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1999

TABLE OF CONTENTS
  1. Frengle Recounts Experiences of WTO March
  2. Turtles and Teamsters, United at Last
  3. Pictures Of IATSE Members
  4. WTO By Jerry Crangi - Local 15 - "Pictures"
  5. Other WTO Websites

WTO CONVENTION--SEATTLE WASHINGTON--NOVEMBER 1999

FRENGLE RECOUNTS EXPERIENCES OF WTO MARCH

         Cp Jennessa Frengle (Jennessa Frengle is the daughter of LeRoy Frengle, Business Agent, Local 93, Spokane, Washington) Junior Jennessa Frengle traveled to Seattle to participate in the WTO march. The following is an account of the her experiences and opinions.

         The WTO. What happened Nov. 29-Dec. 2 in Seattle? Many of you have probably heard about it a little in the last few weeks on the news. You've seen the riots, the smoke bombs, and those goofy people in the turtle outfits. It's time you all know what the protest was really all about.

         The World Trade Organization's goal is to set up free trade with other countries all around the world in an effort to strengthen the economy. You know, trade. "I'11 trade you my Pikachu card for your R2D2..." Well, this is the same thing but with different items, like food and oil and clothes.

         In November, the WTO planned to induct China, along with numerous other countries into their organization at their conference in Seattle.

         The WTO weaves around workers' rights laws that unions have fought hard for in our country, things like minimum wage, the eight hour work day, vacations, stable working environments and so on. This means they do whatever they want to make products cheaper and easier to make in order to make a big profit.

         They use child and slave labor, and they get away with it because these other countries aren't aware of the rules or don't have anyone to look after them to see that they are being followed.

         Along with avoiding workers' rights laws, they also don't care what would be better for the salvation of this earth and its future. Child labor laws are bad for business. The cost of protecting giant turtles and dolphins from fishing nets is too great. The expense of building double-hulled oil tankers to protect the oceans of the world from potential oil spills is too high. This puts our mother earth in great risk.

         China is the biggest violator of workers' rights laws. The WTO chosen to ignore this and allow them to join the organization regardless. That coupled with the already rotten ways of the WTO was just too much. This was the last straw. Something must be done, and so an official protest was scheduled.

         So my dad, a union leader, and I hopped on one of many bandwagons (charter buses) leaving Spokane to Seattle to tell the WTO how unfair they were being, and that we weren't going to stand by and watch them screw things up anymore.

         When we got there, we listened to many speakers from all around the world. Not only were there union leaders, but there were human rights and environmental activists, and angry workers from poorer countries taken over by slave labor.

         The march was right through the heart of the city. Down Fifth Ave., up a block, and then back up Fourth. It was a three-mile trek that took about four hours. It started out with an initial plan, but hour by hour it became more and more scattered. People were down every street, all over the place. People who came late had no idea of the plan that was made and didn't get a copy of the map route. There was a little chaos in the course of the march itself, but the message we were getting across was sent successfully: "Just say no to the WTO."

         Picket signs were the weapon of choice. There were only a handful of trouble making rioters, and they got all the press. Everyone has asked me if I got tear gassed or hit with rubber bullets. No, I didn't, but the tension between upset citizens and trigger-happy policemen was evident all around.

         People don't seem to realize that other than 30-50 violent individuals there were more than 40,000 peaceful protesters. I was one of the tree-huggin peace dudes, and I was in good company.

         This was extremely important in regards to our future. Not only does it affect our jobs in the work force, but it affects the whole world with all the environmental issues it brings forth.

         LEARN about your surroundings! Ignorance is the enemy. I encourage anyone to become part of a protest they believe in, as I did. It was a true learning experience for me. We all need to stand up for ourselves and our future.


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Turtles and Teamsters, United at Last

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         WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash., Dec. 1 -- Now that essentially all media in the world is controlled by 8 multi-national corporations whose agenda, conveniently, dovetail precisely with that of the World Trade Organization, it should come as no surprise that the Newspeak/Big Media interpretations of yesterday's goings-on in Seattle vary so widely from the facts.

         It was my privilege to represent Local 695 at the November 30 rally and subsequent protest march through the Emerald City's streets on to its convention center, where the WTO was to meet. An eclectic group of well over 25,000 AFL-CIO and Teamster members, environmentally concerned citizens, airline pilots, family farmers, "Mennonites for Free Trade", students, French sheep farmers, progressives, and all their families joined together in common cause NOT to halt the free exchange of goods, capital, and ideas between nations -- a misconception promiscuously exploited by our so-called "liberal press" -- but rather to let their government representatives know, through the only means afforded them, that any agreements made with the WTO MUST place the same value on human, workers', and environmental rights that that organization currently awards the "intellectual property rights" of our ruling corporate class.

