No strike clauses and the IWW

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Mike Harman
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Dec 16 2007 00:29
No strike clauses and the IWW

Splitting from business unions and the IWW

OliverTwister wrote:
Let me ask you this: if we continue to sign contracts which include binding arbitration and no-strike clauses*, do you think there's any way we can avoid eventually hiring organizers or staffers to service those contracts? (in fact i think it's likely that the workers we've "organized" will choose to have staffers; if they only see the union as an organization which administers contracts, why not have professional contract administrators instead of amatuers?)

Then, if we have comprehensive contracts which include no-strike clauses, and we have paid staffers to administer those contracts or "organize" more workers, what will happen when the workers want to strike, or even sit down for an hour over the grievance? If the staffer allows that to happen the employer can sue the union and the staffer's out of a job, the workers are out of a strike fund. The only responsible thing for any staffer to do would be to encourage the workers to file little pieces of paper and not take any action; staffer have to look out for the best interests of the workers, and what would the workers do without strike funds or professional organizers?

*For clarity: The iww has few signed contracts, of which only a small minority contain no-strike clauses. I don't wish to give a different impression.

x357997 wrote:
I'm against no strike clauses, and unnecessary staffers/government intervention.
pghwob wrote:
It is not "no strike" clauses which are forbidden, which with industrial organization is not as bad as otherwise imagined (though not preferred by any means -- I would prefer a no-strike clause to some bs grievance procedure -- I see that as a bigger danger). Rather, it is clauses which prevent the union and its members from choosing not to cross a picket-line set-up by another union. At least that has been the common interpretation of that clause, though a broad interpretation would encompass no-strike clauses and hot cargo issues (formally refusing to handle hot cargo has unfortunately been illegal in the US for some time -- of course when things are hot they get dropped).
thugarchist wrote:
There's some recent nlrb decisions that have led to interpretations that a no strike clause doesn't include not crossing a picket line. I haven't seen it play out yet but there's some corporate lawyer negotiators that have been freaking out and bitching about it lately.
Mike Harman wrote:
OliverTwister wrote:
For clarity: The iww has few signed contracts, of which only a small minority contain no-strike clauses. I don't wish to give a different impression.

So only a few no strike clauses? Well that's just dandy then.

severin wrote:
a no-strike clause is out-and-out class treason.

no putatively revolutionary organization can in good conscience allow that to happen.

its like cutting your own balls off and handing them to the bosses on a platter.

gurley wrote:
I was under the impression that the board flip flops on this from time to time, and that this precedent is fairly new. It was sometime in the 80's (1985?) when they ruled that a broad no-strike clause waves your right to engage in a sympathy strike. So, hopefully the board will begin to establish enough precedent to revert to the pre-1985 interpretation....allowing members to honor pickets even if they have no-strike clauses in their contracts. Our contract includes language that specifies that we are permitted to honor "stranger" picket lines even though we have a no-strike clause.

Do you have any links or references to these recent nlrb decisions?

Which wob contracts have no-strike clauses in them ? How are they phrased ? Just curious.

ncwob wrote:
Re: no strike clauses

Yes, they fucking suck, but just to clarify for any non-Americans who may be following the thread, they only forbid strikes during the time of the contract. Still absolute shit, but during negotiations, striking is still is an option.

gurley wrote:
And there are still creative legal ways to strike while under a contract that I actually find to be preferable to an outright strike. For example an overtime strike. This happens from time to time in the transportation industry where the whole system is built on people working overtime (muni, bart, ferries etc). You can't force someone to work overtime, so often during a dispute workers will refuse to work overtime and it effectively shuts the entire system down. So, even though no-strike clauses suck...people find creative ways to get around them.
Mike Harman wrote:
ncwob wrote:
Re: no strike clauses

Yes, they fucking suck, but just to clarify for any non-Americans who may be following the thread, they only forbid strikes during the time of the contract. Still absolute shit, but during negotiations, striking is still is an option.

Well that's just dandy then.

gurley wrote:
So, even though no-strike clauses suck...people find creative ways to get around them.

All fine, nothing to see here!

gurley wrote:
gurley wrote:
So, even though no-strike clauses suck...people find creative ways to get around them.
Quote:
Well that's just dandy then.

Oh i'm sorry did I not sound "militant" enough for you.

How about if I said..."yea, no strike clauses are like cutting out my uterus and handing it to my boss on a platter...but workers despite being hit left and right with regressive anti-worker laws and regulations still find ways to take militant and effective actions on the job."

Is that better for you.

Mike Harman wrote:
gurley, the issue isn't whether workers find ways to get around no strike clauses that their unions sign. Glaberman's history of the UAW during WWII is fucking amazing on that. There are many many other examples of course.

