No strike clauses and the IWW

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severin
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Dec 17 2007 16:32

ncwob said:

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I don't particularly like when political arguments become personal, but Severin, by your own admission you are not a part of any organization and I've yet to hear you discuss anything of relevance, only revolutionary slogans. Who is sitting in the arm chair exactly?

as i said:

severin wrote:
It is not idle sniping. I can apololgize for my tone but not the sentiment.

Because one is not involved with an organization does not mean they are not committed. I have known many many people whose endeavours I regard as revolutionary, yet they have no need to pin themselves on any ideology or affiliate with any organization. That is not to say that I am an 'individualist'...frankly i just believe there needs to be a wholly new type of organization.

If I have beliefs, I'm not going to engage in the activities of an organization whose practices conflict with them. Very simple.

The fact is that there is a certain organizational fetishism that I am wary of, and frankly I DO believe that regardless of many of the controls and such that are established in ostensibly libertarian organizations, informal heirarchies tend to crop up.....through secrecy, or cult of personality.

That is not to say that it is not worth running that risk.... but after a while it gets tiresome.

So, no, I don't have a 'team' or 'academy' and am far from embarrassed about it. I think that a new and inclusive, non-union, non-party and non-ideological form of organization has to be be built and it occupies my thoughts most of the time.

Beyond that most of my energy is focused on survival. And I mean, keeping myself fed, breathing, clothed, etc. If I allow myself too much time to indulge in these arguments, it is definitely a fault and probably indicative of no small level of masochism.

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Devrim
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Dec 17 2007 16:34
ncwob wrote:
Failings, yes, but I think a bit of sympathetic contextualizing is warranted.

Why, you behave exactly like the unions you criticise. The only thing that shocks me about the IWW is not that these things happen, but that they have happened so quickly.

Devrim

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 17 2007 16:40

100 years too quick for you Devrim?

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Steven.
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Dec 17 2007 16:46
ncwob wrote:
If you want to hear my honest opinion, I think the reason the IWW is entering into contracts now is an attempt to claim our legitimacy. Organization is an uphill battle, nevermind revolutionary organization, and since many of us believe (myself included) that realizing collective power is a first step toward realizing revolutionary consciousness, I think it is easy to jump the gun and say, 'this one contract will help put the IWW back on the map and from there we prove there is some concrete benefits to our organization and can begin to spread revolutionary propaganda.' Failings, yes, but I think a bit of sympathetic contextualizing is warranted. The logical criticisms of this are that we need to develop better propaganda and better structures to organize outside of the 'standard' channels.

ncwob - yeah this is right, and clearly why it has happened. But revolutionaries should be held to much higher standards than anyone else, and this clearly doesn't cut it. I am sympathetic to the people who have been supportive of this, but it cannot be tolerated and has to be stamped out.

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Devrim
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Dec 17 2007 17:00
ncwob wrote:
100 years too quick for you Devrim?

I don't think that there is that much continuity. I meant before you even managed to become a real union. These things happen in all unions. The shocking point with the IWW is that it has started to happen before you have even became one.
Devrim

severin
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Dec 17 2007 17:18

so are there any old-school Wobs here who actually know about the concrete origins of the no-strike clause in IWW history? recent or otherwise?

i mean this shit just doesn't come out of nowhere, right?

ftony
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Dec 17 2007 17:24

i think they happened before my time

booeyschewy
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Dec 17 2007 17:28

some perspective y'alls:

A small minority of IWWs are in contract shops. Of them only a small minority have no-strike clauses. Of these, nearly all of them are in portland. There's a story to that I'll get to.

FN Brill- I respect you, and so it strikes me as strange that you make the criticisms you do. Bad contracts have been resigned every few years in portland since that first instance and you haven't done anything to resist them since then. It's fine to oppose things in theory, and to focus more heavily on the mistakes of your opponents, but you should own up to inactivity and passivity to mistakes in your own backyard. Not that i have excuses either, but i think its dubious to see your critiques of the supposed cabal or whatever, but then when it happens in portland you ignore it.

