Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Baltimore Activist Alert -- November 14 - December 31, 2018

25] Redlining exhibit through Dec. 31
26] March with the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe -- Nov. 14
27] Call for Justice for Yemen, Restore the War Powers Act! -- Nov. 14
28] Food Rescue – Nov. 14
29] Economic Rights and Consumer Celebration -- Nov. 14
30] Food Rescue – Nov. 14
31] Hearing on housing closure – Nov. 14
32] Race, Racism, and the New Racial Science – Nov. 14
33] Rise Above Poverty– Nov. 14
34] Research, Power, Justice – Nov. 14
35] What's next after the elections?  – Nov. 14
36] Chinese oppression of the Uyghur Muslims – Nov. 14
37] Dismantle Border Imperialism – Nov. 15 - 18
38] Food Rescue – Nov. 15
39] Peace a Pizza Fundraiser – Nov. 15
40] Film COWSPIRACY – Nov. 15
41] Post-Trump Future – Nov. 15
42] Guide to Nonviolence – Nov. 15
43] Progressive Maryland Party Nov. 15
44] Water Justice Forum – Nov. 15
25] – At 10 AM through December 31, check out Undesign the Redline exhibit, hosted by Choose Civility, HCLS Central Branch. Look for tickets at  This interactive exhibit explores the history of structural racism and classism, how these designs compounded each other from redlining maps until today, and how we can come together to undesign these systems with intentionality.  Tours, reading lists, events, and more details are at See

26] – On Wed., Nov. 14 from 10 AM to 1:30 PM, join the Mashpee Wampanoag Land Sovereignty Walk/Rally in DC, hosted by Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe. The Walk/Rally will start from the National Museum of the American Indian and go to the U.S. Capitol to bring awareness to the threat posed upon the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and urge the passage of HR5244/S2628. Visit

On September 7, 2018, the Department of the Interior issued its first Carcieri decision in which it refused to reaffirm its own authority to confirm the status of the 
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe’s reservation. The Department rejected the clear evidence of federal jurisdiction provided in multiple federal reports (some commissioned by Congress). H.R. 5244 / S. 2628, The Mashpee Reservation Reaffirmation Act, is a bipartisan bill that reaffirms the status of Mashpee's reservation.  Passage of H.R. 5244 / S.2628 will prevent Interior from disestablishing the Tribe's Ancestral Reservation Homelands!

27] – Join CODEPINK and others at the Capitol on Wed., Nov. 14 at 11 AM to call for Justice for Yemen, Restore the War Powers Act! The Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, successfully advanced a measure to block a debate and vote on H.Con.Res. 138 within the Republican-controlled Rules Committee. Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican cosponsor of the effort who sits on the Rules Committee, walked out and did not take a vote on deprivileging the resolution. This means that the House will vote on that rule likely around 4 PM just before the only bill being considered this week (Manage Our Wolves Act). Within that rule, a provision will attempt to strip the expedited consideration of H.Con.Res. 138 to end US military participation in Saudi Arabia's war in Yemen, thereby denying the House a clean up-or-down vote on that measure. 

Most if not all Democrats are expected to vote against that rule. Thomas Massie is leading a Dear Colleague letter to his colleagues in the Republican conference to vote NO on the rule, alongside Democrats. If we can secure a majority of the 40 Republicans who voted in 2016 to block the transfer of cluster bombs to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen to vote down the rule, we might win on the floor tomorrow. If we come up close on this procedural fight, it could set the stage for an imminent reintroduction of the measure as the Senate pursues a floor vote with S.J.Res. 54 in the coming days. Contact Keane at 914.715.9179.

28] – On Wed., Nov. 14 at noon and every Wednesday until Feb. 6, 2019, get food at the Free Farm, 3510 Ash St., Baltimore 21211. This is hosted by Food Rescue Baltimore.  Bring a bag, bring a friend, and take delicious, nutritious, free rescued food. Visit

