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What is the IWW?

The IWW is a rank-and-file-run, international union for all workers, dedicated to organizing both on and off the job, in our industries and our communities. We are not affiliated with any political party. We organize the worker and the job, meaning that, unlike most unions, you carry your membership with you no matter what job you have, including if you are unemployed. Because we are a democratic, member-run union, decisions about what issues to address and what tactics to pursue are made by the workers directly involved. Our dues are lower than any other union, and how dues money is spent is determined by the members themselves. We believe in the power of rank-and-file direct action, shop floor organization and class solidarity, both to win better economic conditions and to build a world without bosses.

Valentines Day Dinner with the Chicago IWW

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Facebook Event Here

Join the Chicago General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World for an early celebration of working class love at our Valentines Day Diner!

Invite your sweetheart or come to make friends at our ‘One Big Table’.

You can choose one of two delicious home cooked Italian meals to enjoy with an assortment of beer, wine, and soft drinks. This event is vegan friendly and desserts and sweets will be available!

The Valentines Day Dinner will take place on Saturday, February 7th at 5:00 at our Branch Office at 1700 S Loomis.

Diner will be served promptly at 6:30. Come early to socialize with old comrades, make new friends, and order your meal of choice!

There will be a sliding scale cover charge of $10 to $20 a plate.

If you wish to attend but cannot donate or if you have any special dietary needs please contact ChicagoIWWOC@gmail.com

Report Back: FURIE’s “Dance Party to Counter Protest IL ‘March for Life'”

FURIE, or Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation; is a newly formed “radically inclusive grassroots feminist organization” here in Chicago. They are definitely an organization to keep an eye on and we look forward to collaborating with them in the future. To learn more about FURIE, check out their facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/chicagofurie


On Sunday, January 18th, members of the Chicago IWW GMB grabbed some flags and a megaphone and caught a bus downtown to attend FURIE’s “Dance Party to Counter Protest IL ‘March for Life’”.

“Why would a labor union show up to an action for women’s reproductive rights?” You ask.

Remember, the IWW stands for the liberation of all members of the working class. This means doing more than organizing at work – it means fighting oppression in all its forms, such as racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism and, of course, sexism. Furthermore, the IWW firmly stands against patriarchy and all of it’s manifestations, including the policing of women’s bodies.

Anyway, back to the event! We arrived just as the counter protesters finished marching across federal plaza to take a stand across the street from the ‘pro-life’ rally. We found over 100 strong and rightfully angry women standing up for their reproductive rights and countless male comrades standing in solidarity.

Pro-choice and pro-women activists shouted chants including  “Not the church, not the state, women must decide our fate”, “Pro-life your name’s a lie – you don’t care if women die”, “Queer, straight, black, white – all unite for women’s rights”, and  “Racist, Sexist, Anti-Gay, Right Wing Bigots, Go Away!”.

I was honored to help lead chants and to spread the message of women’s liberation. It was also extremely exciting to see a few old friends alongside an inspiring amount of new faces in the street.

The action continued with an energetic march through the loop, a moving speakout, and, of course, a dance party! I stayed for a couple hours and was still sad to leave before the action ended but, unfortunately, we haven’t overthrown capitalism yet, and I had to head to work.

Want to learn more about the work the IWW does to fight patriarchy and stand up for women’s rights?
Check out the Gender Equity Committee (GEC) Facebook page here:  https://www.facebook.com/GenderEquityCommitteeIWW

In Solidarity,

x373679


Photos from the Event:

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Women’s’ Rights Activists Gathering Alongside Federal Plaza as Police “Protect” Anti-Choice Protestors

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“No Borders, No Prisons, No Occupations. Only Feminist Liberation”

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Women Share their Stories at the Post-March Speak Out

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“Keep Abortion Safe & Legal”

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Chicago IWW member leading a chant on a megaphone. She was later interviewed by ABC 7 News about the importance of reproductive rights.

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“Abortion on Demand and Without Apology”. I think this one is my personal favorite.

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Wobbly Flags Flying High alongside Women’s Rights Activists

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Look at all those people! Thanks to everyone who came out to support women’s liberation!

Report Back: January GMB Social Event, the “New Years Weekend After Party”

Happy 2015!

On January 10th the Chicago Branch of the IWW rang in the new year with a social event and fundraiser party dubbed the “New Years Weekend After Party”.

We had a great time listening to live music from branch member and DJ, Doug, drinking delicious home brewed cider from the Anarchist Brewing Collective, making new friends, having conversations with old comrades, and partying the night away.

