My Problem With The "Towards A Union Of Organizers" leaflet

120 posts / 0 new
Last post
RedHughs
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Jun 18 2012 21:37
My Problem With The "Towards A Union Of Organizers" leaflet

I think just about everyone here likes the basic idea of raising hell even in situations, maybe especially in situations, where an ordinary union apparatus isn't going to be applicable.

And even leaving aside the question of whether wants to use the label "union" or not, I have a basic problem with this piece of this text.

Towards A Union Of Organizers wrote:
In all of these examples practiced organizing skills can help to understand and empower your fellow workers. Doing so will also make you capable of better supporting other workers’ struggles and give you experience to be able to offer others practical advice.

As such, you should get down to an organizer training to gain the skills and framework you need to begin setting and meeting workplace goals. From there, it’s useful to find yourself an organizing buddy: perhaps a delegate, another worker in your industry, a co-worker or all three to set a regular schedule for talking about work, setting goals, and making change happen.

I have a problem with the kind of bureaucratic tone but especially with the idea there is something like magical "organizing skills" that will get everything moving. What are these? Public speaking? Putting together mailing lists?

This whole thing has an Alynskiite tone to it - it carries an assumption there is some special "organizer" quality that is the factor getting militant action going.

Even more, the organizations that have spread through "training organizers" were the various semi-state-supported organizations such the CIO and ACORN. And sure, this pamphlet is talking about training the workers themselves to be organizers rather than a cadre of some sort - but it seems like some similar training process is envisioned to be the "active agent".

Especially given how marginal any radical group today might be, it seems just implausible for such a group to present itself as the group that will inculcate the skills to others.

A simple alternative is to put one's organization forward as a group of similar workers who can support each other together and develop strategy together (and the article does mention a "workplace buddy" but this is still in the "organizer" framework).

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Jun 19 2012 00:32

Not really sure what the objection is. I don't think anyone thinks the OT101 is some sort of magic bullet, but it is very helpful because it collects actual workplace experience into a format in which you can learn and adapt.

I think the more trainings the better.

RedHughs
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Jun 19 2012 01:01

So Juan, do you know what the skills mentioned by this leaflet are? The leaflet itself doesn't make this very clear.

You're saying the term "training" doesn't make you even a small bit nervous? I usually associate with the word dogs and corporations.

I mean, "the more trainings the better" sounds painfully close to "the meetings the better".

Sorry, if you don't get what I'm saying but I wasn't aiming to be precious or obscure. TL;DR; the language and form of the leaflet sound super bureaucratic whatever it might overtly have been advocating.

Harrison
Offline
Joined: 16-11-10
Jun 19 2012 01:08

I've read that leaflet and i really liked it.

RedHughs wrote:
I have a problem with the kind of bureaucratic tone but especially with the idea there is something like magical "organizing skills" that will get everything moving. What are these?

i think its more how to avoid completely botching a first attempt at organising.... i've done the Solidarity Federation training, which is a modified version of the IWW 101, and i found it simplified a lot of things i'd been wondering about. The short of it is how to build a group ('workplace committee') that meets and takes action against management.

Sure, organising skills will come naturally to an organisation if its membership density is primarily existing workplace militants (like how all the original syndicalist unions emerged), but if mostly composed of politicos who want to become workplace militants (like how most syndicalist groups are today), then its going to need an organisational push...

There are a lot of young communists joining groups, who come with alright politics, but little idea of how to organise beyond writing leaflets (ie. 3/4 of the Hull SF group before we attended the training).

Its a shame if you're just magically expect these people to go into a workplace and "do class struggle" without any suggested template of how to approach this.

can i just say i very much agree with:

Juan Conatz wrote:
the more trainings the better.
lettersjournal
Offline
Joined: 12-12-11
Jun 19 2012 01:19

Has anyone giving these trainings participated in, much less organized, a strike involving more than 100 workers that lasted more than 1 week?

Harrison
Offline
Joined: 16-11-10
Jun 19 2012 02:02

wall

RedHughs
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Jun 19 2012 02:09
Quote:
Its a shame if you're just magically expect these people to go into a workplace and "do class struggle" without any suggested template of how to approach this.

It's more like I'm doubtful a 'template' would be enough.

