IWW Greece Solidarity With Prisoner On Hunger Strike

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On Nov. 10, 2014, anarchist prisoner Nikos Romanos began a hunger strike laying claim to educational passes from prison so he could take classes in the university in which he had enrolled.

His application to the Prison Council, formed by attorney general Nikolaos Poimenidis, headmistress Charalambia Koutsomichali as well as a social worker, still remain unanswered. The appealing interrogator Eftichis Nikolopoulos, who has been claiming not to be tasked with this matter, has sent a document to the council reporting that Romanos’ application for educational passes from prison has been denied.

Iraklis Kwstaris began his own hunger strike on Oct. 29 for educational passes from prison to take classes at the university TEI of Piraeus. He is receiving the same denying documents from the council.

IWW Greece completely supports the hunger strikers and denounces the infringement of their legal rights. In solidarity we ask the council to give all educational passes from prison to Nikos Romanos and Iraklis Kwstaris immediately.

We hold the Prison Council responsible for every day of the hunger strike and for whatever happens from now on.

Support Nikos Romanos by signing the petition:

https://secure.avaaz.org/el/petition/Symvoylio_Fylakon_Korydalloy_Amesi_horigisi_ekpaideytikon_adeion_toy_apergoy_peinas_Nikoy_Romanoy/?ajcVHib.

IWW Greece
IU 620 Educational Workers
IU 610 Health Workers
iwwgreece@yahoo.gr

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FRIDAY 11/14, 8 PM PICKET: BRING BACK COLIN! FIGHT INSOMNIA’S HOMOPHOBIA, UNION-BUSTING, SEXUAL HARASSMENT

IWW Organizer Colin complained of homophobic slurs, sexual harassment of a co-worker, and denial of break time by an Insomnia Cookies manager.* The next day he was confronted by the boss, who asked “So it’s a problem for you when I say the word f*gg*t?” and told him to quit if he didn’t like the conditions. Colin was later fired on flimsy pretexts. No action was taken by the company against the manager. Join IWW’s as we picket to demand Colin be reinstated with full back-pay! We’ll gather at Insomnia’s Boston location, 708 Commonwealth Ave, on Friday November 14 at 8 pm.

*This is the email protest originally sent by Colin to Insomnia’s Regional Manager:

Dear Patrick,

I work at the Harvard location of Insomnia and am appalled by Josh’s behavior. He pops handfuls of vicodin where employees and customers can see and boasts his usage. This has led to very inappropiate comments which are VERY innapropiate for work. These comments are as follow’s:

If a driver is listening to to headphones and cannot hear he’ll say “You’re gay” or “dont speak if your the gayest man in the world” as that is a joke and looks to the others to laugh.

He said once “When your not sucking dick 90% of the time you’re swallowing loads”

Last wendsday when I came in at 6pm, he spent 20 minutes talking about rectal examinations of chickens to inspect eggs and called billy (a driver there) a “chicken fucker” I then noticed two orders that were due at 5:30pm. He then interrogated jahnay as to why they were late.

He told a female worker to “pretend you’re flirting with the customer”

He is also threatining to fire everyone and trying to instill fear in everyone and has denied me a 30min unpaid break when I work for 9 HOURS. NINE HOURS.

I wish to be kept anonymous so as to not face retaliation, but also want Insomnia to be a good workplace that is not hostile or homophobic.

Thank You,
Colin

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Colin pickets Insomnia with Fellow IWW’s and members of Harvard’s Student Labor Action Movement (SLAM) and the Harvard Union of Clerical & Technical Workers, and other allies.

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Boston Wobs Help Organize 2 Events in 1 Night

On Thursday October 23, IWW’s helped organize a worker panel at Harvard University where former employees of Harvard’s Science Center discussed their experiences with discrimination at the world’s richest University. Speakers included Nassim, demoted three salary grades after defending a co-worker, Johany, who was sexually harassed on the job and then disciplined for reporting it. Nassim was later passed over for promotion in favor of a much-younger, US-born co-worker with far less experience. Harvard fired Nassim when he was out on a disability leave. Other speakers included Marvin, called “that dirty black man” by an Administrator in Campus Services, Betsy Shortell, who later cut his hours and spread them over 6 days. No one else in the department had a 6 day per week schedule or sustained any cut in hours, although Marvin was the only employee who used braces to walk (Marvin suffers from diabetic foot disease). Like Nassim, Marvin was later fired from his job when he went out on medical leave. Another speaker, Paul, was also laid off from his job after 30+ years of service because he had to take a disability leave. Students also read testimonials by workers, including Johany’s account of being referred to as an “embarrassing Latina,” also by Shortell, and slapped with a disciplinary warning merely for complaining that a co-worker was repeatedly grabbing her, and attempting to kiss her when she was at work (Johany had the discipline removed from her file, won additional sick pay, and was promoted as the result of a settlement at the MA Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).

