Starbucks barristas Daniel Gross and Joe Tessone tell a powerful story of direct action at a Starbucks store in Chicago [How to Make Work Safer with Direct Action: An IWW Story at Starbucks]. Read it and admire the power when workers decide to take matters into their own hands.
The Chicago baristas were struck by gains Wobbly baristas had made in New York City since Starbucks had for years remained impervious to organization by the traditional trade unions. The Industrial Workers of the World was using the solidarity unionism model to make both systemic changes at the company and remedy individual grievances with management. Through direct pressure on Starbucks, the union had won three wage increases, more secure hours, and had successfully addressed a diverse array of issues from religious discrimination to rat infestation.
Solidarity unionism is a term coined by the great labor activist and author, Staughton Lynd, to describe a rank and file organization of workers who fight directly to win demands without resorting to government certification or union bureaucracy. One of the many benefits of the solidarity union approach is its scalability. A solidarity union is simply a group of workers uniting with each other and other workers in the community and (with the internet) around the world, to apply direct pressure around issues of concern at work. Therefore, with some hard work and a willingness to take a stand, baristas anywhere could join the IWW Starbucks Workers Union to fight collectively for a better life on the job and an independent voice in society.
Visit the Starbucks Union web site.
September 9th, 2006
Alexander Cockburn, in his new excellent article, The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts: How They Let the Guilty Parties of 9/11 Slip Off the Hook, reminds us of the essential silliness of those promoting massive 9/11 conspiracies. They assume the ability of our imperial leaders to excruciatingly plan and meticulously carry out a conspiracy of thousands and to keep all silent for years. These are the clowns who failed to do any planning for the post-invasion phase in Iraq because they knew, in their infinite wisdom, that Iraqis would blithely accept their country being invaded and handed over to Chalabi’s sleazy clowns of the Iraqi National Congress. These incompetents could pull off a conspiracy involving multiple cities, four airplanes, explosive here and missiles there, the successful removal of incriminating rubble, and keeping the thousands of participants totally quiet for years? They can’t keep one Sibel Edmonds or one Richard Clarke quiet, but have no trouble with the thousands who would have been involved in their 9/11 conspiracy? Has ever a stupider idea spread among so many?
Cockburn points out how the idea really protects the guilty, the garden variety crooks who run our empire:
[T]he actual corrupt conspiracies on Giuliani’s watch: the favoritism to Motorola which saddled the firemen with radios that didn’t work; the ability of the Port Authority to skimp on fire protection, the mayor’s catastrophic failure in the years before 9/11/2001 to organize an effective unified emergency command that would have meant that cops and firemen could have communicated; that many firemen wouldn’t have unnecessarily entered the Towers; that people in the Towers wouldn’t have been told by 911 emergency operators to stay in place; and that firemen could have heard the helicopter warnings and the final Mayday messages that prompted most of the NYPD men to flee the Towers.
That’s the real political world, in which Giuliani and others have never been held accountable. The nuts disdain the real world because, like much of the left and liberal sectors, they have promoted Bush, Cheney and the Neo-Cons to an elevated status as the Arch Demons of American history, instead of being just one more team running the American empire, a team of more than usual stupidity and incompetence (characteristics I personally favor in imperial leaders.) The Conspiracy Nuts have combined to produce a huge distraction.
Of course, as a psychoanalyst, I wonder what is it in so many which predisposes them to believe such errant nonsense? Presumably, the paranoid position, focusing on a single, huge, malevolent evil conspiracy is ultimately safer than realizing the truth: that we are ruled by incompetents in charge of a system heading, through a combination of greed, tunnel vision, and unbelievable incompetence, over the cliff of human survival. After all, if some evil leaders can pull off the conspiracy of the century, it can be hoped that replaced those evil ones with good ones will allow a change of course, saving us all. But if there is no great conspiracy, but only numerous minor ones involving thousands, then what hope is there for a real change of course. Perhaps Bush’s removal will only change some of the edges of America’s fraying empire, but not its overall trajectory. What then? After all, any vision of a truly energized actively participating citizenry really taking back our country and our world appears at this point to be a fantasy beyond even imagining.
But, in the end, utopian or not, its either mass democracy or doom. Either a new society of capitalism will take us all down. That may not provide much hope, but it’s the only hope we have!
September 9th, 2006