HomePage | Recent changes | View source | Discuss this page | Page history | Log in |

Printable version | Disclaimers | Privacy policy

Acronym for the Industrial Workers of the World, also called "Wobblies". Founded June 1905 in Chicago at a convention of two hundred socialists, anarchists, and radical trade unionists from all over the United States. It's goal was to promote worker solidarity against the employing classes. From the Preamble to the IWW Constitution,

"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 the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life. Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth. ... 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."

They differed from other union movements of the time by emphasizing decentralized organization as opposed to empowering leaders who would bargain with employers on behalf of workers. They were one of the few unions to welcome all workers including women, foreigners and black workers. Wobblies were condemned by politicians and in the Press who saw them as a threat to the status quo. Wobblies were arrested and killed for making public speeches. Considered to be one of the largest examples of anarcho-syndicalism in action in the United States.

The government used World War I as an opportunity to destroy the IWW. The IWW newspaper, the Industrial Worker, just before the declaration of war, wrote: ``Capitalists of America, we will fight against you, not for you! There is not a power in the world that can make the working class fight if they refuse. In September 1917, Department of Justice agents made simultaneous raids on forty-eight IWW meeting halls across the country. 165 IWW leaders were arrested for conspiring to hinder the draft, encourage desertion, and intimidate others in connection with labor disputes.

For a more of the history of the IWW, see Excerpts of IWW history from A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn

web site: http://www.iww.org