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maandag 25 juni 2018

Anarchic update news all over the world - 25.06.2018



Today's Topics:

   

1.  Britain, af london: Anarchist Reading Group #2 write up
      (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca)
   

2.  Belarus, social-revolutionary anarchist group PRAMEN: Mikola
      Dziadok, The Colors of the Parallel World now avaiable online The
      colours of the parallel world (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca)
   

3.  France, Alternative Libertaire AL #284 - Pimkie, PSA, IBM:
      Peinard, the HRD, with collective conventional rupture (fr, it,
      pt)[machine translation] (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca)
   

4.  Libertarian Initiative of Thessaloniki: Intervention at the
      "AV Vassilopoulos" store on Kassandrou street in Thessaloniki
      (gr) [machine translation] (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca)
   

5.  Bangladesh Anarcho Syndicalist Federation: The invisible
      chain binding the tea gardens, News by akmshihab
      (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca)
   

6.  US, black rose fed - "LET'S GO FOR IT": INTERVIEW WITH A
      STRIKING AT&T UNION STEWARD (a-infos-en@ainfos.ca)


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

Message: 1






London Anarchist Federation held their second reading group looking on anarchism and 
education.  We read: Colin Ward, Schools no longer, Judith Suissa, Anarchism goes to 
school, Jeffery Shantz, Learning to Win: Anarchist Infrastructures of Resistance, Justin 
Mueller, Anarchism, the State, and the Role of Education. ---- Below we present some of 
the talking points during the discussion, hastily jotted down as notes by one of our 
members. ---- The talk was roughly split into two parts: the first where we talked about 
union/community education discussed in Shantz' piece and the second where we discussed 
education of children. ---- Part 1 ---- Shantz seems to be nostalgic for an earlier time 
of union organising where everyone had one boss, one workplace. The world simply isn't 
like this anymore. His suggestions on the need to include non-workers, non-union members 
etc are valid and seem to fit with what Unite are doing with community memberships. He 
seems to focus on space at the expense of any online organising- is he being optimistic in 
how well groups using the same space will cross-pollinate? Where do you draw the line on 
groups you'll share space with?

The idea of structures of resistance that the community can go to with their problems and 
which achieve ‘small victories' seems to be what SolFed are working towards with their 
pickets of landlords and employers. Utopia is indeed far off so we do need to be reminded 
what it's like to win. Similarly, these types of project are good at developing a 
collective memory of how to organise and past victories.

Part 2

School is an efficiency machine for capital- it allows workers to be at producing for the 
boss rather than looking after kids. What would an anarchist syllabus look like? Even if 
directed by the child would we need to establish what is worthwhile? Hierarchy of 
knowledge seems unavoidable (In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the 
bootmaker: Bakunin), however we need to be careful that this is not abused and methods and 
knowledge are still questioned. Perhaps all we can say is that educating to question and 
challenge authority is all we can do for certain. Ivan Illich proposed that we should get 
rid of the school altogether and instead rely on learning webs, apprenticeships and the 
like. Is this desirable or is there still a role for the teacher as facilitator and the 
school as a physical place (albeit open to the community)?

If we opened an anarchist school tomorrow, who would come? Would it be working class 
people or those who have a safety net so are not so worried about getting qualifications 
for jobs? Ideally we would not be teaching to A-Levels and uni entrance exams, but if we 
gave this up would that change who came even further? The Social Science Centre in Lincoln 
is accrediting degrees in an experiment of free education which is self-directed. This 
could be a model to follow.

We agree that better ratios of students to teachers and the encouragement of independent 
and critical thinking are important- is this not what UK public schools do? (Yes, says the 
bloke who went to one- except they also tell you that you are born to rule and encourage 
upper-class solidarity) So perhaps we need Eton but with working-class solidarity and a 
focus on mutual aid rather than competition.

Practical examples- Freire and critical pedagogies, feminist consciousness raising 
(although not necessarily anarchist). Both to an extent have been forgotten but were huge 
in their day- another lost memory of a victory? The Antiuniversity in London is a good 
example of anarchist educational organising but is only one week a year- the time and 
money required to actually run a school are so vast the only groups capable outside the 
state are likely the bigger unions and the church. There is a risk of recuperation once 
they're running and need money to stay afloat (Red University in Germany relies on big 
pharma now). Perhaps simple ways forward are to focus on books that can change how 
students operate in the current system (Little Red School Book- anarcho version?) and 
kids' books which challenge the dominant ideology.

