2004 NEFAC Activity Report
north america / mexico |
anarchist movement |
Friday March 04, 2005 23:04 by posted by nestor
NEFAC reports on its range of activity in 2004
2004 Activity Report for the Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists (NEFAC)
A report covering our activities throughout the region over the past year.
Like always, some collectives have disbanded over the past year (Cipriano Mera in Ottawa, Bad Apple and Roundhouse in Baltimore, Sophia Perovskaia who merged with Class Against Class in Boston, and Firefly in Malden who disbanded), while long term work has enabled smaller collectives to consolidate by recruiting new militants (Punching Out in Toronto, Green Mountain Anarchist Collective in Vermont, La Nuit in Quebec City).
Three new collectives, Impact in Montreal, L'Accolade in Sherbrooke and Les Vas-Nu-Pieds in St-Georges, also joined in Quebec.
Individual members and supporters are still struggling to form or reform functioning collectives in a number of cities (York PA, Petersborough ONT) while a new collective, Nemesis, was just granted supporter status in Baltimore.
NEFAC held two general congress last year, one in Baltimore and one in Montreal. Congresses are where we review our general strategy, and to strengthen our internal organisation.
Militants are also starting to organise sub-regionally. While for obvious linguistic reasons Quebec NEFAC'ers were the first to set up a 'Quebec Regional Union' a few years back, comrades in the Mid-Atlantic sub-region also started a 'Regional Union' last year to coordinate work between NYC, Philly, Baltimore and New Jersey.
In Boston, a daylong retreat was held by the various NEFAC collectives to review current activity and internal functioning of the local union, and to plan strategy for the future. There is also talk of holding a New England sub-regional meeting down the road.
NEFAC-Montreal and NEFAC-Toronto have been involved in solidarity work with the Mohawk community of Kanesatake.
NEFAC is still a member of the International Libertarian Solidarity network: http://www.ils-sil.org
We have developed our theory through our various publications as well as public talks that have been held in a number of cities.
The new 'NEFAC Mid-Atlantic Regional Union' organized an 'Anarchy at Work Tour' featuring NEFAC'ers involved in their workplaces (both as trade-unionists, members of worker's coop and organisers). The tour stopped in Baltimore, Philly, York, and Pittsburgh.
NEFAC-Montreal organised several public events including a video showing on Fernand Pelloutier and early French syndicalism, a talk about workplace struggles and racism, a public reading of Ricardo Flores Magon texts, and a public meeting with a comrade from Al Badil Al Taharouri who talked about anarchism in the Arab world and the situation in the Middle East.
NEFAC-Montreal was also deeply involved in the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (with one member part of the organising collective). They had one of the largest tables at the bookfair and held workshops on organising your workplace with the Vermont Downtown Workers Union and Pissed-Off Projectionists, Anarchist involvement in the struggles against the Charest Government with labor and student (anarchist) activists and anarchists and revolutionary periods.
La Nuit (NEFAC Quebec-City) organised a video night about the anarchist involvement in the Algerian War of Independence, gave a talk on racism and the extreme right to student groups and another one on the history of anarchism in Joliette (a town outside of Montreal). Members of NEFAC-Quebec also participated in the Journee autogere (a full day of workshops on self-management, held in Quebec-City. NEFAC did not organise this event directly, but did both present and co-facilitate work-shops on "From General Strike to Generalized Self-Management, Some isolated experiences in Quebec", "Experiences of Self-Management in the Cultural Field" and "Can Community Groups Bite the Hand's that Feed Them?").
Punching Out (NEFAC-Toronto) have been hosting the 'Rebel Worker's Film' video nights in Toronto. They also did a talk on "An Introduction to Anarcho-Communism", as well as a panel discussion
on "Anarchists in the Social Movements" at the Toronto anarchist bookfair.
Open City (NEFAC-NYC) hosted a study group on anarchist organisation and members gave a class on 'Marxism and Anarchism', a talk on election and anarchism.
Boston members have been putting together an introductory talk on anarcho-communism and organization. The talk was given at the Lucy Parsons Center last spring, and they hope to organize similar talks throughout New England. One member of Boston NEFAC was also invited to speak to a class at the Institute for Social Ecology (Plainfield, VT) on "Anarchist Organization and the Platformist Tradition".
The Green Mountain Anarchist Collective (NEFAC-Vermont) have worked hard on "Neither Washington Nor Stowe: Common Sense for the Working Vermonter", a local anarchist-communist manifesto which was published in their magasine. The manifesto deal with the specifics of the Vermont political and economical situation and outline what an anarcho-communist society, based on radical union and revitalised town meeting, could look like locally.
Members of NEFAC organised, or participated in, several panels and workshops in a number of public event: most notably the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair (Mtl), Renewing the Anarchist Tradition (Plainfield, VT), Christianity and Anarchism (NYC), Life After Capitalism (NYC), Political Alternatives for Another World (Quebec-City), etc.
Federally we are (still) working on a position paper on workplace struggles. Various collectives have been mandated with developing position papers on a number of other issues (immigration,
anti-racism, patriarchy etc.).
