June 27, 2012


  • Book Club: Labor Law for the Rank and File
  • 99 Pickets
  • Anti-colonize.
  • Debt Assembly
  • Friend is organizing series of lectures/events on debt
  • Berlin Documenta
  • Intern Happy Hour
  • Debt Assembly last Sunday


Discussion of precarious worker center


1. Start a mutual aid thread on the Alt Econ listserv\  PASSED
2. Start a closed Tumblr where we can all share our work. PASSED
3. A visual discussion. PASSED
 4. Newsletter. Mailchimp-based. Monthly email list.  PASSED

A&L Minutes 6/27/11

Present (clockwise)_: ES, MP, EG, AS2, BW2, IE, RH, BR, YA, AS, LB, BW, LW, CK VV

Facillitating BR, Stack YA, Minutes MP, Time EG


Book Club: Labor Law for the Rank and File

CK: Depressing but thorough take.

Solidarity Unionism: positive takeaway. Facilitate workers taking action under protection of the law. Solidarity

MP: 99 Pickets

LW: Anti-colonize. Meetings about workers co-op. Also movement/event space/art space for meetings, etc.

AS: Tomorrow is Intern Happy Hour. In prep the Intern Group printed some awesome Pay Your Intern shirts, bags, flyers and etc. Selling stuff by suggested donation. Please spread word.

BR: Debt Assembly last Sunday. Desire to bring topic back to working groups, how we can do actions around debt.

LW: Friend is organizing series of lectures/events on debt. Looking for people to conceptualize what the last event will be.

AS2: Berlin Documenta: small occupation. Sort of weird.  Gave two presentations at Kati, disappointing lack of respect. Boken presentation at interesting space, better. Afterwards went to Kurdish sector with gentrification issues, impromptu occupation, after midnight some officials came to have big community meeting. Tent from Western Sahara women’s group – really interesting – conviviality tent.

Gardens. small mention in Village Voice.

VV: Introduced by BR. Doing multi-faced article on artist collectives/communes, artist organizing. How artists are banding together.

Open discussion on discussion

 ES: In the summer, each week we focus on a specific topic, big picture issues and strategy, so it’s not just nuts and bolts but productive meetings.

AS: Interesting question: what is a RADICAL worker’s center. Define by industry, and then why radical?

BR: From Playbook for Progressives book: 1. Analyze political/economic conflicts 2. Identify forces that we’re bringing demands to 3. Determine strategic aim 4. Determine main forces and allies 5. Make clear programmatic demands that can rally a long-term movement.

ES: Brian Holmes essay – he talked to me about doing that kind of analysis.  Would be nice to have a think tank session with him, he has a lot of info.

H.E.N.S. was a proto-precarious workers’ center, and now it’s lost its space, we should think about space. They’re still thinking about H.E.N.S.

CK: In response to Annie, are there examples of a radical worker’s center? The example sent today seemed that they were focused on gaining concessions. Would want to hear what they can do beyond small wage increases and minimal health care.

AS: Alt econ. Is more about creating new worlds, NOT demands.

EG: Read a book review: right-wing takeover of judiciary has been a 25-year thorough strategy. What can progressives learn.

ES: The group Jason and Arlen were working with had problems, but they were good – their campaigns were really broad. We should get into touch with them.

LW: On same page as CK and AS2,  who you’re addressing is already problematic… inherently reformistic. Could a precarious worker’s center by a place to come together around specific project (not campaigns). Ways one could exchange work. Ways to bring people from different groups together.

RH: Been thinking a lot about the health and sustainability of this group in particular. Should talk more about our own labor conditions, and how we distribute labor in the group, and need to be hyper-productive, competitive. Build a more supportive network, rather our own debt, labor, financial situation. Be more open to different levels/types of work… find a way to find ways for people to work that can’t keep up with emails, etc.

BW2: By definition, precarious workers don’t have a central location, real advantage in having a place to converge. BUT, will people really converge there, if people aren’t already looking for that kind of space, will they find it? Art workers vs. day laborers – places for day laborers to go where they don’t have to stand waiting for work in the sun all day, guarantee minimum wages, etc. In our own situation as art workers, are we filling that kind of need? On the other hand NY is a bitch. Do we want it to be a physical convergence space, set of resources, or parasite-on to existing orgs.

