Until All Communications are Free
By x341697, with additions and modifications by x344543, 1998.
The right to free communications is a basic human right that people have fought and struggled for. This right is often taken for granted. The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) are well known for always being on the front lines of the Free Speech fight. Nearly a century since its founding, that proud tradition continues. The IWW seeks to organize whole industries into one big union, not several unions based on job description. Industrial Union (IU) 560 workers create and maintain the physical structure of the means for communication. Workers in this industry should consider their responsibility to keep open the free lines of interaction between our fellow human beings.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, one of the largest industries after tourism is communications and computers. These high-tech workers are also the people who are responsible for the maintenance and preservation of information. With widespread use of networked data systems becoming the norm, almost any information can be made accessible by anyone. However, there are people who would seek power by controlling information and its availability, including many leaders of church, state and industry. Information technology is being increasingly used against humanity for the profit of a few. The only effective way to organize against this is through worker control of the industry. With an organized computer and communications industry, we would be able to help our communities fight most any injustice.
WHO MAY JOIN THE TELECOMMUNICATION AND COMPUTER WORKERS UNION?
Any worker in the industry is welcome. Workers engaged in the installation, maintenance, and operation of all forms of radio, television, telephone, cable, internet, and satellite communications are part of the industry as well as computer programmers and operators. Technologies as recent as wireless data transfer and as old as telegraph communications make up the industry, as well as everyone in between. Together these different types of communication and information transfer form the network of communications that can keep us in contact with each other (if controlled and operated by the workers of the world) or keep us from contacting each other (if controlled by the bosses for profit).
The IWW has maintained a presence online since March of 1995, when the San Francisco IWW put up an Internet server named fletcher.iww.org (or, simply, iww.org).
The IWW was online many months before the AFL-CIO was, and from Day One has been putting the power of many-to-many communications into the hands of its rank-and-file membership. In 1997 and 1998, with the help of Local 23, the IWW grew that presence to a network of locally-based servers, representing a vastly increased base of Internet resources, all built on the worker-control model. They also provide the means for membership empowerment and education in 21st Century communications technologies. Today, that network continues to expand.
In addition to user accounts, the iww.org network also hosts a wide range of websites, both IWW-related and otherwise, plus public commentary, feedback and discussion areas, list archives, current and historical IWW and other materials, and tons of links to other IWW and rebel-worker websites. In July of 1996, the SF Bay Area IWW mounted one of the first cyber-picket pages in support of striking IWW computer hardware workers in the area (the strike was successful). The iww.org network also hosts numerous lists, both of an internal variety and also a wide range of globally available lists as further services to members and their communities.
MICRO POWER RADIO
Until recently, the Bay Area was a stronghold of unlicensed Micro Power radio, stations that operated using between five and forty watts of power, broadcasting between a one to twelve mile radius. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has (unconstitutionally) outlawed such communi-cation, claiming that micro power stations represent a threat to the public interest. However, in reality, the FCC concerns itself with the corporate interest, namely more and more communications resources controlled by fewer and fewer hands. The truth is that Micro Radio and a worker controlled communications network represents a threat to the corporate interest. Until 1999, a federal judge had ruled that the FCCs position might be unconstitutional, but she later sided with the corporate interest. As long as the FCC is willing to censor free communications in the corporate interest, and the Federal Government upholds these actions, workers will have few, if any rights. The Micro Radio movement is far from dead, however, and it can only be strengthened by industry-wide solidarity from other communications workers. Likewise, industrial solidarity can only be strengthened by a vibrant free, grassroots controlled communications network.
UNTIL ALL COMMUNICATIONS ARE FREE!
Modern communications revolutions such as Internet and the Free Radio movement promise an exciting new era of unprecedented free flow of communication between individuals, their communities and the world at large. Because of this, those seeking to monopolize a homogenize the media have waged a vicious series of campaigns of repression against this information boom. Reactionary politicians are continually proposing Big Brother regulations as a cover for when their corporate allies grab at all that our labor has produced. We advocate as a remedy and safeguard against this, the organization of communications and computer workers on the job. We seek this solution by building an IWW-style One Big Union (OBU) of all communication technologies workers, run by rank-and-file democracy. However, we do not mistake our industry as a replacement for the real work that this entails. Rather, we see the work before us as only one, albeit important, part of forming a wider social movement in order to effectively challenge and eventually dethrone the bosses. Additionally, we are proud and excited to be putting the power of these new technologies in the hands of the people. Ultimately, until we hold the means of communications in our collective and democratic control, nothing is as reliable as good old face-to-face communication. We're hoping to work with you in the future because we all have an important place in our collective liberation. In fact, we can't do it without you, so drop us a line or give us a call today. Let's hang up on the bosses for good!