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

IWOC Endorses National Prison Strike and Pledges Support

Whereas, trusted comrades, collectives, and networks behind the prison walls have convened, called for a “National Prison Strike” from August 21 to Sept 9, 2018, issued a set of demands and guidelines and requested outside support, Whereas, we, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the IWW have heard their call for support and find the strike and its goals completely aligned with our material work and with all points of our Statement of Purpose, Be it resolved, we endorse the strike, pledge our support and furthermore, embrace the work of solidarity. We, as the national body of the IWOC network strongly encourage all outside branches and members-at-large to take on the support work to the utmost of their capacity and according to their best judgement. As the strike develops, the scope of of work will also develop and will need further guidelines and ratification, so we offer this motion as a framework and a beginning. Further motions to amend are entertained as the work demands and teaches. The areas of work appropriate to our network, as we see them now, are as listed below:
1. Immediately add our name to the list of endorsing organizations and solicit other organizations to endorse and support.
2. Spread the word of the strike and demands inside as best and responsibly as we can so that our inside members and contacts can make informed decisions as to their positions and possible actions.
3. Media
a. National Media Committee: assist and coordinate with the Jailhouse Lawyers Speak/Millions for Prisoners media representatives according to their protocols in fielding and fulfilling media requests, strategizing, spreading social media, and assisting in generating original works in all available mediums.
b. Locals: generate, share and publish educational and agitational material in all available mediums.
c. Make available whatever vetted media representatives we can muster regionally and nationally to speak on the strike to groups or to media outlets (according to the prisoners’ protocols for media requests).
4. Anti-repression
a. To immediately begin building networks of outside supporters committed to phone blasts, demonstrations, and pressure campaigns of any type to combat repression and retaliation against prisoners. Repression is already underway and prisoner groups are already making requests for support.
b. Educate all IWOC members and groups, all other support groups and public at large on the tactics and depth of retaliations undertaken against prisoners.
5. Local demands: Outside IWOC groups can aid prisoners in their area in adding their own demands to local strike messaging. Such addition has been approved by existing inside strike leadership.

Let the work begin.
For solidarity over the walls and wire,
For a world without prisons,
For liberation!

To learn more about IWOC see this website.
If you are interested in getting involved in IWOC
locally please contact us.

