Submitted on Tue, 07/26/2005 - 11:06pm
We can all agree that the AFL-CIO, and business unionism in general, is a dead-end for the working class in North America. We need a new international labor movement; one that is based on workers’ self-organization and on the recognition of the inevitable conflict between labor and capital.
We of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) have stayed close to our roots and feel that we have some ideas and lessons, learned from bitter experience, for such a new labor movement. We feel that a new labor movement will have to return to the strategies and tactics of the workers’ movement before it’s decent into the bureaucratic quagmire of business unionism if it is to go forward.
We have a few suggestions on how to proceed:
- Organize the unorganized into self-managed industrial unions. Unions built from the grass-roots by worker organizers. Unions run by the membership to address their own needs and aspirations on the job. Unions that are independent of government and political parties. Unions that welcome all wage workers and unemployed, regardless of nationality, race, gender, political or religious creed, sexual orientation, etc, on the basis of strict equality. Unions in which all officers are directly elected by those they serve and are immediately recallable by the membership. Unions in which remuneration for officers is tied to the average wage of the workers involved; where term limits for officers are strictly observed; and, where the officer returns to the job when their term in office is over. We call this Solidarity Unionism.
- Re-organize the miss-organized of the business unions via establishment of shop-committees that can take direct action on the job in pursuit of workers’ needs outside of the restrictions of legal collective bargaining agreements. We reject dues check-off because joining a union should be a conscious commitment to solidarity not a “condition of employment”. We reject no-strike deals because we need to be able to act to defend and extend our rights at every opportunity. We reject “management’s rights” because they are inimical to our own.
- Establish horizontal links between and among unions and shop committees to foster solidarity on a local, regional, national and international level. Build workers’ centers in every community to reach out to all sectors of the working class and unemployed, including their kids.
- Solidarity Unionism recognizes no restriction on what we should strive for. Health and safety at work, the environmental and social impact of what we produce, shorter and flexible hours of labor, universal health care - everything is fair game! Ultimately, we reject the employing class’s so-called ‘proprietary rights’. We want to gain control of the means of life!
We offer these ideas in the hope that the new labor movement that will necessarily emerge from the shipwreck known as business unionism can avoid the same mistakes of the past that have led us to the present impasse.
Submitted on Fri, 07/01/2005 - 6:57am
BERKELEY- Workers at the Ecology Center in Berkeley, known as Curbside, welcomed their new operations manager Friday July 1st, with a meeting to discuss their expectations of his conduct. As the new boss sat and listened, Fellow Workers Todd Miller and Dominic Moschella outlined their complaints.
Dominic handed over a maintenance sheet on every Curbside truck, filled out by the workers. “We want to see all the safety issue stuff taken care of within a week,” said Dominic.
Many of the trucks at Curbside have missing mirrors, broken turn signals, and bad rear view cameras. Many trucks are so old that they break down frequently, forcing the workers to complete their routes with fewer trucks.
“If there were an inspection, most of those trucks wouldn’t even leave the lot,” Todd told the boss.
The workers expect the safety issues to be corrected within a week, and non-safety issues to be cleared up within a reasonable time period.
The workers told the boss they wouldn’t tolerate management driving routes. “We voted unanimously,” said Todd. “Those are union jobs, and management should not be doing union work.”
Submitted on Tue, 06/28/2005 - 8:19pm
The following review was posted on the http://www.communicateordie.com/ site. Our responses to the (more or less positive criticism) are in italics -- intexile.
Submitted by Steve Dondley on Tue, 06/28/2005 - 3:39pm - Categories: Critiques
The International Workers of the World (IWW), the union that refuses to die, recently retooled its website and now has a 4 speed, dual-quad, Posi-Traction Drupal engine purring under the hood. Giddyup!
That's Industrial (--not International) Workers of the World, Steve.
What's amazing is that this small, independent union, with only about 1,200 dues paying members worldwide, now has a site more technologically sophisticated and interactive than most International unions hundreds of times its size. I took a brief look around the site. Here's my initial impressions.
This is a must have for any union site. It demonstrates to workers that the union has interest in fostering communication.
Again, another item that should be a staple of any union site to keep members apprised of upcoming events at a glance. The site also uses the newest version of Drupal's event module which lets you view only events you might be interested in.
It's obvious a lot of time was spent customizing the default templates that come with Drupal to give the site its own indentity. Though the rather ominous color scheme doesn't work for me, it might work for the Marxist workers the IWW tends to attract.
The IWW has always used red as its color, long before the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia in 1917 or the Anarchist Revolution in Spain in 1936. The IWW is unabashedly radical and we are 100% honest about it. We see no reason why we should not onw the color (just as people of color, or G/L/B/T people own the language used to describe them).
Drupal also has an ecommerce module that allows visitors to purchase products. Great way for generating more revenue and spreading the IWW culture.
We had the store on our previous site; it's not a Drupal Eccomerce module yet; but we'll have one soon!
Pay dues online
Awesome use of technology here. It's something the IWW needs, too, as they don't have dues checkoff on the job.