         The march I saw was non-violent, non-destructive, extremely well organized, and spiritually uplifting. The small group of "anarchists" who usurped the headlines by smashing corporate windows and burning tires wrought not that much more damage than the average Super Bowl crowd, albeit with substantially greater philosophical purpose and coverage by the press. The only injuries reported as of last night were those inflicted by police batons, tear gas, and rubber bullets. It must be noted that these incidents all occurred in a place far removed from our demonstration, both in their cause and in their effect.

         In many ways, the whole event did feel like the start of the next battle in our country's ongoing "culture wars" -- but this time, and this far into the struggle, rather than allowing the exploiters of our hard work and our planet to divide and conquer as so often they have done in the past, we wisely showed them a united front: workers, farmers, teachers, environmentalists, and families, arm in arm in solidarity -- "Turtles and Teamsters, United at Last!" said one young woman's sign. Concerned and committed IATSE members from the Northwest, San Francisco, Hollywood, Chicago, New York, and yes, even Canada -- I suppose they had to take off from work -- we all spoke as one.

         That brave new world which the powers that be are so eager to sell to us got put on hold, however temporarily. Judging from his speech to the delegates this afternoon, even President Clinton appears to have got our message. Sisters and brothers, take heart that we were heard, and shall continue to be heard as long as we keep up this good fight.

         Kirk Francis, Production Mixer, IATSE Local 695 (Former member IATSE Local 488)


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IATSE MEMBERS AT THE WTO MARCH

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Report from Seattle: How the IA shut down the WTO
(with a little help from our friends)

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         We came by the thousands to protest the WTO. In the words of Michael Moore the folks who turned out were "a massively representative body of Americans (and Canadians and Brits and French, etc.), all of us standing there on the streets between Pine and Pike -- Teamsters and turtle-lovers, grandparents and Gap clerks, the homeless and computer geeks, high school students and Alaskans, nuns and Jimmy Hoffa, Jr., airplane mechanics and caffeinated slaves from Microsoft".

         The WTO, for the still uninitiated, is an un-elected body of trade ministers from 134 countries. Many of the ministers are from major Trans-National Corporations. The interests of civil society-labor, human rights, environmental and other Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs)-virtually have no voice, no vote, and no access to WTO proceedings. One country can sue another country and impose trade sanctions and tariffs in a WTO Tribunal if it believes that country's laws are a barrier to trade. These laws can now include "non-tariff barriers to trade". These non-tariff barriers can be food and consumer safety laws, product standards, investment policies and many other domestic laws (including labor and immigration laws and rules on foreign workers). WTO tribunals are held in secret with no input from NGOs.

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         Over eighty IA members came from all over the United States and Canada to join the 40,000 plus working folks to protest the WTO Ministerial on November 30th. We gathered at Memorial Stadium amidst blustery winds and a cold Seattle rain. As we listened to speeches from Presidents Sweeny, Becker and Hoffa, songs from Sweet Honey in the Rock and Rebel Voices and appeals from plain working folk the skies began to clear. At 12:30 we marched. The procession spanned over 30 city blocks. Marching behind our IA contingent were farmers from South America and Japan. In front of us was a Macy's Parade size helium filled condom emblazoned with the slogan "Practice Safe Trade- Greenpeace ". And along side of us were drummers and horn players that helped us keep up a lively cadence. This coalition made for strange bedfellows indeed. But our message was strident and clear. We will not stand for an un-elected body that strives to undermine our sovereign laws, ignore our fragile ecosystems, adulterate our food supply and pit worker against worker in a race to the bottom.

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         As we marched on Tuesday afternoon we were diverted for a few blocks as the Mayor ordered the Seattle Police to establish a "No Protest Zone" around the Washington State Convention Center. Most of us continued on peacefully back to Memorial Stadium, but others left the marchers to continue to protest the police crackdown. Police continued to arrest and gas protesters throughout the next two days, often pushing protesters into other neighborhoods far away from the zone. On Wednesday night in a tense standoff police surrounded several hundred protesters from an earlier Steelworkers Rally were corralled and arrested outside the Seattle Labor Temple. Many of us who work in the Labor Temple came outside to witness this event. King County Labor Council Executive Ron Judd was on a cell phone negotiating with the mayor's office to give the protesters asylum inside the Labor Temple when a policeman in full riot gear confronted him smacking him several times with his truncheon. Meanwhile, police pushed other protesters into the Capital Hill Neighborhood gassing and arresting them. As the teargas wafted into homes and apartments, residents and shopkeepers joined the demonstrators. The mayor's decision to use this force has caused much consternation here in Seattle. The police chief is resigning and the Seattle City Council has initiating an inquiry after over 15 hours of hearings from Seattle residents. The responsibility for the actions of the police department may go much higher. A December 16th Seattle Times article suggests that the city was acting on pressure from the U.S. Secretary of State and Attorney General.

