The IWW grassroots direct action unionism in 5 easy steps

originally written by Bristol IWW

1. You’re having problems at your workplace. You may not be getting your correct pay, or your correct sickness pay, or holiday entitlement, but you are unsure what to do because you haven’t got anything written, or you do but it doesn’t make any sense to you and nobody has bothered to explain it to you.

You want to do something about it, but you don’t really know what your rights are and what the law says. You may be bullied, harassed or intimidated by colleagues and/or managers, and feel isolated and depressed. Or, perhaps, you may actually like your job, get on with your colleagues and not have any problems at all with it. You may be unemployed, or a student or a retired person. You may think you have nothing in common with people in different circumstances, but we think you do: we think you should all join the IWW. In the IWW we believe that whether you are in work or not right now, you are still part of a society based on paid work and as such you will be affected by it at some point or other.

In the IWW we believe you don’t join the union only when you have a problem that you need an “expert” to fix; we think you should join anyway because being in a grassroots union is a key element of being involved and engaged with the world you live in. We think everyone has the right to take control and power back over their lives and work. We think everyone has the right to learn about employment rights and legislation and become their own “expert”. We become “experts” through formal training courses in casework and organising, but mostly we learn informally, by sharing knowledge and skills and supporting each other. We are grassroots, we are democratic, and we are fighters.

2. You are a member now, and suddenly you do have problems in your workplace. Your manager may have decided to change your terms and conditions and demanded you to accept. You may notice you are not getting paid all the hours you are working. You may be under a lot of stress and pressure at work and have to take time off work sick because of it. Who you gonna call? The Wobblies! You arrange to meet with one of our caseworkers and go through things with them. You finally have someone to talk to who will listen to you and give you guidance and support, help you understand the law and what to do.

In the IWW we believe in EMPOWERMENT not delegation: we don’t do things FOR you, we do things WITH you. Once you have a clearer idea of the options available to you, it is up to you to decide what steps to take, knowing that the IWW will have your back. The IWW can help you in many different ways, from standard workplace procedures such as grievances and disciplinaries to more complex casework such as supporting you to take your case to an Employment Tribunal if appropriate. All these words and expression may mean nothing to you at the beginning, and you may feel overwhelmed by it all, but slowly, with the help of your IWW rep, you will become your own “expert”. You will start to understand, learn and feel empowered: knowledge is power.

3. So, your case is ongoing and we are following the standard procedures. We may be supporting to write formal demands to your employer, attending meetings alongside you, helping you to find a good solicitor, advocating on your behalf with your employer or other organisations (such as ACAS).

Sometimes though things don’t work, maybe because your employer is not responding, or because the nature of your employment is such that standard procedures are not appropriate. So, what happens then? Simple: we use direct action. We get together, because together we are stronger, and we get your case “out there”. We may ask people to call or write to your employer and complain about they way they are treating you. We may ask for a boycott of the company you are working for. We may get in touch with local and national press to publicise your case. We may hold a demonstration at your workplace until your employer meets your demands.

This is what we have done recently for one of our members who had her wages withheld by the cafe she worked at. And just in case you are wondering, yes, it did work: direct action does get the goods! Read our report about it “What’s outrageous? Unpaid wages!”.

4. All is over now, your employer has seen sense and you are in the pub celebrating with the Wobblies and your friends. You will feel knackered. You will also feel thrilled, energised, inspired. You will look at yourself in the mirror and know you have had the guts to stand up for your rights, no matter how stressful it has been. You have learned that you are not alone, and you will never feel alone again when standing up to your boss because the IWW will always have your back. So, what next? Well, if you haven’t already done so, you could complete our training courses in casework and organising. You will now have the knowledge and skills to support people in the same situation, and you will have a personal understanding of how it feels to have a dispute with your employer and WIN. The sky is our only limit, for us Wobblies!

5. How do you join? Online, here: http://www.southernmaineiww.org/join. If you want to have a chat beforehand, contact us here first: http://www.southernmaineiww.org/contact

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Industrial Worker – Issue #1764, April 2014

The Industrial Worker is the official (English language) newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) revolutionary labor union.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/216033460/Industrial-Worker-Issue-1764-April-2014

Headlines:
* Striking Workers At Boston Insomnia Cookies Win Settlement
* Portland IWW Fights Wage Theft
* Indiana IWW Celebrates One Year As A Branch

Features:
* Miami IWW: Fighting Back In High-End Hotels
* Exposed: The Adjunctification Of Higher Education
* Solidarity Unionism In Iceland

Industrial Worker – Issue #1762, January/February 2014

Headlines:

  • Bakers Rising: NYC IWW Bakery Workers Fight For Better Jobs
  • Starbucks Workers Take Global Action
  • Police Brutality At IWW Picket In Boston

Features:

  • Special: Miners’ Struggles & British Syndicalism
  • Organizing: Life And Labor In The Day Labor Industry
  • Obituaries: Farewell FWs Justin Vitiello & Mick Renwick

Download a Free PDF of this issue.

Industrial Interdependence and Industrial Unionism

On how many workers does your lifestyle — even your survival — depend?

The food you eat today — how many workers helped to plant it, to tend it, to pick it, to process it, to ship it, and to sell it to you?

The clothing you wear — how many workers helped to grow or to synthesize the fibers, to design the style, to manufacture the garments, to market it in stores, and so on?

The buildings you inhabit — how many workers helped to mine, to fell, and to synthesize the raw materials, to refine them, to bring them to market, to study the engineering physics, to plan the area, and to raise and to furnish the structures?

For that matter, how many workers helped to design and to build the infrastructure that enabled it all to happen — the equipment, the transportation systems, the communications systems, the power systems, water systems, etc.? And how many workers helped to feed, to clothe, and to shelter them?

Even just by examining the supply chains of these most basic of industrial activities, we stumble upon an astonishingly vast network of millions of workers laboring in numerous industries around the world, interdependent on each others’ activities. And yet they are disorganized!

Zoom in for a closer look to see that workers in all of these industries squabble amongst each other over every conceivable point of division: race, ethnicity, religion, gender, and so on. Even rival trade unions vie for work and scab against each other. Meanwhile, an owning class of bosses and their agents claim ownership of the workers’ products and make all of the key decisions about the ways in which industrial civilization will progress. This is no good! Workers’ priorities are misplaced.

Greater efficiency, lower environmental impact, greater responsibility, more dignity, and indeed less work for everyone are possible when this waste is eliminated. The workers of the world are the only ones who can unionize to realize this goal, and the IWW has a program to accomplish it: uniting all workers by industry into the same union and using the resulting leverage (as exercised, for instance, in a general strike) to force the 1% who own and rule the world to do productive work like everyone else. We call this revolutionary industrial unionism.

As a worker, you probably feel like you’re too worn down, exhausted, and you have too many neglected dreams to be able step up and do something about it. But deep down, you know it’s not just important but vital that this shift happen. No more lakes can be polluted, no more houses foreclosed, no more lives wasted. Something has to give.

How long do we have? We have until the next Fukushima disaster, the next water supply destroyed by fracking, the next eviction that culminates in a drug-induced suicide. It doesn’t have to be this way. The wage system must be abolished, and workers must take charge of industry, operating it at cost to meet human need, not for profit. Join the IWW today to take a step toward achieving this.