29] -- Join the Maryland Consumer Rights Coalition []  on Wed., Nov. 15 from 12:30 to 9 PM at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Baltimore - BWI Airport, 890 Elkridge Landing Road, Linthicum Heights 21090 for its Economic Rights and Consumer Celebration.  Discuss ways to move progressive economic policy forward in in our state.  Become an individual member and you can attend the Economic Summit for free and receive a discounted ticket to the Consumer Awards Celebration. More importantly, you can join Marylanders across the state in building a strong, citizen’s movement for economic rights and financial inclusion. Membership includes a wide variety of benefits, including access to a members-only newsletter, free trainings and workshops for you and your networks, and much more!  Meet the winner of the Legislative Achievement of the Year Award… Senator Jim Rosapepe!  Go to

30] – On Wed., Nov. 14 at 2 PM, and every Wednesday until July 24, 2019, School of Food and Food Rescue Baltimore will give out food at 1412 N. Wolfe St., Baltimore 21213. Bring a bag, bring a friend, and take delicious, nutritious, free rescued food. See

31] On Wed., Nov. 14 from 6 to 7:30 PM, there will be a Public Hearing on Transforming 2629 Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, hosted by the DC Department of Housing and Community Development in the First Floor Conference Room, 1800 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, WDC 20020. The DC Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) is holding a public hearing to consider the proposed disposition of 2629 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave. SE, a residential apartment in the Barry Farm neighborhood of Ward 8. This property is to be disposed of via the Negotiated Sale process. A draft Property Disposition Agreement was negotiated with the purchaser, 2629 MLK LLC.

The public hearing is being conducted to ensure that citizens are informed about the disposing and development of the property and can present their views. Citizens who would like to present oral testimony are encouraged to register in advance.  If you would like to present oral testimony, you are encouraged to register in advance either by e-mailing Chantese Rogers at, or by calling 202-478-1355. Please provide your name, address, telephone number, and organization affiliation, if any. Telecommunications Device for the Deaf (TDD) relay service is available by calling (800) 201-7165.   See

32] -- On Wed., Nov. 14 from 6 to 8 PM, catch the lecture Race, Racism, and the New Racial Science, hosted by the Dresher Center for the Humanities, UMBC, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore 21250.  This is HUMANITIES FORUM FALL 2018, the W.E.B. Du Bois Lecture will be delivered by Dorothy E. Roberts, the 14th Penn Integrates Knowledge Professor, George A. Weiss University Professor of Law and Sociology, and Raymond Pace and Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander Professor of Civil Rights, University of Pennsylvania.  Recent advances in scientific research have included a renewed interest in biological concepts of race and explanations of racial inequality. The science that emerged from sequencing the human genome has been marked by investigations of race-based genetic difference and the redefinition of race as a genomic category. The genomic era has generated collaborations between biological and social scientists that seek to link social outcomes to genetic traits. Even some researchers who study the impact of social inequality on biological outcomes have explained racial disadvantage in biological terms. And the biological and social scientists developing a new racial science avoid the political implications of their research by distinguishing their objectivity and socially beneficial aims from scientific racism of the past. This lecture will critically examine the new racial science and propose a more just way for social and biological scientists to study race and racism.  See

33] – On Wed., Nov. 14 from 5 to 7 PM, get over to Rising Above Concentrated Poverty in Baltimore City Schools, hosted by Zeke Cohen at the Dorothy I. Height Elementary, 2011 Linden Ave., Baltimore 21217. Participate in a conversation about how we can ensure that all our students have access to an excellent education.  We’ll highlight some of the most promising programs in schools and talk about what resources are needed to expand and improve these programs.  Hear from students, parents, educators, Delegates Maggie McIntosh, Cory McCray and Mary Washington as well as Senator Bill Ferguson about how we can unite together to advocate for these additional resources during the 2019 Legislative Session.  Go to

34] – Attend Research, Power, Justice, an Economic Policy Institute reception celebrating the future of worker power in America on Wed., Nov. 14 from 6:30 to 9:30 PM at The Mayflower Hotel, 1127 Connecticut Ave. NW, WDC. Hear from Rev. William Barber and other transformative leaders working to build an economy that works for everyone, and honor Ady Barkan of the Center for Popular Democracy, an inspiring worker champion.  RSVP at
Contact Arlene Williams at (202) 775-8810 or

