Solidarity Unionism Among Chicago Bike Couriers (Washington, DC)

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Wobbly Preacher
Joined: 6-11-06
May 30 2007 00:52
Solidarity Unionism Among Chicago Bike Couriers (Washington, DC)

Solidarity Unionism Among Chicago Bike Couriers

A talk with Colin Bossen, IWW organizer
Friday June 8, 7pm
Provisions Library
1611 Connecticut Ave. NW
Washington DC 20009

For the last four years couriers in Chicago have been organizing with the Chicago Couriers Union, a minority labor union of primarily bike couriers affiliated with the Chicago General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). Due to both the nature of the courier industry and the ideological orientation of the union’s organizers the CCU has been organized using what Staughton Lynd has called “solidarity unionism.” Solidarity unionism is the idea that workers have the most power when they organize around specific workplace grievances rather than struggle for legal recognition and the right to negotiate a contract. Using this model the union has met with modest success and over the past three year it has built a small but stable base of militant workers in the industry and won several small victories including a wage hike effecting approximately 100 workers at the third largest courier company in Chicago. This talk will examine the CCU as an example of solidarity unionism, chronicle its success and failures, and suggest the lessons the union has to offer anti-authoritarian and anarchist workplace organizers.

Colin Bossen is a Unitarian Universalist minister and labor and international solidarity activist. He is a founder of Colectivos de Apoyo, Solidaridad y Acción, an indigenous solidarity and human rights organization with collectives in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas and Oaxaca City, Oaxaca. He was a volunteer organizer with the CCU from late 2003 to the summer of 2005. Colin, his wife Sara, daughter Emma and son Asa are currently in transition between Washington, DC and Cleveland Heights, OH where Colin will be serving as the minister of the Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland.