ChainWorkers = MEDIA+UNION ACTIVISM
Defending (young) workers of malls and supermarkets
from the retail chains that suck your lives dry
Founded in early 1999, www.chainworkers.org is the Italian webzine on media and mall activism for awareness-building and unionization of chainstore part-timers.
Centred around people from Bulk and Loa, Milano's squatted epicenters of political dissent and active hacking for the oppositional youth, the site was launched on a 3-day event on media subversion in early 2000, where we did a seminar on subvertising in the world and Naomi Klein's book.
In late 2000 a ChainCreW started its activities on the urban and suburban soil, by breaking into franchises, handing out flyers to workers and staging flying-picketlines in front of fast food joints. This agitation period culminated in the blockade of Milano's biggest mall (not without getting beaten by security), which went on broadcasting TV and ensured the launch of MayDay Parade the following week.
On MayDay 2001, five-thousand people danced on and marched behind colorful soundblasting trucks and radical unions reclaiming their abused rights as chainworkers, tempworkers, brainwokers. The guys and girls from Paris who did the long strikes at McDonald's and Pizza Hut in the winter of 2001 were also there parading, cheering on and delivering speeches ending with calls of "Tous ensemble contre la précarité!".
On December 7, Milano's holiday and opening day for Xmas shopping, we tried a bustling suburban strip mall: we did a no-entry picketline, with DJs and apertitifs, helping out workers at METRO megastore against aggressive management and scabs, and then crossing the street parading and marauding against every single commercial chain in the giant plaza that hosts the highest concentration of retail activity and flexible labor in Italy.
Tools for thought and action
Basically what we try to do, in our weekly meetings and CW mailing list, is to merge two working generations and two strands of radicalism presently at odds with each other in Europe and elsewhere.
On the one hand, we want to make the young, ununionized part-timers and temp workers get in touch with the unionists and activists of the old working class. On the other hand we want to make media activism, as symbolized by Indymedia, Adbusters, RTmark etc, interact with labor struggles and union organizing.
Many in the ChainCreW have this strange profile of having a recent union past and a present working in Milano's media industry. Living in a country where commercial TV brought a dumb tycoon to power, we well understand the persuasive power of pop culture and advertising lexicon. Our intent is clearly to advertise a new brand of labor activism and revolt, i.e. subvertise, by using language and graphix geared to people who have no prior political experience other than the wear and toil of their bodies and minds in the giant outlets. We try to do so by constant reporting of labor conflicts and corporate misdeeds in malls, franchises, and megastores around the world, but also commenting on aspects of contemporary life, art, music related to commercial spaces and chainworking in them.
Chain+Brain Workers Unite!!!
somewhere on the planet,
a Wal*Mart waits to be unionized
write us: email@example.com