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DC-IWW and Supporters Picket Starbucks in DC to Support Fired NYC Organizers

IWW Rally At Shattuck Cinemas, IWW Party At Humanist Hall
Labor Struggles at KPFA / Pacifica Radio Network

Monday, September 4, 2006, 1:00 PM
1929 Martin Luther King Jr. Way (at University Avenue)
Berkeley, CA

In March, the KPFA Program Council banned the KFPA Labor Collective for one year. The KPFA Labor Collective has been producing labor programming at KPFA for more than three years. The collective has members from SEIU 1000, NALC 214, SEIU 616, IBT 70, IUOE 39, SEUI UHW, and other locals.

At present, KPFA has 20 minutes a week of regular labor programming. The San Francisco Labor Council, the Contra Costa Labor Council, SEIU 790, SEIU 616 and other locals have endorsed calls for more labor programming. Hundreds of trade unionists have signed petitions for a weekly one hour labor show called "Workweek".

For more information and background on the Program Council and the KPFA Labor Collective, see my statement below, and .


Elections for the KPFA Local Station Board (LSB) will be held at the end of this year. Ballots are scheduled to be sent out October 16, and must be received back by Pacifica (NOT postmarked) by November 15.

More urgently, to vote, or to be a candidate, you must be a KPFA member of record on September 1. Make sure your membership is current!

To join or renew your membership, go to , or call 800-439-5732 or 510-848-5732.

Although most of the world allows same-day registration for voting, and the federal government requires registration 30 days before an election, the Pacifica bylaws require listeners to be members 45 days in advance.

SI SE PUEDE! - A statement by Riva Enteen

It is almost three years since I left the National Lawyers Guild and jumped into KPFA and Pacifica politics. I thought lawyers were difficult. Throw together the political times we live in, enormous radio personality egos, an entrenched old-boys network, Berkeley crazies and a sprinkle of government disruption ("The government would be remiss if it didn't try to disrupt Pacifica," said Bill Mandel recently.), and you have our dysfunctional radio network.
My tenure as Local Station Board (LSB) began with my reading reliable accounts of intimidation at the station. Intimidation so strong, most were afraid to come forward. For background on some of the more notable incidents, see my statement from the January 2006 KPFA Town Hall, . The culture of intimidation continues to this day.

In my nearly three years on the LSB, we have made only one significant decision (other than hiring and removing Roy Campanella II as General Manager), and that was early in the first year. In 2004, the LSB voted to instruct Interim General Manager Jim Bennett to implement the Program Council's decision to change the time of Democracy Now! See Confidentials #3, #6 and #10 for more information:

This resolution was ignored, and continues to be ignored, by KPFA management. "Too much resistance," Campanella once said to me. I think a better word would be insubordination. The question of Democracy Now! hasn't even been on the LSB agenda for well over two years.

Although I and many others on the LSB ran on platforms to improve the news and ratio of music to public affairs, there has been no progress there. The News Department issued a memo stating that their editorial decisions were not subject to review (see Confidential #5, ),and news Co-Director, Aileen Alfandary told me Haiti President Aristide wasn't kidnapped because he walked onto the plane.

Recently Andrea Lewis of the Morning Show referred to anti-abortion activists as "Pro-Life." When challenged by a listener on the air for using that terminology, she said that is what they want to be called. There is no system in place at KPFA to raise these kinds of political questions, much less get them resolved.

But we won the struggle for democracy and transparency, didn't we? Well... To this day, "official" programming decisions are made behind closed doors by an unelected Program Council, with the voting records of Program Council members kept secret. And radio is about programming, after all!

At one of these secret meetings, on International Women's Day no less, the Program Council voted to ban the KPFA Labor Collective from submitting proposals for a year. Why? The explanation for the ban was vague at best, the collective was barred from the Program Council's deliberations, and given no opportunity to respond to the charges -- blatant violations of basic due process. The KPFA Labor Collective filed two grievances, to the station, and to Pacifica, both of which were ignored. At the July LSB meeting, the Labor Collective asked an LSB member to help them with their grievances, and I was the only volunteer.

The Interim General Manager Lemlem Rijio (who reportedly voted for the ban) directed me to the KPFA Human Resources consultant, who told me he would recommend lifting the ban because there were no findings. Pending an investigation, he said, the ban should be lifted.

On the eve of Labor Day, the KPFA Labor Collective is still banned from KPFA. The collective is calling for a picket of KPFA on Labor Day at 1:00 PM. The demand is simple. Lift the ban on the KPFA Labor Collective. I hope I will see you there.

What I am most proud of during my term as an LSB member is my organizing to bring Bill Mandel back to the airwaves. The ten-year ban on Bill had never even made it to the LSB agenda, and wouldn't, so we organized on the street, directly with the listeners. We marched a delegation into the station to see the General Manager, and organized picket lines in front of the station -- which finally broke the ban and brought Bill back.

I am certain that without listener agitation, the LSB will continue to be rendered superfluous, if not an outright distraction, from what listeners fought so hard for, which was to protect OUR airwaves and provide a voice for the voiceless.

Ten-Point ACTION Plan for KPFA

In collaboration with Steve Zeltzer of the KPFA Labor Collective, Mehmet Yazgan of the former Voices of the Middle East, and JR of the Block Report, I wrote the following Ten-Point ACTION Plan. I welcome your thoughts.

KPFA and Pacifica:
Community Radio as the Voice of the Voiceless or still the same old boys network?

* Are you satisfied with the quality of news at KPFA?
* Are you satisfied with the amount of quality public affairs programming?
* Are you satisfied that all programming decisions occur behind the closed doors of the Program Council, closed even to the elected governing board?

1. Open up the Program Council meetings to the public.

Programmers shall not have a vote on programming decisions. The Program Council facilitates the old boys network. The station is rife with nepotism. I'll scratch your back, you scratch mine. As a community radio station, listeners must decide programming. Programmers present, but don't decide. Listeners do. Where is transparency if programming decisions are made in secret? It CAN be done.