Reading group will continue on the 3rd Tuesday of each month (17th July), 7pm Freedom 
Bookshop. Details of the next text to follow.

https://aflondon.wordpress.com/2018/06/20/anarchist-reading-group-2-write-up/

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

Message: 2






The Colors of the Parallel World is a collection of 16 essays, written by our comrade 
Mikola Dziadok who spent 5 years in Belarusian prison, being accused in symbolic direct 
actions on behalf of the anarchist movement. The book is dedicated to an analysis of a 
Belarusian prison system trough the anarchist perspective.
"The Colours of the Parallel World" initially was issued in a bilingual edition (Russian 
and Belarusian), but during the last 1,5 years it was translated on Russian, Belarusian, 
English and Czech languages.
The book is free to download here: https://radicalbook.tilda.ws/

https://pramen.io/en/2018/06/the-colors-of-the-parallel-world-now-avaiable-online/

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

Message: 3






Saber in the workforce by exempting from a too expensive layoff plan ? This is possible, 
thanks to the "  conventional collective break  " created by the Macron ordinances of 
2017. Bosses and HRD were quick to seize it. A decryption and three talking examples. ---- 
Applicable since December 23, 2017, a conventional collective break (RCC) can emerge 
exclusively at the initiative of management, contrary to the conventional break 
individual, but is not necessarily motivated by economic difficulties, unlike a plan 
classic dismissal - "  job protection plan  " (PSE) in disruptive novlangue. ---- With an 
RCC, there is no need to favor an internal reclassification of the employees of the units 
or services targeted by the workforce reductions, no longer need to propose working time 
arrangements or reorganisations to try to minimize departures, more than obligation of 
formation, more right of glance of the works council on the extent of the redundancies 
site by site ... Above all, absolute cynism, it is possible to rehire immediately behind. 
Pénicaud really thought about the health of his former colleagues DHR by simplifying their 
work !

The conventional collective break, it is the top trend 2018 for the HRD of the "  start-up 
nation  ". The first half of 2018 has already registered several. Let's examine three.

Pimkie goes three times
This chain of clothing stores (Mulliez family) is the first company to draw, January 8, 
2018, with a CCR of 208 job cuts (37 stores closed in France out of 321).

Good reaction of the unions who refused this plan (CGT, FO and even the CFDT).

Replica Mulliez: a "  voluntary departure plan  " (VDP), signed by FO and the GSC, with 83 
jobs removed in closed stores and mandatory transfers of 125 people from headquarters or 
logistics. As the VDP was also rejected by the other unions, Pimkie announced an even 
worse layoff plan for the employees. In short, nothing optional in the CCR, nor anything 
voluntary in the POS ...

PSA like on ball bearings
The car manufacturer, which is doing very well (1.9 billion euros in profit in 2017, + 
11.5  %) has communicated its draft RCC from January 9. This had to involve 1,300 posts in 
more than 900 pre-retirement, that is to say 2,200 deletions in total.

To take full advantage of the new features of the RCC, PSA announces that there will be, 
in the process, 1,300 hires and the entrance of 2,000 young people alternately. Splendid 
tool of HR adjustment to lower the payroll by hiring staff without seniority and break the 
challenge by transferring workers and more experienced workers  .

Only the CGT refused this RCC ; the other unions (FO, CGC, CFDT, CFTC and GSEA, 
representing 79  % of the employees) signed it ten days after the official announcement. 
She will be the first RCC of a long list ...

IBM, the bonnet of employees
This burgeoning IT company (more than 2 billion euros in sales, + 25  % in 2016), 
accustomed to PES and early retirement plans, announced its first RCC on February 8, 
targeting 99 employees .es.

This time more economic argument (why get tired ?) But just a change in HR strategy: slash 
a little in all services and then strengthen the artificial intelligence and computer 
security, without having to operate internal reclassifications.

This RCC was signed on 21 February by the CFTC, Unsa and the CGC, and refused by the CGT 
and the CFDT. Mid-March, the 99 departures found unemployed ... sorry, takers.

