Portland Teachers support authorizing strike

Portland teachers vote to stand up for their students
Overwhelming majority supports authorizing strike

Portland, OR

Tonight, nearly 3,000 Portland teachers voted, by an overwhelming majority, to call for a legal strike in order to support the schools Portland students deserve.

As a result of the vote, the Portland Association of Teachers will issue a strike notice to the Employment Relations Board (ERB) and the Portland Public Schools District calling for a strike beginning Thursday, February 20, 2014.

“No teacher ever wants to go on strike, we want to be in classrooms with our students,” explained PAT president Gwen Sullivan. “But Portland teachers are united and resolved to stand up for our students’ learning conditions. It’s time to move this to a conclusion so that we can have a contract that is fair for teachers and good for students.”

Portland teachers have been negotiating for 10 months for a contract that:

  • results in meaningful class size relief,
  • does not force teachers to teach to the test,
  • supports the students and schools who need it most, and
  • provides fair compensation after years of sacrifice.

Teachers and the district currently have a mediation session scheduled Sunday, February 9th. The PAT bargaining team has asked the district to meet sooner, offering to be available Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The district has not agreed to any meeting times prior to the Sunday mediation session.

“This vote shows that teachers are serious about addressing the growing crisis in our schools,” said bargaining chair Bill Wilson, a teacher at Grant High School. “We hope that Superintendent Smith and School Board leaders understand this and will come to the bargaining table as soon as possible prepared to make meaningful progress toward addressing the priorities of teachers, parents and students.”

Source: Portland Association of Teachers’ Facebook page

Music for the Working Class – Sept. 2013

The Portland IWW’s monthly Music for the Working Class returns on Wednesday, September 25 at the Red & Black Cafe!


Special guests: The Synthicalists, and more!

AND don’t miss a special presentation by the Portland IWW’s Food and Retail Workers United!

Every Wednesday is Worker Wednesday at the Red & Black Cafe! All union members and service industry workers get discount prices on food and drinks!

I.W.W. Picket at Chicago Lake Liquors

Solidarity with our Fellow Workers in the Twin Cities!

From TCOrganizer.com:

On Saturday, April 6th, passers-by will be treated to the sight of a large picket outside of Minnesota’s highest volume liquor store, Chicago-Lake liquors. Picketers will hold signs and chant slogans of support for the workers of the store, five of whom were fired after asking for higher wages as a part of a union drive with the Industrial Workers of the World.

Although workers had been discussing forming a union and acting for better conditions in their workplace for almost a year, the event will mark the first time any of them publicly declare their IWW affiliation. This declaration and action comes on the heels of the firing of five union employees–Hallie Wallace, Arella Vargas, Max Specktor, Davis Ritsema, and Joe Giwoyna–shortly after they presented a petition signed by the majority of the shop’s workforce asking for a dollar raise and elevating its $10.50 pay cap to $13 an hour. In January, the workers also turned in a petition asking for holiday pay.

“If there’s anywhere that needs a union, it’s a store like Chi-Lake,” said Wallace, “Despite the immense amount of money that we bring in, our wages are incredibly low. We have no paid sick days or holiday pay, scheduling is inconsistent, and we put up with unsafe working conditions and sexual harassment on a daily basis. We’ve come together to demand respect and dignity on the job for everyone working at Chi-Lake, and they’ve responded with nothing more than aggressive union-busting.”

At the picket, the workers and supporters will make clear their demands, which are to rehire those fired illegally, provide raises to all employees as initially asked, and that management stop union-busting.

In addition to the picket action on Saturday, the five fired workers also filed Unfair Labor Practices with the National Labor Relations Board.

“We will keep fighting until they rehire all five of the fired workers and give us all the raises we deserve,” said Specktor, “We’re not going to allow ourselves to be bullied by management. We’re going to win this fight.”

The campaign at Chicago Lake Liquors represents a new step for Food and Retail Workers United, an organizing committee of the Industrial Workers of the World labor union. Gaining prominence in recent years for organizing Starbucks and Jimmy Johns workers, the IWW is a global union founded over a century ago for all working people.

