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Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.)

Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.)

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The Industrial Workers of the World was established in Chicago, in 1905, by members of the socialist-led Western Federation of Miners and other groups opposed to what they saw as "class collaboration" by the American Federation of Labor (A.F.L.).The driving force behind the I.W.W. Haywood, the leader of the Western Federation of Miners, which had established a reputation for work stoppages in Colorado mines. Joining Haywood at the launch of the I.W.W., which he described as the "first continental congress of the working class," were Eugene V. Debs of the Socialist Party and Daniel De Leon of the Socialist Labor Party. Also present were Mother Jones, the "angel of the miners," and Lucy Parsons, whose husband had been executed in the Haymarket affair.In the west, the ranks of I.W.W. When children found organizing necessary for their own protection — for example, in schools during a strike by their parents — contingents of "Junior Wobblies" were formed.From its inception in 1905, the I.W.W. advocated the use of sabotage, defining this concept according to its original meaning, "the withdrawal of efficiency." Thus, according to the Wobblies, even a strike was one form of sabotage. Their tenacious advocacy of direct action, often in opposition to collective bargaining, brought harsh criticism in some quarters, and ultimately resulted in labor laws aimed at curtailing such creative tactics.Haywood and the majority of the organization saw the union as the best mechanism for realizing social change. Haywood often spoke of the union as "socialism with its working clothes on." But De Leon and his followers had seen the I.W.W. Debs also left the organization, but remained sympathetic to its goals.In 1912, the I.W.W. In many states, simply possessing a red card signifying membership in the union was considered evidence of a crime.The I.W.W. members described World War I as a "boss`s war." But war fervor dominated the period, resulting in widespread disapproval of the Wobblies. A number of leaders were arrested under provisions of the Espionage Act, including Haywood, who skipped bail and escaped to Russia, leaving the union with an enormous debt. Others were convicted and sentenced to long prison terms.The hard line against the I.W.W. By the mid-1920s the combination of government repression, a split in the organization, and widespread defections of the membership to the Communist Party resulted in a significant loss of its organizing strength.The I.W.W. maintained a coherent critique of the A.F.L. and its principle of organization by craft. called its philosophy revolutionary industrial unionism, and many of its industrial unionism ideas were adopted by the C.I.O., which later joined the A.F.L. continues to organize today, although it is still struggling to build that "One Big Union" of all the workers.

Watch the video: Who Were Are the Wobblies? Part One (May 2022).


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