Tag Archives: Jake Carman

Help Jake and the Infernal Machine raise funds to release a new album!

11 Mar

I play with a band called Jake and the Infernal Machine. We are almost ready to release a new 15 song album, but we’re trying to raise money to get it mastered.

Support Jake and the Infernal Machine through Indiegogo – Click here!

Below is a preview of one of these upcoming tracks, “6th of December.” Enjoy!

 

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Insomnia Cookies Strikers win Settlement

6 Mar

Insomnia Cookies Strikers win Settlement.

By Jake Carman

 

On March 3rd Insomnia Cookies and four striking workers agreed to a settlement of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charges, officially ending a six month strike. The four workers, Chris Helali, Jonathan Peña, Niko Stapczynski, and Luke Robinson, struck on August 18, 2013, demanding changes at work, including higher pay, benefits, and unionization, and were fired immediately. According to the terms of the settlement, they will all receive backpay, totaling close to $4000, and have their terminations rescinded from their records. Insomnia Cookies will post a notice in their Harvard Square store promising not to fire or otherwise retaliate against workers for union activity, including going on strike. Additionally, Insomnia revised a confidentiality agreement, which improperly restricted workers’ rights to discuss their conditions of employment with one another and third parties (including union organizers and the media).

 

According to organizers for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the labor union representing the strikers, “This settlement is another small victory in a long struggle to bring justice and a union to Insomnia Cookies.”

 

When the four workers, comprising the entire night shift at the Harvard Square Insomnia Cookies, voted unanimously to close the store after midnight on August 18, 2013, they served cookies to the customers already in line, then locked the doors. They put protest signs in the windows, wrote up a strike agreement and informed their boss they were striking for a raise, health and other benefits, and a union.

 

Jonathan Peña, one of the strikers, remembers “feeling real conservative that August night, but something told me to stand up for what I believe in. I had nothing to lose but I had much to gain.”

 

The following morning they returned to set up a picket line, and reached out to the IWW, which sent union organizers to help. Within the first few days, all four were fired, and all four signed union cards. For the next six months strikers, IWW members, allies, and student organizations at both Harvard and Boston University held pickets, marches, rallies, forums, phone blitzes, and a boycott, while workers continued organizing at both the Cambridge and Boston locations. The union also pursued legal charges through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The March 3rd settlement comes two days before a scheduled NLRB hearing on the charges.

 

“Since the first utterance of the word ‘strike’ that late August night, it has been an uphill battle for all of us,” said striker Chris Helali. “The Industrial Workers of the World answered the call when no other mainstream union was interested in organizing a small cookie store in Harvard Square. We picketed, we chanted, we sang. I thank my fellow workers, the IWW and all of our supporters for their continued work and solidarity through this campaign. I am proud to be a Wobbly [IWW member]!”

 

Other outstanding issue remain unresolved between workers and the company. Wages, benefits, break-time, scheduling, safety, “independent contractor” status of delivery workers, the November 2013 firing of IWW member and Insomnia baker Tommy Mendez, and police violence against a picket line and resultant charges against IWW member Jason Freedman, top the list of grievances.

 

The union vows to continue organizing efforts at Insomnia Cookies. Helali says, “ I am extremely pleased with the settlement, however, it does not end here. This is only the beginning. The IWW along with our supporters will continue to struggle until every Insomnia Cookies worker is treated with respect and given their full due for their labor. There is true power in a union; when workers come together and make their demands with unified voices and actions.”

 

But for now, union members are celebrating. Peña says, “Being a part of the IWW means something to me. I will never forget the four amigos, Niko, Chris, Luke, and I. We actually made a difference. Being a Wobbly can change your life! I just want to really thank everyone for their solidarity and commitment to crumbling down on this burnt Cookie.”

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Coming to Pittsburgh!

25 Feb

Coming to Pittsburgh!

Saturday, March 22, 2014, 3pm
Reflecting on the last decade and The History of BAAM for anarchist activists today
https://www.facebook.com/events/593646230724277/

At: The Big Idea Bookstore
4812 Liberty Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15224
412-687-4323 (412-OUR-HEAD)

Jake Carman presents his book, “Nine Years of Anarchist Agitation – The History of the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement (2001-2010) and Other Essays.” A discussion on anarchist organization and practice, with author and organizer, Jake Carman.