2. Improve the news.

Are you tired of hearing what you just read in the Chronicle? Do you want more alternative news, not just off the AP and UPI wires? The news co-directors have gone on record that all editorial decisions are their own. This is a community radio station, and the community has been clamoring for years to improve the news. It CAN be done.

3. There should be more Public Affairs than Music programs.

The police state and repression are increasing daily. People deemed "enemy combatants" are held incommunicado for years without seeing a lawyer or judge. We need more radical political analysis and strategies for activism, not endless hours of country and oldie music. Pacifica's LA station, KPFK, has a better ratio of public affairs to music. It CAN be done.

4. More community based reporters.

Do you live outside of Oakland and feel like your issues and activist work are ignored? Let's establish regional news bureaus in the South Bay, North Bay, Fresno and Sacramento. Couldn't the KPFA apprenticeship program, and KPFA's enormous $4 million budget support that? It CAN be done.

5. Better utilize KPFB, which reaches as many listeners as KPOO.

KPFB has a lot of dead air. Why? Because the old boys network wants to prevent anything they don't control. Let's utilize those airwaves, let newer programmers reach an audience and develop their skills. It CAN be done.

6. Re-establish the Women's Department and Third World Department.

The classy plaques of those former departments still adorn the walls of the station, but they exist only in memory. Why did they end? Bring them back, to assure that there will be consistent programming addressing the critical concerns of women and people of color. It CAN be done.

7. Establish a Labor Department.

Did you know that the Program Council banned the Labor Collective from making programming proposals for a year? Why? Because the Labor Collective made too many proposals. Why did they make so many proposals? Because there is almost no regular labor programming. Establish a Labor Department to be sure that there will be more regular programming to address the critical concerns of working people. It CAN be done.

8. Bring back the monthly folio.

Listeners continually ask for the return of the folio. The station should have a monthly folio with letters and articles from listeners and an interactive website for debate/discussion of programming and KPFA/Pacifica issues of concern. It CAN be done.

9. Demand a real Unpaid Staff Organization.

Unpaid staff used to be represented by the union which represented the paid staff, but the paid staff sold out the unpaid staff. The Unpaid Staff Organization (UPSO) does not have union representation, and doesn't even meet, as it is controlled by long term unpaid staffers, some of whom make their living because they are known as KPFA programmers. UPSO must meet, conduct the election for representatives that was scheduled for last October, and fight for a budget that supports unpaid community programmers. It CAN be done.

10. Support the establishment of a Pacifica New Orleans Affiliate.

A proposal has been made to the Pacifica National Board, but the board moves as slow as molasses. The survivors of Katrina are clamoring for real news, and every day survival is a struggle. Their radio stations are controlled by corporations and the religious right. Is Pacifica the voice of the voiceless? Open a station in New Orleans. It CAN be done.

Si Se Puede!
The Uprising of 20,000 and the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire

On Saturday, March 25, 1911, a fire broke out on the top floors of the Triangle Shirtwaist factory. Firefighters arrived at the scene, but their ladders weren’t tall enough to reach the upper floors of the 10-story building. Trapped inside because the owners had locked the fire escape exit doors, workers jumped to their deaths. In a half an hour, the fire was over, and 146 of the 500 workers—mostly young women—were dead.

Many of us have read about the tragic Triangle fire in school textbooks. But the fire alone wasn’t what made the shirtwaist makers such a focal point for worker safety. In fact, workplace deaths weren’t uncommon then. It is estimated that more than 100 workers died every day on the job around 1911.

The shirtwaist makers’ story was so compelling because it brought attention to the events leading up to the fire. After the fire, their story inspired hundreds of activists across the state and the nation to push for fundamental reforms. For some, such as Frances Perkins, who stood helpless watching the factory burn, the tragedy inspired a lifetime of advocacy for workers’ rights. She later became secretary of labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The Life of a Shirtwaist Maker

The shirtwaist makers, as young as age 15, worked seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with a half-hour lunch break. During the busy season, the work was nearly non-stop. They were paid about $6 per week. In some cases, they were required to use their own needles, thread, irons and occasionally their own sewing machines. The factories also were unsanitary, or as a young striker explained, “unsanitary—that’s the word that is generally used, but there ought to be a worse one used.” At the Triangle factory, women had to leave the building to use the bathroom, so management began locking the steel exit doors to prevent the “interruption of work” and only the foreman had the key.

The “shirtwaist”—a woman’s blouse—was one of the country’s first fashion statements that crossed class lines. The booming ready-made clothing industry made the stylish shirtwaist affordable even for working women. Worn with an ankle-length skirt, the shirtwaist was appropriate for any occasion—from work to play—and was more comfortable and practical than fashion that preceded it, like corsets and hoops.

Clara Lemlich
Years before the Triangle fire, garment workers actively sought to improve their working conditions—including locked exits in high-rise buildings—that led to the deaths at Triangle. In fall 1909, as factory owners pressed shirtwaist makers to work longer hours for less money, several hundred workers went on strike. On Nov. 22, Local 25 of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU) convened a meeting to discuss a general strike. Thousands of workers packed the hall.

Nineteen-year-old Clara Lemlich was sitting in the crowd listening to the speakers—mostly men—caution against striking. Clara was one of the founders of Local 25, whose membership numbered only a few hundred, mostly female, shirtwaist and dressmakers. A few months earlier, hired thugs had beaten her savagely for her union involvement, breaking ribs.

When the meeting’s star attraction, the American Federation of Labor President Samuel Gompers, spoke, the crowd went wild. After he finished, Clara expected a strike vote. Instead, yet another speaker went to the podium. Tired of hearing speakers for more than two hours, Clara made her way to the stage, shouting, “I want to say a few words!” in Yiddish. Once she got to the podium, she continued, “I have no further patience for talk as I am one of those who feels and suffers from the things pictured. I move that we go on a general!” The audience rose to their feet and cheered, then voted for a strike.

