Rob Robinson, moderator, José Alves de Oliveira, Elisa Estronioli, Anuradha Talwar
The concept of the labor union as a collectivized organizational form capable of leveraging better working conditions, as well as defending workers from some of the exploitative labor practices inherent in desires of owners of the means of production, has been present with different degrees of influence in all historical stages of advanced capitalist production. Today, unions in their diverse deterministic forms strive to be effective in the complex uneven urban context in which a large proportion of workers are embedded, which, more than labor itself, is now the determinate factor in the everyday struggle for a dignified and just life. Imposing urban variables like commuting time and expenses, displacement risks, infrastructure failures, food and housing accessibility, environmental hazards, gentrification processes and the perils of high stakes real estate speculation have made the battleground more apparent, from the spaces of work to the totalizing space of the urban. However, there does not seem to be any organizational form yet capable of unifying the fragmented activisms of its inhabitants into a common project for retaking the city. This panel will elaborate on possibilities of organizing and unionizing large number of inhabitants for taking control of the processes that produce their urban environment. It will ask, Is it possible to imagine organizing vast parts of a city? Can we imagine organizing beyond the prescribed silos of labor unions or the non-profit establishment into the complex ecology of the city as a whole? Could Urban Unions redefine city growth?
Miguel Robles-Duran, Nicole Carty, Teodor Celakoski, Jeanne van Heeswijk
Any anti-capitalist movement has at some point or other to deal with the nature of urban life and social reproduction and seek out paths towards a radical transformation of social relations, of productive apparatuses, of ways of living and in the relation to nature. Experiments under way right now, some of which have been the focus of concern in this conference, pre-figure what a future social order might look like. But there is a need to bring many of these moving parts of transformation together around a more organic conception of city life as a whole and ask the question: what will an anti-capitalist city look like and what would it be like to live there?
Sin Patron (without a boss) describes a new social creation taking place around the world. Coined by people in the recuperated workplace movement in Argentina, it has come to mean not only working literally without bosses and hierarchy, but represents a new way of relating based on solidarity and the creation of a value system outside the framework of capitalist value production. This new way of working and relating is taking place in everything from metal and print shops, hotels and restaurants to emergent self-organized groups and collectives, from Argentina, Brazil and Greece, to Chicago in the US.
Marina Sitrin, moderator, Claudia Acuña Debbie Litsa