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May 25, 2024 173 mins

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Episode Transcript

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
Al Zone Media.

Speaker 2 (00:03):
Hey everybody, Robert Evans here, and I wanted to let
you know this is a compilation episode. So every episode
of the week that just happened is here in one
convenient and with somewhat less ads package for you to
listen to in a long stretch if you want. If
you've been listening to the episodes every day this week,
there's going to be nothing new here for you, but
you can make your own decisions.

Speaker 3 (00:26):
Hello, and welcome to it could happen here a podcast
about things falling apart and how we try to put
them back together again. I'm your guest host, Margaret Kiljoy,
and with me this week is one of your regular hosts. Here,
higare Hello, this week is one of those putting things
back together episodes. The premise of this episode is simple.

(00:46):
Let's say you're newly radicalized. Maybe you are participant in
the occupations and now the school year is over, or
you got expelled and you're wondering what the next steps are.
This won't be an it's all in one guide to
how to become an activist, but it's sort of a
sketch of one. It's also not quite a complete Summer
twenty twenty four guide to Protests, but there's some of

(01:08):
that in here too. It's a Magpie's guide to getting
started in activism. I want to start with my own
biases upfront because it's going to inform everything that I
have to say about all of this. I'm an anarchist.
It's also been decades since I've broke into the movement.
I've been doing this stuff since two thousand and two,
when I dropped out of college to join the ultra

(01:30):
globalization movement. So I have biases towards things like dropping
out of college because it worked for me, and I
have You know, a lot of my experience isn't recent,
at least my direct experience personally, but I've been watching
people come into the movement for a very long time.
I also have biases against authoritarian organizing and electoral organizing,

(01:51):
and biases towards direct action and autonomy as models for
radical social change. I believe this is how you build
a freer and better world by practicing freedom along the way.
But you can adapt this to suit your own interests.
That's not to say I have any interest in guiding
people towards specific paths, specific actions, specific issues, and movements

(02:13):
exactly the opposite. This is my attempt to kind of
give a the big picture view of how one might
get involved right now. I don't know if you knew this, Gaar,
the world's kind of in trouble.

Speaker 4 (02:27):
I have heard this before. I have heard this said.

Speaker 3 (02:30):
Yeah, do you ever like think about how your job
is to be a professional chicken little?

Speaker 5 (02:35):
Yeah?

Speaker 4 (02:35):
Sometimes I guess so. Yeah, I mean I'm definitely in
the dredges trying to find what horrible things are always happening.

Speaker 3 (02:42):
Certainly, yeah, I would say, even though the world is
always in serious trouble, it's like extra in serious trouble
right now, and we are in desperate need of people
who dedicate their time, whether part of it or all
of it, to trying to stop the terrible things that
are happening and trying to build beautiful things and beautiful alternatives.

(03:03):
So how do you get started? I want you to
think about a couple different things that are separate from
each other. I want you to think about This isn't
necessarily you gare, although you could if you want, sure,
why not?

Speaker 5 (03:13):
Yeah? What do you care about?

Speaker 3 (03:15):
Like? What issues are specifically important to you? It's the
first thing to think about. The second is what do
you want to do about it? And if you have
a sense of that, and like also kind of how
far you're willing to go. If you get a sense
of those things before you throw yourself into the fight,
you're going to start off strong. Those things can change,

(03:36):
they will change over time, but getting a sense of
those ahead of time is a good way to figure
out which door you want to go in, and then
also to avoid some of the dangers that lie on
the other side of any given door. What do you
care about? What movements and projects speak loudest to you?
A ton of causes are interconnected, of course, right the

(03:57):
fight for Palestinian liberation is not at its core separate
project than the fight against policing in the United States,
for example, the rise of a global police state is
everyone's problem, and so is the US and Zionist imperial project.
Causes are interconnected, but you can rarely start by trying
to fix everything. Usually got to pick somewhere to start working.

(04:18):
You don't climb a mountain by just willing yourself to
the top. You climb it by picking a place and
then starting to climb it. Maybe you're concerned about the
police state or surveillance, or the erosion of rights or
Palestinian liberation, or fighting for prisoners in the US to
still have access to books, or for LGBT rights, or
for migrants at the border, or for the protection of

(04:39):
the remaining national ecosystems and stopping the expansion of fossil
fuel infrastructure. Maybe you're concerned about something hyper local, like
the destruction of a local park or the sweeping of
homeless encampments. Maybe it's something a bit broader and more abstract,
like you want to get involved in explaining the need
for police abolition, but there's something, there's some that you

(05:00):
want to change. As a place to start, the second
question is what do you want to do. There's multiple
questions embedded in this. There's how far are you willing
to go? We'll talk more of that later, more immediately,
what is your skill set or what skill sets do
you wish you had? Like a lot of times I'll
just be like, oh, hey, what are you good at?
And now I'll go do that. But sometimes like what

(05:20):
you're good at isn't what you want to be doing.
And it's also totally okay to be like, well, what
do I want to be good at, Like what do
I want to be trying to focus on what do
you have to offer the revolution or what do you
wish you had to offer. Are you in med school
or have other first aid or medical experience, Maybe you
want to plug in with your local street medics. Are
you studying law? Movement lawyers need paralegal help, and there

(05:42):
are groups that use volunteers to get people out of
jail or through difficult court cases. If graphic design is
your passion, this is me referencing a meme from a
million years ago and totally winning people over. Every group
that exists needs help with their flyers or Instagram slideshows.

Speaker 5 (06:00):
Or whatever the fuck.

Speaker 4 (06:01):
That is certainly the case.

Speaker 3 (06:02):
Yeah, No, it's it's funny too, right, because it's like
it's one of those things where if you do graphic design,
you sort of think like, oh, everyone sort of does
this or whatever, right, And then I've been part of
groups where people are like, no one knows how to
do this at all, and everything is that we make
as garbage, you know.

Speaker 4 (06:19):
Yeah, although there is actually a careful needle to thread
in this vein, because if you've had enough experience, you
can kind of figure out what type of action it's
gonna be based on how well designed and the flyer is.

Speaker 3 (06:35):
Yeah, and which way. If it's kind of corporate well designed,
it's like gonna tie into electoral politics and be boring.
But if it's hip and well designed, it's a riot.

Speaker 5 (06:45):
Well.

Speaker 4 (06:46):
Sometimes there's sometimes there's some like very like well designed
flyers that are not like very electoral, but they're like, okay,
this will be a marge, will be some speeches, we'll
kind of walk around a little bit, because it's like
a very well potad flyer versus when you have like
a white background of big block attacks, maybe one poorly
cropped picture, you're like, okay, this is obviously a riot flyer.

Speaker 5 (07:09):
Yeah, okay, okay.

Speaker 4 (07:10):
It takes a degree of subtlety to get the instincttional
difference when you're looking at a collection of flyers that
are going out.

Speaker 6 (07:19):
No.

Speaker 4 (07:19):
See.

Speaker 3 (07:19):
This is interesting to me because in like about fifteen
years ago, the like the people throwing the best riots
were like a bunch of graphic designers, and so it
was the specific anymore. Yeah, okay, okay, Well you know,
and actually, as a good graphic designer knows the language

(07:41):
that they are speaking with and that is what they're communicating,
So that might be what you want to do is
get involved in making the flyers. If you spend all
day on Twitter. A lot of activist groups can't find
someone to run their social media, or they have people
who run it very badly. Sometimes being an extrovert is
a superpower. Building strong movements means building strong communities, and

(08:03):
every meeting and party needs someone willing to introduce themselves
to the new people and help them figure out where
to go. The best activist meetings I've ever been to
have like someone who's there to sit next to new
people and explain what's going on. Also, if you can
plan a party, you can plan a benefit show to
raise money for bail funds. There's kind of this like
like whenever I talk about this, like oh, everyone has

(08:25):
their place, and people are like, why don't I'm a
fucking bookkeeper, and I'm like, oh my god, we need you,
or like, you know, all kinds of different skill sets
that people like don't think apply actually do project manager. Yeah,
we're we're not all instinctively good at that, you know.
And so the quickest way to sum this part of
it up is you think about what's wrong, and you

(08:46):
think about what you're good at, and then you get
together with other people and apply what you're good at
to stopping what's wrong. That is the like one sentence
version of how to start getting involved in making the
world better. But the last part of it that I
I want the question of it beforehand is risk analysis.
It is very easy to get swept up in the

(09:08):
moment and go beyond your comfort zone in terms of
risk in a lot of different environments. The more you
have sorted out ahead of time about what kinds of
actions you're comfortable with strategically, morally, and personally, the easier
it is to stick to your decisions when things get hard.
For example, you might tell yourself I will risk arrest,

(09:30):
but I will not get arrested on purpose because I
have a massage license I don't want to lose. Or
I have kids at home, or I'm undocumented, or I
don't like the idea of jail. Whatever your reason is,
there's plenty of reasons to make that decision. You might
be willing to risk arrest, like be in a hectic riot,
but you're not willing to lock your neck to a bulldozer.
So when you go to the planning meeting for the

(09:51):
lock your neck to a bulldozer action and you're trying
to figure out who wants to lock their neck to
the bulldozer. You've already made up your mind, and you're
less likely to kind of pressure your self into volunteering.

Speaker 4 (10:02):
Or feel pressured by others.

Speaker 3 (10:03):
Yeah, I'm imagining the positive version. Well, okay, because it's
very rarely someone's like, hey, gear been a while since
you locked your neck to anything, and it's usually more like, man,
it just sure would be good if someone was bold
and noble enough to just step up right now and

(10:24):
then yeah, yeah, I mean I've organized some of my
friends arrests before, and it's it's not always. That's not
always the strategy that people want to be doing anyway.
I'm just using this as an example, like what kind
of Earth first style thing? If you know what your
risk models are, you can make better decisions. Maybe you're
fine with a spirited march, but as soon as windows

(10:46):
start getting broken, you're like, you know, I want to leave.
That's gonna not be my scene. You know, I'm not
mad that the people did it, but it's not what
I am willing to get arrested in response to it's
also important to know your risk levels, which kind of
course shift because there are predators in the ranks of
direct action activists. I don't know if you knew this,

(11:08):
gre there's a shadowy, unaccountable group that tries to get
people to break laws. They're called the FEDS. They're called
the FBI. They have a history going back decades and
then trapping people by coming up with bomb plots or
ur some plots or whatever. And we're not going to
go into this in depth in this episode, but if
you want to do more research, people should look up.
They should read about co intel pro it's an acronym,

(11:29):
or read about the case of Eric McDavid, or read
about how the FBI set up Muslim Americans in the
wake of nine to eleven. But another thing you should
go into all this knowing is that that doesn't mean
that everyone who wants to do those kinds of actions
is working with the FEDS.

Speaker 4 (11:46):
Yeah, and you shouldn't go around accusing everyone you don't
like of possibly being a secret and federal agent.

Speaker 3 (11:52):
Because you know who likes accusing people of being federal agents. Yeah,
And also our sponsors they don't they don't they're all great.
They might, they might, I don't know. I can't really
speak to them, but here they are, they can speak
to you, and we're back. That is a thing that

(12:20):
is absolutely worth anyone who's getting involved in activism, especially
direct action activism, including above grounds of this obedient style action.
It is really worth understanding the ways in which federal
oppression works, and how federal oppression works often by the
fear of federal oppression and getting people to spread paranoia.
And so as a general rule, the way that I've

(12:43):
always heard it talked about is that it's like you
never want to be like, hey, I think that guy's
a fed. Instead you're like, hey, guy, that kind of
behavior is disruptive and leads towards bad things, you know,
Like yeah.

Speaker 4 (12:58):
And I think I even have some hesitation to just
be like you should just just go google co intel
pro and learn all about it, because I feel like
that can also lead to someone kind of falling down
like some conspiracy brained rabbit holes, and like I've gotten
the best information by just talking to older people who've
like been in the movement for a while, and like

(13:20):
just like if someone has like over ten years of experience,
and they're like, you can learn a lot about what
has happened before through just like actual, like in person conversations.
And I found that to be much more useful than
just like going down like a Google rabbit hole, because
that can just kind of lead to I think slightly
even slightly more like paranoid thinking or just it just
becomes like less applicable than like, Hey, you have like

(13:42):
a friend of a friend who's like done this for
a while, and you just ask, hey, like what if
what do you know about this sort of thing? Now
you're right, what are your experiences of kind of of
facing like repression in the past. The true chances are
some of them will probably know people who've either turned
out to be like informants, has started informing, or we're

(14:03):
bad actors from the from the get go, like it's
it does, it does happen. And there's even been case
it's not even just stuff from ten fifteen years ago.
There's a lot of that stuff post twenty twenty. Some
really some stuff in h in Chicago, some stuff in
Colorado Springs have gotten decent news coverage. I think you
can also you can look to articles specifically of the
Colorado Springs infiltration that that that the FBI was running

(14:26):
around twenty twenty. I think that's a really useful case
study for a more recent version as opposed to like
the green scare stuff from at this point like twenty
years ago.

Speaker 3 (14:35):
No, No, it's true, and there's a good there's actually
a good podcast series where I liked it called Alphabet Boys.
The first season is about that case. No, that's a
good point that you that random internet search is not
the way to get this kind of information, this information
like you'll Honestly, it's kind of funny. I would trust
a random zine in a radical bookstore far more than

(14:55):
I would trust a Google search result, agreed, which is
not true for everything like healthcare. Well, you're gonna get
shit answers no.

Speaker 5 (15:05):
Matter what if you do that.

Speaker 3 (15:06):
Yes, yes, the internet is gonna tell you have cancer,
and the zine's going to tell you that tea tree
oil will fix it.

Speaker 5 (15:12):
Yes, there we go.

Speaker 7 (15:14):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (15:15):
Yeah, No, that is actually a very good point, and
it is the kind of thing that Yeah, the longer
you're involved, the more you're just like, oh, yeah, the
you know my ex who's a snitch that sucks? Yeah,
you know Anyway, now you have what you care about,
what your skills are, and your risk analysis, it's time
to get started. How there's two basic ways, and they're

(15:37):
not really a dichotomy, but you can plug into something
that exists and you can start something of your own,
and both are valid and both have advantages and disadvantages.
There are structures and movements that are already in place
that are desperate for your help. There's a catch. Many,
not all, but many of the more reasonable groups are

(15:58):
challenging to break into. Very few groups have a truly
open door policy, and those that do honestly sometimes or suspect. Yeah,
some of those people are just trying to use you.
They're trying to suck you into a political political cult
or use your energy and burn you out for some
vaguely progressive politician or activist cause. So either way, you're

(16:22):
going to need to exercise some common sense and do
some reading and research about what you're getting into. The
best publicly accessible groups and movements are the ones that
are organized from the bottom up, because the participants themselves
have a say in what's happening. There is less ability
to be sucked into a cult and used. That's not
to say it's impossible, and there are such things as
decentralized cults that don't do any you.

Speaker 4 (16:44):
Know, many such cases.

Speaker 3 (16:46):
Yeah, but I know it's easy and convenient to join
a group that'll just tell you what to do. It's
very nice to imagine that there's benevolent people who will
just do the hard part of making decisions and you
can just show up and clock in and listen to
what they have to say and make the world better place.
This is rarely, if ever the case. I can't point
to examples of it being the case. Movements that maintain

(17:09):
everyone's autonomy instead, I think are what are interesting, and
they often do it by not being a group at all,
just a movement. The uprisings of twenty twenty, I think
are a brilliant example of this. There's not the group
that organized, no, but.

Speaker 4 (17:26):
There's a lot of smaller, smaller groups, whether that be
some like informal organizations, formal organizations, or just like groups
of friends that it's made up of a whole bunch
of these smaller groups. And I think a lot of
times the best case scenario in many cases is if
you have like a friend or too because you shouldn't
really show it to things alone, I would say, but

(17:47):
if you have a friend or two, go with the
friender too. Just like just go to things. And if
you go to enough things and people see you, you
can chat with people, you can start learning more about
kind of what the different mechanisms in each different city,
each each even't seen how how they operate. It's it's
it's it's kind of silly just to be like, no,
you just like have to like show up. But like
that is kind of a lot of how it works.

(18:08):
You'll maybe hear about a Instagram account that posts flyers
for semi weekly like picnics organized by some of these
same people, and then you can go to events like
that and learn to like socialize. And it really just
does require a degree of just showing up. And you
shouldn't go by yourself. You should if you you should
ideally have a friend or two that you that is

(18:30):
that they would be okay going with you. But then
you'll you'll find people to connect with and you'll kind
of maybe find a different group of people that you
want to start hanging out with more. And I think
in general that's kind of how the best case scenario works,
as opposed to like joining like a big above ground
organization which is just going to use your body as
a tool to get arrested as or just treat you
as disposable or in other cases just be actually kind

(18:51):
of like abuse of.

Speaker 3 (18:52):
I agree with that, and that's some of that we're
going to get into also. But yeah, no, and I
will say overall, absolutely it is better to do those
things with friends. I didn't I started going to things alone.
That has something to do with my temperament, and that
has something to do with my social standing when I
was in college and decided to get involved in the movement.

(19:14):
But overall, that is the best practice. But if you're
listening to this and you're like, I don't have friends
I can go do this stuff with, there are more
risks involved, and you're also kind of stuck. You're going
to go to a lot of things where no one
will talk to you, yeah, you know, and you can't
necessarily expect that people talk to you immediately or like,

(19:36):
and you're going to have to be a little bit
more self motivated.

Speaker 4 (19:39):
Yeah, And if you're going to a zine fair, you
can chow some people at like the tables when you're
looking for a zine. It's like it's, yeah, now everyone's
going to want to get into a deep personal conversation
with a stranger they met at an event like this
because it also has like security risks. But yeah, I
mean it's it's going to require a little bit of
uncomfortable social interactions, which for yeah, for someone like you

(20:00):
or me who did go to a lot of these
things just by ourselves, you know, it just it just
kind of takes more time.

Speaker 3 (20:06):
No, totally. And I think actually ze fairs and things
like that and anarchist book fairs and all that are
like really good examples of places that are publicly facing
that are designed for people to interact with each other.
And also, like one of the main pieces of advice
that we we have is be brave, right, and we
talk about that in terms of like street actions, but like, yeah, okay,

(20:29):
also social anxiety exactly exactly, because how much of so
social anxiety will become like an inhibiting factor similar to
like the state not saying these things are equal, but
they can both like inhibit you from doing things, and
it's both you can you can kind of approach it
via similar means of trying to like overcome this thing
that is limiting your autonomy. Yeah, no, totally. So to

(20:53):
go back to if you're joining an existing group, some
groups maintain everyone's autonomy by being struck horizontally. Some groups
that exist as a structure will do it by being
structured horizontally. If you found yourself for go ahead, claim
to be structured horizontally as well. No, it's true, but
like like if you join a local Earth First chapter,
you're going to find there's absolutely informal hierarchies that exist

(21:16):
within these things, and they're like worth being aware of.
But the decision about who's going to lock their neck
to the bulldozer is going to involve everyone who might
lock their neck to the bulldozer.

Speaker 4 (21:26):
Yeah, it's not the same as like the DSA or
the PSL, Like it's it's going to be a very
different organizational structure.

Speaker 3 (21:35):
Yeah exactly, And so you know you want to be
part of the decision making about locking your neck to
a bulldozer because it's your neck on the line. That's
my best joke in the whole script. I'm sorry, we'll
just move past it quickly. Thanks. Plugging into an existing

(22:01):
project is often a good first step. What I did personally.
I started showing up to the meetings of this radical
media project, Indie Media. I had film skills, and soon
enough I found myself in the film collective. I spent
a year or two bouncing around from demonstration to demonstration,
coordinating with all the radical videographers to collect everyone's footage
and edit together news videos about what had happened, while

(22:23):
we collectively fostered a culture of like respectful riot videography.

Speaker 4 (22:27):
I did not realize we had that similar background.

Speaker 3 (22:30):
Oh yeah, no, that it's interesting because I don't. I
don't do that stuff anymore. But that was like my
thing for a long time.

Speaker 4 (22:38):
Me either, actually, But no, I did not realize we
had we had that, we had that overlap.

Speaker 3 (22:43):
Yeah, no, and it was It was great and it
was fun and we you know, we taught how to
not film people's faces. We coordinated runners where in order
to get footage out before the cops could get it.
We'd make sure everyone, you know, someone, every videographer had
someone next to them, like ready to run out of
the situation.

Speaker 4 (23:03):
Take this SD card and run yep, exactly.

Speaker 3 (23:06):
And I started off by joining an existing group that
was doing this, but within a few months I was
doing it independently and coordinating with different groups that came
together at all these different summit protests because I was
a known entity to people. You know, it was fun.
I dropped out of school where I've been studying film
and photography, and even before I would have graduated, a

(23:27):
film I had edited sold out a movie theater in Portland.
We didn't have YouTube, so we organized in person.

Speaker 4 (23:32):
Kate, that makes sense, Yeah, yeah.

Speaker 3 (23:34):
Yeah yeah. When when we shut the city down on
like March twentieth or whatever, twenty two thousand and three
for to try and stop the Iraq war, I like
didn't sleep and just edited everyone's film footage together and
made a like thirty minute documentary about the day of
protest and sold out a movie theater. And I was like, damn,

(23:57):
this was way better for my career than going to
fuck it stay it's school. I mean, like, my name
isn't on it, but that like didn't matter to me. Sure,
And then everyone the local news media got really mad
because I didn't include the stuff that could have been
used in people's court cases, like the time that people
attack cops on the bridge, because I was like, nope,
that's too recent. We don't know what's happening there anyway,

(24:20):
And getting into certain types of groups is kind of
like applying for a shitty job. A job that'll take
you without reference is going to treat you like shit.
But jobs that are worth having require you to somehow
have already been doing the job before you got hired,
and once people know who you are, it's easier to
find folks who work with And I think gear Suggestions
is like the main way you go about that is
you don't necessarily show up to organize. You just show

(24:43):
up to participate. You show up to talks, you show
up to radical bookstores and public events and zine fairs
and protests and whatever interests you you know. And I
would say that if you're going to actions and you're new,
remember to be both brave and cautious. If you tend
towards recklessness and being so wept into things, maybe make
sure you take less of a frontline's role until you

(25:03):
get your legs underneath you. But it really is okay
to be brave. I think we're asked by the times
we live in to be brave, and sometimes we're gonna
have to step outside of our comfort zone. We should
just always look to make sure it's us encouraging us
to step outside of our comfort zone instead of political
actors whatever political ideology they call themselves.

Speaker 4 (25:22):
And also if you can another collective that people you know,
these are like usually like medic collectives will maybe maybe
we'll have like a radical media collective and another another
one will be a jail support collective is very common
a lot of cities, and not even if you don't
want to take part in that, if you can at
least get in touch with them to fill out a
jail support form before going to things. That will also

(25:43):
be useful in case you do end up getting arrested,
so people can actually find you in the system and
help you get out of get out. Just another quick tip,
I suppose.

Speaker 3 (25:53):
Yeah, And if you want more quick tips, I've got
some for you right now and we're back. Don't do
anything that you just got told by voices that aren't
me or there.

Speaker 4 (26:13):
They were trying to saihap you it is it is
the yeah yeah.

Speaker 3 (26:18):
Another way that you might get involved in something is
you Some groups are semi open where you can contact
them and express interest and they might do some basic
screening to make sure you're not like a Nazi infiltrator
or whatever. I'm in the process right now of doing
that with clinic escorting. It's like funny because I haven't
had to like prove myself to any group in a
long time, right because I'm like I've been around forever.
The clinic escorting group, it's like, we don't fucking know

(26:39):
who you are, like, and I'm like, yeah, that's fair,
give me, yeah, no, absolutely. I live in a place
is not where abortion is not particularly popular with the
right wing, and so I submitted my name and social
media accounts to the to the abortion clinic escorting place,
and then we'll go to a training at some point
soon for folks living in southern California or willing to

(27:01):
go there. For example, there are groups that do border
solidarity working with refugees to make sure they're fed in house.
If you listen to this podcast, you've heard James talking
about this, and this is the first episode you've listened to,
in which case, go back and listen to James talking
about border solidarity work. If you want to show up
and distribute food and water, track border patrol activity, build shelters,
do first DAID, all of that. Feel like you're part

(27:22):
of something because you are and are like saving people's
lives directly, that's something you can likely get involved with,
but it's not something you just show up at. There
are a few groups doing that work, any of whom
you can reach out to and express interest. There's border Kindness,
there's Borderlands Relief Collective and Al Ultra Lado, and there's
other groups like this in different areas. But these are

(27:43):
the examples where I asked James being like, Hey, how
do I explain the following concept? In general, you want
to look for groups. If you're looking for groups, you
want to look for groups that are grassroots and non authoritarian.
You want to watch out for electoral campaigns, and you
want to watch out for nonprofits. This is not to
say that the people doing these things are necessarily bad.

(28:05):
There are local political campaigns that matter, and there are
nonprofits that do good work. Some of the best political
work I ever did was two years out a nonprofit, honestly,
but I got I was with one of the good ones.
And structurally those systems, even the good ones, are set
up to take advantage of people's energy and then like
kind of profit off of it, right, and to accomplish

(28:28):
goals that are often tangential to or even counter to
the goals that they claim. For example, both politicians and
nonprofits live off of donations. These donations are easy for
them to get when those groups are seen as necessary,
so a nonprofit has a financial interest in not winning.
Some nonprofits manage to maintain their focus and make themselves

(28:51):
work to make themselves obsolete, but frankly those are the minority.
You also want to look out for groups that are
front groups for thor tearing. Groups attached to communist political
parties you mentioned earlier, like the PSL the Party for
Socialism and Liberation. Generally speaking, these groups will go to
protests and run events, primarily as a way to recruit

(29:12):
people into a hierarchical structure. These groups are often trying
to control broader movements that they're involved in. They'll tell
people how they can and can't protest, and they're trying
to essentially own movements that were built by others. So
those are things to be careful around. You can also

(29:33):
just not worry about any of that stuff and start
something yourself. It is not the easy mode to get
into the movement by starting your own projects. We're going
to talk about afinity groups later. Actually it was the
thing that you kind of started to bring up. But
it is very rewarding to start your own projects. It's
like freelancing instead of looking for a job. There's no
gatekeepers to cross, and the only person who's trying to

(29:53):
take advantage of you is you. If you want to
never not be working another day in your life, you
can freelance or start your own political project. It'll be
what you think about every hour you're alive. In essence,
the idea here is to say, okay, what's wrong and
what are we willing to do about it, and then

(30:13):
get together with your friends and start doing something about it.
This can look like anything.

Speaker 8 (30:19):
You could start.

Speaker 3 (30:20):
A mutual aid group, a radical bookstore, an anti fascist
gym to trained to defend yourself from fascists, illegal HRT
distribution in band States, a direct action abortion collective, a
zine distributor that goes to shows and parties with free
literature about anarchism. A podcast about how things fall apart
and how to put them back together again. A click
of saboteurs who attack billboards, a group that draws attention

(30:40):
to international movement prisoners, and support them like you can
do anything. And that's one of the things that people.
Our society is designed to tell us that we can't
just do anything we want. There's obviously things that if
we do, we'll get in trouble eventually.

Speaker 4 (30:55):
But like you know, okay, like like if you make
a podcast that's too good, Yeah, they will, they will
turn on you like Jesus, Yeah exactly. Or if you
go around, you know, wanting to destroy construction equipment.

Speaker 3 (31:10):
Right, not usually legal. I'm not a lawyer. I can't
tell you whether or not any given bulldozer is illegal
to destroy. That is the kind of research you might
have to do on your own. The difference between start
something and enjoining something is often blurry. For example, you
can unionize your workplace. You probably should, but you might

(31:30):
want to do that in the context of an existing
union like the Industrial Workers of the World or whatever
union makes the most sense where the writer's field of America,
Yeah exactly. If you have a podcast, but how the
world's falling apart?

Speaker 5 (31:41):
Yeah, yeah exactly.

Speaker 3 (31:44):
If you're going to start something above ground, it's worth
looking around and making sure that the need isn't already
being met by someone else.

Speaker 9 (31:49):
Already.

Speaker 3 (31:50):
Sometimes it's better to figure out how to help an
existing bail fund rather than start another. But also sometimes
it is better to start another, like it's harder for
the police tarrade, for example, which didn't used to be
an issue when you start bail funds, but is now
an issue, which is worth pointing out that like there's
no true safety, you know, like when we talk about

(32:12):
risk analysis, like running a bail fund is entirely legal
and is the kind of thing that often is done
by the people who care about a movement and are
like not frontlines people.

Speaker 4 (32:27):
Yeah, aren't wanting to do felonies in downtown right Portland
or whatever.

Speaker 3 (32:32):
Yeah, the more successful a movement is the broader. The
state repression will reach out to the fringes, not the fringe.
I mean, the bail fund isn't the fringe, but the
less privery. The people who aren't committing the felon felonies. Yeah,
are going to get tagged with felonies anyway, because the
state being repressive is the reason we're fighting it.

Speaker 4 (32:53):
They will still get their houses rated. And it's the
same same thing ad demos. You don't need to be
the one breaking windows for the least to tackle you, Like,
at a certain point, it actually doesn't. It seems to
matter very little. I mean, if things get to trial,
then things you know will maybe matter a bit more.
But in like how police display the power of the state,

(33:14):
Like out in the open world, it really doesn't matter
if you're holding a sign or you're holding a hammer
when you're getting tackled from behind by a big man
with a gun.

Speaker 3 (33:24):
Yeah, totally, which is why it's like kind of worth.
I mean that's like almost like what the the answer
to that is like solidarity, and by recognizing that to
a certain degree, if you were at a protest and
people are breaking windows and it's like, okay, well now
we're all in danger together. And if that is a
danger beyond what you particularly feel like exposing yourself to,

(33:46):
that is probably the time to depart. Another pitfall to
avoid if you're starting your own thing. Any group that
involves money will at some point have someone from that
group steal the money.

Speaker 4 (34:00):
Including bail funds. Unfortunately, it does, It does happen, and
it sucks.

Speaker 6 (34:05):
Yeah.

Speaker 3 (34:06):
I have lost count of the number of times someone
who was an organizer has stolen all of the money
from this or that thing, and that's because capitalism puts
people in absolutely weird and terrible positions. Right, It's still
not okay for people to steal the bail fund, and
we should stop them. But often the people who steal

(34:28):
the stuff, if they're the organizers, they don't even necessarily
conceptualize what they did as stealing. They're like, oh, I'm
gonna pay that back. I don't think anyone needs it
right now. I just need it for rent.

Speaker 4 (34:38):
In order for the bail fund to continue, I have
to have stable housing. So we need to use these
two thousand dollars right now, and.

Speaker 3 (34:43):
Yeah, right without checking with the rest of the group,
and like, you know, like, and so if there's money involved,
you should set up some best practices around multiple eyes
on the money at any given point and making sure
that it's accountable to the broader group. One organizing model
that is worth considering is the affinity group. This is

(35:06):
basically you and some of your closest friends that you
feel like doing safe with actions with. Whatever the scale
of actions, you get together with your friends.

Speaker 4 (35:12):
Or people you're not even necessarily like social friends with,
but people you feel comfortable working with. Because there sometimes
is a distinction like you said, sometimes you have a
lot of close friends you don't want in your affinity group,
and sometimes there's people in your affinity group that you
may not really want to hang out with like every
week totally, but they're good to work with. Now, that's
a really good point. It's about trust rather than like

(35:36):
getting along with sometimes. You know, Yeah, it might function
better if you know you don't all hate each other, ah,
have some affinity. Yeah, yes, you know, but perhaps you
have a shared affinity within the group.

Speaker 5 (35:49):
Ideally.

Speaker 3 (35:50):
Yeah, it is. If you're in a riot, whether by
choice or by accident, you are safer and you can
feel more comfortable if you are there with two or
seven of your closest and most trustworthy friends or frenemies.
These are the people who are the most likely to
de arrest you. These are the people who are there
to notice if you are caught and will organize your bail.

(36:12):
These are the people who will be in direct You'll
be in direct communication with during the protest, so you
can coordinate your actions together.

Speaker 4 (36:18):
It's figure out how you want to get into the
area get out of the area.

Speaker 3 (36:22):
Yeah, And so that's like a going alone is sort
of expert mode and so you should take fewer risks
if you go alone until you are good, you know,
and most people do not prefer and do not are
not better off going to protest alone. And then the

(36:42):
final thing kind of tying together the existing groups versus
whatever else existing protests movements EBB and flow protests are contagious,
especially when they're rowdy and they show that they take
themselves seriously enough to not just go along with whatever
professional protest managers tell them to do, and take them
seriously enough to resist the police and authorities. It's more

(37:04):
or less impossible to know which protests like sparks will
catch a bigger fire. It is good and useful to
cast sparks and see what catches, or to notice when
something is starting to spread and to help it spread.

Speaker 4 (37:16):
Like what happened a few weeks ago with the campus stuff,
right exactly, one or two places really start popping off
and you're like, hey, I know some people in college
who are in whatever town I'm in. Maybe we can
figure something out.

Speaker 3 (37:29):
Yeah, and so's if that was your involvement. And you're like, oh,
that's not currently happening where I am anymore. What do
I do next? Things like that will happen again, and
you can also make things like that happen. Most of
the time they will not catch. However, sometimes they do,
and that is like kind of our job in a

(37:49):
lot of ways, is to organize things and try things
and see what catches. I'm curious your take. There are
two political conventions happening this year. The Republican National Convention
been from July fifteenth to eighteenth, twenty twenty four in Milwaukee,
and then in August nineteenth to twenty second in Chicago
is the Democratic National Convention. They're basically always protests at

(38:11):
these conventions to me, and I'm a little bit out
of touch with it. There's going to be more this year, Yeah,
that's what I'm thinking. There certainly will, I think, especially
at the DNC. I don't have much to say on
this at this point besides read up on the previous
ones that have happened. You can go all the way
back to sixty eight if you want to read about
Chicago and the DNC, but also like the RNC protests

(38:35):
from the Iraq War era, I think would be verly
useful to look at if you want to go back
to like two thousand and eight and see how those
protests were. I would just recommend reading up on it.
I don't really have much else to say on those
in the moment.

Speaker 4 (38:47):
They're too far out totally to forecast. Yeah, and I yeah,
that's kind of all I'll say at the moment.

Speaker 5 (38:57):
These will become a recurring.

Speaker 4 (38:59):
Top on this podcast the next few months.

Speaker 3 (39:02):
So yeah, And so keep track of what's happening, and
get ready to go to what you feel comfortable with,
and don't be afraid to be brave, but don't let
anyone trick you into doing stuff that you're not comfortable with.
But we need you. We're glad you're here.

Speaker 4 (39:22):
Yeah, don't be so down that the school year is
over and these campus protests only had a few weeks
to live. I know there were certainly people who were
really hoping that after we saw you know, what happened
during April and May, that maybe this would you know,
trigger things happening off campus around the summer.

Speaker 5 (39:40):
And maybe they still will.

Speaker 4 (39:42):
And at the very least, we have a lot of
young people listener possibly included, who like experienced their first
example of like actual state violence like on them, and
that could be a very radicalizing experience. So yeah, don't
don't be so down that maybe your occupation didn't go
as well as you wanted to. Maybe you're protested, and
but I think there's a lot of lessons to learn

(40:04):
from what happened the past month, and they will become applicable,
possibly this summer, possibly two years from now, who knows.
Like it's hard to say, but yeah, it's Whenever you
get that first hint of tear gas, you kind of
become a different person in my opinion, So congratulations to
everyone who did that. Hopefully didn't get arrested, and if
you did, hopefully you have a jail support crew that

(40:25):
is helping you out.

Speaker 3 (40:27):
The other thing that I think that people never really
recover from isn't the right word. The first time you
see the police retreat totally, you recognize that this thing
you have been taught is completely unassailable. The reason they're
building cop cities is they know they are assailable and
they want to be less. So well, listen to this podcast,

(40:49):
and that's the only place you'll ever find anything useful.
That's the fine.