The Uprising of 20,000

The next morning, throughout New York’s garment district, more than 15,000 shirtwaist makers walked out. They demanded a 20-percent pay raise, a 52-hour workweek and extra pay for overtime. The local union, along with the Women’s Trade Union League, held meetings in English and Yiddish at dozens of halls to discuss plans for picketing. When picketing began the following day, more than 20,000 workers from 500 factories had walked out. More than 70 of the smaller factories agreed to the union’s demands within the first 48 hours.

Meanwhile, the fiercely anti-union owners of the Triangle factory met with owners of the 20 largest factories to form a manufacturing association. Many of the strike leaders worked there, and the Triangle owners wanted to make sure other factory owners were committed to doing whatever it took—from using physical force (by hiring thugs to beat up strikers) to political pressure (which got the police on their side)—to not back down.

Soon after, police officers began arresting strikers, and judges fined them and sentenced some to labor camps. One judge, while sentencing a picketer for “incitement,” explained, “You are striking against God and Nature, whose law is that man shall earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. You are on strike against God!”

The struggle and spirit of the women strikers caught the attention of suffragists. Wealthy progressive women like Anne Morgan (daughter of J.P. Morgan) and Alva Belmont (whose first husband, William Vanderbilt, presented her with a home so lavish, it was worth $150 million in today’s dollars) believed that all women—rich and poor—would be treated better if women had the right to vote. Alva saw the labor uprising as an opportunity to move the women strikers’ concerns into a broader feminist struggle. She arranged huge rallies, fund-raising events and even spent nights in court paying the fines for arrested strikers.

The coalition of the wealthy suffragists and shirtwaist strikers quickly gained momentum and favorable publicity. Fifteen thousand shirtwaist makers in Philadelphia went on strike, and even replacement workers at the Triangle factory joined the strike—shutting it down.

A month into the strike, most of the small and mid-sized factories settled with the strikers, who then returned to work. The large factories, which were the holdouts, knew they had lost the war of public opinion and were finally ready to negotiate. They agreed to higher pay and shorter hours but refused even to discuss a closed shop (where factories would hire only union members and treat union and nonunion workers equally in hiring and pay decisions).

At a series of mass meetings, thousands of strikers voted unanimously to reject the factory owners’ proposal. They insisted on a closed shop provision in which all employees at a worksite were members of a union. For these young women workers, the strike had become more than taking a stand for a pay raise and reduced work hours. They wanted to create a union with real power and solidarity.

While a closed shop became standard practice in later decades, at the time, their insistence seemed radical. The issue unraveled the alliance between the union and the wealthy progressive women. But by then, only a few thousand workers were still on strike, from the largest, most unyielding companies—including Triangle.

In February 1910, the strike finally was settled. The few remaining factories rehired the strikers, agreed to higher wages and shorter hours and recognized the union in name only, resisting a closed shop. Local 25, which prior to the strike represented only a few hundred members, now had more than 20,000. However, workers at Triangle went back to work without a union agreement. Management never addressed their demands, including unlocked doors in the factory and fire escapes that functioned.

The Legacy of the Shirtwaist Makers
A week after the fire, Anne Morgan and Alva Belmont hosted a meeting at the Metropolitan Opera House to demand action on fire safety, and people of all backgrounds packed the hall. A few days later, more than 350,000 people participated in a funeral march for the Triangle dead.

Three months later, after pressure from activists, New York’s governor signed a law creating the Factory Investigating Commission, which had unprecedented powers. The commission investigated nearly 2,000 factories in dozens of industries and, with the help of such workers’ rights advocates as Frances Perkins, enacted eight laws covering fire safety, factory inspections and sanitation and employment rules for women and children. The following year, they pushed for 25 more laws—entirely rewriting New York State’s labor laws and creating a State Department of Labor to enforce the laws. During the Roosevelt administration, Frances Perkins and Robert Wagner (who chaired the commission) helped create the nation’s most sweeping worker protections through the New Deal, including the National Labor Relations Act.

Clara Lemlich became a full-time activist, after being blacklisted by the garment industry association, and founded a working-class suffrage group. She later organized mothers around housing and education issues. Even in her last days at a nursing home, Clara helped to organize the orderlies.

Cornell University ILR School, Triangle Fire Online Exhibit; Jewish Women’s Archive; Sachar, Howard M. A History of the Jews in America, Knopf: 1992; Von Drehle, David. Triangle: The Fire that Changed America, Atlantic Monthly Press: 2003; Wertheimer, Barbara M. We Were There: The Story of Working Women in America, Pantheon Books: 1997.
The IWW had committed itself to equality for female workers from its very inception. Although only about a dozen delegates to the founding convention were women, a reflection of the attitudes in the established unions sending representatives, women were given considerable visibility. On the podium at the opening were Mother Jones, indefatigible advocate of miners' rights and foe of child labor, and Lucy Parsons, an anarchist orator and widow of one of the Haymarket martyrs. Luella Twining, later entrusted with managing Haywood¹s 1908 national tour, was a voting delegate and chairperson of the ratification session. Shortly after its founding, the IWW would draw brilliant female organizers to its standard, the most notable being Elizabeth Gurley Flynn and Matilda Rabinowitz. Such female IWWs spoke to, organized and led male workers as well as females. While the IWW became increasingly active in male-dominated industries after 1913, it never abandoned efforts to organize women. The IWW was the first American labor union to discuss the status of housework as a category of labor and the first to organize chambermaids and prostitutes.

