Building on the mass hunger strike of prisoners in Pelican Bay State Prison in July of last year, several hundred prisoners across Alabama have declared that, beginning Easter Sunday, they will stop prison-mandated labor in protest of detestable living conditions.
The conditions in Alabama prisons are horrendous, packing twice as many people as the 16,000 that can be housed “humanely”, with everything from black mold, brown water, cancer causing foods, insect infestations, and general disrepair. They are also run by free slave labor, with 10,000 incarcerated people working to maintain the prisons daily, adding up to $600,000 dollars a day, or $219,000,000 a year of slave labor if inmates were paid federal minimum wage, with tens of thousands more receiving pennies a day making products for the state or private corporations.
Unpaid labor includes cooking and cleaning, production of license plates, furniture, chemicals, and linens, and farming. The slavery analogy is more than metaphorical: African-Americans comprise only 26% of Alabama’s population, but make up more than 60% of the prison population due to reactionary legislation and racist targeting of communities of color. Reports of beatings and systemic rape and sexual abuse of women inmates by guards at Tutwiler State Prison have surfaced in the media over the last year.
On the outside, labor unions and prisoners’ advocacy groups have been instrumental in helping prisoners organize themselves. The Free Alabama Movement is pushing an “Education, Rehabilitation, and Re-entry Preparedness Bill” to the Alabama legislature, while the Industrial Workers of the World labor union has vowed to provide support and assistance to the incarcerated laborers.
Melvin Ray, spokesperson for the Free Alabama Movement (FAM) said:
When we look at our situations inside of the Alabama Department of Corrections, we have no choice but to engage in this nonviolent and peaceful protest for civil and human rights. We sleep with rats and roaches. We work for free and eat slop unfit for human consumption. We serve decades in prison solely to provide free labor and without any real prospect for parole, and without any recourse to the courts for justice or redress of grievances. Our mothers, wives, and daughters must expose their breasts and panties just to visit us. This should not be acceptable to anyone. Prison is supposed to be a place where people go to work out issues and return to society. But when there is no focus on education or rehab but solely on profit margins, human suffering is inevitable. ADOC is about free labor and the new slavery no one wants to talk about. That is no longer going to work for the 30,000 of us who suffer because of it.
The Industrial Workers of the World was involved in a similar campaign in 1987, in which they organized 400 incarcerated laborers in an Ohio state prison, before the government ruled that prisoners are not legally entitled to the right to form a union - a right which all other workers enjoy.
We in the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) have been approached by a group of hundreds of people currently incarcerated in Alabama who are launching a nonviolent prison strike beginning this Sunday April 20th to demand an end to slave labor, the massive overcrowding and horrifying health and human rights violations found in Alabama Prisons, and the passage of legislation they have drafted.
This is the second peaceful and nonviolent protest initiated by the brave men and women of the Free Alabama Movement (F.A.M.) this year building on the recent Hunger Strikes in Pelican Bay and the Georgia Prison Strike in 2010. They aim to build a mass movement inside and outside of prisons to earn their freedom, and end the racist, capitalist system of mass incarceration called The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and others. The Free Alabama Movement is waging a non-violent and peaceful protest for their civil, economic, and human rights.
The conditions in Alabama prisons are horrendous, packing twice as many people as the 16,000 that can be housed “humanely”, with everything from black mold, brown water, cancer causing foods, insect infestations, and general disrepair. They are also run by free, slave labor, with 10,000 incarcerated people working to maintain the prisons daily, adding up to $600,000 dollars a day, or $219,000,000 a year of slave labor if inmates were paid federal minimum wage, with tens of thousands more receiving pennies a day making products for the state or private corporations.
In response, the Free Alabama Movement is pushing a comprehensive “Freedom Bill” (Alabama’s Education, Rehabilitation, and Re-entry Preparedness Bill) designed to end these horrors and create a much reduced correctional system actually intended to achieve rehabilitation and a secure, just, anti-racist society.
While unique in some ways, the struggle of these brave human beings is the same as the millions of black, brown, and working class men, women, and youth struggling to survive a system they are not meant to succeed within. We advance their struggle by building our own, and working together for an end to this “system that crushes people and penalizes them for not being able to stand the weight”.
The Free Alabama Movement is partnering with the IWW’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee to ask you to:
- Create a Incarcerated Workers Solidarity Committee in your area to raise money, take action, and spread the word of this struggle, including to local prisons.