Speaker 5 (40:53):
I mean, I wouldn't I wouldn't say that.

Speaker 4 (40:54):
Yeah, I know, but there are other podcasts that there's
a lot of books, because there's a lot of zines,
there's a lot of sketchy noblog sites which may sometimes
have misinformation and sometimes have good information yay. And you
could certainly certainly check out Margaret. I've heard that you
yourself had a few other podcasts what I do well

(41:16):
if you want to hear a lot of the history
around some of the stuff we talked about, including like
the co Intel pro stuff. For example, I run a
podcast called Cool People Who Did Cool Stuff on this
very network, cool Zone Media, and you can listen to
it every Monday and Wednesday. I just finished a very long,
but I swear entertaining series of episodes about the Russian

(41:36):
Revolution in the Civil War. I've did an episode about
the Burglars for Peace who exposed co Intel pro by
robbing an FBI office in the middle of the night
in the early seventies, and all kinds of other stories,
So you can listen to that, or if you want
to know more about the end of the world. I
help run a podcast called Live Like the World Is Dying,

(41:58):
comes out every Friday, and that one is Prepper Butt Community. Yep,
there were go And I have a book coming out.
It comes out of September. It's called The Sapling Cage
and it's going to be kickstarted in June, and if
you go to Kickstarter you can sign up for announcements
about that. And it is the best book I've ever written,
so you all should read it. Very excited to see

(42:18):
that that does it for us, that it could happen here.
We will probably see you out there.

Speaker 10 (42:23):
Good luck.

Speaker 6 (42:37):
Welcome to Could Happen Here, the only sue where things happen.
I'm Ani Siege of Future Channel Antraism and I'm joined
by Garrison Clo Hello.

Speaker 7 (42:48):
Nice.

Speaker 6 (42:49):
Recently I've been researching and writing on education and anarchista Honestly,
it's one of my favorite topics to look into, and
it's one of the topics I think I'm most passionate about.

Speaker 4 (43:01):
Yeah, that's definitely a hot topic within this political field.
There's a large, large variety of opinions.

Speaker 6 (43:08):
One might say for sure, for sure, for sure, I
mean consciousness does form the basis of revolution, and there's
a long history of anarchist struggle around education, whether it
be in terms of critiquing US role in social control
and socialization, or discussing news liberation, or talking about the
inequalities of the current education system, or the influenza statist

(43:30):
capitalists and religious ideologies, or the whole discussion around sex education.
These are all things that anarchists have looked into discussed,
and so it's to wrestle with.

Speaker 11 (43:43):
No.

Speaker 4 (43:44):
It's interesting because anarchists have, like I believe, the large
number of people who are like, very like militantly like
anti school but also have a really high number of
people who become teachers. So it's always kind of interesting
when you're ever at like an anarchist gathering, you have
half the people are like school teachers, the other half
are like destroy the schools, which is always just a

(44:06):
little bit amusing.

Speaker 6 (44:08):
Yeah, for sure, for sure. So it's really I think
people have to deal with that sort of tension. Anarchists
find themselves in those sort of tensions, but then they
also find themselves put themselves in those positions in part
because they see the potential of those positions we you know,
in sort of shape in the future. But I don't
mean to mislead anybody this episode, would it's only tangentially

(44:31):
related to education. Okay, Yeah, So basically in my research
on education, I stumbled upon this article called anarchists of
an Education and early Republican Cuba from eighteen ninety eight
to nineteen twenty five. And also I found some other
works on anarchist Cuba in general and his all thanks
to the scholarship of Kubin Shaffer. And I mean, for

(44:54):
some time now, I've been meaning to dig deeper into
the history of anarchism in Cuba. Dare I say, I
think it's been forgotten, and so I took a dive
into it. I first started with Stephen J. Hersh and
Lucian van der Wald's work in anarchism and syndicalism in
the colonial and post colonial world. And in my research
I also founder work of Sam Dorkoff and Frank Finandez,

(45:17):
both of whom were apparently highly influential in the scholarship,
the historical research and the present understanding of Cuban anarchism.
It's thanks to their research that we know what we know,
bringing all those different things together, all those different sources together.
So here we go, Akivamos, Let's discuss the history of

(45:39):
Cuban anarchism, and our story begins in the early nineteenth century.
You know, the sun on colonial Cuba, casting a long
and heavy shadow across the vibe and streets of Havana.
The gentle salty breezes carried I'm trying a new thing.
I see a facial ext friend. I'm trying I like

(46:00):
Can I like it? I'm trying to said the same,
you know, feel those salty breezes carrying the scent of
tobacco and coffee and sugar cane. But let's not get
too romantic. You know, this was a plantation society where
African slaves remained in chains and toiled in the hot
sun while many of their contemporaries gained their freedom and
plantition known as navigated the web of politics and power.

(46:23):
Cuba was among the last countries to abolish slavery, and
the Cuban aristocracy, being uniquely loyal to the Spanish crown,
was primarily responsible for the persistence to that institution. You know,
they were dedicated to Spain long after much of Latin
America had won their independence, and despite the aristocrat's loyalty,

(46:49):
there were still whispers of liberation and revolution in corners
of the city. In eighteen fifty seven, just nearly two
decades after the French track called pered Joseph Prudin declared
himself an anarchists and a mutualist. The first Proonian Mutualist
Society would be founded in Cuba, marking the early beginnings
of the organized labor movement on the island. A decade later,

(47:12):
in eighteen sixty five, lecturers or readings places where political
ideas we read in cigar factories. They became very widespread
considering the predominance of the tobacco industry, and in the
same year, the first strike threat would occur at a
tobacco works in Havana, leading to successful negotiations for increased wages.

(47:34):
In eighteen sixty six, Havana based artisans would establish the
first evening school for workers, lay in the foundation for
worker based Education. Between eighteen sixty eight and eighteen seventy eight,
conflict would erupt into violence as the sugar mill owner
Carlos Manuel de Sespides and his followers proclaimed independence, beginning

(47:55):
the first of three liberation wars that Cuba fought against Spain.
The first, a horizon led by wealthy planters, would be
known as the Ten Years' War, and it would be
followed by a second uprising, the Little War, from eighteen
seventy nineteighteen eighty, and meanwhile, the Cubas anarchist movement would
look to establish another worker's school and a newspaper. These

(48:16):
efforts were led by cigar makers Enrique roy De Saint
Martin and Enrique Messonier. In Havana, greg San Martin founded
this Center of Instruction and Recreation. Its purpose was to
defend worker organizations and distribute anarchal collectivist literature from Spain.
The doors of the center opened to all Cubans, regardless

(48:36):
of their social position, political leanings, or color differences. Gregson
Martin also took the position of editor at the newspaper
El Obrero, co opting it from the Democratic Republicans and
turned it into an explicitly anarchist newspaper. The anarchists and
tobacco industry were pioneering the emergent labour struggle, bolstered by

(48:59):
the transport of anarchist periodicals from Spain to Cuba and
the transmission of ideas by Spanish immigrant workers. The first
regional centers, clinics, secular schools, mutual aid associations and Free
Association of tobacco workers, typographers, carpenters, day laborers and artisans
were emerging thanks to the influence of Prudon's ideas. While

(49:22):
some in the labor movement were appreciate reformism and collaboration
with capitalist interests, the anarchists stood firm in their rejection
of submission to the feat of capital. In eighteen eighty five,
the Junta Central de r Tisnos was founded to unite
Cuba's workers in federations. In the same year, in the
RecA Massoniir launched the Circulo de Trabajadores or Workers Circle,

(49:44):
which was focused on educational and cultural activities. The Worker's
Circle became the largest labor organization in Cuba in the
late eighteen eighties. It hosted a secular school for five
hundred poor students to challenge Cuba's public and religious schools.
It held rally for groups of workers, and it led
anti nationalist and anti racist education efforts. Anarchists will also

(50:08):
challenge in discrimination in labor and immigration policies. By eighteen
eighty six, Spain finally outlawed slavery, and the Cuban anarchists
would attempt to welcome Afro Cubans into the labor organizations,
with mixed success. And we'll get to that soon. In
eighteen eighty seven, Roixamartin launched Al Productor, a weekly newspaper

(50:30):
that will become a must read for the work in
people of Cuba, and to coordinate it to publication and
the efforts of the various workers groups, workers founded the
Alianza Oprera or Workers' Alliance. With the founder of the
Alliance and the sponsorship of another organization, La Ferracion de
Tabadores de Cuba or FDC or Federation of Cuban Workers,
the first Congresso Obrero de Cuba would be held in Havana.

(50:54):
Majority of the members of the FDC were tobacco workers,
but members of other trades also participated, like tailors and
drivers and bakers and baro makers and dock workers. So
that's a lot of organizations in quick succession. So to summarize,
we have the center of instruction recreation, the newspapers El
Peructor and Obrero, the Junta Centrale de Artisanos or Central

(51:18):
Union of Artisans, El Sercuilo de Travajadores or Workers Circle,
the Alianza Obrera or Workers Alliance, and Laferracion de Travajadores
de Cuba or FDC, which held the first Congresso Obrero
or Workers Congress in Cuba. All these organized efforts would
spark another strike. Remember the first threat, which did not

(51:41):
lead to a strike, took place in eighteen sixty five,
but this time it was different. In July eighteen eighty eight,
the tobacco workers call a strike at the Henry Clay
tobacco factory in Havana. The Workers Circle met and agreed
to begin collecting donations to support the workers out in
the streets, and sent delegates to Key West in Florida
to solicit aid from the tobacco workers there. The Worker's

(52:03):
Circle was very much involved in a lot of these
things because they actually had a large headquarters that coordinated
the offices of many workers associations. In addition to the
school that I mentioned they founded, they had their fingers
and a lot of the associations and solidarity efforts that
had taken place. By eighteen eighty nine, they founded yet
another school, teaching over one hundred men at night and

(52:23):
eight hundred children during the day. Elegance the establishment of
new schools across the island, And also in eighteen eighty nine,
those same tobacco workers in Key West called their own
general strike due to poor working conditions, low wages, and
stock living conditions. And guess what they stood in solidarity
with the Cuban workers, and the Cuban workers stood in
solidarity with them. The Workers Alliance also connected with workers

(52:48):
organizations in Florida and fosters solidarity between workers in Florida
and Cuba. In addition to Key West, strikes would also
break out in Tampa and Ybor City. Despite some violence
and the expulsion of the strike leaders, the strike in
Florida ended in early eighteen ninety with a triumph for
Florida's tobacco workers as the owners acceded to the demands

(53:09):
for a pay increase. On May first International Workers Day,
over three thousand workers marched through Havana, and in this
time the workers Circle was continuously expanding. But within this
year also came tragedy, as in August Enrique Roig San
Martin died at the age of forty six, and the
last of the three conflicts against Spain would be the

(53:32):
Cuban War of Independence, which raged from eighteen ninety five
to eighteen ninety eight. Anarchists in Cuba, New York, and
Spain debated support for Cuba's independent struggle but despite concerns,
most anarchists did support independence, seeing it as an anti
colonial fight against Spanish imperialism and an opportunity to transform

(53:53):
the island along anarchist principles. Figures like Jose Garcia, Rafael Serra,
and Adrian del Valle promoted anarchist internationalism while also seek
in Cuban national liberation. The final three months that conflict
escalated with US involvement becoming known as the Spanish American War,

(54:15):
and following Spain's defeat, the US briefly occupied Cuba with
the promise of greater autonomy in the future. Of course,
we all know how that promised to endow with repeated
interventions Kim Crowen anarchist opposition. The US occupiers overhauled the
Cuban education system and introduced a new model influenced by

(54:35):
American principles, emphasizing liberal arts, manual instruction, and civic education
to republicanize the children of Cuba and promote democracy. In
spite of some reforms, the Cuban education system still suffered corruption,
inadequate and infrastructure, and overcrowded classrooms. In eighteen ninety nine,
just a year after independence, the Workers Alliance organized a

(54:59):
mason's strike which extended into the construction trade and also
led to several arrests and the overall repression of the anarchists.
This is a persistent theme, of course.

Speaker 4 (55:12):
Yes, I mean it's interesting, how like in a lot
of like the political stuff we learned about Cuba, it's
more based on like the socialist and more communist struggles
of the twentieth century. And I knew that there were
like anarchists active before that and even during that time
period as well, but there is a lot of this

(55:33):
that seems to be not nearly as talked about it
emphasized as the later more socialist leaning struggles that came.

Speaker 6 (55:44):
And you'll notice that, you know, in places where the
Marxists won, basically any of the pre Marxist victory history
of anarchists involvement tends to be diminished to ever raised entirely. Yeah.

Speaker 4 (56:01):
Yeah, like in literally every in every struggle all across
the world where that's happened. That does seem to be
the case.

Speaker 6 (56:09):
Exactly exactly when I found this information and my mind
was blowing, you know, I had no idea all of
this was going on. Yeah, the fact that from as
early as Prudon's lifetime, there were anarchists in Cuba organizing associations.

Speaker 4 (56:26):
I mean, come on, yeah, in like the eighteen fifties
and it.

Speaker 6 (56:30):
Gets bigger, a lot more takes place. I haven't even
really breached the other twentieth century yet. That's when things
really kick off.

Speaker 4 (56:37):
Let's get to that after this message from our sponsors.
All right, we are back. Let's return to Andrew's discussion
of anarchism in Cuba.

Speaker 6 (56:58):
Yes, so so. Also in eighteen ninety nine, some new
anarchist projects dropped onto the scene. You know, you had
the Liga General de Travadores or General League of Workers,
which emerged with the back in the Missonia and another
anarchist ramone Rivero eve Rivero, and also the publication Tierra,
which was founded by anarchists Abelardo Savedra and Francisco Gonzalees Sola.

(57:23):
And the publication El Nuevo Idl was also founded, but
it only lasted a couple of years. Notably, it loudly
opposed the US's plans for ANIX and Cuba and the
introduction of the plat Amendment to the Cuban Constitution, which
would provide pretense for US intervention in the future. The
plat Amendment was really that point in the Cuban constitution

(57:46):
that would justify us infusion and involvement for years to come.
Here's a little easter egg, a little fun fact. It
will come you. In fact, you could call him a
run income you for the anarchist worldwide, a familiar face
because he showed up in Havana in this year, and

(58:06):
he also showed up in Egypt during their anarchist struggle
for those who remember that episode, any ideas.

Speaker 4 (58:12):
Too to try to think of this time period who
at this.

Speaker 6 (58:17):
Point, at this point you could call him mister worldwide,
the anarchist, mister Worldwide.

Speaker 4 (58:21):
Yeah, I don't think so. I think I'll only make
a fool of myself.

Speaker 6 (58:28):
Yeah. The one and only Erko Malichester arrives in Cuba.

Speaker 5 (58:32):
Oh okay, okay, that makes sense, that makes sense.

Speaker 4 (58:35):
Yeah, yeah, yeah, okay.

Speaker 6 (58:37):
Yeah, mister worldwide. Of course, it didn't take long before
he was barred from speaking in public and he very
quickly had to leave Cuba, but he was there. He
did show up and let me reach the you know,
the turn of the century. Right just after the turn
of the century, on May twentieth nineteen oh two, the
First Republic of Cuba was inaugurated with the recognition of

(58:59):
the US, but despite the survey opposition, the US retained
influence over Cuba with that plat amendment. With independence, many
Cubans aspired to build a more egalitarian nation. The Cuban
anarchists continued to struggle even as they were becoming disillusioned
by the continued prioritization of individual profits of a society,

(59:19):
wellbon the oppression of labor and the terrible educational systems.
They had their first truly general strike in nineteen oh two,
known as the Apprentice Strike, but it was suppressed and failed,
and with its failure, leading figures in the Lega Heeneral
de Trebadores like Messonniea and Rivero Yirverro, retired from the

(59:41):
labour struggle. A year later, in nineteen oh three, anarchists
organized in the sugar industry, which was met with a
violent response from the owners, including the murder of two
prominent anarchist figures, Casanias and Buntero. The year before the
US recognition of Cuban independence in nineteen oh one, just
across the pond in Spain, Francisco Ferrer had found that

(01:00:04):
his first modern school. Ferrer is an icon in the
sphere of anarchist education for his pioneer and efforts as
anarchists and Cuba condemn in public schools for their condition pedagogy,
patriotic indoctrination, and lack of critical thinking. They were inspired
by they alternative education rooted in rationalism and free inquiry
that was introduced by Ferrer.

Speaker 4 (01:00:25):
At this point, is there like a decent bit of
communication between the anarchists in Spain and the anarchists in Cuba,
because all the stuff you've been mentioning sounds very reminiscent
of some of like the anarchosympicalist models that would grow
to more prominence in Spain in the coming decades.

Speaker 6 (01:00:39):
Oh, yeah, for sure.

Speaker 4 (01:00:40):
In this field, Yeah, it feels very very similar.

Speaker 6 (01:00:43):
There was a very large Spanish immigrant community in Cuba
at the time of Spanish workers, and that would actually
end up biting the anarchist movement in the but later
on and you know, you'll see how Okay, Yeah, there
was a lot of there was a lot of cross
pollination between the Spanish anarchists and the Cuban anarchists that

(01:01:03):
makes sense. In many cases they were both Spanish and Cuba. Sure,
and so when for Popstar with this school in Barcelona
and in other places in Spain. I mean, the Cuban
Anarchists had already been organized in education before, as their
program had always sought to raise consciousness and prepare for
social revolution. But Ferrer offered that extra dose of inspiration.

Speaker 4 (01:01:24):
You know.

Speaker 6 (01:01:24):
His modern schools introduced things like free play and individual
liberty and really inspired the founding of educational experiments across Europe,
Asia and the Americas. In nineteen oh five, Covino Vilar
opened for that a co educational primary and secondary school
in Havana, following Frea's principles of free in Korean individual liberty.

