Management of Consolidated Edison demonstrated complete contempt for its workforce, locking out 8,500 members of the Utility Workers Union of America the morning of Sunday July 1st. The lockout continues, now 6 days later. Managers have opted to do the work themselves, in a full take-over of the utility, already resulting in a number of injuries of scabs on the job.
In a dispute over wages, pensions, health insurance, and other benefits, Local 1-2 of the UWUA refused to extend its contract past the June 30th deadline. One of the conditions for the extension was that there would be no strike, something threatened earlier in the negotiations, and authorized within the union.
ConEd is an investor-owned utility, a private enterprise. The utility serves 3.2 million customers in the New York metropolitan area, and earns billions in annual revenues.
City politicians seem to have mostly taken the side of the locked-out employees, but the reality is that they’ve taken the side of services not being interrupted, production not stopping, daily life in New York continuing as usual. For workers to make any gains, this conformist mentality, reinforcing the normality of business as usual, will have to be disposed of.
Last summer, 45,000 members of the Communication Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers went on strike against Verizon, the largest strike in 5 years. Verizon is pushing for a pension freeze, fewer sick days, an end to job security provisions, less responsibility toward health coverage, and the ability to expand its outsourcing. This August 7th will mark a year since the workers have had no contract, though the strike itself was called off after only two weeks to return to negotiations, which drag on, no end in sight.
Since January 15th, 34,000 members of the Transit Workers Union are working without a contract, though their struggle has had few pickets, rallies, or any apparent visibility. In December 2005, the TWU went out on a 3-day strike during the holiday season, one of the boldest moves in recent labor history. The union admirably ignored the strike’s illegality under the draconian Taylor Law of 1967—where New York state public employees are prohibited from going on strike, ever, under any circumstance—but was severely attacked in its aftermath, leadership jailed, fined in the millions, and automatic due deduction was removed, crippling the TWU.
Typically the withdrawal of labor is seen as one of the most militant actions that can be taken by workers. Now it is the employers occupying that militancy, as lockouts are seen with increasing frequency. It’s the same logic of the strike—asserting one’s control over production—but reversed.
It should be noted that neither the Communication Workers of America, nor the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, nor the Transit Workers Union, nor the Utility Workers Union of America participated in the May Day General Strike, promoted widely throughout the Occupy movement. It is going to take such bold mass actions of militancy and solidarity in order to move beyond trying to win this or that concession, in this or that contract, for this or that union, at this or that time.
As more workers are without a contract, or a union, or collective bargaining, or even a wage, it becomes clear that our own self-organization, our own solidarity to each other as a class, is our only option in struggle. Political, secondary, solidarity, sympathy strikes—themselves illegal since the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act—are no longer a possibility, as every worker, in every workplace, in every union, in every contract, has reason to strike. We must strike for ourselves, together, as a class, towards the total concession. The Utility Workers will not win until they are joined by Transit Workers, who will not win until they are joined by the Communication Workers, the Electrical Workers, and all the rest.
A picket should not be a welcoming committee for scabs, but rather a line prepared to prevent workers’ labor from being performed by traitors. During any strike, or indeed any lockout, we witness our enemies: management, retirees lured back to fuck over their replacements, professional opportunists traveling the country for such moments, all in the service of those that own and control our utilities, communications, transportation, cities, states. It is this we have to disrupt, obstruct, so business cannot continue.
This July marks the 35th anniversary of the New York City blackout of 1977, caused by a series of lightning strikes on the night of July 13th. As soon as the power went out, people spontaneously organized their own wildcat strike. Amidst another of capital’s financial crises, which hit New York especially hard, neighborhoods all over the city took to the streets, a thousand stores were looted, a thousand fires lit. The blackout showed that given the opportunity, given the spark, we will respond to our misery in the ways that we can.
At the time the lightning strikes were called an “act of God” by ConEd. We must now introduce our own state of emergency, divine, ignoring all boundaries, ignoring all laws, a strike without warning: the proletarian general strike.
