Global Day of Action Calls on Tnuva to Hold Distributor Accountable for its Human Rights Abuses

Workers From All Corners of the World Tell Tnuva to Honor the Rights of its Distribution Workers

New York, NY– Workers around the world participated in actions today to call on Tnuva, the world’s largest kosher cheese company, to honor the human rights of its distribution workers. The mulitinational kosher cheese giant distributes its cheese in New York City though the Flaum Appetizing Corp., a business widely shunned for unlawful labor practices and abuse of immigrant workers from Latin America. While a consensus has largely emerged against Flaum’s labor practices, Tnuva continues to due business with Flaum.

“Flaum Appetizing exploited its immigrant workers for years,” said Ari Hart, a founder of Uri L’Tzedek, an Orthodox social justice organization. “Tnuva should use its influence to get Flaum to pay its workers or, if Flaum won’t, to choose a company that is yosher (ethical).”

In a Global Day of Action to pressure Tnuva management to bring justice to Flaum Appetizing., workers held nonviolent rallies, leafleted outside supermarkets, sent petitions to Tnuva and made phone calls to its president and CEO. As Flaum workers step up their actions to win accountability from Tnuva, workers and community supporters around the world peacefully demonstrated in solidarity. Because Tnuva’s cheese products are a significant source of revenue for Flaum, the actions called on Tnuva to either use its influence with Flaum to promote respect for workplace protections or to find a more ethical distribution company.

Flaum Appetizing is a highly profitable kosher food processor and distributor in Brooklyn that has engaged in systematic exploitation of immigrant workers from Latin America. The company pushed its Latino employees to work at unsafe speeds, with 60-80 hour work weeks, while denying them overtime pay. When workers stood up for their rights, Flaum illegally fired seventeen of them in retaliation. A National Labor Relations Board judge found that Flaum engaged in extensive and unlawful retaliation, but the company has refused for almost three years to comply with the court order to pay its worker $260,000 in back wages.

With Focus on the Food Chain, the Flaum workers are leading a powerful campaign that has resulted in more than 65 of New York’s most popular supermarket locations to stop selling Flaum products until Flaum is held accountable. Meanwhile, Tnuva continues refuses to use its substantial influence with Flaum to encourage a just settlement for the fired workers. The Global Day of Action was organized by Focus on the Food Chain and Uri L’Tzedek.

“As both a student activist and an Orthodox Jew, it is crucial for me to be involved in this action,” said Dasi Fruchter. “Myself and my peers will simply not stand up for the injustices taking place at Flaum.”

Focus on the Food Chain promotes a sustainable food system that incorporates respect for workers’ human rights. Through worker-led organizing, direct action, and litigation, the Focus campaign is challenging and overcoming sweatshop conditions in New York’s food processing and distribution warehouses. The Focus campaign is a joint effort of non-profit organization Brandworkers and the NYC Industrial Workers of the World labor union.

Uri L’Tzedek is an Orthodox social justice organization guided by Torah values and dedicated to combating suffering and oppression. Through community based education, leadership development and action, Uri L’Tzedek creates discourse, inspires leaders, and empowers the Jewish community toward creating a more just world.

Actions took place in: Canada, Germany, Kansas City, L.A., NJ, NW Arkansas, NYC, Poland, Twin Cities, and the U.K.

Ottawa Panhandlers Union Artists at Can-Con 2011

Check out the art of the IWW Ottawa Panhandlers Union at this year’s Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature (www.can-con.org).

Ontario’s Safe Streets Act may prevent street artists from making a living selling their art on the curbside, but they are welcome as part of Ottawa’s creative community.

Sept. 9-11, 2011

Travelodge Ottawa Hotel & Conference Centre

1376 Carling Avenue

Ottawa, ON K1Z 7L5

Entrance fee is $45 for Saturday and $15 for Sunday.

For more information about the Ottawa Panhandlers Union, visit www.ottawaiww.org or email ott-out@iww.org.

