About Wobblies for a Revolutionary Union Movement
We are members of the Industrial Workers of the World and the IWW’s General Defense Committee who fight to build a revolutionary union movement in North America. We have built and participated in organizing committees and union drives, trainings and education projects, dual-card organizing and strikes, community defense campaigns and mass actions. We aim to make our union and its affiliated bodies a significant, strong, and revolutionary force within the entire working class and the struggles being waged in 2017 and beyond.
We are rooted in the revolutionary history of the IWW, including the heroic organizing campaigns, strikes, and free-speech fights. We find inspiration in figures like Lucy Parsons, Frank Little, Ben Fletcher, Carlo Tresca, and Judi Bari. We are proud of our union’s organizing at Starbucks, Jimmy John’s, Burgerville, Mobile Rail, CapTel, and in the schools and prisons. We are likewise proud of our strong participation in the “Battle of Seattle,” the Wisconsin General Strike effort, Occupy, the Quebec Student Strike, and the militant protests against police murder in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. We are also inspired by, and learn from, autonomous movements for Black liberation, Indigenous sovereignty, immigrants’ rights, against patriarchy and homophobia, and in defense of the environment. We recognize where these movements intersect with and strengthen the class struggle, and vice versa.
We reject the narrow trade-unionist, reformist, and organizationally chauvinist approach of the conservatives within the IWW that would leave us on the sidelines of working-class life and struggle. We seek to organize with the entire working class against all aspects of its oppression, and not just at work. Fear and sectarianism towards anything outside of historical abstractions will not cut it. History and struggle will continue to move forward; we must be able to move forward as a union with it.
The IWW is now at a crossroads – can we seize the moment?
Our Draft Program for the IWW in North America
Revolutionary Organizing in the Workplace and Across Industry
We aim to further develop our capacity to support organizing that combines the revolutionary aspirations of the class with immediate fights in the workplace. This includes struggles against racism, sexism, and all of the oppressions which define the specificities of working class experience. Our overall strategy will be built from the flexible and experimental experiences of our organizers, with the encouragement of wide-ranging debate and discussion across the union.
Build Working-Class Community Defense
The class struggle doesn’t punch out at the end of work, but is alive in our communities as well. We support the GDC’s efforts to take the Wobbly spirit of radical, direct action and horizontal organizing into the fights against police brutality, racist & fascist organizing, misogyny & homophobia, landlords & gentrification, and state repression. Experience has proven that militant struggles inside and outside of the workplace reinforce each other and strengthen the understanding, confidence, and self-organization of the working-class.
Establish a Revolutionary Current in the Labor Movement
The IWW has dozens if not hundreds of militants within the mainstream unions; we have made significant contributions to strikes and struggles at Canada Post, AT&T, Northwest Airlines, Porter Airlines, the University of Minnesota, and UPS. The IWW must establish a cross-union movement of revolutionary “dual-carders” that can strategically intervene in the wider labor movement as revolutionary solidarity unionists and sum up the lessons and experiences.
Support the Self-Organization of Incarcerated (and formerly Incarcerated) Workers
The prison-industrial complex forms a key part of North American white-supremacist capitalism. The emergence of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) alongside the broader movement of prisoners has placed the IWW at a key intersection of “the new Jim Crow” and must be vigorously supported by the union. Prisons, like slavery before it, must be abolished.
Invest Seriously in Spanish- and French-Language Outreach and Infrastructure
Spanish is the second language of the US working-class and French is spoken by the majority of workers in Quebec. Our union must be able to learn from, communicate and organize with them. The resources must be provided to move aggressively toward becoming a truly multilingual union. This will also build our capacity to organize with working class communities in other languages.
Strengthen Links with Other Revolutionary and Anarcho-syndicalist Unions across the World
Capitalism is an international system, and the workers are an international class. We must learn from and develop meaningful solidarity with revolutionary workers unions across the bosses’ borders. The initiative of the CNT in Spain and other revolutionary and anarcho-syndicalist unions should be engaged with to see what is possible, and to share our own lessons.
Reorganize the IWW Structure to Create a More Democratic and Dynamic Union
By overhauling our structure and replacing a top-heavy apparatus of a few isolated decision-makers with delegates accountable to and recallable by strong regional bodies, our union will become more accessible and responsive to its membership and its most dynamic organizing projects – and more capable of growth. The IWW should be led by rank-and-file organizers – not road-blocked by bureaucrats.
Encourage A Union-wide Culture of Experimentation, Learning, and Growth
We believe that our union needs to be open to new ideas and new forms of organizing in order to grow. To do this, we need to be open to new organizational forms, new tactics, and new strategies for building the IWW into a fighting working-class organization. We welcome experiments at building industry-based branches and committees, but we are against any dogmatic insistence on specific organizational forms, tactics, or strategies as the only valid way to build our union.
Cease Enabling or Tolerating Racist, Sexist, or Oppressive Behavior within the IWW
We will not mince words: there is no place for racism, sexism and oppressive behavior within the IWW. We believe in accountability and restorative justice, but those concepts require a serious, organization-wide commitment, not just lip service. This requires a combination of structural and cultural changes in the organization. Failing to confront oppressive behavior is unacceptable.
Develop A Revolutionary Program for the IWW
The IWW needs to develop a comprehensive revolutionary program based on broad input from membership, which can be periodically revisited and improved. This should not be based only on the ideas of any particular group of members (including us). The process of creating a revolutionary program should be a major opportunity for education, discussion and debate across the membership of the organization – this is our initial contribution towards that process.
Finn Connolly – Washington, DC
Travis Elise – Chicago
Jo – Raleigh/Durham
Juicy Parsons – Twin Cities
Joe Hillbilly – Kansas City
Bethany – Washington, DC
Emmett – Twin Cities
Brandon – Atlanta
Danielle – Baltimore
Kieran – Twin Cities
Derek – Tampa Bay
Charlotte – Toronto
shugE – Twin Cities
Ben – Baltimore
Erik – Twin Cities
Brad – Kjipuktuk (Halifax)
Kris Warner – Tampa
Jack – Asheville
Cole – Oakland
Cal – Twin Cities
Jason – Ottawa-Outaouais
Amanie – Montreal
Anja – Twin Cities
Alan – Milwaukee
Jeb – Northeast US
Fernando – Northwest Arkansas
Sam Esse – Portland
Dottie – NC
Luisa – Tidewater
Ilya – NYC
Q – Asheville
Leah – Milwaukee
Kristen – Twin Cities
L. Waters Hyde – NYC
Ryan – Denver
Bill – Milwaukee
Alec – Tampa Bay
Hasanah – Twin Cities
Nino – Tar River GDC Local 89
Sunny – Toronto