Edit: But anyway, could you even give a hint what your spiffy template is like? And what coming into a workplace with this template is like? I mean, isn't that the question you've waiting to hear? "How do we organize, let me tell you about the magic!" Yes, tell us the magic...

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Jun 19 2012 03:44

I would say that if you're interested go attend one. I'm not going to lay out too much of the specifics of the IWW organizer training on the internet. I would also recommend other Wobs and/or SolFeders not be baited by the hostile tone here and do so either. Harrison gets into what it is mostly. How to build a committee, which involves gathering contacts, identifying informal leaders, 1-on-1s, social and workplace mapping interspersed with roleplays and involving parts about taking action, going public, etc etc.

Also...its a template, not a blueprint. Its main purpose is to help prevent common mistakes people make when wanting to organize their workplace and point them in a better direction. It's not perfect by any means, but its a collection of things learned by active organizers in the union for the last 10-15 years and is meant to be altered, built on and changed as we grow in size and experience.

As far as lettersjournal comment goes, not sure. Although I don't think there's been an IWW strike of that magnitude since the 70s. Also not sure who or what established that as the benchmark of success. Most trainers have had workplace organizing experience though, whether that's forming a committee, marching on the boss, work disruptions, small walkouts, election or solidarity unionist campaigns.

EDIT: The pamphlet 'Weakening the Dam' and the Workers Power column are good representations of some the perspective of the OT, btw.

EDITEDIT: Also, I've always though that the 'Direct Unionist' discussion paper, while obviously not completely reflective of the OT, takes it to its logical extent.

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
Offline
Joined: 27-07-07
Jun 19 2012 05:43
lettersjournal wrote:
Has anyone giving these trainings participated in, much less organized, a strike involving more than 100 workers that lasted more than 1 week?

This is a perfect example of being passive-aggressive.

I've probably been fired from more jobs than lettersjournal has ever had. Only one of those had more than 100 employees (because it was in the public sector; my department, at a remote site, had only had 6 though). That's the whole point of understanding how the working class has been decomposed and recomposed. Just skim through the data at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website to see how capital, in places like the U.S., has decentralized and spatially dispersed production -- often in a completely fragmentary way along global supply chains. The sweatshops of Dickensian England have returned, but have spread to slums stretching this form of precarious, unstable subcontracted work across the whole planet.

Lettersjournal, your fantasy of the vertically-integrated Fordist factory is a half century out of date. The 40,000 autoworkers at FIAT'S Mirafiori plant in Turin (in 1968) is a distant memory. Get your head out of your detective novels and books of fascist poets and just look outside. See the Costco, Target or Wal-Mart? Even those big box palaces of consumption hum along efficiently with less than 100 employees in the whole facility. Sure, the whole Foxconn complex in Shenzhen has 475,000 workers, but that's China and they sure as fuck have been striking and rioting (when they're not, tragically, committing suicide en masse).

Yet you seem content to bury your head in the sand and just snicker as they lower your own wage, take away whatever meager benefits you might have, and shackle, torture, and deport your undocumented fellow workers. You're starting to sound more and more like one of those ol' fashioned "good" Germans.

RedHughs
Offline
Joined: 25-11-06
Jun 19 2012 04:17
Quote:
I would say that if you're interested go attend one. I'm not going to lay out too much of the specifics of the IWW organizer training on the internet. I would also recommend other Wobs and/or SolFeders not be baited by the hostile tone here and do so either.

I don't get it. A hostile tone is sufficient that you're not going to layout any specifics?

Why?

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Jun 19 2012 04:21

If what you're asking is for me to lay out specifics of the training the IWW gives for workplace organizers, I'm going to say no, regardless of your tone. If you don't understand why we don't get into the specifics of our organizer training problem to people who aren't attending them or on a public, Googleable forum...I'm not really sure what to say.

The comment on tone was merely a suggestion to other Wobblies or SolFeders not to have a hostile tone provoke them into laying specifics of the OT, which is not a smart thing to do.

My previous post, I stated broadly what it includes, as well as linking to some thing written by people (almost all of which are trainers, I think) that, in my opinion, reflects what the Organizer Training 101 is like and the perspective it comes from. If what you see interested you, then I would suggest attending one when you have the chance or getting in contact with the Organizing Department to see when the next one is in your area.

klas batalo's picture
klas batalo
Offline
Joined: 5-07-09
Jun 19 2012 04:42
Hieronymous wrote:
lettersjournal wrote:
Has anyone giving these trainings participated in, much less organized, a strike involving more than 100 workers that lasted more than 1 week?

