Thursday, November 29, 2012


Branches: San Francisco Bay Area GMB
Campaigns: Food & Retail Workers Organizing
Union News: Foodstuff Workers Industrial Union 460

Domino’s Pizza sucks. Not just in the sense that it treats its workers heinously, the pizza itself is of a low quality. Eating a slice of Domino’s pizza is a similar experience to swallowing a salt shaker. So its not surprising that on a Saturday night in Berkeley, the Domino’s storefront was dead. A delivery car would run out the back every 15 minutes or so, but business was not booming.

Us Wobblies posted up at a Chinese restaurant next door, waiting for 6 PM, when our demonstration was set to begin. We had committed to stage an action in solidarity with Domino’s Delivery Drivers in Australia, who have received an arbitrary wage cut of 19%, a punishment for the 23 delivery drivers who raised complaints over a trend of paychecks that came up short of their promised salaries.

The consensus in the Chinese restaurant was that this was going to be a git ’er done and out kind of deal. Walk around with signs in front of the location for a couple hours, chant some angry chants, and flyer passersby. Hopefully, by the end of the night, we’d cost Domino’s a few customers, get the workers thinking about the stability of their own wages, and bother the boss enough that they’d give corporate management a call.

But we got so much more.

The first step we took was to enter the Domino’s, tell the workers what was happening, give them flyers for informational purposes, and make it clear that we were on their side. But one of the workers at the front end wasn’t having it. She ran to the back, screaming for her boss like we were trying to rob the place.

Her boss came out in a ridiculous fury, charging us with disrupting the operation of some sort of mom n’ pop shop.

“I treat my people well here!” she said. “And you’re trying to mess that up! This is a franchise! I’m a small business owner! YOU DAMN WOBBLIES!”

It’s strange to think that someone would have the nerve to argue that a store with the Domino’s logo on it had no relationship whatsoever with the Domino’s Pizza Corporation.

So at first there were 4 of us, marching in a circle. Then a veteran wob showed up and we had 5. Then 3 comrades from the WSA appeared, followed by two more fellow workers, and we had quite a mass rally going on. Some guy I’d never met before was walking down the street, saw what was going on, thought it made sense, and joined in.

It was nice, but not very exhilarating. The cops had been called, but Berkeley PD doesn’t exactly make small demos on the sidewalk a high priority. Eventually a cop did show up, but he only stuck around for a few minutes, told us our rights, and left. He was almost sarcastic in how little he seemed to care about what was going on. There was a quality of excitement lacking from the whole affair.

Fortunately, the boss changed that in a bigger way than we could have ever hoped.

Suddenly, workers started running outside with flyers and pizzas, and started passing them out to anyone that seemed interested. A fellow worker who had been passing out flyers at the corner asked what the deal was, and ran back to us with an big grin on his face:

“That idiot is giving free pizza away to everyone. She thinks it’s gonna convince people that Domino’s isn’t so bad.”

That’s right, the boss’ response to our attempt to cost Domino’s money was… to cost Domino’s way more money than we could have ever anticipated.

Not wanting anyone to miss out on this opportunity, 3 of us split up and ran to the busiest intersections in Berkeley, telling everyone that they could get free pizza just by asking for it. Most folks were skeptical, but hordes of hungry teenagers were willing to take the risk that we might be pulling a fast one. Within minutes, twitter was crackling with the news. From Telegraph to Shattuck, crowds of Berkeley’s nightlife were descending upon Domino’s.

By the time I had returned to the pizza joint, a dense line was stretching out the door and down to the corner. Domino’s workers were passing out free sodas to everyone waiting. As we observed the people coming out the door, it was obvious that they weren’t just getting free slices, the boss was throwing away full pies. Some even had the gall to ask for sides… and got them.

Wobblies soapboxed to the crowd waiting in line, educating them on what had happened in Australia. People who had came just wanting to take advantage of the situation left shocked at the contempt with which Domino’s treats its workers. We were congratulated on our ability to help people by hurting profits.