(01:01:45):
In nineteen oh six, the CEES School was established in Regular,
embracing the advanced pedagogical perspective methods of these Spanish Anarchists schools.
And that very same year, nineteen oh six, the US
intervened in Cuba again. You know, they can't even let
decade go by of independence before they say, nap were
stepping in, you know. So of course, in response, strikes

(01:02:06):
breakout in Havana, Siego de a Vila and Santiago de
Cuba anyway, so that's going on, and anarchists are also
organized and speaking tours. In nineteen oh eight, anarchists formed
the group at Ucaciondale Porvenir or Education of the Future
in Regular which sought to established modern schools across the island.

(01:02:26):
The LGA Heneral de Trabahadories also got involved in the
group's efforts. Unfortunately, internal conflicts and financial difficulties undermined the
initial wave of anarchist schools in this time. Meanwhile, private
school options, particularly of the religious variety, were proliferated across Cuba. Eventually,
in nineteen oh nine, Ferrero was arrested and executed by

(01:02:49):
Spanish authorities, which actually triggered a protest in Cuba and
also triggered resistance elsewhere in the world. That would simultaneously
seek to advocate his ideas further and of course, was
to honor his memory. Turning out went to the nineteen tens.
It was a very eventful period. Let's just say, you know,
the Mexican Revolution was a current which inspired Cubas workers

(01:03:11):
and peasants. The Mexican Revolution was a current and that
inspired Cuba's workers and peasants there was actually, just as
there was cross pollination between Spanish anarchists and Cuban anarchists,
there was cross pollination between Cuban anarchists and Mexican anarchists,
you know, anarchists. Ricardo Flores Magon, a Titanic figure in
Mexican revolution, actually had a stand in a relationship with

(01:03:34):
the Cuban paper Tierra, as the paper was critical of
the Mexican dictator of the time, Portfyrio DS. So while
the guns of the revolutionary Imiliano Zapata were firing in Mexico,
tobacco workers, teamsters and bakers were striking in Cuba. In
nineteen twelve, a congress was formed in Crusius with the

(01:03:56):
aim to create an island wide labor federation. But another
significant event occurred in nineteen twelve. You see, all this time,
Afrocubans will play in significant roles in the island's labor movements,
particularly through strikes such as the eighteen ninety nine Mason
strike and the sugar workers' struggles. Despite this, they were

(01:04:18):
dealing with a lot of political and cultural persecution and
faced high literacy rates, job discrimination, and disenfranchisement due to
literacy and property requirements. For voting. Naturally, Afrocubans wanted to
fight against this, so they formed their own political party,
the Independent Party of Color or PIC, and the government

(01:04:40):
quickly outlawed it, which triggered several violent attacks on PIC
supporter meetings throughout nineteen twelve. It was essentially a race riot,
and it killed as many as six thousand Afrocubans and
resulted in another nine hundred thrown in jail and charged
with rebellion. This time, the anarchist response was weaker than

(01:05:05):
it could have been. Writers like Adrian del Vallier and
Eugenio Leante presented pressed the importance of education and the
good upbringing of children to root out the racist attitudes
that led to the massacre. Writers like Adrian de la
Vallei and Eugenio Leante pressed the importance of education and

(01:05:27):
the importance of a good upbringing of children to root
out the racial attitudes. The racist attitudes that led to
the massacre, as those attitudes are still present a mere
generation after ablition. The anarchists were, as would be consisted
of the principles critical of the PIC's political approach of
bourgeois elections, but they did admire Africuman culture and recognize

(01:05:50):
their contributions to workers liberation movements, but as far as
I can tell, they didn't do much else beyond education
to combat racist attitudes, likely feeling powerless to prevent the
violence in nineteen twelve due to their own repression by
the state. And of course, it isn't a binary of
Africubans and anarchists, as there were Africubans in the anarchist movement,

(01:06:14):
including problem figures like Raphael Sarah who remained active into
the nineteen forties, the printer Pablo Guira, and Margarito Iglesias,
who is the black anarchist leader of the Manufacturers Union
in nineteen twenties. Still, despite this overlap, the anarchists still
couldn't shake their perception as white and foreigners, which.

Speaker 4 (01:06:37):
Is still a dynamic at play today with anarchists as
people free anarchists. Saul is like white teenagers, I guess,
and will often discount the presence of black anarchists and
other anarchists or people of color.

Speaker 6 (01:06:55):
Yeah, I'm a bit of at a loss as to
what I could say, like from this arm chair position,
that they could have done differently in nineteen twelve. Sure,
they definitely could have stepped up in tried with what
to defend those communities and to start with those communities
and solidarity. But at the same time, I wasn't there

(01:07:16):
in nineteen twelve, so I'm not sure how things played out.
But I do think that while the heart is in
the right place with education to roots out racist attitudes,
you know, consciousness raising is one thing which you really
do have to, you know, put yourself on the line
when it comes to defending marginalized groups, especially if you're

(01:07:38):
coming from opposition of relative privilege, being white, to be
in Spanish, in you know, recently post colonial Cuba, barely
even post colonial Cuba, you know.

Speaker 4 (01:07:53):
Yeah, I mean I'm in the same position as you
here or even further possessing an inability to try to
critique from the twenty first century. But do you know
what I do feel comfortable in calling is this next
ad break?

Speaker 5 (01:08:20):
All right, we are back.

Speaker 4 (01:08:21):
Let's return to our discussion of anarchistsm in Cuba in
the nineteen tenths.

Speaker 6 (01:08:27):
So in nineteen thirteen, as we was speaking of the
repression of the anarchist movement, the third President of Cuba
would step up, that is, General Mario Garcia Menocal and
during his reign, the government would ramp up the repression
of the anarchists with the passing of anti anarchist laws

(01:08:47):
and the closure of anarchist organizations. There were crackdowns against
the radical activities from nineteen fourteen on and the suspension
of the Tierra publication and the deportation of many anarchists.
Because in spite of the oppression, the anarchists movement began
to recover by nineteen seventeen with the Centro Oberero or

(01:09:09):
Worker's Center being established in Havana lead into resurgence of
anarchist education and organized activity. Between nineteen eighteen and nineteen
nineteen four general strikes a breakout in Havana and the
US sent a flotilla in response to the disorder. The
government suspended constitutional guarantees, deported even more anarchists, and closed
the Centrol Obrero. Around this time, you also had the

(01:09:33):
anaqual Naturists, which I really don't know where to fit
into all of this, so I'll just put them here
to give you from the repression.

Speaker 4 (01:09:40):
Naturists.

Speaker 6 (01:09:42):
Yeah yeah, So let's take this as like a breath
of fresh air from all of the repression and against anarchists.
By the state you had the anquo naturists.

Speaker 4 (01:09:50):
That's what I haven't heard before. Are these like old
timey green anarchists.

Speaker 5 (01:09:54):
I guess.

Speaker 6 (01:09:57):
No, I'll actually be the judge of that. I'll actually
the that.

Speaker 4 (01:10:00):
It's like actual naturist philosophy. Yes, ah, oh weird.

Speaker 6 (01:10:06):
Yes. The naturist movement was developed in Europe and North
America during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and
it focused on alternative personal health and lifestyle practices such
as adopted vegetarianism, exercise, nudism, and small village life to
combat the effects of industrial mass society.

Speaker 4 (01:10:27):
Okay, so there is like little tidbits of like anarchop
of like what would become anarcho primitivism in here, but
it's definitely not like a one to one overlap.

Speaker 6 (01:10:37):
Yeah, yeah, especially not in Cuba. In Cuba, the anarchists
aimed to shift the naturist movements focused away from primarily
individual health concerns to an emphasis on social emaspiratory themes.
So why in nineteen ten you had lectures on nitarismo
and although it didn't have the broader emaspiratory dimensions initially,

(01:11:00):
later in the decade, the movement would gain its momentum
and the Nature's Association would expand to establish branches across
Cuba and even Tampa, Florida.

Speaker 4 (01:11:11):
Huh Okay.

Speaker 6 (01:11:12):
Now, anacin naturism in Cuba wasn't too big on the
nudism aspect of the naturism, but they did emphasize the
vegetarian self sufficiency against the reliance and capitalism and so
to learn and teach alternative medicine to help people deal
with the health problems brought about by factory and field
work and toxic living conditions. Okay, I know the anical

(01:11:36):
nature has actually lasted well into the nineteen fifties, so
good for them. But let's get back into the timeline.
If you know anything about history, you know what significant
event takes place in Russia in nineteen seventeen. The Russian
Revolution would reverberate across the landscape of workers struggles for

(01:11:58):
decades to come. In the next episode, we'll see how
the Bolsheviks rise would shape the anarchist movement in Cuba
leading up to the Rise of Castro, as well as
how anarchists have endured since then until then. And it
could happen here. And this is Andrewism. I'll pout to
all the people peace, Welcome to could happen here. I'm

(01:12:35):
Andrew Sage of futuree Channel Antraism. I'm again joined by Garrison.
Say hello again, Hello again.

Speaker 4 (01:12:42):
See see what it did there? Very very good, very original,
and very funny, fantastic.

Speaker 6 (01:12:48):
So last time we were discussing the forgotten history of
Cuban anarchism, I mean took you by surprise. It's you
by surprise, and I think it's taken some of the
audience by surprise too. You know the fact that from
the very first Prunian and Mutualist Society in eighteen fifty seven,
to the rise of the anarchist organizations, the strike activities

(01:13:10):
that the schools, to even the anequ niaturists, all of
this was going on from the mid nineteenth century all
the way into the early twentieth century, even in the
height of repression in the nineteen tenths, and the cycle
of US intervention as well.

Speaker 4 (01:13:29):
I guess what I'm kind of curious about in this
time period is, like before like the Socialist Revolution, were
like the anarchists more prominent than some of like the
actual communists.

Speaker 6 (01:13:42):
For my research, it does seem so yes.

Speaker 4 (01:13:44):
Yeah, like that's that's kind of what it sounds like.
They were kind of the main political block for like
almost seventy five years.

Speaker 6 (01:13:51):
Well things things do make it to in.

Speaker 4 (01:13:55):
Yeah, like the main the main political block on like
like the like the left specifically, I guess, like the
if you count anarchism as part of the left, which
means for the case of simplicity, let's say.

Speaker 6 (01:14:04):
Sure, I don't, yes, but listenly I wouldn't be caught
dead at here and to like French political taxonomy, but.

Speaker 4 (01:14:14):
Totally me in terms of its relation to like labor,
especially especially this time period of like I.

Speaker 6 (01:14:19):
Know what you mean, I just like being difficult.

Speaker 4 (01:14:22):
Sometimes absolutely, I mean yeah that is, I agree with
you in a lot of cases. But from a like
a historical standpoint, it kind of makes sense when like
all these almost all these people are like anarcho communists
or anarcho synicalists.

Speaker 6 (01:14:35):
Or I mean you did have the anarcineaturists too, and
the anarcho naturist.

Speaker 4 (01:14:38):
There you go, the three genders.

Speaker 6 (01:14:41):
And I mean t I completely mutualists as well. I mean, honestly,
the divide, the stringent divide between the anarchist schools of
thought wouldn't really come into play until we get into
like the the twentieth century.

Speaker 4 (01:14:54):
So which we are entering right now.

Speaker 6 (01:14:56):
Yes, which we have vented. So where do we leave off?
We left off on the big bang that was the
Russian Revolution. Remember I said that things will take her turn.
That is the turn the Russian wizard has been killed. Sad. Indeed,
I promise to discuss how the death of that Russian
wizard would impact Cuba going forward into the nineteen twenties

(01:15:19):
and beyond. So there we are akiestamos once again, this
infost thanks to the work of Kuen R. Shaffer, Stephen J. Hush,
Lucien van der Walt, Sam Dolgov and Frank Fernandez. So
in nineteen twenty the anarchists formed a Congress to advocate
a series of immediate and transitory economic measures to resolve

(01:15:42):
the high cost of living brought about by the decrease
in sugar prices, because you remember, Cuba's economy was dependent
on sugar and tobacco and coffee. They also formed the
Archist sutter is the confederaci Nacional de Tobajo or a
national confederation of workers. Following the Bolshevik victory in Russia.

(01:16:03):
It took a minute for the world to find out
what happened to all the anarchists in Russia. I mean,
it was the nineteen twenties. They didn't have Twitter. But
in the meantime, the anarchists sent a fraternal salute to
the brothers who in Russia have established the USSR. Which
is interesting.

Speaker 4 (01:16:20):
And ye, that is interesting.

Speaker 6 (01:16:23):
Yes, it's like a whole thing. Come in.

Speaker 4 (01:16:28):
It's exciting for the time though, right like you're seeing
like this thing finally happen. You're like, oh, we have
like we have like a real chance.

Speaker 6 (01:16:35):
Yeah. Yeah, but I mean I feel like it's like
a two panel meme, you know, it's like the.

Speaker 5 (01:16:40):
Victory before the Yeah, very much.

Speaker 6 (01:16:45):
Yeah, yeah, I mean they knew that the anarchists. But
they did know, of course, was the anarchists had a
visible and vital role in that revolution. Absolutely reality that
has unfortunately forgotten today but very well known back then.
So the rise of the Soviets, it seemed as though
the dream of three generations of struggles against the injustices

(01:17:10):
of capitalism of the state had reached its conclusion. Again,
they didn't know what happened to the Anarchists and the Lenin.
Yet their attitude of jubilation towards the success of the
Bolsheviks would of course change very shortly, but the anarchists
in Cuba still had some hope in unity, though despite
some debate amongst themselves about aligning with the Marxists in

(01:17:34):
Cuba see At the time, the anarchost syndicalist movement was
leading the formation of labor organizations and federations with figures
like Alfredo Lopez and Antonio Pinichet, and while they were
largely in favor of cross sectarian alliances and collaboration in
the promotion of alternative education projects, and after the Congress

(01:17:55):
of nineteen twenty Cuba's workers pressed their demands with renewed
force in solidarity all together, leading to bombings and Havana
and another general strike on medi Figures like Penichet and
Salinas were jailed and a bomb was set off in
the Teatro Nacional in protest. So Initially condemned to death,

(01:18:17):
Penichet and Salinas were eventually pardoned and released at the
beginning of nineteen twenty one, with the fall of Garcio
Mencalists government. This is when Fedrozias's moderate government came into power,
and this is when the Anarchos Syndicolas Feracion Oprera de
la Habana or FOH or Workers Cleation of Havana was founded.

(01:18:40):
The Workers Federation of Havana inaugurated its rational School and
library in nineteen twenty two, aiming to counter public and
private education emphasis on religion and patriotism. In nineteen twenty five,
the second Congresso Nacional Oprero is celebrated in San Fuegos
and the Confederacio Nacabrera the Cuba or National Confederation of

(01:19:02):
Human Workers or SCENOC, is founded by anachosyndicalists in Kama Way.
The SCENOC was a big tent organization, so although it
was initially led by anachosyndicalists, there were reformists and Marxist
elements in there as well, and you'll see the results
of big tent organization very soon. Also nineteen twenty five,

(01:19:25):
the Partido Communista Kubano or PCC was founded in Havana,
and in nineteen twenty five there was a strike among
railway and sugar workers which would provoke government repression and
the nineteen twenty five Gerardo Machado would be elected to
the office of presidency. Now pay attention to the PCC

(01:19:47):
because they become relevant again later on.

Speaker 4 (01:19:49):
They're going to be a recurring character.

Speaker 6 (01:19:52):
Yes. So President Gerardo Machado's administration vowed to suppress worker militancy,
lead into an another crackdown on foreigners and radicals, including
the anarchist schools, and marking another decline of the anarchist
movements influence. But despite repression under the Macharo dictatorship, anarchists
continued to agitate, with some fleeing into exile and overall

(01:20:16):
refusing to cooperate with the government. They founded militant groups
such as Espartaco and Losildarios and later the Federation the
Federacion de Groupos Anarchistas de Cuba or FGC. They engaged
in street fighting against the government and also in several
failed assassination attempts against Machado. I don't know what it

(01:20:38):
is with Cuban leaders, but they seem to have trouble
getting assassinated. So while the anarchists and I would like
to give them the benefit of the doubt, presumably some
Marxists were engaged in such resistance and I say presumably

(01:20:58):
because I didn't they were into focus of my research.
But from what I could see was the anarchists who
were engaged in such resistance. Anyway, that's tangential. The operatives
of the Popular Socialist Party or PSP chose to make
compromises with the various dictatorial governments in order to be

(01:21:20):
allowed control of the labor unions as well as some
other pooks.

Speaker 4 (01:21:25):
Well, that doesn't sound like it could result in any problems.

Speaker 6 (01:21:28):
Yeah, so lock in here, okay. The PSP would later
be absorbed by the organizac Revolution Scenarios in Tigradas, which
would later become the Partido Unido de la Revolution Socialista
the Cuba, which would later be refounded as the Partido
Communista Gubano or PCC the Cuban Anarchists part cubas the

(01:21:54):
Communist part of Cuba.

Speaker 4 (01:21:56):
There's like this weird loop happening here.

Speaker 6 (01:21:58):
Yes, yes, So the PSP would go on to become
part of the PCC, even though when they were initially founded,
the PSP and the PCC with separate organizations totally okay,
So coming into the nineteen thirty Starting with nineteen thirty,
a streetcar strike led to a general strike, backed by

(01:22:19):
almost all of the unions. The strike failed, unfortunately due
to a poor planning by the SCENOC, which had come
into the hands of the PCC. You see, with the
continuous deportation, exile and murder of anarchists by the Machado government,
the Marxists and the SCENOC, who had been taken orders
from the PCC the whole time, were told, Okay, now

(01:22:41):
it's your chance, take advantage of the situation. The anarchists
out of the way, let's take over the SCENOC. So
in nineteen thirty three, another transportation strike breaks out in Havana,
which leads to another general strike and further violence, and
the PCC used their control over the SCENOC to make
a deal with Mature Shado and the general strike, even

(01:23:03):
though they were not the ones that started in the first.

Speaker 4 (01:23:06):
Place, making a deal to end a strike that they
didn't start. Indeed, very very cool stuff.

Speaker 6 (01:23:14):
Now they called this real politic power move the August Eraror,
But to me, that's way too soft considering what they did.
You see, it was no mayor whoopsie. You know. The
PCC ordered the strike and workers to return to their
jobs and they tried to work with Machado's murderous secret

(01:23:36):
police to make that happen.

