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Buy Nothing Day 2009 now Wildcat Strike

Do you recognize the cat at right? It might be a child's zoo animal rubber stamp if it didn't look so angry. This is a stencil that dates to the Wobblies, when working men were angry. When labor organizers had to fend off union busters and Pinkerton goons, actions had to be called in defiance of the bad contracts and entrenched company-union bosses. Something for UFCW Local 7 to think about. The hasty stencils painted on factory walls announced: Wildcat Strike! Adbusters resurrects the wild cat for the 2009 Buy Nothing Day, whose impact might be better felt as a GENERAL STRIKE. Buy nothing, drive nowhere, turn out the lights, turn of the electronics, go for a walk, and do not go to work. For one day. The day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving by the way goes off the calendar too. Find something else for which to be thankful besides feasting at the expense of the Native Americans, themselves starved, infected, and driven from their land. Someone someday will be able to mobilize a real general strike. Until then, what can we lose by trying? Do it. This is the splash page which Adbusters recommends for websites planning to blackout.

July 5 protest Starbucks unfair labor

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union has declared a Global Day of Action to protest Starbucks' anti-union termination. According to their press release: Coordinated Actions Across the U.S., Europe, and Latin America Could Be Largest Ever Against Coffee Chain. Grand Rapids , MI ( 06-30-2008 )- Union members and social activists are gearing up for what may be the largest, global coordinated action against Starbucks ever. Protesters will decry what they see as an epidemic of anti-union terminations by the world’s largest coffee chain. Starbucks and its CEO Howard Schultz have exhibited a pattern of firing outspoken union baristas ever since the advent of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) in 2004 and are demonstrating the same practice against the CNT union in Spain. "On July 5th people around the world will show Starbucks that we, baristas along with our supporters, will have a voice and Starbucks discrimination and repression of our efforts will not go unchecked," said Cole Dorsey, a fired Starbucks barista and a member of the SWU. ...Actions against Starbucks will take place in: Argentina, Chile, the British Isles, Italy, Japan, Norway, Serbia, Poland, Slovakia, 4 cities in Spain, 6 cities in Germany. In the US: Phoenix, Philadelphia, Grand Rapids, Boston, Chicago, New York City, Los Angeles.

Lucy Parsons and the call for class war

The death of Utah Phillips reminded me of a favorite story he would tell about the Haymarket widow Lucy Parsons. Shoot or Stab Them was advice that got the anarchist agitator arrested whenever she tried to speak in public. Lucy's husband was among those anarchists framed and executed for the infamous 1886 Haymarket bombing. Lucy continued to advocate for labor rights and social change. Here's how Utah told the rest of the story: Lucy lived well up into this century, well into this century, died in 1940. One time, she was speaking at a big May Day rally back in the Haymarket in the middle 1930s, she was incredibly old. She was led carefully up to the rostrum, a multitude of people there. She had her hair tied back in a tight white bun, her face a mass of deeply incised lines, deep-set beady black eyes. She was the image of everybody's great-grandmother. She hunched over that podium, hawk-like, and fixed that multitude with those beady black eyes, and said: "What I want is for every greasy grimy tramp to arm himself with a knife or a gun and stationing himself at the doorways of the rich shoot or stab them as they come out." Lest her zeal need a little explaining, Lucy Parsons made this declaration at the founding convention of the IWW in 1905: "Never be deceived that the rich will permit you to vote away their wealth." Very little remains of the pamphlets which Parsons published over the course of her life. The authorities considered her "more dangerous than a thousand rioters." They blocked her entrance to public halls and arrested her whenever she addressed a crowd. When Parsons died, the police confiscated and destroyed her library and papers. A number of websites have emerged to celebrate Lucy Parson's legacy. Would it be racist of me to suggest that a book entitled FIFTY BLACK WOMEN WHO CHANGED AMERICA should have mentioned Lucy Parsons at least in the index? The list complied by author Amy Alexander included Charlayne Hunter-Gault and Florence Griffith Joyner. A short biography of Lucy Parsons is reprinted at Red Robin's Red Channels, Left Links, and Proletarian Places. There's also the Lucy Parsons Project. Her essay on "The Principles of Anarchism" is archived at LucyParsons.org. An oratory class at the University of Washington includes Parsons' infamous call to arms: Lucy E. Parsons, "To Tramps," Alarm, October 4, 1884. (Also printed and distributed as a leaflet by the International Working People's Association.) TO TRAMPS, The Unemployed, the Disinherited, and Miserable. A word to the 35,000 now tramping the streets of this great city, with hands in pockets, gazing listlessly about you at the evidence of wealth and pleasure of which you own no part, not sufficient even to purchase yourself a bit of food with which to appease the pangs of hunger now knawing at your vitals. It is with you and the hundreds of thousands of others similarly situated in this great land of plenty, that I wish to have a word. Have you not worked hard all your life, since

David Rovics on death of Utah Phillips

Utah Phillips died Friday. Friends have circulated a May 14th letter he'd sent. The Salt Lake Tribune reprinted a great interview from 2005. And fellow performer David Rovics forwarded this remembrance: I was watching my baby daughter sleep in her carseat outside of the Sacramento airport about ten hours ago when I noticed a missed call from Brendan Phillips. He's in a band called Fast Rattler with several friends of mine, two of whom live in my new hometown of Portland, Oregon, one of whom needed a ride home from the Greyhound station. I called back, and soon thereafter heard the news from Brendan that his father had died the night before in his sleep, when his heart stopped beating. I wouldn't want to elevate anybody to inappropriately high heights, but for me, Utah Phillips was a legend. I first became familiar with the Utah Phillips phenomenon in the late 80's, when I was in my early twenties, working part-time as a prep cook at Morningtown in Seattle. I had recently read Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States, and had been particularly enthralled by the early 20th Century section, the stories of the Industrial Workers of the World. So it was with great interest that I first discovered a greasy cassette there in the kitchen by the stereo, Utah Phillips Sings the Songs and Tells the Stories of the Industrial Workers of the World. As a young radical, I had heard lots about the 1960's. There were (and are) plenty of veterans of the struggles of the 60's alive and well today. But the wildly tumultuous era of the first two decades of the 20th century is now (and pretty well was then) a thing entirely of history, with no one living anymore to tell the stories. And while long after the 60's there will be millions of hours of audio and video recorded for posterity, of the massive turn-of-the-century movement of the industrial working class there will be virtually none of that. To hear Utah tell the stories of the strikes and the free speech fights, recounting hilariously the day-to-day tribulations of life in the hobo jungles and logging camps, singing about the humanity of historical figures such as Big Bill Haywood, Joe Hill or Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, was to bring alive an era that at that point only seemed to exist on paper, not in the reality of the senses. But Utah didn't feel like someone who was just telling stories from a bygone era -- it was more like he was a bridge to that era. Hearing these songs and stories brought to life by him, I became infected by the idea that if people just knew this history in all its beauty and grandeur, they would find the same hope for humanity and for the possibility for radical social change that I had just found through Utah. Thus, I became a Wobbly singer, too. I began to stand on a

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