Queer workers at the July 1992 picket of End-Up Bar in San Francisco, holding signs and banners reading "Support Militant Queer Labor" and "Build Militant Queer Unions"
In 1992, queer workers of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) were illegally fired for attempting to organize a union at the End-Up, a popular gay bar in San Francisco’s South of Market district.
The “gay ghetto,” as residents called it, was composed of young, working class queer people who had fled abusive households, often before they were even eighteen. Expecting to be accepted in a community of fellow queer people, these young people found that their vulnerability was exploited by employers who, despite being gay themselves, paid queer workers as little as $5/hr to wait tables. As one queer IWW member said,
The real victory at the End-Up, however, is that queer workers organized to fight back within our own community. As a ruling caste, gay establishment bosses simultaneously maintain a stranglehold on the community’s resources while simultaneously proclaiming that “we’re all family.” Fiercely anti-union, gay bar owners also publish the local gay papers and own the boutiques in “our” neighborhood, where sometimes we get to work.
The unmitigated gall of homophobic bigots is matched in a very odd way by the bosses of the gay ghetto. Bashings and discrimination keep people fleeing to communities of identity in urban centers like San Francisco, in the hopes of building lives with some measure of freedom and safety. That means lots of new people, all the time, without pre-existing roots in the community and desperate for work to boot. It keeps wages low. It keeps people scared to rock such boat as there is, to talk back, or step out of line, for what such workers have to lose is their very sense of self.
Rather than appeal to the anti-labor and anti-queer courts for assistance, the queer workers championed the IWW’s strategy of “solidarity unionism,” where workers used direct action on their job to enforce their demands. Their picket lines were respected by truck drivers of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), who delivered liquor to the bar. With no liquor being delivered to the establishment and daily pickets surrounding the bar, the End-Up’s management eventually buckled, reinstated the fired workers, and officially recognized the union.
This was one of the first successful implementations of the IWW’s now-popular model of solidarity unionism, and demonstrates the relevance of revolutionary unions to queer struggles.
[a worker’s account of the picket can be read here. image from The Industrial Workers of the World: Its First 100 Years, p. 211]
Anarchists did not try to carry out genocide against the Armenians in Turkey; they did not deliberately starve millions of Ukrainians; they did not create a system of death camps to kill Jews, gypsies, and Slavs in Europe; they did not fire-bomb scores of large German and Japanese cities and drop nuclear bombs on two of them; they did not carry out a Great Leap Forward that killed scores of millions of Chinese; they did not attempt to kill everybody with any appreciable education in Cambodia; they did not launch one aggressive war after another; they did not implement trade sanctions that killed perhaps 500,000 Iraqi children. In debates between anarchists and statists, the burden of proof clearly should rest on those who place their trust in the state. Anarchy’s mayhem is wholly conjectural; the state’s mayhem is undeniably, factually horrendous.
New poster from Atlanta <3
This poster was created as a token of love and in solidarity with all those who resist. From Luke O’Donovan to the Trans-Liberation marchers Atlanta has many reasons to be proud.
Keep fighting and never ever stop! <3
Text from the poster comes from Toward The Queerest Insurrection
On August 22, 1972, John Wojtowicz, Salvatore Naturale, and Robert Westernberg attempted a bank robbery at a Chase Manhattan bank in Gravesend, Brooklyn. The operation went wrong, with Westernberg escaping, Naturale being murdered by the FBI, and Wojtowicz being arrested. These events became the basis for the film Dog Day Afternoon.
The purpose behind the robbery was to obtain money so Wojtowicz’s partner, Elizabeth Debbie Eden, could pay for gender-affirming surgeries. Wojtowicz received 1% of the net profits from Dog Day Afternoon, and used this money to finance Eden’s surgery.
In short, all of your tumblr posts proving you’re an “ally” to trans women are a joke. If you want to really show solidarity, be like Wojtowicz.