35] – On Wed., Nov. 14 from 7 to 9:30 PM, hear from Larry Cohen, National Chair Our Revolution: What's next after the elections?  This is hosted by Our Revolution Howard at the Meeting House, 5885 Robert Oliver Place, Columbia 21045. Cohen is the past president of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) and National Chair of Our Revolution.  There were wins and losses in the election, and now is the time to assess the consequences! The regular – but shortened – ORHoCo monthly membership meeting will start at 7 PM, and all are welcome. The presentation will begin at 7:30 PM. RSVP here:  Check out

36] –  On Wed., Nov. 14 from 7 to 10 PM, hear about the Uyghur Muslims - The Forgotten Nation of the Islamic World, hosted by United2Heal GMU at George Mason University - Johnson Center, 4400 University Dr., Fairfax, VA 22030. Learn about the re-education camps victimizing our Uyghur brothers and sisters while uplifting their unique culture with ethnic foods, clothing & performances. Seating is limited so please get your tickets as soon as possible!  The link for tickets is  See

37] – This year's Encuentro, Dismantle Border Imperialism! Struggle, Create, Power to the People!, starts on Thurs., Nov. 15 at 9 AM through Sun., Nov. 18 at 4 PM.  The main demand is an end to US economic, military and political intervention in Latin America, and the closure of the SOA/WHINSEC. Visit

38] – On Thurs., Nov. 15 from 4 to 5 PM, hosted by Food Rescue Baltimore, every Thursday until Feb. 7, 2019 at the Dovecote CafĂ©, 2501 Madison Ave., Baltimore 21217.  Bring a bag, bring a friend, and take delicious, nutritious, free rescued food. Visit

39] – On Thurs., Nov. 15 from 4 to 8 PM, enjoy the Peace a Pizza Fundraiser, hosted by The Heritage Players, Inc. at the Catonsville Peace A Pizza, 15 Mellor Ave., Catonsville 21228.  MENTION THE HERITAGE PLAYERS FUNDRAISER WHEN YOU ORDER*** AND 20% OF YOUR CHECK WILL BE DONATED BACK TO HERITAGE!  Call (410) 747-2255 or check out and

40] – On Thurs., Nov. 15 at 6:30 PM, see the documentary “Cowspiracy” at the Annapolis Friends Meeting House, 351 Dubois Road, Annapolis 21401.  This documentary follows an intrepid filmmaker as he uncovers the most destructive industry facing the planet today – and investigates why the world's leading environmental organizations are too afraid to talk about it. As eye-opening as “Blackfish” and as inspiring as “An Inconvenient Truth,” this shocking yet humorous documentary reveals the absolutely devastating environmental impact large-scale factory farming has on our planet.  Climate Stewards of Greater Annapolis are hosting this movie night.  Go to

41] – On Thurs., Nov. 15 from 6:30 to 8 PM, hear about Imagining and Building a Post-Trump Future, hosted by The Potter's House, 1658 Columbia Rd. NW, WDC 2000.  In conjunction with the release of “How to Read a Protest: The Art of Organizing and Resistance,” longtime organizer and movement journalist L.A. Kauffman will join the Yes Men's Andy Bichlbaum and “Marginalized Majority” author Onnesha Roychoudhuri for a wide-ranging discussion of what it might take for grassroots organizing to dislodge the 45th president from office -- whether that be through impeachment, forced resignation, or at the ballot box in 2020.  Kauffman, Bichlbaum, and Roychoudhuri will discuss the nature of the resistance to Trump, a blueprint for people-powered organizing in the wake of the midterm elections, and visions of a robust post-Trump policy agenda. Go to

42] – On Thurs., Nov. 15 at 7 PM, hear GEORGE LAKEY talk about HOW WE WIN: A GUIDE TO NONVIOLENT DIRECT ACTION at Red Emma's Bookstore Coffeehouse, 1225 Cathedral St., Baltimore 21201.  A lifetime of activist experience informs this playbook for building and conducting nonviolent direct action campaigns — teaching us how to achieve real progressive change. Today’s new direct action campaigns require a new, down-to-earth guide to effective campaigning. George Lakey’s How We Win is that timely guide. The Women’s March of January 21, 2017 was estimated at four million people — the largest assembly of activist protest in U.S. history. Many of those assembled were in the streets for the first time, or returning after a period of inactivity.