The major industry in the East earmarked for organization by the IWW was textile manufacturing. Approximately half of the textile workers were female, a large percentage under the age of twenty with many less than fourteen. Women played such a pivotal role in textiles that industrial unions without their full participation were inconceivable, just as industrial unions in Southern lumber had been inconceivable without the full participation of blacks. The IWW also understood that no textile strike would succeed if women who worked at home succumbed to the anti-union pressures generated by the employers and their allies in the press, public office, the school system, and the clergy. Women who did not themselves work in the mills had to be convinced that whatever the immediate hardships of a strike, there would be real long-term benefits for their families and community.

The conditions faced by textile workers were grim. Wages for all but a few skilled workers were so low that most were in chronic debt, and work conditions, especially for women and children, were lethal. At a time when the national life expectancy was nearly fifty years, over a third of all mill workers died before the age of twenty~six. Substandard housing was the rule in mill towns, which were usually organized into de facto language ghettos with the most recent immigrants having the worst accommodations.

When IWW organizers began to arrive at textile mills to proclaim the doctrine of industrial democracy, a substantial number of workers were interested. By 1908, after leading a number of minor strikes, the IWW could claim 5,000 members for its National Industrial Union of Textile Workers headed by James P, Thompson. The biggest textile challenge came four years later when pay cuts led to a groundswell of strike sentiment in Lawrence, Massachusetts. IWW Local 20 had been on the scene for more than four years, and its members had an excellent grasp of the conditions of the 60,000 Lawrence residents dependent on the mills for their livelihood. Prompted by local IWWs, the strikers sent for seasoned organizer Joe Ettor, an IWW orator who had already been in Lawrence, and Arturo Giovannitti, Secretary of the Italian Socialist Federation and editor of its organ, Il Proletario.

Faced with having to organize workers from twenty-four major national groups speaking twenty-two different languages, the Lawrence leadership devised an organizational structure that became the standard IWW mode of operation. Each language group was given representatives on the strike committee, which numbered from 250 to 300 members. All decisions regarding tactics and settlements were democratically voted on by the committee, with the IWW organizers acting strictly as advisors.

The Lawrence strikers realized that their battle went beyond wages and work conditions to address the question of the quality and purpose of life. Female strikers expressed their needs in an unforgettable phrase when they appeared on the picket line with a homemade placard declaring, "We Want Bread and Roses Too," a demand which became a fixture in the labor and ferninist movements. But neither roses nor bread were possible without the most militant kind of strike and innovative worker tactics. Women would show the way on both scores. More female pickets than males were to be arrested for intimidating strikebreakers, and rank and file women provided decisive leadership at key moments in the strike.

Prohibited from massing before individual mills by law, the male and female strikers formed a moving picket line around the entire mill district! This human chain involving thousands of spirited workers moved twenty-four hours a day for the entire duration of the ten-week strike. Augmenting the awesome picket lines were frequent parades through town of from 3,000 to 6,000 strikers marching to militant labor songs. When a city ordinance was passed forbidding parades and mass meetings, the strikers improvised sidewalk parades in which twenty to fifty individuals locked arms and swept through the streets. They passed through department stores disrupting normal business and otherwise succeeded in bringing commerce to a halt. At night strikers serenaded the homes of scabs trying to get a good night's sleep, and in some cases the names of scabs were sent back to their native lands to shame their entire clan.

When striker Annie Lo Pezzo was killed during one of the demonstrations, Ettor and Giovannitti were arrested on murder charges; they were said to have provoked workers to illegal acts which in turn resulted in the death. Their places were promptly taken by Bill Haywood, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, William Trautman, and Carlo Resca. Haywood's arrival in Lawrence was tumultuous. Fifteen thousand strikers greeted him at the railroad station and 25,000 listened to him speak on the Lawrence Commons. During the course of the strike, there were dynamite schemes by employers, a proclamation of martial law, the death of a Syrian teenage boy from a militiaman's bayonet, and repeated physical confrontations between strikers and law enforcement groups. Women again played a critical role when it was decided to have the children of the strikers cared for by sympathizers in other cities. After some groups of children had left Lawrence, the army resolved to block further removals. In the ensuing physical confrontation, many women were beaten and two pregnant women miscarried, The brutal incident led to the national publicity and governmental hearings that resulted in victory for the strikers.

In the wake of the Lawrence triumph came strikes in other textile centers under IWW leadership and a successful campaign to free Ettor and Giovannitti. Prominent women such as socialist humanitarian Helen Keller, birth control activist Margaret Sanger and AFL organizer Mary Kenney O'Sullivan enthusiastically supported various IWW initiatives. Textile owners not yet faced with strikes began to grant wage increases unilaterally in hopes of averting unionization. The Detroit News estimated that 438,000 textile workers received nearly fifteen million dollars in raises as an indirect consequence of the Lawrence strike, with the biggest gains scored by the 275,000 workers in New England.

For a brief season, the IWW was on the threshold of unionizing textiles and redrawing the labor map of America. But the IWW victory never materialized. Among the IWW's problems was that the organization had not yet mastered the techniques of maintaining large locals on a permanent basis, once the pressure of a strike was over. A year after the strike in Lawrence, membership had fallen from ten thousand to under one thousand, as the union failed to counter new employer pressures. Of more immediate consequence was the eight-month strike which took place in Paterson, New Jersey.

Paterson, the center of the nation's silk industry, employed 25,000 workers in dying and manufacturing. Late in 1912, the mill owners embarked on a policy of speedups and wage cuts. The result was a spontaneous strike and a call for IWW assistance. The tactics recently used elsewhere with such great success were again employed, and top IWW organizers led by William Haywood and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn were constantly on the scene. Nonetheless the strike did not go well. One factor was an unprecedented rate of arrests, which created a chronic shortage of funds for strike benefits, legal fees, fines and bail.