Speaker 4 (01:23:38):
No, it's it's just like counterinsurgency.

Speaker 6 (01:23:47):
Thankfully, the PCC's attempt to sick my shadows dogs on
the strike and workers failed due to the resistance of
the anarchists of the Havana Federation of Labor and other
organized labor forces.

Speaker 4 (01:24:00):
It's it's funny how like it's it's not the same
things happen now, I guess, but very similar things happen
while you have like these like big above ground kind
of orgs. They'll try to make concessions with with like
whether that's like like police or with like whatever kind
of institution that people are like opposing. They'll have these
these big, like you know, big groups trying trying to

(01:24:21):
make concessions, and it's always left to the anarchists to
be like, no, we actually have to keep fighting. This
actually doesn't this sort of this this this sort of
like attempts at calling like victory or trying to end
things actually is not what you claim it to be,
and we have to keep going. And it's is something
that always falls back on like some of the more

(01:24:42):
anarchist aligned contingents in popular struggles.

Speaker 6 (01:24:46):
Yeah, and I see why the why the old anarchists
get a bit jaded and crotchet tea, you know, because yeah,
you see these feelings happening again and again, Like why
you cheer in, you know, like you have not one
you know, this is not a victory. This is the
precursor to squad wipe, to like absolute defeat. You know, yeah,

(01:25:09):
game over. But unfortunately some people have to to learn,
it seems. Unfortunately, until we speak more prominently of the
mistakes of the past, more honestly of the mistakes of
the past, instead of this sort of whitewashed oh the
glorious revolutionary movements of the past. Oh, you know, like wow,

(01:25:31):
so cool. Until we start to like engage honest without
history and like the mistakes and whatnot, these kind of
things are just going to continue to happen, you know.
And that's why I also appreciate, you know, the sort
of honesty that anarchists have, where they'll be willing to
call I mean not not all you know, especially new
anarchists tend to be more defensive, but and I appreciate
the willness to call out like what the CNT did

(01:25:54):
in Spain that was wrong, or what the Black Arm
in Ukraine did that was wrong.

Speaker 4 (01:25:58):
You know, we don't have to follow a lot like
the party line.

Speaker 6 (01:26:02):
Sweeping like you have to defend their honor.

Speaker 4 (01:26:04):
Yeah, exactly, we don't have to like follow along the
party line in the same way that all these other
groups seem to do. There is a much more open
consideration towards critiquing things that even you feel like you
can learn from and you feel like we're like like
struggles like struggles worth learning from and struggles worth fighting for.
But you don't have this the need to be like

(01:26:25):
you have to defend every single thing that X person
did because it's like, I know it, it gets it
gets very weird when you have these like nineteen year
old communists who are like, no, Stalin's good actually, which
is a whole other topic, but but yeah, even in

(01:26:46):
like smaller scale things, just the resistance to having to
to adhere to the party line on a lot of
a lot of these topics when you just don't have
a party so it allows you to be way more
open in your consideration of what has worked, what hasn't worked.

Speaker 6 (01:27:01):
Yeah, free association for the win.

Speaker 4 (01:27:04):
I don't have a funny ad pivot based on free association.
But here's some ads that you can freely listen to
if you desire.

Speaker 5 (01:27:23):
All right, we're back.

Speaker 6 (01:27:24):
So the very same month that the PCC tried and
failed to call off a strike that they never started
in the first place, Machado was forced from office by
a military coup backed by the US working with several
political factions, including the PCC. So the PCC was kind
of playing both sides. They were like, yeah, let's let's
work with Machado, and then that's also like help over

(01:27:46):
through Machado a lot of stings. Huh, very interesting. Yeah,
So that coup, along with the nineteen thirty three revolution,
it was part of resulting from the opposition of the
human people to President MacHall those attempts to keep himself
in power with flames further fanned by the widespread misery
caused by the economic collapse of nineteen twenty nine. Anarchists were,

(01:28:08):
of course participants in the strikes and the revolutionary actions
during this time. Military forces and student activists were also
very much involved. So Carlos Manuel de Sispires i Quesada
came to lead a provisional government which led to the
installation of a new government led by a five man
coalition known as the Pentarchy of nineteen twenty three. But

(01:28:31):
after only five days, the Pentarchy gave way to the
presidency of Ramon Grau San Martin, whose term became known
as the one hundred Days Government for obvious reasons. It
really only lasted about one hundred days because it decided
to defy the US and remove the Platinum nment from
the Cuban constitution, and it also introduced the eight hour

(01:28:52):
workday and tried to intervene in the American owned electrical
and telephone utility companies. But before you sell that government
as a champion of the work in people, it also
contributed to the suppression of the Cuban anarchist movement, which
had a significant foreign born labor base, with the introduction
of the fifty percent law, which forced owners to reserve

(01:29:14):
at least half their jobs for Cubans. That law prompted
many of the Spanish anarchists, remember they were a very
prominent part of the anarchist movement in Cuba. That prompted
them to return to Spain, where as you may know,
a civil war would kick off rather soon, so the
leader of the revolt against one hundred Days Government was
Sergeant Fulgencio Battista, who became the head of the armed

(01:29:38):
Forces and began a long period of influence on Cuban politics.
The summer of nineteen thirty three obviously marked the end
of the cooperative relationship between Cuban anarchists and communists, you know,
because of the whole PCC sicond matalist dogs and the
anarchists and all that.

Speaker 4 (01:29:57):
Yeah, I could see that being non conducive to a
working part.

Speaker 6 (01:30:00):
It's a toxic, toxic situation, you know. They had. They'll
have to copearents they labor movement separately. Anyway, say a
violence when you rere up between the two groups. The
Federacion de Groupos and Akista's de Cuba or FGEC published
a manifesto denouncing the traitor's actions of the PCC in

(01:30:21):
collaboration with Minchado. In nineteen thirty five, the PCC exposed
its alignment for all to see see after Bautista basically
told the PCC, yeah, don't call a general strike. After
the PCs he tried to call a general strike, the
PCC was like, Okay, we won't call a general strike,
and then the PCC adopted Moscow's popular front line and

(01:30:45):
basically aligned themselves with Batista. And what's interesting is, you see,
but what Bosistera desperately needed to secure his legitimacy was
an electoral base. Basically, he needed a large group of
people to say we back his leadership.

Speaker 4 (01:31:02):
Sure, he needed some form of like legitimacy exactly.

Speaker 6 (01:31:07):
And so the PCC, in aligning themselves with Batista, they
created that electoral base for his growing secretorial ambitions. You see,
he started off as a president before he became like
a full on dictator. Many such cases, many such cases.
And the one of the historians I was telling you about,
Fernando Fernandez, he wrote that the PCC actually offered Batista

(01:31:32):
a deal, put in all of the machinery of Cuban
and international communism at his service, and it promised to
deliver votes in the coming elections, which Batista badly needed.
In exchange, the PCC was to be given the recently
government created Confederaci Tahadoris to Cuba, the CTC, the Cuban

(01:31:54):
Confederation of Workers, and the CTC was basically meant to
be the largest, most centralized Levo organization in Cuba. One
they would combine all of the existing factions.

Speaker 4 (01:32:04):
Okay that yeah, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 6 (01:32:06):
And unlike the previous umbrella organization, which as you may remember,
was the SCENOC, the CTC was meant to be ideological.
It was meant to marry unionism to the state. It
was meant to be under the control of Batista through
the PCC from the very beginning. You know, the Seaknocks
started off being led by anarchos syndicalists, but it was
big ten so it was like, you know, bringing all

(01:32:27):
the ideologies, but no, the CTC is like, yeah, we.

Speaker 4 (01:32:31):
Are explicitly stayed aligned.

Speaker 6 (01:32:33):
Yeah. Meanwhile, you know, in nineteen thirty six, the Spanish
Civil War would erupt, and you know, the Cuban anarchists
who when solidarity with the Spanish anarchists, would establish the
Solidary Dad Internacional Anti anti Fascista to aid them, and
some of them even went to Spain to participate. But
by nineteen thirty nine, with the defeat of the Spanish Republic,

(01:32:54):
surviving Cuban anarchists returned to the island.

Speaker 4 (01:32:59):
In the nineteen forties, It's interesting because when they returned,
they also returned with a lot more like experience as well. Indeed,
I wonder if that will lead to anything.

Speaker 6 (01:33:11):
We'll see.

Speaker 12 (01:33:12):
Curious.

Speaker 6 (01:33:14):
So, in the nineteen forties, over one hundred delegates met
at the Mortazo ranch to establish the Associacion Libertaria the
Cuba or ALC. Since the Stalinist dominated CTC had purged
anarchists and other militant labor activists, the ALC was formed
to challenge state control and Stalinists influence within the labor movement.

(01:33:39):
The ALC held a congress attended by one hundred and
fifty five delegates in nineteen forty eight, and in that
congress it discussed the creation of a libertarian society in Cuba,
and they established the Solidary Dad Gastronomica, which was a
publication meant to serve as their official organ. Carlos Prio
Socaras assumed the QAN presidency in nineteen forty eight following

(01:34:02):
the presidency of Ramon Grau San Martin, because he actually
got another chance to be president after one hundred day's government,
and then you had a few filler presidents after that,
and then you had Batista's run as president. But anyway,
so Prio becomes president and the anarchists try and fail
to create a new labor confederation. The Confederaci in general

(01:34:23):
the Tagories was CGT and it was meant to be
independent of the CTC. Unfortunately, thanks to reformist elements, the
Stalinists and the government, it suffered under an extensive propaganda
campaign against the initiative in both the Cuban communications media
and then the officially approved unions. But despite everything, the

(01:34:45):
anarchists were enduring on the grassroots level, and they were
anarchist militants scattered everywhere and anarchist propagandists in every provincial capital.
By the way, it is interesting that the Stalinists would
gleefully purge the anarchists to appease their own phase for
power earlier in the decade, considering that they themselves would

(01:35:06):
be expelled from their posts in the CTC by the
government Under US pressure, PreO declared the PSP illegal, motivating
the Stylists to eye themselves yet again with their old body,
old pal Fulgencio Batista. In nineteen fifty, the ALC would
hold another congress, a meant to reorganize the Cuban union

(01:35:28):
movements against its control by bureaucrats, politicians, cults, and religionists.
The Congress repudiated the CTC and dedicated itself to maintain
the CGT's struggle in spite of President Prio's repression. In
nineteen fifty two, Batista took power in a coup, and
the LC joined other revolutionary groups in armed resistance to

(01:35:49):
the dictatorship in the cities and the countryside. Despite facing imprisonment, torture,
and kidnapping, they challenged Batista's rule through propaganda, distribution, Klandestine activity,
and coordinated sabotage efforts. They even worked with groups like
the Directorial Revoluse Scenario, the Federation of University Students, and

(01:36:09):
elements within castorerst Group, the M twenty sixth G the
Antony sixth J. By the way, despite taking credit for everything,
had little to no involvement in many of the uprisings
that took place in this period. They tried at one
point to call a general strike, but it was badly
organized and uncoordinated with other revolutionary groups, so you know,

(01:36:30):
of course it failed. Meanwhile, the ALC's meeting hole not
only distributed information and coordinated sabotage efforts, but even taught
some of Castro's fighters how to shoot firearms.

Speaker 4 (01:36:41):
Sure, yeah, yeah, yeah yeah.

Speaker 6 (01:36:44):
By December thirty first, nineteen fifty eight. Also, it's very
sad that they would teach some of Castro's fighters how
to shoot firearms, considering you know, the direction those firearms
we shoot. It end very soon.

Speaker 4 (01:36:55):
Yes, that is tragically ironic.

Speaker 6 (01:37:01):
So December their first, nineteen fifty eight, Batista flees Cuba,
marking the end of his regime and the beginning of
a new era. As Castro's revolutionary government gain power, tensions
would rise as he consolidated control and marginalized dissent in voices.
Any hope anarchists had for social change following nineteen fifty
nine would be crushed by the increase in centralization, bureaucraticization

(01:37:23):
of the government, further purges of anarchists from the CTC, which,
by the way, they renamed the CTC R as in
CTC Revolutionary, and they also militarized. And they also militarized it.
You know, if they forced a bunch of the workers
to create militias, and you know, with Castro's public alignment

(01:37:44):
with Marxism Leninism, the suppression the revolutionary tribunals and the
exile of anarchists and other dissidents. In January nineteen sixty,
the ALC held an assembly and expressed support for the
Cuban Revolution while rejecting dictatorship everywhere. By the end of
the year, stud published the final issue of their publication,

(01:38:04):
So darry Dad Gatunomica. The LC fell under government pressure,
and unlike previous Cuban governments, Castro's regime was extra blood
thirsty with the working class and peasant dissenters. That same year,
the Grupo the Sindecalistas Libertarios is suited document criticizing the

(01:38:25):
Cuban government's direction. Fearing the increase in totalitarianism, they had
to change their name to avoid reprisals. As a pecc's organ,
OI responded to the group O the Snekalistas Libertarios document
with insults and accusations. That same year, the movie Miento
Deaccion Syndical began circulating a bulletin critical of the PCC

(01:38:49):
and Castro. They too would be suppressed. After the failed
Bay of Pigs invasion in nineteen sixty one, Castro's government
intensified its suppression of opposition, including anarchists. The anarchist movement
also bore a terrible betrayal as Manuel Guiona Susa, a
prominent anarchist, betrayed his comrades by endorsing the cashier regime

(01:39:13):
and denouncing the anarchists who opposed it. Some anarists would
end up in prison somewhat fled to Florida, where they
would unfortunately be grouped to the Batista supporters who would
also fled to Florida at that time, and an international
solidarity effort emerged with donations from various anarchist groups worldwide
to aid the Cuban anarchists escape. The anarchists that fled

(01:39:44):
to Cure formed the Movimiento Libertario Cubano in Exilio the
mcl or Cuban anarchist movement in exile, and continued to
advocate for anarchist principles to publications like Guangara Libertaria. The
New York based Libertarian League, led by figures like Sam Dogoff,
provided critical support to these exiles. But what really sucks

(01:40:08):
the Cuban anarchists had to struggle to garner support from
their fellow anarchists around the world. Thanks to the propaganda
efforts to the Castro regime. The Cuman anarchists was made
as CIA agents, which is umi recoll still a favorite
tactic of campus authoritarians.

Speaker 4 (01:40:25):
Interesting and yeah, interesting to see how it's literally the same.

Speaker 11 (01:40:30):
Yeah.

Speaker 6 (01:40:31):
In fact, one anarchist group in South America, the Federacion
Anarchista Uruguaya, even split between pro and anti Castro factions.
The procast Room majority went on to join the Marxist
Lendinis Supermaros in Yuguay. Eventually the Federrazion Anachika Italiana. The

(01:40:52):
FAIT organized a conference in Bologna in nineteen sixty five
to address the confusion among anarchists globally regarded in Cuba.
They came out of that conference condemning casteurism and express
in support for Cuban anarchists. But despite the efforts of
Abelardo I Glasias to present the Cuban anarchists viewpoint, many

(01:41:14):
anarchist groups in Europe and Latin Americas still aligned with
casteurism view and criticism of the regime as opposition to
the broader socialist revolution. But despite the skepticism of their
payers and the refusal of some anarchist publications to even
hear them out. The Cuban anarchists continued the activism in exile.
They published works to denounce in the Castier regime and

(01:41:35):
sought to clarify their position within the global anarchist movement.
Back in Cuba, the remaining anarchists dwindled in size, as
most had either left or rotten in prison. In the
seventies and beyond, the Cuban anarchists faced isolation and defamation.
They still accused this day of being in service of reaction.

(01:41:57):
It's only with Sam Dolkov's book The Cuban Revolution Critical
Perspective in nineteen seventy six that attitudes began to shift
reade into a gradual reassessment of the MLCE within the
anarchist community. In nineteen seventy nine, the MLSE renewed ties
with the Anarchist Confederacio National Debajo, SASH Association International Rosador

(01:42:18):
the CNTIT during to congress in Madrid. Subsequent publications and
articles further clarified the mlce's position and cashtroism, marking the
end of a long and damaging chapter of derision against them.
In nineteen eighty, Guangara Libertaria emerged as a new platform

(01:42:39):
for Cuban anarchists in exile. Initially cautious in its advocacy
due to the hostile political climate in Miami, Guangara gradually
became more explicitly anarchist and critical of both Castros regime
and the reactionary exile community. It played a significant role
in challenging Procastro narratives and fostering international solidarity among anarchists.

(01:43:03):
As of recently as in the twenty first century, the
Taire Libertario Alfreedro Lopez or Alfero Lopez Libertarian Workshop has
published a few pieces on anarchism in the Cuban context.
They even took part in the creation of the Central
American and Caribbean Anarchist Federation, And before anyone asks, I
haven't found a way to get in contact with them yet.

(01:43:25):
The recent decentralized protests in Cuba sparked a deluge of
conflicting narratives from various sources. We're on one side, Cuban
authorities and leftist supporters defended the regime, blaming the economic
crisis and health challenges on the US blockade, while treating
Cuban critics with one broad reactionary brush. On the other, hand,
we had the right wing media criticizing the lack of

(01:43:45):
freedoms under the communist government. While amidst this, anarchists sought
a deeper understanding, seeking neither alignment with the US nor
the Cuban government, but seeking understanding of the needs of
the people frustrated by the poser pandemic and the failures
of the government. The condition that Cuba is in now
obviously is due to the impact of the US's blockade,

(01:44:08):
which should be lifted immediately, but it shouldn't be missed
that the government uses the blockade to divert attention from
other matters where it does deserve significant critique. Emergency measures
were eventually implemented appease the protesters, but it remains to
be seen what the outcome of that frustration of the
people will be in the long term. As Francisco Finandez

(01:44:32):
wrote in Cuban Anarchism, The History of a Movement, hopefully
there are those in this generation who will take up
the legacy of their forebearers so that the roots of
anarchism that are now buried in the fertile Cuban soil
will once again spring to life. Anyway, this has been
the forgotten history of anarchism in Cuba. This has been

(01:44:52):
it could happen here, and this has been Andrew's age.
All power to all the people. Peace.

