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Life Despite Capitalism - Workshops
Workplace Organization as Commons
Notes from the Life Despite Capitalism workshop "Workplace Organization as Commons" - 16/10/04 2-4pm
note: these notes were taken down with great gaste trying to follow the meaning of various ideas expressed more so than their precise words - not much attention was paid to grammar and so forth - hopefuly there will be time to revise them later for greater clarity.
workshop with Peter and Vivan:
- beginning with introductions, peoples backgrounds and discussions of where they're coming from and what they hope to get from the workshop:
- who is involved with trade unions, academics in various capacities
- issues brought up upon the role and status of trade unionizing, frustrations and good experiences with such
- Vivian summarizes her morning presetnation for those who weren't there: the gap between technical and precesribed knowledge the forns of knowledge (metis), technical cunning necessary to the actual functioning of the work itself - changes in management that attack such knowledge and subsume forms of intelligence and immaterial labor in the process of production itself - tools to break down and prevent the absorption of solidarity - the demand the workers act towards being profiable,not productive - even though profitability proves there are uncessary workers - the role and existence of solidarity now? how? what is it? - how do you go from secret commons (cunning knowledge) to open struggle and organiztion?
Peter: coming from opposite angle, from almost utopian perspective - the ancient notion of commons, the loss of what was assumed to be common
- THE STATE OF THE UNION: my union card, only thing ive gotten from it is a cleaning discount on my wash - and some soupons - the recent 200,000 strong demo in Amsterdam
- the self-marginalizing nature of the material released by trade union publications - not responding to the creeping encroachment of neoliberalism, even in Amsterdam where there are large trade unions
- SLOGANS MATTER: the problems of slogan that discuss and confront the situationa of 150 years ago - are reflect those conditions - the need for new slogans, forms of self-representation
- the discovery of global civil by unions - how to communicate to people without some sort of guiding message, vision, and so forth
- the commons of the foundation of the community, however it is defined to be collectively defined and owned by however thqt community is defined
- discussion of the common the nature of humanity: whose commons is it anyway? what common? RELINKING LABOR AND THE COMMONS
- the immensity of the distance between where workers are the notions of the common and current forms of organizing
- the links between labor and commons occur most often at the margins
- labor is self-marginalized in ways because of its tunous and shaky relation to news forms of movements GJM, current rganizing outside of the bounds of the traditional labor movement
- not useful to define and divide as to whethere movements are revolutionary / reformist - meeting people where they are
- Pogo, cartoon character, during Vitnamam: I have seen the enemy, it is us. relating to what holloway says, we create capitalism through our own actions
- the desire for commodities, camerasa, computers, thigs to use - which take place in reporducing capitalism - but can be used for nefarious purposes
- brian: the resistance of creativity, creativity of resistance - during 70s, working hard at not working, creative subversion of ability to produce things by doing so in time stolen back from excesses leftover from the defined production process - embodying the refusal of work through what we were doing - these things are still going on, I hink - be are still not seen - unions acting as block to realiizing these things - WalMart?, ransport unions on west coast, pressure on unions from Wal-Mart? - dispute wit truck drives from Mexico and Latin America - rule that they are not unions but indiviual capitalists, therefore attempts to form union classified as illegal cartel - official unions advised members to not show solidarity with truckers under pressure, to cross picket lines
- work in computer field, reducition in size of company - resistance is there, not always given a direction, a clear purpose and nature other than isolate acts - for example, acts of resistance against training procesures which are mandated sharing the answers - useless labor and work subverted, but the point taken apart - resistance comes and goes depending on what it is - these small moments of resistance are also practice a lot by people who work 15-16 hours a day, so its not like its generalized or some such - the effort of Siemen's to fire a number of its workers at once, the development of a network in efforts to resist such, the outpouring of forms of creativity from engineers and people who are for the first time using their creativity and skills for their own usages but not for the company - WHAT IS SOLIDARITY?
- Massimo: working in university, increasing bureaucracy - tension between prescribed tules of education and the nature of education used by those involved in the profes itself - the necessity of cheating, of illegality and the breaking of the rules constatnly in the workplace - the culture of secret of trade - the subtext of the workplace, and the ability not to say it - first joining university, first reactio to imposed bureaucratic guidlines and impositions, having learn these things, when and when not to follow them - how to comply openly with the rules, minize your involvement in it even if complying openly - and then do what you want with the time you have - socializing one into the secret of trade - ex. the inpsection of teaching in classrooms by colleagues, peer supervision - doing it, but doing it as actually asked - to do what's necessary to comply openly, but not acknowlging - how to bridge this chasm? - one university struggle, changes made in system, students revoluting, ability to get faculty unions to support student organize because of previously generated solidariity, faculty union supporting an occupation, which is blaphemous - the mutual reinforcement of struggles - proposing nad acting upon values and forms of actions
- how do these ideas fit in with the increasingly precarious nature of work and life under capitalism? the waning of collective spirit, as such is taken apart and prevented in the workplace - how to generate solidarity out of these situations - connectnt daily life to these forms of srtuggle and experience
- vivian: the casualizing of allms forms of work, the reworking of forms of labor beyond those forms of labor which precarious in themselves - finding the meaning of work, giving meaning to the form of activity one finds oneself in - the suffering of being engaged in work that means nothing to you
PERSON: -focus on these forms of resistance: more as a socilogist or social worker looking at it - these forms of resistance are not new, and in many ways don't contain a great deal of potential within them - being slacking off their work because they don't like it - and often that might not good beyond it - solidarity also won't necessarily bring out forms of change either - trade unions are also not fixed entitees, and change constantly, and thus are not obstacles to change, but should be changed - the attitude of bosses hasn't changed - distrust/hostility - new techniques of management, new forms of control developed in the last 20 years, human resources, etc - creating forms of control that workers impose on themselves - the idea of self-management, once prominent, ad has faded from uniojs for the mst part, social partnership and so forth - empowerment and participation, but such in the service of the own elslavement
PERSON: link between everday life and work, expanding the defintion and idea of work - work encompasses more than just the workplace, how work is embodied in many different forms of social labor and repoducing of society and capital - imment conflict - "the workplace is everywhere" - the idea of the social factory
PERSON: wnats to connect everything together, problems in common we face in my job as a bus driver - for instance, the uniforms we wear - various ruses and tricks we use to manage and deflate the pressures of work - and this is common - problem is to connect these up, they are indiviudalized right now - the moment that this silence, the indivualism and isoltion is broke through, then it is possible for solidarity to emerge - in order to this, need to break through the taboos such as notions and norms of machismo - and to be able to talk about these issues and problems within the union - this possibility to speak doesnt exist anymore or in the union - this recent trasnprt strike in Geneva - the strike was won before it began, the drives said to on strike anyway - and this has transform the collectivity and mentality among the workers
5 MINUTE SMOKING BREAK
PERSON: what happens wher the spaces of solidarity and communalityexist not within the workplace but outside of it - how to use these space outside the workplace to organize soldarity to occur within the workplace? ex. organizing around workplace issues from within the faith community and so forth - things that can't be dealt with traditional forms of union
PERSON: sectors where who the enemy is is less clear, working in homeless service workplace - who is the enemy? self-managed teams, desire not to sabotage what is going on - because not wanting the operation of the workaplce to stop - for instance, closing down the shelter - places where the conflict over employment need not occur within the direct confines of the workplace itself for these reasons - if one is it at work because work is inecessary to supporting onself, not because it was chosen, how to use these forms of relation as the bassi of social struggle? many people are there just because they need the job, and that doesnt provide a good basis for other forms of organizing and solidarity
-PERSON: commons as place, what is the commons in the workplace? is this is something that is experience as shared? and thus cannot be seen as a place that is a commons, or people who are alienated to different extends in their workplace experiences, and how this colors their workplace experiences - and what is the use of this motif?
PERSON: craft unions attacked by invention of fordism - working with ideas from before - when conditions are changing, coming from the paradigm of the mass worker - ways og thunking are left in the model of years ago, even the the conditions we are facing have moved on and chanegd - and does this always happen? and what form of organization would this require
PERSON: old and new forms constnatly co-exist - there isnt anything known as the traditional trade union - some people are tsuck in the 70s, but in some ways people were off better in the 70s - these organizations continue to exist - and we should choose to work with them and use them rather than discarding - major problem is the lack of viable alternative
MOVING TOWARDS LIKE SOMETHING LIKE A SUMMARY OR CONCLUSION:
what is the commons here? what do the workers ahre? what do they have in common? what is in common under the new conditions of work? is it just space in common at work or what are the values we share in comoon? what is the value or function of commons for precarious workers? can trade unions address the new forms of solidarity that are existing?
how do we conceive and reconceive labor from the workplace to home and cyberspace during the conditions of global capital?
how / what / for do we organize in a globalize world?
why do these conversatios so often end up in these oppositions that make further discussion and organizing difficult?
how can the question of commons at work be meaningful / relevant qo all?
notes by stevphen from Ever Reviled Records and the Greenpepper Project
Created by: stevphen last modification: Saturday 16 of October, 2004 [11:22:18 UTC] by stevphen
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