LET’S TALK GENERAL STRIKE

OWLS Special Meeting
Tuesday, March 28, 7pm

A growing number of immigrant rights organizations and unions are organizing mass actions for May 1st, the International Workers Holiday. Following the February 17 protests of tens of thousands of workers against ICE raids and harassment of undocumented labor, refugees, and Muslims, many are calling for a May 1st General Strike.
Join the discussion on what is happening. How can the working class build for a successful May Day? What should the demands be? Speakers include Anna Hackman, co-chair of the May 1st Action Coalition and a member of American Federation of Teachers (AFT), and Steve Hoffman of Wash. Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Local 304, one of several unions to pass a resolution calling for a general strike (See www.organizedworkers.org for a copy).

Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 First Ave., Hall #6 (on Metro routes 1, 2, 13)

For a May Day 2017 General Strike

The following resolution was passed by Washington Federation of State, County, Municipal Employees (WFSE) Local 304. Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity supports this resolution and is devoting its March 28th meeting (Seattle Labor Temple, 7pm) to a discussion on how to build support for the sentiments expressed below. Other unions in Seattle and across the U.S. have also passed resolutions in support of mass action around May Day, in defense of immigrant and workers rights. A link at the bottom provides a pdf of this resolution.

FOR A MAY DAY 2017 GENERAL STRIKE TO DEFEND LABOR, IMMIGRANT, AND CIVIL RIGHTS

WHEREAS the Trump administration has wasted no time in fulfilling Trump’s bigoted campaign promises by attacking immigrants, refugees, and Muslims with travel bans and ICE raids; and
WHEREAS millions of youth and working people across the nation have vigorously protested the President’s policies, with the Women’s March on the first day of his presidency being the largest demonstrations in U.S. history; and
WHEREAS unions, a prime target of the right wing, face the real threat of union-busting Right to Work (for less) legislation, which has had a hearing in the Washington State legislature and is being considered by a Republican controlled U.S. Congress, and public sector unions could soon see a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that would decimate their collective bargaining rights; and
WHEREAS the right wing agenda has long included breaking unions, gutting the social safety net, privatizing public education, eviscerating environmental laws, deregulating banking and other industries, militarizing the police, waging endless war, and weakening civil rights protections, and Trump’s Cabinet appointees indicate that they plan to follow this reactionary agenda; and
WHEREAS national immigrant rights organizations are calling for “A Day Without an Immigrant” national actions on May 1st, 2017; and
WHEREAS history has shown that strikes have been the most effective weapon in labor’s arsenal, and motions supporting a general strike on May Day, the international workers’ holiday, have been passed by the Seattle Education Association and UAW 4121, which represents academic student employees at the University of Washington;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the Washington Federation of State Employees (WFSE) Local 304 support the movement for a general strike on May 1st, 2017, and urge its state and national affiliates, WFSE and AFSCME, to work with other unions, low-paid workers, and community groups to organize a strike that is national in scope; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the demands of the general strike will be:
Stop Trump’s attacks on immigrants, Muslims, and refugees;
Defend unions – stop Right to Work laws, repeal the Taft Hartley Act;
Equality for all – fight discrimination against women, workers of color, and LGBT people, and support women’s equality by demanding equal pay for equal work, full reproductive rights, and free childcare;
Jobs for all through rebuilding the infrastructure and public jobs programs;
Defeat attempts to destroy the social safety net, including subsidized healthcare; and
BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that this resolution be shared widely with unions, central labor councils, and the community in order to help build widespread support for a general strike on May Day.
Passed at the general membership meeting of WFSE 304 on February 23rd, 2017.
________________________________ ___________________________________
Ty Pethe, President Steve Hoffman, Recording Secretary
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RALLY ON PRESIDENT’S DAY – FEB. 20th

Rally for Labor, Civil Rights, & Economic Justice!
President’s Day, Monday February 20, Olympia, 11 am

The Washington State Labor Council, public-sector unions, and Civil Rights organizations are leading the call for a rally in Olympia to demand tax reform, full funding for education and social services, revived affirmative action, police accountability, and more. OWLS is organizing a contingent for “Taxing the Rich,” and building a powerful community-labor coalition to confront anti-labor attacks.

The Day includes an occupation of the Capitol Halls. Bring your voice, wear your union colors, and spread the word! Be a part of pushing back
and reviving labor’s fighting spirit.

Carpools will leave Seattle at 8:30am. Carpool with OWLS from Seattle or Tacoma, call 206-261-1420.

A Worker’s Guide to the 2017 Legislature

OWLS MEETING – TUESDAY, JANUARY 24, 7pm

Donald Trump’s political counterparts in the state Legislature are gearing up to attack organized labor. In the hopper is a bill to enact “right-to-work” for less. In other states, such laws have lowered working conditions and wages – which is why bosses are determined to pass it here. Also, state public employees are gearing up to defend services, education, and their livelihoods. OWLS discusses plans to counter these anti-labor attacks.

Also featured, an update on inauguration protests, and the struggle to build labor support for Standing Rock and the movement to protect water and defend native sovereignty.

SEATTLE LABOR TEMPLE, 2800 FIRST AVE., HALL 6

Labor-community Picket Spotlights Ultra-right Freedom Foundation

14448957_1213505445387660_5860610872246504601_n14484612_1213505448720993_4653602086138767240_n-114462939_1213505705387634_3994270768571542523_n-1“When our unions are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!” This was the chant from nearly a hundred activists greeting anti-union attendees at a Freedom Foundation fundraising banquet last Friday.
Amidst rush hour traffic and blustery winds, protesters representing a broad range of unions walked a lively, loud, and disciplined picket line outside the Bellevue Westin Hotel to protest and expose the Foundation, which aggressively promotes “right to work” legislation against labor unions.
Feminists, socialists, transit advocates and other activists joined the picket, intermixing with unionists. Hard-hat wearing Carpenters from a nearby construction site swelled the line until the entire block was filled. The action was called by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS), a community labor group that “builds solidarity across union lines.”
The protest was an impressive show of growing unity against the Foundation’s ultra-right agenda. Dubbed the “Freeloaders Foundation” by picketers because right-to-work laws give union benefits to those who don’t pay union dues, the Freedom Foundation has political and financial ties to major conservative, pro-business foundations and individuals. They include Donors Trust, State Policy Network, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Koch brothers, Walton Family and the John Birch Society.

Freedom Foundation’s campaign.
The Foundation is not only targeting unions. They oppose taxing the wealthy, government regulation of businesses such as anti-discrimination and minimum wage laws, and environmental protections. They also back charter schools, and oppose public employee pensions, funding for women’s reproductive freedom and all public services and programs.
The Foundation has been an enemy of unions since 1991, when it started harassing teachers’ unions with lengthy and expensive lawsuits. Now, using state public disclosure laws, the Foundation’s lawyers are demanding the names, birthdates, and work email addresses of all state union employees. On July 29, a Thurston County judge ruled for the Foundation, but several unions won an emergency stay and are appealing the ruling.
The group plans to use employees’ private information and voter registration records, to get state workers’ home address and phone numbers and mount a direct-contact campaign.
Currently, it is door-belling individual healthcare providers at their homes — members of Service Employees International Union Local 775 — in a well-funded campaign to pressure them to withdraw from their unions. An SEIU 775 member told the crowd of the unrelenting harassing emails and unwanted visits she has received, pressuring her to “opt out,” of the union.

Swelling counter-organizing.
Against such bullying rightwing politics and tactics, it is not surprising that Friday’s picket line in Bellevue included members of several state employee unions, Carpenters, Washington Education Association, SPEEA, Teamsters, several Retiree groups, healthcare providers, members of Hotel Employees, Restaurant Employees, and the Martin Luther King County Labor Council, to name a few.
Old and young came on Metro buses and in carpools; workers from the nearby Mall joined the picket line. Between chants, a group of teachers led the picketers in labor songs such as “Solidarity Forever.”
Home-made signs and the rank-and-file composition of the crowd gave lie to the hired “rent-a-mob” image that Foundation leaders had boosted in a failed effort to discredit the protest. At least one Foundation donor expressed surprise when he learned that protesters weren’t being “paid,” as claimed.
At a rally following the picket, electrician Steve Hoffman told the crowd, “Our solidarity is far more powerful than their big bucks.” Recording secretary of his local, Washington Federation of State Employees Local 304, he said, “If we stick together we can push them back.”
SEIU member Guerry Hoddersen said that the Foundation is “about creating a cheap workforce across the United States.” Mark Cook, a veteran prisoner rights activist and founding member of OWLS, received loud cheers when he summed up the spirit of the picket, “we are kicking ass for the working class!”
Many of the speakers expressed their commitment to confront and expose the ultra-right politics and activities of the Freedom Foundation, and to build a movement capable of uniting and defending the many different constituencies on the right wing’s hit list.
As Maxine Reigel, one of the picket organizers, said “large and disciplined counter-demonstrations against rightwing groups such as the Freedom Foundation, coupled with education, is the most effective and proven way to stop their attacks on working and poor people.”