I can't speak to other places but the story with Portland contracts is this. Someone came into the organization who was basically a reformist. He was all about the NLRB, contracts, etc., and played the role of an outside organizer throwing up wack organizing all over. He is expelled and repudiated for being extremely sketchy and unaccountable (won't go into it, but he would have been tossed from any union or organization for endangering members). A few contracts persist. The shops decay in the fallout from his expulsion. The mistakes come in when relationships are reestablished. I won't go into internal union business but i'll give some major factors:
1. having an business union organizer in your organization... good way to have well structured organizing, but they also bring willingness to roll over on unsavory contract stuff (or bargain contracts at all) in light of trying to take the long term perspective (we'll get rid of it some day when we have the strength).
2. in a place where people are trying all kinds of tactics and there are ebbs and flows of successes, some will turn to question the logic of things like signing bad contracts. For instance some members who were anti-contractual flip and say things like "refusing to sign no strike clauses will be impossible until we organize at the X industry level"
3. lack of experience- contracts are technical affairs. Most members have no experience in them. Some who do are hostile to them (me). Combine this with branches that are reluctant/hostile/suspicious of the union (and thereby all the people who do have the experience and actually could help), and you get really common bungles that everyone would do had they no guidance.
4. When I've confronted people about the contracts (both in the IWW and SEIU) what they always appeal to is this: we just don't have the strength to fight this or that clause, and we shouldn't jeapordize this or that gain by challenging such a clause. So basically in portland and the SEIU shop I was in, labor peace clauses weren't ever even challenged in negotiation. People rolled over on it, in anticipation of not having the strength. It might be true though but it brings up other questions about whether you should organize via a contract, or whether you should build strength through shopfloor activity and then think about that stuff.

I say this all as someone who would never participate in signing no strike clauses and oppose this sort of thing. But I also realize that 99% of the people I work with aren't there yet. You have to organize where people are at, and agitate. Sometimes you loose these battles, but we're in a union not a party so...

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thugarchist
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Dec 17 2007 17:36
John. wrote:

ncwob - yeah this is right, and clearly why it has happened. But revolutionaries should be held to much higher standards than anyone else, and this clearly doesn't cut it. I am sympathetic to the people who have been supportive of this, but it cannot be tolerated and has to be stamped out.

The only real way to get a no strike clause out of a contract in the US is to strike over it (usually illegally although there's ways around that) and win. So if the membership in these shops don't want to strike are you suggesting the IWW force them out on strike against their will?

Mike Harman
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Dec 17 2007 17:44
booeyschewy wrote:
A small minority of IWWs are in contract shops.

But a minority of IWWs are in 'shops' altogether right?

Quote:
Of them only a small minority have no-strike clauses.

According to the figures on this thread, it's about 20-30%, that's a decent sized minority.

Quote:
Someone came into the organization who was basically a reformist. He was all about the NLRB, contracts, etc., and played the role of an outside organizer throwing up wack organizing all over. He is expelled and repudiated for being extremely sketchy and unaccountable (won't go into it, but he would have been tossed from any union or organization for endangering members). A few contracts persist. The shops decay in the fallout from his expulsion. The mistakes come in when relationships are reestablished.

He was expelled and let back in again? Or something else?

Quote:
I say this all as someone who would never participate in signing no strike clauses and oppose this sort of thing. But I also realize that 99% of the people I work with aren't there yet. You have to organize where people are at,

Nah sorry. If the people you work with are going to sign no strike contracts, then they probably shouldn't be in the IWW unless you're simply more concerned with recruiting members and quick fixes than the actual task of workplace organising. "Organising where people are at" is all to commonly used as an excuse for pushing really stupid shit because you think workers won't go any further.

Quote:
and agitate.

Isn't the problem here that the wobbly in question was agitating for contracts and quite happy to sign one that shits on everything the IWW is supposed to stand for? Not that he got his workplace organised and was dragged kicking and screaming into signing it by people who weren't "there yet".

Quote:
Sometimes you loose these battles, but we're in a union not a party so...

The role of unions in sabotaging workers struggles is as long as the role of leftist parties - and unions have generally been considerably more effective since the death of Stalin.

Also - whoever's was posting trying to excuse this with "but what would we do about union democracy and autonomy, we're non-hierarchical, not a 'top down' union" (paraphrasing). If a branch is signing anti-worker contracts, then the rest of your organisation ought to be capable of telling them to either rescind or get out. What's top-down about that? One branch being able to bring the shame of this situation on the rest of you with impunity is hardly democratic is it?

Mike Harman
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Dec 17 2007 17:46
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So if the membership in these shops don't want to strike are you suggesting the IWW force them out on strike against their will?

