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Red November, Black November

November 11th is celebrated as a day to remember the veterans of state-sanctioned war here in Canada. In the IWW we remember casualties of Class War, who have often died in November. Here is a poem by Ralph Chaplin, who also wrote Solidarity Forever, which expresses some of how we feel about Remembering in November.

Red November, Black November

Red November, black November,
Bleak November, black and red.
Hallowed month of labor’s martyrs,
Labor’s heroes, labor’s dead.

Labor’s wrath and hope and sorrow,
Red the promise, black the threat,
Who are we not to remember?
Who are we to dare forget?

Black and red the colors blended,
Black and red the pledge we made,
Red until the fight is ended,
Black until the debt is paid.

Nov. 5, 1916, over 200 Industrial Workers of the World members were headed to the docks of Everett, Washington, on the ship Vernoa to participate in a Free Speech Fight in support of the rights of union members to speak on the street corners. While they attempted to dock, a group of over 500 deputy sheriffs opened fire on the peaceful unarmed crowd, killing 11 and wounding 27. This is known as the Everett Massacre.

Nov. 11, 1887, four of the anarchist leaders of the Chicago eight-hour movement were executed because they advocated ideas of workplace justice. Albert Parsons, August Spies, George Engle, and Adolph Fischer are now forever known as the Haymarket Martyrs. In June of 1893 Illinois Governor John Peter Atgeld issued posthumous pardons to these men, proclaiming them victims of a biased judge and a packed jury.

Nov. 11, 1919, a group of Legionaries marching to celebrate Armistice Day attacked an IWW union hall in Centralia, Washington. The IWW members fought back, killing four of their attackers before being captured and taken to jail. That night Wesley Everest was taken from his cell. He was castrated, then taken to a bridge and hung. While hanging over a river he was shot full of holes. Then his body was taken back to the jail and laid out in view of the other prisoners for several days. This is known as the Centralia Massacre.

Nov. 13, 1974, union activist Karen Silkwood was killed when her car was mysteriously run off the road. There was enough evidence to suggest foul play.

Nov. 19, 1916, IWW organizer, songwriter, and troubadour Joe Hill was executed by the State of Utah after being convicted of murder on flimsy circumstantial evidence. A worldwide movement to free Joe Hill included the Swedish Government and a plea from President Wilson for a “thorough reconsideration of the case,” to no avail.

Nov. 22, 1886, in Thibodaux, Louisiana, by some accounts between 30 to 100 striking black sugar workers were massacred. A newspaper of that time recorded, “Lame men and blind women shot. Children and hoary-headed grandsires ruthlessly swept down! The Negros offered no resistance, they could not as the killing was unexpected…”

Nov. 29, 1919, in the town of Bogalusa, Louisiana, once stood the world largest lumber mill, owned by the Goodyear Corporation. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters attempted to organize the mill, with wide support from the mill hands. After a lengthy campaign of intimidation, terror, and beatings the company goons attacked the union hall, killing four Brotherhood organizers. Lem Williams, Stanley O’Rourke, J.P.Bouchillon, and Thomas Gains were cold-bloodedly gunned down as they sat in the office of the Bogalusa’s Central Trades and Labor Council.

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History of the IWW in Canada

Excerpted from A Brief History of the IWW outside the US (1905 – 1999) by F.N. Brill. 

Five Branches were formed in BC in 1906, including a Lumber Handlers Job Branch composed of Indigenous Canadians.

By 1911, the IWW claimed 10,000 members in Canada, notably in mining, logging, Alberta agriculture, longshoring and the textile industry.

In 1912 the IWW fought a fierce free speech fight in Vancouver, forcing the city to rescind a ban on public street meetings.

Organizing began in 1911 among construction workers building the Canadian Northern Railway in BC. In September a quick strike of 900 workers halted 100 miles of construction.

February 1912, IWW membership on the CN stood at 8,000.

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Anti-harassment policy

At Toronto IWW’s February General Membership Branch meeting, an anti-harassment policy was unanimously approved by all present. We borrowed the text as developed by Edmonton IWW.

Note that “General Bylaws” refers to the Constitution of the IWW, available in the Member Resources section of this website.

Toronto IWW GMB Anti-Harassment Policy

Preamble:

The Toronto IWW General Membership Branch, in keeping with the principles and beliefs of our organization, is committed to a just world. Justice includes the ability of all individuals to feel safe and protected while in the company of IWW members. We have developed a policy intended to prevent harassment of any type and to deal quickly and effectively with any incident that might occur.

Harassment of IWW members can occur any place where more than one member is gathered. This includes branch meetings, and formal and informal social events. Harassment is not limited to members’ inappropriate behavior to other members; it also includes members’ behavior towards non-members.

From the point of branch adoption of this policy forward, there will be no statute of limitations on harassment complaints.

Harassment occurs when an individual is subjected to unwelcome verbal or physical conduct because of reasons including but not limited to race, religious beliefs, colour, place of origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental or physical ability, age, ancestry, marital status, and/or family status.

Examples of harassment which will not be tolerated are: verbal or physical abuse, threats, bullying, derogatory remarks, malicious jokes, innuendo or taunts about any member’s appearance, religious beliefs, colour, place of origin, sexual orientation, mental or physical abilities, ancestry, marital status, family status, or gender identity. The Toronto IWW also will not tolerate the display of pornographic, racist or offensive signs or images; malicious practical jokes that result in awkwardness or embarrassment; or unwelcome invitations or requests, whether indirect or explicit.

All harassment is offensive and in many cases it intimidates others. Harassment will not be tolerated by the Toronto IWW.

Definition of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a violation of this policy. Unwanted sexual advances, unwanted requests for sexual favours, and other unwanted verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment whether such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly.

Sexual harassment can include such things as pinching, patting, rubbing or leering, “dirty” jokes, pictures or pornographic materials, comments, suggestions, innuendoes, requests or demands of a sexual nature. The behaviour need not be intentional in order to be considered sexual harassment.

Policy:

Tell the harasser his/her behaviour is unwelcome and ask him/her to stop. If you do not feel comfortable speaking to your harasser about the incident, report the incident to a branch Delegate, a member of the Conflict Mediation Committee (CMC), or the Branch Secretary (hereafter referred to as the Officer) as soon as possible.

S/he will facilitate the completion of an official complaint form that will be kept as documentation of the incident for reference during the course of the investigation, but the report will be destroyed at the end of either conflict mediation or charges.

  1. The Officer will arrange a confidential meeting with the complainant in which they will decide whether or not to follow the charges procedure under Article III of the General Bylaws or the Conflict Mediation Procedure under Article XIV of the General Bylaws.
    The Officer will also provide information on Victims Services. If the Conflict Mediation Procedure is chosen, and the complainant desires anonymity, members of the CMC shall meet with the accused without identifying the complainant.
  2. If Conflict Mediation is pursued and the accused refuses to attend the meeting, or conciliation is not reached through bad faith on the part of the accused this process can move to Charges as outlined under Article III of the General Bylaws.
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