Wobblies for a Revolutionary Union Movement

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Aug 9 2017 20:54
Wobblies for a Revolutionary Union Movement
Wobblies for a Revolutionary Union Movement wrote:

About Wobblies for a Revolutionary Union Movement

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We are members of the Industrial Workers of the World and the IWW's General Defense Committee who fight to build a revolutionary union movement in North America. We have built and participated in organizing committees and union drives, trainings and education projects, dual-card organizing and strikes, community defense campaigns and mass actions. We aim to make our union and its affiliated bodies a significant, strong, and revolutionary force within the entire working class and the struggles being waged in 2017 and beyond.

 

We are rooted in the revolutionary history of the IWW, including the heroic organizing campaigns, strikes, and free-speech fights. We find inspiration in figures like Lucy Parsons, Frank Little, Ben Fletcher, Carlo Tresca, and Judi Bari. We are proud of our union's organizing at Starbucks, Jimmy John's, Burgerville, Mobile Rail, CapTel, and in the schools and prisons. We are likewise proud of our strong participation in the "Battle of Seattle," the Wisconsin General Strike effort, Occupy, the Quebec Student Strike, and the militant protests against police murder in the Twin Cities and elsewhere. We are also inspired by, and learn from, autonomous movements for Black liberation, Indigenous sovereignty, immigrants’ rights, against patriarchy and homophobia, and in defense of the environment. We recognize where these movements intersect with and strengthen the class struggle, and vice versa.

 

We reject the narrow trade-unionist, reformist, and organizationally chauvinist approach of the conservatives within the IWW that would leave us on the sidelines of working-class life and struggle. We seek to organize with the entire working class against all aspects of its oppression, and not just at work. Fear and sectarianism towards anything outside of historical abstractions will not cut it. History and struggle will continue to move forward; we must be able to move forward as a union with it.

 

The IWW is now at a crossroads - can we seize the moment?

 

Our Draft Program for the IWW in North America

 

  1. Revolutionary Organizing in the Workplace and Across Industry

We aim to further develop our capacity to support organizing that combines the revolutionary aspirations of the class with immediate fights in the workplace. This includes struggles against racism, sexism, and all of the oppressions which define the specificities of working class experience. Our overall strategy will be built from the flexible and experimental experiences of our organizers, with the encouragement of wide-ranging debate and discussion across the union.

 

  1. Build Working-Class Community Defense

The class struggle doesn't punch out at the end of work, but is alive in our communities as well. We support the GDC's efforts to take the Wobbly spirit of radical, direct action and horizontal organizing into the fights against police brutality, racist & fascist organizing, misogyny & homophobia, landlords & gentrification, and state repression. Experience has proven that militant struggles inside and outside of the workplace reinforce each other and strengthen the understanding, confidence, and self-organization of the working-class.

 

  1. Establish a Revolutionary Current in the Labor Movement

The IWW has dozens if not hundreds of militants within the mainstream unions; we have made significant contributions to strikes and struggles at Canada Post, AT&T, Northwest Airlines, Porter Airlines, the University of Minnesota, and UPS. The IWW must establish a cross-union movement of revolutionary "dual-carders" that can strategically intervene in the wider labor movement as revolutionary solidarity unionists and sum up the lessons and experiences.

 

  1. Support the Self-Organization of Incarcerated (and formerly Incarcerated) Workers

The prison-industrial complex forms a key part of North American white-supremacist capitalism. The emergence of the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) alongside the broader movement of prisoners has placed the IWW at a key intersection of "the new Jim Crow" and must be vigorously supported by the union. Prisons, like slavery before it, must be abolished.

 

  1. Invest Seriously in Spanish- and French-Language Outreach and Infrastructure

Spanish is the second language of the US working-class and French is spoken by the majority of workers in Quebec. Our union must be able to learn from, communicate and organize with them. The resources must be provided to move aggressively toward becoming a truly multilingual union. This will also build our capacity to organize with working class communities in other languages.

