CSAN One Year in Retrospect

On May Day 2023 the Class Struggle Action Network held its inaugural event. The event was well attended by over 50 workers across unions and sectors. Since then the network has grown to include participants from all over the world and from a wide variety of industries and sectors. We have assisted with strike solidarity work across the US, taken international solidarity action with Palestinian and Turkish workers, formed and supported various combative rank and file reform caucuses in major unions, supported workers in forming new unions in their work places in a number of areas and held a wide variety of public events on the topic of class unions. What follows is a short review of some of the highlights of our work over the last year. Given all that we have already accomplished we know that going into the next year our efforts will continue to meaningfully contribute to the strengthening of the fighting energies and capacities of the workers movement.

Picket Line Solidarity

  • Our first mobilization of the network was for the Oregon Nurse Association(ONA) strike which began on June 18th.  In the course of the strike CSAN workers turned out in solidarity with the union, maintaining a forceful presence on the picket lines and distributed hundreds of leaflets calling for extension of the struggle. 
  • In July, the coordination turned its attention to prospect of a large national United Postal Service (UPS) strike, organized by the Teamsters union which recently came under new combative leadership. We assisted in developing a coordinated effort between United States Postal Service workers and UPS Teamsters. In anticipation for the strike, plans were made for joint action by rank and file and leadership in the two locals to be headed off with a public event on July 30th; however, just days before the event was to take place a tentative agreement was signed between the company and the union. 
  • In September the network intervened in the teachers strikes in Camas and Vancouver Washington making a consistent presence, distributing class unionist literature. Later that month the United Auto Worker strike began and CSAN workers again hit the picket lines to meet workers and distribute leaflets. 
  • In early October, 75,000 Kaiser employees, working across California, Colorado, Washington and Oregon, went on what is the largest health care strike in US history. The strike was then joined on October 9th Pharmacists with the American Pharmacists Association (APA) union began a three day walk out in Oregon, Washington, Arizona and Massachusetts. Followed by the United Food & Commercial Workers, or UFCW, representing the pharmacy unit, which notified Kaiser that the 380 workers would strike from Oct. 1 to Oct. 21. Not but a few days later the network was contacted by unorganized workers at a local Walgreens who had decided to take wildcat action in solidarity with pharmacists who had recently staged the surprise walk out. The workers informed us that they had chosen to take the action after they had attended the CSAN May Day event and learned that they should never cross a picket-line. 
  • CSAN also mobilized network members to attend the UAW picket lines in the area in 2023 distributing hundreds of leaflets and developing more contacts with workers.
  • We intervened extensively in the ongoing strike of the Portland Association of Teachers, with the publication of a recent article on the matter on our website. 

International Solidarity

  • Palestinian Worker Solidarity

In October, workers affiliated with CSAN in Olympia Washington, developed a union resolution in solidarity with the call from Palestinian workers for solidarity industrial actions in opposition to the war in Gaza. The initiative was put to the  Thurston-Lewis-Mason Central Labor Council  of the AFL-CIO and was passed nearly unanimously by representatives of locals across the region; however, it was subsequently squashed by national leadership, in a controversial episode that won national media attention and the outrage of workers across the country. Other CSAN workers in SEIU led efforts to pass resolutions in their union condemning the invasion of Gaza and in solidarity with Palestinian workers.

  • Turkish Worker Solidarity

On December 23rd, members of the Class Struggle Action Network spent the afternoon distributing over 200 leaflets at two Levi’s stores in Portland and Troutdale, Oregon, while holding a banner which read “Levi’s, Stop Attacks on Striking Ozak Textile Workers in Turkey”. While distributing the leaflets, we appealed to the class solidarity of workers in the stores and customers. We encouraged them respect the strike of fellow Turkish workers and not shop at Levi’s until the conclusion of the strike. In a small but significant act of international solidarity, over a dozen workers chose to respect the picket lines of their fellow workers in Turkey and refused to shop at Levi’s that day. Throughout the day many good conversations were had with workers about the strike and more committed to supporting the struggle in the future.

New Unionization Efforts

  • Colorado: The fight to Build a Union at an Alcohol Distribution Warehouse          

With the help of the network, CSAN militants in Colorado USA, have begun efforts are working at a major alcohol distribution facility in the region, has begun the 

  • Oregon: Union Organizing in the Behavioral and Mental Health Non Profits           

Another CSAN militant in the state of Oregon has continued a unionization efforts to organize their workplace in the historically difficult to organize, non profit mental and behavioral healthcare industry. The rank and file here have been increasingly stirred to organize by the cost of living increases and increase in workload where our comrade and their co workers are on the front-lines of providing services to the many suffering, isolated, uncared for people under capitalism. Their workplace is now 100% agreed on to form a union and hold meetings to move that forward. They will be organized by the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees union (AFSCME).

