Sharing this excellent throwback from 2013 that shows a way of orienting toward housing defense and wage theft in contrast to beginning solely with the technical and logistical questions involved. It examines the composition of capital and labor in SW Houston and the social ecology of the Left. Though some of the latter points have been superseded, the methodology remains intact. We believe this approach is equally critical in building General Defense Committees across the US.
“Building a Solidarity Network in Houston” by Rosa DeLux of Unity and Struggle
Last October, a handful of Unity & Struggle members living in Houston, TX, together with other Houston-based organizers, started a solidarity network, the Southwest Defense Network (SWDN).  Since then our work has grown and we have been learning a lot about the economic and political dynamics in the city.
In many ways, Texas (and the South in general) represents a future that the rest of the country is rapidly headed towards. At the same time, the contradictions grow sharper every day, representing a potential for offensive struggles among the working class that have not been seen in other parts of the country in decades. This post is an attempt to pull together an objective picture of what’s happening with the working class in Houston, specifically in the area we are working, and to lay out some of the strategic reasons why we have chosen this as one organizing project among others.
For context to this campaign, check out this post.
The fight against Felipe Serna has concluded. Serna wrote a check to Hector, Pancho, and Mauricio which was promptly cashed this morning.
After our letter delivery, folks will recall that we organized a phone blast of The Growing Tree daycare and Felipe’s cell. It was very effective; his phone didn’t stop ringing and he was in tears begging for mercy. But when the calls ceased, his verbal commitment to settling turned into indignation as he failed to follow through and after a few days texted us an image of his “lawyer’s” business card, the second attorney he had threatened us with.
So we got indignant too and last night covered the surrounding neighborhood of The Growing Tree with “Wanted for Wage Theft” posters with his image prominently on the front. We made sure to leave one on the front door of the daycare. The next morning he wrote a check.
Houston IWW marching on the boss to demand the return of stolen wages
The Houston IWW is engaged in a fight with a local contractor, Felipe Serna, responsible for wage theft of three former employees: Hector, Pancho, and Mauricio. These three men were hired by Felipe Serna in May of 2015 for the remodeling of a house in Sweeny, Texas. They were offered $150/day each for their services and provided room and board at the house. Several days in Serna decides $150 is too much and instead wants to pay them $100/day instead. The men held their ground, stating $150 was the agreed upon wage, and Serna backed off.
While at work one day, Serna tells the men he is letting them go. The men ask for payment for the previous three days of labor and Serna refuses, accusing them of stealing equipment. To add insult to injury, Hector, Pancho, and Mauricio weren’t driven back to Houston, but told to make their own way. It cost them $100 total for them to get transportation back to the city. Continue reading