Labor and the Fascist Threat

At the July 23 meeting, OWLS hosts a public discussion on how unionists can help counter the rising Alt Right

From the union-busting Freedom Foundation to the reactionary Patriot Prayer, alt-right forces are growing their attacks on the civil and labor rights of the working class.

In the Northwest, the bigots are training their guns on unions, Muslims, immigrants, Jews, radicals and more. The newly formed coalition, Community and Labor Against Fascism (CLAF) reports on today’s threat and the history of fascists attacking unions on behalf of big business. What can the organized working class do to push back against the extreme right? Learn about what labor is already doing in the fight against fascism and bring your ideas on what more can be done.

TUESDAY, JULY 23 7PM
Seattle Labor Temple, Hall 6, 2800 First Avenue

LGBTQ Rights are Labor Rights!

TUESDAY, June 25, 7PM
OWLS MEETING

June marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, where police brutality at a Greenwich Village bar against drag queens and transgendered folks sparked massive protests and the birth of the modern Gay Liberation Movement. In subsequent years, gender-bender unionists have brought the struggle for full equality into the workplace. Why must unions support LGBTQ rights? What are activists doing? Bring your own story and join the discussion!

Seattle Labor Temple, Hall 6,
2800 First Avenue, Seattle

STOP Unionbusting: Say No! to “Opt-Out!”

OWLS Meeting
Tuesday, May 28, 7pm

Cloaked in lies and bankrolled by billionaires, the Freedom Foundation is running a big bucks, aggressive campaign on media venues to prey on unaware workers. Their message?  “Opt out” of the union. The goal of the Freedom Foundation is to bankrupt the labor movement and eviscerate workers’ rights on and off the job.

OWLS looks at the “opt-out” blitzkrieg,  including radio ads on KIRO. What do workers stand to lose if “opt out” wins, and how can labor fight back?

Also featured: updates on union battles in the grocery, education, and public transit industries.

JoinaunionSeattle Labor Temple, Hall 6, 2800 First Avenue

Amazon: Portrait of a Corporate Freeloader

Last year, Amazon paid zero dollars in federal income taxes.  Known for horrific working conditions in its warehouses, Amazon also engineered bidding wars nationally for its new headquarters.

Su Docekal, Seattle organizer of the Freedom Socialist Party, will share information she’s researched on the toll Amazon takes on public treasuries and services from Seattle to New York City.  Plus a look into the E-commerce giant’s divide-and-conquer tactics in the labor movement. Join OWLS for a tax season discussion on what labor can do to stop corporate rip-offs!

Come to the OWLS Meeting, Tuesday, April 23, 7pm at Seattle Labor Temple, Hall 6, 2800 First Avenue.

190105174757-01-amazon-hq2-protest-large-169

 

 

 

What to Bargain for in a Union Contract

Tuesday, March 26, 7pm – OWLS Meeting

OWLS reviews a pamphlet by the National Lawyers Guild that is chock-full of ideas on what workers can ask for to strengthen their position over the life of a union contract. Bring a copy of your own union contract for a roundtable discussion on the good, bad, and ugly of existing contracts, and how they might be improved. This meeting will be an opportunity to brainstorm and trade ideas for all the unionists who have negotiations coming up in the near future.

OWLS Meetings are at the Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 1st Avenue, Hall 6 (1st and Broad on bus routes 1 and 2)

Unite to Stop Far-right Violence

The statement below is reprinted from a flyer distributed at a counter-protest on December 1, at Seattle City Hall against Ultra-rightists who are gathering there. OWLS is a co-sponsor of the rally.

We rally today to protect our communities from racist, anti-Semitic and misogynist violence.  The recent murders of worshipers at a Pittsburgh synagogue and African American shoppers at a Kentucky grocery store, along with rising hate crimes across the nation, show that now is not the time to be silent. Now is the time to confront the far right’s violent actions and toxic ideology.

We unite to challenge the Washington Three Percenters – an armed militia group that has previously appeared in Seattle alongside white supremacist, misogynist groups.  Three Percenters provided security for the Unite the Right gathering of torch-bearing racists in Charlottesville, Virginia last year. They are wannabe storm troopers, one among several like-minded far-right groups that appear in Seattle – from the Proud Boys (street fighters who regularly assault anti-fascist protesters) to Turning Point USA (that organizes nationally to exclude Muslims on campus and posts a Professor Watchlist threatening anti-racist faculty).

We gather also to denounce Redoubt News – a far right, online media outlet that co-sponsored today’s “Liberty or Death” rally with the Washington Three Percenters. They attack other media sources and espouse the misogynist and racist views of a far right minority.  In public they deny these views.  They try to get the media to present them as influential and respectable (with a knowing wink to their followers).

Stop far-right attacks!  An injury to one is an injury to all!

Working families are angry over stagnant low wages, unaffordable housing, crushing student debt and disappearing pensions.  The right wants that anger directed at others – struggling immigrants, people of color, women, Jewish people and other minorities – not at the obscene wealth gap and corporate profits. Their agenda includes contempt for independent thought, on campuses and in the press, and a war on labor unions.

Working people of all colors, beliefs, genders, sexualities, abilities and homelands have a common need to defeat the far right before it gets stronger and becomes a broad foundation for fascist politics.  Fascist themes include: a mythic past of white supremacist, male chauvinist “national greatness”; distortion of truth to foster “us” versus “them”; claims to be victims of the very minorities they blame and abuse; and deceit and corruption to advance the rightist program.

The far right cannot gain a foothold if advocates for social justice — community groups, labor movement activists, political organizations, campus networks and individual residents — mobilize to confront these bullies.  Mass protest action can stop the right!  Since Charlottesville, mass action has regularly dwarfed the fascist turnout.

We are building a resistance coalition ready to defend every targeted community in our city and welcome broad participation.  For more information email 12.1.18.seattle@gmail.com  For a multiracial, united defense of everyone targeted by the far right!

Co-sponsors of today’s counter protest: ANSWER Coalition, Freedom Socialist Party, International Socialist Organization, Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Radical Women, Seattle Democratic Socialists of America.
Endorsed by: Dyke Community Activists, Palestine Solidarity Committee, Puget Sound Socialist Party, Seattle Gay News, Seattle Silence Breakers, Social Equity Educators, Washington Federation of State Employees Local 304.

Let’s Beat Back the Privatization Attack!

March 2013:Across the U.S., Letter Carriers rallied to save Saturday mail delivery and win a reprieve!

March 2013:Across the U.S., Letter Carriers rallied to save Saturday mail delivery and win a reprieve!

OWLS MEETING –
TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 7PM

The U.S. Postal service traces its roots to 1775. Today, with one of the most diverse, unionized work forces in the nation, it’s also a lifeline to rural communities. Now President Trump is targeting this vital service for privatization as part of his government restructuring scheme, unveiled in June.

Meanwhile, postal unions and patrons are organizing to stop this grand theft, and held protests in October to raise public heat and resistance in Congress. OWLS features a report on what can be done to defend OUR US Postal Service.

Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 First Ave. Hall 6

MASS LABOR PROTEST TARGETS ANTI-UNION FREEDOM FOUNDATION

By David Griffith, for OWLS

carpentersHundreds of chanting picketers, many of them wearing union work clothes or t-shirts, demonstrated in front of the Bellevue Hilton Hotel on September 28, in Bellevue, Washington, to protest the Freedom Foundation’s annual fundraising banquet.

While picketers marched and listened to speakers, two huge inflatable balloons rocked in the wind — a pig handing out cash and a rat, belly oozing with garbage –to symbolize the Freedom Foundation’s wealthy donors.

The lively protest focused on three themes: “Stop the War on Workers,” “No to the Foundation’s racist, sexist, anti-choice, anti-LGBTQ & union-busting agenda,” and “Stand up for striking educators, immigrants, public services and the environment.” The picket, sponsored by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS), was endorsed by almost 50 labor and community organizations, including the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO.

Jared Houston, a member of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 who emceed the protest, told the crowd, “OWLS believes in the fighting power of the entire labor movement. Our strength lies in our unity and our united action and our solidarity.”

LivingwageOne of the popular picket line chants was aimed at the Freedom Foundation’s featured banquet speaker: “Your pardon is not forgotten. Dinesh D’Souza you are rotten.”  The Foundation called their choice for their keynote speaker “a perfect fit,” and protesters agreed he matched the think tank’s ultra-right wing agenda. Dinesh Joseph D’Souza has earned the reputation of a far-right provocateur, known for his racist tweets, books, and movies. Newsweek recently carried an article documenting his use of racist and anti-Semitic hashtags.