The issue is that the IWW is signing contracts with no strike clauses, and this is being excused by the fact that "people find creative ways to get around them".

Mike Harman
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Dec 16 2007 00:35
iww.ca wrote:
The IWW does not believe in signing away the right to strike (the so-called "no strike" clause) nor does it condone the "dues check-off," in which management deducts union dues directly from the paycheck.

http://www.iww.ca/about_iww.htm
confused

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gurley
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Dec 16 2007 00:41
Quote:
gurley, the issue isn't whether workers find ways to get around no strike clauses that their unions sign.

And the membership ratifies....we can't let ourselves off the hook completely smile

But it is important to recognize that here in the US the organized labor movement has been decimated. Its important to be creative and to subvert many of the legalities that have historically tied our hands. I think that when workers are able to navigate some of the loopholes in the law they should be commended, not further criticized for not taking radical enough action.

Quote:
The issue is that the IWW is signing contracts with no strike clauses, and this is being excused by the fact that "people find creative ways to get around them".

Well, thats sort of a different issue. I was talking about my union specifically, which is not the IWW. Many of the ILWU locals have contracts which are over 50 years old. Theres allot of weird ass shit in there, some good, some awful and its really hard to get the rotten stuff out when its been in there since 1945.

It is surprising that the IWW is signing new contracts with no-strike clauses. Although I would like to hear the story behind this. I'm not sure if its a good excuse...but there must be some sort of story behind it at least.

Mike Harman
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Dec 16 2007 00:48
gurley wrote:
But it is important to recognize that here in the US the organized labor movement has been decimated. Its important to be creative and to subvert many of the legalities that have historically tied our hands. I think that when workers are able to navigate some of the loopholes in the law they should be commended, not further criticized for not taking radical enough action.

Just to make it clear, I certainly wasn't doing that. Most strikes over here are ineffectual one-dayers - work-to-rules are far more effective but rarely happen, and even less rarely are widely observed. There's far more self-organisation involved in modifying the way you work collectively than there is in taking an unpaid day off, and it's a lot harder.

gurley wrote:
Mike Harman wrote:
The issue is that the IWW is signing contracts with no strike clauses, and this is being excused by the fact that "people find creative ways to get around them".

Well, thats sort of a different issue.

Yes, it fucking is. I'm just hoping it's a bad joke.

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EdmontonWobbly
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Dec 16 2007 01:36

Correct me if I'm wrong catch but I think its a little harsh to say wobs are excusing this stuff when 1). it's actually been roundly condemned by the people on here- you can add my name to that list, and 2). the person who mentioned creative ways to get around these clauses isn't currently a wob, not that I have problem with that I like Gurley's posts but I don't think the attempt was to explain anything away and even if it was it isn't really fair to say she was using it to make excuses.

Mike Harman
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Dec 16 2007 01:58

EdmontonWobbly, it seems like I thought gurley was talking about the IWW, and she thought I wasn't talking about the IWW. So a little bit of cross-purposes there on both sides.

However I'm unclear as to what exactly pghwob was talking about when he said:

pghwob wrote:
It is not "no strike" clauses which are forbidden, which with industrial organization is not as bad as otherwise imagined (though not preferred by any means -- I would prefer a no-strike clause to some bs grievance procedure -- I see that as a bigger danger).

Forbidden by whom/what? In relation to the IWW or in general?

A quick google on the IWW site for "no strike" finds a whole bunch of articles slagging off "business unions"/AFL/CIO for signing them, both historically and in recent years. However I found nothing about these ones that the IWW itself has signed. Anyway no-one's actually said what these contracts are, who they're with etc. This probably isn't going to be a useful thread, but it might have a better chance if we know what the actual situation is. At the moment I have some kind of nightmarish vision of hippies working at a vegan food co-op or something.

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EdmontonWobbly
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Dec 16 2007 02:05

Yeah, I'm not sure about Bay Area because it's not a branch I have a lot of contact with but some of the social services shops that are under contract in Portland have no strike clauses. Part of the problem is that organizing until a year ago was a very branch by branch thing, hopefully with the ODB in place we will be able to keep better track, and have this discussion more.

TBH I probably should fight the urge to get too defensive about this with you catch because I actually agree with you that no strike clauses are bad news.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 16 2007 02:13
Quote:
This probably isn't going to be a useful thread, but it might have a better chance if we know what the actual situation is.

Good point catch

Quote:
hippies working at a vegan food co-op

Wait... Isn't that how we're going to know we've won the revolution, once everyone stops showering and we all volunteer at food co-ops that serve only raw, local, organic, biodynamic, vegan food? Maybe this IWW thing isn't for me...

