Since we have not put out any public press releases or statements recently, here is a summary and update from the IWW Sisters’ Camelot Canvass Union on our struggle:
After months of consensus-based organizing, the canvass workers at Sisters’ Camelot went public to the bosses as unionized with the IWW on Monday, February 25.
On Friday, March 1 the union met with the managing collective to begin negotiations– only to be forced to go on strike when management flatly refused to negotiate with the union.
On Monday, March 4 the union went to the managing collective’s weekly decision-making meeting (by invitation)– hoping to restart negotiations. At this meeting, the managing collective offered easier access to the bosses decision-making body (the Collective) as an alternative to negotiating with our union– then they publicly fired one of the striking union members in retaliation for union organizing.
Since then, the managing collective (with the help of a group of their friends: http://libcom.org/library/statement-autonomous-union-busting-firm-twin-cities ) has run an aggressive union-busting campaign– included aggressive character assassination of the fired union member, and many public statements full of lies about the facts of our unionization & management’s refusal to negotiate.
After several weeks of being on strike, the union made an offer of a package deal to the management. This deal took all demands regarding pay and benefits off the table, leaving only 8 of the original demands. These 8 demands would have simply given the workers more workplace democracy and more control over their immediate work environment. The management refused this offer to end the strike.
Soon after the package deal was refused by management, the NLRB made a decision that the firing of a striking union member was illegal. Upon making that decision, the NLRB offered the management a settlement offer to end legal proceedings which would include rehiring the fired worker and paying back-pay.
Instead of accepting the settlement offer from the NLRB, the Sisters’ Camelot managing collective is now working with a known right-wing union-busting lawyer to fight the decision in court.
Sisters’ Camelot has been working with John C Hauge from the nationwide anti-union law firm Ford
Harrison as their pro bono lawyer. John C Hauge has been on a personal campaign against workers rights which has included:
(1) Silencing victims of workplace sexual harassment.
(2) Decertifying unions.
(3) Taking pension funds away from union members.
(4) & making sure the family of a worker who died on the job got no compensation.
Sisters’ Camelot’s management is now fighting the illegal firing in court with the right-wing union-busting lawyer John C Hauge as their pro bono lawyer. If Hauge is able to appeal this case to a higher court, it could set a precedent which would result in hundreds of thousands of misclassified independent contractors in the US losing access to their basic rights as protected by the NLRA. Trial is set for June 6, when the NLRB will be seeking a court-order to enforce their decision that the fired worker should be rehired and given back-pay.
The union canvassers have now been denied their livelihood while having to endure being on strike since March 1, a hardship endured for 83 days now (as of May 22, 2013).
Since refusing to respect the canvassers right to organize and forcing them to strike, Sisters’ Camelot has lost the workers who traditionally raise 90-95% of Sisters’ Camelot’s income. Because of this lost income Sisters’ Camelot has had to scale back it’s program operations drastically, is moving out of their warehouse space and office, and has begun selling off their assets.
It is abundantly clear at this juncture that the managers at Sisters’ Camelot would see the good works of the organization scale back and suffer rather than respect their worker’s right to unionize & give up some of their personal power in favor of more workplace democracy.
It is also far too clear now that the managers at Sisters’ Camelot would rather assist a sexist, right-wing lawyer with his personal campaign against workers rights rather than admit that they were wrong to fire a union member while on strike.
We are still constantly organizing to win this campaign and assert our right to unionize. We are organizing outreach to other unions, constantly fundraising for our strike fund, organizing to prevent scabs from being able to take our jobs, and doing direct outreach to supporters in the community to prepare them for mobilization.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP:
We have been enduring economic violence in the form of lost livelihood while on strike since March 1. We depend on money from the strike fund to allow those of us who have not gotten side jobs to continue organizing with our phone bills paid, rent paid, and food on our dinner tables. Please donate money to our strike fund at: http://www.canvassunion.org
You can also creatively organize a fundraiser for our strike fund and invite your friends & family. Feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in organizing a fundraiser.
Give us your contact information so that we are able to contact you when and if changes in this situation could allow for public involvement to help turn the tide and end this conflict. Email your name and telephone number to email@example.com . Your contact information will be kept carefully guarded.
Even though overwhelming public opinion in support of us has failed to persuade Sisters’ Camelot’s management yet, you can sign our Community Support statement on our website at http://www.canvassunion.org .
Also you can stay on top of new developments by liking our facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/SCcanvassunion