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Workers of the Web, UNITE!

Tired: Libertarian cypherpunks
Wired: Crypto-socialists

"Whether they be fast-food workers, word processors, or micro-chip
assemblers, today's non-union wage workers need the IWW's brand of
no-compromise unionism even more than their predecessors."




> Tactics and Vision for a New Workers' Movement
> An Introduction to the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)
> Every worker is an "industrial" worker - whether they work in health
> care, tourism, education, or publishing. The relatively recent
> association between the word "industry" and heavy manufacturing is
> misleading, and was never intended to be by the founders of the IWW.
> If you earn your living by working with your hands or your mind,
> then you're welcome in the IWW. Only bosses (defined as those with
> direct power to hire and fire) are excluded from IWW membership.
> The Wobblies (as members of the IWW are known) have historically
> focused on helping organize those workers that the American
> Federation of Labor (AFL) shunned. In the early 1900s that meant
> African-Americans, immigrants, women, and unskilled laborers. Today
> that means curbside recyclers, non-profit staffers, temp workers,
> sex-industry workers, co-op employees -- in short, any worker in any
> workplace regardless of size or structure.
> That largely depends on you. The IWW is a "do-it-yourself" union,
> and does not provide an all-knowing leadership or hefty treasury to
> fight your battles for you. But if you're willing to organize at
> your job-site by talking with your co-workers about the issues that
> matter to them, then you can count on your fellow workers in the IWW
> to lend their full support to your struggle.
> Individual workers can accomplish little by themselves, and are
> liable to be fired if they raise their voice in protest. But by
> joining together in a union such as the IWW, workers are far more
> powerful when confronting their boss about workplace injustices. Our
> union can provide tangible, community-based resources such as
> low-cost printing, speakers, legal advise, and how-to manuals, as
> well as bodies on a picket line. You won't get bureaucrats in suits
> and ties telling you how to run your strike, just friends lending a
> hand where they can.
> For almost a century, the leadership of the AFL-CIO has worked hand
> in hand with the capitalists to squelch rank and file militancy.
> Their overriding concern has been "industrial harmony," not economic
> and social justice, and so they fail to question the most basic
> assumptions of capitalist production. While union bosses play golf
> with the titans of industry, real wages and safety conditions have
> continued to worsen these last thirty years or so.
> Regular AFL trade unions split workers up into their respective
> skills, allowing one craft union to cross the picket line of
> another. The IWW believes in "industrial unionism," organizing all
> workers in a given industry into the same union (thus our name). At
> a construction site, for instance, the carpenters should be able to
> count on the unswerving support of the plumbers, laborers,
> electricians, and hod carriers in the event of a strike. This is
> much simpler when all these workers are in the same industrial
> union, rather than separate, even competing, trade unions.
> Some Wobblies find themselves in jobs where they are represented by
> these more conservative trade unions. These "two- card" Wobs often
> bring their IWW principles to the union hall with them, agitating
> for rank and file democracy, more militant "direct action" tactics,
> and class solidarity. The IWW does not believe in signing away the
> right to strike ( the so-called "no strike" clause), nor does it
> condone the "dues check-off," in which management deducts union dues
> directly from the paycheck. While the IWW often does strike support
> for other unions when necessary, we also try to keep our sights on
> the bigger prize ahead.
> The IWW was nearly crushed in the early 1920's by some of the
> fiercest repression ever unleashed by big business and the U.S.
> government. Because the IWW had strongholds in industries that were
> critical to the First World War effort, and because they refused to
> do their patriotic bit by signing no-strike pledges for the duration
> of the war, the Wobblies were branded "pro-German" and relentlessly
> persecuted.
> The world economy has changed a lot since the days when the IWW
> controlled great sections of the logging, mining, and agricultural
> industries. Yet despite tremendous technological advances and the
> structural reorganization of capital, industrial unionism remains a
> fundamentally sound basis for workers' self- organization. Today,
> while mainstream labor tries desperately to hold its ground against
> the anti-worker policies of the ruling political parties, vast new
> sectors of the economy have opened up that the AFL-CIO would never
> dream of organizing.