In May of 1913, John Reed, just beginning to achieve fame as a socialist journalist, proposed to solve the financial logjam and bring a national spotlight to the strike with a pageant to be staged in New York City's Madison Square Garden.3 The pageant was announced in red lights ten feet high spelling out "IWW" on the side of Madison Square Garden. Although a propagandistic knockout with fifteen thousand people in attendence, the pageant was a financial fizzle, barely covering its costs. The event also created petty jealousies among strikers over who would take part. The pageant seems to have drained energy and funds that might have been more usefully employed in Paterson itself, but the show established a precedent for fundraising and publicity that would be followed by other radical groups, especially by the Communist Party in the 1930s and 1940s.

The Paterson strikers operated under disadvantages that had not existed in other textile centers. The mill operators saw themselves as the last line of defense for the industry and were prepared to stand firm whatever the economic costs. Unlike Lawrence, where the American Woolen Company dominated the city, there was no one mill in Paterson that could be singled out as the major target. The Paterson silk manufacturers also 'had other plants in Pennsylvania, where the workers did not strike. Their production guaranteed income to the owners however long the Paterson strike might last. A self-inflicted weakness was that the strike committee often disregarded the advice of the IWW, particularly on issues of solidarity. Sensing this weakness, the owners eventually offered plant by plant settlements, a practice which pit some of the skilled against the unskilled, and some of the native born against the foreign born.

The Paterson strike was officially terminated in August and marked the end of IWW momentum in textiles. Individual units in various locations remained active for years afterward, but the organization was never able to mount another offensive such as that of 1905 to 1913. The fragile alliance that had been developing with some feminists withered, and decades would pass before the needs of working women resurfaced as major items on labor's agenda.

A defeat sometimes demonstrates an organization's characteristics even more vividly than victory. Such is the case with Paterson, where the IWW managed to implant visionary ideals in the midst of a brutal losing bid for immediate gains. Sophie Cohen and Irma Lombardi were among the Paterson workers who hurled themselves into self-generated, point-of-production activism. Cohen, who later became a nurse, retained her IWW membership, and her views reflect the thinking of rank and file Wobbly women. Lombardi, who continued to be a textile worker for forty years, is more representatives of the tens of thousands of women in the Northeast who responded to the talks of the Gurley Flynns. Although an enthusiastic striker, once the battle was over Lombardi lost contact with the IWW One can posit that there must have been many like her who had once embraced the IWW and would have done so again if presented the opportunity.

Bird, Stewart, Georgakas, Dan, Shaffer, Deborah, eds., Solidarity Forever: An Oral History of the IWW, Lake View Press, Chicago, 1985
Workers at a Chicago Starbucks are following workers in New York to unionize
[Video: First Business Morning News]

First Business

September 12, 2006

IWW Barista Joe Tessone and University of Illinois Professor Bob Bruno comment on the expansion of the Starbucks Workers Union to Chicago. Watch online at

Women and unions: Contribution to organized labour 2000
By Linda Briskin
IWW Resolution in Support of National Union of Education Workers Section 22 and the Popular Assemblies of the People of Oaxaca

ISC statement against the South Korean government's police attacks on the Korean Government Employees Union

Starbucks workers joining IWW in global fight for labor rights

Picket lines are appearing at Starbucks outlets around the world, as word spreads of the coffee giant’s firing of three IWW members for union activity between July 11 and August 5. Workers were illegally fired on pretexts ranging from insubordination to undermining employee morale as Starbucks grows ever more desperate to crush the union’s growing support.

Wage Increase a Welcome Step But Flaws Abound

New York, NY- After a summer spent highlighting the poverty wage at the world's largest coffee chain and expanding into the Chicago market, the IWW Starbucks Workers Union [] has won a wage increase from the company. The raise will benefit Starbucks employees in New York City, Chicago, and around the country.

In Chicago, starting pay for baristas has increased from $7.50 per hour to $7.80. After six months, Chicago baristas will make $8.58 per hour if they receive a favorable performance review. In New York City, baristas will make $9.63 per hour after six months on the job and a favorable performance review. Senior baristas will receive only a ten-cent raise to discourage long-term employment at Starbucks.
Women and unions: Contribution to organized labour 2000

.....The patterns of restructuring, regional integration and globalization discussed on this list over the last months are seriously undermining equality gains. Decreased funding to state services like health, education and welfare programs, increased calls for labour flexibility and competitive wage bargaining across national boundaries, contracting out and the creation of more non-standard, part-time, part-year service work, the shift to homework, and the ideology of radical individualism all negatively impact on women and minority workers (although unevenly depending on their age, race, ability, citizenship and class).

In this context, women workers need unions more than ever. Unions provide a vehicle for struggling around fundamental issues affecting their home and work lives, and union activity fosters not only personal empowerment but political awareness and collective solidarity.

Undoubtedly, unions in the West also need women, most obviously to bolster declining union membership caused by the erosion in the largely male industrial union base. Unions are looking to women workers for revitalization and growth, and to new sectors of the economy to replace their traditional support. Thus unions are simultaneously confronting the necessity to organize the unorganized and to develop strategies for the realities of homework and casualization at the same time as they face the task of representing increasingly diverse constituencies of workers. .....

Retail Workers Fight Back
The Nation

Wobbly Union Gets Support - City Council sides with Industrial Workers of the World in dispute with Starbucks
Wobbly Barista Isis Saenz Fired by Starbucks For Union Activity

Sister Worker Isis Saenz was fired today by Starbucks for participating in a protest Thursday evening against the company's union-busting [].

The company claims that Isis acted inappropriately towards Regional Director Jim McDermott at the protest. Isis's principled stand for the right to join a union free of coercion apparently didn't comport with Starbucks' "guiding principles"

As in the case of Daniel Gross, Starbucks has fired an IWW barista for engaging in a union protest. Clearly, Starbucks is attacking the heart of the SWU's Direct Action strategy.

