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Retribution Against the Financial Elite

Articles tagged direct action

#GamonalEffect Reignites Mass Protest Across Spain

Posted 3 months ago on Jan. 16, 2014, noon EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: M15, direct action, Take the Square, Spain

Who would have thought that a relatively conservative city like Burgos, Spain would have detonated a string of spontaneous and massive protest across the country? Over the past four days, social media networks across the globe have exploded with the hashtag #Gamonal and #EfectoGamonal, viralizing this small town’s struggle against rising property prices and corrupt municipal dealings to international attention, and along the way reawaken national indignation that has been simmering in Spain for years.

The conflict originated around the slatted construction of an expensive multi-story parking garage in the densely populated center of Gamonal, a working class neighborhood of Burgos. The project is to be lead by developer and local media tycoon Antonio Miguel Méndez Pozo, a former felon charged with corruption and with ties to the right-wing Popular Party. Mendez Pozo is seen as an emblematical figure, responsible for the runaway property prices that stem from years of collusion between elected officials and private real estate developers and his control of the regions biggest newspaper. Public demonstrations began on Monday, as local residents perplexed by the scale and invasiveness of the new development, went to the streets demanding a refocusing of priorities to address the city’s chronic unemployment and underfunded public services. Once the internet got a hold of it, the rising up of this working class community became a battle cry to denounce the general corruption of the Spanish government long ago taken over by banks and private interest. Under the banner of the #GamonalEffect Solidarity marches assembled in Madrid, Seville, Valladolid, Logroño, Oviedo, Zaragoza, and Barcelona.

Yesterday, firefighters in Barcelona congregated in Plaça de Catalunya in an impressive show of force carrying signs that read “If Burgos can, We can too”.

Last night in Madrid 13 demonstrators were arrested as thousands took to the streets of the Gran Via.

Demonstrators were quickly bailed out thanks to crowd funding efforts. The #GamonalEffect reminds us of the latent potential of networks created after the #M15 and #TaketheSquare movements in 2011.

Today we all stand united by #Gamonal because their struggle is our struggle: people having a voice in the face of a brutal economic system that puts profits before people.


Walmart Organizes Against Workers

Posted 3 months ago on Jan. 14, 2014, 11:59 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: Walmart, leak, direct action

Poverty Pay Keeps Prices Low

Following the release of a claim from Anonymous that Walmart would be targeted, we received the following secret internal documents on Walmart’s attempts to thwart workers who are mobilizing for basic rights and a decent wage. These documents go a long way in revealing just how scared Walmart is of its own workers standing together for change.

FACT CHECK: OUR Walmart is not a union nor is it seeking union recognition. OUR Walmart is simply a group of Walmart hourly workers who have come together to address issues in their stores.

FACT CHECK: Walmart falsely claims that OUR Walmart is seeking union recognition and trying to build a union, because under US labor law, this would take away some of the rights of striking workers. OUR Walmart workers have gone on strike to stand up to Walmart’s retaliation against workers when they have come together to speak out about issues like decent pay, respect in the workplace and getting enough hours to survive. These are legally protected unfair labor practice strikes. Walmart wants people to believe that these are strikes for union recognition so that it can freely fire and target workers, rather than be forced to obey the law and respect their right to speak up.

FACT CHECK: OUR Walmart and UFCW are not seeking to represent Walmart workers.

FACT CHECK: Some of the materials claim that Walmart “takes care” of its own associates. Walmart actually costs tax-payers $900,000 a store in subsidies because they care so poorly for their associates. Recently, a store Walmart held a food drive, for its own workers who can’t afford to eat.

FACT CHECK: Of course workers organizing does not guarantee any result, but we’ve already seen the result of doing nothing and you can guarantee that nothing will get better if people don’t stand up to bullying tactics, insufficient hours and low pay.

FACT CHECK: Walmart claims to have open lines of communication through its “open door policy.” This is really a divide-and-conquer tactic, in which the company makes a single worker bring issues to management alone. This means the “open door” is closed to groups who wish to raise issues together and is one way Walmart seeks to deal with people individually, instead of collectively in a stronger group.

