At our branch meeting last week, Liverpool IWW agreed a safer spaces policy. In doing so, we’re declaring that we aim to make our online and real life spaces safer for all, and especially oppressed and marginalised sections of the working class. We are doing this because it is the decent thing to do, and also because we are conscious that discriminatory and oppressive behaviour works to exclude working class people we should be in solidarity with. In other words, “the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”.
We have taken this decision in the light of the motion put forward by FWs in the US, to get a safer spaces policy in the IWW constitution. Whether or not this policy passes in the global member referendum, we in Liverpool will aim to put into practice our own version, which only differs in terms of details specific to us.
Liverpool IWW is committed to the emancipation of the working class. The working class is diverse and, as a branch, we realize that oppression is many-layered. As such, we strive to keep our common places* free from oppressive action, behavior and language.
These oppressive actions and words include but are not limited to: racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and any expression of disrespect and/or intolerance of size, gender identity, sexual identity/expression, (dis)ability, age, educational level, and cultural background. Because we want to learn from and educate each other, we will each be responsible for addressing these issues in ourselves and others. This policy is not about censorship, but rather opening a dialogue in a respectful way that can result in all members feeling safe and free to fully participate in their union’s activities.
If a member feels this policy is being / has been violated, the following steps should be taken:
1. Reference the policy to the whole group: for example, “In Liverpool IWW, we have a ‘Safer Spaces Policy’ which all members are mutually responsible to uphold. I feel this policy has been violated by talk of ‘[comments made].’ Please keep the Safer Space Policy in mind.”
2. If the policy is still being violated, the issue should be brought up to the person in violation directly and/or the chair, an officer, a delegate, or a member whom you would like to act as an advocate on your behalf so that an effective plan of action can be instituted [this ties in with survivor-led processes already incorporated into the IWW constitution].
3. If you have no allies locally and invoking the ‘Safer Space Policy’ fails, reach out to the Gender Equity Committee for assistance via GEC@IWW.org.
If a member feels like this policy is being violated and is uncomfortable bringing this up personally, they are encouraged to seek an ally of their choosing to advocate for them. In a meeting, a person can ask for a point of personal privilege to take a break and discuss this with the necessary parties. Meeting chairs, officers, delegates, and members should be conscious of this policy and address issues as they arise.
*this shall be defined as any meeting, event (including trainings, celebrations, social gatherings, etc.), and includes Liverpool IWW-linked online spaces