Speaker 5 (01:45:12):
Welcome to it could happen here. A podcast where my
old bookstore from college is unionized and I'm very excited
about it. I'm your host, Bio Wong, and with me
to talk about this this tremendous event are Caleb Theo
and Finn from the Seminary co Op Booksellers Union. Yeah,
welcome to the show.

Speaker 1 (01:45:30):
Thank you, thank so much for having us. This is
so excited you.

Speaker 5 (01:45:35):
Yeah, I'm excited to you both because I think somehow
in the molt that I got almost three years I've
been doing this show now, Jesus Christ, that is terrifying. Somehow,
I think this is the first bookstore union we've talked to,
which is remarkable. I don't know how it's taken this long,
but I'm so excited that y'all that y'all the first.

Speaker 13 (01:45:55):
I mean, as far as we know, we're the first
in the city of Chicago.

Speaker 5 (01:45:58):
Hell yeah, we're.

Speaker 12 (01:46:00):
The only in the city. There are like past bookstores
that have since closed which were unionized. But yeah, as
best we know we're now we're currently the only union
bookstore in the city of Chicago, proper.

Speaker 5 (01:46:15):
God, maybe there's one up in Evanston or something, but
seems unlikely. This is, this is I don't know. I've been,
I've been. I've been drilling. I've been drilling the Evanston
knowledge into my listeners' heads. Now, so now all of
you people in Rhode Island or whatever know about my
hatred of Evanston.

Speaker 12 (01:46:34):
An extremely fair grudge.

Speaker 5 (01:46:39):
Okay, So speaking of grudges, all right, sobody, co op
is it's it's it's an interesting bookstore in the sense
that like it's it's it is on the campus of
the University of Chicago, like it's just it's just sort
of there. And there's been a lot of things happening
on that campus in the past month or so. But yeah,

(01:47:01):
I guess what I wanted to I guess the place
I wanted to start was sort of Okay, so you,
Chicago is a campus that has a lot of union
organizing happening on it in a bunch of across a
bunch of different kind of they're mostly university unions, but
a lot of different all different kinds of workers and
the university have unions. How did that sort of impact

(01:47:22):
the way this campaign started.

Speaker 11 (01:47:24):
That's a really good question. I I feel like there's
a few things I want to talk about. I think
there's the the fact that a lot of us booksellers
who come to the sem co op were coming from
Many of us came from New Chicago or had been

(01:47:46):
there at some point and had been around that kind
of organizing. So I think that that definitely has an impact.
I also think that many of us know people because
so many of us are in the community. We all
know a lot of people who are organizers, a lot
of people in the grad student union, and having them

(01:48:07):
to talk to and kind of like bounce ideas off
of and commiserate all of that has been really great.

Speaker 12 (01:48:20):
Yeah, And like I think it's been very emboldening to
know that we have that support, you know that because
we have friends and comrades and roommates in GSU, in
faculty unions, you know, the kind of the whole time,
we've known that, like if we ever need to draw
on that external support for any kind of you know,

(01:48:43):
public campaign, that we have like a connection to like
a broader labor of movement in the area that'll be
there for us.

Speaker 5 (01:48:52):
This is something I guess you've already touched on a bit,
but I think this leads into another question that I had,
which was, Yeah, I wanted to talk about the sort
of the influence of campus and how how how the
dynamics of that kind of change, what these what these
campaigns look like.

Speaker 13 (01:49:09):
It's really interesting because our relationship to campus is a
little bit unclear to us in terms of the way
that the bookstore functions in relation to its university partners,
because we work with them very closely. There are landlord
among many other things, but we are not directly affiliated

(01:49:29):
with them, and we carry course books, but that's by
professor request and we can't always do it, and so
it's a really close, really opaque relationship.

Speaker 1 (01:49:45):
I think the university.

Speaker 11 (01:49:47):
Really likes to have a bookstore that isn't like university
affiliated on paper, but still very much is a part
of the culture of the university, and so we see
a lot of that kind of inform things like our
stock and the events that the UH professors that we

(01:50:08):
work with, and of course like the students who come
in and use the space and are physically in the
space every day doing work buying their books.

Speaker 5 (01:50:19):
It's it's always weird kind of doing organizing in these
spaces because like I don't know, you you're you're dealing
with this mixture. Well U Chicago especially is like this
where there's it's this really kind of weird and volatile
mixture of like a bunch of on the one hand,
like a bunch of very brave, very committed like people

(01:50:40):
who are doing organizing, a bunch of people who were
just completely checked out, and then a bunch of people
who are going to go lead cups in South America.
And I don't know, it's it's it's a that was
my experience back doing Actually god I was, I was
on the GS. You pick it line, like, how God
that was? That was half decade ago. Jesus Christ. Sorry,

(01:51:01):
this is trying to geto the MIA thinks about our
time that you should which it shouldn't.

Speaker 7 (01:51:08):
Yeah.

Speaker 13 (01:51:08):
But that's something that is notable too, is that, like
we have a lot of community support when it comes
to people who are theoretically in favor of unionizing and
theoretically in favor of labor power, and that extends all
the way through our management team, Like they are very

(01:51:30):
very in favor of the concept of labor rights, and
so it's really interesting trying to parse that dynamics sometimes
of like, Okay, these are people who are supposedly our
biggest supporters, but at the same time their actions do
not very well line up with those ideals.

Speaker 11 (01:51:49):
I think having a section at our store that is
devoted to critical theory and Marxism while not paying us
a living wage is a real funny situation.

Speaker 14 (01:52:01):
The irony stings real hard.

Speaker 5 (01:52:04):
Yeah, it's this real Read the theory, do not act
on it, but read the theory.

Speaker 12 (01:52:10):
It's been real fun. Like we during like your course
book rush seasons, we have like sem co op trading
cards with pictures of like different authors. It's always really
fun handing out the ones that are like Carl Marx
sem co ops number one best selling author.

Speaker 13 (01:52:28):
And no, it's definitely not because every freshman at University
of Chicago has to buy him from us.

Speaker 5 (01:52:36):
Yeah, that's that's another that's like kind of unrelated, really
funny thing. But yeah, like all of the Chicago econ
dipshits at least nominally red marks. Did they open it
low odds? But yeah, I don't know that that seems
like a psychologically destabilizing contradiction that you're dealing with them all

(01:52:57):
the time.

Speaker 12 (01:52:58):
That same kind of like contradiction between like spirit and practice.
Just like it's also right there in our name where
we're the Seminary co Op bookstore, and like two thirds
of that is not true. We haven't been affiliated with
the seminary in decades. We were for a time a
member co op like RII, but we've never been a
worker's co op. We haven't even been a member co

(01:53:20):
op since twenty fourteen. We are a bookstore, So there's
like that.

Speaker 5 (01:53:25):
But the old one in three eight bad being simply
does not apply here. That is in fact very bad well.

Speaker 11 (01:53:33):
And I think that that is like a very big
part of how the larger community sees our stores as well,
and the like mismatch there because yeah, of course we're
like on the Chicago campus. We are very much connected
to the student body and the faculty there, but we're
also like in the middle of like our neighborhood where

(01:53:54):
there are plenty of other people who are not affiliated
with the college who are like coming in buying their books.
There's the fact that like our our second location down
the street fifty seventh Street Books, which has like our
kids sections and like a bunch of other less academic
stuff like that's very heavily trafficked as well. And the

(01:54:16):
communities understanding of us as a like worker owned not
not for profit, which is a very confusing term because
it's not a nonprofit, it's a not for profit. That
that disconnect between what the community needs and wants in
its bookstores and what the management has decided our bookstores

(01:54:43):
mean to the community is it's felt.

Speaker 1 (01:54:46):
That's like a very felt mismatch.

Speaker 5 (01:54:50):
Yeah, so I'm assuming that that that's sort of the
kinds of things that I mean, obviously the standard not
getting paid off, et cetera, et cetera. Are those those
are sort of things that led into how the organizing started.

Speaker 13 (01:55:02):
Yeah, I think it's a lot the way that like
the mismatch is so apparent to us, and it really
brought us together, Like we have such a unique sense
of solidarity as a working cohort. I feel like there's
a lot of commiseration because we walk a very weird
line throughout our community, and so I think it's a

(01:55:24):
little bit just trying to assess what's going on in
our stores and like how does that compare to what
management tells us on a regular basis, and shouldn't we
be doing something about that?

Speaker 1 (01:55:36):
Yeah, I think that. I know that.

Speaker 11 (01:55:39):
Our first like big pre union meeting where we all
got together in the basement of one of our houses
and commiserated, was like after a pretty rough, like all
store meeting that we had had in which we had
continued to get really no response regarding questions about a

(01:55:59):
living wage, or how we choose stock for our store,
how communication between management and hourly booksellers was just so lacking,
and we just got the same kind of messaging that
was being given to customers, which is we're working on it.

(01:56:24):
You're all of these things that you're saying are so valid,
and we'll address them at a later date.

Speaker 12 (01:56:33):
Yeah, we were getting this great response of like, you know,
we want to get you to not just a living wage,
but a professional wage, and we have a five year plan,
but we were halfway through that five year plan. The
five year plan started right before the pandemic and had
not been adjusted since, and there was no information on
how we were going to in the last half of

(01:56:55):
this five year plan, you know, suddenly increase wages to
whatever a professional wage is let alone a living wage.
So that was just a very a very frustrating, like
completely empty answer.

Speaker 11 (01:57:10):
I think we were all very we were all hurt,
and we got like the very first message in our
group chat, which was just like so we're we're gonna
we're gonna unionize, right, incredible, And that was like the
start of it. And that was like last I want
to say that was January of twenty twenty three was

(01:57:32):
when that started.

Speaker 12 (01:57:34):
Yeah, they'reabouts.

Speaker 5 (01:57:46):
Yeah, that's a that's I guess it's a pretty vast
campaign by the looks of it. It's yeah, about it
about it a bit over a year. Yeah, Yeah, congratulations
to you all, by the way, thank you.

Speaker 1 (01:57:59):
Thanks.

Speaker 13 (01:58:00):
It's really thanks to the team that started in January though,
because they have been really really proactive about reaching out
to people when there are new booksellers. Because I have
kind of a weird tenure at the store. I've worked
there two separate times, but I wasn't part of the
January meeting. But when I rejoined the co op in August,
I think within the first week that I was there,

(01:58:23):
one of my kokers came up to me while I
was at the register and like in the standard getting
to know you kind of speech, was like, how do
you feel about labor organizing? And I was like, very
in favor. Why do you ask?

Speaker 5 (01:58:37):
Yeah, that, by the way, dear listener, if you're at
a union, that is that is what is known as
good practice. It is, in fact a thing that you
need to do. Whenever someone new joins your workplace and
you have a union, bring them in. And if you
don't do this, your unions will stagnate die. And there
are there are like there are actually there are unions
out there who will get mad at you for doing
this because it takes resources or whatever, and don't listen

(01:58:58):
to them. Please stop. Simply do not do this.

Speaker 13 (01:59:02):
This is the only defense against turnover, which is huge
industries that most need to unionize.

Speaker 1 (01:59:09):
Yep, we have really crazy turnover.

Speaker 11 (01:59:12):
Like I think that of the original people who started talking,
I mean and this was like there was a previous
unionization effort too before our time that we know very
little about. But of the original like January folks, very
few of us are left just because of the turnover
rate which is immense, and we get like groups of

(01:59:34):
like three to four people hired at once every six
months or so. And it's like, Okay, how quickly can
we scope folks out, How quickly can we like do
like a one on one and talk to them about
how they feel about labor organizing. How can we get
a sense of like what their main concerns are with

(01:59:58):
the job and what they want from unionizing.

Speaker 7 (02:00:01):
Yeah.

Speaker 12 (02:00:01):
Well, and the turnover is also one of the things
that sparked this because we had a wave of folks
who were fired asked to leave or quit on their
own terms. And we had another coworker who knew that
she was kind of reaching the end of when she
could you know, stay at the bookstore and was just

(02:00:25):
very committed to like getting some momentum going in her
last handful of months here and created, like you oside
the group chat and was just very quit like all right,
everyone were in the group chat like this message if
you agree with the following statement, and then it was like,
you know, the statements about like how much you care

(02:00:45):
about the job, and then statements about like how much
you agree that like a union would improve things, and
just about everybody agreed a union would be a huge improvement.
And that was I mean, that was also a really
incredible resource because like before someone just created the group chat.
We're in this really awkward phase of like three or

(02:01:05):
four different groups of people trying to get a ball
rolling and very like cautiously approaching folks. I had approached
one or two people and been like that same exact question,
like how do you feel about unions? And then there
was someone else who was going around asking the exact
same question. And you know, I was also at rege

(02:01:26):
one day when she came up and asked ask me that,
and I was like, Jesus, do I not have enough
patches on my jacket? This is a question I need
to fix something.

Speaker 11 (02:01:38):
It was a lot of like ships passing until the
group chat got created, and then it was really quick.

Speaker 1 (02:01:44):
We had We started.

Speaker 11 (02:01:47):
Having like meetings, I want to say we had one
like every three weeks to a month. In that first
six months, we got together a letter of demands that
we all read and signed. It was I think at
the time of the how many were working there. It

(02:02:09):
was like all but one maybe wow person signed it,
and we all went to deliver it and read it
to management and got a bunch of stuff right away.
This was like well before yeah, well before we had

(02:02:29):
signed with an or decided who we wanted to ununize with,
and we still just threw that direct action got so
much done.

Speaker 13 (02:02:38):
And I think that's part of the success that we've
had so far too, is we do just have kind
of a large number in our cohort of impatient people,
which means that like, once we figure out what we want,
we're just like, Okay, what's the fastest way we can
ask for this and get it recognized.

Speaker 12 (02:02:56):
That first march that we did, that first letter was
also just I mean, it really like fueled all of
the rest of this, I think because the stuff that
we won was so I think so immediately felt for
everyone working there.

Speaker 5 (02:03:12):
There wasn't things, Uh what kinds of things did you win?

Speaker 6 (02:03:15):
In that one?

Speaker 12 (02:03:17):
We won expanded health insurance. Previously very few people qualified
for health insurance. We got that pretty tremendously broadened. I mean,
that's I think how THEO and I ended up getting
health insurance. We got things like, you know, improved maternity leave,
improved bereavement leave. The definition of who you could take

(02:03:39):
berievement leave for was broadened. It was like previously a
grid of like nine types of relation, and then it
got just fully expanded to like include chosen family and
just whoever you know you felt the need to claim
berievement leave for as well as just how many days,
which was tremendous. I mean, it was like a week

(02:04:02):
after the change you know, got actually implemented into our
leave system, that I found out a relative was dying,
And because we had gotten that expansion, I didn't have
to choose between driving my grandmother to be by her bedside,

(02:04:23):
be by this other relative's bedside, or going to the funeral.
I was able to take time off for both of those,
which you know, meant everything to me, meant everything to
my grandma.

Speaker 4 (02:04:36):
And so.

Speaker 12 (02:04:38):
You know, when we talk when we're looking at issues,
when we're organizing, and we talk about things that are
widely felt, that are deeply felt, that are actionable, and
like those kinds of changes are very deeply felt. And
so there wasn't you know, there really hasn't been a
point since then when anyone could remotely make the argument
that organizing doesn't create positive, impactful change.

Speaker 13 (02:05:04):
Yeah, the handbook that I was onboarded with the second
time that I came to the stores was significantly different
than the handbook that I was onboarded with the first time,
and it was because this list of demands had gone
out in the interim, because the policies about like just
our character as a store and the way that we

(02:05:25):
want to interact with our community were completely different, and
it was very much that like booksellers who interact with
the community on a daily basis, had had a say
in the meantime.

Speaker 5 (02:05:37):
Hell yeah, okay, So unfortunately we have to go to
an ad break. But oh we returned. Well, I don't know,
go back to what we were doing before, question work.
I don't know, not not. My fight is to ad pivot.
But you know, look if they if they, if they
paid me more, they'd get more good AD pivots. But
they don't fear get in the media. Once you gotta
work your wage.

Speaker 7 (02:05:58):
Yeah, and we're back.

Speaker 5 (02:06:12):
Yeah, So you know, the organizing students have come together
pretty quickly. I guess, do you want to talk about
how you ended up being an AWW shop?

Speaker 12 (02:06:24):
Yeah, I mean I'm happy to talk on that a
little bit. You know, when we got to the point
where were deciding who we wanted to affiliate with, I
sent out feelers to just a bunch of different unions.
Two got back to me a larger trade union that
I'm totally spacing on the name of, or a commercial

(02:06:44):
union the term for like the really big one, the
really big types of unions, and the IWW and I
had meetings or phone calls with representatives from both of them.
The you and I put together kind of a graphic
sort of comparing like the pros and cons of two

(02:07:05):
very different options, right like a big international union or
I mean IWW obviously international, it's right in there in
the name, but obviously a smaller, much more autonomous union.
And I wanted to go IWW. I did my absolute
best to not let that bias inform the pros and

(02:07:28):
cons lists and whatnot, and we, you know, we sat
around in this room here and just chatted it out,
talked about our preferences, what mattered to all of us,
and you know, what we decided was that, amongst other things,
one of like the really big sort of organizing principles
of this has been increasing our own agency and autonomy

(02:07:51):
in the workplace, and the IWW's model just felt like
it would give us the most control over our own campaign.
And so that's that's how we ended up voting to
become an IWW. You know lead, then campaign, and now
finally shop branch.

Speaker 11 (02:08:13):
I think that the IWW really fit how our store
and our organizing had worked thus far.

Speaker 6 (02:08:19):
Too.

Speaker 11 (02:08:20):
It felt like it matched the character of our organizing.
It's definitely much scrappier it, you know, the IWW having
a history in Chicago definitely was a factor in my
personal desire to be affiliated with them. I thought it
was really cool to be joining that like long tradition

(02:08:40):
of IWW shops in Chicago. I think that direct the
emphasis on direct employee action versus like contract bargaining fit
very well for us as well. I think, especially considering
things like the turnover and how we wanted to make

(02:09:00):
sure that you know, if we argue to contract, if
we bargain for a contract now, that it would be
difficult to know, you know, even a year or two
down the line, if those points and those things that
we bargained for would be what.