 

  1. Strengthen Links with Other Revolutionary and Anarcho-syndicalist Unions across the World

Capitalism is an international system, and the workers are an international class. We must learn from and develop meaningful solidarity with revolutionary workers unions across the bosses’ borders. The initiative of the CNT in Spain and other revolutionary and anarcho-syndicalist unions should be engaged with to see what is possible, and to share our own lessons.

 

  1. Reorganize the IWW Structure to Create a More Democratic and Dynamic Union

By overhauling our structure and replacing a top-heavy apparatus of a few isolated decision-makers with delegates accountable to and recallable by strong regional bodies, our union will become more accessible and responsive to its membership and its most dynamic organizing projects - and more capable of growth. The IWW should be led by rank-and-file organizers - not road-blocked by bureaucrats.

 

  1. Encourage A Union-wide Culture of Experimentation, Learning, and Growth

We believe that our union needs to be open to new ideas and new forms of organizing in order to grow. To do this, we need to be open to new organizational forms, new tactics, and new strategies for building the IWW into a fighting working-class organization.  We welcome experiments at building industry-based branches and committees, but we are against any dogmatic insistence on specific organizational forms, tactics, or strategies as the only valid way to build our union.

 

  1. Cease Enabling or Tolerating Racist, Sexist, or Oppressive Behavior within the IWW

We will not mince words: there is no place for racism, sexism and oppressive behavior within the IWW. We believe in accountability and restorative justice, but those concepts require a serious, organization-wide commitment, not just lip service. This requires a combination of structural and cultural changes in the organization. Failing to confront oppressive behavior is unacceptable.

 

  1. Develop A Revolutionary Program for the IWW

The IWW needs to develop a comprehensive revolutionary program based on broad input from membership, which can be periodically revisited and improved. This should not be based only on the ideas of any particular group of members (including us). The process of creating a revolutionary program should be a major opportunity for education, discussion and debate across the membership of the organization - this is our initial contribution towards that process.

 

Signatures

Finn Connolly - Washington, DC
Brianna - Kansas City
Travis Elise - Twin Cities
Jo - Raleigh/Durham
Kris - Tampa Bay
Juicy Parsons - Twin Cities
Joe Hillbilly - Kansas City
Bethany - Washington, DC
Emmett - Twin Cities
Brandon - Atlanta
Danielle - Baltimore
Kieran - Twin Cities
Derek - Tampa Bay
Charlotte - Toronto
shugE - Twin Cities
Ben - Baltimore
Jesse - Toronto
Erik - Twin Cities
Brad - Kjipuktuk (Halifax)
Jess - NYC
Nick - Twin Cities
Courtney - Chicago
Cole - Oakland
Cal - Twin Cities
Jason - Ottawa-Outaouais
Amanie - Montreal
Anja - Twin Cities
Thomas - Toronto

syndicalist
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Aug 10 2017 01:24

I gather in competition with the Industrial Union Caucus
https://libcom.org/library/industrial-unionist-caucus-statement

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Aug 10 2017 04:06

Why do you say that?

syndicalist
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Aug 10 2017 04:14
OliverTwister wrote:
Why do you say that?

It's obvious from reading each other's stuff.

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Aug 10 2017 14:58

WRU reflects one "side" of a now 9 month conflict in the North American IWW. One could broadly refer to it as the side that has been accused of being First of May Anarchist Alliance controlled. It has been slurred as "activist" and "decentralist", as well as "sexist".

The Industrial Unionists I suppose reflect the other side, which has been accused of being Recomposition and Communist League of Tampa controlled. It has been slurred as "conservative" and "centralist", as well as "racist".

That's where the level of debate on most issues are right now in the North American IWW.

syndicalist
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Aug 10 2017 16:28

As one who actually "likes" to read these sorts of documents, etc., as they really do give insights into peoples thoughts, the two are quite different in two spectacular ways: Debate/discussion approach and tone of that presentation.

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Aug 10 2017 16:44

Yeah two of those RUM articles are pretty deeply dishonest as a minimum.

