By: Arizona Wobblies
A lot bad news came out of 2022, for sure: the capitalists’ campaign of Inflation against the working class; the world Oligarchs’ attacks on peace (see: Putin’s ruthless invasion of Ukraine and US support for murderous governments in Saudia Arabia, Israel, etc…); the “landed gentry’s” efforts to increase the price of rent and housing while decreasing the availability of homes; the incessant erosion of democracy and the growing strength of the neo-fascists (see: Hungary, Bosonaro’s minion’s on Jan 8th in Brazil and the antics of the right-wing ‘Freedom is Slavery Caucus’ in the US Congress); the Patriarchy’s efforts to roll back the epoch on women’s rights (see: Clarence Thomas, Chief Sexual Harasser, & co.’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade; the retrogression under the Taliban and Iran’s Islamic Republic; the continuing crisis of femicide in Mexico)…
All of this is just about enough to drive a person mad. And we haven’t even mentioned the catastrophic climate collapse that most of us can identify all around us in droughts, floods, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, ice storms, heat waves… while a select few who occupy high government and industry office still haven’t looked out the window and taken notice of what Exxon-Mobil has known with accurate detail since the 1970s.
In brighter news, however, the union movement proceeds apace! (Hallelujah!) Organizing efforts have expanded in the coffee industry, for example, as over 260 (!!) Starbucks stores have gone union and undertaken 330 strikes (!!) across the country, while baristas at other coffee companies are coming out union as well. Joining unionized workers at Colectivo Coffee Roasters chain in Illinois and Wisconsin, the organizing efforts at Peet’s Coffee in North Davis, CA; La Colombe Coffee in Washington, DC; Stone Creek Coffee and Likewise Coffee in Milwaukee, WI; and others mark a forward step toward industrial organizing. The domino effect is in effect as workers announce efforts to unionize at Trader Joe’s, Target, Whole Foods, Chipotle, and more, keeping the CEO-plunderers of the food and retail industry on their toes. Many questions remain, however, surrounding the future of these disparate efforts by various unions. Can these campaigns by energetic young militants chart a new course for unionism or will their efforts be squandered by leading them all back into dead-end business unionism?
Meanwhile, in a more traditionally unionized sector, education workers are fighting back harder with many strikes making the news: 48,000 academic workers in the University of California system went on strike; Minneapolis teachers struck winning pay raises for support staff; Brookline, MA teachers won after a one-day unlawful strike; teachers walked out in Haverhill and Malden, MA; Ontario witness an unbelievable illegal two-day strike by 55,000 educators; Seattle teachers lead a week long strike… and the list goes on!
In addition to food & retail and education, large groups of workers took action in other industries as well. For example, the coal miners at Warrior Met Coal in Alabama have continued their strike which started back in April of 2021. Over 100 Republic Services sanitation workers successfully organized with Teamsters Local 104 in Arizona, the same fighting local that authorized a strike in Phoenix and also honored picket lines of SYSCO warehouse workers and drivers who went on strike in Syracuse, NY and Boston, MA. Social workers and therapists at Kaiser hospitals went on strike over safe staffing levels in CA and HI. Railroad workers nation-wide threatened strike action and held numerous pickets and rallies to try and win back some freedom in their work lives. Similarly, amid the massive fraud and scams by the airline criminal syndicate, pilots are preparing to strike surrounding the same grievances that railroad workers are fighting: too much work and not enough time off. All these issues remind us Wobblies that the IWW was right on the money, years ago, when we were leading the fight to “Take Back Your Time.”
Speaking of theft of time and one’s precious life-force, Amazon workers remain in the news as their union efforts against Horde Prime continue. Although organizing at Amazon appears to be a nearly impossible task, workers facing enormous obstacles refuse to relent. 2022 saw the first ever union election victory at JFK8, an Amazon facility on Staten Island, while workers at BMH1 in Bessemer, AL narrowly lost their vote to unionize. Meanwhile, many other groups of Amazon workers are organizing and fighting the shipping pillagers as best they can.
For the stories behind much of these fights, go to Labor Notes 2022 year in review.
In Wobbly developments, the Industrial Workers of the World has been growing by leaps and bounds over 2022! We bested 9,000 IWW members in North America alone, which is a dream coming true for members who were around during a previous era. The IWW has more incoming organizing leads than we can handle and more members signing up than we can put to work. It’s a great time to be a Wobbly so we all just need to set ourselves to the task of talking to workers and fighting the employers.
In the Phoenix IWW, we have been focusing on making internal improvements and building the needed base of support to take on larger organizing campaigns in industries such as retail, restaurants and cafes, IT, as well as manufacturing, logistics, and healthcare. We have been building a solid Campaigns Committee and training and developing External Organizers. We started an Education Committee to coordinate trainings such as the IWW Night School and we restarted Wobbly Wednesday socials. The PHX IWW hosted the Organizer Training 101 a couple of times, while a couple PHX members went through the OT102, “The Committee in Action” training, and one of our members even completed the T4T – Training for Trainers to become an IWW Organizer Trainer. Meanwhile, we are building up toward hosting a 2023 Regional Organizing Assembly for the Southwest in Phoenix later this year.
The Tucson IWW has been growing our membership and finally establishing regular in-person meet-ups, after being born during the all-Zoom and all-Discord pandemic. It is a big milestone to finally start meeting in-person for business meetings as well as social events, to build camaraderie and solidarity amongst newer members who have only known the branch via an internet platform. We worked on a few short-lived campaigns, for example two different campaigns among social service workers, but in a couple cases, the Fellow Workers involved had to leave the job in order to improve their physical and mental health. We have developed a mini educational workshop and the Branch Mutual Aid Committee has started up its work again helping Fellow Workers in need of support. Meanwhile, FW Ryan has done an excellent job of building up the structures of the Branch, and paving the way as an outstanding Secretary-Treasurer, among many other labors, including leading by example in successfully unionizing his workplace!
SON HUELGAZ Goals for 2023
1.) As always we would like to expand the group who writes for SON HUELGAZ and expand our readership. There is talk of including “Writing for SON HUELGAZ” in the IWW onboarding process for the Phoenix GMB; so that would be a good boost to recruiting more writers. And of course, if the articles are from Wobblies about their jobs and their fights with employers, other Wobblies will want to check out what their FWs have written. So the two go hand-in-hand.
2. A key to growing readership is regular articles, most likely one article per week, and good material. If we can encourage all of our readers to repost a SON HUELGAZ article to social media or send the link to friends and family, that would be helpful.
3.) Industries: We would like to contribute to the IWW’s growth in certain industries and companies. Amazon has always been a target for us but we want articles about organizing efforts in all of our target industries – food & retail, education, IT, and many more.
3.) Geography: We want to help the work along in building IWW groups and Branches in our region, specifically Flagstaff, Prescott, Bisbee, Yuma, and Nogales, AZ and Hermosillo, Obregon, Cananea, and Nogales, SON. If you have friends and family in any of these towns, let’s use those connections to build the IWW in all these locations.
Thanks to all the Fellow Workers out there who write for, read, and pass along SON HUELGAZ and otherwise contribute your time and energy to the great task of the emancipation of the working class from the slave system of capitalism.
SON HUELGAZ Co-Editors for 2023: D.G., J. Pierce, Kevin Trout, Sasha R., Steve N., et al.