Speaker 1 (02:09:17):
Folks would want then.

Speaker 11 (02:09:19):
And so getting to use more direct action and response
to make gains in the workplace has been.

Speaker 1 (02:09:32):
I think a.

Speaker 11 (02:09:34):
Really helpful strategy and one that the IWW facilitates really
well with how it trains organizing.

Speaker 5 (02:09:42):
Yeah, that all makes a lot of sense. And I
guess you know, the question for there is how did
management sort of react and what's been the kind of
what's what's what's what's been the kind of relationship vibe
since then?

Speaker 13 (02:09:57):
I mean management volunte taily recognized us immediately, but they
also had very clear notice ahead of time that we
had been organizing, Like we had been presenting them with
demands on a regular basis. We had been emailing them
from an anonymous account requesting that they closed the stores
when the cold was too intense for most of us

(02:10:19):
to safely get to work, Like they would be very
very deeply buried under the rocks if they didn't know
that we were like talking to each other. So I
think that they had a plan, And they also know
the character of our community, which is very theoretically leftist,
and so they knew that they really didn't have another
option because like we were at critical mass, and they

(02:10:43):
would look really bad in the eyes of everyone.

Speaker 14 (02:10:46):
That they respect if they said nothing.

Speaker 12 (02:10:50):
By the time that we announced to management that we'd unionized,
something like twenty one twenty two out of two twenty
three hourly workers were members of the IWW.

Speaker 14 (02:11:06):
We showed up in T shirts. It was a lot.

Speaker 11 (02:11:09):
Yeah, incredible when you walk in, when you walk in
in your IWW shirt to sit down at like an
all store meeting, and then the next person walks in
and they're also wearing that shirt, and then the next
person it's like, yeah, we've.

Speaker 1 (02:11:22):
Got the numbers. Something's about to happen. And they knew.

Speaker 11 (02:11:27):
They knew because we'd heard them I think, like not
two days before being like, yeah, we think that they're
on the precipice of unionizing.

Speaker 14 (02:11:37):
If we were like, boy, you have no idea.

Speaker 11 (02:11:41):
Yeah, they took it as well as we expected them
to take it.

Speaker 1 (02:11:47):
As Finn said.

Speaker 12 (02:11:48):
We had been in a organized meeting the night before
and had been in our group chet you know, that morning,
preparing for all manner of different scenarios. If they didn't
take it well and then and then they did.

Speaker 5 (02:12:02):
How have they been acting after, Because there's there's definitely
it can be a huge gap between vaulty recognition and
then them actually doing anything.

Speaker 11 (02:12:12):
Yeah, So the structure of management is real interesting. At
our store, Like I said, we had we have twenty
three currently hourly booksellers, and then that to how many managers.

Speaker 14 (02:12:27):
Six at least eight eight count.

Speaker 11 (02:12:32):
Yes, this is a fun quirk about our store. The
manager to bookseller ratio is insane. And then we've got
like our directors who are not counted in the manager number,
which is okay.

Speaker 13 (02:12:48):
So we've got five managers and three directors.

Speaker 11 (02:12:52):
Five managers and three directors for twenty three hourly employees.

Speaker 1 (02:12:58):
And I think that, yeah, yeah.

Speaker 14 (02:13:01):
And have to use that ratio in meetings.

Speaker 1 (02:13:04):
They talk about that a lot.

Speaker 5 (02:13:06):
Yeah, And I think that.

Speaker 11 (02:13:09):
No, no, no, no, we talk about it a lot
like as and I think that, well, it's interesting because
in these store meetings it is usually only the director
that talks. I don't think we've ever heard managers talk
in an all storm meeting. So when the director voluntarily
or recognizes our union, we also have to really look

(02:13:33):
at the faces of every manager to see what they're
actually feeling.

Speaker 1 (02:13:36):
And I think a lot of managers are.

Speaker 14 (02:13:42):
Have.

Speaker 11 (02:13:42):
My suspicion is that a lot of managers share equal
frustration with a lot of the ways that the store is.

Speaker 1 (02:13:52):
Managed, even above them.

Speaker 11 (02:13:55):
And I think, obviously they can't say anything to us
about how they feel about our.

Speaker 13 (02:14:04):
Union, but but anecdotally, they were so excited to take
our picture after we announced that we had unilized.

Speaker 5 (02:14:14):
That's really funny.

Speaker 1 (02:14:16):
We did get management to take our photo, which we.

Speaker 13 (02:14:19):
Hadn't joked about in the group chat in the morning, Like, Lol,
wouldn't it be hilarious if we made the managers take
our picture and then they shor.

Speaker 5 (02:14:25):
Did That's so funny.

Speaker 11 (02:14:28):
Yeah, On a day to day level, I think things
have been generally.

Speaker 1 (02:14:34):
No more or less awkward than usual. The vibe can be, yeah,
bizarre on them.

Speaker 7 (02:14:41):
The vibe is.

Speaker 13 (02:14:41):
Also very highly colored right now by a lot of
other big changes that are happening at the stores that
have nothing to do with our union, and so like
it's very difficult to sort of suss out which weirdness
is which. But definitely I think the union weirdness is
on the lesser end.

Speaker 12 (02:14:59):
Actually, yeah, I mean, I think the only real indication
we have in the last in this kind of just
little stretch since we announced is that we've been emailing
with our director for like to schedule a announcement from
the store side, and you know, we sent basically copy

(02:15:24):
that we would like them to use and listed out
what venues we would like it posted, and they've been
just very accommodating to all of that. We haven't been
getting any pushback like how the store how or when
the store announces to the you know, mailing list and
the community social media following and so on, so you

(02:15:45):
know there's that.

Speaker 11 (02:15:46):
Yeah, it hasn't really been talked about that publicly yet.

Speaker 1 (02:15:50):
It's about to be. I do know that.

Speaker 11 (02:15:53):
When at the at the event that I was running
or working at yesterday the unionization, we got congratulated on
our unionization and one of my managers was just that
was to my manager's face, and I think her reaction
was like, oh, so you know they're taking it. They'd

(02:16:15):
being very polite about it. I don't think they know
that other people know yet, but yeah, if they when
it happens, I'm sure they're not going to be weird
about it, at least I hope not.

Speaker 13 (02:16:29):
I think the main thing management wants to do everything
in writing, and I think that's correct in some ways
and like that's about to happen, But in terms of
how they will interact with us once it is fully
public and fully announced and fully in writing, I'm not sure.

Speaker 11 (02:16:50):
I also think that the reactions that we're getting now
are the ways that they interact with us now that
we have announced versus the ways that they may interact
with us once we start really pushing for our demands.
That is that that could change pretty quickly, especially when
it comes to the living wage demand, that is very

(02:17:12):
at the forefront of what we're fighting for. That's also
been the one that has like the most tension behind
it when we've brought it up in the past. And
I think that once they realized that we're not just
unionizing for fun, things might change pretty quickly.

Speaker 1 (02:17:34):
And so we're just going to have to be on
We'll be on our.

Speaker 13 (02:17:37):
Toes because a big reason that we unionized was because
we needed to have more weight behind that demand, because
that was one of the core demands that has been
made for the longest amount of time, with the least
amount of movement and the most empty promises, and so
we wanted to prove to them, hey, you have to

(02:17:58):
listen to us about this. And I think that they
might not have fully cottoned on to that yet.

Speaker 5 (02:18:05):
Yeah, And I guess I guess we'll just sort of
have to see how how they react to the sort
of hammer coming down on them now that day spent
all this time not actually doing anything. Yeah, I think
I think That's a pretty good place to wrap up.
Is there anyth unless there's anything else that you want
to make sure that gets mentioned.

Speaker 12 (02:18:24):
Yeah, I mean I think one thing I would like
to say towards the end here is that a big
part of what's been motivating us through all of this
is seeing the sort of rise of labor power nationally
with you know, the strikes in LA with like the writers,

(02:18:44):
the actress strikes, seeing you know, teacher strikes going on
with you know, the union stories that you all have
been covering on this podcast, with folks like Frida Egg
and I just yeah, I just want to say, like
if for other folks who are working in a small space,

(02:19:05):
in a retail space and thinking about unionizing, I mean,
it's hard work, but it's deeply rewarding work, and if
you put the time and dedication into it, it is
absolutely possible to organize your workplace, especially if you're somewhere
with twenty thirty co workers where you can get everyone

(02:19:26):
into a group chat, where you can get everyone together
in you know, someone's basement, someone's living room. You know,
we're really at an incredible moment in labor as a movement,
and just if you're thinking about organizing your workplace, Start

(02:19:48):
talking to your coworkers, start talking to your friends. It's doable.
It's hard, but there's power in a union and we
can win.

Speaker 5 (02:20:01):
Hell yeah, I.

Speaker 13 (02:20:03):
Think there was something to be said too, just for
the like sheer morale boost that comes from organizing with
your co workers, because it makes everything better even as
like your material reality doesn't change immediately, your outlook and
ability to manage it, and to just feel like someone
is in the same boat as you unparalleled really worth it.

Speaker 11 (02:20:25):
It feels yeah, it feels good. It feels good to
have something to be proud of, something that you've put
a lot of time into, Like coming to Fruition and
seeing all of these people that you've worked together with
to help make like tangible gains for your community.

Speaker 1 (02:20:47):
It feels like I think that.

Speaker 11 (02:20:50):
When you have a job, that is, when you're working
a job that sometimes makes it difficult to feel proud
of yourself and what you're doing a day to day basis.
For whatever reason, having organizing and having.

Speaker 1 (02:21:05):
Your coworkers.

Speaker 11 (02:21:08):
There to make something really really good, not just for
each other, but for future workers and for workers at
other stores who may see our efforts and go.

Speaker 1 (02:21:22):
I can do that too. That makes you.

Speaker 11 (02:21:25):
That makes me proud, and it feels really good to
have something to be proud of.

Speaker 5 (02:21:31):
Yeah, getting getting to fight for your class is a
great feelings.

Speaker 6 (02:21:35):
It rules.

Speaker 5 (02:21:37):
Yeah. So I guess where where can people find the
union if they want to help support stuff?

Speaker 13 (02:21:43):
Got it?

Speaker 14 (02:21:43):
Pull up our newly minted social media.

Speaker 5 (02:21:46):
That's nice.

Speaker 12 (02:21:47):
I had this ready to go earlier today and then
I forgot to keep it open.

Speaker 5 (02:21:53):
No worries, We'll put the links in the description.

Speaker 14 (02:21:55):
These are some fresh, fresh handles.

Speaker 12 (02:21:58):
Here we go. Yeah, so, folks can find us on
Instagram at sem co Op Booksellers Union sem c P
Booksellers Union, or on Twitter at sem co Op Union.
Hopefully we will, you know, start posting on soon and
that's going to be the best way to sort of

(02:22:21):
keep up with our store, our situation from specifically the
perspective of the laborers.

Speaker 11 (02:22:31):
Also, if you're in Chicago, come and say hi, Come
to our stores, Come talk to uhur like, come talk
to the workers.

Speaker 1 (02:22:41):
We have a lot to say. We'd love to talk
to you about it.

Speaker 5 (02:22:45):
Yeah, it's it's a great place and it's gotten significantly
better now that this now now that it's unionized and
hopefully one day I don't know, fuck it, don't all.
I'll say this hope hopefully one day it is a
fucking actual co op.

Speaker 1 (02:22:59):
Hell yeah, that's the dream, that's all we want.

Speaker 5 (02:23:07):
Yeah, so thank you all for coming on and good
luck and yeah, hope hope management folds like a fucking
wet paper towel.

Speaker 12 (02:23:16):
Hell yeah, thanks so much for having us.

Speaker 1 (02:23:19):
Thank you so much. This was amazing.

Speaker 5 (02:23:24):
Excited to have talked to you all. And yeah, this
has been. It could happen here. You can do this too,
and yeah, well we'll have we'll have exciting stuff coming
tomorrow too. Yeah. Go go organize your workplace and make
your bosses miserable and make your lives better. Welcome to

(02:23:54):
it could happen here? Podcast about things falling apart how
to put it back together again? Made by iHeartMedia. I
am your host Nia Wong. So we have been you know,
this is our This is going to be our first
Union doubleheader. We have two Union episodes in a row.
And part of why we're doing this is that we've
we've been covering a lot of very sort of very

(02:24:15):
fast drives, very low to the ground drives in small
shops recently, and today we are going to be covering
a shop that is not like that. It is very large,
it is quite geographically diverse, and it has been organizing
for a very long time. And that union is the
iHeart Podcast Union. And with me to talk about this
is Tracy Wilson from Suffie Missing History Class and Nomes Griffin,

(02:24:38):
who is a producer on many staggeringly too many shows.
And yeah, they are both on the bargaining committee of
the Aheart Podcast Union. So yeah, Tracy Nomes, welcome to
the show.

Speaker 8 (02:24:52):
No, thank you, We're glad to be here.

Speaker 5 (02:24:57):
Yeah, I'm excited. I'm excited to talk to you too.
So all right, first thing, first thing about this iHeart
Podcast Union. We haven't covered many media unions on this podcast.
We probably should do more, but it's been a sort
of product of of what kind I don't know that
there's certain there are certain kinds of stuff that we've
been focusing on. But now now we're doing media unions.

(02:25:20):
So the place I wanted to start talking about the
iHeart Podcast Union is the sort of scale of it.
I mean, there's people everywhere like there are there are
there are people who are where, there's one union member
in the entire city, so you know, can we And
it's also been going on for a very very long time,
so I wanted to sort of ask, can you talk

(02:25:40):
about how this whole process started and kind of how
long it's been going on.

Speaker 8 (02:25:44):
So long, so long. I was scrolling through my phone
today trying to remember when when was the first time
that I was contacted about unionizing, because the first thing
that happened for me was being organ into the union
before I Heart recognized us, and that was in the

(02:26:06):
fall of twenty twenty. The fall of twenty twenty, I
got a text from my friend Lauren that was like,
can I talk to you about a kind of a
work thing. It's a kind of work and I said sure.
And the question that Lauren had to ask me was
some of us are talking about unionizing. How would you

(02:26:28):
feel about that? And I said, Okay, I need to
check my agreement that I already have with iHeart because
a lot of us that I have individual agreements with
the company. I have worked in the job that I
have now in some capacity for almost nineteen years, so
I've been here forever and I already had this. I
was like, I need to find out does this agreement
prohibit me from doing this? It did not, and so

(02:26:51):
I said, all right, if I'm eligible to be in
the union, I'm on board. If I'm not eligible to
be in the union, you have my full support. And
that was in like November of twenty twenty, which is
eons ago at this point.

Speaker 10 (02:27:07):
Yeah, it's been I came on to the company and
the union was already in negotiations, Like, yeah.

Speaker 14 (02:27:14):
It had been a union already.

Speaker 10 (02:27:16):
I started in January of twenty twenty three, and I
came like straight into the we're in bargaining sessions process.

Speaker 8 (02:27:22):
Yeah. So the organizing process took definitely more than a year.
And that was more than a year of people talking
to all of their colleagues about whether they wanted to
form a union, what would be the benefits of forming
a union, all of that stuff. And so we have
three main offices at iHeart, there's New York, LA and Atlanta.

(02:27:45):
So there were people who were doing things on the
ground with people locally to them. But then also I
think it's something like a third of our unit is
not actually local to one of these offices. I'm not
local to an office. I live north of Boston, we
have like three unit members and the entire Commonwealth the message.
So this is like a really long process of getting
everybody on board and getting everybody to commit to saying

(02:28:06):
they wanted to be in the union, and then eventually
to sign union cards after all of that, that took
more than a year. We informed management of our intent
to unionize in December of twenty twenty one, and they
recognized us about six weeks later, in February of twenty
twenty two. That took longer than we would have wanted.
There was some back and forth about exactly what roles

(02:28:26):
would be included in the union, and then also the
winter holidays happened in the middle of that, which, like
those weeks don't exist for business purposes in a lot
of ways. We still got to do podcasts for them,
but nobody's at work, and so, you know, we were
recognized without having to go through an election with the NLRB,

(02:28:47):
which was great, but it did sort of feel like
it took a little bit to finally get the recognition.
And then we started bargaining in May, so a couple
of months after that, and that was two years ago
that we started bargaining.

Speaker 13 (02:29:02):
Oh, my god.

Speaker 1 (02:29:02):
Yeah, it's May now, it may.

Speaker 8 (02:29:05):
It is almost June today.

Speaker 1 (02:29:07):
Yeah.

Speaker 11 (02:29:09):
Yeah.

Speaker 5 (02:29:10):
It has been a really quite long bargaining process, which
I think, I mean, this is something we've talked about
on the show before that this is a pretty This
is a thing that happens a lot for especially for
first contracts, is that companies will try to sort of
just weight the union out and try to because you know,
the if if you look at like the places where
unions fail, it's they either fail in sort of like

(02:29:33):
they okay, there's there's there's the failures where like nothing
ever gets started. There's the failures where they lose they
lose an election, or they don't have enough people to
sign cards. And then the third place that they fail
is contract, is the first contract. And so this is
you know, a situation that I guess is not unexpected,

(02:29:54):
but is also negotiating a contract for two years just
is not very fun.

Speaker 14 (02:30:02):
Yeah, no, it's not.

Speaker 8 (02:30:05):
Our colleagues at WGAE, when we got ready to start bargaining,
tried to prepare us for the fact that eighteen months
to two years is fairly normal in the world of
media to bargain a first contract. I will readily acknowledge
that I was overly optimistic when we started. I would

(02:30:25):
not go so far as to say naive, but like
I thought it was a really good sign that the
company had voluntarily recognized US. I thought it was a
really good sign that WGAE had successfully negotiated other contracts
and that we were sort of drawing from a lot
of that. Contract language is our starting point, and I
feel like when you have all of the unionized podcast

(02:30:47):
shops having similar language to me, that language is now
becoming industry standard. So I expected less of a fight
over a lot of that than what we actually got.
And then also management hired an attorney that has negotiated
a lot of other contracts with WGA. Was just all
stuff that I thought was seemed favorable. And then when

(02:31:08):
we actually got into the bargaining process, it has gone
on for so long and there have been so many
things that it has felt like we're just going around
in circles at the table.