Directions

The Hotel is located just west of Westgate Mall, on the south side of Carling Avenue between Merivale Rd and Kirkwood Ave. OC Transpo Routes 85 and 101 will stop at or near the Hotel, while routes 151 and 176 will stop at Westgate Mall across the street. Routes 14 and 86 pass nearby, but will require a transfer at Carling and Holland/Fisher or a long walk down the hill from there. Taking the O-Train to Carling Station also can help you connect with Route 85 or 101 for a quick trip to the Hotel site.

CanROC: Statement on Back-to-Work Legislation

Canadian Regional Organizing Committee (CanROC) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). PO Box 36042, 1106 Wellington St., Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1Y 4V3

STATEMENT

June 27, 2011

The use of back-to-work legislation by the Canadian federal government is an abuse of power, a violation of labour rights and unconstitutional.

The Canadian Regional Organizing Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World denounces the government’s recent use of back-to-work legislation in the cases of Air Canada and Canada Post workers.

This practice undermines the rights of workers to collectively bargain with their employers and is a plain violation of both the Canadian Charter of Rights and of international labour standards to which Canada has agreed at the International Labor Organization at the United Nations. Arbitration does nothing more than delay the resolution of ongoing disputes and as such hurts workers.

IWW members have walked the line with these workers wherever they are and we encourage them in their struggle for justice on the job.

Whether the struggle is on the shop floor or on the streets, workers know that solidarity is the key to victory. We don’t need the government’s permission to strike or collectively bargain. We just need each other.

In Solidarity,

Canadian Regional Organizing Committee representatives

CALL OUT: May Day Rally & Street Art Auction

May Day – May 1st – is International Workers’ Day, a day established to commemorate labour struggles by workers around the world since the mid-19th century, when the fight for the 8-hour day cost the lives of many of those active in their labour movements.

Join us May 1st on Parliament Hill at 1pm as we take to the streets with United Steelworkers – Local 1005 from Hamilton, many of whom are currently locked out from their workplace. The attack on Local 1005 members by the employer, U.S. Steel, is part of a larger global attack on all workers around the world across all industries. These attacks include union-busting, cuts to wages, benefits, and pensions and affect all workers.

An injury to one is an injury to all.

Whether you work in a unionized shop or not, an attack on workers is an attack on you. These attacks are lowering the standards of employment and raising profits for employers not being properly held accountable for the effects their practices are having on society and the world.

Later, the Ottawa Panhandlers’ Union will be hosting a Street Art Auction, 6-8pm, 2nd floor of the Jack Purcell Community Centre (off Elgin, near Gilmour). Come out and support your local street artists at a time when Ottawa’s business and political interests side with wiping out the city’s street culture.

The MARCH Industrial Worker is available in Ottawa!

For the bargain price of $1, you can read the following stories and more!

Headlines:

* Egypt: Labor Unrest Was ‘Straw That Broke The Camel’s Back’
* Starbucks Workers Declare New Union Shop in NYC, Celebrate MLK Day Victory
* Rage Against the Machine Supports Guitar Workers’ Strike
* Solidarity Against Sexism on the Shop Floor

Features:

* Obituary: Remembering Labor Activist Jayabean Desai
* Celebrating A Rich Tradition of Women in the IWW
* 100 Years Later: Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire

INDUSTRIAL WORKER VENDORS:

Ask your vendor to show you where to find the Industrial Worker.

* Britton’s Westboro
352 Richmond Road
Ottawa, ON K2A 0E8, Canada
(613) 729-0551

* Globe Mags & Cigars
57 William St
Ottawa, ON K1N 6Z9
(613) 241-7274

* Mags & Fags
254 Elgin St
Ottawa, ON K2P 1L9 Canada
(613) 233 9651

BACK ISSUES?
Check www.iww.org/projects/IW for PDF versions going back to May 2006. Email ott-out@iww.org for paper copies.

GDC: Panhandler Piper Defies Community Service Order

A panhandler piper who cut the wires of a competing music speaker in an Ottawa underpass in 2009 is continuing his fight against the city and a welfare system that he says is an institution of modern slavery.

The judge convicted him and sentenced him to 20 hours of community service with the Salvation Army, which he refused. He had filed an appeal, but a misunderstanding over the date in November 2010, meant he missed it. The judge dismissed the appeal due to his absence.

