Members and supporters of the Raleigh-Durham General Membership Branch (GMB) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) held a picket outside the headquarters of the North Carolina Department of Public Safety, 831 W. Morgan Street, in Raleigh, at 12 noon on Friday, June 23rd in solidarity with members and comrades of their union incarcerated in North Carolina.
The “soft” picket, which did not blockade the street, sidewalk, or the entrance to NCDPS, but which forced DPS workers to walk through the line on their lunch break, was organized by the Raleigh-Durham GMB’s local of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee in response to repression faced by IWW/IWOC members on the inside who are working to form a union, to organize against prison slavery, and make other inside struggles known on the outside.
Also present at the action were organizers for the Millions for Prisoners March on August 19th in Washington DC. Organizers shared the reasoning behind the march and expressed the need for everyone invested in the abolition of prison slavery to either join them in Washington or organize a local march in their hometown. IWOC fully supports the Millions for Prisoners March and will be there in force.
The forms of repression faced by the fellow workers in the NC prison system are diverse, but they all stem directly from decisions made by those who work in the Department of Public Safety, which supervises NC Prisons. Stanley Corbett Jr., for example, writes:
These people (officers Synder, Falliner, & Walker, including Sgt. Lancaster) have stopped all of my mail from my family, friends, & associates. It’s another form of retaliation, in which their striving to keep me from communicating with society, due to the fact that I’m letting the public know what’s going on in here. I need you & anyone else that can help me to call this facility, and speak to Mr. Marshall about getting me transferred or swapped.” Allen Littlejohn III writes “They have pushed my release date back for no reason. I was on 9-29-17 but now they have pushed my release date back to 1-11-18 for no reason. I’ve not received a infraction so what is the reason behind these games.
In the lead-up to the picket, the Raleigh-Durham IWOC shared some letters written by Fellow Workers currently locked inside the North Carolina prison system. Those letters can be found here.
Members of the IWW have created the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee, or IWOC, which functions as a liaison for prisoners to organize each other, unionize, and build solid bridges between prisoners on the inside and fellow workers on the outside. IWOC has been actively reaching out to prisoners while at the same time prisoners have been reaching out to the IWW for representation and assistance in building a prisoners union. IWOC has taken up the cause and is helping prisoners in every facility organize and build a union branch for themselves, which will together form a powerful IWW Industrial Union.