Split.

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thugarchist
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Dec 17 2007 17:53
Mike Harman wrote:
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So if the membership in these shops don't want to strike are you suggesting the IWW force them out on strike against their will?

Split.

I agree.

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EdmontonWobbly
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Dec 17 2007 19:10
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According to the figures on this thread, it's about 20-30%, that's a decent sized minority.

I also said my numbers were extremely rough, and out of date, I would go with Todd's assessment because he is actually on the ground in the branch in question, and lives in the USA.

Still though I think your argument looses some strength when you essentially let Costello of the hook (no offence dude but I have to bring this up) for basically agreeing with no strike clauses. I mean he took a stance that no wob on here even took, every one of us to a number agreed that these are serious problems that need to be addressed. Other than that all I want to say is agree with you. I would also point out I have also said that I feel the IWW does in some cases act as a business union and has some business union practices that need to be addressed long before this stuff ever came up.

Mike Harman
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Dec 17 2007 19:27
EdmontonWobbly wrote:
I also said my numbers were extremely rough, and out of date, I would go with Todd's assessment because he is actually on the ground in the branch in question, and lives in the USA.

They're the only numbers offered so far.

Quote:
Still though I think your argument looses some strength when you essentially let Costello of the hook (no offence dude but I have to bring this up) for basically agreeing with no strike clauses. I mean he took a stance that no wob on here even took, every one of us to a number agreed that these are serious problems that need to be addressed.

I didn't exactly let Jef off the hook having not replied to his post at all, but yes he's clearly gone barmy today. fwiw I agree pretty much with John's post - whatever other concessions might be in the contract, signing away the right to strike removes any ability to enforce them, so much better off without any contract whatsoever.

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EdmontonWobbly
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Dec 17 2007 20:00

Well now all I need is for Devrim to say costello is as bad as a yellow unionist, and a quasi stalinist, I take particular offence to this because I think I've actually been pretty up front, and haven't done any apologetics. In fact I more or less agree with you guys. Also the fact that Devrim engages in this bullshit in the libcom wobblies forum, would I be allowed the same benefit in the EKS forum? I mean the trolling has become bad enough we can't even engage in constructive work there, you know those things that allow us to actually address the criticisms we share as libertarian communists?

Mike Harman
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Dec 17 2007 20:22
EdmontonWobbly wrote:
I take particular offence to this because I think I've actually been pretty up front, and haven't done any apologetics.

Yes and I appreciate that quite a lot - but it's been you, OliverTwister, a couple of others.... most of the other responses from IWWs have been damage control and obfuscation if not outright apologetics.

Quote:
Also the fact that Devrim engages in this bullshit in the libcom wobblies forum

Come on we could say the same thing when people slag us of on, well, any forum on here! Also in regards to the dual-card thread - there's clearly a tension in the IWW between those who want a network of militants "inside and outside and against" the mainstream unions, and those who want to build a 'real union' (albeit democratic etc.). When the unionist tendency is doing the same stuff that the network of militants tendency is planning to fight against in the mainstream unions, then you have a particular form of organisational schzophrenia that in my view is incompatible - and presumably only held together due to what appears to be chronic decentralisation to the point of isolation. Since there's plenty of unions which rule out no-strike clauses (even management union Amicus), it's a fair point that he made.

Quote:
would I be allowed the same benefit in the EKS forum?

Have EKS done anything really fucking stupid recently? wink

Quote:
I mean the trolling has become bad enough we can't even engage in constructive work there, you know those things that allow us to actually address the criticisms we share as libertarian communists?

Please show some examples of trolling - I specifically moved this discussion out of the forum because I knew there'd be complaints if it stayed in there - although NCWob tried to move it back for some reason. I'm happy to move the dual-card thread out as well and you can try starting a new one if you like. At the end of the day, it's supposed to be an informal forum for libcom wobblies to post on - it's not official, and there's an entire IWW forum that no-one ever posts on that you could ban us all from if you wanted to have these discussions without annoying interruptions.

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 17 2007 20:29
Quote:
Also - whoever's was posting trying to excuse this with "but what would we do about union democracy and autonomy, we're non-hierarchical, not a 'top down' union" (paraphrasing). If a branch is signing anti-worker contracts, then the rest of your organisation ought to be capable of telling them to either rescind or get out. What's top-down about that? One branch being able to bring the shame of this situation on the rest of you with impunity is hardly democratic is it?