By this time, the boss had clearly realized that her clever plan was a disaster, but there was nothing she could do but wait it out. The people were too many and too hungry. Delivery drivers were rolling in laughter at the spectacle, thanking us for also getting all the workers inside free pizzas, apparently out of the boss’ fear that our demonstration would get them to think about organizing. The bribe didn’t seem to work at all.

Eventually it was decided that we should leave, figuring that if a riot ensued when Domino’s ran out of commodities, we didn’t want the IWW banner across it. We had done our part. But after our demo had dissipated, we drove past the storefront one more time, only to behold the sight of a line just as long as we had left it, the costs to the corporation still spiraling even in the absence of our presence.

Someone estimated the damage we did that night puts the cost to Domino’s somewhere between $2,000 to $4,000.

Just out of curiosity, I called the location several hours later to see how they were handling the fallout:

Domino’s Worker: “Thank you for choosing Domino’s, how can I help you?”

Me: “Hey, I heard y’all are giving away free pizza. What’s going on?”

Domino’s Worker: “No, no, that just ended, we ran out of… no that just ended.”

Me: “Oh, ok. So what’s the deal with that? Is it a Saturday thing, or just a random event, or what?”

Domino’s Worker: “No, we just did that to get rid of… I mean, that was a… spur-of-the-moment customer appreciation thing.”

Domino’s obviously won’t tell the real story, so it falls to us. If anyone asks what went down in Berkeley that night, just tell them that the biggest pizza company in the world was thrown into such a panic by the sight of Wobblies at the door that they threw a couple grand worth of surplus value down the drain.

(Lifted from

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Francis studied at Hull University. Need I add that the phrase "A Terrible Beauty" is from a poem of Yeats?

(Francis Devine, May Day 1999)

They were beating him,
the black man,
on a side street in Dolphin's Barn,
Tuesday afternoon about half three,
they were beating him.

Four young men were kicking him,
not knowing when to stop,
jackals at some other beast's kill,
they were beating him,
a passive, stuffing-less rag doll,
slouched against a wall,
offering no resistance,
they were beating him.

As I slowed the car
they stopped, swore at me,
threw things then ran off
shouting back racist abuse,
'Effing nigger lover,
we'll burst yous,
you effing banana man'.

As I helped him stand
I saw he was West African,
Nigerian maybe, a broad face,
two tribal nicks at his temples,
his teeth trembling, oozing blood
as if he had been guzzling cherries.

He clutched his stomach,
stumbled but shook off my hand,
his eyebrows slit like Dick Tiger
somewhere in the fourteenth round.
He said nothing as I suggested assistance,
that I would bring him to James's
that I would bring him home.

They had beaten him
the black man, cold and curious
in Dublin 8, flotsam or jetsam,
in need of a welcome, a smiling face,
in need of the sun, the smell of red earth.

'This is a terrible country' he said
and I thought of the 1960s
looking for digs in Brixton
with their printed signs
'No Wogs, No Dogs, No Irish'.
I wondered would Nelson
give back his freedom to a city
that could savagely beat
a man on the street
because he was black,
a vulnerable, wondering stranger,
an easy target.

Is this the terrible beauty
we have reared?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

"Governments don't rule the world. Goldman Sachs rules the world." (Alessio Rastani)

I see that the next governor of the Bank of England is a Goldman Sachs alumnus. He has informed the nation of his priorities, "It's very important for the global economy that the UK does well, that it succeeds in this rebalancing of their economy, that the reform of the British financial system is completed." What reform is that, I wonder?
So, what's good for "the global economy" will have to be good enough for the British people. Sir Mark (the knighthood follows the British citizenship) was also involved in Goldman Sachs' fixing of the Russian economy.

