Tom Wetzel on the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci, the Italian factory council movement of 1919-1920, and the anarcho-syndicalist advocacy of revolutionary unionism.
In a polemic against the syndicalists, Antonio Gramsci argued that the syndicalists were wrong in maintaining that unions were capable of being organs of workers' revolution. He said this confused a marketing organization of labor within capitalism -- the trade unions -- with an organization for running production in a socialized economy -- the workers councils.
A 1988 article by Tom Wetzel on the the development of the union bureaucracy and how that changed the nature of unions.
From: ideas & action #9 (Spring 1988)
Editor’s note: This is the first installment of an essay on unionism which will be published as a series in the next several issues of the magazine.
Tom Wetzel reviews the sections concentrating on the Russian Revolution in For Worker's Power, a collection of Maurice Brinton's writings.
I was attracted to radical politics in the late 1960s/early '70s when I was in my twenties. Most of the people who were drawn to serious revolutionary politics back then ended up in Leninist organizations of some sort, if only for a time. Third World revolutions were one influence.
Article about the practice and limitations of union (closed) shops in the US workers' movement in the 1930s and 40s. In particular it examines how they helped unions act as a tool of discipline over workers as opposed to a tool for defending their interests.
The concept of "union security" or "maintenance of membership" -- more commonly called the "union shop" 1 -- means that being a union member "in good standing" becomes a condition for continued employment. If you cease to be a member of the union, the company is required to fire you.
- 1. libcom note: "closed shop" in the UK
Tom Wetzel details the Italian Factory Occupations of 1920, which matured beyond conventional trade unionism and at its height involved about 600,000 workers. This article was originally presented as a talk at the Conference on Workers' Self-Organization in St. Louis in 1988.
During the month of September, 1920, a widespread occupation of Italian factories by their workforces took place, which originated in the auto factories, steel mills and machine tool plants of the metal sector but spread out into many other industries -- cotton mills and hosiery firms, lignite mines, tire factories, breweries and distilleries, and steamships and warehouses in the port towns.
Some 25 years ago the workers at the Austin, Minnesota plant of the Hormel Corp. embarked on a long and brave fight. A fight which was not only right, but was fought "from below". This fight and the rank-and-file efforts to wage and control the struggle captivated the attention of all militant workers.
Some 25 years ago the workers at the Austin, Minnesota plant of the Hormel Corp. embarked on a long and brave fight. A fight which was not only right, which was fought "from below". This fight and the rank-and-file efforts to wage and control the struggle captivated the attention of all militant workers.
An account of work and industrial conflict at the alternative newspaper the San Francisco Bay Guardian written by typesetter Tom Wetzel in 1987.
It's 9:00 Friday night. The last stragglers from the editorial department have departed. The other typesetter and I have the Bay Guardian building to ourselves. Two piles of manila folders sit on the typesetting machine, to my left. They contain the order slips for classified ads. One pile gradually dwindles as the folders are moved to the other pile, marking my progress.
Organizing worker struggles through direct democracy: the Barcelona bus drivers struggle for two days off, 2007-2008
An account of the Barcelona bus workers victory.
This is about a successful struggle of bus drivers on Barcelona's transit system between the fall of 2007 and March of 2008. Unlike the transit workers in Madrid, who had two days off each week, bus drivers in Barcelona were forced to work a six-day week.
Many leftists see so-called "national liberation" movements as the strategy for opposing American imperialism. Tom Wetzel asks if this is the case.
The idea is that creating independent state-run economies can cut down the power of the dominant centers of capital and chart an independent course that gives expression to "national self-determination." National liberation only enhances the power of the local boss class.
Third World Nationalism