Agitate at any of the following picket locations, currently running 24/7:
Headquarters, 4 Irving Place, New York, NY 10003
125th Street Office, 360 West 125th Street, New York, NY 10027
110th St Yard, 2141 1st Avenue, New York, NY 10029
The Learning Center, 43-82 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, NY 11101
Astoria Yard, 31-01 20th Avenue, Astoria, NY 11105
30 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217
3rd Ave Yard, 222 1st Street, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Netpune Yard, 1201 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11224
College Point Yard, 124-15 31st Avenue, Queens, NY 11354
Hillside office, 88-11 165th Street, Jamaica, NY 11432
Fordham Yard, 448 East Fordham Road, Bronx, NY 10458
Van Nest Yard, 1601 Bronxdale Avenue, Bronx, NY 10462
Related Links: www.conedripoff.com
7 July 2012
Committee of Public Safety
30 years ago on June 12th, over a million people gathered in Central Park to protest against nuclear energy and weaponry. To commemorate the beautiful memories and break through the anti-nuclear movement, we’re going to walk again! Come march/dance/shout with live n.o.n.u.k.e.s. DJs via WBAI NY, 99.5FM! Bring your own radio or boombox to the march and tune to 99.5FM at 8PM. (You threw out your old boombox? That’s fine. Or get a cheap ones here, here, here, or here…) If you are not in NY, listen live on WBAI.org and join the demo wherever you are.
Guest shouters: Alice Slater, Chris Williams, Minori Nakamura and the Raging Grannies!
Host/producer: Ken Gale, Eco-Logic, WBAI 99.5FM, NYC
[environmental radio show]
[list of past shows, podcasts & temporary archives]
[list of some permanently archived shows]
WBAI is a 50,000 watt station in the Pacifica network broadcast from the Empire State Building so our signal gets to New Haven, Trenton, Putnam County and the Poconoes and on the internet live stream and podcasts even further, of course.
When the air or water are clean, thank an environmentalist. If not, become one.
Tune-in 99.5FM! Be Mobile!
No More Nukes!
Please print and distribute: wildcatmarchflyer-single, wildcatmarchflyer-quarter, WILDCAT, wildcat1, wildcat2, HOODIE, FUCKSCHOOL, Bilingual flyer, M1GSfaq, bikebloc and M1GS Posters: http://www.GStrike.org/
Many cities nationally are planning their own actions for May 1st.
Over the course of the past two weeks, eight imprisoned Greek comrades have declared a hunger strike that has spawned a growing wave of resistance throughout Greece. The prisoners’ diverse statements express demands for dignity, improved conditions, an end to political pre-trial detentions and extralegal punishment. Particularly, three of the hunger strikers (Giorgos Karagiannidis, Alexandros Mitroussias and Kostas Sakkas) expressed solidarity to Stella Antoniou who has been in prison for a year and a half, charged without evidences as a member of Conspiracy of Cells of Fire and has been consistently denied release for access to medical care. All of the hunger strikers (Spyros Dravilas, Giorgos Karagiannidis, Alexandros Mitroussias, Kostas Sakkas Panagiotis Argirou, Gerasimos Tsakalos, Christos Tsakalos, Vaggelis Kailoglou and as for today April 17th Haris Hadjimihelakis, Damiano Bolano and Giorgos Polidoros) are not only seeking individual justice but support and reaffirm the demands of their fellow strikers.
A series of solidarity actions have spread around the country, ranging from mass abstentions from prison food, to guerilla attacks on banks, government buildings and politicians who represent the face of a totalitarian State.
by Dr. Zakk Flash
May 1st is recognized worldwide as International Workers’ Day, a holiday originating in response to the Haymarket Massacre of 1886 in Chicago, where workers fought for the establishment of worker protection measures, namely the eight hour workday. However, while the rest of the world marks May Day as a celebration of the working class, the United States is left with Labor Day—a banker’s holiday hurriedly passed through Congress by Grover Cleveland in an attempt to appease the outrage generated by the murder of railway workers at the hands of United States Army troops during the Pullman Strike.
May Day, along with notions of radical worker action, has largely been ignored in the United States in recent years. But the time for complacency has passed.