Lakey, a lifelong activist, helps us understand our political moment (extreme polarization, ripe for political change), teaches us how to plan a campaign to overcome that polarization, demonstrates how to launch these ideas into action, and shows us how to grow and sustain our movements. This is what democracy looks like. Call (443) 602 7611 or go to

43] – On Thurs., Nov. 15 from 7 to 9 PM, get over to Progressive Maryland Volunteer Appreciation Party! It is happening at Holy Frijoles, 908 W 36th St., Baltimore 21211. Come party with Progressive Maryland!  Thanks to all for your tireless commitment, dedication, and energy throughout this election cycle. We could not have passed banning the privatization of our water, fought for funding for the housing trust, won fair elections, or built relationships with our communities without you! We are throwing this event to appreciate all of your hard work, deepen our relationships with each other, and talk about the work we will be doing in the coming months! Food will be provided so come hang out and party with other progressives in Baltimore City!  Call 443-366-6719 or got to

44] – On Thurs., Nov. 15 from 7 to 9 PM, attend the Water Justice Forum, hosted by Jews United for Justice - Baltimore at Beth Am, 2501 Eutaw Place, Baltimore 21217. The United Nations categorizes water as a human right but for many Baltimoreans, water service is unaffordable. Since 2000, water rates have more than tripled in Baltimore City and more than half of residents cannot afford their water bills. When they can’t afford to pay, the City shuts off their water, renters are evicted, and homeowners lose their homes through tax sales. With the lack of substantial assistance from the Department of Public Works, it’s time for radical change to come from City Hall. Access to safe, affordable water is a fundamental human right and one that our City must provide for all Baltimoreans.  Hear stories from neighbors who have struggled with their water bills, learn more about a piece of innovative water justice legislation soon-to-be introduced by City Council President Jack Young, and make plans to take action to ensure it passes! Snacks will be provided.  See

To be continued.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Applauding Plan to Stop Refueling Saudi Planes, Progressives Call for Further Action to End Yemen’s Humanitarian Nightmare

Applauding Plan to Stop Refueling Saudi Planes, Progressives Call for Further Action to End Yemen’s Humanitarian Nightmare

A boy walks by a house destroyed in an airstrike carried out by a Saudi-led coalition warplane in Sana'a, Yemen, September 19, 2018.
A boy walks by a house destroyed in an airstrike carried out by a Saudi-led coalition warplane in Sana'a, Yemen, September 19, 2018.MOHAMMED HAMOUD / GETTY IMAGES

November 11, 2018

Anti-war groups and progressive lawmakers expressed cautious optimism this weekend after the Trump administration announced it would end its policy of refueling Saudi planes that are engaged in Saudi Arabia’s assault on Yemen—but called for bolder and broader policy changes to ensure an end to the attacks that have killed more than 15,000 civilians.
On Friday, the Washington Post reported that the refueling practice would end, with Saudi Arabia claiming in a statement that it now has the ability to refuel its own planes—a claim that US Defense Secretary James Mattis bolstered in his own comments on the policy change but that drew skepticism from critics. The change came amid heightened calls from across the political spectrum to end the US military’s cooperation with the Saudis, following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Progressives including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Sens. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) have called for an end to US participation since long before Khashoggi, a Saudi who wrote critically of his home country’s government, was killed by Saudi agents in October.
Khanna and Sanders both said they would take action in Congress to hold the administration accountable for its pledge to end refueling efforts.
Calling the decision one that “could avert a humanitarian crisis,” Khanna told The Intercept that Congress should now pass Senate Resolution 54 and House Resolution 138, which direct the president to remove US forces entirely from the war in Yemen unless they have been authorized by Congress.

“Similar to what we did in Somalia’s case, when the White House said that we weren’t going to have any intervention, Congress went ahead and passed both of the War Powers Resolution [measures], just to make sure that was definitive,” Khanna said, referring to Congress’s urging of President Bill Clinton to limit US involvement in Somalia in 1993.
“I’m glad that the Trump administration is ending US refueling of Saudi aircraft in Yemen’s devastating war… U.S. participation in this conflict is unauthorized and unconstitutional and must end completely,” Sanders said in a statement. “I will soon bring Senate Joint Resolution 54 back to the floor for another vote, so the Senate can compel an end to U.S. participation in the Yemen war as a matter of law, not simply as a matter of the president’s discretion.”
But other critics of the country’s involvement in the war, which has devastated the impoverished country since it began in 2015 as the Saudi coalition has supported the Yemeni government in its attempt to defeat the Houthis, say the US must go much further to ensure that the assault can’t continue.
“Why are we still helping the Saudis with targeting? Why are we still selling them the bombs at a discount?” Murphy said. “Now that it’s no longer a secret that the war in Yemen is a national security and humanitarian nightmare, we need to get all the way out.”

