A week ago on November 1st, a tweet appeared:
Further down in the thread the workers at Image Comics in Portland, Oregon stated their intent to request that Image Comics voluntarily recognition of their union. It would have made a lot of sense for the company to do so. The workers have already demonstrated over 80% employee union membership. However, on Friday, the boss said no.
Of course, they said no without actually saying no. That’s the new trend among bosses, especially in Portland where the people of the city are generally extremely supportive of workers rights and unions. We don’t say that “Portland is a Union town” without reason.
Rather, Image Comics is utilizing a particularly double-handed union busting tactic whereby they publicly ignore the request for voluntary recognition and squawk about how they’re “committed to working through the process.” They try to make themselves sound supportive of workers, or even pro-union, while in fact the opposite is true.
The statement put out by Image Comics ignores the fact that demonstrating majority support and requesting voluntary recognition is an official part of that process and a legitimate way to start a unionization campaign. Worse, the “commitment to working through this process” is really just coded language for “we’re buying as much time as possible so we can do whatever we can to scare and manipulate employees into voting no.”
I’m a union member. I’ve helped organize new unions. In fact, I used to be a member and area vice president of the same CWA local that the Comic Books Workers United is part of. I currently have no affiliation with that local or with Communication Workers of America. But the point is that I’ve seen these tactics before, plenty of times. Once you are familiar with them, you can spot them—and smell them—from miles away.
You should expect to learn in the coming weeks that Image Comics has hired a high priced union
avoidance busting firm. We have no evidence to suggest they have already done so. And maybe they won’t. But it’s the next move in the poorly crafted anti-worker playbook from which Image Comics is clearly operating.
As you can see from the above tweets, public support is firmly behind the workers. Here at Solarpunk Magazine, we firmly believe in and support workers’ rights to organize and have a say in how things are run at the companies they help make successful and profitable. Image Comics wouldn’t function without these workers. It would behoove them to realize that and respect it, instead of fighting it.
Solarpunks Support Worker Rights and Struggles
Struggling and rebelling against the boss is solarpunk as fuck. This is especially true in our world today where 70% of climate change emissions come not from our homes and individual habits, but from the bosses, their companies and corporations, their institutions of power.
If workers rise up and take their place, demand their rights and a seat at the decision making table, we can use that power to help force companies and our economy to become more sustainable. The bosses have proven time and time again that they won’t do it. So it looks like workers will have to.
In this way, workers rights and workers justice are synonymous with and no different from climate justice, just as racial justice and gender justice are synonymous with climate justice, as justice for indigenous communities can never be anything but synonymous with climate justice.
We can’t build utopias without these vital elements.
Even if we solved the climate crisis and built cities that coexist in harmony with nature, we can’t build a utopia without workers rights. Just like you can’t build a utopia that isn’t accessible to people with disabilities. And you can’t build a utopia that doesn’t include reparations, without racial justice, indigenous justice, and leadership from communities that have been marginalized by the current systems of power.
Struggling for these things is part of what it means to be solarpunk. It’s part of what means to create a better world, a utopia. It’s the punk part, if you will. And Solarpunk Magazine is firmly behind the workers at Image Comics and all workers struggling for rights and power in the workplace.
It’s a shame to see that Image Comics has chosen this route, and we at Solarpunk Magazine strongly and publicly encourage them to change course and voluntarily recognize the workers’ union. It’s the right to do.
Justine Norton-Kertson (they/he/she) is the co-editor-in-chief of Solarpunk Magazine. They live in rural Oregon with his partner, puppies, cats, goats, and beehives. She can be found on Twitter @jankwrites.