Tag Archives: may day

CALL TO ACTION – MAY 1, INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY

We are excited to repost a call that was recently put out by militant Bay Area workers for an action on this year’s May Day.  After decades of sectoralism and business unionist strategies taken up by unions everywhere, it is important that we support militant rank-and-file movements that look to challenge the restrictive bourgeois laws and employer strategies that pit workers against each other.  See you out on May  Day!

CALL TO ACTION – MAY 1, INTERNATIONAL WORKERS DAY

United Rank & File Construction Workers Take A Stand on May Day

Join us as we return to a proud history of direct action to fight to protect our own livelihoods, to raise up and organize all workers and against laws that restrict us.

On May 1, International Workers Day, we will be gathering at 16th and Mission at 5am to protest the 2 Gate System. This is a system that contractors and developers have created in order to impose the restrictive, discriminatory and repressive anti-worker laws of the Taft-Hartley act on construction unions.

San Francisco appears, on the surface, to be recovering from the economic disasters of recent years. There are cranes all over town and buildings are popping up everywhere. The people building these buildings are unable to afford the luxuries that many supposedly offer. We are also growing further and further from the chance of ever living a reasonable distance from the city in which we work. Most of us have long been unable to afford to live within the limits of the city we built. We see new wealth coming into SF all the time and yet we have gotten modest or no raises.

Many of us are lucky to have collective bargaining. We look forward to contracts coming up during this building boom. It seems the time has finally come for us to get the raises that we have lacked in the last few years while the cost of living has skyrocketed. We are looking forward to the opportunity to dig out of the financial holes we are in after years of unemployment, losing insurance for our families, losing houses and having to raid our retirement accounts to make ends meet. Now, contractors and developers need us badly and will have to give us a decent raise next contract, right? Maybe not…

Historically in San Francisco a vast majority of building has been done by workers who together, through their unions, bargain with all of their employers for a fair and equal wage rate for all of the labor done by their craft. This is still the case but we see other employers winning work contracts in SF at an alarming rate. Building has increased suddenly in San Francisco but it has disproportionately increased for the non-signatory contractors. There is an unprecedented amount of building being done by contractors who do not agree to the standards of pay and conditions that workers have fought for.

This gives signatory employers (those who employ workers under collective agreements) a powerful bargaining chip as we go into negotiations during this boom. They will argue that they need to stay competitive or the “union contractors” (and therefore workers) will all lose jobs. “Staying competitive” they argue, means that they cannot give raises, may even need some back, in order to compete. Suddenly, the snowball that has killed all the reasonably livable jobs across the country is being rolled around in San Francisco, the last bastion of hope for a decent living for those of us with blue collars.

Ideally, to stop this snowball, we would organize all workers who are not yet in our organizations. We would use the power of withholding all labor on a jobsite until all employers were forced to enter the same collectively bargained agreement. We would like to make it perfectly clear that we see non-union workers as our sisters and brothers in the trade. We want them to have the same wages and conditions that we have. We do not want to compete with them but rather join them into our ranks so that we might work together to raise the living standards of all working people. We want all workers to rise together, as opposed to the arguments made by employers about being “competitive”.

Historically, organized labor has caused economic hardships for entities that take advantage of an unorganized labor force. They did this by standing in solidarity with any group of workers in dispute with their employer and withholding all of our labor until the problem is resolved. The 2 Gate System is one of a host of anti-worker laws that make the tactics that the unions were built on illegal. As yet, the Unions have been mostly unwilling to challenge or disobey these laws. However, through well-organized disobedience and subversion of these laws using the power of united labor action, these laws can be eradicated. We are working toward a day when our unions will do this. Do not be surprised that the leadership of the unions is officially unsupportive, they are not sure the working members want or are ready for the struggle that it will entail, we must show them by taking up the charge as workers.

Until then, the laws do not and cannot forbid you and me, rank and file workers, from going to these jobs and protesting them.

At this time in history, the future of the working class hangs in the balance and we in the stronghold of San Francisco must hold the line for ourselves and fight to turn the tide against the attacks against all working people.

Together, we will build solidarity and power, bring an end to unjust laws, and have a society that meets our needs.

WE ARE NOT AGAINST THE NON UNION WORKER

WE ARE AGAINST THE EMPLOYERS, DEVELOPERS AND CONTRACTORS THAT EXPLOIT THEM

WE ARE AGAINST THE DOWNWARD PUSH THAT EXPLOITATION HAS ON ALL OF US

WE ARE AGAINST LAWS THAT RESTRICT OUR ABILITY TO FIGHT

WE FIGHT TO ERADICATE ALL ANTI-WORKER LAWS AND SYSTEMS

SMASH THE 2 GATE SYSTEM – SMASH TAFT-HARTLEY

1 GATE, 2 GATES, or 10 GATES- PICKET LINES MEAN DO NOT CROSS

Occupy Oakland Post-May Day: Strengths, Limits, and Futures

The Beginning and End of Occupy Oakland:

The article “Occupy Oakland is Dead,” posted on Bay Of Rage, covers the beginning and end of Occupy Oakland and captures many important points. The origins of Occupy Oakland lie in the first rebellion against the police murder of Oscar Grant on January 7 2009, making Occupy Oakland distinct from other Occupies. The insurgent student movement that fought austerity through building occupations shook up the liberal wing of the student movement that argued occupation as a tactic was akin to property destruction and thus destructive.

Occupy Oakland didn’t apply the logic of the 99% to the police, and was clear how and why the police were violent agents of the 1%. The centrality of food, health care, and shelter as “use-values”, useful items for human reproduction, within the camp symbolized and embodied the seeds of a world free of exploitation.

Incredible political events were launched as a result of Occupy Oakland: the November 2nd march on the port; the unpermitted march on November 19th to Lakeview Elementary as a direct response to the wave of school closures in Oakland; the December 12th west coast shutdown supporting ILWU struggle against EGT; and the January 28th move-in day to upgrade the content of the evicted camp with an actual building; the February 17th immigrant rights march against the firing of undocumented workers at Pacific Steel in Berkeley after an attack by ICE; the February 20th protest at the gates of San Quentin; a wave of neighborhood BBQs in West, North, and Deep East Oakland; and finally, completing its cycle of struggle, actions on May 1st.

Occupy Oakland captured the unfolding radicalism across the nation and upped the ante, with a fierce anti-state and anti-capitalist character.

The authors of the Bay Of Rage article argue, “It makes no sense to overly fetishize the tactic of occupations, no more than it does to limiting resistance exclusively to blockades or clandestine attacks. Yet the widespread emergence of public occupations qualitatively changed what it means to resist.” Occupy Wall Street generally, and its expression in Oakland in particular, opened up a space for newly politicized individuals, revolutionaries, and progressive people of diverse backgrounds to engage with one another directly across various political and identitarian divisions.  The engagement went beyond verbal interaction and took the form of direct confrontation with the state, reclamations of public space, and strategic interventions against the circulation of capital.  This by all means is true. But what is also true is every labor struggle Occupy Oakland engaged in was also lost, with the most notable example being the ILWU-EGT struggle and the Licorice Factory strike in Union City.

How do we make sense of a situation where, Occupy Oakland, a leading center of resistance, has lost every labor battle it has engaged in? How do we make sense of the limitation that Occupy Oakland’s central space, Oscar Grant Plaza, has been lost. Tahrir square, Plaza del Sol and Syntagma square were spatial centers that facilitated the generalization of rebellion, declaring war on the capitalist order.  What is a radical social movement left to do once it has lost its spatial center? Continue reading