This crude maneuver must not stand. In the coming days, IWW baristas will issue a global call to action on behalf of Isis and the four other fired union baristas.
The Worm in the Coffee Bean: Starbucks' Union-busting, Greenwashing Tactics and the Corporate Social Responsibility Movement

Disclaimer - The following article is reposted here because it is an issue with some relevance to the IWW. The views of the author do not necessarily agree with those of the IWW and vice versa.

By Daniel Goldin - Huffington Post, November 14, 2006. 

A few days after putting up my post "Starbucks and the White Whale" -- a reflection on Starbucks' ambition to become a cultural taste-maker -- I received an email from Daniel Gross, a Starbucks union-organizer in New York, pointing out some facts I had got wrong. I had said that "most of Starbucks' employees work part-time." In fact, all of Starbucks' retail employees work part-time (the company includes management in its statistics), with no guarantee even of the twenty hours needed to stay on the company's part-time worker health plan.

I had compared Starbucks favorably to WalMart, but a little research revealed that in the area of insurance Starbucks fell short of WalMart, insuring only 42% of its workers (this figure also includes management), against WalMart's 47%.

Even more alarming is Starbucks' union-busting policies. Starbucks new CEO Jim Donald hails from -- you guessed it -- WalMart, as well as Safeway, companies famous for playing hard-ball against unions, and he seems to have imported similar hard-scrabble tactics to the running if Starbucks.

The IWW recently won a settlement against Starbucks from the National Labor Relations Board in response to charges against the company for illegal union-busting policies, including firing workers for union activity. In this agreement, Starbucks admitted no guilt but agreed to the following:

"NOT TO issue adverse performance reviews or deny pay increases to our employees in order to discourage them from joining or supporting Industrial Union 660."

"NOT TO provide employees with free pizza, free gym passes and free baseball tickets in order to encourage employees to withdraw their support for Industrial Union 660"

"NOT TO create the impression among their employees that their union activities are under surveillance or engage in surveillance of employees."

It is not hard to read between the lines of this settlement to figure out what the company did do. It is also not hard to understand why. The presence of a union hurts Starbucks' "progressive" brand by implying that its workers have grievances. The company's official line is that it is already committed to the well-being of its "partners." Why join a union, it tells its employees, when we're looking out for you?

This "noblesse oblige" argument that a corporation can internalize a feeling of obligation toward its workers -- as well as toward the environment -- and regulate itself, is at the heart of the "Corporate Social Responsibility" movement or C.S.R.. The gigantic turnout for the Social Responsibility Conference in New York last week shows just how mainstream C.S.R. has become. The conference included representatives from Chevron, J.C. Penny, Pfizer, McDonalds, Ford Motor, Exxon Mobil and, of course, Starbucks.

Starbucks has long been at the forefront of the C.S.R. movement. The company donates to military personnel, offers community building programs, claims a commitment to sustainable agriculture and to the rights of foreign workers. "More than our logo is green," goes the slogan. Critics complain that Starbucks engages in "green-washing," offering only a minuscule percentage of certified Fair Trade coffee -- and only after public lobbying from human rights organization Global Exchange -- and an even smaller percentage of coffee derived from sustainable coffee farming. They bring up union-busting and low wages. The company's supporters bring up insurance and the fact that the company supports fair trade at all, which goes against its bottom line. They say Starbucks does what it can, balancing a desire to be socially responsible with a need to compete in global markets.

Who's right? Is Starbucks a good corporate citizen -- or a lousy one?

To understand this notion of corporate citizenship, we need to consider the history of the corporation. The first corporations were chartered by the government to accomplish public works requiring pooled capital. The Massachusetts Bay Company was one of these, charged with colonizing the New World. By the early 19th century, American corporations formed to build factories with no long-term goal beyond the accumulation of wealth. The Supreme Court, under John Marshall, protected these new capitalist collectives against state regulation by invoking the "obligation of contracts" clause in the constitution, which states that "no state shall pass any law impairing the obligation of contracts." 1886 brought a landmark decision that still affects our thinking about corporations. In the case of Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific railroad, the court defined corporations as "persons" and ruled that they deserved the same protections of "life, liberty and property" accorded citizens under the 14th amendment. The legal metaphor persists to this day under the term "corporate personhood," and contributes to a confusion in America between democracy and capitalism.

A confusion Starbucks exploits when it invokes its good intentions against a need for oversight. Corporations are not people, despite the court's attempt to personify them. A corporation does not have feelings or good intentions, or a conscience, for that matter. It lacks empathy, and no P.R. department or Corporate Responsibility program can substitute for this quintessentially human check on selfishness. Corporations are not evil. But they are not good either. Moral terms do not apply because corporations are not human. Is Starbucks a good corporate citizen? Of course not. It is not a citizen at all. The argument that Starbucks' workers do not need to unionize because the company has their interests in mind presupposes that it has a mind in the first place -- which it doesn't.

Corporations are powerful engines of growth, but we make a grave error when we assign human qualities to them. C.P.R. programs prove that external pressures work. But they do not indicate some intrinsic corporate goodness that should encourage us to let up our guard.
VIDEO: IWW Baristas Christine Morin and Joe Tessone Discuss Joining the Starbucks Workers Union in Chicago
We now have a dedicated wobbly thread?
I wondered that myself dusty.
Women's Trade Union League

Robbins with Garment Strikers, 1915
The Chicago Women's Trade Union League (WTUL) was one of the most active branches of a national organization that aimed to organize women workers into trade unions, lobby for protective legislation and woman suffrage, and promote vocational education. Its membership included both working-class women and upper-class “allies” who supported the organization financially. Led by an unusual and at times uneasy mix of civic reformers including Jane Addams and Mary McDowell and trade unionists including Agnes Nestor and Mary Anderson, the WTUL held its meetings in Hull House from its inception in January 1904 until 1908, when it moved to the offices of the Chicago Federation of Labor. In addition to supporting strikes of women workers, WTUL programs included musical and dramatic clubs, a national publication edited in Chicago by Alice Henry, educational programs such as English-language classes and instruction on parliamentary procedure, and a visiting physicians program.