This is a perfect example of being passive-aggressive.

I've probably been fired from more jobs than lettersjournal has ever had. Only one of those had more than 100 employees (because it was in the public sector; my department only had 6 though). That's the whole point of understanding how the working class has been decomposed and recomposed. Just skim through the data at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website to see how capital, in places like the U.S., has decentralized and spatially dispersed production -- often in a completely fragmentary way along global supply chains. The sweatshops of Dickensian England have returned, but have spread to slums stretching this form of precarious, unstable subcontracted work across the whole planet.

Lettersjournal, your fantasy of the vertically-integrated Fordist factory is a half century out of date. Get your head out of your detective novels and books of fascist poets and just look outside. See the Costco, Target or Wal-Mart? Even those big box palaces of consumption hum along efficiently with less than 100 employees in the whole complex. Sure, the whole Foxconn complex in Shenzhen has 475,000 workers, but that's China and they sure as fuck have been striking and rioting (when they're not, tragically, committing suicide en masse).

Yet you seem content to bury your head in the sand and just snicker as they lower your own wage, take away whatever meager benefits you might have, and shackle, torture, and deport your undocumented fellow workers. You're starting to sound more and more like one of those ol' fashioned "good" Germans.

great post, cheers.

OliverTwister's picture
OliverTwister
Offline
Joined: 10-10-05
Jun 19 2012 12:35

I think Hughs is right to be skeptical. I think that Alinsky-ite "cadre organizerism" is a pit the IWW could eventually fall into (though I don't see it as the most immediate danger). There's certainly enough hegemonic models to copy from, both in the Change to Win-type unions and the leftist groups a la ISO or Solidarity. No coincidence that there's a lot of crossover between union staff and leftist cadre...

I also think the language used in the pamphlet can be a bit off-putting along some of the same lines, so I understand Hughs' skepticism.

However, I think the OT, while not perfect, is very useful and is helping the IWW to undergo an interesting transformation. It isn't about leftist things like writing a leaflet or giving a speech, but about understanding workplace dynamics (or vocalizing the understandings we already have), and also about common pitfalls (like relying on lawyers or the election process).

Spreading these skills around helps to even the playing field within the organization, and perhaps more importantly, I think it makes full-time organizers unnecessary. Currently many of the people that I know of who are most active in the union were first involved through workplace organizing after doing the OT and have direct experience of raising hell at work, rather than just having one or another ideological affinity with the historic IWW (though they often do have that too). I think this is an interesting phenomenon to keep an eye on...

I was going to add something for lettersjournal but decided it wasn't worth it.

hpwombat
Offline
Joined: 13-11-06
Jun 19 2012 13:16

Wikipedia: List of Largest Central Ohio Employers

I think it is correct to challenge the old views of hundreds, if not thousands of workers striking as a possibility that might be beyond our capability to organize. This both challenges and agrees with lettersjournal. The specialization of the global economy has shifted a great deal. The U.S.A. has moved much of its manufacturing outside its borders and brought in migrant workers for lower end jobs, creating the feeling that others are taking American jobs.

The truth of the matter is America is changing how work is to be done and its social order is poorly adjusting to the economy. The smart community may be the future of Euro-America and Western Europe. However, the education U.S.A. would need to create such a community is being devalued, opening space for migrant educated workers to enter the country rather than relying on a raising of working and poor to the more educated social castes. This may be more cost effective in the long run, especially with population growth through breeding on the decline while immigration presenting real population growth for U.S.A.

Smart communities need even smaller numbers of employees and a deeper specialization than is present today. This isn't to say U.S.A. is ignoring the poor and working, as such communities need to be built and connected. Columbus is a leading force in this in the Midwest with much of its job sector concentrated on education and finance. Its location is ideal for warehousing, acting as a substation, connecting the East Coast with the midwest. Columbus has continued to become an ever more powerful force in the American economy because of this existing role and its effect can be seen through the political machinations which place Ohio in the center of American politics.

I'm not really certain what this might mean to the future of our efforts, but I figured I'd post this for consideration. I would've continued this thought, but have been interrupted. Have a good day.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Jun 19 2012 14:31

Letters is a tool and while Red may be touching at what could be a useful critique if approached correctly, this whole thread sort of has me confused.