Strike Fund Donations Needed in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS, MN — Canvass workers at Sisters’ Camelot, a non-profit mobile food shelf and soup kitchen, have gone on strike after the organization’s managing collective refused to negotiate with the canvass union. The workers went public as members of the Industrial Workers of the World, and met to negotiate with the collective. This unionization comes after months of organizing among the workers in response to changes in the workplace, resulting in a decline in conditions and mismanagement of the workers’ time and the organization’s resources.

Please donate to the strike fund today.

Whose Restaurant?

Yaw's Worker Victory

On January 18th, a group of workers from Yaw’s Top Notch Restaurant took a stand. Leading the delegation into the restaurant, the group of 10 workers were accompanied by 30 community members from We Are Oregon and the Industrial Workers of the World. To the shock of bosses and customers (and to the smiles of kitchen staff) a worker publicly read a letter addressed to the owners and management demanding over $1,200 in back wages that Yaw’s has refused to pay. Less than a week later, with signed checks in hand, these same 10 individuals celebrated victory won through solidarity.

Yaw’s Top Notch Restaurant was an East Portland staple for over 50 years. Three decades after they closed their doors, Yaw’s is now back and wants you to believe that it’s still the landmark it once was; a place where you can experience what it was like in the “good old days” when customers and employees were treated like members of the family.
The new Yaw’s claims to be “looking for people who want more than just a job,” something that “goes beyond just making money.” But Yaw’s management has failed. To go “beyond just making money,” you must first be making money. Now, Yaw’s employees are demanded what was rightfully theirs and are not going to take no for an answer.

The workers were supported by members of Food & Retail Workers United (FRWU), an IWW coalition of the union’s food, retail and distribution workers committed to workplace democracy and global solidarity. They received additional support from We Are Oregon (a project of SEIU locals 49 and 503), which organizes against wage theft in the Portland metro area. The Yaw’s workers, who took the lead in coordinating the campaign, made a commitment to each other to not give up until all 10 workers demands were met.

Each worker involved demanded a different amount which was owed to them due to unpaid but mandatory meetings, trainings, and “soft opening” shifts. Yaw’s also charged some workers uniform laundry fees which resulted in less than the required minimum wage. Standing together on Friday, the workers made their demand collectively because of Yaw’s repeated refusal to pay them individually. “This is the first step…” said one worker, “Let’s make sure what has happened to us doesn’t happen to anyone else.”

On January 18th, the worker-led delegation of community members filed into the restaurant and requested to speak to the owner. Management’s reaction? Workers were mockingly condescended to, the owner refused to come out of his office and workers were told they had to leave and were not welcome. The pictures of smiling employees that line the walls fail to hide the truth: If Yaw’s is a family, it would seem that support only goes one way, and any attempt to be heard is met with passive-aggressive animosity. The talk of community and values means nothing if theft, abuse and mismanagement are business as usual.

On the triumphant walk after the action, the sense of empowerment was evident as workers openly shared stories of being fired when they protested unfair conditions or refused to crumble in the face of the owner’s chaotic, abusive behavior. “We didn’t let them scare us!” said Sabrina, one of the workers.

They didn’t have to wait long, as the owners and management immediately attempted damage control. Management began contacting workers individually in order to avoid paying all those involved. But solidarity won out and workers held firm to their “all or nothing” agreement. By midweek, it looked like Yaw’s had caved as the group was told that they could come pick up their checks on Thursday. However, as they insisted on coming together, they would have to be there before the restaurant opened. Management claimed that the group was “a mob” and “scary”. Was it this group of parents and community members that were threatening, or was it the truth that the Yaw’s management was hiding from?

Sitting around the table of a nearby diner, the group discussed how this meeting with management might play out. If management was going to change something, or leave anyone out, the workers weren’t going to stand for it. “We’re in this together all the way!” said a member of the organizing team as someone brought out the wage theft fliers that were to be passed out to the community if all didn’t go as promised.

