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WSA Joins in International Day of Solidarity With Domino’s Workers
On September 15th, Domino’s Pizza stores worldwide saw radical workers pounce and raise the alarm of a massive attack on delivery drivers’ working conditions in Australia – and of the organized anarchism that is pushing back. Back in April Domino’s Pizza in Australia cut the wages for their delivery drivers by 19% overnight. Why? Because they could. Many Domino’s delivery drivers in Australia are members of the SDA union, which as it happens is a worthless piece of shit even compared to our own retail unions like UFCW. To give a couple examples, SDA union organizers are known to go around wearing fetus buttons to show their union’s opposition to abortion, and they got taken to court by the government for conspiring with McDonald’s bosses to cut young fast food workers’ wages. So obviously the drivers’ union is more concerned with maintaining their good relationship with the Domino’s bosses than even trying to fake a thin veneer of working class solidarity.
Members of the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation (ASF-IWA, the Australian affiliate of the International Workers Association, the international of anarcho-syndicalist unions) in Brisbane were affected by this wage cut, and in the absence of any other resistance, began organizing with their co-workers to get their wages restored and build a base for revolutionary class struggle among Domino’s workers. They created a new anarchist union for Domino’s delivery drivers, the General Transport Workers Association, affiliated to the ASF-IWA. As they ramped up their organizing drive and started expanding to other cities, the GTWA and ASF-IWA put out a call for an international day of solidarity with Domino’s delivery drivers on September 15th. Comrades in 14 countries and nearly 50 cities came out in response with pickets, graffiti, call-ins, literature distributions, and delegations of Domino’s bosses. In Australia, 5 cities saw pickets and solidarity meetings with workers. The basic idea was to put the heat on the Australian section of Domino’s Pizza by stirring up trouble with any capitalist flying the red, white and blue Domino’s flag. Because the capitalist class organizes itself internationally, to win against them we need to too.
The Workers Solidarity Alliance has been a comrade organization of the ASF-IWA since the ’80s and followed the Domino’s campaign from its beginning. Although the WSA is no longer in the IWA, we believe that our firm and committed connections to international anarchist struggle is one of the strongest assets of our organization. At our continental conference at the end of July we made plans to participate in a solidarity campaign for the Australian delivery drivers should one be announced by the ASF-IWA. When they set the date for the 15th, the WSA heeded the call and spread the appeal to all the radicals and troublemakers in the land. The IWW heard the call the loudest and organized and peopled the majority of the actions, many likely pondering what crater a 19% pay cut would leave in their lives. The IWW in the U.S. has several campaigns in the notoriously low-waged and precarious quick-serve food industry and it’s no surprise they came out swinging when they heard the call from down under.
The WSA did our best to help coordinate the actions in North America – there were pickets in ten cities altogether – setting up conference calls, an email list and Facebook pages, and working to centralize resources for the action. Our intention was that as an organization with pre-existing structures of continental communication and organization we could help the many actions go off as smoothly as possible by helping everyone share as much work and ideas as possible, with cutting down on the amount of effort being replicated. An honest assessment would have to admit that we fell short of our potential, and too few people did too much work, while the communication between the different cities was ersatz at best. But along with supporting our fellow workers in Australia, this campaign has helped us grow the capacities of our own organization and helped us become a more effective embodiment of working class fierceness.
Altogether, WSA members were directly involved in organizing actions in 5 cities: Atlanta, Berkeley, Long Beach, Missoula, and Providence. Here are short reports on how some of those went:
In Atlanta, we had eight pickets, including me, from the IWW branch. We don’t have, that any of us knew of, walk in Dominoes locations, only delivery, so we had to focus on propagandizing the drivers as best we could. We worked the store for about an hour during lunch time, they seemed busy, got fliers to most of the drivers and had conversations with several. Mixed response, some sympathetic, some frightened and angry. We were glared at by management pretty much the entire time. Before I got there a police officer showed up, talked to the manager and left. Several people had tried a different approach the evening before and ordered pizzas and engaged the drivers in conversation away from the bosses, I haven’t heard impressions of how this was received.