About the Book: In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and in the midst of the subsequent nationalist fervor, Boston radicals came together to form the Boston Anarchists Against Militarism (BAAM) Coalition. Through interviews and an extensive study of BAAM’s public statements, activities, and publications, this history explores the evolution of BAAM from an anti-war coalition into a general union of Boston anarchists. The lessons of the past decade are useful to today’s generation of activists as they grapple with the questions of political organization and activity in the struggle against global capitalism.
http://www.JakeCarman.com Facebook.com/baamhistory

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Presenting my Book in Central Square, Cambridge!

16 Jan

Presenting my Book in Central Square, Cambridge!

Hey friends,
It’s been a while since I’ve posted. It’s also been a while since I spoke about my book. Come out to Central Square!

Jake Carman Presents his Book: “Nine years of Anarchist Agitation: The History of the BAAM and Other Essays”
Wednesday, January 29, 2014, 7pm

Reflecting on the last decade and the History of BAAM
for revolutionary organizing today

At Center for Marxist Education
550 Mass Ave, Cambridge, Massachusetts
https://www.facebook.com/events/796660133681212

Jake Carman presents his book, “Nine Years of Anarchist Agitation – The History of the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement (2001-2010) and Other Essays.” A discussion on anarchist organization and practice, with author and organizer, Jake Carman.

About the Book: In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, and in the midst of the subsequent nationalist fervor, Boston radicals came together to form the Boston Anarchists Against Militarism (BAAM) Coalition. Through interviews and an extensive study of BAAM’s public statements, activities, and publications, this history explores the evolution of BAAM from an anti-war coalition into a general union of Boston anarchists. The lessons of the past decade are useful to today’s generation of activists as they grapple with the questions of political organization and activity in the struggle against global capitalism.

http://www.JakeCarman.com Facebook.com/baamhistory

Strikers Deliver Demands to Insomnia Cookies; Company Targets Union Member

27 Oct

(Article first appeared at CradleofLibertyNews.org. For photos, check iwwboston.org)

 

Strikers Deliver Demands to Insomnia Cookies; Company Targets Union Member

By Jake Carman

On Thursday, October 24th, striking workers delivered a demand letter to the Harvard Square location of Insomnia Cookies. Niko Stapczynski and Jonathan Peña—who were fired after declaring a strike with two other employees on August 18th—and fifty members of their union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), visited the late-night cookie chain at 10 P.M. In their letter to management, the workers demanded reinstatement with back pay, compensation for nearly $1000 in short paychecks and withheld lunch breaks, company neutrality to the union and a card check election, and an end to the practice of forcing employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The union is threatening to turn these demands into legal charges if Insomnia fails to respond within two weeks.

Also on October 24th, Insomnia baker Tommy Mendes, who still works at the Harvard Square Insomnia location, declared to management that he, too, had joined the IWW. Mendes sent an email to his boss, simply stating “I just wanted to let you know that I’m a member of the Industrial Workers of the World.” While Mendes joined the IWW soon after his coworkers began their strike, according to the union, he only recently “made the courageous decision to go public and has announced his union affiliation to his manager…in part due to intolerable pressure and threats on the job.” The company suspended Mendes immediately, and the union promises to fight what they call “unlawful retaliation for his union activity.”

The public struggle at Insomnia Cookies in Harvard Square began at midnight on August 18, when the entire four-person night shift voted to initiate a strike for higher wages, healthcare, and freedom to form a union. Peña, Mendes, and coworkers Chris Helali and Luke Robinson—who have since moved out of state—closed the shop, contacted the IWW, and began holding pickets and building connections with Harvard and BU student organizations. Pickets have since spread to the new Boston University store.

Workers claim Insomnia has a bad track record when it comes to following labor laws and fairly compensating their employees. According to the demand letter, “For months prior to the strike, workers employed as ‘drivers,’ had not received minimum wage. Also, employees often did not receive the 30 minute meal break for shifts longer than 6 hours, to which they are entitled by MA State Law.” Drivers, who deliver cookies by bicycle until 3 A.M., and rely on tips to pad their $5 and hour wage, complain the company has unrealistic expectations of delivery times, and pressure from management causes unsafe riding and accidents. Whats worse, according to the union, “Insomnia does not give paid time off when drivers get hurt on the job, and instead blame them for the accidents.” The company doesn’t offer health benefits to the workers either.

