Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Direct Unionism Workshop at Shout Back Fest!

Some Wobblies from Vancouver are involved in organizing the 2nd annual anarcha-feminist summer festival, Shout Back Fest. The festival runs for 4 days, from August 22nd to August 25th, at venues throughout Vancouver. There will be music, workshops, skate gatherings and more at all the least offensive venues in the city. This festival focuses on marginalized and non-mainstream folks and their day-to-day realities. The material experiences of folks struggling to pay rent, or find work they can live on are part of this relationship. The fact that we are underpaid at our jobs, often have to have more than one job, and often still struggle to cover our base expenses absolutely affects every aspect of our lives. These realities are directly connected to how we contribute to our music scenes, and what that looks like. Many of us don't have expensive equipment, or the luxury to play music all the time, build promoter connections, or pay for jam spaces outside of our homes. It is no coincidence that access to these aspects of the music community also coincides with our access to the mainstream venues and opportunities in this city. SBF Organizer Nikki elaborates on this connection: "Making these connections between our work lives and our music lives is key in terms of making the choice to take up more space in these areas."

We say the festival is very much about refusal. In music, refusing to participate in a scene that doesn't include or recognize some folks, and at work, a refusal to be walked over by our bosses, to expect and take what we deserve from our labour. Vancouver Wobblies and other local organizers will be presenting "Direct Unionism" at one of the featured workshops taking place at this year’s festival. What does "Direct Unionism" have to do with a festival like Shout Back? Simply put, Direct Unionism, or Solidarity Unionism is when a group of people get together and recognize themselves as a union. The workshop offers a perspective on unionism that is a little different from what one might expect. Presenting unionism as a practice, from the perspective of the IWW, and established Solidarity networks, we will be discussing tactics on how to work with our peers to build resistance against boss and landlord exploitation. We will be discussing our work experiences, and what worker solidarity looks like in a service industry setting. One of the main goals of the workshop is for us to look at ways folks are already practicing solidarity in the workplace, to celebrate that and call it what it is: unionism.

shoutbackfest.tumblr.com - An all-ages anarcha-feminist, queer, anti-capitalist DIY music festival for anyone who wants it or thinks they might want it. A celebration in smashing patriarchy, and showcasing artists who are underrepresented. 

Direct Unionism workshop will take place on Friday, August 23rd @ 7 PM at Rainbow Connection (see Festival Pass). Pamphlets and other materials will be provided.

Originally posted on the Vancouver IWW blog:

Friday, 8 March 2013

IWW Vancouver Spring Organizing Training 101 April 27th and 28th

IWW Vancouver announces 2013 Spring Organizer Training 101 for everyone! These sessions will focus on Direct Unionism emphasizing co-worker solidarity and building strategy from the bottom up. This is the 2nd Organizer Training in Vancouver recently, and local wobblies are working to raise awareness around some of the issues facing workers in Vancouver. These issues include low wages, bad bosses, under the table jobs, merit based raises, job security and even disillusionment in co-workers. 

Here is more info:
"This is a two day course on building power in your workplace from the bottom up. It focuses on techniques for building a committee of workers who are confident and capable of addressing issues in the workplace, and for overcoming obstacles like worker apathy, anxiety, and the bosses’ counter-organizing efforts. The course is free/donation, and is open to everyone –so please forward to anyone who might be interested!"

Facebook invite for more information

Monday, 18 February 2013

Practicing Solidarity Unionism

Check out Chapter 5 "Practicing Solidarity Unionism" of Daniel Gross and Staughton Lynd's Labour Law for the Rank and Filer: Building solidarity while staying clear of the law.

"In solidarity unionism, workers themselves carry out their own organizing. There are three fundamental principles: 1. Rank-and-filer control; 2. Direct Action; 3. Members carry their union membership with them, regardless of majority status, when they move on to other jobs (particularly important in high turnover sectors like retail or food service)." pg.73

Labor law for the rank and filer: building solidarity while staying clear of the law

Now we just need a Canadian version of this, provincially perhaps!

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Introductory Teach-In: Capitalism and You

A teach-in on capitalism, profit motives, wage labour and more!

This may be especially useful for coffee shop workers as an introduction
into the context of our work.  Many of us do not think about the connections
between our jobs and society as a whole.  This workshop will directly link
the profit that accumulates because of our hard work and where it ends up.
There will be a breakdown of this entire process so we can better understand
the way our bosses use cheap labour and cheap business costs to make
themselves richer!

Here is a quote I found the other day, about service industry exploitation in
the book, "Work."  Crimethinc. Ex-workers Collective released "Work" this year,
and introduce and outline many different relevant atrocities that we endure through
capitalism and especially as workers.

"A worker's personal quirks and secrets, previously the only territory beyond the reach of the market, become commodities to be sold like any other. In this regard, the service industry represents a front in the total colonization of our social lives."


Entry by donation. No one turned away!

Vancouver Public Library
Central Library: Alma Vandusen and Peter Kaye Room

if you would like to contact these folks

Friday, 24 February 2012

Direct Unionism in Practice: Undermining Service Industry Barriers to Worker Solidarity

Excerpt from " Direct Unionism in Practice: Undermining Service Industry Barriers to Worker Solidarity"

"The follow up discussions on the “Direct Unionism” essay put out last year has provided us with a working definition of Direct Unionism and the basic elements of direct action in the workplace. These actions orchestrated by workers at their sites have a name: but now what? The previous responses while generally in favour of direct unionism, focus on contracts and memberships and leave out some of the most important elements in the essay in terms of potential actions and worker solidarity. We like what Tom Levy reinforces about “organizing the worker, not the job,” as it allows adaptation to the flexible, mobile, reality of service workers in general. It seems like the only feasible option in terms of speaking to the reality of these workers, which in most cases is substandard. The glove fits."

You can see the entire essay here Direct Unionism in Practice: Undermining Service Industry Barriers to Worker Solidarity

Original Essay: Direct Unionism: A Discussion 

the follow up essays: Debate on Direct Unionism

Monday, 30 January 2012


all coffee shop workers and others in the service industry

we are meeting at Joe's Cafe on Commercial Drive on Feb 12th at 5pm.

This is a meet up in order to network with other coffee shops and sites around the city.
We will be discussing our shared experiences and introducing direct unionism and reach out!

see you there! email us if you have any questions

we decide@ymail.com