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News :: Labor : Organizing
DC Million Worker March 2004
19 Oct 2004
Monday, October 18th marked the date for an anti-war workers' mobilization in Washington DC. In the spirit of Minister Louis Farrakhan's Black Nationalist rally 10 years ago, the Million Worker March predicted a crowd of as many as 100,000 but was able to gather only tens of thousands.
washdcoct1704_08.gif
Million Worker March
Monday, October 18th marked the date for an anti-war workers' mobilization in Washington DC. In the spirit of Minister Louis Farrakhan's Black Nationalist rally 10 years ago, the Million Worker March predicted a crowd of as many as 100,000 but was able to gather only tens of thousands.

Headed by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 10, the rally provided a ground for demands similar to those made by the anti-globalization movement: a national living wage, extending democracy to our economic structure, democratization of the media, protection of civil liberties, and the repeal of free trade agreements, among others. Speakers included Dick Gregory, Danny Glover, Martin Luther King III, and a number of trade union activists.

Organizers complained that authorities prevented about 30 buses from dropping off passengers near the memorial and redirected them to Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, causing many to show up late or not at all. Low turnout was also blamed partially on disagreements between supporters of worker solidarity and those in the labor movement whose main focus is to remove George W. Bush from office.

Tensions arose when the AFL-CIO decided not to endorse the march. In a letter dated June 23, 2004, to all of its affiliated state federations and labor councils, the AFL-CIO had this to say regarding the "Million Worker March":

"We think it is absolutely crucial that we commit the efforts of our labor movement to removing George W. Bush from office--and electing candidates to Congress and at the state and local level who are committed to working family issues. We believe that the efforts of the entire labor movement need to be focused on the election."

"We encourage our state federations, area councils and central labor councils not to sponsor or devote resources to the demonstration in Washington DC, but instead to remain focused on the election and to devote all mobilization efforts to the grass-roots political campaign effort between now and Election Day."

DC Indymedia Reports, "While there wasn't a million -- or even a march -- the good news is that folks like the Anarchist workers' contingent and the IWW and the Radical Cheerleaders combined with the large militant anti-war union presence at the Memorial to keep the joint jumpin'. Not a whole lotta' shuckin' for Kerry in THIS crowd."

On an interview in <i>Seven Oaks Magazine</i>, Clarence Thomas, an executive board member of ILWU Local 10, argued that it is essential that the demands of the working class and the poor be heard both during this election campaign and beyond. The ILWU, internationally, has endorsed John Kerry.

The march symbolically seemed to voice what is on everyone's minds, unionists and anarchists alike: this election is not about who wins, but how to ensure Bush fails to win.
See also:
http://dc.indymedia.org/feature/display/107031/index.php

This work is in the public domain.
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IWW Report back from the Million Workers March
19 Oct 2004
IWW Report back from the Million Workers March

by x356012

To see the red and black IWW banners, flags and balloons flying above the gathering of Wobblies on October 17 at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, you'd think you had stepped back in time. Considering the efforts undertaken by bosses and the state to crush the Industrial Workers of the World in the first half of the twentieth century, this was perhaps the largest showing of Wobs in 70 years.

Close to 100 Wobblies joined several thousand other workers, students and activists for the Million Worker March in Washington, DC as an organized contingent. The rally and march itself was initiated by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, or ILWU. While the overall turn-out for the rally itself was disappointing, numbering perhaps 5,000 or less due to a de facto ban by the AFL-CIO leadership, police interference with union buses and internal labor coalition shortfalls, it was inspiring to meet, sing and march in a large and visible presence.

An initial contingent comprised of the IWW, the Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives, or FRAC, the NorthEastern Federation of Anarchist-Communists, or NEFAC, and the Workers Solidarity Alliance, or WSA, met between 11:00 and 11:45 am on the west side of the Washington Monument until police demanded the gathering leave, calling the convergence a "demonstration" that was not allowed on monument grounds. The contingent then left the area marching along the southern edge of the Reflecting Pool singing songs such as "Solidarity Forever," "There is Power in a Union," and "A las Barricadas" among others. Wobblies set up a merchandise and information table at the edge of the Reflecting Pool near the Lincoln Memorial that drew large crowds throughout the day. Additionally, a massive amount of literature was distributed, both by the IWW (the Industrial Worker) and NEFAC (Strike!) as well as through FRAC's table, and folks were incredibly receptive.

The rally itself consisted of speaker after speaker addressing the crowd from noon until just after 4:00 pm, leaving many wondering if there was going to be a march at all. A Wobbly had initially been invited to speak only to be "uninvited" at the last minute. A feeder march assembled outside of AFL-CIO headquarters as the "Coalition of Imaginary Anarchists" before the rally, but there were some concerns among Wobs as to the choice of assembly points and in the end, plans were not worked out well enough in advance to facilitate coordination, thus the IWW, if not others, did not participate. As a union, the IWW's power rests in its ability to organize and energize workers and perhaps the most persuasive argument against the business unionism of the AFL-CIO bureaucracy is the example set by solidarity unionism in a constructive and practical form.