“They gave me a piece of paper with a Salvation Army logo on it for 20 hours and I said, ‘I’m not working for those guys’,” said Loomer, who objects to community service as a form of slavery. He said that obligatory community service enforced by the courts and police is nothing like volunteering and actually working in the community. The Salvation Army and other agencies like it are “religious extensions of the government” that benefit and depend on the free labour given them by such sentences.

Loomer’s refusal to do community service led to a breach of conditions hearing on Jan. 5, 2010, which was then postponed to Jan. 26, pending him getting a lawyer to represent him.

“The Salvation Army has taken on the role of Pharaoh and it’s our part to cross the Red Sea to freedom.”

Loomer is aiming to challenge Ontario’s social welfare system and its requirement that people are destitute and property-less before they can receive help from the government. This system resembles more the ‘poor house’ model of 19th Century England, than one in the present day.

Loomer is not the only one challenging Ontario’s social assistance system. The Social Assistance Review Council declared it as having “outdated models of social assistance” and recommended a total income security review that included Ontario Works, Ontario Disability Support Program, Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, disability benefits, Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, federal and provincial child benefits, among other tax break and income programs run by the two levels of government. The report said that everyone in the system, from recipients to service providers to recipients think the system is broken, but there is no consensus on how to change it.

The Ontario government responded by announcing a “Social Assistance Review” on November 30, 2010, leaving the victims of the system trapped in a cycle of poverty for another year-and-a-half.

HUBERT HARRISON: THE BLACK SOCRATES

A talk with biographer Jeffrey B. Perry

Thursday, February 10, 2010 · 19:00 – 22:00

CUPW Boardroom
377 Bank Street
Ottawa, ON

A talk with biographer Jeffrey B. Perry on this radical Caribbean and American worker-intellectual who organized with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), was a tireless editor and writer on issues of race, class and justice, and later founded the International Colored Unity League and advocated a separate black state within the United States. He died at just 44 years of age.

Sponsored by the Ottawa-Outouais IWW, Black Law Student Association, Human Rights Research and Education Centre of the University of Ottawa, ravenlaw.com, and the University of Ottawa Law Union. Thanks also to the Canadian Union of Postal Workers
(CUPW) for hosting the event.

IWW Supports Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement in Support of Palestinian Rights

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – December 2, 2010

12/2/2010 The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or Wobblies) has officially voted to support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement in support of Palestinian rights. The “Resolution in Support of the Workers of Palestine/Israel” was adopted in an overwhelming vote both at the IWW’s convention in Minneapolis and by the membership via referendum. This vote makes the IWW the first union in the US and the third union in Canada to officially support the Palestinian United Call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.

Inspired by the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, the BDS movement calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel until such time as fundamental Palestinian rights are recognized. The BDS call is supported by a broad cross-section of Palestinian society, including Palestinian unions.

The resolution to support the BDS campaign comes out of the work of the IWW’s International Solidarity Commission and the IWW Friends of Palestinian Workers Group, a grassroots network of Wobblies supportive of the Palestinian, Israeli and international struggle against Israeli apartheid. Support for the BDS campaign was also stressed by all the Palestinian workers who met with members of the IWW on the IWW delegation to Palestine, particularly the Independent Workers Federation of Palestine, with whom the IWW shares a close bond of solidarity.

“For a union concerned with international solidarity, supporting the BDS movement is the right thing to do”, said IWW member Nathaniel Miller, who serves on the International Solidarity Commission and attended the IWW delegation to Palestine. “By officially supporting this BDS call, the IWW stands shoulder to shoulder with Palestinian workers in a global picket line against Israeli apartheid.”

“Our support of the BDS movement is in line with traditional wobbly principles of anti-racism and international solidarity”

The IWW Friends of Palestinian Workers Group resolves to continue to advance the cause of Palestinian rights inside and outside of the IWW.

Founded in 1905, the IWW is a union with a long tradition of solidarity and anti-militarism, and has been central to some of the most important struggles in US working class history. More recently, the IWW has been successful organizing at Starbucks and in the fast food industry, among workers long thought to be unorganizable. The IWW is an international union, with members across North America, Europe, Australia, and South Africa.