We've had this for awhile. The IWW was the second union in the world to even have a website (an Isreali Teacher's Union was the first), and we were definitely the first to allow people to join through our website.
Features ways to get involved
The site offers opportunities for workers to volunteer on various committees.
Again, this is truly awesome. Though this feature is standard in Drupal, they have made it very convenient. One click at the top of the screen and your site is rewritten in an entirely new language!
No, not quite; we wish that were true. Right now it must be posted in the chosen language to appear in that language. We're looking for that capability, though.
Central repository for graphics
The site has a central repository of graphics that can be used by the IWW's branch offices. However, I don't think the implemenation of it is that great (see "Need more user-friendly image repository" below).
See below for our response.
No blogs? Why not?
We're just getting set up! The blogs will be added soon.
Clip art on a site can only take you so far. I'd like to see some photos of IWW workers in action
We can only post the graphics that our members send us. As time goes on, we plan to encourage and use photos of workers engaged in organizing campaigns and demonstrations.
Many pages are too long
The site should use better use of Drupal's book module and chop the pages up into more digestable pieces.
The current site is built within the shell of the old (which had the longer pages). Most of the content featured here is from the older site. As time goes on these older, longer pages may be reorganized as Steve suggests.
No success stories
Where is the evidence of what IWW has done to help workers? Maybe I missed it and its buried deep down in the site. If so, that material should be made front and center.
The successes exist. They'll be featured soon. Is not the truckers campaign (which is accessible through the link in the "News, Strikes, and Alerts" story--sticky near the top) one such example?
No appeal to mainstream audience
The material on site is geared mostly to Marxists. Maybe that's their intention but I think they should at least make some attempt at explaining their position to a more mainstream audience.
The IWW is not a Marxist organization and our attempt is not specifically to appeal to "Marxists". In fact our goal is to appeal to rank & file workers. However we're unabashedly radical and anti-capitalist (that doesn't necessarily make us "Marxist" by the way). The IWW is not going to lie and claim to be something it isn't. We're nothing if not honest!
Newspaper articles aren't online
The IWW has a newspaper. At least some of the articles should be placed online.
We'll feature news articles soon. Bear with us Steve!
Must search for the search
search box is hidden behind a graphic.
It's at the top of the flippin' screen--GAWD! (with apologies to Napoleon Dynamite!)
Uses Microsoft Word document for distributing files
I'm being a hypocrite here, but a union like IWW should definitely have made a commitment to open, non-proprietary document formats.
Say What? We use Trustix Linux on our servers, Drupal for this Content Management System, and PDFs. To what MS documents are you referring (other than a few attachments that others sent us?)
Needs more user-friendly image repository
The currenly repository of images requires you to click on the link before seeing. This is tedious and time consuming. Why not use Drupal's excellent image module to display them?
Again, this is because we built this site within the shell of the old--which obviously didn't have such a feature. We'll transition to the Drupal module soon.
All-in-all Comrade Dondley's criticisms are constructive and positive. Thanks for sharing them, and we'll do what we can to make the IWW website the envy of business unions and an inspiration to rank & file workers everywhere!
We have added the "Communicate or Die" blog to our collection of RSS feeds. We hope that they will return the favor!
The original post is featured here: http://www.communicateordie.com/node/57
Submitted on Sat, 06/25/2005 - 8:19pm
By CIMC - DR
On June 27, 1905, 186 labor visionaries, including Lucy Parsons, Eugene V. Debs, Mary "Mother" Jones, William Trautmann, Vincent Saint John, and Ralph Chaplin gathered at Brand's Hall in Chicago to hear Western Federation of Miners organizer William D. "Big Bill" Haywood open the founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World with the following words: "Fellow workers...this is the Continental Congress of the working class. We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism". Some speech. Some union. The American labor movement would never be the same.
Nicknamed the Wobblies, the IWW sought to recruit unskilled and exploited immigrants, people of color, women and migrant farm workers who were excluded from craft unions of skilled workers organized by the AFL. Seeking to build the "One Big Union" across industrial lines, the IWW enthusiastically promoted the concept of working class solidarity by adopting the motto "An injury to One is an Injury to All", and the revolutionary tactics of direct action - which included sit down strikes, chain picketing, flying pickets, car caravans, and other organizing inovations. IWW organizing stretched from coast to coast - in factories, mills, mines, logging camps, agricultural fields, and shipping docks across the continent. Confronted with brutal attacks from both employers and the State, including the the murder of Wobbly activists [ 1 | 2 | 3 ] the union led "free speech" fights to defend the right of workers everywhere to organize, speak out and dissent. The IWW's vocal opposition to WWI also led to the arrest and imprisonment of 165 IWW organizers. In the decades that followed, the Wobblies continued to organize among marginalized workers - frequently ignored by mainstream business unions - and their vision of a militant, radical and democratic labor movement continues to inspire new organizing efforts to this day. An IWW Chronology
Now, one hundred years later, the IWW is gathering once again in Chicago to celebrate a rich legacy of struggle for the rights of working people. Read More