Industrial Workers of The World Philosophy and Tactics


Industrial Workers Of The World Philosophy And Tactics

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is a union of wage workers which was formed in Chicago in 1905 by militant unionists and their supporters due to anger over the conservatism, philosophy, and craft-based structure of the American Federation of Labor (AFL). Throughout the early part of the Twentieth century the philosophy and tactics of the Industrial Workers of the World were frequently in direct conflict with those of the American Federation of Labor (forerunner of the AFL-CIO) concerning the best ways to organize workers, and how to best improve the society in which they toiled. The AFL had one guiding principle—pure and simple trade unionism, often summarized with the slogan a fair day's pay for a fair day's work. The IWW embraced two guiding principles, fighting like the AFL for better wages, hours, and conditions, but also promoting an eventual, permanent solution to the problems of strikes, injunctions, bull pens, and union scabbing.

The AFL and the IWW (whose members are referred to as Wobblies) had very different ideas about the ideal union structure. While the AFL primarily organized workers into their respective crafts, the IWW was created as an industrial union – placing all workers in a factory, mine, mill, or other place of business into the same industrial organization. The IWW also promotes the class-based concept of One Big Union.

The IWW was formed by militant unionists, socialists, anarchists, and other labor radicals who believed that the great mass of workers are exploited by, and are in an economic struggle with, an employing class. The IWW employed a great diversity of tactics aimed at organizing all workers as a class, seeking greater economic justice on the job and, ultimately, the overthrow of the wage system which they believe is most responsible for keeping workers in subjugation. Such tactics are generally described as direct action, which is distinguished from other types of reform efforts such as electoral politics. IWW members believe that change accomplished via politics depends upon appeal to members of a ruling class who derive benefit from the subservient quiescence of the working class.

While other unions (such as the CIO) adopted form and tactics — notably, industrial unionism and the sitdown strike — which were developed or pioneered by the IWW, labor laws passed by legislatures have sought to steadily erode the range and diversity of methods employed by all labor organizations. Confronted with such obstacles, militant IWW members tend to believe in a return to a union philosophy that was common a century ago, in which unjust labor laws are challenged directly by union actions, rather than accepted as a framework within which the union must operate.

Read more about Industrial Workers Of The World Philosophy And Tactics:  Wobbly Understanding of The World, The Question of Political Action, Early Philosophy A Compromise, IWW Versus The AFL, The IWW Philosophy Evolves, Publicity and The Wobbly Image

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