In all seriousness, I'm curious to see if anyone can dig up any info about when and how these no-strike contracts were signed.

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fnbrill
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Dec 16 2007 03:05

The IWW negotiating no-strike clauses has been a 21st Century 'innovation' coming from an US faction seeking 'realistic' IWW organizing. The folks involved in the first no-strike contract kept it hidden from the membership. After I made the contract public they went on a whisper campaign attacking my personal and political reputation.

mikus
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Dec 16 2007 03:29
fnbrill wrote:
The IWW negotiating no-strike clauses has been a 21st Century 'innovation' coming from an US faction seeking 'realistic' IWW organizing. The folks involved in the first no-strike contract kept it hidden from the membership. After I made the contract public they went on a whisper campaign attacking my personal and political reputation.

Are you allowed to say what workplaces this occurred at and what exactly the circumstances were?

petey
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Dec 16 2007 03:45
gurley wrote:
Many of the ILWU locals have contracts which are over 50 years old. Theres allot of weird ass shit in there, some good, some awful and its really hard to get the rotten stuff out when its been in there since 1945. .

eek

pgh2a
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Dec 16 2007 04:21

Again, I believe most time contracts contained a no-strike clause or the legal equivalent thereof -- the reading into the contract of a no strike clause for the duration. That would then be the contract at American Stove in Cleveland, though there may have been something in Idaho around that same time.

The IWW's Bylaws prohibit branches from signing clauses which obligate union members to cross other workers' picket lines, which most no-strike clauses permit. However, under the By-laws an IWW job branch can sign away its right to strike in on its own behalf. That has been the common interpretation of this:

ARTICLE XI
Agreements
Sec. 1. Each Industrial Union shall have
power to make rules relating to agreements
between its job branches and the employers.
Sec. 2. No agreement made by any component
part of the IWW shall provide for a
checkoff of union dues by the employer, or
obligate the members of the union to do
work that would aid in breaking any strike.

Note that Industrial Unions can completely prohibit contracts.

syndicalist
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Dec 16 2007 04:23

I must be dating myself, but I thought it was prohibited in the IWW to sign contracts with "no strike" clauses.

pgh2a
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Dec 16 2007 04:33

read the Bylaws. I don't believe it is any kind of a recent change.

pgh2a
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Dec 16 2007 04:38

http://www.workerseducation.org/crutch/constitution/const1931.html

Changed after 1931. My guess is around 1935.

EDIT: The Bylaws or Constitution was amended to allow the signing of time agreements around 1938. I believe it is mentioned in 1939 Convention Minutes, but cannot locate them at the present. The agreement at American Stove (makers of Magic Chef ovens) was signed to prevent a raid by the CIO. My guess is that the language about not performing work which would aid in the breaking of a strike was taken from this contract, as it provided that no struck work would be accepted. (IWW: Its First 100 Years, p. 166).

syndicalist
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Dec 16 2007 04:44

BTW, in some UE and, I think UAW, members have the right to stike over grievances. I think it's probably more cumbersome in the UAW.

syndicalist
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Dec 16 2007 04:51

Interesting. Thanks for the link.

Quote:
pghwob:
http://www.workerseducation.org/crutch/constitution/const1931.html
Changed after 1931. My guess is around 1935.

Pretty hierarchical and centralist: Why so? Was this a hold-over from the Haywood centralist days or did it come about cause of some on-the-ground issues?

Quote:
Any agreement entered into between the members of any union or organization and their employers, us a final settlement of any difficulty or trouble which may occur between them, shall not be considered valid or binding until the same shall have the approval of the General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World.

http://www.workerseducation.org/crutch/constitution/const1931.html#agreements

pgh2a
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Dec 16 2007 04:57

I think that agreement goes back to at least 1906, with the GEB having approval over all contracts. My guess is that since the IWW was an amalgam of different unions and locals, all with different practices, it was the only way to make sure everyone was on the same page.

pgh2a
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Dec 16 2007 05:05

By the way, did everyone understand what I meant when I wrote that the contractual provisions for grievances can be more dangerous than no-strike clauses?

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Dec 16 2007 05:10

To the best of my knowledge, most in the IWW look down on no-strike clauses as not the type of unionism we want to build and the result of poor organizing. But, as others have said, whatever prohibition we used to have, it no longer exists (we used to prohibit participation in the NLRB too).