Picket speakers also put a spotlight on the Foundation’s funding sources. Cherika Carter of the Washington State Labor Council said, “the corporate lobbyists and the wealthy 1% in the dinner over there (in the Bellevue Hilton) are determined to rig the system and try to take away our freedom, but working people like us are fighting back… We know their anti-union campaign …will not work.  It is not working here. In Washington State we have the 3rd highest union density in the country.”

Carpenters unionist Pedro Espinoza electrified the protest addressing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Janus vs. AFSCME. “It sent a message to all unions that we‘ve got to stay strong….These people [The Freedom Foundation] want us to think we have no power.… They tell us we don’t deserve to make [good] wages. They sit in those hotels built by who?  Union people!  We are the people that provide those places for them to congregate.”

Another speaker, Denise Krownbell, a union leader and co-chair of Seattle Silence Trades5Breakers, described the labor movement’s historic support for women and people of color in fighting harassment and discrimination on the job. Her group is currently fighting such treatment of employees at the City of Seattle. “I understand the Freedom Foundation has a board member who has been accused of harassment. They not only hide harassers… but they also hide racists and fascists.”

Monserrat Padilla, a coordinator at the Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network, tied together the think tank’s anti-community, anti-immigrant rights and anti-labor agenda. Recalling her experience coming from an immigrant family, confronting exploitation and sweatshops, she said “we must stand together and take on the Freedom Foundation, the current administration, and anyone who comes after immigrants and their families.”

The Freedom Foundation has attracted the anger of many unionists who received unsolicited Foundation emails urging them to “opt out” of their unions.

1488Steve Hoffman who was a candidate for US Senate is a leader in the Washington Federation of State Employees Local 304. His union is directly under attack from the Freedom Foundation. “They stole our private information from our employers and now we’re being bombarded by emails.”   The Foundation “pedals an unbridled capitalism that wants to privatize all public services and break every one of our unions.” He was glad to see the diversity of unions and supporters that came out for the day’s picket.

In his parting remarks Houston reminded the picketers this “is not the end. This is a continuation of the struggle of the labor movement.  We are still fighting after all these years.  They thought we would stop but we won’t stop fighting….”

Unions and supporters who endorsed the event included:FFPicket9282018
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees 1488;  American Federation  of Teachers, Washington;  Amalgamated Transit Union 587;  American Federation of Government Employees 3197;  Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Seattle Chapter; Barraza Law PLLC;  Bill Fletcher Jr. trade unionist/educator;  Casa Latina;  Carpenters Union 30; Carpenters Union 816;  Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound Chapter;  David Rader, Treasurer, Retired Public Employees Council, Chapter 3;  Dyke Community Activists; El Comité; Freedom Socialist Party;  Highline Education Association;   Machinists Local 751; IAM 751 President John Holden; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Locals 77 & 843;  International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union 23;  Iron Workers 86; Jeff Johnson, President WSLC; Juan Bocanegra, member El Comité; Kent Fire Fighters, (IAFF) 1747; Northwest Accountability Project;  Office and Professional  Employees International Union 8;  Martin Luther King County Labor Council; Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary-Treasurer of Martin Luther King County Labor Council;  Olympia Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America; PNW Regional Council of Carpenters;  Professional and Technical Employees 17; Radical Women;  Residential Carpenters 816; Rosie’s Machinists 751; Seattle Branch of the International Socialist Organization;  Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council; Seattle Fire Fighters (IAFF) 27; Seattle Gay News;  Seattle Silence Breakers; Seattle Solidarity Network;  Tacoma Firefighters Union (IAFF) Local 31; Teamsters Union, Locals 117 & 763;  John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters 117; Transit Riders Union; United Food & Commercial Workers 21;  Washington Federation of State Employees, Locals 1488 & 304;  Washington Exterior/Interior Systems 41; Washington Public Employee Association; Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO;  Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders.

 

Anti-Freedom Foundation PIcket – Highlights

The list of endorsing unions, community and labor organizations, of the Picket against the Freedom Foundation is long and impressive. Thank you to all the groups and individuals who endorsed, donated, helped out, and made it a huge success.