As the Yaw’s workers walked toward their former place of employment, the mood was tense. But moments later: Smiles & triumphant cheers! As the workers filed out of the restaurant and gathered to take a photo with what they had earned, suddenly there were shouts and threats. “No pictures!” yelled the general manager who had overseen the settlement. As he threatened to call the police for trespassing if they didn’t leave immediately, the workers happily walked away, checks triumphantly raised in the air. They had won. Yaw’s had no power over their lives anymore.

“There are still people working there who have been stolen from,” observed one of the workers, “Younger folks have kids… older folks are scared they won’t find another job. They take advantage of this.” Continuing on, another worker shared how they felt when their former co-workers saw the delegation enter the restaurant, “It was scary at first, but I saw the smiles on the faces of other workers… I hope we gave them courage to fight, too.”

According to the Yaw’s website (http://yawstopnotch.com), they

…want you to feel that Yaw’s is really your restaurant. Our goal is to treat you like the boss, and do everything we can to make sure that you leave your restaurant happier than when you arrived.

For the first time, Yaw’s employees have made this true. Acting together as one, they have shown that they will not stand for being stolen from. But it wasn’t just about the money, “Yaw’s didn’t show respect to anybody!” said one organizer, “you busted your butts and were never showed any appreciation!” Something significant has happened in the lives of these people and they certainly left Yaw’s happier than when they arrived. Workers’ solidarity had won the day, but the fight is never over, as one worker said, “I have a very strong feeling that this is just the beginning.”

Grand Rapids Call Center Goes Wobbly

Local Call Center Goes Union

Employees of Large Ticket Distributor Join Together and Demand Recognition

Grand Rapids, MI – Employees of Star Tickets have “walked on the boss” today demanding a reduction in workload, an employee grievance procedure, and recognition of their union. The employees have formed the IWW Star Tickets Workers Union for mutual support and respect on the job. Their intentions are to begin collective bargaining with owner, Jack Krasula, over a work environment that they say has become untenable.

“We are just exercising our legal right to form a union for our mutual benefit” said Deirdre Cunningham, a Client Services Representative. “We have been meeting, assisting one another, and acting as a union for some time so today we made it official to our boss.”

Star Tickets, which is located at 620 Century Avenue Southwest #300, becomes the second Grand Rapids establishment whose workers have joined the Industrial Workers of the World labor union in just over a year. Workers at Bartertown Diner, 6 Jefferson St., all joined the IWW in 2011.

“During my time here Mr. Krasula has routinely sent us his insights and anecdotes for success. We hope that he will respect our choice and work with us in affecting the context of our daily lives ” said Alisa Stone.

The Industrial Workers of the World is a rank-and-file labor union open to all workers. Gaining notoriety with the Starbucks Workers Union and the Jimmy Johns Workers Union the IWW has become the “go-to” union for workers not interested in the bureaucracy of “traditional” unions.

From the Grand Rapids IWW Website

Solidarity with Lonmin Strikers

The Industrial Workers of the World extend solidarity to the Lonmin Strikers, their families and communities. In the pursuit of better working conditions, standards of living and personal freedom they chose to exercise their rights as free people to stop work. They were met with a brutal attack by the State leading to the massacre of over 30 miners and the injury of more than 70 others. Adding insult to injury, over 200 strikers were arrested and charged under an apartheid era law with the deaths of their murdered fellow workers. This is a clear attempt by the State to intimidate all workers into submission and to prevent self-organizing and direct action.

We are united in resistance to the violence of Capitalism and of States that uphold the neoliberal system. We condemn the actions of the Lonmin owners, managers and shareholders, who reap their wealth from the exploitation of working people and the State-sanctioned robbery of valuable resources from beneath their feet. We condemn the cops and guards who protect the interests of the powerful by arresting, beating and murdering workers. We condemn the actions of any person or group who engage in strike breaking and scabbing: they betray all working people and are a disgrace to the history of class struggle.

While the murder charges of their fellow workers have been dropped, we will not be satisfied until the people who pulled the trigger are brought to justice and the strikers’ demands are met. Wherever solidarity is criminalized; we too stand guilty. We are ready to aid the strikers and their brave families in whatever capacity we can. An injury to one is an injury to all!

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