Currently, I believe the Portland social services shops *do* have no-strike clauses, but the Bay Area branch's two recycling shops *do not* have no-strike clauses and a pretty good union cluture of stopping work when grievences arise, holding stop work meetings and marching on the boss. There is even one case of the African-American workers deciding they should have MLK day off and simply leaving at noon, then when Ceasar Chavez Day came, the Latino workers did the same with the backing of the African-American workers. These holidays were later added into their contracts (a small blurb appeared in the IW on this, but I can't find it on the internet).

I really fail to see what outlawing "no-strikes" clauses in contracts would do that providing people with more skills in bargaining and better organizing wouldn't accomplish better. Often when 'no-strike' is added into a contract it reflects a lack of strength in the fight over bargaining, rather than members and organizers just caving in to pragmatism from what I've seen. There are also a great deal of other problematic parts of contracts as pgh mentioned such as discipline clauses that can sometimes be worse. If we provide more education and training and from our persective of building worker power, I think we'll be better off.

Stop work meeting over work conditions:
http://www.iww.org/en/node/3642

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Dec 16 2007 05:36

The Portland contracts were an outgrowth of that same faction of "realistic" wobblies I mentioned above.

My concern has been there has been no discussion in regards to no-strike in the US context. The Mechanics Educational Social Association was a autoworkers union which was allowed to strike legally during WW2 because the constitution forbaid no strike clauses. Is something like this - or something similar - possible in the US? There needs to be some creativity in addressing the issue.

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Dec 16 2007 05:38
Weaver wrote:
but the Bay Area branch's two recycling shops *do not* have no-strike clauses

we dont have any in our branch

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Dec 16 2007 05:47

God, can an organization that spends all its time trashing unions with millions of members for the exact same things you do with a handful of members be more cartoonish?

This is the single most revelatory bit of news ever.

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the button
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Dec 16 2007 05:58

I've been looking for the IWW sticker, "If you provoke us, we will strike," to see if it says in smaller letters "unless we sign a sweetheart deal with the bosses," but unfortunately I can't find it on the internet. sad

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Dec 16 2007 06:01
the button wrote:
I've been looking for the IWW sticker, "If you provoke us, we will strike," to see if it says in smaller letters "unless we sign a sweetheart deal with the bosses," but unfortunately I can't find it on the internet. sad

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Dec 16 2007 06:02
the button wrote:
I've been looking for the IWW sticker, "If you provoke us, we will strike," to see if it says in smaller letters "unless we sign a sweetheart deal with the bosses," but unfortunately I can't find it on the internet. sad

That's because the Literature Department is disfunctional.

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Dec 16 2007 06:05
thugarchist wrote:
God, can an organization that spends all its time trashing unions with millions of members for the exact same things you do with a handful of members be more cartoonish?

This is the single most revelatory bit of news ever.

I don't know Uncle Thug. Could you tell us the story of the UMass Amherst IWW contract again?

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Dec 16 2007 06:22
fnbrill wrote:
thugarchist wrote:
God, can an organization that spends all its time trashing unions with millions of members for the exact same things you do with a handful of members be more cartoonish?

This is the single most revelatory bit of news ever.

I don't know Uncle Thug. Could you tell us the story of the UMass Amherst IWW contract again?

Oh yeah. That was funny. Additional note to that one, when I was working for AFSCME Alexis Buss and I had some discussions about the potential for the AFSCME staff union affiliating with the IWW.

So besides the IWW signing contracts, and in those contracts including no strike clauses, and the IWW organizing pie-cards... can someone let us know if there are any contracts in the IWW that include dues check off?

Also, my union puts all its contracts up on its website. How come the IWW contracts are secret?

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Dec 16 2007 06:24

Brill, that nefarious internal faction has that long of tentacles? That's why the most recent no strike clause was in the social service shop in your branch like this year and why you couldn't stop it? That sounds a bit dubious to me. I think "faction" is a misleading term here, more like "mindset."

Duke, no, no check-off contracts. The lack of greater info on the contracts isn't secrecy, it's disorganization on our part.

Edit: As for the AFSCME staff union thing, that would have been stupid and I'm glad it didn't happen. Aren't you a fan of growth by merger, though?

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Dec 16 2007 06:31
Nate wrote:
Brill, that nefarious internal faction has that long of tentacles? That's why the most recent no strike clause was in the social service shop in your branch like this year and why you couldn't stop it? That sounds a bit dubious to me. I think "faction" is a misleading term here, more like "mindset."

Duke, no, no check-off contracts. The lack of greater info on the contracts isn't secrecy, it's disorganization on our part.

Ok. Nate states flat out that there are no dues checkoff articles in contracts.

Is there union shop in any of them?

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Dec 16 2007 06:35
fnbrill wrote:
After I made the contract public they went on a whisper campaign attacking my personal and political reputation.

So that's how I heard you're paranoid, all the way on the other coast.