"Senior Goldman executives expressed regret that Russia's economic program collapsed and that the deals that bear Goldman's imprimatur did not always work as intended. But they defended the firm's role there as 'very constructive' and attributed the country's troubles to problems that had little to do with investment banking."
"When the Government defaulted, Goldman said its losses were 'absolutely minimal'."
(New York Times, 18 October 1998)

Sir Mark should get on well with the President of the European Central Bank, Cavaliere Mario Draghi (ex-Goldman Sachs); and the unelected Italian Prime Minister, Cavaliere Mario Monti (ex-guess who). Pity the unelected Prime Minister of Greece, Loukas Papademos (ex-guess who) resigned so quickly. Apparently Goldmann Sachs has big money riding on Greece quitting the Eurozone.

Monday, November 26, 2012

(Oodgeroo Noonuccal)

Black ADVANCE, not white ascendant;
Make us equals, not dependents.
We need help, not exploitation.
We want FREEDOM, NOT frustration;
Not control, but self-reliance.
Independence, not compliance.
Not rebuff, but education.
Self-respect, not resignation.
Free us from a mean subjugation.
From a bureaucratic protection.
Let's forget the old time slavers;
Give us fellowship, not favours;
Encouragement not prohibitions.
Homes, not settlements and missions.
We need love not over-lordship,
Grip of hand, not whip-hand wardship:
Opportunity that places
White and black on equal basis.
You dishearten, not defend us,
Circumscribe, who should befriend us.
Give us welcome, not aversion.
Give us choice not cold coercion,
Status, not discrimination.
HUMAN RIGHTS, not segregation.
You the law, like Roman Pontius,
Make us proud, not colour-conscious:
Give good will not bigot bias;
Give ambition, not prevention.
Confidence not condescension
Give incentive, not restriction.
Give us Christ, not crucifixion.
Though baptized and blessed and Bibled
We are still taboo and libeled.
You devout salvation sellers.
Make us neighbours, not fringe-dwellers:
Make us mates not poor relations,
Citizens not serfs on stations.
Must we native Old Australians
In our own land rank as aliens?
Banish bans and conquer caste,
Then we'll win our own at last.
"... the Israeli state has successfully intimidated the BBC into presenting the theft of Palestinian land and the caging, torturing and killing of its people as an intractable "conflict" between equals. Standing in the rubble from an Israeli attack, one BBC journalist went further and referred to "Gaza's strong culture of martyrdom". So great is this distortion that young viewers of BBC News have told Glasgow University researchers they are left with the impression that Palestinians are the illegal colonisers of their own country. The current BBC "coverage" of Gaza's genocidal misery reinforces this."
(John Pilger)

I've been wondering; as the BBC does all in its power to cover up the atrocities and to lay the blame for the conflict at the victims' door, could it be laying itself open to the charge of being an accessory to war crimes?
William Hague, our Foreign Secretary who can't tell his Libya from his Venezuela, has pronounced on the Leveson Enqiry into the criminal activities of the press.
"We must err on the side of Murdoch" he said. At least that's what I think he said.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

My father-in-law's war was fought in Mediterranean with the 8th Army, known as the 'Desert Rats'. He was at el Alamein in North Africa, and at Monte Cassino in Italy.
Here's a poem by a cavalryman of the Royal Tank Regiment of the 8th Army. Not much about ducking the bullets, but strong on other drawbacks to a life in arms.

(M. Rawlinson)

There's some who say the Medi-
Terranean is heady;
While others who have stayed there
Are very much afraid there's
A lot more to be said
About the highly vaunted Med.

For instance there's malaria
In the Mare Nostrum area;
and pox in many a guise
Small and cow and otherwise
Can easily be caught
Doing things you didn't ought.

Then there's flies and fleas and
Lice and crabs that tease and
Make themselves a pest
Always hanging round the test-
Icles playing hide and seek
In the ballroom, so to speak.

And many more afflictions
That cause a lot of restrictions;
The brothers 'dyer' and 'gonner'
Are active winter and summer.
And dysentery's a damned in-
Convenience notwithstanding.