In January, an OpinionWay / La Tribune survey of employers gave 62  % of support to this 
device, 77  % admitting that the RCC would serve to adjust the workforce in the short 
term, facilitating the life of HR ... Let's not forget that the Labor law facilitates 
economic redundancies in the event of lower orders or turnover. However, it is still 
necessary to justify two to four quarters of decline, depending on the size of the company.

No need for economic justification
Thanks to the CCR (what a joy  !), There is no need to disguise the real activities, no 
need to have to transfer funds outside or "  optimize  " the accounts to be able to lay 
off. To be sure, it was this anxiety that weighed on the capitalist economy. Comrades, 
employee of tax optimization firms, and therefore future.es unemployed and unemployed, 
join us !

In any case, with or without RCC, the social massacre will continue ... as long as we do 
not take our business in hand.

Paul Bismuth (AL Orleans)

Conditions below a classic social plan
Targeted employees must meet conditions. At IBM, they had to belong to a unit where job 
cuts were planned, to be more than two years away from retirement and to have a "  project 
for the future  " - 300 hours of training were enough to justify that.

Employees must be volunteers. HR can not designate them. The RCC must contain a retraction 
period in case of agreement: five days at IBM for example.

A ceiling of departures must be provided, but no floor. If for example the RCC agreement 
provides for a maximum of 100 departures, but there are only 50 volunteers, the boss who 
still wants to transfer 100 people will be forced to proceed to an ESP, more expensive for 
him.

The signature of the unions representing the majority of the employees is necessary. In 
the absence of a majority agreement on their RCC project, Pimkie and CWT Wagonlit had to 
fall back on a plan to safeguard jobs.

Severance pay can not be less than statutory severance pay. That is, they can not be less 
than 25  % of the monthly salary per year of attendance for the first 10 years and 33  % 
for the additional years.

Supralegal measures are possible. The agreement may provide for modalities higher than the 
legal minimum: additional allowances, temporary exemption from seeking employment ... At 
IBM for example, 6 to 8 months of "  mobility leave  " are paid (between 65  % and 100  %) 
by the employer. company with the licencié.es, and possibly from 8 000 to 15 000 euros of 
assistance to the formation.

Lesser guarantees for the unemployed future. Unlike a PES, employees will not have 
priority for re-employment, will not be entitled to a job security contract (followed by 
Pôle emploi) or a reclassification leave.

Validation by the Labor Inspectorate (Direccte). The Direccte must validate the terms of 
the RCC and in particular the cases of "  protected  " employees - elected staff, in 
particular.

http://www.alternativelibertaire.org/?Pimkie-PSA-IBM-Peinard-la-DRH-avec-la-rupture-conventionnelle-collective

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

Message: 4






On Thursday 14/6, 56-year-old Stathis Karageorgopoulos lost his life during his work at 
the "AV Vassilopoulos" store on Ameriki Street in Patras. The work accident occurred as 
the worker carried out cleaning work on the roof of a room for the maintenance of goods, 
during which the roof fell and led him to a drop of 3.5 meters. The address of the store, 
which, of course, is the responsibility for the accident, of course, since there were no 
elementary safety measures in the store, did not even hold the pretensions from the very 
beginning. While the worker was lying dead on the ground and for two hours until his 
corpse was transferred, the management decided that the shop would work properly, and the 
next day it closed only after 4 in the afternoon, so that the deceased's colleagues can go 
to the funeral. But vulgarity did not stop there, as employers did not hesitate to try to 
deny not only their responsibilities, but also to deny the incident itself by 
disseminating that the death of the 56-year-old was due to opposition, which is naturally 
contradicted by the forensic report that proved that death is due to craniocerebral 
injuries from the fall.

The imposed working age is a result of the downward policy of downgrading, forced by the 
violent restructuring of capital. Work creches occupy more and more space in modern 
working reality. Exhaustive working hours, unpaid labor hours, precarious and intensified 
work - mostly insured - and the lack of security measures, on the one hand, kill workers 
on a daily basis, with bosses richer on their backs, on the other hand they escalate with 
the shameful event of the killings of workers.