> Whether they be fast-food workers, word processors, or micro- chip
> assemblers, today's non-union wage workers need the IWW's brand of
> no-compromise unionism even more than their predecessors. Winning
> the eight-hour day was not enough. We must redefine the very meaning
> of work itself, and find ways to redistribute society's wealth for
> the benefit of all.
> The IWW is a labor union, not a political party. We believe that
> economic justice must be achieved through economic struggle, whether
> that be with our boss or our landlord. The institutions of
> government have always proven themselves to be the allies of
> Capital, so we do not wait for politicians to free us from wage-
> slavery. We believe our power lies in the workplace, not in "the
> vote" - since it is our labor on which bosses are dependent.
> The IWW has successfully resisted attempts by various "left" parties
> to make the union a mere tool of their political ambitions. Our
> Constitution explicitly states "the IWW refuses all alliances,
> direct and indirect, with existing parties and anti-political
> sects." This policy has helped us avoid the sectarian feuding that
> can easily destroy a group.
> True, our commitment to worker control and the abolition of
> capitalism has not won us any friends among the ruling elites, and
> our disavowal of all political party affiliation has not prevented
> us from being red-baited. We address the root causes of this
> society's problems, and that makes us "radical," but we have the
> common sense to leave our electoral political views outside the
> union hall where they belong.
> The labor movement has been most successful when it relied on the
> direct intervention of the workers to obtain their demands. Rather
> than allowing professional negotiators to speak for them, Wobblies
> have engaged in those tactics which they could control themselves --
> strikes, slowdowns, monkey wrenching -- what we call sabotage.
> Sabotage in this context does not mean arson and dynamite. It's more
> properly defined as "the conscious withdrawal of efficiency."
> Staying at your workstation but reducing your production by half
> will bring a boss to his knees quicker than a whole team of
> negotiators.
> The IWW has never advocated violence. By fighting for justice with
> non-violent tactics, the IWW has often won the support of an
> initially mistrustful public.
> The General Strike has long been touted by militant unionists as the
> ultimate expression of workers' power, and it still plays an
> important role in the IWW's program for social change. Simply put, a
> General strike is a massive work stoppage on a local, regional, or
> national scale, and may involve people either staying home or
> occupying their workplaces and refusing to work.
> A General Strike halts business as usual, and serves notice to those
> in power that those of us doing the work have the ultimate say in
> whether that work gets done or not. It debunks the myth that power
> flows downward, and proves instead that all real power still resides
> at the grassroots level, if we only choose to exercise it.
> The general Strike is a common tactic in many countries of the
> world, yet most North American workers are unfamiliar with it. This
> is largely the result of the conservative trade unions' reluctance
> to flex their economic muscle and rock the boat. A great deal of
> education and organization must take place before North American
> workers are ready to wage a successful General Strike, and it's
> toward this end that the IWW dedicates itself.
> Women have been active in the IWW since its inception. Elizabeth
> Gurley Flynn, one of the union's best know agitators, once said that
> "the IWW has been accused of pushing women to the front. This is not
> true. Rather, the women have not been kept in back, and so they have
> naturally moved to the front."
> Much of the work that has traditionally been done by women was not
> recognized as such by the male-run business unions. The IWW supports
> the right of homemakers, sex-industry workers, and other women to
> organize for better conditions and wages just like other workers.
> Wars between nations have never benefitted the working class, and
> they never will. The war profiteers, safe in their mansions and
> boardrooms, never consider the human cost of their military
> adventurism. Working people are mere cannon fodder for their
> corporate and imperialist ambitions.
> Real working class solidarity does not recognize the artificial
> borders erected between nation-states, but instead unites against a
> common class enemy. Poor people, especially those of color, make up
> a disproportionate part of the armed forces, simply because few
> other economic options are available.
> To put an end to war, working people must lay down their arms and
> refuse to fight for their masters. Unfortunately, many have been
> brainwashed into thinking that their interests are the same as those
> of the people in power, so this is easier said than done.