Before the strike, the average turnover rate for a local Insomnia employee was only three weeks. The droves of Boston-area Insomnia workers who have recently quit the job, as well as the firing of the company’s regional manager—in part due to his inability to keep his stores staffed and functioning—attest to the aptly-named Insomnia work environment. Insomnia, which has 33 locations on college campuses across the US, sustains itself only by exploiting students two-fold: as employees, where they are underpaid, barely trained, easily-replaceable, and overworked, and also as consumers, where they are sold frozen cookies at unjustifiably high prices. In order to hold Insomnia accountable and to end the company’s reprehensible labor practices, IWW members are encouraging workers nationally to join the union, and if they are planning to quit already, to go on strike.

Ways to Get Involved:

 

-Dont Quit, Strike! http://iwwboston.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/dont-quit-strike.jpg

 

-Donate to the Insomnia Strike Fund:

https://www.wepay.com/donations/insomnia-cookies-workers-strike-fund

 

-Sign the petition to support the strikers’ demands:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1TLCetxHNxmGHk57FD1Sy9KAtUNHXP5alQWrgxPcb-Lk/viewform

 

-Find us Online: https://www.facebook.com/insomniaunion http://iwwboston.org/

 

To reach the Boston IWW:

Email: iww.boston@riseup.net

Phone Number: 617-863-7920

Mailing Address: PO Box 391724

Cambridge, MA 02139

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BostonIWW/

 

 

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“The Peasants’ Revenge” – Painting, Oil on Canvas, Oct 2013. For the Ocassion of N. Makhno’s 125 Birthday

26 Oct

A new painting! I’ve been working on this one for over a year, and finished it just in time for Nestor Makhno’s 125th birthday (today). Here are two articles from the BAAM Newsletter, reedited for my book, about Nestor Makhno and the Ukrainian Peasant anarchists (the subject matter of my painting). I hope to get a better photo of this, anyone out there with a good camera and some time?

Click here to check out details of the painting!

Happy Birthday Nestor Makhno: You are not Forgotten
The Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement Newsletter, Issue # 3 – October 2007

Nestor Ivonavich Makhno, peasant leader of the 1917-1921 Ukrainian anarchist revolution, was born on October 26, 1888, 119 years ago this month. Makhno was, as Alexander Berkman wrote in his essay, Nestor Makhno, the Man who Saved the Bolsheviki, a “[t]rue child of a revolutionary epoch…it is more than probable that but for him and his insurgent army of Ukrainian peasants Soviet Russia might now be only a memory.”

Born to a poor peasant family in 1888, Makhno joined the anarchists early and at the age of seventeen, he found himself condemned to death for revolutionary activities. Because of his youth, his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment at a notorious Moscow prison. There he stayed, reading and fighting off tuberculosis, until the February Revolution freed him. Makhno immediately returned to his hometown of Guylia-Pole and raised a peasant army to resist a Prussian invasion of the Ukraine. His enthusiasm and dedication quickly gained him mass support. His devilish military cunning helped rid the Ukraine of the Prussians, and the peasants and workers launched an anarchist social revolution. As Berkman writes, “He had organized communes…and a large part of the Ukraine, covering hundreds of miles, with millions of population, live a free life and refuse to submit to the domination of any political party.”

In 1918, Makhno’s 25,000-strong insurgent army joined with the Bolshevik Red Army and succeeded in routing the reactionary White Army. The insurgents even saved Moscow from a White Army offensive in 1919. Immediately after this victory, Leon Trotsky—general of the Red Army—and the Bolsheviks capitalized on a widespread disease that had put Makhno in a coma and infected much of the insurgent army. When Makhno awoke some weeks later, the Red Army had occupied much of the Ukraine, outlawed Makhno, destroyed the soviets (workers’ councils) for not submitting to Bolshevik authority, and arrested and executed many insurgents.

Makhno jumped from his sick bed and hastened to rebuild his forces to take the fight to both the Reds and the Whites. He rode into battle, as Berkman describes, “Invariably at the head of his light cavalry…[h]e was reputed never to have lost a battle and never to have been wounded, though his favorite method was hand-to-hand combat with a sword or sabor.” In very little time, using creativity and the element of surprise, as well as convincing whole units of the enemy’s armies to join the insurgents, Makhno’s Black Army had succeeded in liberating Guylia-Pole and a large portion of the Ukraine.

