Industrial Workers of the World

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Industrial Workers of the World

The Industrial Workers of the World—also known as the IWW, or the Wobblies—is a radical Labor Union that had its beginnings in Chicago in 1905.

An outgrowth of the Western Federation of Mines, the IWW was created by william d. haywood, eugene v. debs, and Daniel DeLeon. Its membership was open to all work-ers, skilled or unskilled, with no restrictions as to race, occupation, ethnic background, or sex. The Wobblies opposed the principles of capitalism and advocated Socialism.They followed the tenets of syndicalism, a labor movement that evolved in Europe before World War I.The syndicalists sought to control industry through labor organizations. In their view the state represented oppression, which had to be replaced by the union as the essential element of society. To achieve their goals, the syndicalists advocated practices such as strikes and slowdowns.

The Wobblies adopted many of the ideologies of syndicalism and employed direct-action methods, such as propaganda, strikes, and boycotts. They rejected more peaceful means of achieving labor's goals, such as Arbitration and Collective Bargaining.

From 1906 to 1928, the IWW was responsible for 150 strikes, including a miners' strike in Goldfield, Nevada, from 1906 to 1907; a textile workers' strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts, in 1912; a 1913 silk workers' strike in Paterson, New Jersey; and a miners' strike in Colorado from 1927 to 1928.

During World War I, the IWW began to lose much of its strength. Its members were against the military, and many were convicted of draft evasion, seditious activities, and Espionage.In addition, many members left the organization to join the Communist party. By 1930, the IWW was no longer regarded as an influential labor force. Nevertheless, it still exists today.

Despite its radicalism, the IWW was responsible for several gains for organized labor. It brought together skilled and unskilled workers into one union; it achieved better working conditions and a shorter work week in many areas of labor, particularly in the lumber field; and it set a structural example that would be followed by future labor unions.

References in periodicals archive ?
Though they were a labor organization, the IWW made a valuable contribution to the defense of the First Amendment by forcing cities--usually after much blood had been shed--to allow them to soapbox in public.
Rexroth's involvement in the IWW was slight and sporadic.
revisionist account of the IWW already ascendant by the eighties: one
The IWW was the "greatest thing on earth" according to its members and devotees.
When the leaders of the IWW were put on trial for their activities against the First World War, one of them spoke to the court:
The mining West had been the Wobblies' stronghold since disgruntled leaders of the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) had founded the IWW in 1905.
was to conduct -- together with long-time Wobbly musician and activist Dakota Sid Clifford -- a seminar on the history of the IWW (Scarce, 1990: 82).
Margaret Loftus Ranald lists a play, no longer extant, about the IWW that was entitled G.
If historians have since provided richer accounts of immigrant workers' values, aspirations, and organizations, they have yet to surpass Dubofsky's analysis of what drew those workers to the IWW.
He provided free medical and dental care in working-class neighborhoods and backed trade unions and IWW strikes.
The UGW and the IWW were widely perceived as anti-Semitic, and both groups had a history of inflaming ethnic tensions.