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 ?
In contrast to the American Federation of Labor, the Wobblies embraced men and women of all ethnicities, and focused on the least skilled (of course, least skilled was often just a euphemism for least paid, as anyone who has tried to pick crops can attest).
further proof that the kind of social transformation the Wobblies sought
The Wobblies, facing the emerging problem of working people at the dawn of the twentieth century, saw the international mobility of labor as well as capital as inevitable; they looked not to the craftsmen but to the unskilled mass workers in giant factories or agricultural and extractive enterprises, as the central figures in labor's hopes; and unlike the Knights (who encompassed women and African-Americans but ruled against Asian immigrant workers), the IWW embraced every worker as a basic principle of solidarity.
If someone called your office and asked for help with the wobblies, you might refer him to a detoxification ward or public health clinic.
Besides the important religious intensity suggested, this phrase echoes the Wobblies' own demand for "One Big Union"--the Movement's slogan, if it ever had one.
At the turn of the century, the Industrial Workers of the World, or more affectionately the Wobblies, were undoubtedly the most flamboyant and colorful labor union in the United States, if not in the world.
About the AFL's flirtation with a British-style, proto--Labour Party political action committee and about the AFL's adoption of a platform calling for the "collective ownership by the people of all means of production and distribution." About the Wobblies and their fire-breathing, anarchosyndicalist movement after the turn of the century.
The author advises us to ignore the AFL's concessions to capitalist hegemony and the Wobblies' revolutionary rhetoric and focus on the workplace.
As with the Wobblies -- whose antipolitical actions exposed unfair working conditions of western US migrant workers, and influenced modern industrial unions -- and similar earlier anarchists, today's activists invent new cultural spaces in the shell of the old, and invert the machinery of law and meaning such that an automobile traffic sign becomes instead a sign of resistance to automobile traffic itself.
That would have been a humiliation for imperial power of historic proportions, like the famous scene the Wobblies organized to greet Woodrow Wilson after the Seattle general strike had been broken in 1919-workers and their families lining the streets block after block, standing in furious silence as his motorcade passed by.
He details the multiple and often-tortured relationships between groups such as the Wobblies, the Communist Party, and EPIC (End Poverty in California) and artists such as Jack London, John Steinbeck, and Upton Sinclair.
Kerouac was tremendously impressed with Snyder, not only by his verses, but by his varied interests, which included Native American cultures and oral literature, Tang Dynasty Chinese poets, the Wobblies, folksinging, mountaineering, skiing, and Zen meditation.