For over 3 years, the US has helped the Saudi-led coalition bomb Yemen with few constraints. Thousands of civilians died in airstrikes. When I asked the Pentagon if it tracked the Saudi aircraft we refueled and the targets struck, they said they didn’t. …

“Congress and the public must not rest until the United States ends all military assistance to the Saudi-led coalition, which also includes consultation on targets, other intelligence, and weapons sales,” said Kate Kizer, policy director for Win Without War.
“When it comes to Yemen, talk is cheap and those on the brink of starvation can’t afford any political stunts. The world is watching to see if this is merely more empty promises or if the United States will finally use its power to end the suffering in Yemen,” she added.
Kevin Martin, president of Peace Action, also demanded that Congress, now with Democratic control of the House, use its new power to stand up to the executive branch and take further action to end the war.
“Congress must pass the Yemen war powers resolutions to bind the administration to this policy shift…and to reclaim its constitutional authority on the question of war,” Martin said. “This war was illegal from the start, and it’s time for Congress to stand up and say so.”

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This piece was reprinted by Truthout with permission or license. It may not be reproduced in any form without permission or license from the source.

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.
Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

Your Health, Social Security, and Safety Depend on Voting Democratic Today

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Your Health, Social Security, and Safety Depend on Voting Democratic Today

If you want to cast yourself down into poverty and watch your loved ones die for lack of health insurance, just go on voting Republican and giving heartless bastards like Trump the keys to the kingdom
Today’s midterm elections are among the more fateful in recent American history, quite simply because there is a madman in the White House whom the Republican Senate and House have absolutely refused to reign in.

   When Barack Obama wanted to close the US gulag at Guantanamo Bay, where inmates are held without charge for years, subjected to torture, and sometimes murdered, the GOP Congress stopped him by passing a law that he could not spend government money for the purpose of closing Gitmo. What Obama wanted to do was reasonable.

  The Congress could likewise have put a stop to Trump’s *unreasonable* antics with such laws. Instead they let him impose a racist visa ban, let him continue to support the ruinous Yemen war, let him send 15,000 troops to the border with Mexico in a boondoggle that will cost the public millions.

  But the big outrage was the “tax cut” scam of last February, which gave away $1.5 trillion to America’s super-wealthy over a decade and ballooned the deficit.

  Mitch “Darth Vader” McConnell immediately announced that because of the ballooning deficit, which he single-handedly caused, Congress would have to cut what career politicians in Washington DC call “entitlements.” They include Social Security, Medicare and Obamacare.

  All of us who have had a formal salary have paid into social security. McConnell is threatening to come after your government retirement benefits. That is *your money* that the government is supposed go be holding in a kind of escrow for you. The line the so-called conservatives try to feed you that Social Security is broken or in danger of going bankrupt is a huge steaming crock.

  The rich don’t pay into Social Security on income over $128,400 a year. All you would have to do is raise the cut-off for the super-wealthy and suddenly social security would be way in the black and perfectly healthy.

   But McConnell wants instead to basically steal your money that you payed into it and make you a pauper in your retirement, so as to throw even more money at his filthy rich friends. The GOP represents the wealthy business classes alone, whereas the Democratic Party represents the wealthy business classes plus everyone else.

   Mitchell also wants to destroy what’s left of the Affordable Care Act and get rid of protections for pre-existing conditions.

  He and Republican congressmen want to take these steps in order to receive big campaign bucks from the business classes.

  Republicans in congress actually work for scumbags like Donald Trump, who finds ways never to pay taxes on much of his income, but who are still afraid that for the government to provide services to people is a bad thing, since it keeps in place taxes on . . . the business classes. Those classes benefit from the country’s infrastructure and airports and military security but they want to make the middle classes pay for all those things so that they can play masters of the universe with every extra penny they can save from taxes.

  Most of Trump’s antics are just offensive and cheapen the tenor of public life, and cable news loves to gossip about all that.