- Amplify the voices of incarcerated workers by posting this and future updates to your website, facebook, email lists, and so on
- Join our email list so as to be kept up to date and amplify future updates. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and like us on facebook:www.facebook.com/incarceratedworkers
- Donate money to the Free Alabama Movement & Incarcerated Workers Organizing Cmt:https://fundly.com/iww-incarcerated-workers-organizing-committee-support-the-free-alabama-movement
- Join the IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee
Contact us at email@example.com. Solidarity and be in touch!
The IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee in partnership with the Free Alabama Movement
The IWW is an grassroots, revolutionary union open to all working people, including the incarcerated and the unemployed. Founded in 1905, we’ve come back strong in recent years with struggles at Starbucks, Jimmy Johns, and the General Strike call during the Wisconsin Uprising. We are committed to amplifying the voices of prisoners, ending an economic system based on exploitation and racial caste systems like mass incarceration, and adding our contribution to the global movements for a just, free, and sustainable world. Our guiding motto is “An injury to one is an injury to all!”.
For the record, one of the admins on this blog are a member of the IWOC, if you want to become involved in prison organizing with the IWW, whether you’re a member or not, you can either contact the IWOC at firstname.lastname@example.org, or message this blog and I can talk to you about getting involved.
Anonymous asked: Thank you for posting about Mike XvX. He has so much "progressive music" that he uses to make girls feel safe, and then he misleads you and takes advantage, like he just wants what he wants, and he makes you feel bad for him till you give it to him.. and no one will stand up to him because he's so poplar and cool. He's going on tour again and maybe your post will help keep some girls away from him.
If he has his tourdates posted somewhere please let us know, I personally would want to know if he’s coming anywhere near my area so I know where to throw a ton of flyers with his stupid face and “MANARCHIST FUCKHEAD” on them. (Along with info regarding what exactly makes him a manarchist fuckhead.)
This is a 250-page study (large enough to occupy a formidably-sized book) tracing the history and content of syndicalist organization in Europe from the dawn of hostilities in World War I to the founding of the International Workers’ Association. Among its many focuses are the influence of French syndicalism and the relationship between anarchosyndicalist unions and the Soviet Union’s Red International of Labor Unions (RILU, or the “Profintern”).
This study was prepared in 1979 by Wayne Thorpe as a requisite for earning his doctorate in Philosophy from the University of British Columbia
Today in labor history, April 5, 1979: When the Board of Trustees at Boston University refused to approve the faculty’s negotiated contract, the faculty union call a strike. Professors were joined on the picket line by clerical staff and librarians – themselves demanding union recognition. After several weeks, the strike ended when the workers’ central demands were met.
Howard Zinn in the front.
Very compelling article about the political composition of Fight for 15 and the motives behind it. Much more informative than the empty liberal logic of “raises mean that workers are valued more!” Suggested further reading:
Newark Students Union Stage Mass Walkout
Michael Schmidt is an investigative journalist, an anarchist theorist and a radical historian based in Johannesburg, South Africa. He has been an active participant in the international anarchist milieu, including the Zabalaza Anarchist Communist Front. His major works include Cartography of Revolutionary Anarchism (2013, AK Press) and, with Lucien van der Walt, Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism (2009, AK Press).
From the establishment of the first non-white unions in South Africa and the first unions in China, through to the resistance to fascism in Europe and Latin America – the establishment of practical anarchist control of cities and regions, sometimes ephemeral, sometimes longer lived in countries as diverse as Macedonia (1903), Mexico (1911, 1915), Italy (1914, 1920), Portugal (1918), Brazil (1918), Argentina (1919, 1922), arguably Nicaragua (1927-1932), Ukraine (1917-1921), Manchuria (1929-1931), Paraguay (1931), and Spain (1873/4, 1909, 1917, 1932/3, and 1936-1939).
South Africa’s largest trade union has announced it is withdrawing its backing for the African National Congress (ANC), the party that once led the country’s struggle against apartheid and that continues to dominate its political landscape today, twenty years since fall of the racist caste system. The 330,000 member National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) cited the ANC’s embrace of neoliberal policies that have intensified economic inequality and the pressing need for a new world order in the face of climate change.
From the NUMSA National Office, March 2, 2014:
More than anything else, what makes the current systemic and structural global crisis of capitalism more dangerous and frightening than in the past is the total intellectual, ideological, political and moral bankruptcy of the world capitalist leaders and their capitalist theorists: they have no answer to what increasingly appears to be the world’s relentless progression toward mass poverty, worldwide unemployment, growing extreme global inequalities within and between nations of the world, vicious and extremely violent civil and international wars, global warming, environmental destruction – all pointing to the eventual destruction of our Earth and all life on it.