In Berkeley we had about a dozen people come out for the action. The local IWW had picket signs made up and a red and black flag flying. The IWW Food and Retail workers union made up some fliers to pass out and at first went inside to hand them out to the workers and talk to them about the action. The owner got really pissed off and called the cops. One cop showed up and didn’t really do anything except discuss what our rights were and what was allowed under the law. He took off and we walked in circles chanting and made some noise with a bullhorn the IWW brought. Next the owner decided to hand out free pizza coupons to everyone on the street and we put the word out around the neighborhood that they were giving away free pizzas. Soon the store front was packed and a line started forming and went down the block. They also gave away sodas to people standing in line. I’m not sure why the owner did this? Honestly, we probably would have just walked in circles and made some noise for a couple hours and left without much interference with her business but the owner decided to give away a lot of pizza, sodas and deserts probably costing a thousand or two in profits. They didn’t give any to us obviously but some people came out and started to give the picketers some slices. It was a great action and after a couple hours we decided to call it a night.
Full IWW Food & Retail Workers United report on the action: http://www.frwu.net/2012/
Long Beach, CA:
On Saturday, September 15th, friends of pizza truck drivers from all corners of the great SouthLand descended on Domino’s Pizza, in rapid-response to a call for Solidarity. Revolutionary Anarcho-Syndicalist pizza delivery drivers had taken to the barricades in Australia upon learning that multi-tentacled transnational Domino’s Pizza Corporation had arbitrarily slashed their wages by 19%. When asked why the draconian wage cuts were in order, a Caped Cephalopod – who the workers know well as the spokesperson for their would-be corporate overlords – responded “for pure, sadistic glee”.
Thereby we arrived at the scene, where a network of Southland Militants led by the Workers’ Solidarity Alliance (WSA) and the Industrial Workers of the World Flores Magon Branch (IWW-RFM) bombarded Californian Domino’s retail outlets with working-class democracy. Militants jammed Domino’s call lines asking for a special 19% off deal in Solidarity with the pizza truck drivers. Standing shoulder to shoulder with their working sisters and brothers from the Southern Hemisphere, the militants and aspiring militants vigorously picketed stores, asserting “ALL the Pizza!, For ALL the People!”. This band of labor agitators rekindled the once-thought dead art of the Theater, dramatizing the cruel wage-cut scene for spectators among Domino’s workers, customers, and passerby’s alike. Members of the proletariat and community cheered with euphoria at the sight of these artful and punchy acts of international solidarity in the face of transnational monstrosity. The Caped Cephalopod was nowhere to be seen. However, reports have it that the corporate creature was so perturbed by the day’s outbreaks of working class solidarity that it released large clouds of purple ink.
Video of the first in-store skit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Afterward, militants packed a nearby Pizza shop, enjoying Canadian Pizza and strategy for the imminent social revolution. Corporate structures of domination, Beware! More than a week later, idle games of prank calls are still sputtering on between employees of a certain Domino’s location and area revolutionary anarchists.
The WSA’s local goal with this action in Long Beach was to promote specifically anarchist labor organizing in the LA region by bringing together comrades around publicly supporting the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation’s campaign. There has been precious little anarchist engagement in LA with revolutionary struggle at our workplaces. Most efforts that we have put into labor organizing have been confined to supporting the campaigns of reformist unions and non-profits. While we do still believe in organizing with rank and file workers within reformist unions – and for that matter with people in every place that the working class can be found – we don’t believe that the unions as they exist can be revolutionary; that they can ever do away with the bosses. They rely on maintaining a mutually beneficial relationship with the bosses for their existence; and strengthening the unions, while at times definitely giving us necessary benefits, also strengthens capital. Our goal is the abolition of work, not a change in the management of work, and we need to be inspired by our comrades on the other side of the world who work the same kinds of jobs as us and have begun to take their working conditions as the active basis for revolutionary struggle.
We understand that we need to create political organization in Los Angeles that can develop a cohesive strategic analysis of our city, and plan and undertake anarchist labor organizing projects that will experiment with queer, feminist and anti-racist models of organizing that will push beyond the boundaries of reformist union organizing and towards the abolition of work, and expand beyond the workplace to advance all the intersecting struggles of our class.