FACT CHECK: Walmart claims to be transparent, but doesn’t even supply its workers with a policy manual. They have to access company policies at work on the company network, without time to fully review, rather than having a clear understanding of what is required and allowed.

FACT CHECK: OUR Walmart is a group of Associates who are speaking and representing themselves.

FACT CHECK: What this graph doesn’t tell you is what happened to wages and the middle class when union membership dropped.

via Huffington Post

FACT CHECK: OUR Walmart dues are $5/month and goes to support the organizing work of OUR Walmart. Workers are still welcome to participate if they do not pay dues or are unable to continue paying dues.

FACT CHECK: Making Change at Walmart is the UFCW-led coalition that works in solidarity with OUR Walmart, much like Occupy Wall Street.

FACT CHECK: Walmart workers, in most other countries, have union representation - the United States is an anomaly. When asked why that is the case, then International Chief Executive and soon-to-be Walmart CEO said “We have a local philosophy. It’s our intention to demonstrate that we are a great corporate citizen.”

FACT CHECK: Despite Walmart’s acronym “TIPS” Walmart has recently gotten into trouble for breaking most of the rules outlined in the acronym.

Here is a report documenting the company’s recent systematic worker abuses

The report also documents how Walmart has tried to silence communities along with workers through:

  • Restraining orders against protesters
  • Selective enforcement of company policies in order to provide a pretext for disciplining or terminating activists
  • Selective enforcement of the company’s solicitation policies in order to limit workers’ access to information about the benefits of organizing
  • Illegal threats that workers would face serious consequences if they organized, including economic losses
  • Illegal manipulation of store staffing in order to dilute support for organizing and union representation in the run-up to a union election
  • Illegal information gathering including coercive interrogation, eavesdropping, and remote monitoring of workers via security cameras

The National Labor Relations Board has found merit in workers’ claims of intimidation and illegal action on Walmart’s behalf. After workers went on strike over retaliation in 2013, Walmart responded by firing around 20 workers and disciplining 40 more to scare workers out of standing up for their rights.

FACT CHECK: Note that the union card on page #34 does not say anything about Walmart. OUR Walmart doesn’t sign representation over to UFCW.

FACT CHECK: Unions partner with local groups to help them hold Walmart accountable. This is not meant to harm the company, but to call on Walmart to be a good neighbor and keep its promises to the community. Walmart often makes promises about wages and jobs when it comes to a community, but there is nothing to hold them accountable. This work is all done in solidarity with the workers.

If you are a Walmart worker, there is no time like the present to start organizing your workplace. Go to: http://ChangeWalmart.org

If you are an occupy activist and you would like to help with the effort, go to: http://ChangeWalmart.org and tell them we sent you.

I'm standing up to Walmart


Principle Seven of Activism – Edge Leads The Pack: Invert the Ladder of Engagement

Posted 4 months ago on Dec. 14, 2013, 11:46 p.m. EST by MicahWhite
Tags: Authenticity, ladder of engagement, direct action, Minoritarianism

The dominant paradigm of activism is the ladder of engagement. In this model, there are a series of rungs leading from the most insignificant actions to the most "revolutionary," and the goal of organizers is to lead people upwards through these escalating rungs. This makes sense on a commonsense level but it has a nasty unintended consequence.

When taken to its logical conclusion, the ladder of engagement encourages organizers to pitch asks to the lowest rung on the assumption that the majority will feel more comfortable starting with clicking a link or social network sharing.

This is a fatal assumption.

The majority can sniff out the difference between an authentic ask that is truly dangerous and might get their voices heard and an inauthentic ask that is safe and meaningless. The ladder of engagement is upside down. We are judged by what we ask of people. Thus, we must only ask The People to do actions that would genuinely improve the world despite the risks.

Rather than the ladder of engagement, I live by the minoritarian principle, in which, the edge leads the pack. This principle means that when trying to shift the direction of the majority, pitch action ideas from the edges of politics. Authenticity goes hand-in-hand with edginess. The campaign ideas that work are the ones that thrill us into asking “Would I do that?”

Would I camp on Wall Street if it meant an end to the financial stranglehold over our democracies?

Would I uproot my family and move to Nehalem if it meant liberty, equality, community for all?

Would I blow the whistle for the greater good no matter the cost to myself?