One criticism of the rally itself, apart from the external actions of police or AFL-CIO leadership, was the seeming lack of accessible information as to how it would progress. There were plans for a march to take place after the rally in support of HERE hotel workers, but conflicting reports and a lack of specifics confused many. A discussion took place among the IWW, NEFAC, FRAC and WSA regarding post-rally plans but a solid consensus could not be reached, prompting many to leave before the march in support of hotel workers occurred. All present wished to support the hotel workers, but again, information on how to plug-in was next to non-existant. Regardless, many Wobblies who traveled from as far away as the Bay Area, Lawrence, Kansas and Detroit, Michigan had a time limit for any further activities and were unable to participate.

An incident did occur during the discussion that should be addressed. When an African-American organizer with the ILWU approached the meeting, unfamiliar with its process, he was rather rudely told by a non-Wobbly that he should leave as he was not a member of any of the groups present. This reaction was apparently due to a misunderstanding, but lead to an open argument that was only resolved when members of the IWW and NEFAC apologized to the ILWU organizer for the indiscretion of the person in question. To that person's credit, he later apologized face-to-face and hopefully resolved any outstanding issues.

As Wobblies, or as others whether you consider yourselves anarchists, socialists, workers, unionists or just plain folks, we must strive to fight the bosses and the ruling class first and formost in solidarity with our sister and brother workers, no matter what their affiliation, so long as certain consistent principles are held in common. This means working side by side with those who support our principles while maintaining a clear focus on our objectives. As a Wobbly, rallies, marches and mass mobilizations are important but can never replace organizing and action undertaken on the job by workers for workplace democracy and the abolition of the wage system.

That being said, it is always good to see others and hopefully the momentum our larger movement has been building in recent years will continue through sustainable organizing campaigns, reinvigoration of our traditions and solidarity as we head into the coming years.


***********

Links:

Industrial Workers of the World
http://www.iww.org

Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists
http://www.nefac.net

Workers Solidarity Alliance
http://www.workersolidarity.org

Federation of Revolutionary Anarchist Collectives
http://www.frac.ws/
Re: IWW Report back from the Million Workers March
19 Oct 2004
When I was a member of the Boston IWW GMB, they could not even keep a web page up, and the meetings were painfully tedious -- every bit of correspondence received by the branch for the previous month had to be commented on and discussed, but no political discussion was allowed, only an explanation of why it was always all right that the famous Parsons server never worked -- a terrible way to ruin a Sunday afternoon.

So 5,000 people from real ("business") trade unions is an accomplishment to be respected.
Re: DC Million Worker March 2004
20 Oct 2004
"To see the red and black IWW banners, flags and balloons flying above the gathering of Wobblies on October 17 at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, you'd think you had stepped back in time."

This is exactly why these movements are such abject failures. They use ineffective, out-of-date techniques to promote an even more obsolete doctrine.

Banners, flags and balloons? Was this a PTA bake sale?
Re: DC Million Worker March 2004
20 Oct 2004
It's hard to believe the Million Man March was 10 years ago. I remember being the only one in the theater watching Get On The Bus. Recently I recycled my two biographies of Elijah Muhammad because I needed the space on my bookshelf. Time sure flies.
Re: DC Million Worker March 2004
21 Oct 2004
"This is exactly why these movements are such abject failures. They use ineffective, out-of-date techniques to promote an even more obsolete doctrine.

Banners, flags and balloons? Was this a PTA bake sale? "

The march and rally did not fail because of the presence of banners, flags and balloons.

By all accounts, the gathering of the wobblies was incredibly poweful and moving. We've made connections and are working together now more efficiently than ever in the past. This, my dear anonymous sister or brother, is very historic and very important. Wobblies usually work autonomously amongst their own GMBs. Now we're networking better and supporting each other all over the place. If that's failure, i don't want to see success. I don't think the doctrine of worker rights is out of date either, but hey, that's just my opinion.

While little can be said for the rest of the rally, I don't believe the day was a total failure. ANSWER has a keen way of fucking everything up they dip thier sticky little socialist hands into. I've vowed to never attend ANYTHING ever again that ANSWER has to do with. Their speakers are horrible representatives of the issues at hand. They're repetative, juvenile and rather boring, just wanting to hear themselves talk. They can not organize properly, nor can they stop babbling into a loudspeaker long enough to get anything productive accomplished.

Cheers,
Suzanne
Re: DC Million Worker March 2004
25 Oct 2004
Suzanne: one would think by now that everyone on Indymedia would know to avoid attending anything ANSWER starts up--which is, of course, why the attendence for this event was so pathetic

Anonymous: we'll all make a note that we can no longer use banners, flags and balloons, but must now tattoo all our organizational info on our butts
Re: DC Million Worker March 2004
26 Oct 2004
ron -
agreed. but i figured since it wasn't SUPPOSED to be an ANSWER event things had a chance of going smoothly. plus, i wasn't there for their nonsense anyway. i was just there to meet sister and brother wobblies, exchange ideas and organize.

so my goals were accomplished. ANSWER, however, didn't get much of anything done, as usual.

suzanne
DC Million Worker March 2004 video
04 Jan 2005
<b><a href="http://fluxview.com/v/Fluxview-News-Video-2004.htm#MWM"; target="_blank">MWM Video</a></b> ~ including the anti-authoritarian feeder march and an interview with the logistics coordinator about the what really happened with the buses.