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Victoria Seasol Meeting

November 9, 2010

SeaSol Training

BCGEU Hall, Victoria, BC

Saturday, November 6th, 2010

Seattle Solidarity website: www.seasol.net

youtube.com videos of SeaSol: http://www.youtube.com/user/bakunin888#p/a/u/2/Rnctk3fpx-g

Introductory video link: http://www.youtube.com/user/bakunin888#p/a/u/1/CmIOkvOsgPE

  • new organization of actions against the powers that keep us down

  • sustained series of actions … keep the hurt on until they give in

  • more people are paying attention then this one person.

  • key concept: network

Introductions

  • Joel. Matt, Carly, Curtis from SeaSol

  • Phil, Iris, Pat, Gretchen, Larry, DJ, Manda, Bob, Juniper, June, Art, Smokey, Shane, Carl, Stephen, Jon

Intro of SeaSol, and what we want to build

  • History: 5 initial members who were members of Seattle IWW, limited resources, none in position to organize workplaces easily, wanted something new

  • based on ideas of OCAP, the IWW and direct action working, started SeaSol.

  • Green Lake Motel, first action. Long term tenants because of a lack of money for first and last months rent, thought they had less rights than other tenants. Complied a list of all problems, delivered to the landlords

  • Feb 2008, 23 or more fights and won over three quarters of them. One’s not won, there was a partially satisfactory results (such as lost income in a business)

  • eg. Forcing landlord to make repairs, return stolen deposits, relocation. Employers, forcing an employer to pay unpaid wages, acknowledge that an injury happened, drop a lawsuit, etc.

  • Focus on small scale fights that we can win within a month or two generally. Build confidence, skills and knowledge by winning these small fights. Start moving towards creating committees in workplaces for larger scale action. Start from small fights, win them, and build up from there

  • 400 people on email list, most of which who have been . 150 on phone tree, generally active and want people to call them, 72 members from phone tree, committed to participate in meetings/planning, 15 on organizing team. Anyone invited: involves committing to a few hours a week, initial meetings with people who call, putting up posters, etc.

Key principles

  • SOLIDARITY not being a social service or charity!

  • Aim to create more organizers, more people who can initiate action

  • DIRECT ACTION rather than relying on a third party like lawyers, public opinion, politicians, directly cause a problem by costing the employer or landlord

  • DIRECT DEMOCRACY no leadership or secret hierarchy

The ‘life’ of the Fight

    • OUTREACH: make yourselves known; get a fight in the first place!
    • First Meeting: find out details of conflict, make sure they know what it means to be part of a SeaSol Fight
      • Research is continuous throughout the process (see below on research methods)

    • Decision Meeting: Who did the first meeting will give a small presentation with information. Ask if we can we win this fight and will there person participate. Vote.
    • Formulate demand: have problem, but need a feasible and clear demand. Create draft letter.
    • Demand delivery: as big a group as possible with the person directly affected by the fight. Two weeks notice is general, and then further action will be taken (ultimatum)
    • Escalating campaign: Don’t start with heaviest tactics first. The fear of what they will do next. Start off slow, hand out fliers, escalate to boycott, then pickets, then more picketers.
    • Victory!

  • Major question: Do you know other people in your situation affected and would be willing to participate? Perhaps a weaker point, because it usually involves someone alone, collectivizing the struggle is difficult. Each fight now, ask those questions and involve those people.

  • Administrative tribunal? Look for new fights instead. This is to form collective strength through direct action. Not interested in pursuing legislative actions. Sometimes escalates to court battle, often because the perpetrator themselves use those tactics.

  • Question: Do you stay away from the image of an organization to avoid lawsuits? Not registered organization, not incorporated, not non-profit, makes it more difficult to be sued.

Meeting with new workers and tenants

  • 90% of first contact is a response to posters (with number and email address)

  • Ask the right questions, create a secretary duty any organizer takes on. Everyone takes a turn. Check the voice mail which is electronic (look into free service, extension service through Cool-Aid?) Goes out to entire members list who decide they want to take more action. Completely transparent.

  • What is the issue you have, most important question. When did this happen? Find out what a clear demand could be. Any additional paperwork or materials. Make sure they understand what SeaSol is, and that their participation is mandatory, participate in their own fight, come to meetings. How committed will they be?

  • Worker or tenant for the first time: over the phone, face to face, need to get to know them, “feel them out”.

  • Information is better to get in person, 2 to 3 organizers. Again, keep it short and ask the right questions.

  • Take information back to the group, make a recommendation and then a vote is taken. Awkward for both parties if the new person there at the first meeting concerning their case. Help person but also build a movement and if the capacity is not there, then it may not be feasible for any party. If the case is taken on, then come to the next meeting.

‘Winniability’ and formulating demands

  • How do we know if an action is winnable?
  • Reasons why this is important:

    • don’t want to waste out time on a case that is known to be unwinnable. We can use resources and fight the god fight, and they are legitimate, we need to be realistic.