Resistors of the working class are now facing a tremendous threat, as with a corresponding 
amendment to the dictate of the 3rd assessment, approval by 50% + 1 of the registered 
members is now required as a condition for a strike by primary unions instead of the 
current one of the majority of the members present at the general assembly of the 
association. Essentially, this arrangement makes it impossible for strikes to be declared, 
generously offering the bosses the "gift" of the unimpeded - from the workers' 
mobilizations - the extraction of surplus value.

In order not to be bastarded and blessed by the bosses, whether large or small, and the 
consensual, bureaucratic, bureaucratic trade unionism that engages peace with our class 
enemies, it is imperative to organize an intransigent, militant trade unionist base. Put 
our labor interests ahead and take our lives in our hands without hierarchies, mediations 
and paternalisms. Prepare the fierce general strikes of lasting, linking them with a 
revolutionary project that will contribute to collective and individual emancipation, to 
the end of man-to-person power, to social self-management.

As an element of protest, we made an intervention at AB store on Kassandrou Street, 
Thessaloniki, with colors and tricycles on Wednesday evening.  Over the past few days 
propaganda material has been propagated in the neighborhood and shop. As long as pieces of 
our order are struck by the burglary and arbitrariness of the bosses, we will contrast 
class solidarity and self-organization in the workplace so as to stop every hit we accept 
while preparing our counter-attack against the world of state and capital , so that we can 
build on the debris the society of generalized self-management, libertarian communism.

DO NOT HAPPY THE DEATH - PRAY FOR LIFE
ORGANIZATION AND COMPETITION IN WORKPLACES
WILL NOT LIVE DOLOI

Eleftherial Initiative of Thessaloniki - member of the Anarchist Federation
w * w.libertasalonica.wordpress.com

https://libertasalonica.wordpress.com/2018/06/21/

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

Message: 5






Hemlata Bauri (65) earns tk 60 for a full day's work at Daluchhera Tea Garden in 
Fenchuganj upazila, Sylhet district. She is paid a daily wage, so she does not get a 
weekly holiday. If she opts to work on a public holiday, she only gets Tk 30 for it. For 
these wages, she has to reach a nirikh (daily quota) of 20 kgs of tealeaves to qualify for 
the daily cash payment - hard work under the heat of the midday sun in the hilly tea 
garden terrains of Sylhet. Bauri has been a tea worker for nearly 50 years now. She became 
a 'registered worker' many years after she joined, but she has never been issued an 
appointment letter, which the owner is compelled to issue according to labour law. The 
workers of this tea garden are not members of the Bangladesh Cha Sramik Union (BCSU), the 
only trade union for around 160 tea gardens that have around 122,000 workers. It is also 
the largest trade union in the country. Daluchhera Tea Estate, one of 19 tea gardens in 
Sylhet district, is a small garden with 34 registered and 15 casual workers. It is a ‘C' 
class garden, which means its production capacity is less than that of ‘A' and ‘B' class 
gardens. Our recent investigation shows unprecedented irregularities in wage payment at 
Daluchhera. The chairman of the panchayet of the tea garden, Barma Turia, informed us that 
"wages here was Tk30 even four years ago." The workers of the garden demanded a pay rise 
when wages in other gardens increased. The workers and the owners side sat together and 
determined the current daily cash pay of Tk60. However, a condition was imposed of a 
minimum of 12 hours of work a day. Turia informed us that workers end up working around 
eight hours a day instead.

Such cash pay is a clear breach of written agreement between the owners' association and BCSU.

Rambhajan Kairi, the general secretary of BCSU reaffirmed, "Paying lower wages is not just 
a breach of agreement between the owner and workers, but also a violation of the Labour 
Law. The agreement was indeed made under the rubric of Labour Law 2006." According to this 
agreement, daily cash payments for ‘C' class gardens is Tk82 and, Tk85 and Tk83 for ‘A' 
and ‘B' class gardens respectively, effective from January 2015. The condition at 
Daluchhera is believed to be the worst in all the 160 tea gardens in the traditional tea 
growing five districts-Sylhet, Maulvibazar, Habiganj, Chittagong and the Rangamati Hill 
District. However, the conditions of tea workers and their communities, with a huge 
proportion of them generally being non-Bengali, is very different from other industrial 
workers in terms of their identities and access to justice as workers. The British 
companies, more than 150 years ago, brought these tea workers from Bihar, Madras, Orissa, 
Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and other places in India to 
work in the tea gardens in Sylhet region.