Safety for Sex Workers a Charter Right, says Ontario Judge

The health and safety of Ontario’s sex workers came into the spotlight on September 28, 2010, when Superior Court Justice Susan Himel ruled that laws restricting prostitution put sex workers into danger.

“It’s like emancipation day for sex trade workers,” dominatrix Terri-Jean Bedford told a press conference.

“Finally, somebody listened,” said Alan Young, a York University law professor who did much of the legal work on the case.

The case involved two prostitutes and a dominatrix in Toronto who challenged the laws that prevented them from opening a bawdy-house to conduct their business. They said doing business on the street put them in danger. Since 1985, more than 100 prostitutes have died in Canada, excluding the more than 100 women who have disappeared in Vancouver, British Columbia.

“I find that the danger faced by prostitutes greatly outweighs any harm which may be faced by other members of the public,” said Himel in her ruling, which said that existing laws violated the women’s charter rights. “Prostitution is not illegal in Canada. However, Parliament has seen fit to criminalize most aspects of prostitution.”

Judge Himel concluded that laws that criminalized operating a brothel, soliciting sex in public, and living off the money made by prostitution “are not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice and must be struck down.” Section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of person and protects people from government action that puts them in danger. Notably, the judge decided that the government arguments that these laws represented “reasonable limits” as per Section 1 of the Charter had failed to convince.

The judgement will come into effect in 30 days, unless the provincial or federal governments appeal or introduce new legislation that will not endanger prostitutes.

It is likely that there will be a counter-attack on this historic ruling and the right to safety for sex trade workers.

Canada’s Attorney General and Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said in a September 28 statement that his government is concerned about all Canadians’ safety. However, the statement emphasized the harm caused by prostitution, rather than the harm suffered by prostitutes. “We will fight to ensure that the criminal law continues to address the significant harms that flow from prostitution to both communities and the prostitutes themselves, along with other vulnerable persons,” said Nicholson.

The Christian Legal Fellowship, right-wing association REAL Women of Canada, and the Catholic Civil Rights League also sided with the provincial and federal government on the case. The Christian Legal Fellowship also ignored the reasoning that Canada’s anti-prostitution laws were resulting in the abuse and murder of women in its statement.

“By removing what safeguards exist against the exploitation that prostitution represents, this decision will make it much more difficult to prosecute pimps, or offer help to those who want to leave the life,” said spokesperson Joanne McGarry.

The Industrial Workers of the World has long encouraged sex workers to organize themselves and form unions to protect their rights and persons. This ruling is plainly a victory for sex workers in Ontario and it challenges every Canadian to think again about the health and safety of all, regardless of how they make a living.

For more information, visit http://www.iww.org/en/unions/dept600/iu690

GDC: Ottawa Busker Appeals Conviction

When the City of Ottawa installed speakers and started broadcasting muzak in busker Raymond Loomer’s favourite underpass, he cut the speaker wires one day in May 2009. He then taped the wire on the door of the office door of the Downtown Rideau Business Improvement Area, a business lobby group that has waged a campaign to remove street people and performers from the city centre.

As a tin flute player, he was one of several buskers who relied on the unique acoustics of the downtown Ottawa underpass near the Rideau Centre shopping centre to make a living. Loomer is a member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). He did not take kindly to having his live music replaced by a machine.

“They were playing music to interfere with our industry,” he said.

City police arrested Loomer and charged him with two counts of mischief under $5,000. He was convicted on May 25, 2010 with a sentence of 12 months probation and 20 hours community service. Loomer represented himself and has appealed, saying the city failed to provide bylaw information he could have used in his defense and that he has rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to make a living and freedom of expression. He objected to the community service as “the slave style practices of government” for appropriating his labour power.

Loomer’s appeal will be heard on November 12, 2010 at the city courthouse.

Ottawa had introduced restrictive bylaws requiring street performers to get a license and perform in designated spots chosen by the city. Ontario’s Safe Streets Act, brought in to target squeegee kids, buskers and other street people making a living on the province’s streets, has set the stage for tighter controls on informal workers.

For more information, visit https://www.ottawaiww.org