    • As an organization, weekly meetings to hash out ideas and work out next steps for action to happen soon. It is real and immediate and feels great. Necessity in knowing that it is more than symbolic protests and ideologies. On a real basic level, there is impact.

    • Public credence valuable aspect of a business, they have to be able to say they have a reputation: it is worthwhile for them to keep that image up. They can also fear being put out of business (here, research and knowing rights and responsibilities of both parties is key – don’t even need to take legal action)

    • example: Shell and wages owed to an employer over five years. Hard to embarrass, impossible to put out of business…

    • Demand letter: (Include scanned image here)

      • Tone of letter is in third person, name SeaSol well known, know that it is more than one person behind the demand and subsequent action

      • State out the issue

      • The actual demand. Not what we want, but what is necessary to achieve victory. It has to be winnable.

      • Make it clear that if demands are not met, more action will be taken. (Don’t make threats that are not legitimate!)

Action Logistics and Demand Delivery link: http://www.youtube.com/user/bakunin888#p/a/u/2/Rnctk3fpx-g

  • Want as big a crowd as possible, first impression is huge, for demand delivery.

  • No arguments, no discussions. Hand letter to boss/landlord, and leave. Make it intimidating, not confrontational.

  • About the video: too much dialogue. Avoid even verbal confrontation, make sure that you are doing nothing wrong. There are cameras, great tool to intimidate (notice the fear!)
  • How do we make an action happen?

    • Someone needs to take a leading role: “bottom line”. No one take sit more often than anyone else. To bottom line is to be granted temporary responsibility, NOT authority! You learn bottom-lining: volunteer.
      • Bottom line: logistics and various responsibilities not all yours, but make sure someone is doing them, that it’s been taken care of. (see appendix 1)

    • Location location location! Make sure you know where the boss/landlord ACTUALLY is.
    • Mobilization: how many people do we want? Full mobilization or members only movement?
    • Pre-action logistics: make sure everyone knows what’s going on
    • Day-of-action: liaison with cops, public can’t get away, etc.
  • In office for initial Demand Delivery. Save the more humiliating things for the escalation!

 

Gathering info about employers and landlords

  • Research! When you talk to the person for the first time, etc. Research methods to help know what to do and how to build a fight:

  • Example here, unpaid wages of a worker:

 

INFO NEEDED

SOURCES

– Name of manager, who does payroll?

– Owner?

– Personality, what makes this person tick

– Name of company, industry they are in, what other businesses do they have?

– Company holdings/size of company

– Employment contract?

– Boss’s affiliation to clubs, social networks, etc.

– Daily routine

– Other people with grievances

– Legal problems

– Financial viability of the company (can they pay you?)

– Suppliers/customers

– Other union and/or solidarity support

– Geography (where to meet before hand)

– Corporate registration

– Court documents (public record searches)

– Land titles

– Facebook (etc)

– Employee with grievance and others

– Get all paper work at First Meeting

– BBB

– Business publications

– Stake out (such as suppliers, customers, etc)

– Physical investigation

– Social engineering (phone calls, make an appointment?)

– Google (using information to find other information)

– Google alerts! (RSS feeds)

– Putting out requests

  • Local tools:

    • vancouver.ca/vanmap

    • bcassessment.bc.ca/

    • start building up a network of good tools!

 

Strategy and tactics for winning our demands

  • Basis of tactic operations is to create an:

  • escalating campaign: Increase momentum (size, range, frequency) to make it worse for the target and part of the psychological impact is not just that things are worse, but that things are going to become worse. Anticipation of things getting more out of hand that will cause them to give in even more.
  • Sustainability: Don’t go all out in the first week. The next week, not enough people to come out the following week. Sustain a campaign effectively.
  • Escalating Campaign (after Demand Delivery, before escalation)
    • Plan out time line and strategy session (numbered for priority, but remain fluid so you can respond to the reactions you are getting from each successive action)

    • YouTube video (email the target)

    • 1. Make leaflet and posters for distribution (information)

    • 2. Boycott posters/leaflets

    • 4. Fake customers first thing in the morning (know when a manager is working on til, for example)

    • Occupy space/space

    • 4. Take up tables (support workers, screw over the boss)

    • 2. Info line

    • Social embarrassment (clubs, neighbourhood, church, etc)

    • Warning shot before embarrassment (using the anticipation of things getting worse to your advantage)

    • 3. Bad internet reviews (great thing for involving other members who may not be able to be present for physical actions)

    • 5. Phone/fax/email campaigns

  • Calender (begins directly after the Demand has not been met within specified time)

 

Sunday

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Week 1

Leafleting

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 2

 

 

 

 

 

Picketing

 

Week 3

 

 

Picketing

 

 

Picketing

 

Week 4

 

Phone-in

Picketing

 

Phone-in

Picketing

 

  • Note: adjust times for when it will be most effective (eg. How many people will be present, sustainability)

  • IDEA: red, yellow, green. Members at a level of what risk they’re willing to take

Mobilizing for actions

  • Weekly meetings, phone tree, email list, members list, email list

  • Bottom-liner will keep track of who can be where when

  • Partial mobilization/ full mobilization changes how many and who will be contacted for actions

  • Victory parties! Help mobilize interest in continued involvement and get to know others who you are in solidarity with!