As a minuscule and often non-functioning group, the WSA in Los Angeles and Southern California can at this time do little more than organize with a few of our close friends and comrades to show a glimmer of our solidarity with anarchist labor organizing in Australia. But it is our desire to take this as one step in a process of creating a living and fighting vision of anarcho-communism in Los Angeles.
We had to do the picket the evening of the 14th actually because most of the participants were either working or running a solidarity network benefit the next night. This turned out really cool though because it was 9:30am on the 15th in parts of Australia when we went to town. We ended up having the “First confirmed solidarity action” according to our comrades in the South Pacific.
Three of us constructed our reusable picket signs the afternoon of the action and the rest meet us downtown to taxi down to the soccer fields across the street from the Domino’s. It took two trips to get the 6 of us and our gear down. We assembled, discussed who would do what, then marched signs a waving to set up the picket in front of the store. Myself and a solnet member were delegated to go directly into the store and introduce ourselves and the action to the workers inside. When we arrived at the store the two of us went in and were greeted with big smiles. We explained what the action was all about and continued to get smiles and nods, including a worker exclaiming, “whoa, Cool!”. They seemed totally comfortable with it then we dropped a bundle of one’s on the counter as a tip and waved good-bye. The two of us joined in with the picket which was split in two, 3 on each side, of the entry way to the parking lot.
Immediately we began to draw curiosity and several folks approached the picket with questions and supportive words. We had a couple of weirdos flip out on us including a neighbour who started screaming incoherently and a guy telling us we needed to be protesting Obama instead. For the most part we got raised fists, horn honks and car yellers yelling We intended for the action to last about two hours and good thing too as our seventh picketer showed up on a bicycle from work and wanted to get some sign flying in.
A manager came out maybe two or three times progressively getting more and more frustrated. The first time I thought he was a rank-and-filer and I hit him up with my run-down and he was like, oh ok, and turned and went back in the store. At this point I believe he called the head person or owner and was instructed to get us to leave. He came out and explained that Domino’s Australia was “like a totally different thing” and we should just picket somewhere else. He was told he’d have to sit tight tell we finished our action. He was also told that if he had a problem with the picket he needs to call corporate and complain. This caused him to storm off and yell, “thanks for hurting business LOCALLY”.
We had several people who had ordered pizza for pick up and paid via credit card over the phone. When a couple of them showed up for their pizza they ended up being very concerned with what had happened, “If I had known…”, and so forth. We told em’ not to worry about and just take some lit and call down to corporate and tell em’ to knock it off with these pay-cuts. These folks who had bought pizza and regretted it we’re our biggest supporters and we had some very cool conversations about the power of international solidarity with them. That was the coolest aspect of this action for me personally, getting to talk about organizing internationally and the idea was received warmly.
We voted to extend the time some to give our 7th some more time and somewhere around then the manager started photographing us, the creep. Also, we never got any negative “hollering” from drivers as they left on delivery. Instead we usually got a smile or a hand wave. The worst we got was a glare. For the most part, I think we had the support of both the workers and the community.
When it was all over we marched back across the street and started the taxi back uptown.
I think we did well upsetting the management, hopefully enough that they called down to corporate. For the radicals up here, this action helped bring us together and I feel it added some energy and positiveness up here going into winter. We’ve already discussed that this fight may continue on and our friends in Australia may just put another call out. Folks seemed amicable to answering it once again.
There was a pretty good action in Providence, where nine people turned out for our picket. We got together an IWW banner and a home made WSA sign to display. We handed out 150 fliers to people and customers passing by on foot and in their cars – which conveniently stopped by a light right in front of the store. We pissed off the bosses without even really lifting a finger. They first got pissed because we were leaning against their property. The workers really had no problem with us, though. We tried to give them tips but then the boss basically said he’d pocket them, making himself look like a total jorts-wearing asshole. We just “apologized” profusely to the workers that their boss sucked so bad. Then he called the cops who came along and told us we were doing nothing wrong. The boss had the gall to ask what the cops said to us, and we told him they thought we were doing nothing wrong. Classic. Overall, it was a good action and it taught some folks that even such a small action could really unsettle a global company and be seen as enough of a threat to have the state repression apparatus intervene.