Don't Say Pitch

Labour in the arts

Someone at TCAF asked me for some resources about labour so I thought I’d share them here. This list is not meant to be a comprehensive round-up of resources of labour organizing, but it’s a collection of helpful sites and podcasts that I’ve come across:

ART FOCUS

  • Litebox – a group of labour organizers in illustration and comics
  • Mayworks – founded by the Toronto & York Region Labour Council, Mayworks is a multidisciplinary festival featuring the culture of working people
  • My interview with labour Vanessa Kelly for TCAF2020 – learn about Kelly’s work in organizing artists in Vancouver’s animation industry
  • Art and Labor – recently discovered this podcast. I’ve only listened to one episode but it was quite fun.

GENERAL LABOUR

A couple notes:

  • When it comes to organizing, it is very important to understand what capitalism is in order to resist it meaningfully. Making profits or exploiting people are not defining features of capitalism – capitalists leveraging systems of inequality to squeeze labour and increase profit because they own the means of production such that workers must earn wages to access the necessities of life are. I often see people at a loss at what can be done. When you focus only on greed and oppression this is very different from identifying capitalism’s systemic weaknesses and aiming for deeper, more radical changes. Also, every time someone conflates selling out with becoming capitalist, or worse, calls themselves a capitalist for tabling at a zine fair, I just… no.
  • I’m loving the increased interest in labour organizing in popular culture but I worry the The Union can sometimes become caricatured as a deus ex machina that will magically sweep away all labour violations. If only! Every step you take against capital will be met with resistance and comes with risks and costs we need to be realistic about. In addition, unions are not perfect entities. They are made of ordinary people. Organizing people together is perpetual, demanding work – and workers only get from a union what its members put into it. If there is an interest in labour organizing, you have to really understand what that takes, the responsibility and power you have as a worker, acting in solidarity with other workers.