Interview with Ballentine Palubinsky

DB: How old are you Ballentine?
BP: 36
DB: Where did you grow up?
BP: I grew up in Las Vegas Nevada, I have been in Olympia for about 4 years now.
DB: What was your first job?
BP: The first time that I ever worked was at a movie theater inside of a casino. I was 17 and they had me cleaning theaters when the  movies were done. I made $5.45 an hour.
DB: Were you still in school at the time?
BP: Yes.
DB: How long did you work there?
BP: December 1999 to April 2000.
DB: What happen when you left that job?
BP: Well I had been applying for a job at the mall where I wouldn’t have to wear a uniform. So I really wanted that mall job because not only was there no uniform but I could wear dresses and nail polish. So I upgraded jobs was all. I worked at the mall selling cloths for 5 years.
DB: How much did you make there?
BP: I took a pay cut. I made $5.17. When I left after 5 years I made $7.25.
DB: What was that like working in the mall, in retail?
BP: There were parts of it that sucked, but there were parts that were cool. The mall in itself was like its own community. You got to know people that worked at other shops and there was a friends circle of just mall people. It was close to my house, I could walk. They were  flexible and I told them that I was going to college to be a teacher so they would only schedule me when I didn’t have class and I was living at home at the time so I could getaway with working 15 hours a week and it wouldn’t be a big deal. In that way it was kind of cool.
DB: Then you became a teacher?
BP: Yeah, I was in college. I student-taught for a year, well like 6 months then I got hired, well I was a substitute teacher for about 2 years and that was the worst job I’ve ever had. Nobody respects a sub.  You roll into a different school everyday and then you never see those  people again. Everyday is like your first day but you are expected to work.
DB: Going back to the retail job, what was the worst thing about working there, if anything?
BP: So it was super cool the first year, … And then we got bought out by the gap. Shit changed real quick. … They were all about loss prevention. They said you had to catch so many people a quarter. And I just never would do it. … And if you didn’t meet [the quota] you didn’t get a raise. So sometimes I just wouldn’t get a raise. I would go 6 months and when it came up for review everything was perfect but I didn’t catch so many people shoplifting so I didn’t get a raise.
DB: What were the raises?
BP: 25 cents was the top one.
DB: and by the end of it you were still making minimum wage anyway?
BP: Yeah and this was completely without benefits.
DB: Did you consider yourself political at this time?
BP: Yeah, but at that time in Nevada in the early 2000s there wasn’t anything going on. …the entire time I worked at the mall I think the only thing I was involved in was some pretty minor anti-war protests.
DB: With the Iraq war?
BP: Yeah
DB: Was there anything defining about becoming political that happened for you?
BP: … I realized that [the FBI] did terrible things. The real kicker was that they sent MLK a letter telling him to kill himself and I was like I’m not onboard with the United States it turns out. It went against everything I was ever told. Then when I got to high school my  government teachers showed me two videos one about the Zapatista, and one about the Battle in Seattle.
DB: You’re a wobbly, right?
BP: Yes
DB: When did you join?
BP: 2012 was when I signed up. During Occupy there was an effort made by people in Las Vegas to make a branch of the IWW. It didn’t really work out.
DB: You rejoined the wobblies here in Olympia?
BP: Yeah, I rejoined when I was homeless.
DB: How long were you homeless?
BP: Off and on a couple times, but only for like 2 weeks at a time. It was always in between pay checks, just until I found a place. Each  time it was always wobblies that helped me out. Wobblies let me stay in their back yard, wobblies let me stay in their living room. Its hard with background checks and credit checks and my friend who I live with has an eviction on her record so we couldn’t find  anywhere to live.
DB: And your pretty involved with the IWW here?
BP: I’d say so. I go to a lot of the meetings, I am a chair of a committee, in the past I helped organize May Day. So I don’t know what all I do…
DB: You do a lot
DB: Any advice for people?
BP: If there isn’t a scene where you’re at, then just start one. That’s what I learned in Vegas. There was no shortage of people who wanted to do stuff but there was no one doing it.
DB: Thanks Ballentine

A Worker’s Independence Day

[Note: this was originally published in The Line on July 1st, 2018.]

We the Industrial Workers of the World fight for a better tomorrow.

We believe “It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society  within the shell of the old.”

It is important to emphasize that by fighting for “bread and butter” issues on the job with the intention of building One Big Union organized industrially that has as it’s aim the overthrow of capitalism, we, as workers, are bringing together more and more workers towards the goal of their own interests.

We believe that Labor creates all wealth and we want what is our due.

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The Teacher Strikes, the Janus case, and the path forward for labor.

On February 22nd the teachers of West Virginia went on strike. One of their motto’s was 55 strong. Meaning that all the teachers in all 55 counties in West Virginia are united in their struggle. The teachers in West Virginia are among the lowest paid in the country. Also, the teachers, being public sector workers, in West Virginia do not have the legal right to strike or bargain collectively. And yet they did  anyway, and they won!

There is a case currently before the U.S. Supreme Court. It is called Janus Vs. AFSCME. This case has been shaking everything up. Basically  it would make the public sector in all the states “Right-to-Work.” Meaning that workers in a union shop would not be required to pay dues or fees but the union is still legally required to cover them. Right-to-work laws and the Janus case are tools of anti-labor used to break unions.

