On Dec 10, the scheduled talk by Daryle Lamont Jenkins was cancelled by community members concerned with the IWW and its’ handling of sexual violence.
Shortly after, the IWW’s General Defense Committee met to analyze what went wrong, and to develop new procedures to ensure that the missteps of the IWW’s response to a complaint of sexual violence are not repeated. As an immediate form of relief, the GDC proposed the following three measures, which the IWW voted unanimously to adopt.
- Any individual facing charges of Interpersonal Violence or Harassment (IVH) within the IWW charges system shall be prohibited from attending Union events and activities.
- A process to ensure reliable notification of the membership and attendees of IWW spaces and events.
- A total ban on the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs while members are engaged in any union business- including meetings outside the branch, such as with coworkers and community members.
These resolutions will only be the first steps taken.
The next few weeks will be used to develop additional policies – such as measures to address claims against union officers.
The IWW maintains a complaints process, which the Providence branch had never had to use before. That process has recently reached it conclusion and a special meeting of the branch has voted to implement recommendations and terms of restitution*. The complainant who initiated the process has expressed satisfaction with its results. However, the full knowledge of the nature of issues leading to the complaint was not known to the branch, including its officers, until August 2016 when it was submitted by the complainant. As the member who initiated the complaint process explains:
“Having no prior training in supporting survivors of interpersonal violence and harassment, a lesson learned from recent experience has been that I could have made the general membership of the Providence IWW collectively aware there was an external complaint against one our members much sooner. In trying to respect the survivors’ privacy and taking their lead in devising a formal complaint, I unintentionally kept the situation invisible from the members, only communicating partially with delegates, officers and personal contacts behind the scenes. If the general membership had been more aware of what was going on they could have formed a support team for the survivor, beyond my own assistance.”
Because the knowledge that a process was underway was not clearly conveyed to the rest of the branch, there was a great amount of confusion in the branch and our ability to properly respond to other parties concerned about the situation was hindered. As such, some saw a conspiracy of suppressing the complaint, whereas nothing could have been further from the truth.
We are committed to learning from our past mistakes. The new policies are designed such that community members are protected from potentially dangerous persons.
However, banishment is not a solution to sexual assault. We are not a carceral organization, and we do not have the capacity to prevent an aggressor from leaving the area for a new, unaware environment. We are committed to ensuring that individuals with complaints of IVH (Interpersonal Violence and Harassment) do not attend our space or our events. However- we have a moral responsibility to follow-up with the accused so they do not simply leave and go elsewhere. Banishment is not a solution to sexual assault. Banishment defers the problem to someone else, and does not bother to do the work to solve it. One of our members has personally seen the results of banishment: More survivors were created, and accountability was delayed for decades.
Finally, the IWW has survivors of sexual violence amongst its’ ranks. As one of our members has stated:
“I am a woman and a survivor of sexual violence. my abuser used abuse allegations against me as a tool of control and isolation. Abusers will use any strategy available to isolate and discredit their victims. I believe deeply in the unquestionable necessity of due process. Because of this, allowing rumor-mongering to cut people off from human contact allows abusers even greater power, and we as an organization cannot condone that.”
We hope that anyone hurt by a member of our organization, either in the past or in the future, will feel comfortable and safe enough to come forward to us. We are committed to the safety and security of everyone in our union, and anyone our membership comes into contact with. We do not propose to replace other resources for survivors of violence and sexual assault, especially not the judicial system. That being said, we will initiate accountability process for any member accused of IVH and we will strive to promote a culture of personal responsibility and accountability in our union. We can do better. We must do better.
- Complainee will refrain from contacting the complainant and the survivor exept during
union meetings in accord with terms 2,3, and 4.
- Complainee must communicate through a third party if he wishes to attend union meetings
so as to alternate attendance with the complainant and the survivor. Complainee may attend any union meeting if permission is granted by both.
- Complainee will inform the complainant and survivor through a third party of any public
place of employment so that they can avoid appearing or attending there alone or with friends and family members. Complainee will also agree to not come near the survivor’s home, place of
employment, and any other place the survivor designates in a list to be given to a third party and
then given in writing to complainee.
- Complainee can’t attend union hall functions until the saftey plan detailed below has been
reviewed upon by the survivor, and the survivor states in writing she feels she is confortable
with him attending union hall functions after the periood of the suspension is completed. Complainee
will not attend any social event the survivor is present for.
- Complainee will refrain from publicly publishing comment on the complaints process until
any appeal has been completed. The complainant will also not publicly publish comment in exchange for agreement to the terms of restituion. If complainee chooses to write anything in any fora about this complaint or any process related to it, complainee will never use the survivor’s name.
- Complainee will work with a third party to pay for the survivors STI testing or reimburse
them for any STI testing they have bought since September 20, 2015. Payment will be made
within 90 days from the date this decision was received by the Providence GMB.
- Failure to comply with any of these terms, as determined by vote of the Providence GMB, will result in expulsion of the complainee from the IWW. Any motion for expulsion by the
Providence GMB must provide the complainee and the entire GMB one(1) month’s notice prior
to a vote on said motion.
- On top of a 90 days suspension where within that timeline complainee must commit to paying for STI testing, should the survivor not be interested in rejoining the branch, then an extended 9 months of probation will occur for a total of at least 12 months, where complainee not visit the IWW union hall or attend functions until complainee has finished a process including:
- A process of accountability for behavior be formed through an outside advocate of transformative justice.
- Attending a regular monthly meeting with three men which would discuss readings and confronting instances of consent, alcohol abuse, and patriarchal interpersonal dynamics.
If the branch finds that there has been real effort at following everything satisfactorily, a safety group will be established to keep track/tabs of complainee and fulfill all additional terms established by the decision. This safety group would be bottomlined by the current branch secretary, is detailed below and butressed by all safety policies previously outlined in the above statement.
The Providence branch will create a safety plan, outlining at least 2 members in good standing who are aware of complainee’s offence, providing line of sight supervision for complainee while complainee participates
in GMB activites. The safety plan will also stipulate that complainee will not participate in any IWW events in which alcohol will be served. Complainee will make arrangements for at least one safety plan signer to attend events with them.