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Mid-Valley Organizer

March 1, 2024

No. 10

IF I MUST DIE

Refaat Alareer


Our Prayer

Utah Phillips

The fixing of food is our prayer.

The watching over sleep is our prayer.

The answer to our prayer is a stomach that is full instead of empty, a body that is warm instead of cold, someone with an arm around the shoulder instead of alone.

Our prayer is in the deed.


Our Fellow Worker, Tortuguita

1996-2023

Tortuguita, an alias meaning “Little Turtle,” chosen in homage to the indigenous military leader who triumphed against the U.S. Army in 1791, symbolizes resilience and resistance​​. Their tragic death on January 18, 2022 during a protest against the establishment of a police training facility in Atlanta’s South River Forest marks a profound loss for the movement and the IWW community​​.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Manuel “Tortuguita” Esteban Paez Terán, as revealed by an independent autopsy, present a stark contrast to the initial reports by law enforcement. According to the autopsy conducted by forensic pathologist Kris Sperry, M.D., Tortuguita was shot 14 times, with wounds from both handgun bullets and a shotgun. These wounds had trajectories indicating that Tortuguita was facing their killers. Notably, the report stated that it was impossible to determine if Tortuguita was holding a firearm before or during the shooting. Furthermore, the autopsy found no evidence of close-range firing, such as gunpowder soot or stippling, which is significant given the gunshot wounds on Tortuguita’s hands. This suggests that they might not have fired a gun, as there was no gunpowder residue on their hands, which would likely be present had they shot at the Georgia State Patrol (GSP) trooper​​​​.

These findings contradict the initial narrative from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), which claimed that Tortuguita fired first at a GSP trooper and was killed by return fire. However, an independent autopsy indicated that Tortuguita was in a seated position, cross-legged, with their hands raised when they were killed. This raises questions about the initial account of the incident provided by law enforcement.

In addition to these findings, the DeKalb County Medical Examiner’s office released an autopsy confirming at least 57 gunshot wounds on Paez Terán’s body, again with no evidence of gunshot residue on their hands. This information, coupled with the release of body camera footage, suggests that the police narrative of Tortuguita firing first is likely fabricated. The body camera footage indicated that the injury to the police officer was more likely caused by friendly fire from another officer, which was then used as a pretext to intensively fire at Tortuguita​​.

Teran was not just an activist but a person of profound empathy and intellect. They were known for their engaging conversations, humor, and commitment to nonviolent resistance, believing that “the right kind of resistance is peaceful” because it is in nonviolence that we find strength​​. Despite misconceptions, their dedication to peace was unwavering, even amidst escalating tensions​​. Their strategic vision was clear: the movement’s strength lies not in matching the state’s capacity for violence but in persistent, nonviolent resistance​​. Teran understood the risks involved in their activism but remained committed, driven by a vision of a world free of oppressive structures, saying, “The abolitionist mission isn’t done until every prison is empty”​​.

As Wobblies, we are reminded of our preamble’s assertion that “the working class and the employing class have nothing in common.” In this spirit, Tortuguita’s life and sacrifice resonate deeply. They embodied the IWW’s ethos of solidarity and the relentless pursuit of justice. Their commitment to ecological preservation and social transformation aligns with our understanding that the fight against capitalism is also a fight for the planet and its inhabitants.

Tortuguita’s vision, echoing the IWW’s call for a new society within the shell of the old, challenges us to continue this struggle. Their life was a testament to the power of collective action and the importance of nurturing community in the face of adversity. In honoring their memory, we reaffirm our commitment to this ongoing battle, inspired by their courage and unwavering spirit.

We must carry forward the torch of resistance that Tortuguita held so high, recognizing that each act of defiance against unjust structures is a step toward the world we envision. Tortuguita’s legacy is a call to action, a reminder of the resilience and power of united workers, and a beacon of hope for a future where justice and equality prevail.

Mid-Valley IWW will hold an educational memorial on January 18, 2024, the 1-year anniversary of Tortuguita’s murder. Follow our social media for updates.


Fain, UAW Rank-and-File Call for Ceasefire

Washington, D.C.