In the absence of the insurgent army to resist them, the White Army had fought back to Moscow’s doorstep. Trotsky again begged Makhno for aid, and the anarchists agreed on the condition that anarchist prisoners be freed and the Ukraine granted autonomy. The Makhnovtchina again saved the Bolsheviki from certain defeat, and Trotsky invited the anarchist leaders to a celebration. It was a trap: Makhno was shot off his horse upon arrival and many of the anarchists were arrested or killed. When Makhno and a few others made it back to the Ukraine, they found it occupied by 150,000 Red Army soldiers who were no longer worried about the defeated Whites. The Ukrainian anarchists fought every day for almost a year, constantly surrounded on all sides and vastly outnumbered. Makhno realized his cause was lost and that the fighting was only destroying the Ukraine. He fled in 1921 and finally settled in Paris in 1925.

Makhno lived on, heartbroken and forgotten, hated by many of his comrades who believed the Bolshevik myths about the Ukrainian Revolution. He died in 1934 from tuberculosis. The Bolsheviks tried to eradicate the memory of Makhno and the anarchist social revolution, but they have failed. He will live on and inspire revolutions to come, and encourage rebel leaders to lead by example, from the front of the charge, as he did.

Walking, We Make the Road: An Account of the Crossroads of Ukraine and Spain’s Anarchist Revolutions
The Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement Newsletter, Issue # 2 – September 2007

In Paris, in August 1927, while Sacco and Vanzetti were waiting to die here in Boston, Buenaventura Durruti and Francisco Ascaso—Spanish rebels who would later play a vital role in Spain’s anarchist revolution (1936)—met with Nester Makhno, the exiled leader of the failed anarchist revolution of the Ukraine (1918). Durruti and Ascaso were on the run, wanted by the governments of Spain, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina, and several other Latin American countries for stealing from the rich to fund revolutionary workers’ unions, papers, and schools. Still in their early thirties, Durruti and Ascaso were men of action, full of energy and life. They stood on the threshold of a revolution they had spent the previous decade agitating for.

Makhno, though only thirty-eight, was by then already a ghost of his former self. He was battered and burnt out from his years of leading from the frontline through the Ukrainian Revolution and Russian Civil War. In 1918, he helped build an army of 25,000 anarchist peasants and workers. Makhno soon proved to be a brilliant, daring, and creative military leader, as well as a visionary. While successfully fending off German invaders, Ukrainian nationalists, and White Army reactionaries, the anarchists inspired a vast social revolution based around communes and soviets (the Russian word for workers’ councils). The people claimed the land of the rich and the bosses, facilitated free exchange and solidarity between rural peasants and city workers, and worked to implement anarchist communism.
These Ukranian worker and peasant soviets differed from the Bolshevik soviets. They were not ruled by the Bolshevik Party, nor any other party. Instead, they were organized through democratic assemblies.
The Bolsheviks couldn’t stomach this example of soviets based on freedom and equality. Lenin and Trotsky, breaking a pact of alliance with the Makhnovtchina, sent 150,000 red soldiers to assert their control over the Ukrainian soviets. Makhno and his comrades were forced to fight both the Red and White armies simultaneously. The anarchist peasants proved themselves formidable warriors in this endeavor, but once the White Army was thoroughly defeated, the Kremlin was able to commit the bulk of the Red Army to crush the Ukrainian anarchists.

In 1921, the anarchists were finally overwhelmed. Makhno decided to flee rather than continue a futile war that was ravaging his country. He ended up in Paris in 1925, where he lived a tormented existence plagued by tuberculosis and battle wounds.

Makhno was undoubtedly relieved to find kindred spirits in Durruti and Ascaso, and honored when they told him of the Ukrainian Revolution’s influence on the Spanish anarchist movement. Standing on the other side of the revolutionary experience, Makhno gave Durruti and Ascaso invaluable advice for their own struggle. Even today, we should consider his words.

According to an account of this meeting in Abel Paz’s Durruti in the Spanish Revolution, Makhno told the Spaniards, “You have a sense of organization in Spain that our movement lacked; Organization is the foundation of the revolution….But,” he warned, “You have to work hard to preserve that sense of organization, and don’t let those who think anarchism is a theory closed to life destroy it. Anarchism is neither sectarian nor dogmatic. It is a theory of action. It doesn’t have a predetermined world-view….It’s a force in the march of history itself: the force that pushes it forward.”

Makhno, Ascaso, and Durruti believed in an anarchism of action, but they were not exclusively insurrectionaries. They understood that the ideas, needs, and efforts of the people must genuinely be the moving force behind the revolution. Fighting is but only one part. Makhno told the Spaniards that in the Ukrainian communes, it was “the revolutionary participation and enthusiasm of everyone, which made sure that a new bureaucracy didn’t emerge. We were all fighters and workers at the same time. In the communes, the assembly was the body that resolved problems and, in military affairs, it was the war committee, in which all the units were represented. What was most important to us was that everyone shared in the collective work: that was the way to stop a ruling caste from monopolizing power. That’s how we united theory and practice.”

Durruti and Ascaso, like Makhno, were toilers by trade. All three desired and fought for what amounted in both cases to a short attainment of successful and practical anarchist communism involving millions of people. However, they were successful because they first participated in the organizations of the masses, be they the peasant organizations of the Ukraine, or the syndicalist unions of Spain. They participated in these not to demand ideological purity of the masses, but to empower the millions of working and oppressed people to raise their voices and ideas, and to struggle for their collective liberation. Without these efforts, the anarchists never would have succeeded in building the popular movements that gave birth to two great anarchist revolutions that still inspire us.
The same applies today, eighty years later. We anarchists hold many different ideas, but anarchism is not the realization of one idea held by a political minority: it is the collection of the ideas and actions of a whole people, striving to solve the problems of society. So let’s join together, put aside sectarian infighting, and get to work within the existing social organizations of the people, as did Makhno, Durruti, and Ascaso. Let’s not let those for whom anarchism is a dead theory, a collection of old books, or a single, decided ideology, derail our efforts for a united popular movement for the liberation of all, with the theoretical input by all. Through our work within popular struggles, we anarchists can help bring cohesion through solidarity, and prove the worth of our ideas by our efforts. As Francisco Ascaso used to say, “Walking, we make the road.”

Paz, Able. Durruti in the Spanish Revolution. AK P, 2007.
Skirda, Alexandre. Nestor Makhno: Anarchy’s Cossak, the Struggle for Free Soviets in the Ukraine, 1917-1921. AK P, 2004.

Reading Group on Fast Food Strikes: Saturday September 21st: 6-8 PM

12 Sep
Hello friends and comrades,
           The article I posted here yesterday will be among three articles discussed at an upcoming reading group in Boston. Check it out, it looks like it will be a good and timely discussion.
 

Common Struggle Reading Group – Fast Food Workers, Recent Strikes, and “Alternative” Labor

-Saturday September 21st: 6-8 PM reading group at Community Church of Boston, 565 Boylston St, Boston, MA, 02116, in Copley Square.

This summer, fast food workers across the country have launched strikes and pushed for unions and better jobs. SEIU has played a large role in this movement, utilizing a “new” or “alternative” labor model, supporting smaller, independent workers’ initiatives, organizing symbolic strikes, and pushing for a higher national minimum wage. Locally, workers at Insomnia Cookies recently launched a strike and joined the Industrial Workers of the World.

Join us to discuss the strategies of and relationships between “Alt” labor, industrial and direct-action unionism, and the growing movement of fast food workers, with three short readings to guide our discussion.

 

Readings:

1. Fast food strikes to massively expand: “They’re thinking much bigger” By Josh Eidelson.
http://www.salon.com/2013/08/14/fast_food_strikes_massively_expanding_th…

2. Venture Syndicalism: Fanning and dousing the flames of discontent. By Nate Hawthorne.
http://libcom.org/blog/venture-syndicalism-fanning-dousing-flames-discon…

3. Striking Workers at Insomnia Cookies Join the IWW. By Jake Carman.
http://iwwboston.org/2013/09/11/striking-workers-at-insomnia-cookies-joi…

-Optional supplemental reading:

1. Upper Crust Pizzeria To Reopen as ‘The Just Crust.’ By Nikki D. Erlick,

http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2013/1/23/upper-crust-reopening/

Sponsored by Common Struggle-Libertarian Communist Federation:
www.CommonStruggle.org