PO Box 1293, Olympia Wa, 98507 Organize@OlympiaIWW.com 360-362-0112

IWW Joins the International Confederation of Labor

In its annual referendum, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) North American Regional Administration voted overwhelmingly to officially join the recently formed International Confederation of Labor (ICL). The ICL is an international organization linking together revolutionary unions in eight different countries in Europe, Latin America, and North America. The focus of the ICL is building a visible model for revolutionary unionism, a way to build unions that are based on solidarity, direct action, and which prefigure a world which has shaken off capitalism. ICL unions have already begun to coordinate their activity among app-based workers, such as those working for Deliveroo and Foodora, leading to coordinated strikes against Deliveroo in multiple countries. The IWW brings to the table our growing experience organizing in prisons through the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC). The ICL and its member unions endorsed the U.S. prison strike earlier this year, which was co-led by IWOC. Through the ICL, the IWW has begun to make contact with unions of prisoners in other countries. Aside from day-to-day organizing practice, the ICL allows member sections to share experience about mass working class struggles. Earlier this year, the Confederación Nacional del Trabajo (CNT – the Spanish section of the ICL) played a major role in coordinating a Feminist General Strike on International Women’s Day on March 8, which the CNT and ICL will try to build on for 2019. The IWW’s vote to join the ICL culminates several years of joint work between these unions to bring the new international into existence. We hope to continue to develop our mutual projects and build relationships in other parts of the world. The IWW will share its experience and learn from the experience of others – to inspire and be inspired. With the continual economic, ecological, and political crises that capitalism is bringing on to us and intensifying, we need a vibrant and internationalist revolutionary unionist movement now more than ever. Long live the international!

PCS cancels contract. OlySol Wins!

Pacific Coast Security (PCS) has canceled its contracts with the downtown businesses that were being organized through the Olympia Downtown Association (ODA). As we reported in a previous issue, PCS was operating what they inappropriately called “safety teams”, unless by “safety” they were keeping people safe from sleeping. They hired guards to sweep houseless folks from doorways and awnings in front of businesses.
Olympia Solidarity Network (OlySol) and other concerned citizens have been demonstrating against the sweeps for the past several months, letting the ODA and PCS know that this is not the way to proceed.

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Bisbee 17 Is a Deceptive Propaganda Movie, Not a Factual Documentary

The Bisbee 17 movie is an attempt to use the documentary format to rewrite history. It is slanted toward “might is right capitalism” and glaringly derogatory in its portrayal of the striking workers. Its slant is very apparent in the way it portrays the political and labor climate in 1917. The movie tries to make the war profiteering mine baron’s action as something that was “necessary” for the public good and the war effort. It is ludicrous to consider forgiving the heinous actions of Walter S. Douglas, the mine president and “boss” of the company town, if one bothers to research what really happened. In 1917, the US president was Woodrow Wilson, a typical two-faced liar who ran on a peace platform, but actively sought to enter WWI. He vigorously crushed anyone opposing the war, deporting Emma Goldman and imprisoning Eugene Debs for encouraging young men to stay home and resist the unnecessary war. Do you know the reasons for WWI? The only one that has survived the test of time is the opportunity for capitalistic profit.

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Amazon Workers in Europe Walk Out

Once again workers at Amazon warehouses in Europe have staged a walkout during one of the company’s busiest times of the year – Black Friday. Workers in Germany struck for 24 hours on Black Friday and in Spain on Friday and Saturday. They are demanding better pay and working conditions. Workers make as little as 10.78 euros ($12.23) an hour. The owner of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, is currently the richest person in the world, according to Forbes. Over the past year he has made roughly $80,000,000,000 or $38.5 million an hour.

Workers in the United Kingdom and Italy have also gone on strike. “Our European Fulfillment Network is fully operational,” Amazon said in a statement to The Washington Post. “And we continue to focus on delivering for our customers and reports to the contrary are simply wrong.” Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post. Earlier this year Amazon also announced that it would be opening two more U.S. based headquarters.

One is in Northern Virginia and the other in Long Island City, areas that are already greatly gentrified. This gentrification will only get worse as they will likely follow the path of Seattle which has been pricing its citizens further and further out of the city. Additionally, earlier this year, workers struck on “Prime Day,” another big sales day for the online giant.