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Aug 10 2017 16:57
syndicalist wrote:
As one who actually "likes" to read these sorts of documents, etc., as they really do give insights into peoples thoughts, the two are quite different in two spectacular ways: Debate/discussion approach and tone of that presentation.

Very true. But there has been no shortage of over-the-top, scorched earth rhetoric, accusations, threats and insinuations from both "sides". Most of that stuff just hasn't been easily available publicly until now, though.

Also, while WRU involves most of the major people involved in the conflict internally on that side, the Industrial Unionists only seemingly involves a few of the major people on the other side. So knowing those things may explain the difference in the approach and tone that is obvious to see.

syndicalist
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Aug 10 2017 17:12
Juan Conatz wrote:
syndicalist wrote:
As one who actually "likes" to read these sorts of documents, etc., as they really do give insights into peoples thoughts, the two are quite different in two spectacular ways: Debate/discussion approach and tone of that presentation.

Very true. But there has been no shortage of over-the-top, scorched earth rhetoric, accusations, threats and insinuations from both "sides". Most of that stuff just hasn't been easily available publicly until now, though.

Also, while WRU involves most of the major people involved in the conflict internally on that side, the Industrial Unionists only seemingly involves a few of the major people on the other side. So knowing those things may explain the difference in the approach and tone that is obvious to see.

The "sad thing" about being around "so long" is I know a number of people on "both sides". I get that aspect. As often I do when figuring some of this stuff out, be it in this instance and the "other" (international) one as well. There will always be private and public discussions and presentations. I guess, when one "goes public" (as in external public in this case), really choosing the style, manner and form of presentation is important. Personally, name calling has never been my style and I am always amazed that people (across the board) continue to think its a way to gain friends and allies.

Edit: Yes, it's obvious that the two have different perspectives and seemingly arguing for the IWW membership to support the one each side is arguing for.

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Aug 10 2017 19:05

Point of clarification. The IUC hasn't engaged in any scorched earth over the top stuff. A lot of people think that folks are in the IUC that aren't. A lot of people think that the IUC is anti-GDC which it isn't.

The RUM appears to have a vested interest in portraying it's fight in terms of "Anti-GDC" because that is their opportunity to endear them to who they view as their base. It's pretty insulting that they call the IUC racists and homophobes without a shred of evidence, when the most "anti-GDC" policy the IUC proposed was to make the GDC a full committee of the union, instead of keeping it separated.

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Aug 10 2017 19:53

I have no idea how formal the Industrial Unionists are or who exactly is involved. Regardless, they now more or less, whether they like it or not, represent or are associated with "the other side". As a bystander that has had to watch this stuff whether I like it or not, both sides have conducted themselves in a similar fashion.

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Aug 10 2017 20:52

https://industrialunionism.org/about/

There's the IUC website. No homophobia, no racism, no anti-GDC stuff.

I'm not talking about what people say on FB or some listserv. I'm talking about what an official publication of a group of people stamps its name on and says "Yeah, that represents our best intentions and ambitions."

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Aug 10 2017 21:04

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Aug 10 2017 21:19

I don't think it's fair for the Industrial Unionists Caucus to he associated with or seen as representative of the "anti-GDC" side. I'd agree there has has been idiocy on both sides of the debates, but IUC seems to be looking beyond the GDC debate and trying to develop an effective strategy for the union to build itself.

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Aug 10 2017 21:28

Maybe it isn't fair, but there are many things that are not fair. Life isn't fair. Internal struggles in a leftist organizations are always not fair.

I don't know if the people directly involved and part of the Industrial Unionist Caucus are part of that side that has done just as much to contribute to the current atmosphere of the IWW. However, that is how the IUC is being seen and seemingly how the WFRU people are responding to them, with that in mind.

At this point, there is no way to avoid getting this type of stuff slung at you unless you choose non-participation in the debate.

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Aug 10 2017 21:29

For comparison: https://industrialunionism.org/aims-and-principles/


Industrial Unionists Aims & Principles

Principles

1. We are IWW fundamentalists. The organization of the IWW comes from the concrete experiences of workers. To simply write off experiences inside or outside the IWW is to ignore vital lessons. Failures and successes need to be soberly and collectively accounted for, not dismissed as the result of ‘exogenous variables’. Our failures are our own, but so too, are our successes.