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What follows is a very basic primer for organizing your fellow workers on the job. This is just to get you thinking. We encourage you to take the Organizers Training 101 that the IWW offers. It is open to all workers whether they are a member or not. In the Olympia Branch we try to have at least two OT101s a year. So if you are interested then contact us for when the next one is happening. There also may be one happening sooner in another city in the region.
So what does AEIOU mean? It is simple really. Agitate, Educate, Inoculate, Organize, Unionize (or pUsh). In organizing our jobs it is important to talk to our fellow workers. We want to build relationships with them. Because how else could we work together, right?
To do this we have 1 on 1 conversations with them. We talk with them and learn about the issues at work and thus in life that we each care about. Whether it is pay, or conditions. Such as: due to cut backs at work they are not hiring enough people which means you all have to work more and your fellow worker who has kids hardly gets to see them!

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Burgerville Workers Union Wins NLRB Election!

The workers at the 92nd and Powell Burgerville won their election yesterday!  We express our solidarity!

Join us on May 1st for International Workers’ Day where we will have a worker from the Burgerville Workers’ Union speaking about this election and all of their organizing.

The following is a statement from their Facebook page.

“We won the election. We did it. We made history.

Today workers at 92nd and Powell overwhelmingly voted yes, making the Burgerville Workers Union the only formally recognized fast food union in the country. For a long time people have dismissed fast food as unorganizable, saying that turnover is too high, or the workers are too spread out. Today Burgerville workers proved them wrong.

The fight isn’t over, of course. We still need to bargain a fair contract with Burgerville, and until then the boycott still stands. And we need to remember what got us to this point: workers taking action for themselves, standing up against poverty wages and horrible conditions. We got here because of the strike, union benefits, pickets, and marches on the boss. We got here through direct action, and that won’t change now that we’ve won an election. If anything it’s even more important.

In this moment of victory we want to celebrate, yes, but we also want to turn our attention to the 4.5 million other fast food workers in the United States. We want to speak to everyone else who works for poverty wages, who are constantly disrespected on the job, who are told they aren’t educated enough, aren’t experienced enough, aren’t good enough for a decent life. To all of those workers, to everyone like us who works rough jobs for terrible pay, we say this:

Don’t listen to that bullshit. Burgerville workers didn’t, and look at us now.

Because our win today isn’t just about Burgerville. It’s about history. It’s about a movement of workers who know that a better world is possible, and that together they can make that world real.

Today we became the only recognized fast food union in the country. But we won’t be the only one for long.”

Solidarity with the Rojavan Struggle!

“Where as the IWW is engaged in the struggle to end capitalism. Where as capitalism has engulfed the whole globe, and we need to build international solidarity to defeat an international system. Be it resolved that the Olympia GMB state that we are in total support of the Rojavan struggle, and strongly condemn any attack on their project including the most recent attack on Afrin by Turkey. We send our revolutionary greetings with warm hearts and raised fists.”

West Virginia: Extend the Strike, Build Long Term Power

The statewide strike of teachers in West Virginia that started on February 22nd is a model for teachers and other working-class people across the US of how we can struggle together for what we need. It is a desperately needed example of mass working-class solidarity in a time when the rich are attempting to fracture us even more. It is also an important model of the kinds of strikes we can wage when we realize that the existing labor laws (the same ones that the rich are trying to destroy anyways) are traps designed by the rich to tie our arms behind our backs and hold us back.

Some teachers and supporters in West Virginia are organizing through the IWW to spread a revolutionary unionist perspective in the current strike, to expand the strike and strengthen the militant mood of the teachers, and to build for long-term organization that is not reliant on politicians or bureaucrats. They will begin by distributing a leaflet to encourage teachers and other members of the working class to extend and expand the current struggle, and they will be looking for openings to expand on that organizing.

You can support their organizing by donating here. Funds raised will be used to print agitational materials, to cover travel costs related to organizing, to rent spaces or cover child-care for meetings, and to cover other costs related to building a militant and organized presence among teachers and working-class people in West Virginia.