  He is ruling by demonizing certain ethnic groups, setting American against American and causing a spike in hate crimes. We’ve had mosques burned and synagogue-goers slaughtered. That polarization will detract from your security.

   But the real threat of Trump is structural. He is vastly increasing the levels of inequality in the US, throwing more and more money, through tax policy, to the super-rich.

   The tax cut will also create an enormous deficit that the Republicans will attempt to leverage into a final destruction of Social Security, Medicare and Obamacare. Back in the 1930s the elderly were the poorest Americans, since most of them had not saved enough and barracuda capitalism had crashed the market in which some of them had invested. Now the elderly are generally speaking relatively well off, because of Social Security and Medicaid.

  If you want to cast yourself down into poverty and watch your loved ones die for lack of health insurance, just go on voting Republican and giving heartless bastards like Trump the keys to the kingdom.
© 2018 Juan Cole

  Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place.But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do.

Juan Cole

  Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East (Simon and Schuster), will officially be published July 1st. He is also the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon's Egypt: Invading the Middle East (both Palgrave Macmillan). He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

Donations can be sent to the Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 325 E. 25th St., Baltimore, MD 21218.  Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] Go to

"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs

A Different WWI Anniversary

Published on Portside (

A Different WWI Anniversary

Robert Ovetz
November 4, 2018

    More than a decade before the New Deal, a wildcat strike wave during WWI brought about extensive concessions including right to organize, mandatory arbitration for employers, higher wages, and shorter work weeks. As we approach the anniversary of the end of WWI the history of this little-known period of class conflict has many critical lessons for us today. Above all, the lesson is that class conflict drives reform not the other way around as is commonly argued. 

Women Workers Launch the Strike Wave 

    At the start of World War I self-organized women textile workers, most of whom did not have a formal union struck across New England. Over the next few years, their wildcat strikes spread to workers in iron, weapons, clothing, timber, shipping, coal, and other critical war industries picking up steam once the US entered the war in 1917. Those strikes emboldened workers across the country to launch a strike wave that reached into the 1920s. 

     The Wilson administration responded to the strike wave by embarking on a new experimental policy of using rapid mandatory arbitration carried out by government labor specialists. An array of newly improvised federal boards were set up to oversee war production and set wages in iron, weapons, textiles, timber, shipping, coal, and other critical war industries. President Wilson soon settled on the National War Labor Board (NWLB), co-chaired by radical labor lawyer Frank Walsh and former President William Howard Taft, as the central coordinating body for labor relations. The NWLB became a short-lived embryonic prototype for what would later become Roosevelt’s famed Section 7(a) of the 1933 National Industrial Recovery Act and the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act. 

   While most historians argue that the Depression era strike wave pushed the Roosevelt Administration to pass the so-called Wagner Act, the historical records shows this to be years too late—workers had already done so nearly two decades earlier. The WWI wildcat strikers demonstrated that workers in strategically critical industries could use the strike to disrupt critical war industries. The strikes provided the critical leverage that led to government intervention to avoid disruption of the war effort. As a result, the Wilson administration used the NWLB to extract concessions and reforms from arms companies that had otherwise been blocked, defeated, or repressed. 

    When snap wildcat strikes threatened war production the NWLB sent in umpires who investigated and proposed a mandatory settlement between workers and business to quickly restart production, sometimes within days or weeks. Workers also directly petitioned the NWLB to intervene in a labor dispute, umpires were sent in to investigate, and the board issued ad hoc rulings. Workers began achieving gains that had long eluded AFL craft unions for years and provided a strategy that other workers emulated. A growing number of self-organized workers bypassed their AFL unions, which were collaborating in the war effort by committing to an unenforceable “no strike” pledge, seized upon the wildcat strike to extract concessions and a strike wave was on. Workers were recomposing their power and tipping the balance of forces back in their favor. 

     What came out of the rulings were not necessarily victories for the workers and they were hardly radical. The NWLB explicitly sought to maintain the existing relations between workers and capital, often splitting the difference by shortening work hours and raising wages in exchange for getting the workers back to work under the same working conditions. The board mostly ignored workers demands to reign in Taylorism, which usurped control over their work and tied pay to productivity. 