CK: Would like explore community day-care thing that KP sent around. Sitting in AS2 garden thing, opened up eyes to advantages of communal space, in between private and public. Would like to arrange teach-in or conversation with that center. One other important function of workers center.

BR: Been thinking about what we’re already doing. Want to formalize it, flesh the mission statement out, we have so much more knowledge than before. What we’re doing that’s exciting now is pick a few tangible things and work on them while we work on larger dreams/ambitions. Some objectives that A&L could have:

  • Tangible item: living wage in NYC. Add to campaign, tap in, modify what the art worker living wage would be.  Broader: Build arts economy where every arts worker receives minimum wage.
  • Put an end to unpaid work.
  • Build a culture of solidarity and interdependence for arts workers, rather than individualism/independence.
  • To create sustainable alternatives for the market, market-driven ideology.

In terms of strategy, would like some flushed out anchor that we can return to a bit more (like this).

AS: Also discussed in book club: The idea of refusal. What it means to be able to say no to conditions that you don’t want to participate in. The cultural industry doesn’t allow that form so much now.

Think of worker centers/organizing about EMPOWERMENT.


1: We can’t do anything. We’re too tired, we work too much, we don’t need another full-time job. A precarious center should be about taking care of us. Up version: a good place to start would be to have a network for ourselves, have a precarious workers center for each other, as an experiment, help each other in tangible ways.

2: precarious worker center should be precarious. It should be mobile. Mobile of ice cream truck or bike truck. We would distribute food. Precarious workers jungle. An annoying jingle. Help people to strategize organizing around their workplace. Portable architecture.

Point of Information—Rad Arts is already talking about mobile architecture structures.

3: Try not to get in over our heads. Broke down on two sides. Traditional worker center, campaign-focused, attack vs. would we want it to do, the positives, day care, skill sharing, a barter system. Organizations are already out there that are doing some of that, at least, make an index of ones that are already out there. Freelancer’s Union is so disappointing, well what is that we wanted? Online platform for precarious workers to solicit interest in concrete projects, like weekly dinner, Saturday childcare, etc. Hub for mutual aid projects.

LB: Mutual Aid meeting June 28, greater OWS community.

Further discussion

BW2: Names a problem. A contradiction in itself. We don’t have to be  a solution. It’s useful as an idea or a concept, project.

LW: Really like the idea of starting within A&L. Have a place where people can post calls for help, if people can do it,  they would do it. Would be worth it to try.  One mutual aid thread.

AS: Something to think about… one thing we could do to contribute to a vision. A very every day thing. AND if another thing happened “for me”, this would make my life significantly better.

ES: Alt economies GG is private, everyone could use that for mutual aid stuff.



1. Start a mutual aid thread on the Alt Econ listserv. What we need and what we can offer. How can we aid is FIRST. Concerns: try to have it in person sometimes, quid pro quo risk.  PASSESED

2. Start a closed Tumblr where we can all share our work. No obligation to respond. Not necessarily our primary work. Even family photos. Registered artkilledmydreams.tumblr.com.  Concerns about public nature of Internet. Decided that Lara will start it as autonomous project. PASSSED

3.  Most of us involved in visual arts, we do visual thinking, but not so much in this group. Casual group crit, would be interesting , with themes  ex. “debt night”. A visual discussion. PASSED



1. Email list. Mailchimp-based. Monthly email list. Or weekly if emergency.  Email only content is posted on website, both articles and dates. Different person each month gathers it. After the newsletter goes out, the next meeting after that that person will hand it off to someone else.  Approx. 1st of each month.  PPPPASED

AS2: Another Commons thing in October. Spurts did a huge analysis on communing, funded by Guggenheim. Architecture (mag) just did a big thing too. AS2 has a little flyer showing where all the thinking is in the art aspect.

Talking Freely

Next meeting, we’ll talk about teach-ins. Up twinkles!!!! Annie will co-facilitate and send out agenda item.

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