Organizing Amazon in Bessemer

by Bill Barry, ASR 83 (2021)

No organizing campaign is ever really a failure, and the Amazon campaign in Bessemer, AL, is a perfect example. The campaign was started by the workers who wanted something that so many other Covid campaigns ignored – UNION RECOGNITION; so even though the union “lost” in the distorted structure of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the lives of everyone involved – in the warehouse, in the community and hopefully across the union movement – were changed. This was the most exciting campaigns to come out of Covid, one enormous location for the most powerful boss, where all the numbers about union interest became a workers’ movement, and not just a hopeful statistic. Continue reading

Greetings from Sweden: A dual-track syndicalism?

A slightly condensed version of this article appears in ASR 83 (Summer 2021)

In 2022, the Swedish syndicalist union SAC holds a congress. Some say that SAC is at a crossroads. But what exactly are the choices? In the following essay, Rasmus Hästbacka argues that the choice is between building a popular movement union or a “revolutionary” cadre union. Hästbacka believes in a popular movement that progresses on dual tracks, i.e. a movement that builds both syndicalist sections and cross-union cohesion among workers.

The Swedish labor market has recently been highlighted in Anarcho-Syndicalist Review and on the Counterpunch website. Two articles concern the anti-strike law of 2019 and a new strategy for collective agreements that SAC has developed. Two more general texts on the future of syndicalism have been written by Gabriel Kuhn and Torsten Bewernitz on the Counterpunch website, and by Gabriel and Frederick Batzler in Anarcho-Syndicalist Review (issue #79, 2020). The new collective agreement strategy is being tested (at the time of publication) by warehouse workers at Ingram/Zalando in Stockholm. More such experiments await. Continue reading

Organizing on the job at Zalando

from ASR 83 (Summer 2021)

More than 100 workers at Europe’s leading online store for fashion and shoes, Zalando, have turned to the SAC, the Central Organization of Swedish Workers, to battle the “new Swedish model,” which many workers describe as modern slavery. After workers demanded their own union agreement and safety representatives, management announced plans to fire several SAC members. Continue reading

ASR 83 (Summer 2021)

Obituaries: Arthur J. Miller & Mike Long
Wobbles: Fat Cats Get Fatter, Jobless, Wobblies in Space…
Syndicalist News: Coal Strike, CNT Fights Job Cuts, IWW Strikes, Colombia
Articles: Logistical Syndicalism: Dock Workers’ Strikes in Solidarity with Palestinian Struggle
Organizing Amazon in Bessemer
Sweden: A dual-track syndicalism
The Rank-and-file Organizing Committee
The Legacy of Peter Kropotkin (Centenary)
• Cooperation and socialism by Peter Kropotkin
• Economic Action or Parliamentary Politics by Peter Kropotkin
• How to Fight Against Degeneration by Peter Kropotkin
Reviews: A Zionism opposed to a Jewish state
The Struggle to Break Work
Free Speech and Dissent
Universal Unionization
Letters: Capitol Riot, Kronstadt Rebellion, Amazon

Obituary: Mike Long

from ASR 83 (2021)

ASR editorial collective member Mike Long died in February. A major figure in language acquisition studies, Mike was also an active syndicalist, soccer fan, admirer of the Spanish Revolution, and lifelong foe of conformity. We first met 25 years ago at an IWW convention in Philadelphia, where Mike spoke on the Mondragon cooperatives. He quickly became a contributor to Anarcho-Syndicalist Review, and then joined the editorial collective. He wrote on several topics, including libertarian education, transportation and ecology, the electoral mirage, and, of course, Mondragon – which brought together his interests in cooperatives, language, and the Spanish Revolution. Continue reading

May Day 2021

Several syndicalist unions and other groups, including IWW and FAU branches, the SAC of Sweden, the CGT of Spain, an Indian union representing IT workers, the Garments Workers Trade Union Center of Bangladesh, the Anarchist Union of Afghanistan & Iran, Federação das Organizações Sindicalistas Revolucionárias do Brasil, and others have endorsed a call for international May Day actions against wage slavery and austerity: https://globalmayday.net/gmd2021/

The May Day statement from the International Workers Association:

General Strike in Myanmar

From ASR 82

A week after a military junta took over the country and declared a state of emergency, protests have spread throughout Myanmar. Textile workers and students quickly went on strike against the army takeover; an initiative which grew in size and scope until it became a nationwide general strike.