The text of the leaflet they will be distributing is below. We also welcome anyone in West Virginia, or any teachers anywhere, or anyone else, to download the PDF and distribute it in your workplaces, schools, churches, and neighborhoods.

The Power of Working Class Solidarity

What Do We Face?

Jim Justice and the Republican-dominated legislature seek to cut state funding to the Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), increasing premiums over the next several years, and eliminating teacher seniority while opening up the possibility of charter schools to privatize public education in areas in most need of quality public servants. The goal for this legislature is to utterly decimate public sector labor, reap obscene profits through private charter school investments which lack accountability measures, and ultimately reduce the quality of education in the state.

We know that both Democrats and Republicans no longer have a need for a highly-educated workforce. Instead, they seek to create a system of obedient workers who can perform the menial tasks asked of them by their corporate masters without questioning the powers that be. Careers that provide meaningful employment with a steady wage and quality health care no longer exist for the many. They have been replaced, over the course of the past few decades, with a series of half-hearted promises by both parties. If we do not act NOW to halt this reactionary legislation, we will ultimately lose our future – our children’s future – to big business and the corporate-controlled parties.

In sum, we face the daunting challenge to confront elitism in our political party system and the legislation they seek to create. BUT, we cannot create a new destiny simply by voting out one party and replacing it with another. For substantive change to occur, we must FIRST organize around our common destiny as workers.

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Why Join the Industrial Workers of the World?

It does not take long to figure out that workers and their employers do not have the same interests. Workers want shorter hours, higher pay, and better benefits.

We want our work to be less boring, less dangerous, and less destructive to the environment. We want more control over how we produce goods and provide services. We want meaningful work that contributes to our communities and world. Our employers, in contrast, want us to work longer, harder, faster, and cheaper. They want fewer safety and environmental regulations and they demand absolute control over all decisions, work schedules, speech, and actions in the workplace.  We think if you work it, you should control it.

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Canvassers Give Grassroots Campaigns A Surprise Valentine’s Day Present – A Union

With Trump’s election, many organizations without internal fundraisers frequently turn to canvassing organizations such as Grassroots Campaigns Incorporated, which sends politically savvy workers all over the city of Seattle to alert people to important causes and issues that affect their lives, such as the American Civil Liberties Union or Planned Parenthood. These canvassers often face hostile opposition, sexual harassment, and intimidation while striving to make the world a better place.
However, these workers – crucial to the success of various nonprofits, who have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for various causes – frequently find themselves fighting for fair workplace treatment. And like many others, they’ve engaged in a time-honored way to get it – forming a union. Canvassers and field managers with the Boston-based company’s Seattle office have joined together, choosing to form under the Industrial Workers of the World, one of the oldest unions in the United States with a long history in the Pacific Northwest.
“We hope to see that Grassroots Campaigns, given its stated progressive bent, will accept this union without putting up a fight.” said one union organizer. “Given that the overwhelming majority of workers in the Seattle Canvassing office have signed union cards, it would be a violation of its stated principles to do otherwise.”
“Let’s call it an early Valentine’s Day present,” one union member said about their filing for recognition with the National Labor Relations Board, which occurred on Feb 12. “We know that the organizations we fundraise for value our labor and appreciate the results we bring. Morale is up now that we are organizing, and better treatment brings better results.”
“The perception is that this kind of work is just done by college kids who don’t need full-time employment – but canvassing happens year-round, and we need a living wage and job stability,” said another IWW member of the Canvassers Union. “The idea that someone could lose their job because of a rainy week where not many people were outside is not acceptable.”
Founded in 2003, Grassroots Campaigns Incorporated specializes in face-to-face campaigns for political parties, candidates and advocacy groups. Their employees help build bases and mobilize supporters for organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union, the Southern Poverty Law Center, Democratic National Committee, the Nature Conservancy and Oxfam International.
Employees of Grassroots and members of the union are available for comment: please contact the Seattle Branch of the IWW at seattleiww@gmail.com to arrange for interviews.