We are proud to announce that we raised over $100 during the event. We also want to send a warm welcome to all the new members who signed up at the event and say thank you to all those could not attend but who still sent along donations to fund current and future branch organizing projects.

I hope you all had fun, I know I did!

Be sure to join us next month at the Chicago IWW GMB’s February Social Event, the “Valentine’s Day Dinner”, on Saturday Febuary 7th, at 5:00pm at our Branch Office at 1700 s Loomis.

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Drinks are ready to pour and the table is filled with snacks

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Old Comrades and New Friends

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DJ Doug ready to play amazing Rock n Roll, R&B, and Rockabilly all night long

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One of our Newest members getting their first Red Card

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Post-New Year’s Count Down Selfie ;)

In Solidarity,

x373679

The Chicago IWW will be hosting an Organizer Training on the weekend of January 24th and 25th at the Chicago Branch office at 1700 S Loomis.

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Learn to organize in your workplace through discussion with experienced organizers, workshops, role-playing, and other exercises. This training program covers the basics of building an organizing committee, engaging in direct action, and winning demands with or without NLRB recognition.

This is a two-day training, and participants are expected to attend both days from the hours of 10:00am to 5:00pm.

Breakfast and lunch along with refreshments will be provided for all participants during the weekend.

There is a sliding scale registration fee of $5 – $15.

Housing for visiting Wobblies can be provided, but it will be limited to couch/floor space and cannot be guaranteed if registration is not received by Jan 17th.

If you plan on attending, please fill out this registration form ASAP: tinyurl.com/101RSVP.

Facebook event: tinyurl.com/chicago101.

New Year’s Weekend After-Party

Had to work on New Year’s Eve? So did we!

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Join us at 1700 S. Loomis for a post-post-celebration of the New Year on January 10th from 7:00pm to 1:00am. (We’ll have a midnight countdown just for the hell of it!)

Live music from DJ Doug with ’50s Rockabilly, Rock N Roll, Doo-Wop and R&B.

18+ to enter; 21+ to drink.

$10 – $15 sliding scale entry.
$5 for Designated Drivers and Wobblies with January dues paid.
2 free drinks with entry (Bubbly or Beer); $2 suggested donation per drink after the first two.

Proceeds benefit the Chicago IWW GMB’s current and future organizing campaigns.

Hosted by the Chicago IWW. Beer provided by the Anarchist Brewing Collective.

RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/319101154957332/.
 

Reportback: Darden Workers National Day of Action

Workers picketing outside of Capital Grille

Workers picketing outside of Capital Grille

On October 9, members of the IWW Chicago branch participated in the city’s local action for #DignityAtDarden, a national day of solidarity with former and current employees of Darden Restaurants.

I showed up late on activist time, but was still able to join in the chanting picketers outside of Darden-owned Capital Grille (633 N St Clair St) and listen to Darden workers give their personal testimonies about their deplorable workplace treatment.

#DignityAtDarden is a campaign by the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United. ROC Chicago is, in their own words, “a member led restaurant workers’ organization” that “build[s] power and voice for restaurant workers” through workplace justice campaigns, trainings, and research/policy work.

In my own words, ROC Chicago are a kickass group that I’m excited to have gotten to meet. They definitely brought the energy and enthusiasm to the picket – not to mention the preparation. Gotta love a group with plenty of signs, chant sheets, and aprons/chef hats.

After the action, we were invited to come hang out at ROC Chicago’s Washington Street HQ before going out for a few drinks – and yes, all of the Wobblies in attendance made the “I Want Whiskey” joke at least once.

In all seriousness, I’d like to see more collaboration between the IWW Chicago GMB and ROC Chicago. They’ve already been a great source of solidarity and support for the Chicago Freshii Workers Union #FightFreshii campaign, and from what I could tell based on side conversations at the Darden action, we’re in the perfect spot to introduce or further the conversation about solidarity unionism, radical anticapitalism, and the IWW to more Chicago restaurant workers via ROC.

We could definitely also learn a thing or two about group cohesion and office organization from ROC members – why don’t we have a white board?

That’s all I got for this reportback!

Til next time,

x379547

More info:

ROC Chicago: rocunited.org/chicago
#DignityAtDarden: facebook.com/dignityatdarden

Workers picket
Video

Freshii Union Busting Continues; Workers Picket

Freshii Workers’ Union members and supporters staged a picket today to demand an end to abuses by Freshii franchise owner Peter Irie.

The assembled group demanded that Irie re-hire illegally fired workers, cease union-busting tactics and attacks on union supporters, and officially recognize the Freshii Workers’ Union (FWU).