So I think that you'll agree,
That those who say the sea
Is nearly always blue,
(which is nearly always true)
Are deliberately misleading
The folks who judge by reading
That the Med for sure and certain
Is the place to do some flirting.
But you and I know better
And you can bet an old French letter-
Box, that when the war is over
I'll count myself in clover
As long as I've a bed
That is nowhere near the Med.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Israel-based journalist Jonathan Cook noted via Facebook on November 15:

'Here, according to the BBC, are the five most important stories relating to Israel's attack on Gaza. (Screengrab via Nour Bakr):

'Gaza missiles fired at Tel Aviv

'Israel's Gaza rocket problem

'"Hamas targets our children"

"'Determined to follow the path of jihad"

'UK's Hague criticises Hamas'
My Old Man served in the 14th Army in Burma during World War II. We never got on, though we managed a truce during his last, invalid, years.
He was no militarist, but he retained a spirit of comradeship with his fellow conscripts of "the Forgotten Army". At his funeral his coffin was carried by Burma campaign veterans and was draped with the banner of the Burma Star Association.
So here's one for the old sweats of the 14th Army, the quick and the dead.

14th ARMY
(Steven Bracher)

Men say the echoes the gun-fire woke
Round Palu peaks and Pegu sleep once more
And by the weary Irrawaddy shore
Only the fisherman sends up his smoke,
Far-seen and lonely on the silent stream
Where death was once the substance, life the dream.

The stir and rumour of ten thousand men
Moved in those forests once, and shook the leaves, Sudden and secret, as the hot wind breathes
Tossing the jungle, and is still again.
Silence has taken all, the runways fade,
The jungle marches where our camps were made.

_ _ _

Beneath the monsoon cloud-wrack and the rain
The steaming valleys of the Kabaw sleep,
And all the jungles of the Chindwin keep
Their savage silence rendered back again.
The busybodies who police this blog left me a message that I should follow some other blogs and suggested that I make a list.
Well the last time I looked I had a list of half-a-dozen blogs that I follow. Now I find that my list has disappeared.
Why don't they absent themselves in a copulatory fashion (if I may be less than blunt)?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Here it comes, my third poetry season.

(Francis Kerr Young 1990)

A thousand bombers bombed Berlin
on the night that I was born,
and roaring guns met my cry
in a world split and torn.

All the fighting, and the anger,
and all the hatred and pain,
has not changed in sixty years
nor since the days of Cain.

A decade past then came Korea,
and shells began to whine
then soldiers died both North and South
so they could draw a line,

The brink was reached in '61
when poker was the game,
a nuclear bluff over Cuba's soil
was called in Freedom's name.

All the fighting, and the anger,
and all the hatred and pain,
has not changed in sixty years
nor since the days of Cain.

Vietnam brought Agent Orange
and poisons by the ton
to kill brave men by evil ways:
This war was never won.

The Middle East, Afghanistan,
pollution, drugs, and crime . . .
Horror--death just multiplies
time after time after time.

All the fighting, and the anger,
and all the hatred and pain,
has not changed in sixty years
nor since the days of Cain.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

IWW John Lewis Cleaners Win Pay Rise

Outsourced John Lewis cleaners have won an immediate and backdated 9% pay rise following their pledge of industrial action. The increase, backdated 5 months, takes their pay to £6.72 per hour at three central London sites, and £6.50 at one outer London site. Supervisors will now get £8.00 per hour and £7.84 respectively.
United in the IWW trade union, the cleaners notified their employer, ICM, last week of the trade dispute and impending ballot for industrial action. This ballot could have seen visible and noisy industrial action by cleaners at four John Lewis sites in London in the run up to Christmas.
John Lewis has seen pre-Christmas profits increase on last year already. The company are proud of their partnership structure, where all staff are ‘partners’ who share in the company’s profits.
But John Lewis’ cleaning contract is outsourced to MML, who outsource it again to ICM. The cleaners have seen their hours reduce and workload increase, while they were paid minimum wage of £6.19 – and they don’t share in the profits.
This increase, including a backdated lump sum just before Christmas, will make a real difference to our members’ lives. ICM further pledged to look at the potential to pay a Living Wage of £8.55 as they enter contract talks early in 2013.
IWW National Secretary Frank Syratt said:
“It is our members’ unity, solidarity and courageous stance that has won this increase. They are an inspiration and a lesson to other workers”
“There is still work to do. John Lewis needs to ensure all their workers – whether partners or outsourced - take home a Living Wage of £8.55 and receive full sick pay, lifting them out of poverty and insecurity. IWW pledges to continue organising and campaigning to make this happen”.