Speaker 5 (02:31:19):
Yeah, So before we get into kind of what issues
are being circled around and what management has been doing,
I wanted to talk about what bargaining a contract is
actually like, because I think most of the people listening
to this have never done it and only kind of
have a vague idea of what that means. So can
you sort of walk us through the I don't know.

(02:31:39):
So there's a week that has a bargaining session, can
you walk through the process of what goes into that.

Speaker 14 (02:31:45):
Yeah, definitely.

Speaker 10 (02:31:47):
So in a week where we might have a bargaining session,
say we have a bargaining session on Wednesday and Thursday,
as a committee will meet probably the Monday the tuesday
to prepare whatever our counter proposals will be. So whether
or not that's on economics. So we're getting back and
we're adjusting our salary proposals that are going to go

(02:32:08):
across the table, or we're adjusting what we're asking for
in severance, how many weeks of severance we're asking for.
So we'll spend some time as a committee going through
those proposals and basing our decisions off of like, this
is where we have an intention of landing, this is
where management is right now, this is what in our

(02:32:28):
conversations with the other unit members we've figured out is
most important to people, So we'll.

Speaker 14 (02:32:35):
Make counters based on that.

Speaker 10 (02:32:37):
Lately, our sessions have those sessions have looked like preparing
to who in the committee is going to be presenting
that contract language across the table, so we'll divvy up
those presentations and Tracy might present on diversity, I might
present about the salary minimums. We might have another committee
member present on severance and things like that, so well

(02:33:00):
sort out who is going to say what, and we'll
also plan out any other sort of editorializing that we're
going to do across the table, like this is why
we're making a move here, because it's important to our unit.
For this reason, we've also planned out actions that we're
going to do across the table and having unit members

(02:33:20):
read testimonials about certain contract items.

Speaker 14 (02:33:24):
So those are all of the.

Speaker 10 (02:33:25):
Things that we might prepare for ahead of the bargaining session.
And then on the actual day of bargaining session, we'll
go in and we'll meet as a committee in the morning.
We're either presenting first our proposals or management is presenting
to us. As a bargaining committee will be there to

(02:33:45):
hear the proposals. There may be some sessions that are
more important than others, so we'll invite the whole unit
to hear those proposals, and we will over those two
days sort of go back and forth, presenting across the
table what our proposals are and the counter propose and
with the idea of like getting closer to a contract
that is fair and like Tracy said earlier, industry standard.

Speaker 8 (02:34:09):
That sums it up.

Speaker 5 (02:34:11):
Yeah, and I guess this leads us to the second
part of contract negotiations, which is management's counterproposals. So, you
know something, something I think is kind of surprising when
when when you do this for the first time, is
the extent to which management simply will not show up
on time?

Speaker 14 (02:34:33):
Yeah?

Speaker 5 (02:34:35):
Yeah, So how has it actually been sitting across the
table from management and you know, hearing their counter proposals
and dealing with whenever they show up.

Speaker 8 (02:34:47):
Uh, all of my bargaining so far has been happening
on the other side of a zoom or a team's screen.
Since I'm remote to everybody else, which is a blessing curse, right,
I have kind of a buffer. I'm not having to
directly look at the faces of the people who are
coming in with salary proposals that are dramatically less than

(02:35:10):
what we proposed and what we feel as industry standard
at this point. But it also means that like I'm
by myself. I don't have somebody near me to when
like management leaves the room personally react with we got
to go around the circle in the whoever's in the
room and on the screen to sort of say our reactions.

(02:35:32):
But like it's it's lonely sometimes to do it from afar.
I do definitely have to practice keeping my expression neutral
because sometimes what we are hearing is not neutral expression territory.
And I also really was not totally prepared to hear

(02:35:54):
management justify their positions on things like I will feel
strongly that the correct and most ethical thing to do
is a particular thing, and then management will explain their
position on something and I'll sort of be like, that's
that's not the decision I would like you to be
making at all. And I'm a little upset that I

(02:36:15):
just heard you say that just now.

Speaker 10 (02:36:18):
Yeah, yeah, And I'm in Atlanta, So most of our
bargaining sessions have happened in Atlanta. We have also have
them in New york Er or le but so I
have been in person for most of the sitting down
across for management and like waiting a few hours after
when they said they would be ready to present their proposals,

(02:36:38):
and it is like tense and frustrating to sit in that,
and to Tracy's point, like, it is nice that we
have the rest of the committee with us to or
whoever's in Atlanta with us to sort of share in
that together. But the energy does get really tense at times,
especially in those situations where we've presented, hey, we would like,

(02:37:03):
however many days of bereavement leave so we can grieve
our family members, and then management comes back with an
offer that's.

Speaker 14 (02:37:11):
Like, well, what about just a couple of days to.

Speaker 10 (02:37:13):
Grieve your dead family member? And so in those situations
where it's like, do you think of me as a
fellow human being deserving of these like very basic things
to make my life livable.

Speaker 14 (02:37:28):
And then their answer sort of feels like a no.

Speaker 10 (02:37:31):
And you kind of just have to like sit in
that in person while they say it to your face.

Speaker 5 (02:37:37):
Yeah, and I mean, especially when it's something that personal
or it's that or if it's something that parental leave
where you know this is your child, right, and yeah,
you're sitting across a table from someone being like, oh, yeah, no,
you actually you should get like two days to deal
with this. It's just really brutal we had.

Speaker 8 (02:38:01):
It was a few months ago. We had a session
where we had a lot of testimonials that were accompanying
our actual contract proposals, and some of them were read
by the person who had written the testimonial, and some
of them were read by a different bargaining committee member
because somebody was just more comfortable remaining anonymous and having
somebody do that for them. And we had testimonials that

(02:38:24):
were all over the map in terms of things that
we were still in the process of bargaining, So we
had diversity testimonials, we had testimonials about parental leave, all
of this stuff. And one of the things that wound
up being just enormously frustrating was that it felt like
we went through all that and we presented so many
things about why this matters so much to all of us,

(02:38:45):
and the next round of counter proposals that we got
were like the same negligible movements as from before we
had all read all of the testimonials. And that was
not my favorite day of bargaining by far.

Speaker 14 (02:39:00):
No, Yeah, that one was not not fun to be
in on.

Speaker 5 (02:39:15):
And we are back, so, I mean, we've talked a
little bit about kind of belief stuff, and you know,
something like we've talked a little bit about some of
the issues that have been stuck in negotiations for two years,
but yeah, I wanted to sort of see, you know,
talk talk about sort of the specifics of where of

(02:39:37):
where the contract negotiations are right now, and how far
apart the company and the union is and also just
and this is something that I think has been a
theme of these negotiations is the extent to which management
is below industry standard. So yeah, I guess we could
start with sort of wages there because of one of

(02:40:00):
the places where they're very much below standard.

Speaker 10 (02:40:04):
Yeah, I think we only have a TA on one
a TA being a tentative agreement on one title and
only for the rate that they're proposing in New York
City in LA. Another big thing with our minimums is
that they're different for producers and other titles living in
New York City in LA than they are for people

(02:40:26):
in those roles in other cities. So yeah, we are
very far apart still on our salary minimums.

Speaker 8 (02:40:37):
Yeah, when we put together our proposals on salary minimums, like,
we didn't make them up out of nowhere. We did
a lot of research on pay rates at other unionized
podcast shops and other podcast businesses. We came up with
numbers that felt fair and industry standard based on all
of that research, and then management just came in so
much lower than all that. And then as Noomes just said,

(02:40:59):
there's this differential they're proposing between New York and LA
and everywhere else. Most of our unit is not in
New York or LA. A big chunk of the unit
is in Atlanta specifically, and the cost of living in
Atlanta is just not that much lower than New York
or LA. At this point. We've also been way apart

(02:41:19):
on annual increases. Originally management was proposing not to have
annual increases in the contract at all, and they've moved
past that, but the current proposals are still way way
less than the rate of inflation.

Speaker 10 (02:41:33):
I mean, it's about half, like half of what inflation is. Yeah,
like it does, it's not even inflation amount. And I
will say that like for many of the job titles,
they're so far below what industry standard is. With the
like very little incremental movement that they make every bargaining session,
it's clear that they the company doesn't have any interest

(02:41:56):
in getting the industry standard despite the fact that it
is like a large and well ranked podcasting company.

Speaker 8 (02:42:06):
Yeah, yeah, we just got the Webby Award as Podcast
Company of the Year, and we continue to be like
when rankings come out of the biggest podcast networks, like
we're always at or right near the top of the rankings.

(02:42:27):
All of that, we have a lot of shows that
are really well respected in you know, whatever subject matter
they are discussing, whatever broadly speaking genre of podcasts, and
so it sucks to then look at pay scales that
just don't line up with that in terms of like

(02:42:50):
the minimum of what the company will commit to offering people.

Speaker 5 (02:42:55):
Yeah, and I think the person to increased thing is
really frustrating too, because again, the way this works out
with inflation. And remember that, so you know, if we
started bargaining in twenty twenty two, right, inflation in twenty
twenty two was like three like twice what it is now.
And if if you're getting, if you're not getting this
is something I think that's important for everyone to understand,

(02:43:16):
is that if you're not getting so for inflation right
now is about three point four percent, If you're not
getting a three point four percent pay increase this year.
That means you you you are taking a pay cut
every single year, right, And the fact that you know
this is this is what my management's proposal is, you
take a pay cut every single year and you're supposed

(02:43:36):
to be fine with this is incredibly frustrating. And I
don't I don't think it's it's it's it's not really
understood in in terms of you're literally taking a pay
cut very much. It's just talked of like it's it's, it's,
it's it's something that's talked about. Is just like another benefit.
But like, no, we're trying not to take a pay cut.

Speaker 10 (02:43:58):
But yeah, yeah, I like to if my salary is
going to not take me any further at least not
take me any farther back.

Speaker 14 (02:44:07):
Yeah, I don't need to.

Speaker 10 (02:44:08):
Lose money every year like I've done this year in
starting my second year at the company.

Speaker 8 (02:44:14):
Right, there's been a lot of people who have not
had a raise since like before the pandemic started, and like,
I'm incredibly lucky. I have been at my job forever.
I'm on one of the biggest shows that we have
in the network. Like I'm doing okay, right, but a

(02:44:36):
lot of my colleagues who work on shows that don't
have as much power, don't have as big of an audience, like,
don't have as much much of an ad budget of
people who have been with the company less time, people
who are like earlier on in their careers, especially like
I've watched these folks go through the last four years

(02:44:58):
with no increase in their pay, and like, I can
see people struggling now financially in a way that they
weren't struggling financially in twenty nineteen because their pay has
not changed at all, but the how much it costs
to exist in the world is so much more expensive.

Speaker 10 (02:45:18):
Yeah, we have some members right now who like would
receive a pay increase with what's being proposed currently, but
it is nowhere near the majority. Most people are going
to lose money with the numbers as they are right now.

Speaker 5 (02:45:46):
Yeah, And that's one of the things that just you know,
I mean, and even the sort of industry standards in
podcasting isn't great, but that's one of these things that's
you know, very much below industry standard. And there's been
another one of these things that I wanted to talk
about that's kind of baffling that I think everyone involved

(02:46:08):
thought that this would be something that there wouldn't be
a huge fight over. But that's at will employment.

Speaker 4 (02:46:14):
You talk about that, Yeah, Yeah, I love too.

Speaker 8 (02:46:19):
So just cause employment means your employer has to have
just cause to terminate your employment. Your employer cannot just
do it willy nilly. And it's a core part of
like the rights that unions bargain for is to have
a process for somebody to be disciplined and lose their job.

(02:46:39):
It's a very basic thing, basic union protection. And the
management has held firm that they basically want to not
only have at will employment standards, but like enshrine that
in the contract.

Speaker 10 (02:46:56):
Yeah, meaning that they want to be able to fire
us for any reason and at any time, regardless of
whether or not we've done something actually warrant that loss
of our income.

Speaker 5 (02:47:10):
Yeah, And that's something I think is really important that
I don't think people think about it this way. But
you know, both for if you're doing work that's politically
sensitive or also if you are marginalized, that is a
you know, not not having your boss not be able
to fire you for literally any reason is it's a
necessary piece of protection. And if you don't have that.

(02:47:31):
You can have a situation where I don't know, you
have one boss who's racist, one boss who's transphobic, and
you know, you and everyone like you's careers are just gone.
And without that kind of protection, you know, it's it's
incredibly it's incredibly dangerous for like, for marginalized people to
you know, I mean even just like to be able

(02:47:53):
to speak up about things that are happening to you. Right, like, yes,
like tech technically speaking, retaliation is illegal. However, come up
see the entire history of labor in America and tell
me whether it tell me, explain to me whether or
not it act, it still actually happens, especially when you
can just fire someone for some other reason or again,

(02:48:14):
in this case, you can fire them for no reason.

Speaker 10 (02:48:17):
Yeah, yeah, And it's it's a thing that is so
baffling because there's no union contract.

Speaker 14 (02:48:25):
Without just cause.

Speaker 10 (02:48:26):
Like there's a number of reasons why people unionize. Obviously
we want better salaries, Obviously we want better healthcare. But
there's you don't form a union and then still allow
a contract that says yeah, and also though we can
fire you at any reason, because that is sort of
the antithesis of like what we're about here, which is

(02:48:49):
that there's like due process and structures in place that like,
people who provide the labor for.

Speaker 14 (02:48:55):
This company can't just like.

Speaker 10 (02:48:58):
At a moment's notice, be out out of healthcare and
in common all of that comes with that.

Speaker 5 (02:49:06):
Yeah, I mean politically like it's it. And you know,
if you look at this as a political system, it's
a difference between pure dictatorial rule where everything is just
done purely by fiat right, where you know, like the
person who rules you can do whatever they want to you,
and there being something like a functional legal process which
constrains the power of rulers to just sort of enact
their will on you. And that's you know, an incredibly

(02:49:29):
fundamental basic part of what a union is is the
democratization of the workplace.

Speaker 8 (02:49:34):
Yeah, yeah, that's That's one of the things that I
think is so important about just the right to unionize
in general that I think a lot of people who
have never been part of a union don't fully understand.
I'm basing some of this based on comments I continually
see on ARII ads, which I am served all the

(02:49:54):
time as a person who hikes a lot, because currently
their comments on their ads are a whole lot of
people saying, stop union investing ARII. And then there are
always people who are like, it's retail. If you don't
like it, get a better job, or they're saying something
like ARII has always voted one of the greatest employers,
Like you should just be thankful for what you have,

(02:50:15):
And I'm like, the thing is, though, an employer has
so much more power than an individual employee. Your employer
has a whole HR structure and lawyers and way more
money than any individual person working for them. And that's
why employees have the right to come together collectively to

(02:50:35):
just balance that out a little bit. Like a union
is still going to have a power differential between themselves
and the company. We have a whole lot more equity
and a whole lot more access to that power together
than as one individual person going to their manager asking
nicely to have a couple extra days off because their

(02:50:55):
parent died or whatever.

Speaker 5 (02:50:58):
Yeah, as the old is these, the old song goes,
what force on earth is weaker than the feeble strength
of one, but the union makes us strong. Yeah, I
think I think that's a good sort of place to
end on. The negotiations are still ongoing, flying next week.

Speaker 8 (02:51:15):
To be there in person next week already. Yeah, yeah,
a little scary. I don't know what to wear to
an office anymore.

Speaker 10 (02:51:25):
Oh see, and me either. I actually just show up
how I am always in my normal life.

Speaker 14 (02:51:32):
So I encourage you to do the same.

Speaker 8 (02:51:34):
Can I get a Union shirt from you when I
get there?

Speaker 14 (02:51:37):
Oh please?

Speaker 10 (02:51:38):
They're literally clogging my home and I would love to
give you one. So I have one of us.

Speaker 11 (02:51:47):
All right.

Speaker 5 (02:51:47):
So where can people go to find the Union and
to support us.

Speaker 10 (02:51:52):
We are on Twitter at Iheartpod Union. We're on Instagram
also at Iheartpod Union.

Speaker 14 (02:52:00):
Yeah, that's where you can find us. On social media.

Speaker 8 (02:52:02):
We're on Blue Sky at iHeart Podcast Union. I have
the keys to that one right now, and I have
not been really active with it. I'm sorry.

Speaker 10 (02:52:13):
Yeah, many an update goes out on the Twitter so
you can stay in touch there.

Speaker 5 (02:52:21):
Yeah. And in the in the meantime between now and bargaining,
this has been naked appen here. Thank you to so
much for coming on and yeah, let's let's get let's
let's let's get ourselves a good contract.

Speaker 10 (02:52:32):
Yeah.

Speaker 14 (02:52:33):
Yeah, we're gonna get a good contract. And it is
such a pleasure to work with the both of you.

Speaker 8 (02:52:38):
Oh, yes, you too. Thank you so much Mia for
having us on.

Speaker 5 (02:52:42):
Yeah for sure, always happy to all right, And this
is also your daily union episode reminder that you too
can do this. You too can spend an enormous amount
of time going through a spreadsheet.

Speaker 8 (02:52:54):
Then finally spreadsheets.

Speaker 5 (02:52:55):
Turn it look. Unionization is the process of turning a
spreadsheet into into a fighting organization.

Speaker 10 (02:53:02):
You two can get lost in a sea of Google docs.

Speaker 5 (02:53:07):
But I promise you all, as as much as this
episode has been about, you know, the sort of stubbornness
of management and how you know and how kind of
demoralizing that process can be, it is worth it, I
promise you all. It is and you can You can
do it too.

Speaker 7 (02:53:27):
Hey.

Speaker 2 (02:53:27):
We'll be back Monday, with more episodes every week from
now until the heat death of the universe.

Speaker 9 (02:53:33):
It Could Happen here as a production of cool Zone Media.
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website
cool Zonemedia dot com, or check us out on the
iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.
You can find sources for It Could Happen Here, updated
monthly at cool zonemedia, dot com, slash sources, thanks for listening.

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