Saturday, 24 May 2008

How do we build union power in the 21st Century? - May 25th Forum

If all the rules are changing...How do we build union power in the 21st Century?

Come to the Action Agenda Forum

Sunday, May 25, 2008; 3:30 p.m.
Convention Centre; North Building, Room 206E

Panel Co-chairs :

Carolyn Egan, President of the Toronto Steelworkers Area Council

Evelina Pan, President of the Thunder Bay District Labour Council

Other panelists:

Denis Lemelin, National President of CUPW

Nuredin Bulle, leader of the Hotel Workers Rising in Toronto

Susan Lambert, Vice-President of the BC Teachers Federation

Julie White, Research Director, Communications Energy Paperworkers

To see the Action Agenda, read about unions making a difference, or
engage in the debate on how to build power for the 21st century visit Action Agenda to Build Labour Power in the 21st Century to download the flyer
for distribution go to the Toronto & York Region Council site.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Ride of Silence to mourn cyclists killed by motorists

A world-wide event, the Ride of Silence is happening this Wednesday, 21 May 2008 at 7 PM:

"Join cyclists worldwide in a silent slow-paced ride (max. 12 mph/20 kph) in honor of those who have been injured or killed while cycling on public roadways."

Meet at the southest corner of Bloor and Spadina. Wear a black armband, red if you've been in a car/bike accident.

See the bottom of the Canada locations page for more details and the I Bike TO post for more background.

Thursday, 15 May 2008

TSF Call-out: May 26-29 Gathering of Mother Earth Protectors

An announcement from the Toronto Social Forum:


Sovereignty Sleepover: Toronto, Queen's Park May 26th - May 29.

Rally: Queen's Park May 26th, 5 p.m. - dusk.

Respect the right of First Nations to say no to economic exploitation and environmental destruction.
No jail for saying no.
Free Bob Lovelace and the KI Six.

On May 26th Indigenous communities will gather at Queen's Park to uphold our duty to protect the land, forest, water, and air and to promote respect for our Indigenous rights to say no to economic exploitation and environmental destruction. It is time to end the jailing and harassment of our people for protecting mother earth and traditional ways. Please come to our large rally on May 26th at the legislature. We are also inviting supporters to join us in four days of ceremony, speakers, workshops, music, and a three night sovereignty sleep-over directly on the front lawn of the legislature.

Right now Indigenous communities across Ontario are taking a stand to assert our right to protect our traditional territories and the future of our peoples. Our communities are peacefully protesting destructive industrial projects that the government is permitting on our traditional lands without community consent.

Rather than respecting Treaties of co-existence and the UN recognized Indigenous right to withhold consent over industrial projects on traditional lands, the Ontario government is harassing Native people and jailing community activists and leaders including Bob Lovelace, Donny Morris, Sam McKay, Jack McKay, Cecilia Begg, Darryl Sainnawap, Bruce Sakakeep, and others. This cannot stand! Please join us in supporting freedom for First Nations and respect for the land.


We Need:
volunteers, donations of money, food, tents, blankets, billeting, endorsements, and publicity.

Please let us know if your group wants to organize an event during the Gathering on May 27, or May 28.

To help out, or for information updates contact:

Supporters: come prepared to take care of your own needs and to take direction from the communities.

This is an event of: Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI), Ardoch Algonquin First Nation, Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek (Grassy Narrows First Nation) [others may join soon].

Supporters: Christian Peacemaker Teams, Rainforest Action Network, No One is Illegal Toronto, Canadian Federation of Students, Canadian Labour Congress, CAW Sam Gindin Chair in Social Justice and Democracy, Ryerson University.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

National Fair Trade Weeks 2008

From TransFair Canada , your independent third-party certification of fair trade products:

National Fair Trade Weeks 2008 - Choose Fair Trade - Everyone Wins!

"Choose Fair Trade - Everyone wins!" National Fair Trade Weeks are
taking place from May 1st to 15th 2008. This campaign brings together
organizations, companies and individuals who promote Fair Trade and Fair Trade Certified products.

Fair Trade is a pragmatic and powerful tool for alleviating poverty in
developing countries. Fair Trade has come a long way in Canada. What
started as a small initiative by concerned citizens (focused primarily on
coffee), has evolved into a dynamic movement and market alternative.
Consumers in Canada can now find Fair Trade Certified teas, coffees,
sugar, cocoa, fresh fruits, rice, quinoa, spices, wine, shea butter,
cotton, cut flowers and sports balls. Fair Trade Certified products are
easy to find in retail shops across the country.

Fair Trade Certified products sales have increased remarkably over the
years. At the end of 2007, Fair Trade Certified retail sales in Canada
were over 120 million dollars. The Fair Trade Certification system now
benefits more than 1.4 million producers in 59 developing countries.
Demand for Fair Trade Certified products continues to grow in Canada, and
there are new products being introduced regularly.

During National Fair Trade Weeks, a wide range of local grassroots events
will take place in order to increase awareness of Fair Trade Certified
products and the benefits Fair Trade brings to communities in developing
countries. Events like Fair Trade Fairs, Movie Nights, Fair Trade Soccer
Tournaments and conferences will open the eyes, minds and taste buds of
Canadians to all the good things that Fair Trade brings, both to producers
in developing countries and to consumers in the Canada.

Please visit to find where to buy Fair Trade Certified
products, and to see a list of all the events taking place during National Fair Trade Weeks.