Under the leadership of Margaret Dreier Robins, an upper-class woman who devoted her professional life to the organization, the Chicago WTUL deepened its alliance with the Chicago Federation of Labor, promoted the leadership of working-class women, and played a key role in the 1910–11 garment workers' strike. In addition to providing food relief to strikers and their families through a system of commissaries, the WTUL helped draft the agreement ending the strike for workers at clothing manufacturer Hart, Shaffner & Marx, where women workers had sparked the citywide strike. The WTUL also played a role in efforts to organize domestic workers, office and department store workers, telephone operators, and women packinghouse workers.

Although the WTUL carried on until the 1950s, it became a less vital organizing force by the mid-1920s, especially after its national office moved from Chicago to Washington DC in 1929.

Tobias Higbie

Dye, Nancy Schrom. As Equals and as Sisters: Feminism, the Labor Movement, and the Women's Trade Union League of New York. 1980.
Nestor, Agnes. Woman Labor Leader: An Autobiography of Agnes Nestor. 1954.
Payne, Elizabeth Anne. Reform, Labor, and Feminism: Margaret Dreier Robins and the Women's Trade Union League. 1988.

more info:'s_Trade_Union_League
Camella Teoli Testifies about the 1912 Lawrence Textile Strike

When 30,000 largely immigrant workers walked out of the Lawrence, Massachusetts, textile mills in January 1912, they launched one of the epic confrontations between capital and labor. The strike began in part because of unsafe working conditions in the mills, which were described in graphic detail in the testimony that fourteen-year-old millworker Camella Teoli delivered before a U.S. Congressional hearing in March 1912. Her testimony (a portion of which was included here) about losing her hair when it got caught in a textile machine she was operating gained national headlines in 1912—in part because Helen Herron Taft, the wife of the president, was in the audience when Teoli testified. The resulting publicity helped secure a strike victory.

CHAIRMAN. Camella, how old are you?

Miss TEOLI. Fourteen years and eight months.

CHAIRMAN. Fourteen years and eight months?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

CHAIRMAN. How many children are there in your family?

Miss TEOLI. Five.

CHAIRMAN. Where do you work?

Miss TEOLI. In the woolen mill.

CHAIRMAN. For the American Woolen Co.?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

CHAIRMAN. What sort of work do you do?

Miss TEOLI. Twisting.

CHAIRMAN. You do twisting?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

CHAIRMAN. How much do you get a week?

Miss TEOLI. $6.55.

CHAIRMAN. What is the smallest pay?

Miss TEOLI. $2.64.

CHAIRMAN. Do you have to pay anything for water?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

CHAIRMAN. How much?

Miss TEOLI. 10 cents every two weeks.

CHAIRMAN. Do they hold back any of your pay?

Miss TEOLI. No.

CHAIRMAN. Have they ever held back any?

Miss TEOLI. One week’s pay.

CHAIRMAN. They have held back one week’s pay?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

CHAIRMAN. Does your father work, and where?

Miss TEOLI. My father works in the Washington.

CHAIRMAN. The Washington Woolen Mill?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN. How much pay does he get for a week’s work?

Miss TEOLI. $7.70

CHAIRMAN. Does he always work a full week?

Miss TEOLI. No.

CHAIRMAN. Well, how often does it happen that he does not work a full week?

Miss TEOLI. He works in the winter a full week, and usually he don’t in the summer.

CHAIRMAN. In the winter he works a full week, and in the summer how much?

Miss TEOLI. Two or three days a week.

CHAIRMAN. What sort of work does he do?

Miss TEOLI. He is a comber.

CHAIRMAN. Now, did you ever get hurt in the mill?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

CHAIRMAN. Can you tell the committee about that — how it happened and what it was?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

CHAIRMAN. Tell us about it now, in your own way.

Miss TEOLI. Well, I used to go to school, and then a man came up to my house and asked my father why I didn’t go to work, so my father says I don’t know whether she is 13 or 14 years old. So, the man say you give me $4 and I will make the papers come from the old country saying you are 14. So, my father gave him the $4, and in one month came the papers that I was 14. I went to work, and about two weeks got hurt in my head.

CHAIRMAN. Now, how did you get hurt, and where were you hurt in the head; explain that to the committee?

Miss TEOLI. I got hurt in Washington.

CHAIRMAN. In the Washington Mill?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN. What part of your head?

Miss TEOLI. My head.

CHAIRMAN. Well, how were you hurt?

Miss TEOLI. The machine pulled the scalp off.

CHAIRMAN. The machine pulled your scalp off?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN. How long ago was that?

Miss TEOLI. A year ago, or about a year ago.

CHAIRMAN. Were you in the hospital after that?

Miss TEOLI. I was in the hospital seven months.

CHAIRMAN. Seven months?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

CHAIRMAN. Did the company pay your bills while you were in the hospital?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN. The company took care of you?

Miss TEOLI. The company only paid my bills; they didn’t give me anything else.

CHAIRMAN. They only paid your hospital bills; they did not give you any pay?

Miss TEOLI. No, sir.

CHAIRMAN. But paid the doctors bills and hospital fees?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

Mr. LENROOT. They did not pay your wages?

Miss TEOLI. No, sir.

CHAIRMAN. Did they arrest your father for having sent you to work for 14?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN. What did they do with him after they arrested him?

Miss TEOLI. My father told this about the man he gave $4 to, and then they put him on again.

CHAIRMAN. Are you still being treated by the doctors for the scalp wound?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN. How much longer do they tell you, you will have to be treated?

Miss TEOLI. They don’t know.

CHAIRMAN. They do not know?

Miss TEOLI. No.

