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Preview: Industrial Workers of the World - San Francisco Bay Area GMB

Industrial Workers of the World - San Francisco Bay Area GMB

This is the news page for our San Francisco Bay Area General Membership Branch. To get an overview about our contact info, news and events, please visit our home page.


Berkeley, CA: IWW Recycling Workers Walk Off Job Over Unpaid Wages

Sat, 26 Aug 2017 00:47:00 +0000

By the Bay Area IWW - It's Going Down, August 24, 2017

(image) Workers at Buyback, a recycling centre in Berkeley, have walked off the job this morning after the payment of their wages was delayed without explanation.

The workers, who are members of the Industrial Workers of the World, discovered at the start of their shift that none of them had received their scheduled payment for the previous fortnight’s work, which was due to come through earlier this morning.

This the third occasion this year that wages have not been paid on time – something that can cause extensive problems for the finances of workers and their families. After turning up at 8 AM this morning and being offered no explanation from management for the error, Buyback workers held a union meeting and voted 18-0 to immediately walk out.

Buyback workers have already struck twice this year – the first an unannounced half-day walkout during the February 16 ‘Day Without Immigrants,’ and the second a two-hour stoppage to hold a celebratory barbecue on May 1.

Workers have not yet returned to work and it’s unclear at this stage whether the action will continue into tomorrow.

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IWW and radical influences on the San Francisco waterfront

Tue, 27 Jun 2017 00:27:38 +0000

By Hieronymous -, May 3, 2017

(image) For May Day 2017 Local 10 of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union invoked a contractual "stop-work" privilege and refused to work any Bay Area docks in celebration of International Workers Day for the third consecutive year. This speech, originally delivered at the 75th Anniversary of the 1934 San Francisco General Strike at the Marine Firemen’s Hall in San Francisco, was adapted for the rally preceding the May Day march on May 1, 2017.

    John Ross wrote:
    In my own country
    amnesia is the norm,
    the schools teach us
    to unremember from birth,
    the slave taking, the risings up,
    the songs of resistance,
    the first May first,
    our martyrs from Haymarket
    to Attica to the redwoods of California
    ripped whole from our hearts,
    erased from official memory . . .
    (from "Against Amnesia)

In the 1950s, when he was a North Beach resident, poet Allen Ginsberg shipped out various times with the merchant marines from the Embarcadero. Earlier, the proximity of the waterfront to the vibrant intellectual life of the bohemians and political radicals of North Beach made San Francisco the most radical port city in the U.S. But Ginsberg lived in North Beach during the height of the Cold War, so perhaps it should be expected that his poem “America” has the line:

Allen Ginsberg wrote:
“America I feel sentimental about the Wobblies”

Poet Kenneth Rexroth, who was close to the circle of anarchists and anti-World War II pacifists who founded KPFA in 1949, and earlier had been a soapboxer and wrote for the Waterfront Worker, said this about the pre-World War II period:

Kenneth Rexroth wrote:
. . . people became involved in red San Francisco. The interesting thing is that most of them became practical labor organizers, rather than Bohemians sitting around Union Square arguing about proletarian literature . . . You see, all of us were very actively involved and this makes all the difference in the world. Another thing, very few of these people were orthodox Commies because the basic tradition on the West Coast was IWW.

From the California Gold Rush onwards, a worker on the West Coast could easily go out and get a job in the woods or at sea or in the fields.

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Bay Area IWW Resolution in Protest of the Inauguration of President Donald Trump

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 04:21:28 +0000

Passed by the Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch - January 5, 2016

(image) WHEREAS, the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States has sparked fear and anger in our community, especially among those most marginalized, including immigrants, Muslims, people of color, women, the disabled, and LGBTQ populations.

WHEREAS, the President Elect has publicly supported and endorsed anti-union policies including federal Right to Work laws and is considering appointing to his cabinet people with a track record of promoting such policies

WHEREAS, newly appointed Supreme Court Justices will swing the court to be more consistently anti-union

WHEREAS, the privatization of Social Security and Medicare is likely to be pushed early in the Trump administration

WHEREAS, the diverse membership of the working class and of our unions includes populations that candidate Trump threatened with bigoted policies and hateful rhetoric

WHEREAS, that hateful rhetoric has already been seen in the form of an increase of hate crimes and violence against marginalized communities which overlap with our membership

WHEREAS, it is the obligation of organized labor to defend our members from attacks and promote an elevated and equal quality of life for all workers

WHEREAS, Resolution in Protest of the Inauguration of President Donald Trump, spontaneous demonstrations have erupted across the country immediately following the election of Donald Trump. Many organizations of students, labor, women, and various communities are continuing to plan massive protests including on Martin Luther King, Jr Day and culminating in action on the day of the inauguration of Donald Trump, January 20, 2017

WHEREAS, the day on which we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr who fought against racism and bigotry and championed the issues of the working class is just four days before the inauguration of Donald Trump.