That would be me and for the second time you've misinterpreted what I've said. I was replying to Thug who said the IWW was in no place to criticize the business unions when the 'rest of the union' interferes with with local branches. I corrected him by saying the criticisms found in the IW are of union brass who make decisions above the head and without accountability to local workers. What I was attempting to do in the rest of my post was to attempt to engage in a bit of discussion regarding the balance between local autonomy and union democracy, and issue I think we need to address if we are going to resolve the issue of no-strike clauses, i.e, should we address this constitutionally, how much power should the GEB have in ratifying contracts, etc. If you want to engage in that conversation, fine, but at least read my posts fully before responding.

Quote:
But revolutionaries should be held to much higher standards than anyone else, and this clearly doesn't cut it. I am sympathetic to the people who have been supportive of this, but it cannot be tolerated and has to be stamped out.

I agree. No-strike clauses are a serious fuck-up. It does draw our credibility as a revolutionary organization into question. The point I've consistently tried to make is that they are not supported by the union as a whole and that they need to be addressed. Partisan snipes that not in the remotest sense productive are not going to help that process. (Not suggesting this is what you're doing, you've been the most consistently level-headed about this.)

Booey, thank you for the background.

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jef costello
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Dec 17 2007 20:37
Quote:
jef, the problem is contracts aren't formed on a level playing field. They're an indicator of the balance of power between workers and bosses at any one point. If the workers get weaker, bosses will attack their wages and conditions, even if they're in a contract. If the workers aren't strong enough to defend them, they'll lose out. Maybe some court arbitration could settle a couple of issues for a small minority of workers - at great expense - but most won't. So workers shouldn't be bound by contracts either. If workers are strong enough to get shorter hours or higher wages, they should demand it, and fuck the contract.

But if it's fuck the contract then why does it matter whether there's a no-strike clause or not?
Unauthorised wildcats are the most successful form of action and they're always against the rules.

I'm also not sure whether I'm wrong about what we mean by contract. I mean a year long agreement that sets out conditions, I'm not talking about signing away our right to strike forever. I've gone on strike once this year and refused to work as well, the strike was semi-sanctioned but the rest wasn't. As far as I know minimum service laws (effectively no strike rules) apply to me and to my colleagues (although I don't think that they've been implemented at my workplace yet) but it was done anyway. To be honest in the face of serious management repression it might have been different but again that would be down to workers' strength not clauses etc.

I said that we should oppose them on principle, I also meant that we should fight them. I think you guys are right to take a hardline approach on them but honestly I don't know a lot about negotiating contracts. I'm happy to be corrected but this discussion really isn't about me.

Unions over here rolled over not too long ago on minimum service laws.

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EdmontonWobbly
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Dec 17 2007 20:39

Well basically my problem is Devrim and revol trolling in there, in the dual card thread there were some comments that completely derailed a discussion I think is really important, and could have been pretty constructive. Especially since I wanted to broach the subject of a rank and file network I'm currently working on in my own union. I mean the comments were not just hostile (which I can tolerate) but really off topic and it was really hard to get things back on track. Believe it or not I do try and do some constructive work on here.

No doubt the tension you identified exists, and call it naive but I think in the long run those who want a rank and file union* based on direct action outside the labour relations system will convince the others with time. I don't think its a coincidence that those of us who are most hostile to acting like a business union (myself, oliver, nate, booey) are the ones who have spent some time in business unions.

I appreciate you moving this discussion out by the way, I guess I'll have to respectfully disagree with ncwob.

Fair enough on EKS, on the other hand if they did something really dumb I also probably wouldn't know since I don't read Turkish.

*we can debate whether what I'm talking about is a union or not another time, the concrete form of what we re talking about is pretty close to each other and we both know this.

severin
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Dec 17 2007 21:10

if i were a wobbly here, i would:

-realize that your critics in and outside of the union here are not your enemies but in fact your best friends (even if the tone is shitty sumtimes);

-go about the business of developing stronger and more explicitly anti-capitalist propaganda, making it the responsiblity of your regional organs;

-make a constitutional prohibition against no strike clauses;

-and not only not give your general executive board more power to ratify or inspect contracts and such, but, in fact:

-abolish the general executive alltogether and devolve power to a regional basis.

hahhaa

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Chilli Sauce
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Dec 17 2007 21:19
Quote:
One branch being able to bring the shame of this situation on the rest of you with impunity is hardly democratic is it?