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During the event, attendees conducted a phone/email zap of Harvard’s Labor Relations Department, protesting the discriminatory treatment of these long-serving employees. Immediately afterwards, participants delivered a letter to Insomnia Cookies right down the block, demanding reinstatement of fired IWW Organizer Colin, and that Insomnia stop preventing workers from taking legally-mandated breaks, and cease misclassifying them as “independent contractors.” The letter was delivered by a group of supporters including Wobblies and members of Harvard’s Student Labor Action Movement, AFSCME Local 3650, SEIU Local 615, and UNITE HERE Local 26.

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END INSOMNIA’S UNION-BUSTING, HOMOPHOBIA, SEXUAL HARASSMENT!

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IWW’s and our allies will demonstrate against Insomnia Cookies’ recent termination of a union organizer who fought back against gay-bashing, harassment and illegal denial of breaks. You’re invited to our picket!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1565234910366148/?ref=22

BACKGROUND: Since August 2013, Insomnia Cookies has fired 6 IWW worker-activists. The latest, Colin, a trained union organizer, was terminated after protesting disgusting homophobic slurs by a manager. Colin alerted upper management that the boss was making sick “jokes” about LGBTQ people, and had even told a young worker that she should flirt with customers!* Colin was working to build the union in his store, fighting the company’s practice of denying workers legally-mandated breaks, and insisting on an environment free from verbal abuse. His reward was termination. Please help us send the message that union-busting, sexual harassment and homophobia in the workplace are intolerable!

*Three days after Colin’s protest, which he told company officials he wished to make confidentially, the sexist, homophobic manager confronted Colin and grilled him about his complaint, asking, “So you find it offensive when I use the word f**got?” and encouraging him to “Quit if you don’t like it.” The company took no action against the boss in response to Colin’s complaint. The same manager also interrogated Colin about his IWW affiliation, demanding to know if he was a “mole” for the union.

Questions email iww.boston@riseup.net

Posted in Boston GMB, community organizing, Insomnia Cookies Strike & Union Drive, workplace organizing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Why Is The World Ignoring The Revolutionary Kurds in Syria?

by David Graeber

In 1937, my father volunteered to fight in the International Brigades in defence of the Spanish Republic. A would-be fascist coup had been temporarily halted by a worker’s uprising, spearheaded by anarchists and socialists, and in much of Spain a genuine social revolution ensued, leading to whole cities under directly democratic management, industries under worker control, and the radical empowerment of women.

Spanish revolutionaries hoped to create a vision of a free society that the entire world might follow. Instead, world powers declared a policy of “non-intervention” and maintained a rigorous blockade on the republic, even after Hitler and Mussolini, ostensible signatories, began pouring in troops and weapons to reinforce the fascist side. The result was years of civil war that ended with the suppression of the revolution and some of a bloody century’s bloodiest massacres.

I never thought I would, in my own lifetime, see the same thing happen again. Obviously, no historical event ever really happens twice. There are a thousand differences between what happened in Spain in 1936 and what is happening in Rojava, the three largely Kurdish provinces of northern Syria, today. But some of the similarities are so striking, and so distressing, that I feel it’s incumbent on me, as someone who grew up in a family whose politics were in many ways defined by the Spanish revolution, to say: we cannot let it end the same way again.

The autonomous region of Rojava, as it exists today, is one of few bright spots – albeit a very bright one – to emerge from the tragedy of the Syrian revolution. Having driven out agents of the Assad regime in 2011, and despite the hostility of almost all of its neighbours, Rojava has not only maintained its independence, but is a remarkable democratic experiment. Popular assemblies have been created as the ultimate decision-making bodies, councils selected with careful ethnic balance (in each municipality, for instance, the top three officers have to include one Kurd, one Arab and one Assyrian or Armenian Christian, and at least one of the three has to be a woman), there are women’s and youth councils, and, in a remarkable echo of the armed Mujeres Libres (Free Women) of Spain, a feminist army, the “YJA Star” militia (the “Union of Free Women”, the star here referring to the ancient Mesopotamian goddess Ishtar), that has carried out a large proportion of the combat operations against the forces of Islamic State.