CHAIRMAN. Are you working now?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN. How much are you getting?

Miss TEOLI. $6.55.

CHAIRMAN. Are you working in the same place where you were before you were hurt?

Miss TEOLI. No.

CHAIRMAN. In another mill?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

CHAIRMAN. What mill?

Miss TEOLI. The Wood Mill.

CHAIRMAN. The what?

Miss TEOLI. The Wood Mill.

CHAIRMAN. Were you down at the station on Saturday, the 24th of February?

Miss TEOLI. I work in a town in Massachusetts, and I don’t know nothing about that.

CHAIRMAN. You do not know anything about that?

Miss TEOLI. No, sir.

CHAIRMAN. How long did you go to school?

Miss TEOLI. I left when I was in the sixth grade.

CHAIRMAN. You left when you were in the sixth grade?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN. And you have been working ever since, except while you were in the hospital?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

Mr. CAMPBELL. Do you know the man who came to your father and offered to get a certificate that you were 14 years of age?

Miss TEOLI. I know the man, but I have forgot him now.

Mr. CAMPBELL. You know him, but you do not remember his name now?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

Mr. CAMPBELL. Do you know what he did; what his work was?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. CAMPBELL. Was he connected with any of the mills?

Miss TEOLI. I don’t know.

Mr. CAMPBELL. Is he an Italian?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

Mr. CAMPBELL. He knew your father well?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

Mr. CAMPBELL. Was he a friend of your father?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. CAMPBELL. Did he ever come about your house visiting there?

Miss TEOLI. I don’t know.

Mr. CAMPBELL. I mean before he asked about your going to work in the mills?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

Mr. CAMPBELL. He used to come to your house and was a friend of the family?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

Mr. CAMPBELL. You are sure he was not connected or employed by some of the mills?

Miss TEOLI. I don’t know, I don’t think so.

Mr. CAMPBELL. Do they go around in Lawrence there and find little girls and boys in the schools over 14 years of age and urge them to quit school and go to work in the mills?

Miss TEOLI. I don’t know.

Mr. CAMPBELL. You don’t know anything about that?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. CAMPBELL. Do you know of any little girls besides yourself, who were asked to go to work as soon as they were 14?

Miss TEOLI. No, I don t know; no.

Mr. HARDWICK. Are you one of the strikers?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

Mr. HARDWICK. Did you agree to the strike before it was ordered; did they ask you anything about striking before you quit?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. HARDWICK. But you joined them after they quit?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

Mr. HARDWICK. Why did you do that?

Miss TEOLI. Because I didn’t get enough to eat at home.

Mr. HARDWICK. You did not get enough to eat at home?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. HARDWICK. Why didn’t you propose a strike yourself, then?

Miss TEOLI. I did.

Mr. HARDWICK. I thought you said you did not know anything about the strike until after it started. How about that? Did you know there was going to be a strike before they did strike?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. HARDWICK. They did not consult with you about that?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. HARDWICK. You did not agree to strike?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. HARDWICK. You were not a party to it, to begin with?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. HARDWICK. Was not the reason you went into it because you were afraid to go on with your work?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

Mr. HARDWICK. You say that was the reason?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

Mr. HARDWICK. Now, did you see any of the occurrences — any of the riots during this strike?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. HARDWICK. You did not see any of the women beaten, or anything like that?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. HARDWICK. You did not see anybody hurt or beaten or killed, or anything like that?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. HARDWICK. Did you come down to the depot with the children who were trying to go away?

Miss TEOLI. I am only in the town in Massachusetts, and I don’t come down to the city.

Mr. HARDWICK. So you did not see any of that?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. HARDWICK. You do not know anything about those things at all?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Mr. HARDWICK. You struck after the balance had struck and were afraid to go on with your work?

Miss TEOLI. Yes.

Mr. LENROOT. There is a high school in Lawrence, isn’t there?

Miss TEOLI. Yes, sir.

Mr. LENROOT. And some of your friends—boys and girls—go to the high school?

Miss TEOLI. I don’t know.

Mr. LENROOT. None that you know are going to the high school?

Miss TEOLI. No.

Source: Hearings on the Strike at Lawrence, Massachusetts, House Document No. 671, 62nd Cong., 2nd sess. Reprinted in Joyce L. Kornbluh, ed. Rebel Voices: An I.W.W. Anthology (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1964), 181–184.
We workers can continue to grovel for these low-wage jobs, or we can just wring our hands in despair, or we can stand up and demand better treatment from these moneymaking corporations. We all know what Starbucks wants its so-called “partners” to do. It’s no mystery why Starbucks is firing workers for organizing, trying to get them to think that a union is unnecessary, and keeping a close eye on those of us who want an independent voice at work.” -- IWW Starbucks Union member

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Global actions target Starbucks union-busters

Actions in some fifty cities around the world, including Australia, Canada, Germany, Great Britain, New Zealand and American cities including New York, Chicago, Minneapolis and San Francisco protested Starbucks’ anti-union practices and the wrongful firing of five union activists over the Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 24.

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Birth of the first global super-union
Amicus, IG-Metall and two US labour groups join forces to confront the power of the multinationals

by Oliver Morgan January 02, 2007

British, American and German unions are to forge a pact to challenge the power of global capitalism in a move towards creating an international union with more than 6 million members.

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SEIU Members Push Their Union to Change Its Position on Immigration
by William Johnson January 05, 2007

Members of the Service Employees (SEIU) in Northern California are demanding just immigration reform. That's not too surprising. For the past two decades, SEIU has been one of organized labor's strongest advocates for immigrant rights.

This campaign, however, pits SEIU members not against anti-immigrant employers or politicians, but against their union's top officials. Dubbing their campaign "No Worker is Illegal," members of SEIU throughout California are demanding that their union's leaders retract their support of immigration reform legislation like the recent Hegel-Martinez and McCain-Kennedy bills.

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