“The Fight Continues”: A striking carpenter speaks

By Jason Bartos, a striking carpenter

The Fight Continues

It has been an extremely exhausting week for me, the PJMG, and all of the brothers and sisters on the picket lines. I’m going to try to rest up this weekend and spend as much time with my family as possible. I suggest all of you do the same. I’ve said from the beginning, this’ll be a war of attrition. No one said it would be easy. The one thing that I want to emphasize is that we must conserve our energy for effective tactical strikes. No more wasting hours marching and yelling at empty job sites for phony publicity stunts that only benefit Ms. Shapiro in her attempt to restore her image to the broader public. By allowing our council to direct us, marching and screaming endlessly for no purpose, you can be sure the AGC is pissing their pants in laughter. They must think we are a bunch of dolts. Losing our voices screaming at a job-site that never opened while all the workers were sitting at home.

We have to be smarter. But our real problem isn’t intelligence, it is fortitude. We have to have the courage to push back on those in leadership positions when they are doing things to sabotage this strike effort, publicly and loud enough for all to hear it. If we are not picketing at least 16 sites on Monday, we need to let them have it. I want to give credit to two specific members who made a real difference this week, but I’ll leave out their names for now, unless they allow me include them. (Contact me if it is alright)

One of our working brothers(Aaron Pate) confronted Ms. Shapiro this week at our big pre-strike rally asking her ~why the hell are we not going to Microsoft tomorrow?~(paraphrase). This pressure only increased when others joined in questioning her loyalties since she pushed for a yes vote 4 times on a shitty contract. This, my brothers and sisters is how we get them to do what we want. Loud public pressure, hard questions, and the willingness to speak up, and back our brothers and sisters in solidarity when they attempt to push back against courageous members.

Another example happened at the Friday picket outside of the LCL job that successfully stopped a 200 yard pour. Some guys were given a specific point to stop our line to prevent getting too close to a neutral gate by a rep. Another rep. then came and designated a spot closer to the gate. So when guys started marching closer to the gate than was previously demarcated, I immediately notified a strike lieutenant to post up at the other end to let the guys know where to stop the line. The strike lieutenant began screaming at the members ~what the hell are you doing! You are going to fuck this up for all of us! You can’t get that close to the gate!~etc. One member then yelled back, ~This is bullshit! Show me the law and specific distance requirement and we can measure out how close we can actually get to this gate~ This ultimately resulted in them measuring the distance and moving the line closer to the gate, ensuring no workers crossed our line.

This is what I am talking about. I prefer to be civil, but we can also use civil disobedience to get our point across. When civility proves to be ineffective at getting our leadership to tell us the truth, legal non-violent uncivil discourse can also be the way forward. You don’t have to be pleasant or nice to people who are lying or stealing from you. They want you to march and scream at an empty job site. Refuse. Put your sign down and demand to go to another fully operational job. And don’t pick up your sign until you get there.

After all the slander and accusations of sexism, racism, homophobia, and far-right leanings they’ve now begun attacking us from the opposite side calling us Marxist Antifa Communists. They will level any accusations they can at us in order to divide us and deflect from their corrupt and fracturing system of organization. We are not an organization that can be labelled either left-wing or right-wing. We are a movement for the working class, whose political leanings span the spectrum. There are going to be political issues that we as members disagree on. That’s fine. Put that shit on the back burner for now. We have more important things to do than argue about stupid wedge issues. We simply want to focus currently on the things that will bring us victory in our fight. This in no way should limit you from expressing yourself in a way that highlights your background(political, ethnic, religious etc.). We encourage that. And even though this is an annoying hackneyed phrase, diversity can be our strength. Our backgrounds give us the ability to contribute to the fight in different ways.

As some of you know I am an extremely conservative Christian, which means I believe in forgiveness and redemption. I however, do not subscribe to the beliefs of many Western Protestant churches that mandate we must remain passive, compliant, and loyal to corrupt leaders. The Eastern Orthodox understanding ensures that if we are truly following the way, we will be given much hardship and our own cross to bear. Life will be a struggle, but with our faith and spirit of Truth, God will not burden us with more than we can handle. I will close with something that has helped me in this fight, a mandate from my favorite conservative carpenter and radical revolutionary – “Remember it is I who am sending you out, as sheep into the midst of wolves; prove yourselves as sagacious as serpents, and as innocent as doves.”


Oaklandsocialist comments: This is the most important strike going on in the U.S. today. The reason is that it challenges the union leadership’s pro-employer policies. In the case of the carmpenters leadership, they openly talk about winning “market share”, which means that union carpenters must compete with non-union carpenters for who can work cheapest. That is why the leadership hs such a weak strike strtegy; they don’t want the carpenters to wing a bigger raise! At this point, the membership is threatening to get completely out of the control of this disastrous leadership. Hopefully, they will set something loose in the rest of the labor movement.

Categories: labor

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