The misfortune of these indentured laborers started with their journey to the tea gardens.

According to one account, in the early years, a third of the tea plantation workers died 
during their long journey to the tea gardens and due to the tough work and living 
conditions. Upon arrival, these labourers received a new identity - that of coolie - and 
became property of the tea companies. These coolies, belonging to many ethnic identities, 
cleared jungles, planted and tended tea seedlings and saplings, planted shade trees, and 
built luxurious bungalows for tea planters. But they had their destiny tied to their huts 
in the "labor lines" that they built themselves.

Today, what is most concerning for the tea workers is their wages-daily or monthly.

The maximum daily cash pay for the daily rated worker in 2008 was Tk 32.50 (less than half 
a US$), which was raised to Tk 48.50 (US 63 cents) by the first ever minimum wage board 
assigned for the tea workers that went into effect from September 1, 2009. This was still 
a miserable pay that had severe effects on the daily life of tea workers. As a result of 
negotiations between the workers' representatives and the owners mediated by the 
government, the daily cash pay of the tea workers was raised to Tk 69, which went into 
effect from June1, 2013.

The conditions of tea workers and their communities, with a huge proportion of them 
generally being non-Bengali, is very different from other industrial workers in terms of 
their identities and access to justice as workers

The current (2015) central committee of BCSU, in its latest agreement with the Bangladesh 
Tea Association, had been able to raise the daily cash pay to Tk 85 for A-class gardens, 
Tk 83 for B-class gardens and Tk 82 for C-class gardens. This new wage structure went into 
effect from January 2015.

It was also the first time in the history of the tea industry that workers began to get 
paid for weekly holidays (on Sunday).

It was also the first time that owners agreed to provide gratuity, which however, is not 
yet given in any garden. The excuse the owners use for such low pay is fringe benefits 
given to workers. The key fringe benefits include free housing and concessional rate of 
ration (rice/wheat) at Tk 2.00 per kg. A worker, on average, gets around seven kgs of food 
grains at concessional rate. The houses provided are basic. The workers are obviously very 
unhappy about these wages. "The current wages, Tk85 per day, are unjust. In the agreement 
that will be effective from January 2017, we will demand a daily cash pay of Tk230. It is 
still not enough, but we are demanding this in consideration of the overall situation," 
says Rambhajan Kairi, who is leading on-going negotiations with the owners on behalf of 
the workers. "But the owners are proposing Tk95. This is very illogical and unjust. We 
will not accept it in any way." "The owners are also not yet paying gratuity," says Kairi, 
"which is a breach of our agreement."

Confined to the tea gardens, tea workers are considered to modern-day slaves by many, and 
are one of the most vulnerable peoples of Bangladesh

Fringe benefits other than housing and rations include some allowances, attendance 
incentive, access to khet land for production of crop (those accessing such land have 
their rations slashed), medical care, provident fund, pension, etc.

The daily cash pay of a Bangladeshi tea worker is much lower than what a tea worker gets 
in Sri Lanka, which is around $4.5.

However, the cash pay of a tea worker in India is not a lot better than what the tea 
workers of Bangladesh have started to get from January 2015. Confined to the tea gardens, 
tea workers are considered to modern-day slaves by many, and are one of the most 
vulnerable peoples of Bangladesh. Into the fifth generation, they continue to remain 
socially excluded, low-paid, overwhelmingly illiterate, deprived and disconnected. They 
have also lost their original languages in most part, culture, history, education, 
knowledge and unity. Fearful of their future in an unknown country outside the tea 
gardens, the tea communities keep their voices down and stay content with the meagre 
amenities of life. As citizens of Bangladesh, they are free to live anywhere in the 
country. But the reality is that many of the members of the tea communities have never 
stepped out of the tea gardens.

An invisible chain keeps them tied to the tea gardens.

Social and economic exclusion, dispossession and the treatment they get from their 
managements and Bengali neighbours have rendered them ‘captive' or ‘tied' labourers. It is 
in this background that they deserve special attention of the state and the people of the 
majority community, not just equal treatment, which however, remains a far cry.

