Porter Airlines is in the midst of a labour dispute. Their refuelling staff at Toronto’s Billy Bishop airport recently organized under COPE (Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union), contract negotiations have failed, and the workers have walked-out. Porter has trained alternate staff to do the refueller’s work and there have been no reported delays due to refuelling issues. So, the striking workers are in a difficult spot.
Last week militant labour unions rallied together in support of the Porter workers. There were a number of high-profile executives at the rally, led by Sid Ryan of the Ontario Federation of Labour. While executives often attended their rank & file were less enthusiastic to show, and less willing to get arrested for wildcat actions. The OFL’s solution was to bus in a group of anarchists who they would outsource the dirty work to.
Rabble.ca published an interesting video about Porter this week. It’s of a group of masked and hooded people blocking the airport ferry from closing their gates. On the ferry there’s what appears to be a fuel truck, presumably belonging to Porter Airlines. So, as expected, the unions are escalating.
There are a couple of interesting things we can learn watching the video. First, it appears there’s been some effort made to obscurify people’s faces- it’s almost like the video has been intentionally darkened. After all of the recent exposure of anarchist participation in labour actions, it appears they’re beginning to get a little camera shy.
What’s more interesting than what one can (or can’t) see in the video is who made it- Humberto DaSilva, a CUPE employee who makes no effort to hide his love of militant anarchism. DaSilva works in communications, and is connected to the core of the militant union/activist elite. In a link from 2009, he was listed as the person to call to arrange interviews with Sid Ryan of the Ontario Federation of Labour, and Maude Barlow of the Council of Canadians. Both the OFL and the CoC have deep, long-term relationships with some of Canada’s most militant and violent anarchist organizations.
DaSilva publishes videos using the brand “Sindicalista TV”- here’s his logo:
Anyone familiar with anarchist symbols will immediately recognize the wild cat in DaSilva’s logo. It’s called the ‘sabot-cat’, and it symbolizes tactics of militant unionism- stuff like wildcat strikes and industrial sabotage. The cat was originally created by a member of the Industrial Workers of the World- an organization whose members were present at last week’s battle with the police. (if you watched Reds, you’ll remember Warren Beatty carried an IWW poster with him in the movie).
DaSilva came to public attention last November when he invoked Godwin’s Law in a pathetic attempt to compare Bill C-377 to the atrocities of Hitler. The bill is a call for transparency in union finances- union executives (particularly the militant ones) are highly uncomfortable with the idea of showing their books. It’s widely speculated that if the rank & file get access to their executive’s accounts there are likely to mutinies across the country.
Looking further back into DaSilva’s work one can see that he’s, yet another, apologist for the G20 anarchists. In his video titled Free Hundert, Bust Bubbles DaSilva displays logic so twisted that it’s hard to imagine he actually believes his own BS.
He creates a narrative about Hundert that he’s a heroic political prisoner who “was criminalized as a G-20 conspirator before the G20 even happened”. When discussing Hundert’s bail, DaSilva states “He signed the bail conditions, coerced by means unknown.” Then, to add some added fear-factor he says “If this had happened in Iran, or China, the western media would have blown a gasket!”. (If this happened in Iran or China they’d probably have been shot dead in a televised ceremony.)
The reality behind Hundert’s story is distinctly different than the one DaSilva tells us. Hundert was arrested after being observed by undercover police training and giving directions to the foot soldiers who brought violence the city. He gave them lists of places they should focus on destroying. He trained young people how to “de-arrest” fellow protesters from the police- an act that’s violent by its definition.
This brings us back to Porter Airlines. One of the narratives the union executives were trying to spin during last week’s protest was that there were too many police. A few of the day’s speakers directly referenced the G20- all focussed only on the misdeeds of the police (who made many mistakes), but completely ignored the deeds of the anarchists.
The story the G20 apologists give us is that the violence at the G20 was all the fault of the police. They say that the mass arrests came as a result of the inherent brutality in the system. However, they completely ignore the fact there were scores of people who came specifically to engage in violence and bait the police into embarrassing situations.
Office Bubbles is a great example. He’s a Toronto cop with a (deserved) reputation for not having a sense of humour. I’ve seen bubbles in action during a (failed) attempt of evicting an Occupy Toronto encampment- he was the first guy to start putting on his gloves in a ‘tough guy’ kind of a way. It’s generally acknowledged in the activist community (those who are honest to themselves) that the protester who blew bubbles into Bubble’s face was baiting him.
The joy the militants got from Officer Bubbles’ reaction was somewhat akin to a freshly bathed dog that discovers a pile of steaming manure. They couldn’t help but roll their backs all over it and bath in the glory of the stench of their own BS. Even last week people were taunting the cops with calls of “Bubbles!, Bubbles!” at Cheri Dinovo’s anti-
The police made some big mistakes (I hope they’re mistakes) during the G20. The mass arrests were a serious violation of people’s civil rights, and we must do everything in our power to ensure it never happens again. But we must also look at what enabled the situation to escalate. The anarchists came to street looking for a fight.
Had people like Alex Hundert not been training legions of vandals to engage in street violence, it’s unlikely the city would have felt the need to build scores of temporary holding cells. Equally, if vandals weren’t tearing through Toronto’s streets smashing windows and burning down police cars, it’s highly unlikely those holding cells would have been filled. Had everyone been peaceful, the G20 would have been entirely different.
It’s not simply bad taste to label a man like Alex Hundert as a political prisoner- it’s an act that comes with serious consequences. They’re creating legends that will ‘inspire’ more young people to destroy their lives- perhaps at the upcoming Pan American Games (the anarchists have been planning for this since 2009), or maybe the next federal election. Anarchist violence had a big impact on the last election in Quebec. It’s widely accepted that the ruckus of the student fee protests helped put the Parti Quebecois into power. It’s naïve to think someone won’t try to replicate that success in 2015.
Last week’s events at Porter Airlines proved that there’s a serious gap between the militancy of the labour executives and the rank & file. The majority of people with union contracts have no interest in street fighting, burning police cars or even blocking traffic. The actions of the G20 apologists in the labour movement is probably the best single argument in favour of bill C-377- Humberto DaSilva should be the bill’s poster-child.
This movement is dangerous…