Picket the Union-Busting Freedom Foundation!

Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS) will picket the Freedom Foundation’s annual fundraiser on September 23, from 5-7pm in front of the Bellevue Westin at NE 6th Street and Bellevue Way NE.

The picket will protest the Freedom Foundation’s racist rightwing agenda that openly declares its goal is to “defund and bankrupt public employee unions.” OWLS is organizing the picket to defend the labor movement and public services, and to raise public awareness around the anti-worker agenda of the Freedom Foundation.

On July 29, the Freedom Foundation won a favorable decision from the Thurston County Superior Court that orders state agencies to turn over names, birthdates, and work email addresses of all employees in public sector unions to the anti-union group. In court, the Freedom Foundation announced plans to use the information, coupled with voter registration records, to get individual home addresses so state workers can be contacted at home and pressured to withdraw from their unions.  Several unions joined in an appeal to block disclosure.

The Freedom Foundation has financial and political ties to conservative billionaires. Their goals include rolling back wage, labor and anti-13735005_1157237317681140_4965732411721538634_o (1) (2)discrimination legislation, environmental protections, LGBTQ and women’s rights, and blocking any tax on wealth to fund public services. The picket will educate about the Freedom Foundation’s reactionary agenda and build solidarity for labor self defense. Unions and community organizations are invited to participate and endorse the picket. To endorse, email OWLS at OWLS@riseup.net or call Jay Herzmark at 206-947-7012.

Outrageous and Unacceptable: Judge upholds Freedom Foundation demand for State Workers names

Activists, including from OWLS packed the Courtroom in Olympia on July 29.

Activists, including from OWLS packed the Courtroom in Olympia on July 29.

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KCPQ interviews an SEIU member about the FF goal — every worker earning starvation wages.

In an unfortunate decision Friday, July 29, 2016, Thurston Superior Court Judge Mary Sue Wilson ruled in favor of the ultra-conservative and anti-union Olympia based Freedom Foundation.  The decision gives the foundation access to the first and last names, and middle initial of all Washington State employees who belong to a union.  In addition, the state of Washington will provide the well funded rightwing foundation with the date of birth and employee e-mail addresses, impacting the privacy of thousands of public workers.

Arguing on behalf of union members were three women attorneys, Laura Ewan, Kathleen Barnard, and Kristen Kushman.  They stressed the need for individual privacy, protection from misuse of information including identity theft, and the potential risk of retaliation and abuse of workers in the criminal justice system.

A white male lawyer, David Dewhirst, dressed in an expensive dark two piece business suit, wearing dorky looking light tan winged tipped shoes, and having an appropriately sheared skinned head, argued for the regressive Freedom Foundation.

And another white male, Assistant Attorney General for the State of Washington, Andrew Longerwell, disappointingly neglected to give any meaningful support to the unions and impacted employees.

Judge Wilson, in her decision, noted that the Freedom Foundation openly declares its purpose is to “defund and bankrupt public employee unions.”  She said the State’s Public Records Act does not allow her to rule broadly and that the foundation’s motives of fundraising, and political speech are constitutional rights.  Therefore, she lifted the temporary injunction against the foundation’s request for public workers’ contact information.

The Freedom Foundation admitted that it will use the information the State provides them to determine employees’ addresses through use of registered voter lists.  The organization will then use door to door canvassing to contact union members and “make them aware of their rights.”  But union members already know their rights.  They don’t need a bloated male dominated wealth tank to tell them how to think.

The foundation’s Dewhirst also criticized about two dozen labor activists — members from a wide spectrum of public and private sector unions — who had peaceably packed the court room. Apparently his rights are more important than the rights of ordinary working people who also belong in a court room.