    The NWLB also adamantly refused to recognize newly self-organized shopfloor committees as unions or sanction collective bargaining to negotiate legally binding labor contracts. This refusal immediately backfired on the NWLB as workers repeatedly struck soon again after successfully achieving a concession that lacked a legally binding contractual period. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), while being repressed at the same time, had taught workers that the lack of a contract gave them a strategic advantage of continually asserting their power on the shopfloor to extract gains. 

    From 1915 to 1917 the number of strikes tripled to a stunning 4,359, and the number on strike rose by 250 percent. Many workers under AFL contracts also wildcatted. While the number of strikes declined a bit in 1918 the number on strike remained steady and both rose again in 1919 as wartime layoffs escalated and general strikes erupted in several cities including Seattle. In the mere 16 months of its existence, a little less than half the time during the war, the NWLB held investigations, conducted hearings, and issued awards, findings, recommendations, and orders concerning 490 cases. 

    Many of the awards raised pay, particularly for lower paid unskilled workers and women, simplified and condensed complicated wage scales, and reduced hours. 

     By compressing the wage hierarchy among the workers, the NWLB put them all—men and women, skilled and unskilled—under one wage scale and work rules in single work sites, company-wide and even entire industries. In doing so, the NWLB inadvertently created the conditions facilitating working class cooperation unseen since the American Railway Union and the Knights of Labor organized all workers into a single union decades earlier. 

    Not surprisingly, the corporations were hardly on board with mandatory arbitration. Nearly all of them initially refused to recognize the NWLB until President Wilson threatened to nationalize any company that refused to play along which he did with Western Union Telegraph Co. and a couple others. That did the trick. The companies begrudgingly accepted mandatory arbitration for just as long as the country was at war and not a day longer. 

    AFL patriarch Samuel Gompers also reversed course 180 degrees. He not only embraced mandatory arbitration which he had once denounced as a form of slavery. Gompers became such a true believer that he even called for firing workers who refused to arbitrate or abide by NWLB rulings and backed company unions set up to take over NWLB mandated elected shop committees. In exchange for joining the Democratic Party’s big tent Gompers became the chair of the Council of National Defense (CND) Committee on Labor under whose authority he issued a ban on wartime strikes despite the AFL leadership voting against it. The AFL, now the AFL-CIO, has never relinquished its faith in arbitration, the Democrats, and what we now call collective bargaining. The harnessing of labor to the Democrats didn’t begin with Roosevelt, as most labor historians wrongly claim, but during WWI and Wilson. 

     Let there be no illusion about the cause of these concessions—Wilson’s proto-labor relations scheme kept production humming so that the guns on the European front could keep firing, killing workers of other countries on the battlefield. In the West, where the IWW entirely rejected collective bargaining and contracts, strikes in the timber industry were met with local terrorism and official repression. Mandatory arbitration for east coast war industry workers and repression of the IWW in the west were two sides of the same policy. 

    The NWLB temporarily slowed but failed to stop strikes. Workers used mandatory arbitration to raise their atrociously low wages, shorten their horrifically long hours, and improve working conditions. 

    Many wildcat strikes led to quick NWLB intervention and concessions which strengthened and emboldened workers. Ultimately, the NWLB was a prototype of collective bargaining that temporarily harnessed labor to state capitalism by exchanging higher wages for higher productivity just long enough to fight the war. This classic Fordist wage-productivity deal was born during WWI—not the New Deal. 

    When the war ended business retaliated by abrogating the concessions and issuing massive layoffs which sparked general strikes in steel and coal and led to workers taking over the city of Seattle. The 1921 Battle of Blair Mountain was the final battle of the miners army in West Virginia marking the final defeat of the WWI wildcat strike wave. 

    During WWI, the wildcat strike wave escalated tactics and strategy to open the way for long overdue concessions and reforms that shifted the balance of power to workers for years to come. This strategy of escalation appears to be emerging again today. The 2018 teacher strikes in five states and Puerto Rico demonstrated how disrupting production provides the necessary leverage to obtain much needed concessions when all other acceptable efforts have been blocked, defeated, and repressed. 

Robert Ovetz is the author of When Workers Shot Back: Class Conflict from 1877 to 1921 (Brill 2018) which examines the WWI wildcat strike wave, the Seattle General Strike and the West Virginia miners war among other struggles of the time period.

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"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs