Skip to main content

One Class--One Union

The division between the industrial unions must not be considered as walls keeping workers apart but as devices to unite them more effectively. In the I.W.W. all members are directly members of the I.W.W. itself, with voice and vote directly on their own industrial union affairs. They also have free universal transfer from the industrial union covering their last job to the industrial union covering the job to which they move, but with no voice or vote on the affairs of other industrial unions.

Our immediate job organization is the job or shop branch organizing the place where we work, and only those working on that job have any voice or vote on purely job issues. Each part is responsible for itself except that industrial unions must not adopt rules conflicting with the general constitution, and central and job branches must not adopt rules conflicting either with these or with the by-laws of their industrial union. The I.W.W. is not a federation or congress of industrial unions; it is One Big Union of the working class. The interrelationships of modern industry make any other structure inadequate for the needs of labor.

The One Big Union structure further avoids disputes about jurisdiction over workers whose classification is made doubtful by the complexities of modern production processes. For instance, it is desirable that all in the metal mining industry be in one union. But we find for example, that magnesium is obtained by chemical processes from sea water, first making milk of magnesia, then magnesium; that aluminum is obtained by electrolysis from the clay bauxite.

In a federation of industrial unions there would be grounds for argument in which union to put them. In One Big Union this is of no great consequence, and they can be organized in whatever way they find most convenient. Or again, if a concern making a general line of electrical equipment turns out radios as a sideline, all employees will be metal and machinery workers, while if another concern specializing in cabinet work of different types, also makes radios, these radio workers will be organized as furniture workers.

Next page: Industrial Departments