Contemporary IWW slang & lingo

Contemporary IWW slang & lingo

A glossary of currently used, mostly in the Twin Cities, IWW slang and lingo.

A much mentioned fact about the old IWW is the culture within the organization. Members re-appropriated popular songs and hymns for their own use, stuck up stickers like modern day street artists and...had their own specific jargon and slang for their experiences.

Today, some of that still exists. TLC's "No Scrubs" becomes a pro-working class "No Scabs". Cee-Lo's "Fuck You" becomes an anti-work anthem. Additionally, there is new jargon and slang. Most of these are limited to the Twin Cities, but some of them originated elsewhere, so I assume they are used elsewhere, too. None of these are official terms, just informal slang. For official definitions of acronyms, etc., see this handy guide.

100 Percenter - someone whose politics are 100% correct.

Autonomous Union Busting Collective - a group of 'anarchists' who informally organized themselves into a group that assisted management at Sisters Camelot, against the demands and union drive of the canvassers.

Boss Head - someone who acts like a boss, ordering people around and expecting people to obey their orders. Or a co-worker not in management, but who acts like it.

Building Up the Brand™ - a union member who seems to have an agenda of promoting themselves and their efforts over building other people up or advancing the IWW.

Broletariat/Brourgeoisie,etc - implicitly referencing an incident at a Minnesota/Canada IWW camping trip in the Iron Range where several foolish people made 'bro' leftist jokes for 8 hours straight. French CNTers who happened to be there were suitably horrified.

Casualty of the Class War - someone who has been obviously effected by years of hard life and hard living (drug addiction, alcoholism, undiagnosed mental illness) under capitalist society.

Class Snuggle - the act of revolutionaries snuggling together.

Class Struggle Robot - a Wobbly with superb administrative skills or someone whose whole life revolves around involvement in the class struggle

DAF-D (Down Ass Feminist Dude) - a dude that through their actions, proves they are a feminist. Automatically disqualifies if they call themselves one but have never 'walked the talk'.

FAF-D (Fake Ass Feminist Dude) - dudes who know how to speak in identity politics language but use that skill to sideswipe females through their superior knowledge of the discourse. FAF-D's are big bummers, people who use the language of feminism to dismantle feminism.

Gunslinger - someone who frequently goes into battle over listservs

Help the work along - participate or assist in an IWW project or campaign.

Hobby Wobbly - a Wobbly who likes the idea and history of the IWW, but never participates or 'helps the work along'.

IWW Patriot - someone whose commitment to the union or its principles is unquestionable. Won't sell out for a business union or go for something that is fundamentally bad for the IWW.

J Wobs - stands for 'Junior Wobblies', a camp for Wobbly youth that runs at the same time as Work People's College.

Old Beard - an older comrade (usually male, but not always) who dominates conversations or meetings with their ideas or their craziness.

One Month Wonder - someone who joins, usually online (as opposed to through a delegate), and only pays dues for one month before drifting away from official membership.

Paper branches - IWW branches which seemingly have little activity or member involvement, but have a relatively large official membership.

Paper members - IWW members who are never seen or heard from, but maintain their membership.

Probblies - a co-worker or someone you know who is close to joining, being a Wobbly in everything but official membership.

Potluck leftists - leftists who hold little interest in changing society and whose main activity is gossiping/shit-talking at their potlucks that only their friends are invited to.

Recomp - a blog run by a group of individual IWW members called Recomposition: Notes For a New Workerism.

Salt/Salting - getting a job somewhere specifically for the purpose of organizing.

Space committee - body of the Twin Cities IWW responsible for salting into the International Space Station. J/k, it's the committee responsible for our office.

The Organizer - formerly a print newsletter from the Twin Cities IWW, now a blog.

Ultra - someone who consistently takes the most 'revolutionary' or extreme position on a topic.

Union crush - someone in the union you admire because of their activity, experience, demeanor or reputation.

Posted By

Juan Conatz
Sep 28 2013 04:13


Attached files


klas batalo
Sep 28 2013 04:40

salting is hardly new or twin cities...

however erik rothgard's "seeding" is new and authentically TC.

Mr. T

Juan Conatz
Sep 28 2013 05:02

No one says 'seeding' here.

Sep 28 2013 18:54

I feared the worst when i clicked on the link but hats off, quality! Definitely a few keepers in that list :0)

FW Colt Thundercat
Sep 28 2013 22:37

I always assumed that "probblies" were co-workers that were down to join the IWW but were fucked up in one or many ways, as in, "oh yeah, you know Logan? Yeah, I know no one likes him on account of the racist jokes, but he keeps on telling everyone he wants to talk about starting a union. He's kinda a probbly."

Juan Conatz
Sep 28 2013 23:13

Could be. But I put these out publicly first, so my definition will stick!

Sep 29 2013 00:02

Sorry to jump your thread but we Aussies have some rad slang to. Over the years some Melbourne ones have been the insult 'autonomista-intelligencia', 'hackbeen' and 'prolier-than-thou' pretty self explanatory.

Sep 30 2013 21:23

I remember an old one from way back was "autonomaton" which was basically activist types who felt they could run around doing anything they wanted while holding an IWW banner and didn't have to answer to their comrades for it.

Another one that is pretty much Edmonton is "The Wobbly Special" which is a stunting ticket related to protest activity, often involving cars.

Oct 1 2013 02:54
EdmontonWobbly wrote:
I remember an old one from way back was "autonomaton" which was basically activist types who felt they could run around doing anything they wanted while holding an IWW banner and didn't have to answer to their comrades for it.

Another one that is pretty much Edmonton is "The Wobbly Special" which is a stunting ticket related to protest activity, often involving cars.

I'd forgotten that one!

kevin s.
Oct 6 2013 06:15

[edit for an anonymity issue i just noticed, probly not a big deal]

Yeah sorry to say klas, Juan is correct that nobody in the Twin Cities says "seeding"-- that's more of a [erik rothgardism] than a TC-ism. Anyway salting sounds less agricultural (and, granted, more like some weird Christian missionary slang).

Also Juan, I'm confused because at WPC I was explained that a DAFD is a phone and your list has it as a proven real feminist. Who is wrong or what am I missing??

Oct 4 2013 08:20
FAF-D's are big bummers

I guess this last word must mean something different to in the UK as well…

klas batalo
Oct 6 2013 04:33

yeah was just kidding about seeding...

Oct 27 2013 14:35

An old man told me that his authoLeft buddies and him did "seeding" in the 70s. Sorry TC you don't get that one!

Oct 27 2013 21:05

Seeding is old union term. Pre-dates prob everyone alive. Sad to see ASReholes left off.