What Every Wage Worker Should Know About The IWW


This is an OCR scan of a leaflet that was distributed
by the IWW during the 1980s
Please see the official web site at iww.org

What can you do to improve your life on the job?

What Every Wage Worker Should Know About The IWW

Industrial Workers of the World

Designed by DAZzling Graphic Design and Richard Hill Productions, both IWW i.u. 450


What You Should Know

Before the union movement gained momentum, workers toiled for ten to sixteen hours per day at low wages. There were two easily recognized classes -- those who owned the industries but did no work, and those who worked but did not own the industries. In the workers' battle for better working conditions the local, state and federal government invariably sided with the owners of industry. This support included taxing the income of workers, then using the taxes to equip soldiers and militia to suppress strikes for better working conditions.

But Aren't The Democrats The Party Of The Workers?

The largest party is now, in effect, the party of incumbency. In the 1988 election ninety-nine percent of the incumbents in the U.S. House of Representatives were re-elected. Their campaigns were financed largely through PAC money and corporate donations. Workers cannot rely on a political party for their salvation.

Stock Market Capitalism

The courts have ruled that the first duty of management is to represent stockholders. The workers of any corporation or company are therefore considered merely a resource. This is evident in the fact workers are laid off without second thoughts when a corporation cuts costs. The system favors the wealthy.

Lost Jobs, Lower Wages

Capitalism relies on exploitation of resources and ever-expanding markets. During prosperous times the employing class may buy labor peace by sharing some of the wealth. But in this era of impending ecological crisis, diminishing resources and increasing competition, employers are attempting to maintain the profit margin through lower labor costs, higher productivity or liquidation of assets through such techniques as leveraged buyouts. The first things sacrificed on the altar of greed are the fair wage and job security of the labor force. A worker's only weapon in this economic war is his/her ability to join in solidarity with other workers.

But ... Business Unions???

Many trade unions are run more like the company than like a labor union. They depend upon similar management bureaucracies, high-paid leaders, and top-down decision making. They tend to help the company manage the workforce as much as they represent the workers.

There Is Another Way

The concept of Industrial Unionism has existed since 1905, when the Industrial Workers of the World, or Wobblies, were first organized. Industrial Unionists recognize that it is worker solidarity, not management-style manipulation, that gives workers the power to obtain justice. Rather than splitting the workers into hundreds of different unions which may cross each other's picket lines, the IWW philosophy puts all workers into one big union so that they can support each other. This is the same principle guiding Solidarity in Poland. Early in this century the IWW boasted more than a hundred thousand members. Industrial Unionism was so effective that the corporations convinced the federal government to use anti-syndicalist laws during the World War One era to suppress the IWW, much in the same way that the government of Poland tries to suppress Solidarity. Our government supports Solidarity because it is a thorn in the side of their government. If Solidarity was moved lock, stock and general strike to this country our government would not support it, because it gives the workers too much power.

What Is Syndicalism?

A system that allows factory workers to control the factories in which they work, accomplished through massive, peaceful on-the-job organizing. The anti-syndicalist laws have been declared unconstitutional.

How Does The IWW View Communist Governments?

Syndicalism empowers the workers rather than the corporations. Soviet-style Communism gives that economic power directly to the government, creating a state capitalism which continues to exploit workers. Why else would Solidarity exist? Labor is the source of all wealth. The workers, and not the employing class or the government, are entitled to all that they create.

How About War?

Many wars are fought to increase the wealth of the upper class, or to expand the markets of the corporations, as indicated in the phrase wartime prosperity. But wartime prosperity doesn't affect everyone equally. The millions of workers dying in the trenches in World War One were fighting against their own best interests-the employing class rarely sends its own sons to the front lines. Even the so-called "cold war" has transferred hundreds of billions of dollars from U.S. taxpayers to the stockholders in the defense corporations under the guise of "national security". The IWW stands for International Labor Solidarity and an end to war.

And The Environment?

Wobblies have long been at the forefront of the environmental movement. The very pro-environmental group Earth First! acknowledges this debt, and in many ways the IWW and Earth First! support each other's efforts. The advantage that the IWW has is its ability to go into the industries that are doing the clear-cutting or polluting and fight that battle where it really counts.

How About Membership?

Dues are only $5 per month. The union is open to wage workers of all nations and races in any business or industry. We don't believe in high-paid union bureaucrats. We do believe in workers running their own union. The IWW is the answer to the problems of low-paying jobs, worker exploitation and environmental damage by profit-motivated industry.