responsible for the assassination of former Italian president Aldo Moro, as the leader of the Red Brigades, and as the mastermind of an armed insurrection against the state.
From the publisher: Storming Heaven is the first comprehensive survey of Italian autonomist theory, from its origins in the anti-stalinist and workerist left of the 1950s to its heyday twenty years later. Autonomist marxism was a political tendency which privileged themes--self-organization, construction of identity, grassroots politics, subjects in struggle--which in many ways can be seen as the precursor of today's debates around direct action protest. Emphasizing the dynamic nature of class struggle as the distinguishing feature of autonomist thought, Wright explores how its understanding of class politics developed alongside emerging social movements. Offering a critical and historical exploration of the tendency's emergence in postwar Italy, Storming Heaven moves beyond the crisis of traditional analytical frameworks on the left, and assesses the strengths and limitations of autonomist marxism as first developed by Antonio Negri, Mario Tronti, Sergio Bologna and others.
From the publisher: This accessible, critical history of the U.S. labor movement examines the hidden history of workers' resistance from the nineteenth to the present, from an unabashedly Marxist perspective. Workers in the United states have a rich tradition of fighting back and achieving gains previously thought unthinkable, but that history remains largely hidden. Subterranean Fire brings that history to light and reveals its lessons for today.
"A veteran worker-intellectual brilliantly addresses the crisis of the labor movement, skewering those who believe that renewal can come from the top down, and encouraging those who are fighting to rebuild it from the bottom up." [Mike Davis]