I've given the (SF version of) OT101 more times than I can count and we've never viewed it as tool to build a cadre of organisers. Rather, we've realised (as Harrison has already alluded to) that most of us under 35 are part of a lost generation of the working class. Most of us have never worked in an organised workplace, participated in a strike, or had contact with successful workplace militants who can pass on lessons or teach us the ropes of successful organising.

In this situation, we need a means to pass on basic, nuts and bolts organising tactics. That's where the OT comes in. Sure, not all of them are going to be totally applicable in your workplace depending on the situation. The training sort of has steps and, more likely than not, most of us are only going to reach some of those lower steps in the short-to-mid term. Considering (again echoing Harrison) that many of are (or started out as) politicos who want to be organisers, the temptation is to organise politically: convince co-workers of the necessity of the class struggle and then convince them to organise. I mean, that's what I first did until I attended and OT and that was ass-backwards.

Further, I think another great advantage of the OT is that it provides us with a practical activity we can offer our workmates as they get interested in organising/confronting the boss. Far from building cadre, it's a tool that bridges the organiser/organisee gap. In the trade unions it's salts or stewards or reps who are entitled to go on the trainings. In our organisations, the goal is to get every member and every member's workmates out to the training. That's an entirely different dynamic.

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Jun 19 2012 15:44

I don't want to get into the weeds or the specifics of this. I've not been to any of the training, so I gots no direct experiance with them.

Perhaps there's just an ideological dislike of folks trying to do things in an organized and formal manner, dunno.

Information/experiance sharing shouldn't even be questioned. Man, most of what I've learned has been by the seat of my pants. And, g-dam, those pants got worn out pretty quickly.

The IWW says it's a union. And the role of that sort of thing is to make sure you don't always become known as the union of the first fired. Smart and informed workers is a good thing. No? Yes?

lettersjournal
Offline
Joined: 12-12-11
Jun 19 2012 16:10

The last two places I worked had over 100 employees. I don't think it's that rare.

I posed my question because from other threads on this forum, it seemed clear that with the exception of a few people (like Devrim), the vast majority of people who post here have very little (or no) experience with industrial struggles. It seems odd that people with very little or no experience with industrial struggles would teach classes about how to do industrial struggles.

For example, Chili Sauce says:

Quote:
Most of us have never worked in an organised workplace, participated in a strike, or had contact with successful workplace militants who can pass on lessons or teach us the ropes of successful organising.

But then also says that they have given trainings.

If the people giving the trainings have no experience with this stuff, what are the trainings based on? In the last decade, the IWW has signed as many no-strike contracts as it has organized strikes, so I don't know why it would set itself up as a class struggle educator.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Jun 19 2012 17:01

God, you're full of shit. The IWW has been critiqued like a motherfucker for those no-strike clauses on libcom and the strongest and most developed critiques have come from the same libcom Wobblies involved in setting up the organizer training program.

Not that I feel the need to justify myself to your trolling ass, but it might help if you read my post in context. Many is not all and, guess what, since the training here's what I've not done:

Quote:
convince co-workers of the necessity of the class struggle and then convince them to organise. I mean, that's what I first did until I attended and OT and that was ass-backwards.

The logical corollary to that is that I've done some successful workplace organising since then. If your pedantic contrary self is interested, I talk a lot about it on this thread.

Oh, and I participated in a strike of 2 million workers (the trade union shortcomings associated with that particular strike non-withstanding).

I've also organised workmates from the same non-striking union as myself not to cross picket lines in our workplace. I fought a high-level disciplinary because of that and won, so fuck you.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Jun 19 2012 16:50

And, besides, what we want is organising models that fit with our politics. I've gotten trained up with my trade union from trade unionists with tonnes of strike experience. Doesn't mean I want to struggle in the same way they did.

Given what I said earlier about lost generation, of course we're starting from an incredibly low point. That doesn't meant that those of us with limited experiences have nothing to offer.

Tool.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Jun 19 2012 16:55
Quote:
I've also organised workmates from the same non-striking union as myself not to cross picket lines in our workplace.

In direct defiance of my union, might I add.

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Jun 19 2012 18:10

Coms, I suspose the barb trading feels good. Not constructive, but feels good.

I hear the trepidation side expressed by the critics. And I'd be dishonest if I didn't periodically feel this way and made snarky remarks to myself about this.