No and that is the issue: trying to get at the flaws in our structure that allowed this to happen and preventing ways (structural or otherwise) to prevent it from happening again, hence the discussion I wanted to start about:

Quote:
balance between local autonomy and union democracy, and issue I think we need to address if we are going to resolve the issue of no-strike clauses, i.e, should we address this constitutionally, how much power should the GEB have in ratifying contracts, etc.

Also why I suggested moving this part of the discussion back to the Wobblies forum, i was hoping it would become Wobbly-specific (this thread has moved on to larger issues concerning the credibility of the IWW as an organization and the role of no-strike clauses in organizing) and I was hoping to garner some productive responses.

Mike Harman
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Dec 17 2007 21:30
ncwob wrote:
That would be me and for the second time you've misinterpreted what I've said. I was replying to Thug who said the IWW was in no place to criticize the business unions when the 'rest of the union' interferes with with local branches.

Well I don't know which post you're talking about, but this is the first I could find where you brought it up and you were actually replying to me, if you can call that post a reply.

ncwob wrote:
To be honest with you Catch, I don't think for a second you are concerned in engaging in any sort of meaningful dialog around this issue. As such, I tend to agree whoever said that discussing it with you would be worse than useless. As to what we're doing about it, would you like me to travel to the opposite coast, tell them to all Catch on Libcom thinks they and the union are class traitors and that they should de-certify immediately? Would that make you feel better? I can tell you that if any of our most prominent campaigns, or any of our current campaigns for that matter, decided to go contract and include a no-strike clause in them, there would be a cacophony voices in the union to oppose it.

----

But I do think this brings up a fundamental position of democracy and internal autonomy within the union. What if a shop by democratic majority decides to accept a contract with a no-strike clause in exchange for some other benefit? My initial response would be that we as union have done a really lousy job propagating our views, but still is does bring up some fundamental issues of union democracy, namely what power should the rest of the union have over the contracts of individual shops?

Quote:
What I was attempting to do in the rest of my post was to attempt to engage in a bit of discussion regarding the balance between local autonomy and union democracy

Well as far as I'm concerned - both this and the Scottish Parliament thing make a farce of the idea of autonomy - these branches are imposing their shit on the rest of the organisation imo - hardly democratic or autonomous.

Mike Harman
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Dec 17 2007 21:35
jef costello wrote:
But if it's fuck the contract then why does it matter whether there's a no-strike clause or not?

Because if it's "fuck the contract" then why engage in the whole process of negotiating contracts at all?

Quote:
Unauthorised wildcats are the most successful form of action and they're always against the rules.

Yes, but as with registration, you can actually expose yourself to even worse sanctions if you sign a contract/have recognition before going on wildcat.

Quote:
I'm also not sure whether I'm wrong about what we mean by contract. I mean a year long agreement that sets out conditions, I'm not talking about signing away our right to strike forever.

Once these things are in, they're very hard to get rid of.

Quote:
I've gone on strike once this year and refused to work as well, the strike was semi-sanctioned but the rest wasn't. As far as I know minimum service laws (effectively no strike rules) apply to me and to my colleagues (although I don't think that they've been implemented at my workplace yet) but it was done anyway. To be honest in the face of serious management repression it might have been different but again that would be down to workers' strength not clauses etc.

This is a law - not a the CNT-AIT doing a deal with the university administration.

Quote:
I said that we should oppose them on principle, I also meant that we should fight them.

Good smile But it'd be harder to do so if you'd agreed to it beforehand.

Mike Harman
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Dec 17 2007 21:42
EdmontonWobbly wrote:
Well basically my problem is Devrim and revol trolling in there, in the dual card thread there were some comments that completely derailed a discussion I think is really important, and could have been pretty constructive. Especially since I wanted to broach the subject of a rank and file network I'm currently working on in my own union. I mean the comments were not just hostile (which I can tolerate) but really off topic and it was really hard to get things back on track. Believe it or not I do try and do some constructive work on here.

To be honest I think the idea of networks of militants (I'd be very hesitant to use the phrase "rank and file" since it immediately suggests proper rank and filism - although that's also a worthwhile discussion in itself) is something which both ought to be discussed seriously and shouldn't be limited to the context of the IWW - if you start a thread in the organise forum I'll do my best to keep it roughly on track.