Contact: south[at] for more information.
(Press Release)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

So the long skein of genealogy is spun
that ends in me. So is the history unrolled
that chronicles quiet, far from famous, lives,
each to itself important, as mine to me.
They are my people, blood-linked by marriage nets
spread across families of diverse kinds.
Their varied backgrounds, traits, abilities,
merge in my temperament as, within this earth,
by right of legacy, winters and summers lie -
the contrasts and the complements of life.
This is the last verse of a poem, "Scottish Legacy", by Katherine Sorley Walker. I think it's a fair description of the fascinations of genealogy, and explains its importance to some, myself for instance.
Now that I can write once more in a manner that doesn't resemble stream of consciousness I'll have another poetry season.
The whole of the above poem can be found, along with much else that is entertaining and thought-provoking, in "Modern Scottish Women Poets"(Dorthy McMillan and Michel Byrne, editors, 2003).

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Lawrence Wilkerson: " Y eah, we ' re talking about a state that is looking more and more like South Africa . Carter called it an "A partheid State ' . And he used the appropriate adjective. A state like that simply cannot survive, not as a Jewish state and a D emocracy. Many would argue that it ' s not a D emocracy anymore. This is a state after all that, it was formed by a Socialists. This is a state that was formed largely by atheists, and this is a state that has become captured by the U ltra - Right - Wing Orthodox Jewish element within it, who constitute most of the settlers. This is a state whom one in five of it ' s citizens now is a settler. This is a state run by a man who is largely owned by these U ltra - Orthodox people, who, incidentally like the N eocons in this country , want to defeat all their enemies with other peoples ' blood. In other words, they don ' t serve in the Armed Forces. So there are a lot of similarities between what Israel has become and what we have become. It ' s rather ironic, as Andrew points out in his piece , how similar the two situations are. But Israel ' s long term security, as I said, is certainly not assured by the policy she ' s pursuing right now. In fact, I would argue that her long term security is in great peril because of the policies she ' s pursuing right now. And our security, following Israel as if we were her lapdog, is absolutely in jeopardy , particularly in that region of the world, where things are not so hunky - dory right now. Whether you call it the " Arab awakening ' or the " Arab Spring ' , or the " Arab Winter ' , or whatever, things aren ' t looking too good for U.S. interests in th e region right now. Israel ' s position within that turmoil, and our position supporting Isr ael within that turmoil, is adding to that turmoil. Adding to the number of suicide bombers in the world, for example, who would like to do damage to us .

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Yet another test. If the lyrics aren't familiar, Carl Orff's music will be. Think aftershave, infant Antichrist. Verses are numbered in case of lack of indication of verse beginning and ending.

O Fortuna,
velut luna
statu variabilis,
semper crescis
aut decrescis;
vita detestabilis
nunc obdurat
et tunc curat
ludo mentis aciem,
dissolvit ut glaciem.

Sors immanis
et inanis,
rota tu volubilis,
status malus,
vana salus
semper dissolubilis,
et velata
michi quoque niteris;
nunc per ludum
dorsum nudum
fero tui sceleris.

Sors salutis
et virtutis
michi nunc contraria,
est affectus
et defectus
semper in angaria.
hac in hora
sine mora
corde pulsum tangite;
quod per sortem
sternit fortem,
mecum omnes plangite!

dissolvit ut glaciem"

(Melt my poverty, Fortuna, melt their power)
When BBC ignores Israeli murder of its own cameraman’s baby, what hope for other Palestinians?