Philip Gain is researcher and director of Society for Environment and Human Development.
http://www.bangladeshasf.org/news/the-invisible-chain-binding-the-tea-gardens/

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

Message: 6






This past month thousands of AT&T workers across the country have gone out on short, 
locally-organized Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strikes in protest of company intimidation 
during contract bargaining and other issues. Two separate contracts for the workers 
organized under the Communications Workers of America (CWA) at AT&T expired on April 15 
but negotiations continued and news reports state that the company went around the union 
and its bargaining team to email employees that they had reached a "fair" and "final" 
offer. ---- For this interview we will be speaking with Patrick who is a CWA member and 
union steward at his job site in the Twin Cities area where several hundred workers went 
out on two separate ULP strikes. He will be detailing some of the long term organizing at 
his work site and the dynamics that led into the strike. Patrick is also a long time 
member of the mainly Midwest based First of May Anarchist Alliance (M1) and for the 
purposes of this interview his name has been changed and certain details left out in order 
to protect their identity.

BRRN: We're excited to see more workers joining the upsurge in strikes across the US so 
far this year, which are critical to rebuilding a militant labor movement. First, tell us 
about the issues leading up to the strike and for those who may not be familiar, what is 
an "unfair labor practice" strike and why has the union used it?

Patrick: Thanks for reaching out. Black Rose/Rosa Negra is an important organization and 
I'm glad to talk with you. The immediate spark for these strikes is the expiration of two 
of the sizable contracts - called the Legacy T and Midwest contracts that AT&T has with 
the CWA - and the sharp concessions that AT&T continues to demand form it's workers. 
Alongside this are specific local grievances that have been sore points between workers 
and the company for some time. At my workplace, we have been waging a years long battle 
over how the company interprets and discriminates in its implementation of state and 
municipal sick pay laws.

By going on limited Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) strikes union locals can confront specific 
issues when, because of the expired contract, they are unable to use a negotiated 
grievance procedure. The ULP strike also allows union locals to test the strength of their 
organization and the morale of the membership - but without risking too much. ULP strikes 
maintain the legality that wildcat strikes challenge but without the danger (or the force) 
of an unlimited "economic strike" over the issues of the contract as a whole[for legal 
definitions, see here].

There are also a couple important things that make up the context for this little wave of 
ULP strikes against AT&T. The first and most important is the change in mood and attitude 
of large groups of working people in the US. Some of the conservatism and fear has started 
to fall away and a "fuck it, let's go for it" type of attitude has become more widespread. 
I don't want to oversell this - it's nowhere near a majority and it's not a revolutionary 
outlook by any means - but it's a change and it's real. Where it comes from makes for an 
interesting discussion. I can't help but think that the recent waves of mass struggles 
like the 2011 Wisconsin Uprising, Occupy, Black Lives Matter, Standing Rock, the #MeToo 
phenomenon, and the advances of the LGBTQ community that have had an impact on the class 
as a whole - many workers sympathized and participated in these struggles, or wish they 
had. The more recent teacher strikes were important too - they showed us again that the 
strike can be an effective weapon and that regular people in regular places can use it 
even when they are being told by the authorities that they can't.

Related to all this is the apparent disorder of the establishment. From the total gridlock 
under Obama, to the bizarre and dangerous Trump show - I think many people are starting to 
think we can't look at the government and the corrupt political class to solve our 
problems or to stick up for us - there's an openness to ideas that would have recently 
seemed extreme or out of bounds.

BRRN: There's been some descriptions of the strike as a "wildcat strike" but that doesn't 
seem to be the case. Can you tell us more on that?

Patrick: "Wildcats" are unofficial strikes organized outside of or against the union 
leadership - or as often is the case, secretly organized by the union, but for legal or 
other reasons portrayed as an unofficial action. The AT&T ULP strikes have not been 
wildcats. Instead they are officially organized on a local level and while not coordinated 
by the CWA[national union leadership], workers and local officers are certainly aware of 
and inspired by the other strikes. But what this means is that more than a dozen Locals 
have had to learn how to motivate and carry-out action shutting down work - and thousands 
of workers now have that experience.

For many years the big mainstream unions appeared to have given up on strike action but 
the CWA seems to have lost its allergy to going out. CWA workers at Verizon have gone on 
strike in 2011 and 2016 and the fairly recently organized AT&T Wireless workers struck for 
the first time in 2017. I'm told that Joe Burns's important book Reviving the Strike got 
passed around CWA leadership.

