Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Unions slide from unity to enmity over Tim Hudak"

Here's a huge reason why Ontario labour remains stuck and ineffective as a movement: an evolving 20-year battle at the top of the province's major unions over election strategies because there is no commitment to a political strategy that would involve serious extra-parliamentary or even workplace mobilization.

Whether campaigning openly for the NDP, or openly for Anybody-But-Hudak, or funding issue-based TV ads that lend to strategic voting, Ontario's unions have all allowed their political strategies to be narrowed and whittled down to electoralism.

Only labour's agitation for the minimum wage bucks this trend.

There are of course other issues driving these splits, but it is the political strategy of labour that has to be addressed first and foremost.

Problems of personality and territorialism will always persist but it couldn't hurt to have some new people with new ideas.

Postering etiquette 101

1. Don't poster over events that haven't happened

2. Don't poster over non-event art and political posters/statements

3. Poster over corporate bullshit

4. Keep postering to assert control over public and bogus "private" space

Friday, January 3, 2014

Debate on "Pop-up" Unions

A few articles documenting an important debate on the left over new forms of worker organization in England in the fight against privatization and contracting out at Sussex University. Also, check out Mark Bergfeld's website and writings.

New struggles, new unions? On the Pop-Up Union at Sussex University

Mark Bergfeld
Ceasefire Magazine, April 18 2013

Are "Pop-Up" unions the way forward?
Sandy Nicoll
Socialist Review, June 2013

Start with solidarity
Mark Bergfeld
Socialist Review, July 2013

The Sussex University Pop-Up Union: A Mythbuster
Mark Bergfeld
July 2013

Pop-up unions through history
Brian Parkin
August 2013

"I wouldn't tolerate the neanderthal priorities of the average student council"

If you wanna see me crash and burn in what I'm hoping will be a meaningful discussion, I've sent in the proposal below to a student politics panel at Historical Materialism 2014 in Toronto.

The title is a quote from Doug Ward, the 1966-67 Canadian Union of Students president. It was directed at the student press and student council candidates. He was criticizing campus student councils for debating and passing motions on the "contemporary problems of society" at annual CUS conventions, then returning to their campuses to focus on "yearbooks, dances, model parliaments and the budget of the outing club."

For some background on this matter, check out this statement on defederating from the Canadian Federation of Students, and my response.


“I wouldn’t tolerate the neanderthal priorities of the average student council”:
Revisiting the English Canadian campus radicalism of the late 1960s

Based upon the organizational experiments of the Canadian Union of Students (CUS) executive and independent student radicals between 1965 and 1969, questions arising from the Quebec student strike of 2012 about the present organization of the English Canadian student left and its relations to the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) are critically re-examined.

The question of democracy and democratic representation within the CFS is revisited by reviewing the radicalization the Canadian Union of Students national executive after 1965 and, in the absence of direct democracy at the campus level, its inability to generate a sufficiently broad base of support capable of transforming the political priorities and culture of the English Canadian student movement amidst the tumult of the late 1960s.

The various relations and perspectives of the student left towards CFS are explored through the rise of and fall of English Canada’s numerous Students for a Democratic University (SDU) chapters. From their independent origins in 1966 and 1967, to their CUS-sponsored expansion across English Canada in 1968, the SDU experience usefully frames current debates of how the independent student left ought to relate to the CFS.

Drawing upon these two case studies of the CUS executive and SDUs between 1965 and 1969, the current English Canadian student left’s instincts to develop either general assemblies or a new student federation separate from the Canadian Federation of Students, are both flawed and destined for failure at the current conjuncture. A tentative proposal for strategic priorities and organizational principles are proposed for an independent student left organization, including historically-informed parameters for a useful, concrete debate regarding relations with the CFS.