Workers in Germany have been agitating for better pay and working conditions for several years now at Amazon warehouses – or as Amazon calls them – fulfillment centers. “The conditions our members at Amazon are working under are frankly inhuman,” said a statement by Tim Roache, General Secretary of the GMB, a trade union in the United Kingdom. “They are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and being taken away in ambulances.” He added: “We’re standing up and saying enough is enough. These are people making Amazon its money. People with kids, homes, bills to pay — they’re not robots. Jeff Bezos is the richest bloke on the planet; he can afford to sort this out.”

What the hell happened in Centralia? AKA The Centralia Tragedy.

The history of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is filled with tragedy, as well as victory. For some reason a lot of these events took place in the month of November and several of them took place here in the Northwest. One of these such events is known as the Centralia Tragedy. What follows is a brief history of that event which will have its 100th anniversary next year.

Even to this day some people still have strong feelings about the Tragedy. For a longtime there has been a monument to the American Legion. The side that attacked and lynched the wobblies. While only about ten years ago was a mural created in Centralia recognizing the tragedy as such.

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Statement in Support of Just Housing.

Capitalism is not in crisis. It is the crisis. As long as the United States has existed, even before the Revolution, the ruling class has been pushing the narrative that the rich are wealthy by virtue of their own hard work, and that the poor are so because they are lazy. This is a lie and always has been. The rich get their money on the backs of the poor and working class.

The Industrial Workers of the World was founded to organize the workers, and the poor, to destroy capitalism.

As it says in the preamble to our constitution. “Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the earth.”

Here in Olympia this struggle is happening. You can easily see it in the streets. The business class and their lackeys in the city government want to sweep the houseless away. This is their solution to the “problem.” The business class’s problem is the people themselves.

Just Housing has been in this fight on the side of the poor for years now. We the Olympia Industrial Workers of the World wish to express our solidarity. We stand with Just Housing in their fight to help the houseless have more of the better things in life and not be pushed around by the cops and the hired security of the business class.

An injury to one, is an injury to all.

Official Tent Cities Come to Olympia

In mid July, the Olympia City Council declared a state of emergency regarding the recent growth of the houseless population in the city, or rather, the growing visibility of houseless people. There are indeed more houseless people in Thurston County than there were in 2017. Roughly 828 according to a census commissioned by the city, almost three hundred more than the year before.


However, city government, a business interest group known as Olympia Downtown Alliance, and The Olympian repeatedly choose to frame this increase as a crisis of optics: “Some downtown merchants who sit in the bull’s-eye of a growing homeless presence in the city’s commercial core are getting flighty over the possibility of seeing more activity catering to the destitute in what is also a business zone . . . our city needs a commercially vibrant downtown that attracts shoppers as well as new residents to the hundreds of new dwelling units that have been coming on line.”

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Olympia, Wa – September 22nd & 23rd: IWW Organizer Training 101 “Building The Committee”

Education. Emancipation. Organization.

Interested in organizing your workplace? Interested in worker’s rights? Interested in a better world? Come to the Organizer Training 101 hosted by the Olympia IWW, and learn the basic skills for creating better working conditions. Food will be provided. It’s FREE and open to all workers! RSVP requested. Ask about child care.

The Organizer Training will be on September 22nd & 23rd.  From 8am to 5pm both days.  It will be held at 115 Legion Way SW, Olympia.

We are asking folks to register to insure that we have enough training materials, breakfast & lunch for everyone. Registration is FREE. The Training is completely FREE. The Union pays for it. All that we ask is that folks plan to attend the entire two days of the training. All workers are welcome. To sign up please fill out this form.

About the Training:

The ‘Organizer Training 101: Building & Maintaining The Committee’ is one of the most comprehensive trainings of its kind aimed towards rank and file workers, union members, and worker organizers.

The two-days of content is more than most advanced training programs. It’s a great opportunity to inspire workers and provide the the basic tools needed to organize so we can live and practice the idea of “every worker a leader.”

More than anything, the training is about giving workers the confidence they need to begin organizing with their fellow workers.

Questions: Organize@OlympiaIWW.com or call 360-362-0112

Hope to see many of you there!

Solidarity.

Statement regarding the ongoing Nationwide Prison Strike issued August 22, 2018, Day 2 of the strike.