My view is that this change in the union bureaucracy is not from a new found determination 
to wage class struggle but a realization that there was little place at the establishment 
table for the unions anymore  - along with a growing pressure from the ranks described 
above. The bureaucracy still sees strikes and direct action as auxiliary tactics to 
elections and lobbying politicians though, and crass collaboration with the bosses is 
still all too normal. For instance while AT&T was refusing to seriously negotiate with the 
Wireless workers last year, the CWA publicly endorsed AT&T's controversial purchase of 
Time-Warner to help smooth government approval.

BRRN: Can you tell us more about the workforce at your site, demographics and how has the 
strike played out so far with morale and participation?

Patrick: I work in a call-center that processes payments for AT&T's business and corporate 
customers. It's a "cube-farm" - three floors of cubicles (currently covered in union 
posters and signs) where workers answer phones and emails all day. Pretty miserable work, 
really.

The 400 or so workers in our building are the job's saving grace. There is a wide range of 
ages from early 20s to late 60's, slightly more women than men, and about 40% people of 
color. It's one of the more "gay-friendly" corporate workplaces I've ever seen, so most 
queer folks working here are openly "out" on the job and two workers have transitioned 
genders while I've been here.

Politically, most workers identify more-or-less with the Democrats with a 
strong-contingent of Bernie Sanders supporters. There's also a number of vocal 
conservatives - some of whom regularly participate in the union[and even]went out on 
strike. We had a crew of Wobbly dual-carders at one time, about 10 people who were part of 
the IWW, that helped lay the basis for some of the organizing and action that's been 
accomplished here.

Three years ago, when the last contract expired we went out on a one-day grievance strike 
with about 70% of the workers participating. I wasn't sure if we'd hit those numbers again 
- my sense was that our hardcore group of union activists was larger and more militant, 
but that the looser base was maybe less committed than before. But the strikes this time 
were actually bigger, including both newer employees and some workers that stayed in last 
time. The group that organized the two strikes this year was broader, more organized and 
more confident.

Going out on strike is a blast, a big "fuck off" to your manager. There's a feeling of 
empowerment and solidarity, a feeling and that we are doing something brave and special. 
People were taking selfies and posting videos from the picket-line. But, there's also 
still some fear. The contract isn't settled. The strikes, while impressive, haven't yet 
beaten the corporation and settled our issues.

BRRN: You've been active within your union for a number of years as a steward, can you 
tell us about some of these past efforts, successes and failures?

Patrick: Soon after I started working here I hooked up with some younger workers who had 
faced roadblocks from suspicious local officers. This was around the time of George W. 
Bush's wars in Afghanistan and Iraq - and the younger workers were somewhat politicized by 
that so I tried to be helpful with this group as it cohered into a pole of opposition 
within the local.

Around this same time the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) re-launched in the Twin 
Cities. The local Wobbly campaigns at Starbucks and Jimmy Johns, and militant solidarity 
with strikes at the University of Michigan and Northwest Airlines made the IWW branch very 
dynamic and in this context a number of co-workers at AT&T were recruited into the IWW.

There were some real limits to our organizing.[For instance]we were never able to really 
figure out how to make the IWW work at AT&T. Initially the group at work had oriented 
toward running in union elections against the local leadership - I was ambivalent, but 
went along and tried to push stuff politically in a sharper direction. We ran a slate and 
lost but got a respectable 40% of the vote. The local union leadership had opposed us with 
fear-mongering and lies - a rumor was put out that we wanted to get ahold of the union 
treasury for "drug parties!"

With the turn toward the Wobblies, the politics of the group became more radical, but a 
lot of the focus moved to supporting IWW campaigns and other struggles outside of work. 
Some people basically took an abstentionist line towards activity in our CWA Local. 
Another problem was the composition of our group - while the workplace was quite diverse, 
our group was overwhelmingly young, white, and without kids.

Some of these contradictions came to a head in 2011 when we met to decide how to approach 
the next round of local union elections. This was six years and two election cycles since 
we had last run, and there was feeling that with our longer time on the job and now proven 
track records we could possibly win some spots on the local Executive Board. I argued that 
instead we should discuss a program, a set of goals that we could run on and be held 
accountable to - then whoever the individual candidates would be less important and less 
focused around egos - but my arguments didn't win out and instead an agreement was made 
that we would support each other but put out our own literature. I ran for Chief Steward 
on an explicit "Solidarity Unionist," IWW-influenced program.