2. We are here to do the IWW’s Work; no more, no less. This doesn’t mean that other work is unimportant. But a tool is most effective when it is tailored to a particular use. We’re in the I.W.W. because we know that politics in our society is a reflection of the battle between workers and capitalists; and if we want to organize and educate workers, there is no better place to start than the workplace.

3. We stand for industrial organizing. Alone, workers have no power, but together, we have all the power in the world. Industrial organizing links all the workers under one employer and across multiple employers in the same industry. This provides the maximum ability to disrupt production and distribution, and therefore maximizes our power. This also pushes for the radical integration of the working class across lines of race or gender. Finally, industrial organizing puts us on a more advantageous terrain than many other unions who undercut the bargaining power of their own members by splitting organizing along arbitrary lines.

4. The General Membership Branch (GMB) and Brand organizing models are dead ends and need to be scrapped for industrial models. General Membership Branches (GMBs) disperse both union resources and responsibility. GMB’s are not formally accountable to the broader organization, and neither are their failures or the resources they waste. We argue that the industrial model ought to gather the resources of members and democratically identify weak points in an industry to build our forces. A hammer and a nail function well because they concentrate a high amount of force on one very small point, maximizing the impact of that force. It is through the methodical driving of nails that the frames of buildings are built. The same is true for building an effective union. The purpose of organization is to amplify and concentrate the resources of the members so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

5. Localism and activism in the IWW is a detriment to building working class power. General Membership Branches also encourage activism. When the isolated campaigns which GMB’s take on inevitably fail, members look for some short cut to revitalization – Earth First!, Food Not Bombs, Pacifism, Anti-Globalisation, Antifa, etc. These might bring in some new members for a while, but ultimately they are no substitute for a winning model of union organization. Without organization at work, political problems facing workers cannot be adequately addressed; and if we can’t adequately address these political problems, inviting workers to join on that basis is dishonest.

6. The abolition of wage labor means the abolition of the existing order. We don’t want to manage a ‘better’ capitalism. We want to collectively plan production and distribution for all. Cooperatives provide glimpses of a better world, but without the working class taking over society, they only treat the symptoms, not the whole disease.

7. We are radical integrationists. The aim of the I.W.W. is to unite the working class in open cooperation against the capitalist class. That means that we must defy the ruling myths of the capitalist class; whether religious, ethnic, racial, or gendered, which seek to endear workers to their exploiters. We see the union as the first place to build the type of integrated working class community we want to see advance against capitalism.

8. Strategy is as vital as tactics. The I.W.W. has a recent habit of making tactics a matter of principle. For example; the general strike is the only way to stop capitalism; face-to-face dues collection is the only principled way to collect dues; volunteer labor is the only principled way to conduct union organizing. Each of these is not a principle, but a tactic. Principles are fundamental truths about the world based on observation. Tactics are methods deployed to accomplish relatively discrete aims. Tactics aim to confront the problems we face in accordance with our principles. Finally, strategy is how we fit together a series of tactics and maneuvers to accomplish a given goal. The I.W.W. has developed effective tactics for building workplace committees over the past 10 years or so. But it has failed to fit these tactics into an overarching strategy resulting in quantifiable and consistent results. Strategy is the ‘what we want’ question while tactics (in their combinations as suggested by the strategy chosen) are ‘how we will get what we want’. If we want stable industrial unions of thousands of workers committed to I.W.W. principles, then we must begin to put together tactics of organizing which will accomplish that strategic end.

Aims

Below are aims which our caucus seeks to accomplish. Put simply, these are tasks that we would like to see completed as quickly as possible. A core part of the work of this caucus will be gathering and mobilizing member support for these efforts, either as resolutions and amendments, or coordinating members to volunteer the labor. We’re aware that many of these are under way, and so our purpose is to call attention to these efforts in the hopes of convincing our fellow workers help out and vote “yes” when the time comes.