WHEREAS, the power of organized labor is not reliant upon the occupant of any government office up to and including the office of President of the United States

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the IWW Bay Area General Membership Branch endorses and encourages all members to participate in the nationwide call for protest and actions beginning with those honoring and continuing the struggle of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr on his day, Monday, January 16 and culminating in a national day of action and protest and a reassertion of the power of organized labor on Friday January, 20, the day of the Inauguration of President Donald Trump

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Hotel Frank(enstein) becomes Hotel G(oofy)

Sun, 13 Sep 2015 18:17:41 +0000

By Marc Norton - Marc Norton Online, September 8, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s. The author is a member of the Bay Area IWW General Membership Branch and UNITEHERE Local 2.

(image) Almost five years after I was illegally fired from my job as a bellman at Hotel Frank, the current owners of the Union Square hotel at Geary and Mason (now called Hotel G) are telling guests that there is no luggage service, that if they want to get their bags to or from their rooms they are on their own, and that if they want to store their luggage there is a roped-off area in the lobby where they can dump their bags, without any guarantee that they will be there when they want to retrieve them.

Hotel management recently instituted this goofy practice in order to keep me from coming back to work at the hotel.  Quite a backhanded complement to my perceived organizing and troublemaking ability, don’t you think?

Here is an email that Matthew Rubenstein, the Associate Sales & Social Media Manager at Hotel G, sent to a potential guest:

We do have a place in the lobby where you can store the luggage – it is a roped-off area by the front desk.  Unfortunately we cannot transport the bags up to the room.

And this, also from Mr. Rubenstein, responding to a question about the security of the “roped-off area” in the lobby:

Personally, if it were me I would be fine leaving anything outside of laptops/cameras etc.

Here is a photo of the “roped-off area” in the lobby.  Note that there is a woman, presumably a hotel guest, going through some of the stored luggage:


Note that the luggage is blocking a doorway.  That is the door to the stairs from the basement, where the housekeeping office and the employee break room are located.  With this door blocked, the only access to the basement is via the elevator.  I wonder what the Fire Marshal might think of this.

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Rail Workers and Environmentalists to Teach Each Other

Wed, 21 Jan 2015 23:18:39 +0000

By Ron Kaminkow - Labor Notes, January 21, 2015

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s. Several IWW branches have, however, endorsed this effort.

(image) With public attention focused on the railroads in a way it hasn’t been for decades, the cross-craft solidarity group Railroad Workers United is seizing the opportunity to teach the general public “railroading 101”—and teach rail workers “environmental politics 101.”

Both those workshops, among others, will be offered at one-day conferences on “The Future of Railroads: Safety, Workers, Community, and Environment,” March 14 in Richmond, California, and March 21 in Olympia, Washington. (See below) for details.)

“My excitement about the conference is having railroaders, who on a daily basis are moving these really dangerous, volatile, flammable materials, having a dialogue with communities who want it to be made safe,” says activist Gifford Hartman.

“To my knowledge it’s never been done,” says Seattle switchman-conductor Jen Wallis. “Rail labor hasn’t worked with environmentalists to the degree that steelworkers and longshoremen and Teamsters have. It’s all very new.”

RWU is partnering with the Backbone Campaign and other groups to organize both events. The idea is to bring together rank-and-filers, environmentalists, and the general public.

Just as important as learning each other’s issues, Wallis says, is that “we get to know each other… So we have people we can call on when we have an issue on the table, and they can do the same with us.”

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Capital Blight - Green Illusions or Malthusian Miasma?

Wed, 24 Apr 2013 23:04:04 +0000

By Steve Ongerth - April 17, 2013

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are not the official position of the IWW (or even the IWW’s EUC) and do not necessarily represent the views of anyone but the author’s.

A recent item on, published on April 8, 2013, features an interview by Steve Horn of Ozzie Zehner, author of the book Green Illusions: the Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism . Titled, “Power Shift Away from Green Illusions” the interview would have been more appropriately named, “Deep Dive into a Vat of Malthusian Miasma.”

The interviewee, author Ozzie Zehner, argues that the public is being offered a false choice between fossil fuel based civilization and a renewable energy / clean tech based alternative, and that “most environmentalists” have “jumped on board the bandwagon”.