Despite our agreement to support each other, the other candidates from our group panicked 
when I put out my first campaign literature. They were certain that it was too radical, 
would make me unelectable and hurt their chances of winning. The three other candidates 
formed a bloc with part of the old-guard on the Executive Board and ran a slate on the 
weakest basis of "change." Their slate opposed the Local President but also included the 
incumbent Chief Steward running against me.

During the campaign I had laid out what should be done with the Chief Steward position: 
end secret deals with Corporate HR over discipline, build a militant stewards force in the 
workplace, open the local union to further democratic participation and accountability, 
oppose concessionary contracts, and support struggles outside the workplace. These 
politics won out but I was now joining an entirely hostile Executive Board.

Over the next six months the E-Board voted three separate times to either strip me of my 
duties or to outright remove me as Chief Steward but we were able to overturn their 
decisions by organizing and mobilizing for the next monthly membership meeting. After 
being humiliated by the membership reversing their decisions the local President and then 
the Vice-President each resigned and when the dust settled - and another one of our group 
was elected as Executive Vice-President - I finally had the room to implement at least the 
basics.

The steward force was expanded from five all white, and majority men to 15 who were 
majority women, people of color and Black. We began holding monthly steward meetings in 
the workplace to discuss issues on the job and plan actions like workplace marches on 
abusive managers, or how to mobilize around particular grievances. The monthly steward 
meetings also had discussions on broader political issues and I distributed radical 
readings. We even read as a group Marty Glaberman's classic poem critiquing the role of 
shop stewards "It's Out of My Hands."

We also revitalized committees within the union and made them effective fronts of 
activity. The Health & Safety Committee surveyed the membership and forced the company to 
address air quality concerns. After a co-worker died of a heart attack at home, we read an 
article about EKG machines and demanded the company provide them on each floor at work. 
When the company claimed they didn't have the budget for it we just started fund-raising 
ourselves for EKG machines that the Health & Safety Committee would control - which 
embarrassed the company so much they magically found the money and installed three machines.

The Workers' Rights Committee has been fighting long-standing situation of unfair and 
discriminatory implementation of state and municipal sick-time laws - which is ironic 
since this has become one the labor movement's main ways to effect reforms. These issues 
provided the reason for our walk out in 2015 and the first of the two strikes in the last 
month.

BRRN: You've also been a long time participant in various anarchist and related organizing 
efforts going back to the 1980's and a member First of May Anarchist Alliance (M1), an 
anarchist political organization founded in 2011. Tell us about how this has informed your 
strategy and approach to workplace organizing and how this has played out?

Patrick: All of my activity in the workplace and the union comes from my anarchist 
politics, and I'd say from the specific approaches promoted by M1 which is a small 
organization based in the Twin Cities, Detroit and Chicago and a few individuals 
elsewhere. Despite our modest size we have had some impact, especially in what we describe 
as "working-class defense organizations" - like the IWW, the General Defense Committee, 
Solidarity & Defense, the Detroit Eviction Defense, and my local CWA union.

M1 in particular encourages an orientation to the working-class - that it is the millions 
of workers that have the capacity and interest to make a revolution. We seek to relate to 
the class ias equals, and not as "leaders," in the hierarchical sense. We have always been 
critical of the approach - popular in some left and even anarchist quarters of taking jobs 
as staffers of unions and community groups as a way of organizing with the class. That 
approach makes militants accountable to the union bureaucracy instead of grassroots 
workers and cultivates an elitist self-conception.

We strive to be able to discuss and debate and build around a full revolutionary vision 
and not just bread and butter issues. We reject the idea that workers only care about 
narrow economic concerns[and]aim to build "personal-political" bonds with our co-workers 
over time - and try to not only to "tell" people about our ideas, but to show them in 
practice. And we do this as equals not as specialists or "leaders."

We don't have all the answers so we value tactical experimentation within our overall 
strategy and values. So for instance, some comrades who organized at UPS, built their 
organizing much more outside of the union representing the shop than the experience I 
describe above.

http://blackrosefed.org/att-interview-m1/

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