After Judge Wilson reached her decision the activists convened outside the courthouse for an impromptu rally and strategy session called by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS). Predictably, following Dewhirst’s disrespectful comments, another Freedom Foundation cohort stopped by and revved up his Japanese made motorcycle in an unsuccessful effort to disrupt the peaceful protest.  This individual, whose vehicle license number was photographed, hoped to make it impossible for anyone to speak, or hear.  Is this the Freedom Foundation’s definition of constitutional rights? Only the rich have constitutional rights? Only the 1%?  Only the corporate oligarchy?

Among the labor supporters, Bill E. Garner, an electrician, came all the way from Clark County Community College in Vancouver, WA.  He said members of his union “were glad to be in the union. They wanted to stay in the union, and they were concerned about the release of their information.”

Steve Hoffman, a leader in Local 304 of Washington Federation of State Employees said, “They have the courts, bosses and practically all the institutions of society. We have solidarity and in the end that is enough if we stay strong. Union members are going to be mad and we need to give them opportunity to express their power.”

Attorney Laura Ewan said “We understand where the court is coming from.  The court is bound by what the Court of Appeals decided in the SEIU 775 case. But we feel like we have a chance on appeal…we are going after different information…  The legislature needs to do something, because this is not the intent of the Public Records Act.  The Public Records Act was there to be able to allow us to make sure our government is using our taxpayer dollars in the way that it is supposed to do. It is not to harass union members for their decision to be union members…  We are going to keep fighting.” The judge did not grant their request for an emergency stay, but won a commitment from the Freedom Foundation to wait until Tuesday, August 2, to receive workers private information from the many State agencies impacted by the decision.

Patrick Burns, a union carpenter who helped OWLS organize carpools from Seattle to the hearing, met with applause when he summed up the crowd’s sentiment, “an injury to one is an injury to all,” and vowed to continue fighting.

 

STOP the Freedom Foundation — Defend workers’ privacy rights

Fill the courtroom on July 29!

Support the motion, brought by several unions, for an injunction to block the Freedom Foundation’s demand for the name, birthdate and contact information of every union represented state employee.
Fri., July 29, 1:30pm, Thurston County House, Superior Court
2000 Lakeridge Drive SW, Olympia WA
Carpool from Seattle: Meet 10:30 am at Seattle Labor Temple, 1st and Broad
This court hearing will decide if the State of Washington must turn over union members’ private information to the ultra rightwing Freedom Foundation’s (FF).

The Foundation is bankrolled by big business associations. Its goals include pushing racist, union-busting “Right-to-Work” laws, and slashing public services. They use mailings, phone calls,  home visits, and TV ads to convince workers to dump their unions and “opt-out” of paying dues, bankrupting  the labor movement – our front line defender of public services and working people. Don’t let it happen!

Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS) is carpooling to the hearing. Join the caravan! Wear union colors or a red T-shirt! For carpool info, call 206-261-1420.

Sponsored by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity

Email OWLS@riseup.net; Visit OrganizedWorkers/facebook.com, Organizedworkers.org

The Freedom Foundation — Corporate Crooks in Disguise

OWLS Meeting — Tuesday, June 28, 7pm

In their endless drive to roll back the clock on workers’ rights, the Freedom Foundation has declared war on public-sector unions in Washington State and Oregon. Using the courts, legislature, and door-to-door campaigns, they are casting themselves as champions of the “little guy” against “big government.” Nothing could be further from the truth!

Find out who is behind this highly organized, well bank-rolled Foundation, and the real goals of their anti-freedom agenda.
Bring your ideas for how to build a united defense campaign against the anti-union attacks of the Freedom Foundation, and similar rightwing groups.

Also, learn about the latest labor battles around Puget Sound – or bring news of your own!

SEATTLE LABOR TEMPLE, 2800 FIRST AVENUE, HALL #6
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EYEWITNESS ACCOUNT: CHICAGO TEACHERS ON STRIKE!

OWLS MEETING
TUESDAY, APRIL 26, 7PM
SEATTLE LABOR TEMPLE, 2800 1st AVE. HALL 6
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A highlight of the April 2016 Labor Notes Conference was a one-day strike by Chicago Teachers. This feisty union hit the streets to defend public education and linked up with parents and community to demand much more, including a higher minimum wage, an end to police brutality, and improved access to higher education. Doreen McGrath, an IBEW activist who attended the Labor Notes conference and joined the teachers picket line, reports on this exciting labor action.