Peter thinks that he can continue to abuse and disrespect his workers with no repercussions,” former Freshii employee Heather Sprigler said.

With Sprigler’s help, the FWU recently won back nearly $2,000 in unpaid back wages for store employees. Sprigler was subsequently fired for concerted activity. Irie officially cited Sprigler’s role in the campaign to recover unpaid wages as a reason for her termination.

The campaign included a march on the boss on August 1. Freshii workers delivered a letter to Irie that demanded that he end wage theft practices and deliver unpaid wages to the workers in full by August 8.

Sprigler was not the first Freshii employee fired after participating in union organization. Marcos Patino was fired after taking part in the march. Irie claimed that the store did not have enough business to keep Patino on staff, but Irie immediately advertised job openings after firing Patino from the store.

After Patino’s firing, the FWU organized a phone zap for August 5. Phone zaps involve supporters repeatedly calling and sending fax messages.

The phone zap was extremely inspiring,” one Freshii worker and FWU organizer said. “We started receiving faxes around 5am, and they were messages of solidarity from all around the world.

Phones never stopped ringing as long as I was in the store. We felt an overwhelming support both for Marcos and for our desire for union recognition,” they continued.

That evening, Irie called Patino to set up a meeting to discuss his re-hiring. Irie later cancelled the meeting and allegedly refused to re-schedule.

Since Sprigler and Patino’s firings, other Freshii workers have expressed concern about Irie’s actions towards store employees. Employee and union organizer Alison Olhava recently had her scheduled work hours reduced from 35 to 8 per week after taking an authorized week off of work due to contagious illness.

Irie has allegedly refused to meet with Alison and her union representatives to discuss this change in scheduling.

The FWU has filed a number of Unfair Labor Practice charges against Irie’s company, Nutritionality, Inc., which are currently being investigated by the National Labor Relations Board.

Union members and supporters stressed the importance of other direct actions while they await the NLRB’s official decisions.

I’ve talked to other workers who were afraid that Peter might lash out against them,” union organizer Kai Tross said. “I think that a picket is important to show other workers that they are not alone — there are people all over who will come out and have their back.”

Tross has never worked at Freshii, but is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The Freshii Workers’ Union is organized under the IWW, an international member-run union for workers in all industries.

The picketers organized outside of Irie’s 200 W. Randolph St. store at 11 a.m. today, and used the hashtag #FightFreshii to live blog the event on social media networks. Organizers were optimistic about continuing their campaign after today’s event.

We might just be a small group of workers at a franchise, but the fact that we can come together and win back wages has shown me that a few people can do amazing things when they stand up together to fight,” Olhava said.

Updates on the Freshii Workers’ Union campaign are posted to their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FreshiiUnion640.

Workers picket

no union busting sign

freshii workers banner more picketers

Help Needed for IWW Freshii Workers’ Union Organizers

http://may1chicago.wix.com/helpalison

Last month, Freshii workers at 200 A Randolph in Chicago marched on their boss to demand the return of nearly $2,000 in stolen wages and union recognition. Of the two demands, the stolen wages were returned to the workers. While the fight for union recognition continues, Heather Sprigler has been illegally fired in retaliation for her role in the organizing efforts. Last week, Alison Olhava fell ill and her boss, Peter Irie, cut her hours from a normal 35 a week to a dismal 8.  Peter has refused to meet with Alison and her IWW representatives to discuss this change in scheduling.

While ULPs have been filed, Alison and Heather are roommates and their household is badly in need of financial support. Neither Heather nor Alison are paid organizers and both rely on wage work. Their household includes Alison, her partner who is currently seeking employment, Heather, her two year old son Santiago, and Alison’s 9 month old puppy.

All money raised will go toward basic necessities like rent, bills, and keeping food on the table.  If additional funds are raised, it will be used to support the IWW Freshii Workers’ Union in other ways. Please stay tuned to our facebook (linked below) for details on an upcoming action to support Freshii workers!

Announcing the Anti-Patriarchy Committee of the Chicago GMB

The Chicago Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) General Membership Branch (GMB) is pleased to announce the formation of an Anti-Patriarchy Committee (APC), which has been created in order to build internal and external education around issues of gender and sexual oppression, violence, and discrimination.

The Chicago IWW GMB APC affirms the IWW’s stance against sexism, transphobia, sexual violence, and bigotry. Building a union comprised of all workers necessitates the recognition that capitalism is not the only force that harms the working class and that, as an injury to one is an injury to all, we must fight oppression in all its various and intersecting forms.

We look forward to hosting our first workshop in the coming weeks to better strengthen our branch’s commitment to gender and sexual equality.