AGITATION AND PROPAGANDA
Two new NEFAC publications were launched this year: Strike! and Cause Commune.
Mid-Atlantic militants were mandated by the federation to launch Strike! Two issues of Strike! were published this year. It is a cheap agit-prop tabloid newspaper intended to be sold at demos, on picket lines, during events, etc. The federation is currently reviewing the format to see if we're going to keep it or try something else.
In Quebec, NEFAC started publishing Cause Commune, a free 4 pages bi-monthly tabloid. Launched in March, the newspaper had 4 issues this year and 12,000 copies where distributed. The paper is made of anarchist opinion and (mainly labor) articles. See http://www.nefac.net/blog/59 for details.
GMAC is currently the only collective with a local publication: 'Catamount Tavern News' which has been distributed statewide for two years now.
Issue no 9 of the Northeastern Anarchist, NEFAC's English language magazine, has been published. The theme this issue was Anti-Militarism, Anti-Electoralism, Wages For Housework, and more! http://www.nefac.net/node/1172
Issue no 4 of Ruptures, NEFAC's French language magasine, has also been published. The theme this issue was on Nationalism, Racism and the extreme-right from a Quebec-focused as well as international perspective. http://www.nefac.net/node/1263
The NEFAC website http://nefac.net is updated almost daily with news and analysis from NEFAC, social movements we're involved in, and anarchist-communist organizations internationally. This year was a big step forward for us, as we decided to build and operate our own autonomous server (which explains the numerous down periods we've experienced). Since it's inception in July, our website readership has more then doubled (though it is still modest).
Members are heavily involved in local radical infoshops and bookstores in Boston (Lucy Parsons Center), Baltimore (Red Emma's), Philadelphia (Wooden Shoe) Montreal (DIRA, an anarchist library-infoshop, and L'Insoumise, a new bookshop) and Quebec City (La Page Noire).
Members in Canada are also deeply involved in community newspapers and radio. Members of NEFAC-Quebec participate in two weekly radio-programs while a member of NEFAC-Toronto hosts a weekly OCAP radio show at York University and members of NEFAC-Montreal are doing the same in a monthly labor radio-show. Members of NEFAC-Quebec write for L'Infobourg and Droit de Parole, two community newspapers, while members of NEFAC-Sherbrooke do the same for Entre Libre.
PARTICIPATION IN THE CLASS STRUGGLE
NEFAC'ers in Quebec continued their participation in the fight back against the neo-liberal structural adjustments in Quebec. We issued a call for anarchist participation in a province-wide day of action on April 14th. Not only did members in Montreal and Quebec City participate in a large demonstration but they also organised autonomous direct actions (see report). We did the same on Mayday in Montreal where NEFAC-Montréal, in collaboration with CLAC and Quebec-City anarchists, called for a large anarchist bloc in the demo. 500 anarchists swarmed in Montreal but where lost at the back of a sea of some 100,000 trade-unionists. Since then, the movement has been losing momentum, but we are there everytime there's a demonstration whether it is during a government forum in Quebec City or when the Liberal Party has a conference in Montreal.
In Boston, NEFAC members formed a Labor Working Group to coordinate their activity on this front. They've been involved mainly with solidarity campaigns (nurses, hotel workers, janitors, grocery workers, sex shop workers, etc.) and are active in their respective unions (IATSE, AFSCME, IBEW, NAGE, NECC).
In Vermont, GMAC is still heavily involved with the Downtown Worker's Union (and it's Worker's Defense Squad), which has been gaining a lot of momentum lately, and the Vermont Worker's Center which was celebrating it's sixth anniversary this year. In addition, GMAC has attended rallies in support of construction workers in Burlington, as part of the "Good Jobs For Vermont" campaign being waged by the AFL-CIO Trade Council and the Workers' Center. GMAC has also attended a number of rallies in support of workers for the state of Vermont and their union, The Vermont State Employees Association. VSEA is currently deadlocked in negotiating a new contract with the current administration, which is seeking numerous unacceptable concessions from workers.
In Philadelphia, Class Action work in support with an area-wide retail-sector union, based on a rank and file solidarity unionism model, who now have members in about 7 shops, have organized community events, publicized a worker's rights hotline number for the retail corridor, and has won more pay for workers at one chain store.
Open City in New York City are active in US Labour Against the War and their respective unions.
Members of NEFAC also joined forces with other revolutionary anarchists (FRAC & WSA mainly) in various national and regional labor demonstrations, most notably during the RNC and the [badly named] Million Worker's March in Washington, DC.
WE WALK THE LINE
NEFAC members in Quebec are regulars on picket lines. In Montreal, members have been organising a weekly solidarity picket with workers on strike in a downtown hotel. In Quebec City, members have been visiting the 300 strong strike in 3 groceries of the area. The most exciting development, however, has been a province wide strike of the 3,800 worker's in the Societe des alcools du Quebec stores (a state monopoly on the distribution of alcohol other than beer and cider).
