Tag Archives: IWW

While There Is A Soul In Prison

By Colin Bossen

Note: I recently have become involved with the Industrial Workers of the World’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. I am serving as their contact person for faith-based organizing. It is a volunteer role and one of things that I am doing as part of it is preaching some in support of the September 9, 2016 National Prisoner Strike. The following sermon was the first I preached in support of the movement. I presented it at the First Parish in Needham, Unitarian Universalist, on August 28, 2016. 

It is a pleasure to be with you this morning. Your congregation features prominently in one of my favorite books of contemporary Unitarian Universalist theology, A House for Hope. John Buehrens, your former minister and the co-author of that book, has something to do with me being here today. He was a strong advocate for youth ministry when he was the President of the Unitarian Universalist Association. I had the good fortune to meet him when I was sixteen. He encouraged me both along my path to the ministry and my path to the academy. I also have fond memories of the worship services your present minister Catie Scudera led during her time at Harvard. And I congratulate in calling someone who will no doubt be one of the guiding lights of the next generation of Unitarian Universalists. So, there is a strange way in which even though I have never spent a Sunday with you before I feel as if I already know you a little.

Such familiarity, I suspect, is rather one sided. Most, of maybe all, just know me as the guest preacher. The last in the long line of summer preachers trying to bring a little spirit to Sunday morning before your regular worship services resume next month.

Now me, I am something of circuit rider. Right now I preach at more than a dozen congregations a year while I am finishing up my PhD at Harvard. As I travel around I have the privilege of getting something of the breadth of our Unitarian Universalist tradition. I think since I started in the ministry more than a decade ago I have lead worship at close to a hundred Unitarian Universalist congregations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. Those congregations include the some of the largest and some of the smallest in our tradition.

My peripatetic career causes me to divide Unitarian Universalism crudely into two wings: the liberal and the abolitionist. Unitarian Universalism is occasionally called a liberal religion. This label refers to our understanding of human nature. Historically we have understood human beings to contain within them, in the words of William Ellery Channing, “the likeness to God.” As contemporary Unitarian Universalist theologian Rebecca Parker has explained, this does not mean that we think human beings are necessarily godlike. Instead, it suggests that rather than being born innately flawed or depraved, as orthodox Christianity has long taught, we are born with the capacity to choose and to become. Reflecting upon the suffering that we inflict upon each other Parker writes, “We are the cause and we can be the cure.” In this sense liberal religion means a recognition that much of what is wrong in the world was wrought by human hands. By joining our hands and hearts together we can, and we do, heal much of that harm.

I am not thinking of the liberal religion of Channing when I say that Unitarian Universalism can be crudely divided into two wings. I suspect that if you are here this Sunday morning your view of human nature is at somewhat similar to Channing’s and Rebecca Parker’s. Whether politically you are a Democrat or a Republican, an anarchist or a socialist, a liberal, libertarian or a conservative, if you are a Unitarian Universalist are a liberal religionist.

My division of our community into the abolitionists and the liberals focuses on our attitudes towards social reform. The majority liberal tradition believes in incremental and pragmatic social change. The social institutions and practices that exist, exist. When confronted with the intractable problems of America’s justice system liberals think the key question is: how can we make this system work better for everyone? How can we ensure that police are not racist? That everyone gets a fair trial and that prisons are humane? Continue reading

IGDCAST: Raising Hell in the South

From It’s Going Down

Listen to and download the podcast HERE.

In this episode of IGDCAST we talk with Brianna, one of the founders of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC), which is a part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a revolutionary anti-capitalist union. Brianna discusses the recent Southern Speaking Tour, which was a tour organized by IWW and IWOC members which discussed workplace and prison organizing and worked to make connections between various cities and towns. Brianna speaks on growing up in the South, racism in the region when compared to the rest of the country, outside perceptions of the South and Southern people, the tour itself and some highlights, as well as an in depth look at the upcoming national prison strike which begins on September 9th.


IWW General Defense Committee Bail Fund

The Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the Industrial Workers of the World has been working with prisoners and groups from across the United States organizing a Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Workstoppage for September 9, 2016. In anticipation of state reprisals against our members on the inside and outside, the IWW General Defense Committee is expanding it bail fund to assist those fighting to end prisoner slavery.

Please donate and share this page!!!

IWOC National Prison Strike September 2016 event page.

Announcement of Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Workstoppage for Sept 9, 2016.

again, donate to the bail fund here.

Message from Keith ‘Malik’ Washington Spokesperson for End Prison Slavery in Texas

[The following is an open letter from a comrade associated with End Prison Slavery in Texas addressed to IWOC; all typos, etc, remain as in the original letter.]

Revolutionary Greetings Comrades!

I hope all of you are doing well.Today is August 8th, 2016 – yesterday I was notified by a friend that the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles DENIED my release on Parole for the 5th time!

My Good Time, Work Time, and Flat Time calculations equal to 100% of my current 20 year sentence – yet here I remain.

And this is one of the key issues we are challenging in Texas – I am a Text – Book example which exposes the Flaws in a system which continues to enslave the poorest cross-section of Amerikan society.

I would like to thank the IWW – IWOC for referring Free-Lance Journalist John Washington to me. Hopefully we will see a detailed essay in The Nation Magazine which highlights our strength to abolish Prison Slavery.

The Grassroots organizing for the September 9th action is going well. Texas Prisoners are not just suffering from physical enslavement. Many are psychologically enslaved. This makes my job and Rashid’s job of awakening the lumpen difficult but not impossible. Continue reading

IWOC Support + Advice – Four Key Holes

from Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee

The IWW’s Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee is coming along powerfully and is getting closer and closer to a movement moment where we explode onto the national scene through the work of our powerful inside organizers and outside supporters.

Yet we have some significant holes in IWOC’s infrastructure and hope some of you have suggestions for people–inside or outside of the IWW–who could help fill some of the most important ones, or ideas for how to best focus our efforts in those areas.


1. Delegate Mentors: people with significant IWW-style on the job organizing experience who want to help mentor delegates in prisons. This would likely be remotely via phone and letters. We could also use people to help mentor in new outside groups. This is the key barrier to us having a collective national temperature and building branches and an Industrial Union.

Continue reading

Strike Against White Supremacy: Mobilize for the September 9th Prisoner General Strike

by It’s Going Down

Across the country freeways are blocked, people take the streets, law enforcement officers are confronted and their buildings are occupied, and more and more people are questioning the institutions of policing and incarceration. In the past month, nearly every major city and many smaller ones have seen some sort of protest, demonstration, or disruption in the wake of ongoing police murders that have recently included two African-American men, Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. Helping set the context for this rebellion has been growing anger at both Trump and Clinton and ongoing resistance to white nationalist and fascist organizing which becomes more and more confrontational. At the same time, talk of abolishing the police and the prison system is no longer a fringe idea, as these positions are being discussed more and more broadly by wide segments of popular social movements. Continue reading

‘Enough Is Enough’: Prisoners Across The Country Band Together To End Slavery For Good

From ThinkProgress.org

Jun 15, 2016 1:26 pm

CREDIT: Industrial Workers of the World

Siddique Hasan, a current prisoner at the Ohio State Penitentiary, types in his cell block.

Siddique Hasan, a self-described revolutionary from Savannah, Georgia, has been waiting for a moment like this one, when prisoners across the country band together and say “enough is enough” when it comes to being treated like a slave.

“It’s time for a broader struggle,” he told ThinkProgress during his daily phone time in Ohio’s supermax prison. “People have to lift up their voice with force and determination, and let them know that they’re dissatisfied with the way things are actually being run.”

So far this year, prisoners have been doing just that. Continue reading

Refrendar el 9 Sept A nivel nacional coordinada prisionero del bloqueo del trabajo y la protesta!

This is the Spanish language version of this post.

Esto fue creada con el traductor de google, nos disculpamos por los errores gramaticales o de cualquier defecto y estamos trabajando en una traducción apropiada.

Los presos en los EE.UU. han pedido y están planeando un paro de actividades coordinadas a nivel nacional como protesta el 9 de septiembre. Lea la llamada a la acción aquí.

Esta acción se merece y se beneficiaría enormemente de apoyo externo robusto. Si usted está involucrado en cualquier tipo de trabajo contra la encarcelación en masa, ya sea como un individuo u organización, por favor considere apoyar la huelga.

Envíe sus avales y compromisos de apoyo a PrisonerResistance@gmail.com y las publicaremos en este sitio y asegurarse de que está recibiendo actualizaciones acerca de maneras de hacer esa promesa.

Si tiene inquietudes o dudas, por favor, echa un vistazo a las preguntas más frecuentes a continuación o póngase en contacto con nosotros y estaremos encantados de discutir con usted o su organización. Gracias.

preguntas frecuentes Continue reading

Forget Hunger Strikes. What Prisons Fear Most Is Labor Strikes

Prisoners throughout Alabama and Texas reclaim their humanity—and power—by shutting down the economic infrastructure of their prisons.

Raven Rakia For Yes!

On May 1, prison labor came to a halt in multiple prisons in Alabama, including Holman and Elmore prisons. Starting at midnight that day, prisoners stayed in their dormitories—refusing to show up for work at their assigned posts: the kitchen, the license plate manufacturing plant, the recycling plant, the food processing center, and a prison farm.
The prisoners’ demands were pretty simple: basic human rights, educational opportunities, and a reform of Alabama’s harsh sentencing guidelines and parole board.
The labor strikes are a turn from the most familiar type of political protest behind bars: the hunger strike. 
The strike in Alabama was just the latest in a series of strikes at U.S. prisons. On April 4, at least seven prisons in Texas staged a work strike after a prisoner sent out a call with the help of outside organizers. About a month earlier, prisoners in multiple states including both Texas and Alabama, as well as Virginia and Ohio, called for a national general strike among prisoners on Sept. 9, 2016, the 45th anniversary of the Attica Rebellion, where guards and inmates died during a prison revolt in upstate New York. Continue reading

Endorse the Sept 9th Nationally Coordinated Prisoner Work Stoppage and Protest!

(esta pagina en Espanol aqui)

Prisoners across the US have called for and are planning a nationally coordinated work stoppage and protest on September 9th. Read the call to action here.

This action deserves and would benefit greatly from robust outside support. If you are engaged in any kind of work against mass incarceration, whether as an individual or organization, please consider supporting the strike.

Send your endorsements and pledges of support to PrisonerResistance@gmail.com and we will publish them on this site and make sure you’re getting updates about ways to make good on that pledge.

If you have concerns or misgivings, please check out the frequently asked questions below, or contact us and we’d be happy to discuss it with you or your organization. Thank you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Sept 9th?
Why 2016?
Who is calling for the strike?
Why does the language refer to prison slavery?
This action has the potential to put incarcerated persons in extremely dangerous situations if it isn’t well-backed and thought through. What about the danger?
What about demands, tactics and strategies?
How many / which prisoners are on board with the strike?

Who is coordinating outside support for this effort?
What is IWOC, how did it start?
What kind of support is needed?
ny other questions or concerns?
Continue reading