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Update (Nov 13, 2013): this post has now been updated to include the formal announcement of the end of the strike.
In September of this year US based member of the IWW were able to meet and connect with members of the Starbucks Union in Chile. They are now waging a strike over the company’s refusal to meet a single demand of the union and calling for support and solidarity actions.
Beginning in one store in 2009 after workers wrote to Human Resources raising objections to a series of company-wide layoffs only to be fired, the union spread nationally to half the employees across the company in Chile (see the November 2013 Industrial Worker for a more detailed interview). The union remains self-organized, unaffiliated to any larger labor body and led by rank and file workers who work on the job. Since waging a strike and then hunger strike the union has continued on despite Starbucks continual refusal to negotiate or concede demands to meet common workplace standards (such as paid meals for instance) and even after numerous fines for violations of basic labor law.
This should all come as no surprise to US based workplace organizers and labor activists. For a number of years US Wobblies have waged an innovative campaign, first beginning in New York City, to demand basic rights only to be met with outright hostility. Rank and file led worker organizing was able to win many hard fought store level improvements as well as an increase in starting wages of NYC stores and recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a company holiday nationally. But after numerous firings and violations of labor rights, the campaign was able to prove a systematic effort by high level company officials to undermine and violate worker rights. So it should come as no surprise that Starbucks, which has been expanding to countries around the world and especially in developing countries, is taking these same labor practices around the world. This is a literal example of the global fight against multi-national corporations and their exploitative practices world-wide and the labor movement slogan “An Injury to One is An Injury to All.” Please read the below statements of the Starbucks Workers’ Union and support or initiate solidarity actions in your city. Use this form to send an email in support of the striking workers to Starbucks Chile.
Posted on November 8, 2013
By José Antonio Gutiérrez D.
Note from translator: The word “alzada” is the feminine form of the Spanish word that means rebel, instigator, or escalator. The term “territorial work” refers to community and neighborhood work. In Chile territorial work can refer to community organizations within, as well as those who support and offer solidarity within a network of community organizing. The word “classism” or classist is used in Latin America as putting forward a class analysis. When someone is described as a “militant,” it means that a person is politically committed to an organization or group. Sometimes people are referred to as a “double militants,” meaning they are politically active in two groups. The word “población” is best defined as shantytown or poor working class neighborhood. But poblaciones around Santiago have their own political history since they evolved as land takeovers by people who migrated from the countryside to the city. Some poblaciones have strong political and Leftist traditions, such as La Legua and Villa Francia. An individual who lives in a población is referred to as a pablador/a. The term “sexual dissidence” has a particular meaning and genealogy within Chilean feminism and activism. Sexual dissidence is critique of patriarchy, heteronormativity, and the LGBTQ movement in its alliance with the state, which has ceased to question the socialization of violence and instead seeks reforms such as marriage equality and anti-discrimination laws. It is important to remind the reader that the target audience in this interview was the Spanish-speaking community and those who understand or have followed Chilean politics. There are some issues and terms that might appear strange, but remember that the speakers allude to a different set of experiences and meanings beyond your immediate/lived knowledge.
–Lyudmila Read more
Posted on October 26, 2013
Editorial note: The subject of the short article below by the Venezuelan anarchist group El Libertario is of particular salience, as Maduro’s attack happens to parallel recent developments here in the U.S. where top Democratic politicians and the Chelsea Manning prosecution have both used the term ‘anarchist’ to slur their opponents.
As for the strike prompting Maduro’s outburst, a piece in Venezuela Analysis provides some context:
President Nicolas Maduro, the self-appointed “President Worker ,” continues his campaign of criminalization against the SIDOR strikers. In a ceremony held at the Campo de Carabobo on Saturday October 5th, he showcased a group of armed workers to face down what he has called “economic warfare.” As could be seen on state television, groups of workers from Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) and CORPOELEC, sporting uniforms of blue and red shirts, raised their rifles at the event.
The head of state criticized SIDOR workers for initiating the strike in the steel mill. He called the union leaders driving the strike in SIDOR “anarcho-syndicalists and populists” for demanding wage increases that the government claims it cannot afford. He warned that if the group does not call off the shutdown, he will take the mill “with the support of the people.”