How can something like this happen and still be almost entirely ignored by the international community, even, largely, by the International left? Mainly, it seems, because the Rojavan revolutionary party, the PYD, works in alliance with Turkey’s Kurdish Worker’s Party (PKK), a Marxist guerilla movement that has since the 1970s been engaged in a long war against the Turkish state. Nato, the US and EU officially classify them as a “terrorist” organisation. Meanwhile, leftists largely write them off as Stalinists.

But, in fact, the PKK itself is no longer anything remotely like the old, top-down Leninist party it once was. Its own internal evolution, and the intellectual conversion of its own founder, Abdullah Ocalan, held in a Turkish island prison since 1999, have led it to entirely change its aims and tactics.

The PKK has declared that it no longer even seeks to create a Kurdish state. Instead, inspired in part by the vision of social ecologist and anarchist Murray Bookchin, it has adopted the vision of “libertarian municipalism”, calling for Kurds to create free, self-governing communities, based on principles of direct democracy, that would then come together across national borders – that it is hoped would over time become increasingly meaningless. In this way, they proposed, the Kurdish struggle could become a model for a wordwide movement towards genuine democracy, co-operative economy, and the gradual dissolution of the bureaucratic nation-state.

Since 2005 the PKK, inspired by the strategy of the Zapatista rebels in Chiapas, declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Turkish state and began concentrating their efforts in developing democratic structures in the territories they already controlled. Some have questioned how serious all this really is. Clearly, authoritarian elements remain. But what has happened in Rojava, where the Syrian revolution gave Kurdish radicals the chance to carry out such experiments in a large, contiguous territory, suggests this is anything but window dressing. Councils, assemblies and popular militias have been formed, regime property has been turned over to worker-managed co-operatives – and all despite continual attacks by the extreme rightwing forces of Isis. The results meet any definition of a social revolution. In the Middle East, at least, these efforts have been noticed: particularly after PKK and Rojava forces intervened to successfully fight their way through Isis territory in Iraq to rescue thousands of Yezidi refugees trapped on Mount Sinjar after the local peshmerga fled the field. These actions were widely celebrated in the region, but remarkably received almost no notice in the European or North American press.

Now, Isis has returned, with scores of US-made tanks and heavy artillery taken from Iraqi forces, to take revenge against many of those same revolutionary militias in Kobane, declaring their intention to massacre and enslave – yes, literally enslave – the entire civilian population. Meanwhile, the Turkish army stands at the border preventing reinforcements or ammunition from reaching the defenders, and US planes buzz overhead making occasional, symbolic, pinprick strikes – apparently, just to be able to say that it did not do nothing as a group it claims to be at war with crushes defenders of one of the world’s great democratic experiments.

If there is a parallel today to Franco’s superficially devout, murderous Falangists, who would it be but Isis? If there is a parallel to the Mujeres Libres of Spain, who could it be but the courageous women defending the barricades in Kobane? Is the world – and this time most scandalously of all, the international left – really going to be complicit in letting history repeat itself?

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New Boston IWW Twitter page!

https://twitter.com/BostonIWW

If you have a Twitter page of your own and want to follow what’s going on at the IWW page, follow us at @BostonIWW – we’ll try to keep it updated with article links, events, union news, and more. Solidarity!

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Joe Hill Centennial labor history calendar now for sale!

Solidarity Forever Labor History Calendar 2015

The annual revolutionary labor history calendars now for sale! published by the IWW Hungarian Literature Fund and IWW branches since 1985. This year they have gone large format (12″ by 11.5″), to mark the centenary of the judicial murder of IWW songwriter and organizer Joe Hill. Each month, images from labor history are linked to an excerpt from one of Joe Hill’s best-loved labor anthems. The calendar also includes two pages of information on Joe Hill’s life and organizing, his songs, and the successful effort in 1988 to free the last of Joe Hill’s remains from federal custody. If you would like to purchase please visit http://joehill100.com/ or send $15.95 to Boston IWW, po box 391724 Cambridge, MA 02139.

Solidarity Forever!

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