A Master's Thesis by George Pearce detailing the history of the Industrial Workers of the World from 1932-1949.
The IWW since 1932 - George Pearce
The primary purpose of this study is to tell the story of the Industrial Workers of the World for the period beginning with the year 1932 and ending with the year 1948. The I.W.W. was organized in 1905. Professor Paul F. Brissenden and others have dexcribed its activities fully from the date of organization to 1918. John S. Gambs and Ralph Chaplin are prominent among those who have related the story from 1918 to 1931. Reference to the attached bibliography will provide more complete information concerning available literature.
Since no books could be found covering the activities of the union after 1931, the story presented in this thesis was obtained from newspapers and periodicals issued since that date. The I.W.W.ts paper "Industrial Worker" is the source of most of the information, although other publications referred to in the foot-notes were also used.
A great deal of help was received from Mr. Fred Thompson, Editor of the Industrial Worker, who has been a prominent “Wobbly” for many years. Mr. Thompson has read this thesis, and has supplemented it with facts not obtainable elsewhere. No attempt has been made to review the history of the organisation prior to 1931, since this has been done by many others.
Mr. Gambs closed his book with the question: "What is the place and function of a mild, gentle I.W.W. in the American labor movement, Is it likely to grow or to decay?" The final sentence in the answer which he gave to his own question was: "If it survives the years, it will probably survive as did the Blanquist Party or the Knights of Labor--for futile decades after its hour of lustihood”
Almost two decades have elapsed since he made this prediction. It appears to me that his prediction was right. The organization has continued to exist, but it certainly has not regained its former strength. In fact, it is hard to understand how it has continued to maintain itself in the intervening years. At any rate, it has done so, and the members whom I have contacted in the Chicago headquarters are by no means pessimistic about its future.
One of the three major parts of this thesis describes chronologically the activities of the union beginning with the year 1932. The other two parts explain the philosophy of the organization and the details of its structure.
The chronological section of this thesis will show that the union was able to carry on during the depression by organizing the unemployed. Out of this organizational work developed some success among migratory construction worke~ in the western states. In the middle thirties the I.W.W. missed a promising chance for growth, when it was unsuccessful in its vigorous attempt to organize the auto industry.
At about the same time it was able to organize a few small units in Cleveland, some of Which it still holds. It will be seen that Cleveland is virtually the only place where the union has continued to show some signs of strength. Although it has a few members in various sections of the country in certain industries such as lumber, marine transportation, construction and metal mining, the activities of these members are insignificant. Nevertheless, these activities have been described in order to show that although still very weak, the organization isn't dead yet.
Chapter 1: the philosophy of the I.W.W.
Vincent St. John, one of the early "Wobblies", expressed the basic aims of the organization as follows:
The I.W.W. wants the world for the workers, and none but workers in-the world. By organizing industrially, we (the workers) are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.1
The last paragraph of the Preamble (Appendix I), as well as the following phrase from its second paragraph, also helps one to understand its objectives. "...the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system. The last paragraph of the Preamble states: "It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for the every-day struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown...”
The I.W.W. point of view is based on two assumptions. One of these is that in order to protect themselves against the exploitation characteristic of the capitalistic system, the workers must organize. The other is that the organization developed must be democratic.2
In order to understand these aims it is necessary to consider what capitalism means to the I.W.W. Its papers and pamphlets continually stress the weaknesses of the system, and remove any doubt from a reader's mind as to why the I.W.W. wants to get rid of it.
To the I.W.W. capitalism is the co-operation of the many for the profit of the few. It observes that the capital invested in modern industry is owned by private individuals, called capitalists, and is used by them to exploit labor primarily for their own private profit. To them capitalism is wage slavery, because it binds the workers through capitalist ownership to the control of the capitalist class. At the same time without the cooperation of millions of laborers modern industry, with its accompanying exploitation, would be impossible.
Furthermore, the control is actually in the hands of only a few giant combinations and financiers who control lands, mines, ore deposits, oil fields, forests, pipe lines, steamship companies, railroads, banks, etc. The literature of the I.W.W. is full of the details of this control.
This literature points out that the business, or capitalist class which controls industry is anxious to keep that control and the privileges that go with it. Hence, it strives to control all social institutions. It tries to participate in the writing and administering of the laws. It seeks to control the schools, the press, movies and all other means of molding public opinion. In addition, when it has found that it has been unable to prevent the organization of labor in opposition to its interests, it has sought to control the organizations which have been formed. When unsuccessful in this, it has tried to create disharmony among them and to destroy them by playing one against the other.
The I.W.W. teaches its members how modern capitalism grew from the days of the owner-worker, who owned his own tools and had control over his production, to today's big business, industrial empires international in scope, chain combinations, etc., controlled by a few capitalists.
