Originally Published in the Industrial Worker #1748, September 2012:
This piece was written by FW Sasha, a 12-year-old member of the Junior Wobblies […].
In 1905 a group of workers founded the IWW. These workers wrote the “Preamble to the IWW Constitution” to explain why the IWW was started. It was written in 1905, which is more than 100 years ago! So it might be a little hard to understand. Someone wrote the “Annotated Preamble of the IWW Constitution” more recently. This is a little bit easier to understand for grown-ups but it isn’t written for kids. I’m going to try to explain the “Preamble” in a way that kids can understand.
“The working class and the employing class have nothing in common.”
There are two types of people in the world: workers and bosses. The two different kinds of people want two different things. Workers want better pay, a shorter time working, better and safer jobs, work that keeps the earth clean and safe, and the power to decide what they do with their work. Bosses want to make sure they get more money no matter how little they pay their workers or how dangerous the work is for the workers or the planet.
“There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things in life.”
It isn’t fair and really just doesn’t make sense that very few, very rich people have everything they want when tons of working people don’t even have the basic things they need.
“We find that the centering of management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class.”
There are other kinds of unions that only organize one kind of job or trade — that’s why they are called trade unions. There are a lot of good working organizers in trade unions, but trade unions themselves won’t lead to a revolution. Trade unions only unionize part of the workers and sometimes they even work against each other.
“An injury to one is an injury to all.”
In the IWW everyone is equal. It doesn’t matter what color their skin is or whether they are a boy or a girl. The IWW is not connected to any country, government, religion or business. If one person needs help organizing, everyone will help. The IWW is one big union.
“It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism.”
Capitalism is the system in which bosses make money off workers. No one can be equal when capitalism is the way the world is run. The reason capitalism thrives is because the bosses have power. They have power because they live off the work of the workers. If all the workers stopped working, the bosses would have no power.
“The army of production must be organized, not for the everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown.”
People should organize not only to deal with the bosses now, but also to get rid of capitalism. We can figure out how things will work when capitalism has been stopped.
“By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.”
How the IWW is organized is the way the world should be organized when capitalism is abolished. By organizing people now, we will have a base to organize from and we won’t have to start from scratch once capitalism has been stopped.