“You are with the people, or you are with the oligarchy; there are no half measures,” he added. His declaration came in response to the shutdown led by workers of Siderúrgica del Orinoco (SIDOR), who are demanding the renewal of their collective agreement, already due three years ago, among other labor claims. President Maduro has insisted that the workers are be being manipulated by imperialism, as part of the “economic war” against his government.
Meanwhile, Wills Rangel, chairman of the Federation of Petroleum Workers of Venezuela, attended the event and declared that the working class will incorporate the Bolivarian militia “from now on.” Rangel assured Maduro that he can count on “this army of workers and employees” to deepen the fight against the “economic war.”
Working translation by Steven Fake. Corrections welcome.
Posted on October 13, 2013
By Martin, South London SF
The Solidarity Federation was formed in 1994, at a conference in Blackpool, Lancashire, called by the Direct Action Movement, industrial networks and Norwich Solidarity Centre.
To understand why and how this came about, we need to look back into developments happening in the Direct Action Movement in the 1980s and early 90s.
The DAM was the British affiliate of the International Workers Association, or IWA, the anarcho-syndicalist international organisation. It had formed in 1979 from a conference involving the previous affiliate, the Syndicalist Workers Federation, and groups of anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists across Britain. At the time, there was no real current of organised anarchism in Britain, with previous initiatives having stalled or disappeared; and the other groups that came to the fore in the 1980s – the ACF and Class War – were yet to be established.
Posted on October 13, 2013
Thoughts on SolFed’s anarcho-syndicalism for the 21st century and Especifismo
By Klas Batalo
If you've been following debates in class struggle anarchism the last few years you've most likely encountered the writings of the Solidarity Federation (UK) who've put out excellent pamphlets on anarcho-syndicalist theory and practice with the hope of updating it for the 21st century. The first of these Strategy & Struggle was released by the Brighton local of SolFed in 2009 and created much of a buzz for the organization, especially around the website libcom.org. This is why many anticipated eagerly the release the groups' elaboration and improvement upon many of the ideas in that pamphlet, Fighting for Ourselves, released around this time last year in 2012.
Posted on September 25, 2013
The Revolutionary Party Is An Oxymoron
By Steven Fake
The campaign of socialist Kshama Sawant for the Seattle City Council continues to attract excitement on the left for her strong showing. A Counterpunch contributor recently called it a "highly significant" development. I wish her well of course. A socialist threat in the city of Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks is indeed heart warming. Hopefully the publicity will introduce some new people to socialism. But electoral campaigns are not a promising strategy for systemic change.
Posted on September 13, 2013
3 Ways Organizing With Friends Can Lead to Failure
By Brandon Feld
Sitting among a group of college aged friends that all dress and talk in the same way is a recurring scene in activism and organizing groups around the world. In large part, organizing takes the form of a few people trying to rally their friends around a cause. These practices are counterproductive to creating welcoming organizing spaces.
I’ve been in all types: organizations that were started from friendships, groups of people that later became friends after working together (which is better), and most recently a group that I have a few friends in but most of the people I work with I just consider comrades. Meaning once in awhile we go out for beers after a meeting or action but socializing doesn’t go much beyond that. The latter of the three works best to promote a healthy organizational culture. This article will examine the reasons as to how leaning on our friends to take a role in our organizations can become problematic.
Posted on July 27, 2013
Malatesta and Syndicalism
A note from the translator: "This is a never before translated piece by Lopez Arango, one of the main theorists of the pre-1930 FORA, that goes against Malatesta's ideas on the unions. The prose is filled with flourish and it not straight forward at all. I tried to take liberties to make it more readable in English... It has some really interesting elements in it: focus on the method of struggle, rejection of unions in post-rev society, rejection of anarcho-syndicalism as a concept, clarity of the dynamic of struggle between pre-revolutionary periods and ruptures, etc. The FORA was way ahead of their time."
From the weekly supplement of La Protesta, July 13, 1925
By Emilio López Arango
In a translation of “Pensiero e Volonte” from Rome, an article by Malatesta was published about the relation in theory and fact between anarchism and syndicalism. The aforementioned comrade raised a point of contradiction between those two terms, and explains how the role of the labor movement and activity of anarchists outside and inside of the unions, and in a final note subtlety gathered words written in La Protesta. The article of Malatesta generalizes a problem not yet sufficiently discussed and clarified.
Posted on May 8, 2012