Skip to content

Archive for

7th Annual ‘Red November, Black November’ a success!

Setting up for the 2009 Red November, Black November (Photo: Erik Davis)

Setting up for the 2009 Red November, Black November

 

Red November, Black November
Red November, black November,
Bleak November, black and red.
Hallowed month of labor’s martyrs,
Labor’s heroes, labor’s dead.

Labor’s wrath and hope and sorrow,
Red the promise, black the threat,
Who are we not to remember?
Who are we to dare forget?

Black and red the colors blended,
Black and red the pledge we made,
Red until the fight is ended,
Black until the debt is paid.

— Ralph Chaplin (1932)

This is a somber month for labor.

The Haymarket Martyrs were executed in November. Joe Hill was put before a firing squad in Utah during November. Bueventura Durruti was killed in November.  The Centralia, Everett and the First Columbine massacres all occurred in November.

It is for this reason that the Twin Cities General Membership Branch (GMB) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) began to put together a yearly social event called ‘Red November, Black November’ (RNBN). Recognizing the importance of this month to organized labor, RNBN is held to remember and reflect on both our own efforts, as well as those who came before us.

November 22nd marked the seventh time RNBN has been held. A $10 ticket ($5 for kids) bought you a pozole dinner with two beverages, along with a full program of reports, music, a kids’ skit, a quiz, raffles and conversation with other IWW members. Although a Twin Cities focused event, Wobblies from Winnepeg, Toronto, Chicago, Salt Lake City and Indiana were in attendance. This year also coincided with an Organizer Training 102 that happened the same weekend.

After dinner, and interspersed with labor songs throughout, attendees heard reports from the outgoing Branch Secretary-Treasurers. The two officers went over some of the better practices they had tried to establish in 2014, as well as announced the branch’s move to a new, larger office in December.

Next were reports from campaigns that members have been involved in over the year. How the #handsupdontship job action came together, contacts with prison laborers and activity from ‘dual-carders’ in education were among some of the things talked about. Extra time was set aside to watch a video greeting recorded by a branch member currently in South Africa.

Moving on to perhaps the highlight of the night was the kids’ skit. Organized by the Junior Wobblies with the assistance of some of their parents and siblings, the skit featured the kids poking fun at the campaigns and experiences of the Twin Cities IWW. As usual, it received a lot of laughter and a standing applause.

A staffer from General Headquarters in Chicago attended, and gave a broad report of what has been going on in the union. This was followed reports from The Organizer editor and the Junior Wobblies. This was the last of the reports.

The event then moved on to a “Trivia Pub Quiz” with the winning table getting an extra entry into the raffle. The raffle, which every attendee got at least one entry in, consisted of a number of prizes, including items from May Day Books, thoughtcrime ink, Recomposition and individual members. The last part of RNBN involved making toasts. Wobblies raised their glasses and saluted each other’s efforts. It was a display of appreciation for tasks not always recognized. This concluded the 7th Annual Red November, Black November.

Twin Cities GMB member, Emmett D said after, “It was a successful event that captured the energy and hilarity of our union. I think a lot of people left feeling energized and excited to see what we can accomplish in the year ahead.”

An important message from our upcoming newsletter: SCREW UP BLACK FRIDAY!!!!

10610546_307432982785098_2631383231149590688_n

From ScrewUps Newswire Facebook page

On Black Friday this year, UPS workers are getting the worst deal of the year. Instead of relaxing at home, enjoying a long weekend, and stocking up on the cheapest retail merchandise of the year, we all get to go to work on a contract-guaranteed holiday! How ‘bout that for “holiday cheer”?

UPS is very likely going to make a shitload of money by adding an extra shift during peak season. How do they get away with it? Article 15 of the Central Region contract supplement guarantees seniority employees eight paid holidays, including Thanksgiving and the day after Thanksgiving (Black Friday). But when you look at Section 4 of Article 15, the Teamsters clarify that any employees can be required to work on any of these eight holidays, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Well, almost nothing. As part of the Screw Ups peak season survival guide, here are some ways to SCREW UP Black Friday and make UPS pay for calling us in.

Teamsters Central Region and UPS Supplemental Agreement to the National Master UPS Agreement, Article 15, Section 4: “Except as otherwise provided in this agreement, regular seniority employees required to work on any of the above named holidays [which include the day after Thanksgiving] shall receive double his/her regular hourly rate for all hours worked with a guarantee of eight (8) hours for full-time employees and four (4) hours for part-time employees. Also, no employee shall be required to work on Labor Day unless authorized by the local union.”