> Nevertheless, the IWW is committed to fighting patriotic propaganda
> by educating workers about where their real self-interest lies.
> Bhopal, Chernobyl, the Exxon Valdez oil spill... These are just a
> few examples of how dangerous it can be to put profit before people.
> Government regulation and public outcry can at best slow down the
> destruction of our planet, not reverse it.
> Workers and their families suffer the worst effects of pollution.
> The workplace continues to be a very dangerous environment, and
> working class communities are often the site for toxic dumps,
> incinerators, and the like.
> Workers' control of all industry is the only practical strategy for
> assuring the practice of sustainable and environmentally sound forms
> of production. For if the workers in all polluting industries were
> to withdraw their labor, the poison factories could be shut down in
> a matter of weeks. The workers themselves must decide whether or not
> what they produce is socially useful.
> NO BUREAUCRATS - Aside from the modestly paid General
> Secretary/Treasurer, the I.W.W. has no paid officers. The General
> Executive Board is elected annually by the entire membership, and
> its job is to oversee the running of union affairs, not to set
> policy. All officers may be recalled at any time by referendum.
> REAL DEMOCRACY - All policy decisions are made by the members
> themselves by referendum. All branches maintain full autonomy on
> matters within their jurisdiction. Job branches (I.W.W. groups
> composed of workers at a single job-site) set their own demands and
> strategies in negotiations, free of meddling internaitonals or
> sellout business agents.
> LOW DUES - Our dues are structured on a sliding scale basis.
> Unemployed and low-income workers pay $5 a month; those making
> between $800 and $1,700 per month pay $9; members making more than
> $1,700 per month pay $12 monthly dues; and workers in extremely poor
> financial situations may pay only $3 per month. Initiation fees
> equal one month's dues; so a very low-income worker can join for as
> little as $6.
> TO JOIN - Fill out the questions below and send a copy of this form
> with your check or money order (in U.S. funds) to I.W.W., 103 W.
> Michigan Ave., Ypsilanti, MI 48197, USA.
> - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
> ___ I affirm that I am a common worker without direct power to hire
> and fire.
> ___ I agree to abide by the constitution and regulations of this
> organization.
> ___ I will study its principles and make myself acquainted with its
> purposes.
> Name ____________________________________________________________
> Occupation ______________________________________________________
> Industry ________________________________________________________
> Address _________________________________________________________
> City ____________________________________________________________
> State/Province __________________________________________________
> Zip _____________________________________________________________
> Phone ___________________________________________________________
> Email ___________________________________________________________
> Total amount enclosed $__________________________________________
> Initiation $_____________________________________________________
> Dues $ __________________________________________________________
> When you join the I.W.W., you'll receive a free subscription to our
> newspaper, the Industrial Worker, in addition to your membership
> card, constitution, button, and the One Big Union pamphlet which
> describes the structure and function of the I.W.W. in detail. You'll
> also start to get a monthly publication for members only called the
> General Organization Bulletin, which contains Board motions,
> financial reports, and members' discussion of various internal
> matters such as upcoming referenda. And if you have access to email,
> you'll be invited to join a growing network of Wobblies engaging in
> on-line communications.
> The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.
> There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among
> millions of working people; and the few, who make up the employing
> class, have all the good things in life.
> Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of
> the world organize as a class, take possession of the machinery of
> production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the
> earth.
> We find that the centering of the management of industries into
> fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the
> ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a
> state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted
> against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping
> to defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid
> the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the
> working class has interests in common with its employers.
> These conditions can be changed and the interests of the working
> class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all
> its members in any one industry, or in all industries if necessary,
> cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department
> thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.
> Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wage for a fair
> day's work," we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary
> watchword, "Abolition of the wage system."
> It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with
> capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for
> the everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on
> production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing
> industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within
> the shell of the old.
> 103 W. Michigan Ave.
> Ypsilanti, MI 48197, USA
> ph: 313-483-3548
> fax: 313-483-4050
> email: [email protected]