BUT....BUT...I really think this is key:

Chilli Sauce wrote:
Given what I said earlier about lost generation, of course we're starting from an incredibly low point. That doesn't meant that those of us with limited experiences have nothing to offer.

And I am sure that anyone attending the seesions with experiance would set 'em right on stuff. It's hard to believe that eveyone attending the seesions is either a drone or a complete novice.

Additionally, there is no doubt that bad information sharing will lead to bad decisions that would lead to a re-evaluation of the information.

I remember years ago how all the sure hands of the 1930s older generation would say "organize"---then you'd try organize and they say you're not doing it right....and when you questioned what's right, they'd say some stuff about militancy,pie cards, direct action and yad-de-ya-de da. Nothing concrete. So we learned the hard way. Trial and error. Good learning experiance and it's really the main way to go. But, you know, it would have been pretty good to have folks togteher to go over stuff, share stuff, shoot the shit and collectively review basic things. While I will never be a cheer leader or always agree with some of the folks form, style or attitude.... all power to 'em for trying!

syndicalist
Offline
Joined: 15-04-06
Jun 19 2012 18:24

really fast, on line too long now.

RH wrote:

Quote:
I have a problem with the kind of bureaucratic tone but especially with the idea there is something like magical "organizing skills" that will get everything moving. What are these? Public speaking? Putting together mailing lists?

Actually, I've met plentuy of folks who had no clue wht they were doing and were like the worst bumble bees
at what they did.

There is an "art" of public speaking. Some of it is technical, some confidenxce. Being in a room full of "peers" and having them go hard at you in a make believe address or raising a resolution at a meeting dominated by trade union hacks is a hellava lot better then going at it cold feet...."trust me" I got ripped to shreds the first few times I tried it in a retformist union meeting. Point being, you toghen up a bit, you have a bit of an expectation, you learn some of the parameters of certain "dos and don'ts".

Unless someone jumps out of the ready-made militant organizers box, skills are learned and honed. Yes, there are some being who have the organic talents and instincts. Not everyone does. And, it's always good to sharpen and stregthen those skills and to try and collectively pass them along.

OK, done.

Hieronymous's picture
Hieronymous
Offline
Joined: 27-07-07
Jun 19 2012 19:56
lettersjournal wrote:
The last two places I worked had over 100 employees. I don't think it's that rare.

I posed my question because from other threads on this forum, it seemed clear that with the exception of a few people (like Devrim), the vast majority of people who post here have very little (or no) experience with industrial struggles. It seems odd that people with very little or no experience with industrial struggles would teach classes about how to do industrial struggles.

It seems like you go out of your way to flagrantly be disingenouous. I've rarely seen a post of yours on libcom that wasn't passive-aggressive or in bad faith. It's like your passivist nihilist dogma preaches for all of us to turn the other check and just accept austerity because, well, that's "what communists do." Or some other garbage that sounds more like what my boss says or a verbatim parroting of Thatcher's TINA (there is no alternative).

Disingenous point of lettersjournal #1:

lettersjournal wrote:
The last two places I worked had over 100 employees. I don't think it's that rare.

This is just fucking stupid. The new Fresh & Easy in my neighborhood seems to have more security guards that checkers, neither of which is very many. The UFCW Safeway has 5 times as many workers at any given time. The new subcontracting system means that in retail the delivery people often stock shelves. At least they do all down the supply chain for retailers like Wal-Mart and Target, where third party logistics firms (3PLs) even contract with the temp and employment agencies that provide the workers. So there can be 3 or 4 layers that insulate parent companies, like Wal-Mart, from the actual employees performing the work. This is the new normal, not fucking Fordist workplaces with 100 or more workers.

Disingenous point of lettersjournal #2:

lettersjournal wrote:
In the last decade, the IWW has signed as many no-strike contracts as it has organized strikes, so I don't know why it would set itself up as a class struggle educator.

This is simply a lie. I know of only 2 shops that the IWW has organized with no-strike clauses in their contract. If I'm wrong, prove it!

Disingenous point of lettersjournal #3:

lettersjournal wrote:
I posed my question because from other threads on this forum, it seemed clear that with the exception of a few people (like Devrim), the vast majority of people who post here have very little (or no) experience with industrial struggles.

