PLEASE CONTRIBUTE TO THE SUPPORT FUND.
Picket line at Mount Baker Roofing in Bellingham- an update
Around 20 roofers at Mount baker Roofing company called a work stoppage this morning. The picket line was at the company’s offices but the workers were from the MB Roofing shop in Skagit county.
Yesterday, a group of workers presented a demand to the Skagit manager to follow state health and safety rules, and to provide toilets, drinking water, and legal work breaks. The five workers who presented the letter were fired. The picket today was to pressure the bosses to provide those things, and also to reinstate the fired workers- it is illegal to fire workers for protesting working conditions, but as we probably all know, the law isn’t always enforced in the interest of the working class.
There were around 50 people on the picket line at 6 AM today. Dark and cold- where’s are the burn barrels? There were workers from the roofing company, and supporters from Community 2 Community, Familias Unidas por la Justicia [our good friends, the farmworkers union in Skagit County], IWW, and a few individuals from UFCW, Teamsters, and the firefighters union. [Sorry if we left anyone out].
We lined the sides of the entrance road with our signs. It was heartening to hear honks from trucks passing by on the freeway and along Pacific Highway. The picket ended at around 9, not long after the sun came up to warm our bones, to consider the owner’s response and to decide next steps.
To stay informed, write firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be on our Solidarity Alert email list. You’ll get alerts about solidarity actions you can participate in, and updates on local IWW activity. Maybe 2-3 emails a month, and its easy to unsubscribe.
The IWW Today- a presentation at Village Books Feb 15, 7PM
IWW Events in Bellingham
Have you read the novel Cold Millions by Jess Walter? It is set in Spokane during the 1909 IWW Free Speech fight. The book is the Whatcom County Library’s selection for this winter. It is a national bestseller and:
“A Best Book of the Year: Bloomberg | Boston Globe | Chicago Public Library | Chicago Tribune | Esquire | Kirkus | New York Public Library | New York Times Book Review (Historical Fiction) | NPR’s Fresh Air | O Magazine | Washington Post | Publishers Weekly | Seattle Times | USA Today
A Library Reads Pick | An Indie Next Pick”
Check out these events! Because the book deals extensively with the IWW, a number of events IWW-related events are coming up around here:
Contribute to the IWW Monument in Centralia, WA
Friends and Fellow Workers!
Contribute to our GoFundMe here:
The IWW is purchasing and installing a monument in Centralia, Washington to commemorate and honor the Wobblies who died or were imprisoned following the ‘Centralia Tragedy’ of November 11, 1919. On that day, the IWW union hall was attacked for the second time by a mob of American Legion men acting on behalf of the city’s business interests. Armed union members defended their hall. Four legionnaires were killed, a Wob, Wesley Everest, was lynched, and nine others went to prison after a sham trial that is widely regarded as a severe miscarriage of justice. Since 1919 the Tragedy’s history has been falsely told by the aggressors, who purchased their monument in Washington Park shortly after the Tragedy. After years of effort, the Centralia City Council has agreed to the IWW monument design. It will be in the park next to the Legion’s. All expenses are on the IWW. Help us purchase the 2×3′ bronze plaque, mounted on a boulder, and get it installed. The Whatcom-Skagit General Membership Branch of the IWW in Bellingham, Washington will hold the funds.
If you would rather make a contribution by check, donations can be made to order of ‘IWW Monument fund’ and mailed to:
Whatcom-Skagit Branch, IWW
Bellingham, WA 98227
IWW Centralia Committee
Starbucks Workers United Strike in Bellingham
Shuts down three stores all weekend
Union workers at Bellingham Starbucks stores at Sehome Village, Cordata, and Iowa & King struck all weekend, and kept the three stores closed. Pickets from other organizations, including IWW of course, showed up to add to the picket line. Starbucks corporate made no effort to open the stores.
The strike was a nationwide protest by Starbucks Workers United to protest continued corporate shutdown of union storesacross the country. Over 1000 Starbucks workers [I’m sorry just can’t call them ‘partners’ anymore] at 100 stores participated in the strike.
So far, Starbucks management has made no good faith attempt to bargain with the union. So much for ‘progressive’ business. Capitalism is just that; you can’t successfully window dress it because it is by its nature exploitative.
IWW CENTRALIA MONUMENT FUND
Friends and fellow workers,
The campaign to raise funds for the MONUMENT TO THE IWW VICTIMS OF THE 1919 CENTRALIA TRAGEDY is underway.
Please contribute here.
An ad hoc committee of Wobblies from around the Northwest are working to raise funds for an IWW monument in Centralia Washington. We want to tell our side of the story- that many union members were victims of this tragic confrontation. After years of effort by a local Wob, the town’s City Council voted in October to permit our design. We will be responsible for all expenses, including installation of the monument. The Whatcom-Skagit IWW Branch has agreed to hold the funds until we raise enough to purchase the 2×3 foot bronze plaque. It will most likely be mounted on a boulder we will have to purchase and transport to the park.
The ‘Centralia Committee’ will periodically report on the progress of this project.
The IWW monument will be right beside the statue memorializing the American Legion put up in the early 1920s called The Sentinel. [check the link, its instructive]. The Legion is the outfit who attacked the union hall as proxies for the city’s employing class.
WWU STUDENT WORKERS FORM A UNION
Students employed by Western Washington University have formed a new union, unionized as Western Academic Workers United, affiliated with the United Auto Workers. A large majority of graduate and undergraduate student employees who do research or instructional work filed for union recognition on December 2 with the Washington Public Employment Relations Commission. The Union hopes there will voluntary recognition by the powers that be, rather than forcing the unnecessary delay of an NLRB election.
Learn more at the WAWU website: https://www.wawu-union.org/
Members will not pay union dues until a contract is negotiated.
