I need some clarity in my own thinking. I have been reading like crazy, my mind stimulated by conversations with new friends about organization and politics, by the bold boisterous actions of activist groups based in this city, by a gazillion thoughts on gender and queer liberation (always!!) and then also by the marxism study group....and most recently, inspired by what comrades in ATX have been doing!!!
i love those moments, short and transient as they are, when these different areas of what i am thinking about come together and it all makes sense!...until it disappears again...
but now, a little sketch which i hope to expand on later
some lofty goals for the struggle at my job, drawn from many conversations with comrades and coworkers:
- continual informal political conversations/discussions on the job
our conversation topics range from white supremacy, to iran, to imperialism, police brutality, patriarchy...and the like.
these conversations are so vibrant and happen at the most unexpected moments and keep me alive! at work.
- building a culture of solidarity inside and outside of the job
organizing a get-together at my house/S's house sometime in the next month. This is to consolidate relationships and a sense of community. It can be a small get-together with the key militants at work.
- regular weekly meetings and contents
the past month we have been meeting regularly, weekly, when we get out of work.
i hope we can have these meetings be a little more systematic.
this upcoming week we are going to meet w the folks from other community-based organizations that can support us in our struggle.
the downside is these meetings are short because my coworkers have to go pick up their kids and what not.
i hope to get to a place where we can start doing weekly readings of short articles about labor history
the history of the textile workers/triangle shirt factory/elizabeth gurley flynn/general IWW stuff i think is most relevant
i could see us discussing it during our work time. at least i can experiment with this and see where it goes.
i am down to summarize/ "translate" articles into more accessible english/ shorter passages.
[if anyone is reading this: please suggest articles you think would be good, and if you can help me with the summaries and 'translation', let me know!]
i have been feeling stressed out about the "campaign" for a 1:8 staffing ratio.
but if we have a sense that this is going to be something long term, that we can't fight this in 1 month, then i think things can be less stressful.
of course, having a long term vision of the struggle, and also having a sense that we have to capture key moments for our demands, is really important.
i feel like this is what makes a workplace committee different from organizing for a business union.
comrades have told me, that our indy workplace group organizing, does not have the same 'timeline' as a union campaign.
this is what makes us powerful and what trips up the bosses.
i need to share these thoughts with my coworkers --- that we are digging in the trenches for something long term and we need to prepare and grow ourselves as militants and organizers to be able to do that.
so the readings are both for our long term visioning as worker militants, for thinking about "how the fuck do we organize this industry cos many of us are gonna be stuck in it for a damn long time", as well as short term "how can we transfer the lessons from the textile strikes to the nursing home organizing?"
so the content of our meetings need to meet the variety of goals
for now we have spent time coming up with this Bill of Rights.
what exactly we are going to do with it, we dont know yet. but these are the DEMANDS we want to fight for.
i think one thing that can keep morale going is for us to strike off these demands piece by piece so my coworkers and i feel like this isnt just a talk-session.
there are some demands in here that we can probably organize around pretty easily which is low risk.
so my sense now:
- start up regular reading, or at least experiment with this
- start doing some low risk organizing that get at some of the demands and show we can really organize at this workplace
- building a network of militants in the industry (below)
- building a network of militants in the industry
through our past organizing, we have made a lot of contacts with the custodians in the local university. many of the custodians also have family members/friends/themselves who work as CNAs as well.
we should flyer and organize for some kind of prelimnary network of militants in the industry.
it doesnt need to be a thing where we do an immediate campaign together
it is more a thing for my coworkers and i, as well as other militant CNAs to have a sense of community together to politicize our bitching sessions, to translate those complaints into worker demands, immigrant demands, anti-racism demands...and discuss a process to make the oppressive shit topple.
this can be done informally -- through pot lucks/hang outs, but also need to have a component of collective process and learning.
i hope to start flyering about this with some comrades to custodians and their friends and we can check back in on this
- ad hoc committee of supporters and co-organizers
right now, i have an amazing community of local activists who are supporting me in strategizing about our struggle.
i am trying to make sure my coworkers also meet with and communicate w these activists so the relationships dont only happen through me. this is important for a few reasons, the most obvious being democracy, and then also to build my coworkers up as organizers. another reason is also that this community of activists need to see themselves as supporting a workplace struggle, an organization, a structure, and not me, a personalized relationship.
the formalizing of this is going to take some time.
thinking about the challenges i have with this, i think it is because we are talking about a broader political relationship -- we are thinking about to build a relationship b/w community and workplace struggle that is emerging and new.
the challenges are not only that it now happens primarily through me, which is something i want to change.
another challenge is that there is a question of how much of the campaign needs to be carried by the community support, and how much by the workplace group.
for my job, it is a vulnerable religious institution. it is also a small workplace.
our strength on the job cannot on its own change things. we need outside help as well.
yet, the outside help needs to not dominate the struggle. it should not become like a typical "consumer boycott" struggle that doesnt build up worker militants.
the balance of this is very challenging. i imagine it will go back and forth and wont look like a clear relationship. because all this is new, it is important to keep in mind the philosophy and not let the immediate tactical moments cloud the philosophy.
the relationship b/w workplace and community in winning demands probably also depend on the demand we are trying to win.
this goes back to the Bill of Rights that i posted below.
which ones of these can we do in the workplace itself to build our confidence first?
and then which ones of these can we escalate with through community support?
what we still definitely need, is a plan for if anyone gets fired for our job action/agitation. this definitely needs community mobilization.
work in progress...more to come!
please offer suggestions and thoughts!