Industrial Workers of the World

international union founded in 1905
(Redirected from IWW)

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), members of which are commonly termed "Wobblies", is an international labor union that was founded in 1905 in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. The union combines general unionism with industrial unionism, as it is a general union whose members are further organized within the industry of their employment. The philosophy and tactics of the IWW are described as "revolutionary industrial unionism", with ties to both socialist and anarchist labor movements. The IWW was notable among the labor union movements for its prominent figures Bill Haywood and Joe Hill, radical leftism, and its role in numerous major strikes such as the Textile Strikes.

Quotes edit

  • Deliver us from the greed and graft that exist in this nation and from the parasites who neither toil nor spin, but bedeck their persons with finery until they glitter in the gloming like a rotten dog salmon afloat in the moonlight.
    • "The Outcasts Prayer" [1]
  • Deliver us from a country where man is damned for the dollar and the dollar is deemed the man[2]
  • You scoff at the rebel and lynch him till' dead
    But I was an outcast and they called me a "Red."
    You call me Christ Jesus with intelligence dim
    But I was a Rebel called Jerusalem slim
    And my brothers: the outcast, the rebel and the tramp.[3]
  • We shall laugh to scorn your power that now holds the South in awe;
    We shall trample on your customs, we shall spit upon your law;
    We shall outrage all your temples, we shall blaspheme all your gods.-
    We shall turn your slavepen over the plowman turns the clods!.
    • "Us the Hoboes and Dreamers" (1912), Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology, p. 260

Quotes about the Industrial Workers of the World edit

  • The IWW's founding convention in 1905 featured a marquee lineup of the twentieth century's most famed-and in some cases, notorious-leftist labor luminaries. People whose words and faces were known far and wide (and in one case, seen on the covers of magazines) during their respective eras, from the Western Federation of Miners' Big Bill Haywood and Vincent Saint John, to American Railway Union president Eugene V. Debs and United Mine Workers organizer Mary Harris "Mother" Jones.
  • Through our house there came the dissidents, the brave exploded root, the radicle. I think the IWWs had the greatest influence on me: They believed that only from the working class could come the poets and the singers, the prophets, the heroes, and the martyrs. They rode the trains with their red membership cards and gathered wherever there was an attack upon their fellow workers. When they came to our house to recuperate, eat, and take a bath, they told hair-raising tales about riding the freights, the wheat fields, the docks of San Diego, the timber workers, the free speech fights in Seattle. They knew which were the best prisons to stay in all winter to learn, read, and eat till spring.
  • The Industrial Workers of the World never brought about their revolution. Despite the IWW's internal problems, the state's intolerance for even moderate challenges to employer authority, not to mention those fighting to overthrow capitalism, meant that these radicals never had a chance to create the idealized would they sought. But the IWW provided hope and organizing expertise to workers who had none. It organized across the nation's racial divisions like no union had done before. It took on the most oppressive employers and sometimes won. The IWW advanced a radical critique of American capitalism that influenced another generation of radicals to come. It played a critical role in teaching American workers how to use radical ideas to advance an agenda that effectively challenged capitalism, laying the groundwork for the working class of the next generation to finally win dignity and respect.
    • Erik Loomis, A History of America in Ten Strikes (The New Press, 2018) p. 111
  • In 1905, when she was invited to appear at the founding convention of a new radical industrial union christened the Industrial Workers of the World, Lucy Parsons thought she'd found her niche once again. Unfortunately, she realized that the other founders saw her as more of a mascot than a comrade.
  • The Industrial Workers of the World, an organization launched in Chicago last June, is making wonderful progress in all parts of the country, and in practically every industry. This is as it should be, because the IWW is organized along the lines of the evolution of capitalism, which is so organized, that under one head or one management, whole lines of industry are conducted, reaching from ocean to ocean or from Maine to Mexico. So that the freight-handler working in the freight yards in San Francisco is affected when the longshoreman in New York City asks for better conditions from the employer, and he must be prepared to back his brother up in his just demand…It is the mission of the IWW to teach the laboring classes their solidarity of interest as a mass and, how they in future must act as a class, in order to win in their contests with capital. The line of action of the IWW is in direct contrast to that of the AFL, whose members are compelled to “scab” on each other when a strike of any dimension is declared
  • In the brief span of its life, the IWW produced men who became internationally known and whose names were torches of inspiration in many lands. Most of them paid a high price for their fame, some with their lives. Frank Little and Wesley Everest were lynched. Joe Hill, the poet and song-writer, was executed. Bill Haywood, out of prison on bail while his war-time conviction was being appealed, was persuaded by New York Communists that world revolution was just around the corner and that he was needed in it. He skipped bail and fled to Russia, only to be relegated to the sidelines, and to die there a broken man...The IWW was much more of a revolutionary organization than a labor union-and frankly so...It was characteristic of IWW meetings that after the last speech had ended and the applause had died down, the audience would break up into circles, to continue discussing the subject, and later each circle would sing its favorite song. Gradually the circles would merge, and finally each man present, his arms over another's shoulders, would join in Joe Hill's best-known ballad, The Preacher and the Slave.
  • The term "Wobbly", said to have been fastened on the I. W. W. members in derision by a Los Angeles editor, had been adopted by them with enthusiasm.

References edit

External links edit