Among the unions calling the strike was the Federation of General Workers Myanmar, which has worked with the syndicalist International Confederation of Labor. Demonstrations, strikes and marches continue across the country, including in the factory areas of Shwepyithar, Hlaingthayar and Mingalordon, in the industrial belt of Yangon.

Together with other organizations of the Anti-Junta Mass Movement, the FGWM has signed a declaration demanding the abolition of dictatorship, full democracy and respect for civil liberties, repeal of the 2008 Constitution (imposed by the military) and the immediate release of those arrested by the army during the coup and the protests.

All too often, the media focus on prominent political figures when reporting on events such as these. However, now, as always, it is the workers who make things move forward, who take to the streets to confront the repression, who bring the country to a halt with a general strike and, ultimately, who can stop the coup.

This is not the first time that working people have risen up to confront military dictatorship. When this happens, the army can only back down or unleash bloody repression. All the sections of ICL wish the best for our comrades in Myanmar. They know that they can count on our solidarity and support, as always. [ICL]

ASR 82 • Spring 2021

Featured

Contents:

2 Wobbles: Voters Don’t Count, What Price a Worker’s Life?, Rich Getting Richer…
4 OSHA Ignores Covid-19 Deaths and Infections
5 Militant Worker Actions by John Kalwaic
6 Syndicalist News: General Strike in Myanmar, Indian Revolt, Amazon Day of Action… compiled by Mike Hargis
8 Lost Causes and Stolen Elections by Jeff Stein
9 Articles: Pipelines, Pandemics & Capital’s Death Cult: A Green Syndicalist View by Jeff Shantz
10 Green Syndicalism in the Arctic by Jeff Shantz
12 Big Strikes and the Sabotage of the Labor Movement by Marianne Garneau, Organizing Work
16 Kronstadt: The End of the Bolshevik Myth by Iain McKay
19 The Kronstadt Uprising and the fate of the Russian Revolution by Ante Ciliga
22 Anarchism, Marxism and the Lessons of the Paris Commune, Part III by Iain McKay
31 Reviews: Opposing Collaboration in Spain by Jeff Stein
34 Bookchin Revisited by Tony Sheather
39 Union by Law: Filipino Workers by Jon Bekken
39 Dialogues with David Graeber by Wayne Price
40 Kropotkin Conference Reflections by Jeff Stein
41 Letters: Capitalist Parties, Decline of the IWA…

Finding The Man — Bookchin Revisited

Janet Biehl, Ecology or Catastrophe – The Life of Murray Bookchin. Oxford University Press, 2015, 332 pp.

Review by Tony Sheather. A condensed version of this review appears in ASR 82

Murray Bookchin died in 2006 at the age of 85. He was less widely known than Noam Chomsky as a libertarian internationally, yet a dynamic American voice in the tumultuous ’60s and ’70s. Where Chomsky became the academic voice of conscience and dissent in challenging U.S. foreign policy, Murray Bookchin fought on the edges of society, urging social and political transformation. While praised widely for his revolutionary wisdom in earlier years, towards the end of his life he became a figure of conflict and controversy.

Nonetheless, despite conflict and controversy, his influence as a leading American anarchist and social ecologist in articulating modern perceptions of these philosophies has been profound. Ecology or Catastrophe, the Life of Murray Bookchin by Bookchin’s later life lover and collaborator, Janet Biehl, reviews his life and legacy. It explores the development and the impact of his ideas particularly on the radical youth of his era, notably those of the 1960s and 1970s, in the United States. The theoretical and personal divisions of the late 20th Century within the anarchist and ecological movements are described. These themes will be discussed here. Continue reading

IWW Preamble (as amended in 1908)

Industrial Workers of the World Preamble

The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people, and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.

Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system. Continue reading