American Federation of Teachers Washington

Amalgamated Transit Union 587

American Federation of Government Employees 3197

American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees 1488

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Seattle Chapter

Barraza Law, PLLC

Bill Fletcher Jr., trade unionist and educator

Carpenters Union 816

Casa Latina

Central Puget Sound Carpenters 30

Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound Chapter

David Rader, Treasurer Retired Public Employees Council Chapter 3

Dyke Community Activists

El Comité

Freedom Socialist Party

Highline Education Association

International Association of Machinists, District 751

IAM President Jon Holden

International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Locals 483 & 77

International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union 23

Iron Workers Local 86

Jeff Johnson, President WSLC

John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters 117

Juan Bocanegra, member of El Comité

Fire Fighters, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) Locals 1747-Kent; 27- Seattle; 31-Tacoma

Jon Holden, IAM District 751 President

Martin Luther King County Labor Council

Nicole Grant, Executive Secretary-Treasurer, Martin Luther King County Labor Council

Northwest Accountability Project

Office and Professional Employees International Union 8

Olympia Local Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America

Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters

Radical Women

Rosie’s Machinists 751

Seattle Branch of the International Socialist Organization

Seattle Building & Construction Trades Council

Seattle Gay News

Seattle Silence Breakers

Seattle Solidarity Network

Teamsters Union Locals 117 and 763

Transit Riders Union

United Food and Commercial Workers 21

Washington Federation of State Employees 304

Washington Exterior Interior Systems Union 41

Washington Pubic Employee Association

Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO

Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders

Sept. 28: Protest the Ultra-right Freedom Foundation

BELLEVUE – On Friday, September 28, a mass picket will be held against the Freedom Foundation’s annual fundraiser banquet at the Bellevue Hilton Hotel, 300 112th Ave. S.E. The protest is being called from 4:30 to 6:30pm by Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity (OWLS). Close to 50 labor and community organizations have endorsed the picket, including the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO; Martin Luther King County Labor Council; and Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound Chapter. (Additional Endorsers are listed below).22141114_10212453833533853_7790552945160429872_n

Organizers expect the picket to draw hundreds of people based on the strong responses from many unions that have endorsed and plan to show up in force. A year ago, more than 500 labor and community protesters turned out to take a stand against the Freedom Foundation’s political agenda. The prediction is that the protest will be even bigger this year.

The Freedom Foundation is featuring controversial keynote speaker Dinesh D’Souza, who was recently reported in Newsweek as tweeting racist and anti-Semitic hashtags. The Freedom Foundation has also attracted the anger of many unionists, who have received unsolicited Foundation emails urging them to “opt out” of their unions.

Protesters at the 2018 Picket of the Foundation are spotlighting three themes: “Stop the War on Workers,” “No to the Foundation’s racist, sexist, anti-LGBTQ & union-busting agenda,” and “Stand up for striking educators, immigrants, public services & the environment.”

Picket Endorsers include:
Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO
Martin Luther King County Labor Council
Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council
PNW Regional Council of Carpenters
American Federation of Teachers, Washington
Amalgamated Transit Union 587
American Federations of Government Employees 3197
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, Seattle
Barraza Law, PLLC
Bill Fletcher Jr. trade unionist/educator
Casa Latina
Central Puget Sound Carpenters 30
Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, Puget Sound
David Rader, Treasurer, Retired Public Employees Council, Chapter 3
El Comite
Freedom Socialist Party
Fire Fighters (IAFF) Locals 27-Seatte; 1747-Kent; 31-Tacoma
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 483 – Tacoma
International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union 23
International Socialist Organization
Iron Workers 86
Machinists District Lodge 751
NW Accountability Project
Office and Professional Employees International Union 8
Olympia Chapter of Democratic Socialists of America
Radical Women
Residential Carpenters 816
Rosie’s Machinists 751
Seattle Gay News
Seattle Silence Breakers
Seattle Solidarity Network
Teamsters Union, Locals 117 & 763
United Food and Commercial Workers 21
Wash. Federation of State Employees, Locals 1488 and 304
Wash. Interior/Exterior Systems 41
Washington Public Employee Association
Washington Young Emerging Labor Leaders
John Holden, President Machinists 751
Jeff Johnson, President, WSLC-AFL-CIOJohn Holden, President Machinists 751
Juan Bocanegra, El Comite member
Nicole Grant, Exec-Secretary, Martin Luther King County Labor Council