1. Streamline Administrative work

a) Make dues collection and signup online-subscription-based. Reform the delegate system as front-line volunteer organizers and stewards based in the workplace and industries.
b) Implement an online reporting database for officers, committees, locals and unions.
c) Pay competent, professional service providers for these ends. The need for consistent and competent administration is too important to be based on outdated methods.

2. Pay the GEB Chair and establish a timeline to begin stipending and then paying GEB members:

a) Outline a growth model that factors in costs, for example once we hit x number of members we can afford to pay a wage to the GEB member.
b) GEB members should rep I.U.s, not general membership. They receive funding as their respective I.U.s get organized enough to pay their representatives on the board. Convention represents the general membership.

3. Create an Education Department:


a) Administration Training(s) to help the union develop administrative capabilities for organizing campaigns. All officers must attend these administrative training(s).
b) Convert the organizer training into two separate training(s): one a program for member-organizers (like the OT 101) and another for a core of paid, outside organizer-trainers, recruited from the shop floor.
c) Implement a New Member Orientation.

4. Establish the Industrial Worker magazine as a website publication:

a) Outline a business plan to take the publication to self-sufficiency. This includes identifying revenue streams and tailoring costs so that the paper becomes a source of union income and pride.
b) Outline an editorial line, for example: The I.W. ought to be a publication dealing with all things U.S. Labor related and socialist politics related; it should not ignore the work of other unions or groups; it should open its doors to debate from outsiders and encourage our members to hone their skills in argument against people with different viewpoints. This will make it vital reading beyond the membership, and encourage non-member subscriptions.
c) Hiring a full-time editor and designer as the crucial priority upon the publication becoming financially stable.

5. Put the Organizing Department to Work: Hire a General Organizer:


a) Develop Industrial Steering Committees which must put forward actionable organizing proposals which leverage collective resources to target winnable organizing drives.
b) Establish timeline to hire a General Organizer on the basis of successful Industrial Organizing Proposals.
c) Set the Department to work by creating policy where Industrial Union Steering Committees must research, plan, and propose industrial campaigns in areas of the country. The General Organizer is hired by the elected board and must execute any organizing drive in conjunction with the respective Industrial Union to which the Board and GO assign the GO.

6. Outline a vision for Industrial Unionism in the 21st Century:


The Board ought to advise and help the development of above proposals by establishing clear guidelines for Organizing Proposals. This must be done in conjunction with Industrial Steering Committees. Immediate tasks include:

a) Developing an organizing model which spells out a clear path to building stable industrial unions on I.W.W. principles. This includes key strategic concepts employing tactics like Wobbly agreements and leverage which help us establish beachheads in industries as a means for further growth.
b) Developing a model contract based on Wobbly principles. This includes rejecting the following; management rights’ clauses, no-strike clauses, and work-now-grieve later provisions. This should eventually be drafted into an ‘I.W.W. Platform’ which distills our principles and our approach to organizing in the workplace serves both public agitation and education purposes as well as concrete guidelines for I.U.s

7. Integrate Defense Work

a) Make defense work the exclusive purview of a members-only-committee of the union, eliminate separate locals, and grandfather in eligible members at their current GDC dues rates for one-year. The I.W.W. needs to focus on organizing workers at work. It is on the basis of workers organized into effective class struggle unions that fascists and the right wing has been beaten back in any effective way historically, and that is how they will be defeated today. The best defence is a good offense.

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Aug 10 2017 21:58

Juan we gotta get you a headset and get you courtside.

wink

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Aug 28 2017 17:05

For those who wonder what conservatism looks like in the IWW right now, this is what a long-time libcom member wrote on Facebook last week in response to the question "What the hell happened to the IWW":

Quote:
We decided to try and recruit every person who was mad about Trump and just open the flood gates. Now all of the problems of the activist scene are the problems of the iww. Where we were once an island of a bit of sanity we have now been overrun with people, lots of whom are actually opposed to workplace organising.

There's a lot that could be said about this but in many ways it speaks for itself. I will say however that this kind of contempt and insults have been pretty much non-stop for nine months or so, from a small but dedicated group of members.