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Berkeley Ecology Center battles their workers over the “oldest existing IWW contract in the known universe”

Sun, 20 Jan 2013 20:44:36 +0000

(image) Beyond Chron (January 15, 2013)

Marc Norton Online

Brothers and sisters from the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) put in a lot of legwork on the Hotel Frank picket line, so it was only natural that I responded to their call to join an IWW picket line at the Berkeley Ecology Center last Thursday, January 10.  The Ecology Center brags on its website that they “provide good, green-collar jobs.”  Try telling that to the thirty workers and supporters who were on the picket line last Thursday.

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IWW iu670 Curbside Recyclers in Berkeley Demand "No Concessions!"

Wed, 09 Jan 2013 02:12:12 +0000

For Immediate Release: Contact Bay Area IWW (510) 845-0540

Fellow Workers and Supporters of the IWW and the working class: Negotiations for a new contract with the Ecology Center are not going at all well. Their latest proposal includes a worse Kaiser plan, making the workers pay for part of the premium, no raise after the first year of the contract, and a reduction in what the employer pays into the workers' annuity plan. Workers are saying that all they've been getting in recent contracts are cuts and where will it all end?

The Ecology Center is openly saying that they expect "more work for less pay." A strike on Feb. 1 remains possible. We are organizing a protest rally at the work place for this Thursday at noon. The rally will be held at the corner of Second and Gillman Streets, in Berkeley (near the Gilman Street exit off of Eastshore Freeway / I-80 & 580) where it will be more visible. We urge all supporters to attend and to bring friends.

The IWW has had a union contract with the Ecology Center since 1989.

The Dominos Fall

Fri, 05 Oct 2012 00:16:19 +0000

By Ryan Faulkner - September 18, 2012

Domino’s Pizza sucks. Not just in the sense that it treats its workers heinously, the pizza itself is of a low quality. Eating a slice of Domino’s pizza is a similar experience to swallowing a salt shaker. So its not surprising that on a Saturday night in Berkeley, the Domino’s storefront was dead. A delivery car would run out the back every 15 minutes or so, but business was not booming.

Us Wobblies posted up at a Chinese restaurant next door, waiting for 6 PM, when our demonstration was set to begin. We had committed to stage an action in solidarity with Domino’s Delivery Drivers in Australia, who have received an arbitrary wage cut of 19%, a punishment for the 23 delivery drivers who raised complaints over a trend of paychecks that came up short of their promised salaries.

The consensus in the Chinese restaurant was that this was going to be a git ’er done and out kind of deal. Walk around with signs in front of the location for a couple hours, chant some angry chants, and flyer passersby. Hopefully, by the end of the night, we’d cost Domino’s a few customers, get the workers thinking about the stability of their own wages, and bother the boss enough that they’d give corporate management a call.

But we got so much more.

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IWW Shops Hold May Day Rally

Fri, 04 May 2012 15:30:22 +0000

(image) By John Reimann

The boss was sweating bullets. The IWW was in the house, his workers were about to stop work for May Day, and he wasn’t happy about it at all. But there was nothing he could do about it since all his workers were IWW members and they support the union. This was at Buy Back recycling in Berkeley, which functions under an IWW contract as does Curbside Pickups, the work place next door, whose workers were also about to stop work for May Day, 2012.

IWW organizers and union members on the job had been organizing a stop-work rally for the previous two weeks and here it was.

Workers from both work places stopped work for about an hour to celebrate International Workers Day in a work place rally. Most of those who spoke were the Curbside and Buy Back workers themselves, and they spoke about the conditions of their jobs and the attacks on their health benefits and other such concerns. A worker at Curbside had recently had a very serious injury (which resulted in having to have a foot amputated). Several Curbside workers commented on this and the belief that the long hours of overtime may well have been related to this, because when workers are tired accidents are more likely to happen. There were several speakers from outside the work place including Boots Riley, the revolutionary Oakland rap artist, who spoke among other things about his experiences with workers in Italy. Other fellow workers spoke on a number of issues including the history of May Day, issues for grocery workers, and on privatization and the union busting in the Oakland public school system. One noteworthy message of greeting was read from a representative of the Pakistan Labor Party. The message referred to some of the strikes in Pakistan recently and concluded by calling for the workers of the world to unite. The rally concluded with a speech from a fellow worker who called for revolution (and got a good hand of applause for that).

We all gathered round for a group photo taken by one of our members. The executive director of the Curbside operation just “happened” to be on hand and came running over, a big s___t-eating grin spread over his face. He offered to take the photo for us so that we could all be in the photo at once. We sent him packing.

It was the perfect end to a great event. We started the event by making one boss sweat. We ended it by telling another to get lost. What better way to celebrate International Workers Day?

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