Slow Down. We say this pretty often, but on Black Friday it is particularly important. This is an extra day for UPS to turn a profit, and chances are they are going to try to push us harder than on any regularly scheduled shift. What is the best way to show the company you’re pissed about them stealing one of your vacation days? Cut into their profit as much as possible. We’re getting paid double our usual rate, so we’ve got to make it count. Don’t let UPS pull their usual corner-cutting bullshit that keeps our hours at a bare minimum. If they can push a high volume of packages through at the usual rate, UPS is going to hit the jackpot. Before you know it, they’ll start doing this on every “holiday.” Black Friday is a holiday: so take a break, relax, and work slow.

Ask for your minimum hour guarantee. Try to get as many hours as you can bear. Your supervisor won’t tell you that you are entitled to at least four hours (eight for full timers) of work that day. Maybe they’ll even tell you that it is only 3.5 as usual. If you get cut before reaching the minimum hours, let your sup know that you want four hours and that they are required to find you work until that minimum is fulfilled. Since you’ll be working slow anyways, chances are you will be getting over four hours already, but the more people who hit that mark, the less money the parasites in suits will make off of our work. If Black Friday profits are significantly lower than what UPS hoped to see, they will have to think twice before pulling this shit again next year. When it gives us tools, we should be prepared to wield the contract as a weapon against the company’s greed.

But what good is a contract that “guarantees” us a certain number of paid holidays, but then allows the company to cancel those holidays without our approval? UPS relies on us to get the work done, then treats us like the dog shit on the bottom of a boot. Fuck that. We need to be the boot giving the company a swift kick in the ass, dog shit and all.

What can brown people do for you?

1654281_302308139964249_8137338502885251705_n

From ScrewUPS Facebook

Racism on the shop floor at UPS takes any number of forms, both the really obvious ones we see from time to time and the more subtle forms that often happen right peoples nose. In this article, one of our contributors speaks out about the issue.

What can brown people do for you?

As a person of color i often find it hard to talk about racism in the workplace with my co workers. Its a controversial topic that most prefer not to talk about. As a result many of my fellow white co workers will question whether or not racism even exists anymore. If you are one of these people let me be the first to say that yes, yes it actually does. It’s true that we’ve come along way since the civil rights era. This doesn’t mean that minorities are not discriminated against on a daily basis and If you don’t believe me just google “racial discrimination at UPS” and see what pops up. Just because no one is talking about it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. And even when we do speak up about it we are often ignored, shunned and degraded for pulling the “race card” etc etc in every way possible especially by management.

One way to see racism play out in the workplace is how UPS promotes it’s managers. Our workplace is a white male dominated environment no doubt. As a part time worker however almost half of the people in my section aren’t white at all. Yet the only faces i see with polos on are all white men. Every once in a while i see a black face here and there (gotta fill that quota somehow) yet all of the bosses in my area are all white. To be clear though i absolutely despise the bosses, not because of who they are but what they do. That hatred wouldn’t change just because my boss is black. I’m only pointing it out because it’s clear evidence of the significant power imbalances that exist between white men and minorities.

But it goes beyond just career opportunities, In Lexington KY there is a pending lawsuit where black workers are suing the company over racial discrimination they said they have endured for years. It got to the point where an effigy of a black employee was hung from the ceiling for 4 days outside of a managers office. While this kind of blatant prejudice may be unlikely to happen here in Minnesota its gotta be confronted however big or small and wherever it may appear. Silent oppression is still oppression, as people of color we especially have a duty to say something and most importantly DO SOMETHING whenever we see this happening to our fellow co workers (be it black, latino asian or otherwise). If you’re a white male please don’t take this the wrong way. This isnt meant to be an indictment of your character in anyway, nor am i saying its your fault. Just a friendly reminder that the fight for equality has never ended. You have a part to play in this too, as do we all. Let’s not forget that racism was pioneered in this country as a way to keep poor blacks and whites from coming together against the rich. There’s no reason for workers to be fighting each other over pitiful scraps, especially when we can organize and take the whole damn thing ourselves.

Members’ Corner: Dues Money

IMG_0359

In the IWW, like all unions, we pay membership dues. But what are these dues for, and why is it important that we pay them? John O’Reilly explains dues in this article from 2011.

Members corner: dues money by John O’Reilly
Originally appeared in The Organizer # 26(April 2011) Read more