Coordinated solidarity actions and visits to the picket lines where organised in 4 cities where members disrupted the few stores still open despite the strike and distributed some anarchist pro-strike literature to customers (a pdf of the leaflet). One action in Montreal even ended with the riot squad expelling the narchists from the store and, in Sherbrooke, the police referred to the ction as "similar to that of anarchists in Montreal"... While these actions are still modest; they show the potential for the type of actions we believe a serious revolutionary organisation should engage in. Action reports (in French) are available: 1, 2, 3.
Boston NEFAC is participating in Jobs with Justice as part of the 'solidarity committee'. They have been also participating in union protests, most recently the HERE hotel workers boycott of the Hyatt Hotel.
Punching Out (NEFAC-Toronto) have been doing strike support for CSSP workers, distributing news about the strike and publicizing solidarity pickets like the one that was held by the workers at a fancy dinner their boss was supposed to speak at (he cancelled, but several CSSP board members got an earful from the workers!). The Toronto Collective is also creating an independent, rank and file, flying squad consisting of union, non-union and unemployed workers. Finally, Punching Out has been working with OCAP to support the formation of a Rank and File committee among HERE hotel workers.
NEFAC Supporters in Petersborough (Ontario) and NEFAC members in Montreal (Quebec) are also trying to build similar flying squads.
GMAC members attended a picket line for UE workers at City Market in Burlington. Those workers won a very good contract, and therefore called off a possible strike. NEFAC-Vermont, during this past year, has also walked the picket line for J. Morgan's workers (MDWU, UE 221), for Verizon workers (CWA and IBEW) and Capital City Press Workers (GCIU who won a great contract).
In addition to collective interventions many NEFAC members are active organizing in their workplace and unions in individual capacities.
NEFAC is participating in anti-fascist organizing in Montreal and Boston with both cities trying to build a larger social movement type of antifa organizations (Northeast Antifascists, RASH, etc.), to keep intelligence on the rise of far-right movements locally, and to confront the nazis where they gather.
New Jersey, NYC, and Baltimore collectives continue to work with local ARA chapters.
Dual members of La Nuit/RASH helped organize a number of highly political concerts drawing as many as 200 people. Their activity is polarizing (and politicizing) the local skinhead and punk scene. They've also been involved in a number of lectures and workshops, without forgetting, of course, direct antifa confrontation.
Members in Quebec have been involved in a number of direct actions against nazis and have tabled each night of a tour of the French redskin band Brigada Flores Magon.
Members in Boston have been instrumental in creating a Boston chapter of the Jericho Amnesty Movement and have been doing fundraising for CIPO-RFM.
The Boston, Baltimore and Philadelphia collectives are continuing defense work with local abortion clinics in their respective area.
Federally, NEFAC have endorsed the campaign to bring Mohamed Cherfi back to Canada and grant him asylum. We've been present in various “days of action” and have been following the campaign closely.
We are also working on a federal project to research detention centers throughout the northeast in preparation for a regional agitational campaign against detentions and deportations of immigrants.
Punching Out have been circulating information and appeals as well as supporting OCAP immigration actions.
Members of NEFAC in Montreal are supporting numerous struggles against deportation and for the regularisation of undocumented worker's.
Involvement in tenant unions and community groups in Quebec City, Boston, and New Jersey continues.
In Quebec, NEFAC have been coordinating anarchist involvement in the campaign for a just Housing Policy initiated by the two largest tenant unions federations (FRAPRU, and RCLALQ). We organised the first ever red and black contingent during a mainstream tenants demonstration in Quebec. On this occasion we tried to move beyond mere banner and flag waving and we did put out a leaflet explaining our anarchist position on housing and 3 different posters around housing were pasted everywhere during the one thousand strong march.
Punching Out members participate in the Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP) and are working with a labour working group to co-ordinate and expand the support that OCAP gives to unionized and non-union workers, be it on picket lines or through direct action
Boston NEFAC members are active in the Boston Angry Tenants Union (which is a member organization of the Boston Tenant Coalition), and have been active in the fight to re-instate rent control, and various agitational campaigns against local pro-landlord organisatons and public policies.
Quebec-City NEFAC members gave a helping hand with some of the logistical work of a huge Reclaim the Street action as well as distributing hundreds of copies of Cause Commune to participants.
NEFAC also coordinated propaganda effort during numerous anti-war days of action with members helping each other at demonstration and the organisation publishing joint propaganda. We also participated in the DNC and RNC where most of us kept a low profile but distributed thousands of copies of our papers and leaflets to interested demonstrators.
NEFAC-Montreal participated in an international solidarity day in October called "Anarchists Against the Wall" in support of Israeli anarchists fighting against the Israel-Palestine apartheid wall. A small protest was organized in downtown Montreal with members of Jews Against the Occupation. Posters denouncing the wall were pasted and leaflets were handed out to passers-by.
Two members of NEFAC-Montreal also did a small speaking tour of Ireland and England (on popular resistance to right-wing government in Quebec) and met with members of WSM, Organise! and the Anarchist Federation.
To contact NEFAC:
Open City Anarchist Collective
PO Box 250-159
Columbia University Station
New York, NY
c/o C.P. St.-Andre, B.P. 32018
a/s E. H.
138 St-Valliers Ouest
(International Secretariat / Secretariat International)