Shawn Fain, the President of the United Auto Workers (UAW), has recently been a vocal advocate for a ceasefire in Gaza, aligning with the broader labor movement’s stance on this critical issue. On December 14, Fain, alongside other major U.S. labor union leaders and progressive lawmakers, held a press conference in Washington, D.C., calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

The UAW International Executive Board, under Fain’s leadership, had earlier announced its decision to join other labor organizations in advocating for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine. This decision was part of a growing movement within the labor community, demonstrating a united front on international humanitarian issues. The UAW’s decision to sign onto a petition for ceasefire, drafted by The United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America (UE) and UFCW Local 3000, marked a significant step in labor’s involvement in international peace advocacy​​.

Fain’s statement at the press conference, “The only path forward is to build peace and social justice, is through a ceasefire,” underscores the UAW’s belief in the necessity of immediate peace efforts in conflict zones. This position reflects the union’s understanding that workers’ struggles are interconnected globally, and that peace is essential for the well-being and rights of all workers, irrespective of their location​​.

The UAW’s call for a ceasefire in Gaza, spearheaded by Shawn Fain, is a testament to the union’s commitment to extending its influence and advocacy beyond traditional labor issues, embracing a more expansive view of social justice that encompasses global peace and the plight of workers and civilians in conflict areas.


OSUSW Wins Student Government Support

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Student Organizers with Oregon State University Student Workers (OSUSW) have won their campaign to garner support from the Associated Students of Oregon State University (ASOSU) after their resolution demanding a COLA-adjusted living wage for student workers was initially voted down. Undeterred, organizers reasserted their demand with the help of student workers for ASOSU to support a $16.65 living wage which resulted in a win on their second attempt. From the OSUSW Instagram:

“How did we get here?

Our original resolution, with minor amendments, was voted down last week.

Following further discussion and feedback from students at large, the Senate amended an alternative, committee-drafted proposal, which would have lowered the number to $16.38. The resulting amended resolution includes all of the text of the original, including the ask for a $16.65 hourly minimum.

In addition to the original text, the resolution now also recommends a taskforce of ASOSU, OSUSW, and university leaders to implement a living wage.”


IWW General Executive Board Endorses International Committee’s Palestine Statement

Chicago, IL

The General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World endorsed a statement released by the IWW’s International Committee in solidarity with Palestinians:

The North American Regional Administration of the Industrial Workers of the World unequivocally reaffirms our solidarity with the workers and civilians of Palestine and their resistance to the Israeli Apartheid Regime and in the deepest terms condemn the ongoing genocidal actions of the US and Israeli governments in their assault of the dispossessed people and workers of Palestine

The Israeli apartheid state has declared a genocidal state of siege on the Gaza Strip. They have forced over 1 million people from their homes, over half of them children, and bombed them as they were escaping. Bombs were once dropped on striking American workers, and now weapons made here by our hands kill other workers.

This genocidal act has not only been accepted but supported and funded by the United States and Canadian governments and capitalist class.

We have in our hands the power to refuse complicity and resist this killing. We must only seize it. We can’t and will not stand idly by as our labor is used to slaughter fellow Palestinian workers and the innocent. In the short term, We ask all IWW members and the whole working class to stand against this atrocity. And we ask you to show support and care to the Palestinian diaspora in this harrowing time.

In the coming weeks, we hope to work along with other radical labor unions around the world to do what we can to in some small way lessen the suffering of the Palestinian people and resist the continuing occupation and apartheid.

Palestinian trade unions have urgently asked other unions to step up and couple our verbal and written support with tangible union action. They have suggested the following:

  • Encourage and pledge practical support to members who refuse to build or handle weapons destined for Israel.
  • Educate workers about the occupation of Palestine if they are involved in the building and transportation of weapons destined for Israel, including video conversations with representatives from Palestine’s trade unions.
  • Examine our institutions’ contractual agreements to ensure we are not doing business with companies involved in implementing Israel’s brutal and illegal siege on Gaza, particularly military companies.
  • Examine our institutions’ investments to ensure we are not financing companies involved in implementing Israel’s brutal and illegal siege on Gaza, particularly military companies.

The IWW has already signed on to the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement and that is a good start, but there is more that we can do.

In the long term, because the conflict has no end in sight, and because symbolic protests and solidarity statements are not nearly enough, we urge workers around the world to help form a revolutionary labor movement. Israel’s barbarism is not a random occurrence but an outgrowth of capitalist-imperialism and settler-colonialism that has been happening for hundreds of years. The liberation of the Palestinian people from Zionism is inseparable from the liberation of all humanity from imperialism. This system has gone on long enough. Its violence around the world is inevitable as long as we remain so disorganized.

As the IWW preamble says, “These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.” With this, we emphasize our task is to organize in such a way to be able to strike and shut down the flow of war any time workers face a military assault. Only then will we be able to ensure an end to the loss of life and the triumph of a cooperative humanity.

Solidarity Forever with the Palestinian workers and resistance!


The Unchanging Nightmare in Palestine

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It’s been two months since I last wrote about the genocide of Palestinians, and shamefully, little has changed. Their struggle echoes throughout the bombed-out streets of Gaza and the occupied territories of the West Bank and remains a stark indictment of the world’s indifference to their suffering. This continued neglect is not just a failure of diplomacy, but a moral catastrophe.

The Palestinians’ fight for survival and dignity is a glaring example of the world’s skewed priorities. While global powers engage in endless debates and political maneuvering, Palestinian workers and their families are trapped in a relentless cycle of violence and suppression. Their daily reality is a brutal testament to the failure of international mechanisms meant to protect the vulnerable and oppressed.

The silence of the so-called champions of human rights in the face of this ongoing genocide is deafening. It’s a silence that speaks volumes about the double standards that pervade our international discourse. The Palestinians don’t need our pity; they need our action. They need us to recognize their struggle as our own, to understand that their fight against oppression is a fight for the fundamental rights of every human being.

The inaction and apathy of global leaders, especially those who profess to value human rights, are unacceptable. It’s time to move beyond hollow statements and take concrete steps to end the suffering of Palestinian civilians. This means pushing for an immediate ceasefire, holding those responsible for human rights violations accountable, and actively supporting initiatives that lead to a just and lasting peace in the region.

The time has come for labor unions to embody the spirit of internationalism that forms the core of our founding principles. This means going beyond the borders of their own countries and standing up for workers and oppressed peoples globally, much like the early Wobblies who recognized the intrinsic connection between local struggles and international solidarity. By actively participating in movements that support Palestinian civilians, unions not only honor their history but also reaffirm their relevance in today’s global landscape, where the fight for justice knows no borders. The Palestinian struggle is not an isolated issue; it’s a stark reminder of the broader fight against systemic oppression and exploitation – a fight that labor unions have historically been at the forefront of. Now, more than ever, their proactive engagement is crucial in turning the tides of this long-standing injustice.

Our collective voice must be loud and clear in its support for Palestinians. Every moment of silence, every day of inaction, adds to their suffering. We must amplify their calls for justice and freedom, and work tirelessly to ensure that their rights are not just recognized but actively protected. The struggle of the Palestinian people is a mirror to the world, reflecting our failures and challenging us to live up to our professed ideals of justice and humanity.


Mid-Valley IWW Seeks Organizers

Corvallis, Albany, Salem, Eugene

Mid-Valley Industrial Workers of the World is looking for volunteer organizers to assist in labor, housing, social justice, and other campaigns in 2024. Anyone with the exception of law enforcement, landlords, and those with hiring and firing power can sign up to become a member on our website. No experience is required but those with organizing experience are encouraged to join!

We’re a dues-paying organization so that our funds remain independent and under the control of our members. The use of funds are decided on by members and can be used for donations, organizing, strike funds, and more. Monthly dues are set at a maximum of around 1% of your monthly income:

  • $1 — students and those experiencing financial hardship
  • $6 — if you are financially burdened by underemployment or other circumstances.
  • $11 — if you make less than $2,000 per month.
  • $22 — if you make between $2,000 and $3,500 per month.
  • $33 — if you make more than $3,500 per month.

*Those who want to sign up exclusively for tenant/housing organizing with our Tenants United Committee do not have to become dues-paying members.