The majority does not follow its center; it undulates towards its inspirational edges.

The corollary of this principle is that our political imagination must be in constant flux as it incorporates emergent tactics. This principle is minoritarian in the sense of Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari because it places a greater emphasis on cultivating (or cool-hunting) tactics that are being developed by political minorities.

The edge, Left or Right, is where we find the best tactics to transpose into our struggle.

This is why—and here I am speaking to Chris Hedges, a great orator of our movement—it is necessary to respect the partisans of the Black Bloc or any other fighting force that shares our principles but insists on a different tactical approach.

It is oftentimes these tactical approaches that need to be merely tweaked and applied to a new context for their potential to take off. The street level anarchists were the source of most of the tactical innovations following the collapse of the mainstream antiwar movement in 2003. The so-called “cancer of Occupy,” as Hedges unjustly called them, deserve more credit for their role in sparking Occupy Wall Street.

For one, I very closely watched the student occupations of 2009 that swept universities in London, New York City, Berkeley, and dozens more. These protests used the tactic of occupation: students would takeover campus space for political reasons. In the UK this began as a way to force universities to take a public stand against the Israeli war against Gaza.

As the tactic spread to the United States, it lost its focus around demands and the popular slogan of the time—“Demand Nothing! Occupy Everything!”—emerged. I was present at the Sproul occupation at the University of California Berkeley and watching the students trapped in a classroom and shouting impossible to hear words to the crowd below is when I had the first idea to apply the tactic of occupation to public space. I remember thinking that the students should be occupying the grassy parks rather than the cloistered classroom.

By reminding ourselves that the edge leads the pack then we are often able to see the potential of a new idea well before it has matured.

Micah White is a board member of the Occupy Solidarity Network. His website is http://micahmwhite.com.


Banks Cannot Gamble On Your Future (As Much As They Would Like To)

Posted 4 months ago on Dec. 14, 2013, 5:25 p.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: occupy the sec, volcker rule, direct action

What if you could change the rules on Wall Street without bribing regulators or buying off politicians?

Well, we did it. We passed the Volcker Rule

Occupy the SEC, a working group of Occupy Wall Street, submitted critical public comment to SEC officials and followed up like crazy.

"We met with each regulator after they wrote the rule, and we worked with other interest groups collaboratively through the process," says Occupy's Eric Taylor

"To get ideas, we had a weekly conference call where we talked about things with a couple other groups," added member Akshat Tewary.

Making change. From the streets and in the halls of power.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/12/11/the-volcker-rule-cites-the-occupy-movement-284-times/

via our friends, US Uncut


Join #AllofUs in the #NYC Streets on Thursday at 4pm

Posted 4 months ago on Dec. 2, 2013, 9:26 a.m. EST by OccupyWallSt
Tags: Bloomberg, #AllofUs, direct action

The era of a New York City run by and for the 1% is coming to a close and it’s time for us to take to the streets and demand Bloomberg and his friends get out of the way.

Join with community activists, union members, students, teachers, fast food workers, faith leaders and many others for a massive citywide mobilization in Foley Square. We are demanding the Robin Hood Tax, universal pre-K for all children, good wages for all workers, affordable housing, quality healthcare, an end to inequality and the tale of two cities and the start of One New York that works for #AllOfUs. We are not broke, we are twisted, and all the resources are in front of us, if the 1% will agree willingly to step away from their hoarding in favor of a sustainable world.

Meet us:

When: Thursday December 5th at 4pm Where: Foley Square, Manhattan, NY Facebook Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/359450277532091/

View Larger Map

We have done a lot of work in battling the propaganda of the 1% and raising issues of inequality, but it is not enough. This is why we continue the work that brought us to Zuccotti. We continue to fight and raise our voices with the 99% of this city who are tired of the greed of big corporations, Wall Street, and the rest of the 1%.

It is our hope that we will serve as an example for the rest of the world. We want New York City to be the model for communities in which class war is carried out in lack of funding for education, racial profiling, food insecurity, and lack of housing.

For too long working people have been disregarded. But this is our moment. Last month we made our voices heard and our message was clear. We want an end to the tale of two cities. We want a New York that works for all of us.


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