Note-taker: Chris Chase-Dunn, v. July 3, 2007
Session T1.41 “Education against empire”
Global Studies Association (GSA), Civic Center, Mezz Left, 10:30 am-12:30 Thursday, June 28
Four panelists, all men. Lauren Langman a sociologist with the GSA and the Loyola University of Chicago, was organizer and presider. The panelists were Lauren, Mel Rothenberg, also of GSA, Larry Everest of the Revolutionary Communist Party <www,revcom.us> <firstname.lastname@example.org>. I was invited to join the panel. The audience was about 25 people.
Session T2-97 “Breaking the barriers to Unionization”
6/29 1pm-2:30 St. Lukes Church,
Event Sponsor: United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers
About 50 in audience. The room was full.
Two panels: the UE facilitators were Carol Landier and Bob Kingsley.
The meeting started with two singers leading the whole audience in a song about peace and justice in Spanish and English.
First panel was a report from two Mexican independent trade
unionists on the difficulties of organizing independent (non-PRI, non-company)
There is no legal means for public sector workers to
Bob Kingsley then spoke and presented a power point with pictures. He said that the purpose of obstacles to unionization is to protect the interests of corporations. He showed a chart that indicated the declining unionization rate of American workers since 1992 when the series started. Bob also showed a chart depicting the trend in CEO incomes relative to the minimum wage. That ratio went from 51 in 1965 to 800 in 2006.
The second panel was made up of eight people, 3 women and
five men. These were local union leaders of struggles to unionize workplaces in
The UE DC guy, Chris Townsend, spoke about the effort to pass a labor law reform in congress.
Bob Kingsley said that UE tries to be the left wing of the
This meeting was very inspiring. If I were a young person I
would work with UE. They are doing a great job fighting for worker rights at
the local and legislative levels and they are making strong alliances with independent
labor organizations in
F1.02 “Collaboration with wiki processes on the internet”
AboutUs, Inc. Westin Rm 1407. Friday June 29, 10:30 am-12:30. Mark Dilley, About Us.org. was the presenter. A woman videotaped the meeting and also gave a short talk about her use of wiki. There were about 18 people in the audience.
This session was about how to use wiki software as a way of forming group consensus and promoting collaboration. Wiki is a program that allows multiple users to edit a document from remote locations.
Mark is a former labor organizer from
Mark compared wiki with email, forums (list-servs) and web blogs. Wiki is best for many to many collaboration. You need to learn how to do it and this takes some effort. The key is to use the “recent changes” and the version histories to see how the document is evolving and what has happened lately. There is also some syntax to be learned. [[ double brackets indicate a link, or something that should become a link to a separate page. The name of each page is important.
Mark favors “open-edit” wikis, but companies and other groups restrict the access to particular participants. Mark also prefers that participants provide their real identities, but anonymous participation is also sometimes allowed. Mark also favors a very horizontal approach to the process, no wiki master, but rather what he called “soft security.” With soft security if someone comes in and does something bad, like scratching the whole document, it is easy for other to fix the mistake. They can easily go back to an earlier version and restore it. Disagreements can be worked out by having a discussion amongst the contenders and everyone can see the arguments that are put forth on the wiki. There are edit wars, analogous to flame wars, but Mark sees these as a source of valuable energy that can improve the product. He says that protestors can usually be incorporated to become enthusiastic participants by giving them a section or a page.
A young man from Global Justice in DC told of his organizations campaign in the AIDS movement to expose the practices of Abbott Pharmaceuticals, a large transnational corporation. They have had to shelter their wiki. AbbottGreed, from Abbott employees who try to wreck it. Mark calls this “locked down.” Mark’s approach assumes a degree of common purpose among participants.
The guy from DC also compared wiki with something called “google docs” which is somewhat similar but does not have the ability to see recent changes and version history.
I told about being at the World Social Forum in
Marks says it is cool to “camel case” phrases by jamming words together and using upper and lower case to make unique, google searchable targets.
Mark says there is a wiki index that tries to list all existing internet wikis. You can see there are a lot of moribund ones. The key is to find people who will contribute energy.
Marks says there are about 200 different wiki softwares. The
most popular is Wikimedia that is used with the wiki encyclopedia, but it was
developed for encyclopedia entries. Another one is Oddmuse from
Marks says these are free like kittens, not free like beer.
F2.26 “Visioning toward democratic global governance” Coalition for a World Parliament and global democracy. Friday, June 29, 1-3 pm Days Inn, Dogwood Room.
Organizers and presiders: Dick Burkhart and Mona Lee. Audience from 8-10. everybody white, two women: Mona and Megan, a young woman from
Mona and Dick are old world federalists and Unitarians who bicycle around the world pimping for deep democracy. They are very influence by the work of Richard Falk. The were also selling copies of George Monbiot’s _Manifesto for a New Global Order_. They favor the earth community way. Mona discussed three possible paths to global democracy, specifically an elected global parliament:
NGOs could just create global parliament directly, or
The UN General Assembly using Article 22 of the UN charter could create a parliament that is advisory to the General Assembly., or
The way advocated by Richard Falk: a coalition of small countries could create a parliament by treaty.
I mentioned the concern expressed by Monbiot that a peoples parliament that consisted of national delegates would just reproduce the interstate system and delegates would mainly represent “national” interests and it would be hard for them to focus on global problems. Monbiot suggests legislative regions that cut across national boundaries.
David Lionel discussed the project to create a UN Parliamentary Assembly <www.en.uncampaign.org>.
James Riker mentioned the global e-parliament, which is an internet structure of parliamentarians, mainly from European countries. Also mentioned was a group called parliamentarians for global action. Barney Frank is a participant.
The discussion also mentioned the proposal by Joseph
Schwartzberg to reform the UN Security Council by having international regions represented
rather than national states. So North America would include the
S1.82 “Building revolutionary movements in 3d interactive environments” Second Life Liberation Front, Saturday, June 30, 10:30-12:30 Westin Rm 1405.
The organizer did not show up but the audience went ahead
and had its own meeting. Florence is a librarian from Atlanta who is a fox in
Second Life (sl). Jared was from
Others were more enthralled by the liberatory aspects of the virtual world for allowing people to create a space that is very different from the real world. Alex said that Marx was all pumped about the factory system because it created a space for workers to self-organize, and that is what the internet also does. There was discussion of the event on sl in which LePen’s French National Front campaign headquarters was destroyed by the sl liberation front throwing exploding pigs. It was also mentioned that Linden Lab is increasing making open source codes available for those who want to make their own metaverses. It was opined that eventually the multiple metaverses running on multiple servers would be accessible to one another and so a distributed parallel global metaverse would come into existence. A novel called _synthetic worlds_ by Castro Nova was also mentioned. And it was also mentioned that sl has a feature called babbler that translates text into several languages.
Saturday, June 30 Plenary, 8 pm,
Moderator:: Sarita Gupta, Director of Jobs for Justice. 6 speakers, 2 of whome were women, one black, one asian. Two of the men spoke Spanish.
The audience had about 300 people. It was too dark in the auditorium to see the audience very well.
The moderator asked the panelists to address several good
questions, such as the relationship between the
Lucas Benitez of the Coaltion of Immolakee Workers in
Laphonza Butler of SEIU told the story of her mother, a
security guard earning minimum wage who also has two other jobs. Laphonza
discussed the current SEIU campaign to organize security workers, especially
hotel and building guards, across the
Francisco Pacheco is
with the National Day Labor Organizing Network. Francisco is himself an
Ai-Jen Poo is a woman from
Stewart Acuff is a former general labor council director