 

Outreach

  • All possible ways of reaching people. Could mean reaching out to the general public about there being an organization, reach potential organizers. But the bulk is to reach workers and tenants

  • Outreach can be focused at any group (such as a specific neighbourhood, industry, all workers, all tenants, etc.)

  • Billeting is key for SeaSol. Handbills, t-shirts, bumper stickers, buttons, be creative!

  • Go to political events looking for like-minded individuals

  • Talk to people!

  • Columns in local zines, community newspapers, etc. (Consider a regular column in a paper)

  • Recognize different types of outreach is going to use different kinds of tactics. Good to get the word out in the general public, but make sure you are looking towards workers and tenants.

    • Example: reaching restaurant workers. Would be great if something grew out of that. Fliers specific to restaurant workers, both with issues and searching for individuals who may want to start organizing.

    • Food handler’s permit classes, flier with your tip, poster dumpsters and alleyways, etc.

 

Designing Fliers

http://www.seattlesolidarity.net/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18&Itemid=29

(see link for examples)

  • Use an image of the person if possible for targeting!

  • Detachable email and phone number posters for high traffic areas

  • Billets should have very limited text. Make it easy for people to read it.

  • Posters should be very limited in text.

  • Make sure all relevant information and an action is make clear on a poster.

    • What and who it is about

    • Why this is a problem

    • What you ought to do about it

    • Contact info

 

Starting a New Group

  • Need a core group of a few people who are willing to put the time in, can put enough time in to make sure initial steps are taken and follow up on people.

  • Having the points of contact, email, voice mail, initial posters, enough supporters, a website

  • Funding: it is extremely low budget. Time is the biggest thing. Rent out space for meetings, trying to find a new office now. But with a larger membership, can collect donations. Biggest cost is printing. Pass the hat at meetings. Benefit show for legal fees but very unusual.

  • It is up to us now to get a few people who have the time and are motivated, to get going and active!

 

Question and Answer

  • Organization: chair/facilitator each week, secretary, everyone can create the agenda, vote in organizers, bottom-liner per action.
    • Very important that everyone has a chance to take on responsibilities,

 

 

Appendix 1: Role of Bottom-Liner

 

Bottom-lining is a role with a lot of responsibility but no authority. It’s an important leadership role that was can all take on from time to time. This is the list of things to remember if you are bottom-lining an action. You don’t have to do them all yourself, but as a bottom-liner it will be your job yo make sure all these things are getting done and being considered. It’s a great idea to get help with everything on this list, early and often.

 

Action Location, Date and Time

Make sure action details are set.

 

  1. location may need yo be scouted before finalizing. Google Street View sometimes does wonders, although there’s nothing like checking it out in person.

  2. Consider: parking, separate meet up spot, transportation needs (e.g. Carpooling). Do not assume we can park in the parking lot of the company we are in a conflict with.

 

Mobilization

Help make sure we get people out!

 

  1. make sure there is a timeline for mobilization (“organizers should get their call done by…”)

  2. follow up by phone with organizers who have not reported to the group the day after mobilization deadline.
  3. See if people need any help with mobilization, get them help if so (you don’t have to do the calls, you just need to find someone to help)

  4. make sure two main emails go out: info to action announcement list, and mobilizing info to organizers

 

Pre-Action Logisitics

Help make sure any printed materials are being created, and not at the last second. Make sure there is a plan for what we’ll be asking people to do at the action.

 

  1. fliers – we often get these printed by Katie @ C.K. Graphics which is half the price of FedEx Office.

  2. Picket signs – many of these live at the Waite Street House. You may need to print out new messages and tape them on. Beware: this is time consuming!

  3. Printed directions to action/parking location (if meet-up spot is far away)

  4. make a rough plan of what the action will be (picket? Fliering? Knocking on doors? Boarding a bus?)

 

Day-of-Action Logistics

Help make sure people know what we’re doing. Help make the action welcoming for newcomers/fun for all, and help us make sure we learn from each action.

 

  1. supplies – signup sheet, camera, directions, gas money

  2. role s- signup sheet person, camera person, cop talker

  3. coordinate the pre-action huddle – introductions, story (have workers/tenants affected be prepared to tell short version of their story), what people will do, short role play if possible (“what will you say to church-goers as you hand them a flier?”)

  4. possibly do last minute scout of action location

  5. keep an eye on everything – e.g. Help people be active picketers/flier-ers, make sure there are no escape routes where “the public” can avoid us

  6. coordinate post-action huddle – go around, “how do you think this event went?”, “what’s next?”

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Joe permalink
    March 20, 2011 2:24 am

    Is there anyone I can speak with to discuss the Employment Standards Act in BC? My employer repeatedly violated it and when I asked to speak about it with them I was promptly dismissed from my job.

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