         On Thursday Seattle labor locals, environmental, human rights and religious groups organized overnight to plan a response. On Friday nearly 7000 folks marched. The purpose of this march was twofold: to violate the city's "no protest" zone and to show solidarity with the hundreds of peaceful demonstrators still in jail. This time the police escorted us. Whether this was a gesture of faith from the city or due to the fact that the President had left town, we may never know. It was a token victory nevertheless. Although the police had still maintained a heavily armed perimeter around the convention center, we had at least re-asserted our First Amendment rights. Many of Friday afternoon protesters along with several city and county council members went on to maintain a vigil outside the King County Jail. I'm proud to report that attorneys from I.A.T.S.E. Local 15's law firm, acting pro-bono, and King County Labor Council Executive-Secretary Judd negotiated throughout the weekend to get nearly all of the arrestees released on personal recognizance.

         Despite the spin from the media focusing mainly on reports of mayhem and anarchists smashing store windows (less than a dozen of the nearly 600 protesters that were arrested were charged with felonies) our message had an effect.

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          In an interview with the Seattle Post Intellingencer President Clinton dropped a brick of historic proportions when he commented on the need to improve labor conditions worldwide. " I think that what we ought to do first of all {is} to adopt the United States' position on having a working group on labor within the WTO, and then that working group should develop these core labor standards, and then they ought to be part of every trade agreement, and ultimately I would favor a system in which sanctions would come for violating any provision of a trade agreement "

          A trade representative from the Philippines stated that she garnered strength from the protesters to stand up to more powerful governments and trans-national corporations. Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has already signed up 113 House democrats to demand a renegotiation of all WTO agreements that will link trade to workers' rights.

          The New York Times called us a powerful " new coalition of the Greenies and the Sweeney's."

         We gained more than we ever hoped for in the " Battle in Seattle". By Friday the WTO ministers reported that trade talks had broken down and that no new rounds would be taking place. The "battle" is not over however, and despite our differences as workers in this grand alliance called the I.A.T.S.E., perhaps we as working stiffs, are finally re-gaining our voice. Again, in the words of Michael Moore-the WTO has " been put on notice that people from all walks of life have had their fill and will not let up until we have a fair, just, and democratic economy. This week, Seattle was the Lexington and Concord of a movement that now cannot be stopped. Mark it down, this last great, important date of the 20th century -- November 30, 1999 --The Battle of Seattle, the day the people got tired of having to work a second job while fighting off the collection agents and decided it was time the pie was shared with the people who baked it".

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         At Local 15 our heartfelt thanks goes out to those folks that traveled from and wide to march with us on November 30th: Local 15 (Seattle) Sean Callahan, Pete Covell, Jerry Crangi, Alan Crashaw, Lee DeLorme and Family, Scott Egan, Brian Frank Baird and Family, Allison Birchwood, Ben Bryant, Sandra Burke, Sean Foley, Betsy and Michael Harris and Family, Ernie Hilsenberg, Deanna Holdren, Laurel Horton, Colin Hovde, John Hudson, Karen Katz, Pete Kerchinsky, Jebney Lewis, Brian Morningstar, Mike Nolan, Paula Rojo-Vega, Richard Russell, Owen Sharp, Bess Sullivan, Chris Tapping, Will Wayburn, Bruce Warshaw, Brian Whitish, John Zucker Local 80 (Los Angeles) Sharon Boggis, July Shore, Mike Shore Local 093 (Spokane) Leroy Frengle and Family Local 348 (Vancouver B.C.) Richard Nantel, Ray Ryan, Chris Unwin Local 488 (Pacific Northwest) Sandra England, Leslie Fried, Ron Leamon, Nancy Knott, Mona Lang, Bobby Riggs, Joel Youngerman Local 600 (National Camera) Regina Render, Steve Flint, Kirk Francis Local 695 ( Los Angeles) Garil Carrol, Art Rochester, Andy Roden Local 705 (Los Angeles) Doris Alaimo, Ed Fincher, Rudolph Garcia, Sandra Jordan, Pie Lombardi Local 706 (Los Angeles) John Inzerello Local 728 (Los Angeles) Michael Everett Local 729 (Los Angeles) George Palazzo Local 876 (Los Angeles) Adrian Renteria Local 887 (Seattle) Imelda Darrancing, Renita Danenport, Etienne Monos, Denise Pollock, Gordon Tribble Local 891 (Vancouver B.C.)Mark Bussanich.

         After 20 years of downsizing, Reaganomics and broken promises this alliance has shown that "we the people" still have a voice. Let's keep hope alive!

         In Solidarity Jerry Crangi IATSE Local 15


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More Information About the WTO

         Seattle WTO
         People For Fair Trade
         AFL-CIO
         STW Organization
         Fair Trade Watch
         Trade Watch
         Events


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