  • United Kingdom: Amazon Workers

One CSAN member is an Amazon warehouse worker at a facility in the Midlands of the UK that was the first Amazon shop floor to take any strike action in the region. The last year they have been engaged in various actions including strikes in their struggle for higher wages. This year their facility has already had one 3 day strike and is at the moment in the midst of their second strike action where our comrade is talking with their coworkers about class unionism, the Class Struggle Action Network, and otherwise distributing flyers. Given the large population of Arabic speaking workers at the facilities, we are working on an Arabic translation of the CSAN materials.

Our comrade notes “formal recognition of the workers organized as a union has not yet been achieved. In the UK, to be formally recognized as a union in a particular workplace, you must represent at least 50% of workers in that workplace before the union allows collective bargaining to go forward with our demands. Last year we put in a request to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) which is the official commission in the UK which deals with disputes between the employers and the union or if you like, capital and labor. We had the numbers to be formally recognized but Amazon used union busting tactics and claimed to have ‘drafted’ 1300 extra workers to thwart our push for recognition. Now about a week ago, we’ve put it in another request for recognition and hopefully it will get accepted.” Further study and reporting of this struggle, the workers movement in the UK, GMB etc will continue as the work develops.

Combative Reform Caucus Organizing

  • Oregon: Combative Union Reform Caucus in the UFCW and the “Fight for $40” and “One Member, One Vote Campaign”          

In October, CSAN announced the first class struggle committee which formed around the network. The committee comprising several dozen workers from the notoriously repressive United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. As a result the workers formed a committee to begin defending their own interests from management and the regime union leadership. In the course of the coordination workers have held several successful workplace meetings, distributed literature on class unionism within the workplace and developed shop-floor tactics to act in solidarity with one another. The coordination is now developing strategies to push the fold in the upcoming contract negotiations to fight for significant wage increases, improvements in standards of living, abolition of no strike clauses and promotion of open bargaining.

Meetings have made space for continued raising of issues from the shop floor, strategy and moving forward their fight for $40 campaign, and a practical component that covers things such as legal rights of workers, rights within their union, knowing more about the structure of the union and working class history in general. There have been contacts made with workers from other company locations of the grocery chain our comrade works at and workers from other companies represented by the union, that are also now attending the regular caucus meetings and joining the campaign.

Relations have already been built with another group of workers within the union, “Essential Workers for Democracy” who are also working to tackle the problems within the regime union. The term “Essential workers” emerged out of the Covid 19 pandemic to describe workers that were mandated to continue their work due to their essential function in maintaining society. This included health care workers, grocery workers, transportation workers etc.

  • Oregon: Militating in the National Education Association Union

Two CSAN militants in the US’s largest union, the National Educators Association (NEA), composed of 3 million rank and file workers that have been reporting on their efforts for some time now, continue their work in the workplace and the union locally, across the State of Oregon regionally, and nationally. Open bargaining for a new contract has been initiated at one of our comrade’s school districts where they are employed. Organizing efforts have been steadily building around this.

They have also joined the union’s state wide mobilization committee which is responsible for connecting their union’s efforts to the broader labor movement. Recently our comrade put forth a proposal that has passed to begin producing a regular and widely circulated amongst the rank and file newspaper for which they will play a role in producing material and otherwise editing. CSAN militants are on a temporary steering committee for the caucus, and have played roles in drafting up principles for the caucus and its work consistent with class unionist lines, creating and facilitating meetings etc.

  • Washington: Lumber and Paper Mill Worker Contacts              

Lumber workers in the Class Struggle Action Network in the state of Washington, who joined CSAN as a result of contact with worker militants who supported them during their last strike, and in the forming and continuous support of their combative reform caucus, have reached out recently in hopes of further collaboration and problem solving in their organizing. They have expressed a desire to meet with our CSAN militants and introduce us to contacts they have made with local workers at a paper mill who they thought would benefit from participation and the support of CSAN.

  • Starbucks Workers United Rank and File Caucus

CSAN members have been working on a campaign to build a class unionist rank-in- file caucus within their union to unite the workers regionally. We’ve worked with Starbucks workers to hold their first meeting to form a rank and file caucus on class unionist lines, with the intention of uniting the various independent unions into one general effort which can take effective strike action.

CSAN General Meetings

General meetings for members of the network and their coworkers and fellow union members are held on the third Thursday of every month. The general meetings that first began in November, have featured a guest speaker from the combative and rank and file movements, such as founders of the United Auto Workers for Democracy, state level leaders of combative educational workers unions associated with Labor Notes and more, all sharing their experience and insights on the struggles both with employers as well as within the regime unions. The presentations have been followed by an open question and answer portion. This has supported CSAN members in coming into contact with other leaders of combative currents in the union movement and to learn from their experiences. We then have a time for members to voice solidarity requests, and hold breakout groups where attendees can get support and guidance in efforts to organize along combative and class unionist lines in their own unions.

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