This is just fucking stupid. It's another passive-aggressive post, where you feign ignorance, pretending like you don't know how to read. Most of the people I've met face-to-face from libcom have years, if not decades of experience in industrial struggles. I've been cast into these battles from the first job I had. If you don't accept your natural inclincations to fight the boss, you're either sick or too self-absorbed internviewing yourself or being stupified in awe of your own intestines.

And yes, I have attended an IWW Organizers Training. It was mostly excellent, not for the content, which was well-intended and had many very good organizing ideas (and some that need improvement), but for the mere fact that several dozen militant -- or wannbe militant -- workers sat down in the same room and shared experiences. In my session, there were some people older than me and I learned many great lessons about the 1980 Hotel Strike in San Francisco, how that morphed into the failed Restaurant Strike, and how this older militant had much wisdom to share from his experience then -- including some violent altercations that successful prevented scabs from crossing picket lines.

I had just been on strike a couple years before, in an industry that has never (until faily recently, but just a shop or two in all of the U.S.) been officially organized (in the NLRB sense) and for that reason we had less obstacles in launching a strike on model of the IWW of its heyday. As in an attempt to totally stop production indefinitely. Which we succeeded at doing for over a week. Of a staff of 11, 7 struck, 2 honored the picket line and 2 scabbed. Management brought in a couple scabs, but after we threatened them the first day they didn't come back; in addition a Wobbly got hired as a scab and fucked things up from the inside on the second day and after that they stopped hiring replacements. It was a school and over 90% of the 175 students also honored the picket line, totally shutting the school.

We lost the strike, but today the pay is $5 an hour more than before the strike (from around $20 to $25 today, which I can verify by linking to recent craigslist ads). In the Organizer Training, I was able to share my experience and received feedback from some local comrades who joined our picket line in solidarity.

Although I firmly believe in the need to take back the strike weapon, having personally seen its effectiveness, in the Organizer Training others had many wonderful stories about other ways people have fought their boss, many of which led to small gains.

People who have been in the IWW for a long time should pipe in to show that the Organizer Training came out of the experiences of shopfloor militants.

To paraphrase Rosa Luxemburg, we only learn how to fight by fighting. The first step is to learn from struggles that have come before, so as not to repeat their mistakes. At the Organizer Training, I learned many of those from others more experienced than myself, as well as sharing my own stories of the many failures and few successes I've been part of in fighting the class war.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Jun 19 2012 21:24

Good post H. On this:

Quote:
I know of only 2 shops that the IWW has organized with no-strike clauses in their contract.

I actually think it's higher than two. I remember the numbers coming out when the no-strike shit hit the fan a couple years back. However, where our self-interviewing friend is wrong is that the IWW has undoubtedly had more strikes in the past ten years than it has no-strike clauses.

Juan Conatz's picture
Juan Conatz
Offline
Joined: 29-04-08
Jun 19 2012 23:48

syndicalist pretty much says everything I was gonna say.

lettersjournal isn't really worth responding to, but since this is a publicly viewable forum in which various people read what we write I suppose its worth saying some stuff.

The IWW OT is various organizing experiences from the last 10-15 years or so rolled into a two day training. It has been altered and edited as experience has grown. Very little of the workforce has been in large industrial struggles nor is that the only form of class struggle, which you very well know and only said to get a rise out of people (which worked so looks like you win!).

As our experience grows and if it gets into large industrial struggles, I imagine that kind of stuff would be incorporated into the OT101 or something similar as one of the great things that we've developed in recent past is a way to make sure we pass down knowledge, experience and information in a way that's useful to those who do not have it.

Chilli Sauce's picture
Chilli Sauce
Offline
Joined: 5-10-07
Jun 20 2012 02:54

I mean, there is the OT102 which deals with more organised workplaces and I imagine we'd build in a 103 if it gets to the points that the IWW is regularly leading hundreds strong strikes.

Harrison
Offline
Joined: 16-11-10
Jun 20 2012 03:47

a few points:

1) the whole 'its bureaucratic' thing is strange - the OT is a template / a suggested approach. if you don't like the approach, you are allowed to use your own, you won't get crucified...

2) don't bother engaging with latterdayjourno. Just out of sectarian fun can someone link me to their self-interview?