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Aug 28 2017 18:30

I think it's largely accurate. I think the re-orientation toward a fetish on no platform style counter protests and going public as the union which white knights against antifascists for a class it doesn't have a base in is dishonest, irresponsible, ignorant, and destructive.

Calling it self defense is a complete misnomer.

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Aug 28 2017 18:33

In this way it mirrors activism. You can call it "conservative" but I see little justification for doing so. The idea that the organized working class is the basis of Socialist politics is radical; revolutionary as the old IWW saw it. Ironically, people accuse us of manipulating old IWW texts to mean something different; well that's the iww preamble; unite workers at work to fight for reforms today, revolution tomorrow.

They drench themselves in vague rhetoric of "revolution" and very typical liberal appeals/postures; completely devoid of any concrete prescriptions.

Rudderless.

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Aug 28 2017 23:32

.

syndicalist
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Aug 28 2017 23:37

OK, so......

OliverTwister wrote:
...."What the hell happened to the IWW":
syndicalist
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Aug 28 2017 23:46

Asked strictly out of historical curiosity (pardon if I'm completely off base, the IWW is not my speciality).

Wasn't the GDC originally formed as a separate body for legal defense reasons?

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Aug 28 2017 23:49

Yep. It has more or less been dormant since the late 1920s, with periodic rises in interest every so often, followed by controversy. I think the last one was in the 1980s and related to prison organizing.

I don't think it's ever been a seperate body though. At least not in any legal sense of the word. It's more a semi-official, semi-autonomous body of the IWW.

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Aug 29 2017 20:02

When "I was a Wob", the GDC actually did 'good things".

The prison stuff of the 1980s was past my membership time. Though, I recall some of the Ohio prisoners reached out to WSA when they were having whatever issues with the IWW. We politely declined to get involved in their organizational issues with the IWW.

Non-political prisoner and imprisoned unionists organizing is a bit beyond my own scope of knowledge.

EDIT---From my IWW days: https://issuu.com/randalljaykay/docs/iwwtorontovol4no3002
https://libcom.org/library/class-war-prisoner-april-1977-v-1-5

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Aug 29 2017 17:55
syndicalist wrote:
When "I was a Wob", the GDC actually did 'good things".

The prison stuff of the 1980s was past my membership time. Though, I recall some of the Ohio prisoners reached out to WSA when they were having whatever issues with the IWW. We politely declined to get involved in their organizational issues with the IWW.

Non-political prisoner and imprisoned unionists organizing is a bit beyond my own scope of knowledge.

Do you think that the things the GDC has done in the past 2-3 years aren't "good"?

syndicalist
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Aug 29 2017 18:02
OliverTwister wrote:
syndicalist wrote:
When "I was a Wob", the GDC actually did 'good things".

The prison stuff of the 1980s was past my membership time. Though, I recall some of the Ohio prisoners reached out to WSA when they were having whatever issues with the IWW. We politely declined to get involved in their organizational issues with the IWW.

Non-political prisoner and imprisoned unionists organizing is a bit beyond my own scope of knowledge.

Do you think that the things the GDC has done in the past 2-3 years aren't "good"?

Ive not followed, I can't say.

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Aug 30 2017 13:04

What's your take on WSA/IWW losing their shit on Facebook over this article by the FAU, claiming that it is "full of horseshit" or "more of my BS"?

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Aug 30 2017 21:13
Quote:
Localism and activism in the IWW is a detriment to building working class power

Agreed. Strikes should be coordinated beyond the local level, they should be international in scope, at least national. Is there some sort of computer program, section of this website, or a website devoted solely to this idea that exists or that we could create that could facilitate this endeavor? I think this branch of reasoning is worth considering. Solidarity.

syndicalist
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Sep 2 2017 16:11

Ultimately be curious to learn how this all flushes out, the various props and counter props that is

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Oct 7 2017 18:44

As far as revolutionary programs for the IWW go, does anyone know if that attempt by Paul Mattick back in the day has ever been translated into English? That may be some food for though.