Issued by the Prison Strike Media Team

Amani Sawari
official outside media representative of Jailhouse Lawyers Speak
prisonstrikemedia@gmail.com

Jared Ware
Freelance Journalist covering prisoner movements
jaybeware@gmail.com
@jaybeware on Twitter

Brooke Terpstra 
Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC)
National Media Committee
brooke@incarceratedworkers.org
@IWW_IWOC on twitter


Statement
August 22, 2018

So the prisoner strike has been underway for more than 24 hours now. In the first day we got word of actions coming out from the prisons from Halifax, Nova Scotia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, Washington and Folsom Prison in California reported strike action.

We saw outside solidarity actions in at least 21 cities around the US and as far abroad as Leipzig, Germany. We saw Palestinian political prisoners give a statement of solidarity from their prisons in occupied Palestine.

We called this conference call because those of us who have been coordinating media relations on the outside have been overwhelmed by the number of reporters and outlets who are covering the strike. Some of us who were involved with media relations in 2016 can say that the difference is dramatic and we thank you for your interest in this prisoner-led movement. Many of you have the same questions and so we want to give you all an opportunity to hear our responses in one place.

We want to note that although there aren’t widespread reports of actions coming out of prisons that people need to understand that the tactics being used in this strike are not always visible. Prisoners are boycotting commissaries, they are engaging in hunger strikes which can take days for the state to acknowledge, and they will be engaging in sit-ins and work strikes which are not always reported to the outside. As we saw in 2016, Departments of Corrections are not reliable sources of information for these actions and will deny them and seek to repress those who are engaged in them.

We have spoken with family members who have suggested that cell phone lines may be being jammed at multiple prisons in South Carolina, New Mexico had a statewide lockdown yesterday. The Departments of Corrections in this country are working overtime to try and prevent strike action and to try and prevent word from getting out about actions that are taking place.

As you report the strike, we encourage you to uplift the actions that we do know about, but also acknowledge that strikers may be resisting in ways that are tougher to quantify and view. We encourage outlets to issue FOIA requests to prisons that we believe will show attempts to quell the strike and also evidence of boycotts and other strike activity.

We also really want to remind the media that this strike is about ten different demands. While prison slavery has become a galvanizing force in the public eye, and it is a key element that prisoners are protesting against, they have given you ten specific demands and it is important to talk about all of them or report on them individually. People need to understand how truth in sentencing laws function, how gang enhancement laws function, and how the prison litigation reform act works and why these are things that prisoners are targeting their protest around. We need to be talking about the lack of rehabilitation programs, mental health care, and the lack of education programs and how this undermines the ostensibly rehabilitative nature of the prison system itself.

Prisoners crafted these demands carefully through national organizing, based on the circumstances of the Lee Prison violence that occurred earlier this year, in an understanding of how the state brings about the conditions of violence like that, and the types of changes that are necessary to prevent that sort of violence from recurring. This is a human rights campaign and each of these demands should be understood through a human rights lens. 

Prisoners all across the country go on strike against Slave Labor!

On August 21st, the anniversary of the killing of Black Panther George Jackson, prisoners all over the country went on strike. There are sit-ins, work-stoppages, commissary boycotts, and other actions happening till September 9th, the anniversary of the Attica Uprising. This strike could be the largest strike since the national prison in late 2016.

Launched on September 9th, the 2016 strike was one of the largest prison actions in US history, drawing the participation of an estimated 24,000 prisoners in 20 facilities across two dozen states.

In April of this year the uprising in South Carolina’s Lee Correctional Facility, in which seven people died, sparked the idea of the current strike.

Prisons are plagued with massive under-staffing, poor food, and unhealthy water. The under-staffing leads to extensive use of lock-downs and solitary.

Jailhouse Lawyers Speak has previously issued this list of ten demands:

  1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
  2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
  3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
  4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole. 
  5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
  6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
  7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
  8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
  9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
  10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.

Kevin Steel, is a former prisoner, who is a spokesperson for the New York Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC). “There are a lot of peaceful protests that go unspoken outside the prison walls,” said Steele, “That’s something a lot of people out here don’t expect because of the stigma that incarcerated people are violent,” he added.

Deirdre Wilson, a former inmate who served as a firefighter in the Puerta La Cruz fire in California, told Newsweek that prison volunteer firefighting was a “cruel joke” after it was revealed that firefighters typically make about $75,000 per year plus benefits, while inmates from the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation make about $2 per day, and $1 extra when fighting an active fire.

“You’re not really volunteering,” Wilson told Newsweek. “The system evolved out of a system of slavery where we commodify human bodies and function off their labor.”

See these these websites for more info:
https://incarceratedworkers.org
https://michiganabolition.org/
http://sawarimi.org