The Whatcom-Skagit IWW sent solidarity greetings, and will be there in solidarity if and when called upon. We have a number of WWU student members of our union.
Sehome Starbucks votes UNION- YES!
Baristas at the Starbucks in Sehome Village just voted to join Starbucks Workers United. The vote was 15-6. A small group of Starbucks workers from the three union stores as well as some Wobblies milled around outside waiting for the for the vote tally, which was announced at 6:25 PM.
Three down, two stores to go. Will they unionize too?
Congratulations to Bellingham’s newest Union Shop, and Solidarity forever!
Starbucks strikers shut down a scab store in Bellingham
There was a large turnout for the very successful Starbucks Workers United ‘Red Cup Day’ strike on November 14. IWW photo.
By FW X331980
This is a personal account by one IWW member.
Stopping the strikebreakers: Starbucks Workers United organizers [all are rank-and-file baristas, not professionals] sent word to me around 5 AM [yawn!] that managers from several stores had opened the Sehome Village store – reportedly the most profitable Starbucks north of Seattle, and one of the three Bellingham Starbucks on strike. “Can you rally some of your union members and get down here quick to help us out? ” A few of us gathered in the dark at the
planned rally site at the Iowa & King Starbucks. A flying squad of three women from SWU drove over to the Sehome store and set up a solid picket line in the dark and windy cold at Sehome. The focus of activity had to very quickly change to that store, so a couple of IWWs stayed at Iowa & King to hold the fort and direct folks who showed up to get across town to the ‘scene of the crime’; about 30 union members and community supporters adjusted their plans and joined the hastily set up picket line at Sehome. They marched and chanted outside, and very few customers went into the store. Management eventually got it through there thick heads that the union’s support was too strong and they were wasting their time. They shut down by 8:30, having lost a LOT of business on Red Cup Day.
Meanwhile, back at Iowa & King….. Two IWWs maintained the picket at the drive thru/walkup store at Iowa & King. Even though the store was closed- the manager was trying to break the strike at the Sehome store- there had to be someone there to talk to the many customers who were turned away, and give the Red Cup collectors a souvenir Starbucks Workers United Red Cup instead.
At one point a very big, very black SUV with heavily tinted windows and a bunch of radio aerials stopped in front of the two of us Wobs standing right in the drive thru. We stood our ground. Then the car veeeeerrrrrrry sloooooowly pulled right. up. to. us. I mean RIGHT UP! Though it looked like a cop car, there was no insignia, no roof flashers, no nothin’. So one of us walked up to the closed window to see a guy sitting there in a black coppish uniform without any badges or patches or other cop insignia. Big computer screen mounted to the dash.
The window rolled down.
“You need to move out of the driveway.”
“Are you a police officer?”
“No, I’m a private security consultant.” [say whaaa? You mean, like a damn Pinkerton?]
“Why do we need to move.”
“You are restricting entrance to my clients store.”
“Uh, you realize the store is closed down, and there is no one inside to serve customers?”
“I don’t know about that.”
“So we aren’t affecting your client’s business, right?”
“Wait, you mean there’s really no one in there?”
“Oh. Uh, well, I guess not.”
“It’s been so nice talking to you. Bye.”
And the rent-a-cop drove off, into the cold not-quite-dawn. I know, just another worker doing his miserable job…I guess. The other FW and I continued our vigil; we were eventually joined by our newest member, FW j., who just joined up the day before. A nice way to start her life in the IWW!
The sun came up. The breeze died down. Automobile and truck traffic at the very busy intersection of Iowa & King picked up. Pickets arrived from Sehome and for the planned rally- the crowd grew on the sidewalk. LOTS of people honked and held up fists out of car windows. Truckers and small trades people in vans cheered and waved. One guy stopped a couple lanes over at the red light and shouted ‘Well done! You show those fuckers!’ There was no effort to open the three shut stores [Cordata was also the scene of a very small ‘show the Union’s face’ picket.]
A visit to the nonunion stores. Two IWWs got a wild hair idea to pay lightning visits to the two nonunion [so far] Starbucks in town- north up on Bakerview and the Fairhaven Parkway store down on the far south side. We walked into the busy stores. FW T put a ‘red cup day’ strike sign up on a bulletin board and I shouted out “Solidarity with the Starbucks Union! Nationwide strike today! Organize! Join the union!” At the Fairhaven store an officious person told us we “would have to change our attitude if we wanted to stay in the store”. You kidding me? We didn’t walk in to get any of your lousy burnt Charbucks coffee!
SWU organizers here have been trying to negotiate with management for a contract. Local managers have refused to sit at the table, or have showed up, then left without taking any proposals, or suddenly said they need to reschedule. Boo hiss.
The picket was real good, and must have built the confidence of the rank and file Starbucks workers [why do you still call yourselves ‘partners’? Clearly corporate doesn’t think you are!]. Certainly there is a lot of support from ordinary people going about their business on a winter day. Bellingham is indeed a ‘union town’.
A bad day for Starbucks. It was a brilliant tactic to strike nationwide on Red Cup day, the biggest day of the year for the company. They lost a lot of money because of the strike!
So….where the hell were the other unions? I’d say the only low point was the absence of any other unions in any formal show of solidarity. IWW members were there as Wobs, wearing our shirts and hats and carrying our own picket signs, and waving our union flags. Several of us took time from work or school or stuck around as long they could before they had to get on with their lives. There was no other organized union presents. A couple individuals from UFCW, maybe an SEIU person, a retiree from OPEIU, a retired professor or two; a firefighter at the Sehome store; that was it as far as I could ascertain, and I asked around. What’s up with that? Show some organized solidarity for cryin’ out loud! Let these brave, young, new unionists know that the rest of the unions in Bellingham can stand in solidarity.