Quote:
No doubt the tension you identified exists, and call it naive but I think in the long run those who want a rank and file union* based on direct action outside the labour relations system will convince the others with time. I don't think its a coincidence that those of us who are most hostile to acting like a business union (myself, oliver, nate, booey) are the ones who have spent some time in business unions.

Well you've heard my views on this before, and Nate's promised an entire thread on the subject, so I'll wait for that.

Quote:
Fair enough on EKS, on the other hand if they did something really dumb I also probably wouldn't know since I don't read Turkish.

Well the most likely dumb thing I could see them doing is some kind of formal affiliation/merger with the ICC - I think we'd know about that...

Mike Harman
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Dec 17 2007 21:45
ncwob wrote:

No and that is the issue: trying to get at the flaws in our structure that allowed this to happen and preventing ways (structural or otherwise) to prevent it from happening again, hence the discussion I wanted to start about:

Quote:
balance between local autonomy and union democracy, and issue I think we need to address if we are going to resolve the issue of no-strike clauses, i.e, should we address this constitutionally, how much power should the GEB have in ratifying contracts, etc.

Well good luck getting it sorted out, but if you do so from the starting point that there'll be contracts to ratify, by the GEB or not, then I don't think you'll get that far.

martinh
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Dec 17 2007 21:47

Tend to agree with Catch's comment on autonomy. There are limits to autonomy in a federal organisation. Someone brought up the CNTe earlier. They do negotiate with the bosses, but never sign anything until it's been put to the assembly.

What they also do is operate a federal structure where the accountability is two way. If a CNT local signed a no strike deal I would expect them to be expelled by their region. If their region didn't, then the National Confederation would. This has happened over issues in the past, though not on no strike deals AFAIK. Mainly to do with the state-run works committees and participation in them, which was the cause of the original split which led to the CGT.

And to be honest, if any IWA section was doing this sort of thing, they'd be kicked out IMO. I've a lot of time for some of the IWW people I've met from here and am surprised that this got through. I think you need to sort it out,

regards,

Martin

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OliverTwister
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Dec 17 2007 23:05

NB i've never been a member of any other unions, although i'm starting a union job soon.

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Steven.
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Dec 17 2007 23:07
thugarchist wrote:
John. wrote:

ncwob - yeah this is right, and clearly why it has happened. But revolutionaries should be held to much higher standards than anyone else, and this clearly doesn't cut it. I am sympathetic to the people who have been supportive of this, but it cannot be tolerated and has to be stamped out.

The only real way to get a no strike clause out of a contract in the US is to strike over it (usually illegally although there's ways around that) and win. So if the membership in these shops don't want to strike are you suggesting the IWW force them out on strike against their will?

no, they just shouldn't be in a "revolutionary" organisation.

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gurley
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Dec 18 2007 02:02
Quote:
having an business union organizer in your organization... good way to have well structured organizing, but they also bring willingness to roll over on unsavory contract stuff (or bargain contracts at all) in light of trying to take the long term perspective (we'll get rid of it some day when we have the strength).

Maybe you should have said having a sketchy inexperienced business union organizer in your organization. There are plenty of wob branches who have former or current union staff as members or have dual carders who also organize with their other union...and who understand the limitations of contracts. I should say that i don't see an issue with wobs negotiating a contract if that's what makes sense for the workplace. But I also don't think it should be the primary goal. I've seen people on contracts because of lazy organizing .

Quote:
3. lack of experience- contracts are technical affairs. Most members have no experience in them. Some who do are hostile to them (me). Combine this with branches that are reluctant/hostile/suspicious of the union (and thereby all the people who do have the experience and actually could help), and you get really common bungles that everyone would do had they no guidance.

I've seen this a bit and it is really disturbing. When someone is negotiating a contract or doing fairly high level organizing as a hobby or pet interest...and then fucks up some clause or files the wrong paperwork...its more than a "common bungle"...people's livelihoods are on the line here. Outside organizing, acting as "volunteer staff" and negotiating contracts should not happen unless you know what the fuck your doing.

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OliverTwister
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Dec 18 2007 02:36
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Outside organizing, acting as "volunteer staff" and negotiating contracts should not happen unless you know what the fuck your doing.

Yes!