[The 'Solidarity message is copyleft Memoria del Fuego]

Monday, November 12, 2012


Sunday, November 11, 2012

Here's a link to my other blog, if it works. [Addendum: it does.]

Saturday, November 10, 2012

I've just learned of the death,on the 25th October, of Terry Callier, singer, guitatist, songwriter. His Ordinary Joe is particular favourite of mine. I'm also partial to Jazz, My Rhythm and Blues, and the Love Theme from Spartacus. For some reason he was often described as a folksinger; a bit folky maybe, but jazz, blues, soul were all in the mix. He was different. If the vita is brevis, we can be grateful for the ars longa.

Thursday, November 08, 2012

Few of us would have the grace and humility to support a movement, then sell fighter jets to their most bitter opponents, but Cameron’s so full of Christian virtue he must believe the best weapon he has is to shower the Saudi royal family with love. Then, when they feel wanted, they’ll let everyone have the vote, and say sorry for all the people they’ve upset by stoning them to death, and turn over a new leaf.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

ABU SURRENDER - The self-appointed president of something or other in occupied Palestine, as seen by Carlos Latuff and most other observers.

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Herbert and Keiser moved to London a year ago. "Because this is the world capital of banking fraud. Pretty much every financial scandal of the past 20 years has had its main component in London, because it has the least regulated banking environment. This is very important for the US, because America outsources its own fraud to London, just as it outsources its labour to China." The JP Morgan and UBS traders who lost billions, he points out, were both London-based. "And Lehman Brothers went through the UK. As did AIG." (The latter, a multinational insurance corporation, has been troubled by many controversies including its 2008 government bailout, subsequent executive bonus payments estimated at between $165m and $450m – some say more – and charges relating to accounting fraud, settled out of court in 2006.)

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Have you read the small print? "Terms and conditions apply. Freedom and Liberty do not, respectively, constitute actual Freedom or Liberty. Definitions of "Free", "Freedom", "Liberal" and "Liberty" may vary. Service provider retains right to fundamentally and unfairly change these terms of service to ruling class' full advantage at any time without forewarning, consultation, or informing service user. Use of service conditional upon full bilking of service user's surplus product by service provider. Use of service conditional upon full, non-negotiable alienation of service users' very soul and being. Full service may not be available at all time. Full service only theoretically available for capital-owning white middle- and upper-class males over the age of 30 (hereinafter referred to as 'The Patriarchy'). Service does not apply, under any circumstances, to sphere of economic production, where fascist oppression and unjust authoritarianism has free reign, unless service user falls under 'The Patriarchy' category, can provide evidence of well-placed connections, and can afford extra service fees. Service provider retains right to arbitrarily refuse service to any service user, especially but not limited to service-users that are working-class, unemployed, female, coloured, queer, mentally ill, disabled, under-thirty, third-world, politically-dissident, unionised, or crushed under insolvable debt (herinafter collectively referred to as 'Second Class Citizens', 'precariat' or 'proles'), regardless of breach or non-breach of terms and conditions by service user. Service user retains all legal or physical liabilities that may be incurred from use of this product, including but not limited to theft and sale of personal information for private gain to third parties; unwinnable civil liability cases filed by corporations backed by armies of demonic, overpaid lawyers bent on crushing recalcitrant, non-compliant service users; all-pervasive state surveillance; arbitrary and unwarranted wire tapping; police intimidation; tear and/or pepper gasing and/or full frontal assault and battery by militarised riot police; prosecution; incarceration and/or lobotomy by psychotropic medication and/or torture and/or rape and/or loss of limb and/or death by licensed and/or unlicensed agents of state violence. Use of service may entail aiding and abetting in reinforcement of structural violence, class war on the working class and poor, and soul-crushing imperialism. Batteries not included except where "battery" refers to military or police artillery equipment." [London Wobblies]