Right now, there is an important local fight going on for quality of work and the right to organize in Chicago; a fight that shows on many levels how history always brings back around it’s unfinished business. An appropriate balance of power between labor and owners/management is a condition that has never been sustainable for so many reasons. It takes organizing and diligence on the side of workers to make sure the imbalance doesn’t hit an exponential curve in favor of management.
The Mobile Rail Workers Union, a diverse and committed group of workers, is quickly taking form at Mobile Rail Solutions near 14th and Western in Chicago. Workers there became frustrated and concerned when management refused to provide them with some of the basic materials that they needed to protect themselves on the job, like gloves and masks. The situation grew more severe, and the employees there decided to organize themselves into a union. In late July, management at Mobile Rails Solutions fired three workers, Eric, Dwayne, and Brian; for their attempts to organize their fellow workers. After the firings, 25-30 workers walked off the job in solidarity with their fellow workers.
The workers and the larger Union, the IWW, are now fighting for fair labor practices that will build the environment to nurture the kinds of jobs we all know are vital for working class communities across Chicago. If we want to fix our economy, and we value the role of our labor in it, then there’s a lot to learn from the Wobblies.
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) stands out from a lot of trade-based unions in the history of the labor movement in our country. They believe in organizing across all sectors of the economy, and actually view trade unionism as one of the circumstances easily exploited by unscrupulous power elites to divide and weaken the working class. As part of their critique of trade unions, they will quickly point out how they often push for deep one-sided compromise from their rank and file during a labor dispute. Their belief in the autonomy and development of each worker as a “leader” speaks to a strong faith in the capacity of each human being, and it places them in alignment with socialist libertarian political traditions that are very uncommon in the United States nowadays. This has made them rather unpopular with both moderate liberals and right-wingers at times throughout history. However, it’s also made them very successful as the “One Big Union” has played key rolls in such historic victories as the eight-hour work day, and the laws established banning child slave labor in the U.S. Their historic creativity and antics have been illuminated far wide by the likes of Woody Guthrie, Utah Phillips, and Pete Seeger.
This fight for the right of the Mobile Rail Workers to organize is a fight that can and should be won. The workers are united in their desire for a union and feel empowered by that unity. They are also realistic and aware of the difficulty of the fight. The win of a contract by the Mobile Rail Workers Union and the IWW will have a ripple effect, and will be considered an historic event that provides a stark contrast in vision to the neo-liberal policies of Rahm Emanuel and corporate lobbying groups like ALEC.
While the corporate narcissist parade known as ALEC visits Chicago this week to throw themselves a 40th birthday party, we’d all be wise to join in solidarity with this scrappy union. Getting your card certainly wouldn’t hurt either. Together, we can deliver a message to all negligent bosses and smarmy politicians by winning this fight. Consider it a local birthday spanking to send ALEC on its way certain that Chicago workers will stand their ground. Please read the release and call to action from the union below.
DEFEND FIRED RAIL WORKERS’ JOBS!!
ONGOING UNFAIR LABOR PRACTICES (ULP) STRIKE.
1425 S Western, Chicago, IL
Now accepting fresh food, baked goods, love, and support.
We encourage all supporters and union members to join in solidarity with these brave men by joining the picket line at 1425 S. Western from 6 am to 8pm. For more information, contact Sam Green:
ghq <at> iww.org
SOLIDARITY SATURDAY: Support The One Big Union That Could
Sat. Aug 10th 2013
Time: 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
1425 S Western, Chicago, IL
This strike is about the illegal firings if 3 workers for their successful campaign to form a union. The workers have 3 main demands:
1- The immediate reinstatement of
2- Management ceases all of its threats of firing and its attempts to disrupt the NLRB union election by dividing workers with bribery, and that they treat workers with dignity and respect.
3- Management must meet with the workers to discuss job-related issues and concerns.
Rail Service Workers Go on ULP Strike Demanding an end to illegal firings
From July 26th to 29th, Management at Mobile Rail Solutions fired three workers actively engaged in unionizing efforts. The termination of these organizers is a direct attack on their Union drive and apparent retaliation for their recent OSHA filings. Management then threatened to continue firing workers showing no respect for their employees or labor law. The company is also known for seldom firing workers at all.
In response, the workers have self-organized a strike and will be picketing at Union Pacific’s Global 1 location in Chicago, Illinois. They demand a meeting with Mobile Rail’s general manager to discuss the recent wave of Unfair Labor Practices and for the reinstatement of their three fired workers. With most workers coming to the picket line, they expect locomotive servicing will come to a halt.
The workers at Mobile Rail solutions have organized with the Industrial Workers of the World. Several weeks ago they filed for an NLRB election and hoped to have their voices heard in a secret ballot election on August 14th. With the string of three firings over the course of three business days and threats of more firings to come, they feel that only an Unfair Labor Practice Strike can protect their livelihoods and ensure that all workers get the right to vote for Union representation.
How We Can Win:
1. Write an email of support from your organization and send to firstname.lastname@example.org
2. Write a letter demanding that Mobile Rail Management meet with workers. (Please email a copy to email@example.com) 6530 S Laramie Ave, Bedford Park, IL 60638
3. Contribute to the rail workers strike fund: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/mobile-rail-workers-strike-fund
4. Call Mobile Rail Management and politely but firmly demand they rehire both Eric, Brian and Dwayne. We ask that you further demand that all drivers are accompanied by a helper.
5. You can reach Mobile Rail Solutions management at 847-551-9767 or call Tim, the general manager, directly at 224-622-3016.
Further Information about the strike:
Industrial Workers of The World:
Mobile Rail Workers Union: