Statement on Sexual Assault within the Providence IWW

There have been two separate instances of sexual assault, committed by two of our now former members. The first was expelled by vote at our April meeting. This was after he had being found guilty in an IWW charges process by an impartial committee of his peers, and after refusing to make good on the terms laid out by the survivor and the committee. The second was asked to resign in June after we received testimony from the survivor, this was done by the Branch Secretary in accordance with the Sexual Assault Policy detailed below. In addition, due to the connections of the second perpetrator with the property at 375 Smith St, the members of the Providence Branch of the IWW have decided that it will no longer serve as our Union Hall.

In an effort to prevent similar things from happening again and in order to be better prepared to handle such matters in the future we have drafted new polices. In March the IWW dedicated time to investigate preventative practices such as consent & anti-harassment training. We welcome any feedback on trainings your group is aware of.

In lieu of such training in April for Sexual Assault Awareness month we paid for multiple men in our organization to attend this educational symposium on April 11th by the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

“Changing the Culture, Stopping the Violence: A CALL TO MEN Symposium”. http://www.ricadv.org/en/what-we-do/training-ricadv/training-calendar/event/77-changing-the-culture-stopping-the-violence-a-call-to-men-symposium

These same men and other members did personal study of the series “Patriarchy on the Left” written by women members of the group Unity & Struggle to advance their analysis of patriarchy. http://unityandstruggle.org/2016/12/26/patriarchyontheleftpart3/

At our March meeting we also formed a local iteration of the IWW’s Gender Equity Committee. Our local GEC is composed of a super majority survivors, women, LGBTQ, and non-binary folks with participation of only one male ally. This is not just happenstance but a requirement of the committee’s founding, so policy can be formed by listening to those most directly affected.

Members of this committee prior to it’s founding started working on collecting resources from other organizations as well as harassment and sexual assault policies used by our union in other regions. Together in April they spent the time to further develop clear steps for our union to act for community safety in a sensitive, swift, and survivor-focused manner, by writing and passing at our April meeting these policies which are all easily accessible to the public via a link on our website:

Interpersonal Violence Policy
https://providenceiww.wordpress.com/about/interpersonal-violence-policy/

Harassment Policy
https://providenceiww.wordpress.com/about/harassment-policy/

Sexual Assault Policy
https://providenceiww.wordpress.com/about/322-2/

All members and organizers involved in union activity have been made aware of these policy, and we have welcomed internal and external feedback for their continued improvement. The policies also govern the IWW‘s General Defense Committee and Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. You will notice they allow for any member or non-member to submit complaints of interpersonal violence, harassment, or sexual assault.

“In the case of sexual assault there needs to be a complainant who is willing to discuss their knowledge and/or experiences in a safe, supportive setting. There is no need to show that sexual assault was the intended effect. A person can commit sexual assault without intending to do so. The deciding factor in initiating a review process is that the survivor perceives sexual assault to (have) be(en) taking place. The survivor is to be presumed innocent and should be presumed to be a reliable witness of their own account. Therefore, beyond testimony, no further evidence of sexual assault or rape has to be provided.”

We consider transformative justice incredibly important as opposed to carceral, state based, and vigilante approaches to accountability. In fact we offered such a process as detailed in a previous letter to the former member expelled from IWW membership for refusing to participate in such a process at our April meeting. The transformative justice approach we aspire to follow going forward is based on the Community Accountability Creative Intervention’s Toolkit. https://communityaccountability.wordpress.com/creative-interventions-toolkit/

If you or your group has any feedback we welcome it.

-Providence IWW

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Student Organizer Training | Feb 18-19th 2017

 

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IWW Student Organizer Training Pilot*
Date: Sat-Sun Feb 18-19th 11:00-5pm
Location: IWW Union Hall, 375 Smith Street, Providence RI 02908
Registration: http://bit.ly/2ghO8sV
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/541565979379518/

Come learn the basic skills needed to start building power with your classmates at your school and in your communities! We will be hosting our student organizer training during the weekend of February 18th and 19th from 11-5PM.

The training is FREE and will include presentations, role-plays, and group brainstorm sessions concerning all the fundamentals of campus organizing, including mapping out your school, recruiting others through one-on-ones, planning a campaign, and taking direct action.

This training is open to both high-school and college students.

Food and refreshments will be provided.

If you are planning on attending, please fill out the fields below to register. Gathering this information will help us better plan for the training ie. ordering the appropriate amount of food, printing supplies, etc. Although we recognize that students have busy schedules, we encourage participants to commit to the two days of the training because the content covered on the first day will be built upon on the second.

We will contact you with more detailed information about the training upon registration.

If you are planning on attending, please register at the following link: http://bit.ly/2ghO8sV. Gathering this information will help us better plan for the training ie. ordering the appropriate amount of food, printing supplies, etc.

*This training will be run as a pilot session in order to better refine and improve the contents. We are looking for feedback and want to know how we can improve the training.

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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.

 

 

  1. Any individual facing charges of Interpersonal Violence or Harassment (IVH) within the IWW charges system shall be prohibited from attending Union events and activities.

 

  1. A process to ensure reliable notification of the membership and attendees of IWW spaces and events.

 

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Complainee will refrain from contacting the complainant and the survivor exept during

union meetings in accord with terms 2,3, and 4.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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:

 

  1. A process of accountability for behavior be formed through an outside advocate of transformative justice.

 

  1. 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.

 

Safety Plan:

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.

 

 

 

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Student Organizer Training | Jan 7-8th 2017

Student Organizer Training Winter - fb image.png

IWW Student Organizer Training Pilot*
Date: Sat-Sun Jan 7-8th 11:00-5pm
Location: IWW Union Hall, 375 Smith Street, Providence RI 02908
Registration: http://bit.ly/2ghO8sV
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/541565979379518/

Come learn the basic skills needed to start building power with your classmates at your school and in your communities! We will be hosting our student organizer training during the weekend of January 7th and 8th from 11-5PM.

The training is FREE and will include presentations, role-plays, and group brainstorm sessions concerning all the fundamentals of campus organizing, including mapping out your school, recruiting others through one-on-ones, planning a campaign, and taking direct action.

This training is open to both high-school and college students.

Food and refreshments will be provided.

If you are planning on attending, please fill out the fields below to register. Gathering this information will help us better plan for the training ie. ordering the appropriate amount of food, printing supplies, etc. Although we recognize that students have busy schedules, we encourage participants to commit to the two days of the training because the content covered on the first day will be built upon on the second.

We will contact you with more detailed information about the training upon registration.

If you are planning on attending, please register at the following link: http://bit.ly/2ghO8sV. Gathering this information will help us better plan for the training ie. ordering the appropriate amount of food, printing supplies, etc.

*This training will be run as a pilot session in order to better refine and improve the contents. We are looking for feedback and want to know how we can improve the training.

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Sept 9th: Rally and March in Solidarity with National Prison Strike

iwoc-sept-9-ri-2
ON FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 9TH, we are calling on people across Rhode Island to converge in Downtown Providence to hold a rally and march in solidarity with the US-wide prisoner work-strike against prison slavery.

Slavery is legal in America. Written into the 13th Amendment, it is legal to work someone that is incarcerated for free or almost free. Since the civil war, tens of millions of people – most arrested for non-violent offenses – have been used as slaves for the sake of generating massive profits for multi-national corporations and the US government. Today, prison labor is a multi-billion dollar industry which helps generate enormous wealth for key industries such as fossil fuels, fast food, telecommunications, technology, the US military, and everyday house hold products.

The strike, which starts officially on September 9th, the 45th anniversary of the Attica Uprising, is historic. The strike is being led by groups such as the Free Alabama Movement, Free Texas Movement, Free Ohio Movement, Free Virginia Movement, Free Mississippi Movement, and many more. Prisoners have asked that supporters hold noise demonstrations outside jails and prisons, protest, disrupt, and demonstrate outside of corporations that profit from prison labor, and also support the strike that is happening across the US.

This is not just a prison strike for better wages or conditions, it is a strike against white supremacy, capitalism, and slavery itself.

Bring banners, signs, noise makers, friends, co-workers, neighbors, family members, and more! Gather at Kennedy Plaza at 6pm.

#StrikeAgainstPrisonSlavery
#PrisonStrike

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/323744824681909/

Contact Providence IWOC:

providenceiww@gmail.com

401-285-1480

Providence IWOC
PO Box 28541
Providence, RI 02908

More info:

Strike Against Prison Slavery: https://itsgoingdown.org/strike-against-white-supremacy/

Let the Crops Rot in the Field: http://insurgenttheatre.org/theory/letthecropsrot.pdf

Incarcerated Workers Take the Lead: http://unityandstruggle.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/IWOC_pamphlet_print-1.pdf

End Prison Slavery: https://supportprisonerresistance.noblogs.org/post/2015/07/19/end-prison-slavery-zine/

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Student Organizer Training Pilot | Sat July 16th

IWW - Student Organizer Training wordpress imageIWW Student Organizer Training Pilot*
Date: Sat July 16th 11:00-5pm
Location: IWW Union Hall, 375 Smith Street, Providence RI 02908
Registration: http://bit.ly/29npt0I
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/891633757631317

Come learn the basic skills needed to start building power with your classmates at your school and in your communities!

The training is FREE and will include presentations, role-plays, and group brainstorm sessions concerning all the fundamentals of campus organizing, including mapping out your school, recruiting others through one-on-ones, planning a campaign, and taking direct action.

This training is open to both high-school and college students.

Food and refreshments will be provided. Funds will be available to reimburse attendees who are traveling by bus (up to $6).

If you are planning on attending, please register at the following link: http://bit.ly/29npt0I. Gathering this information will help us better plan for the training ie. ordering the appropriate amount of food, printing supplies, etc.

*This training will be run as a pilot session in order to better refine and improve the contents. We are looking for feedback and want to know how we can improve the training.

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IWOC Prison Letter Writing | Sat May 28th

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We’re having another letter writing night! Invite your friends, family, co-workers, comrades, and neighbors!

Do you have friends or family locked up, or have you been locked up yourself? Join us for a discussion of prison organizing happening now across the country. Learn how you can support the work and get involved with the newly formed Providence chapter of the IWW Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee. We’re going to be writing letters to members on the inside across the nation and reaching out to incarcerated workers in the New England and broader North Eastern region.

IWOC supports prisoners who are organizing inside prisons, and builds bridges between them and communities on the outside. In recent years, the group has published a newsletter for incarcerated people, mobilized support campaigns for individuals targeted with solitary confinement and abuse by guards, and helped coordinate actions across multiple prisons. IWOC is a committee of the Industrial Workers of the World, a union for workers of any race, gender, nationality or workplace willing to fight together for better lives, and against the capitalist, racist, patriarchal system as a whole.

Date: May 28th (Sat)
Time: 3:00-6pm Saturday
Location: IWW Union Hall, 375 Smith Street, Providence RI 02908
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/233548480356583/

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