A short account by Josh Fleck of the IWW's Organizer Training 101.
It’s the Monday following the weekend of the IWW Organizer Training 101 (OT101), and my soul and limbs are refilled with a fire that I cherish. Before I was filled with weakness and despair regarding my situation, and now I have a newfound confidence in myself and my fellow workers. I, a lone individual, can only accomplish so much, but with the aid of my fellow workers we have the power of all the individuals that comprise our collective ideals and actions.
It was only a short drive up, yet the hour of our departure was far earlier than my normal rising time. I rode up with a fellow worker, inexpressive outwardly of their elation to drive, seeing as they do not have ownership of a car and I, slow to wake and not often a passenger in my vehicle, was able to provide. And little was the conversation up, but great was the conversation nevertheless. In our passing we mocked sardonically the suburbanite housing divisions in the fields, spit fire about our situations, and shared ideas and dreams of our little Indiana town.
Upon arriving at the place of our meeting, a strange structure—half-house above and union hall below—we were greeted by 15 or so Wobblies and the aroma of coffee, that nectar of the working class pressed from the labor of Earth and workers’ blood. The silent grogginess of the morning hours slowed our speech, yet we would come around to introducing ourselves by circling the room stating our names, gender pronouns, department within the union, and what we would change about our workplaces.
Now, much was spoken and disseminated at the meeting, and I would strongly recommend you get in touch with a Wobbly about attending one someday; however, we’ll spare what was spoken lest some boss-heads snitch to the masters. Besides, while extremely interesting to share stories of our workplaces and how we might help our coworkers in organizing them to our ends, it is the evening following the workshop that was magical.
A fellow worker opened their house for room and board and grub, the alcohol flowed freely and the mist was wafting. Choruses of solidarity were sung, refrains of love and struggle were shouted, gospel readings of IWWism were had in that garage before the hour of compline and matins. I will not be able to forget that night, it gave me a renewed sense of life and the knowledge that through all my struggles, I struggle not alone and there is a community and oasis for me to travel to.
“Workers Power” is seeking submissions! The longest running regular feature in the Industrial Worker, the Industrial Workers of the World’s monthly newspaper, “Workers Power” is a curated monthly column that features reflections on workplace organizing and the strategies and tactics necessary to build a democratic, radical, and anti-capitalist labor movement. Contributors have included many unsung heroes and well-known Wobblies and militants like Liberte Locke, Staughton Lynd, and Daniel Gross. Submissions should be around 800 words and sent to Colin Bossen at cbossen[AT]gmail.com. The column is archived online at http:// libcom.org/library/workers-power
Originally appeared in Industrial Worker (May 2015)