3)

syndicalist wrote:
There is an "art" of public speaking. Some of it is technical, some confidence. Being in a room full of "peers" and having them go hard at you in a make believe address or raising a resolution at a meeting dominated by trade union hacks is a hellava lot better then going at it cold feet...."trust me" I got ripped to shreds the first few times I tried it in a retformist union meeting. Point being, you toghen up a bit, you have a bit of an expectation, you learn some of the parameters of certain "dos and don'ts".

definitely.... although this isn't public speaking: when i had a dispute with my landlord, i found i was ace at being firm and demanding in emails, but kind of crumbled in face-to-face or phone calls. the more practice the better...

EdmontonWobbly's picture
EdmontonWobbly
Offline
Joined: 25-03-06
Jun 20 2012 05:29
Quote:
Has anyone giving these trainings participated in, much less organized, a strike involving more than 100 workers that lasted more than 1 week?

I helped rewrite some parts of the trainings and some new material for the more advanced one. I was on strike/lockout with 50,000 postal workers in Canada last year for three weeks.

Any more cheap leftist point scoring or are we going to actually build the struggle now?

OliverTwister's picture
OliverTwister
Offline
Joined: 10-10-05
Jun 20 2012 05:47

I'm glad lettersjournal brought up contracts.

All of them, AFAIK, whether with no-strike clauses or not, come from shops that were "organized" before we began using the training. At that point, for lack of a better idea of what organizing meant, the IWW often copied the business unions, but on the cheap and with internal democracy. A volunteer member played the role of a union staffer, came in and "helped" the workers to file for an election and, in the few cases where they won, to negotiate a contract.

I haven't heard of any new contracts that have been signed since we began with the OT. There have been a few organizing campaigns where that was the goal, but at the initiative of the workers who were organizing themselves, rather than because some outside organizer told them to.

This is, I think, a huge change and one that speaks a lot to the OT.

John E Jacobsen's picture
John E Jacobsen
Offline
Joined: 13-03-10
Jun 20 2012 10:05
RedHughs wrote:
I have a problem with the kind of bureaucratic tone but especially with the idea there is something like magical "organizing skills" that will get everything moving. What are these? Public speaking? Putting together mailing lists?

This whole thing has an Alynskiite tone to it - it carries an assumption there is some special "organizer" quality that is the factor getting militant action going.

Especially given how marginal any radical group today might be, it seems just implausible for such a group to present itself as the group that will inculcate the skills to others.

A simple alternative is to put one's organization forward as a group of similar workers who can support each other together and develop strategy together (and the article does mention a "workplace buddy" but this is still in the "organizer" framework).

Ok, I'll take a stab at this.

To begin with, there is such a thing as magical organizing skills. If you and I are "putting our organization forward as a group of similar workers who can support each other," are we doing it by leafletting our co-workers at work, or are we having one-on-one meetings with our co-workers outside of work? Thats right, we're beginning the process of growing that organization by having those initial meetings outside of work, because we can't start that organization if we both get fired. Thats an organizing skill.

Also, I don't think anyone giving these trainings is stupid enough to believe there is only one possible list of skills that we know or could anticipate, or worse, that they and they alone possess it. Sorry you got that from the "tone" of the piece, I'm confident it wasn't meant to be communicated at all.

hpwombat
Offline
Joined: 13-11-06
Jun 20 2012 10:34

Well, just to continued on my vein of thought on the U.S.A. economy. Recent news about the rise of Asian immigration passing Hispanic immigration and the education level being college educated seems to show the U.S.A. to be already in motion to change its economic structure in the manner I speculated may occur. Relying on an educated job base through immigration while slowly taking money out of government subsidized education seems to be the direction.

This might not necessarily mean the smart community to be the exact future of the economy, but it does point to the economy no longer relying on the slow growth of the native born population for its economic growth. What this means for the future of union organizing might be a continued retreat of unions, especially in government worker unions as was seen in Wisconsin and also in Ohio.

Not sure how far these measure went on this round of attempted austerity, but I don't see this as a dead direction of politics. I see it as a beginning of a more active reaction aiming for further cuts while continuing its move to an immigrant-supported economy to compete with other nations.

It might serve anarchists to perhaps be more explicitly international in our interventions and challenge immigrants to participate in anti-authoritarian activities while also challenging a perhaps growing xenophobia from the native-born population. The small business base, the working poor base and the bureaucratic corporate base populations seem to be steadily changing and have been for some time in this direction.