For more information:
Cynthia Wagner, Communications
TransFair Canada; 613.563.3351 x 21

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Argentina's Recuperation Movement

Argentina's Recuperation Movement: The struggle to work without a boss continues

Apr 30, 2008 By Marie Trigona

Marie Trigona's ZSpace Page / ZSpace

Who wants to work for a boss? I'm guessing that most people would say no.
Since the birth of capitalism, workers' movements have pondered the
utopian dream of liberating the working class from exploitive bosses.
Argentina has been home to a phenomenon called recuperated enterprises.
When the owner decided to shut down a factory or business, workers decided
to save their jobs and physically occupy their workplace. Overtime the
worker takeovers caught on. Today more than 200 worker run businesses are
up and running. In the very heart of Argentina's capital Buenos Aires,
workers at a 20 story hotel are making this utopian dream a reality.

Walk into the BAUEN Hotel, and most guests are astounded by the 70's
inspired d?r. The BAUEN hotel operates like any other hotel, but with one
big difference. There is no boss or owner. Guests appreciate the hotel's
convenient downtown location and cultural events. Locals also enjoy the
BAUEN's newly renovated front caf?alled Utopia.

But things weren't always bustling at this starlit hotel. Mar?del Valle, a
BAUEN worker recalls the workers' decision to occupy the abandoned hotel.
"Sometimes, I ask myself why am I here? We were able to recuperate a 20
story hotel, 220 rooms, 7 salons, a theater-bit by bit. The first carpets
we cleaned with scrub brushes on our hands and knees. A very small group
of companeros."

In the midst of Argentina's worst economic crisis in December 2001, the
hotel was ransacked and remaining workers were fired by the former owner
Mercoteles. A group of 15 workers along with supporters took over the
hotel on March 28, 2003.

Arminda Palacios is a seamstress who has worked at the hotel for over 20
years and was there when the workers who decided to cut off the locks on a
side entrance into the hotel during the initial occupation. "Us workers
and all of our supporters we entered the hotel through the entrance on
Corrientes Ave. The workers' entrance was on Corrientes. We simply
entered. There was a small lock. They cut the lock off and we walked in.
We went to the reception area. When we saw there was electricity, we
didn't think there was going to be electricity....we started to hug and cry."

The BAUEN Cooperative recently celebrated their 5 year anniversary of
workers' self-management. But the celebrations were bittersweet. The BAUEN
cooperative, like many of the recuperated enterprises, was forced to set
up shop without any legal backing whatsoever.

After 5 years, the Cooperative still has no legal standing and faced a
court ordered eviction notice last year. Manuel Benitez, a cooperative
associate at the hotel says that despite legal support, the public still
supports the workers rights to defend their jobs. "A judge has ruled that
the hotel should be handed over the original owner Marcelo Iurcovich. With
the eviction notice, they gave us 30 days. We did many actions with
organizations. We're still here thanks to the organizations and
demonstrations held in the street in front of the hotel. We've appealed
the eviction notice, but the appeal has been delayed. Once the appeal
decision comes, I don't know what is going to happen. We're here because
of our support from the public."

When the eviction notice arrived in July, 2007 - thousands mobilized not
only against the eviction, but for a long term legal solution for the
hotel. 150 workers are currently employed at the BAUEN cooperative.
"During my 20 years working at this company, I got to know the bosses
well. For us negotiation has been a bad word, and much more right now. We
don't have to negotiate with them! Because the BAUEN is ours, even if the
bosses don't like it!" That was Arminda Palacios again, a 68-year old
worker and cooperative advocate, at an assembly held shortly after the
eviction notice was delivered.

The eviction notice came in response to a petition by the Mercoteles
group, which the court recognizes as the legal owner of the property.
Appearing in court in 2006, Marcoteles Director Samuel Kaliman was unable
to provide the court with Mercoteles' address, board member names and
other legal information.

The federal court has accepted a appeal on behalf of the BAUEN cooperative
which has temporarily delayed the eviction order. According to Federico
Tonarelli, Argentina's worker-occupied factories which provide jobs for
more than 10,000 people need a definitive legal solution. "The
recuperated enterprises don't have a definitive legal framework. A
national expropriation law would not only provide workers with the legal
right to the buildings, but a framework for all the recuperated enterprises."

Back at the hotel, the 150 BAUEN cooperative associates continue to
reinvent social relations and reverse the logic of capitalism. Marcelo
Duharte has worked at the BAUEN for over 20 years. He says that the
workers are accomplishing what capitalists are not interested in doing,
creating jobs. "Even though the recuperated enterprises are just a grain
of sand, we're changing small things, not everything that we would like
to. Slowly were incorporating a new concepts. Not just workers taking over
property, but we're creating another economy and making our lives more
dignified through work. If the state doesn't implement policies to create
jobs, there are workers with their humility, transparency and honor
implementing a new philosophy for work."

Despite market and legal challenges, the BAUEN cooperative continues to
improve services and open its doors to other workers challenging the
system. Human rights activists, unionists and community organizers
regularly use the hotel's facilities for meetings and events. Argentina's
worker occupied factory movement is rallying across the country for a
national expropriation law in the face of eviction orders and legal
uncertainty. At a massive rock concert held last year, thousands voted to
resist against a forceful eviction of BAUEN and other occupied factories.

Marie Trigona is a writer, radio producer and filmmaker based in Buenos
Aires. She can be reached at