It stresses the defects which accompanied this growth. As the worker lost control over his tools and his production, industrial independence was replaced by industrial servility. Skilled workers became few, armies of unskilled appeared. Industrial opportunity for the vast majority vanished; part-time employment and unemployment became common. Wealth and income became concentrated in the hands of the few. These undesirable features became more pronounced because of the massing of the workers in the cities to be near employment. It became practically impossible for the average man to escape the unhealthy city environment by migrating to the farm. His wages were not sufficient to enable him to live properly let alone to save enough to own his own business or to obtain a farm. Often. if he was lucky enough to become temporarily financially independent, he soon found he was unable to compete with concentrated capital either in business or in farming. Farm tenancy became the lot of many, since big capital had also taken over control of farming.
The I.W.W. emphasizes the point that under the capitalistic system profits are first in importance, the common good, secondary. Therefore, capitalists do not hesitate to disregard the common welfare if it interferes with the accumulation of profits. They are not even above leading the workers to war, if by doing so there is a chance to enrich themselves or to solidify their control.
Generally speaking, the I. W. W. believes that most social problems are caused by capitalist mismanagement and greed. They state that to this greed can be traced the need for foreign markets, world wars, race wars, class wars, and discouragement of projects directed toward improving the welfare of the masses. However, it should be observed that the I.W.W. is more critical of the capitalistic system than of individuals who are capitalists. It doesn't propose to reform human beings. Instead, it intends to reform the industrial system so that the common good rather than profits for those in control will be the goal.
The I.W.W. notes that soon after the Industrial Revolution began, various movements were started to reform or abolish the obvious defects of the capitalistic system. It refers to the granger, anti-monopoly, anti-trust, greenback, free Silver, populist and other movements for more control over industry and capitalism. Of particular interest to the I.W.W., of course, were the early labor movements. It has studied these movements effort to benefit by the mistakes of its predecessors. It that these movements started as soon as the workers became of their existence as a separate class in society. Then, they began to organize themselves against their employers and capitalistic system in general.
As early as 1831, according to the I.W.W., the New York Typographical Society had a constitutional clause under which membership was forfeited by journeymen becoming employers. Later, at the first national convention of typographical societies in the country, it was stated: "There exists a perpetual antagonism between labor and capital." Class consciousness among workers grew with the trust development after the Civil War, the panic of 1873 and the great labor outbreaks like that of the railroad strikes of 1877. Gradually, isolated unions began to see the necessity of amalgamation and closer unity. Soon came the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, the Knights of St. Crispin, the Knights of Labor, and the A.F. of L. The I.W.W. recognizes certain similarities between itself and the Knights of St. Crispin and Knights of Labor, especially the principle of industrial rather than craft unionism. The Knights of St. Crispin, of course, was limited to only one industry, that of shoe manufacture.
Some of the early labor movements were like the I.W.W. in demanding abolition o~ the wage system. Some of them also were preparing themselves to take over the operation and control of the means of production and distribution. The I.W.W. believes that some of them failed chiefly due to too much preoccupation with politics. The failure of the Knights of Labor, for example, is blamed on politics, abnormal growth, lack of definite purposes, too much centralization, and to scabbery by the A.F.L.
Like some of its predecessors the I. W. W. is convinced of the reality of the class struggle. It believes that certain prominent Americans, notably Hamilton and Madison, join in that belief. It quotes Hamilton as having said: "All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are rich and the well-born; the other is the mass of the people." Madison is considered to have been even more definite in saying:
Those who hold, and those without property have ever formed distinct interests in society. A landed interest, a manufacturing interest, a moneyed interest, with many lesser interests, grow up of necessity in civilized nations, and divide civilized nations of necessity into different classes actuated by different sentiments and views.
As evidence of the Americanism of the idea of abolishing the wage system, the I.W.W. quotes several other prominent Americans including Orestes Brownson from his book The Convert published in 1857 in which he said:
The consequence of this system is, that the owners of capital enrich themselves at the expense of the owners of labor. The system of money wages, the modern system, is more profitable to the owner of capital than the slave system is to slavemasters, and hardly less oppressive to the laborer. The wages, as a general rule, are never sufficient to enable the laborer to place himself on an equal footing with the capitalist.
Not only is the I.W.W. convinced of the reality of the class struggle and of the necessity for the abolishment of the wage system, but is also believes that it is up to labor to rid society of capitalism by the effective organization of labor.
The I.W.W. contends that the solution of modern social problems and the establishment of better social relations and ideals requires the abolition of capitalism. Only those few who would lose their special privileges would be worse off, if capitalism were to be done away with. The rest of mankind would be much better off. The original job of the capitalist was to furnish funds and management. Now management is the job of a specially trained section of the class of hired hands, and funds are amply provided out of corporate profits. In other words, the system of corporate administration that capitalists have built up has made them superfluous. The capitalists have unwittingly prepared the way for their elimination by educating some of the workers in the skills of management. It was their intention that these scientists and technicians would continue to be under their control and would continue to turn over the profits of industry to them. But this policy may prove to be their undoing. Once educated this superior class of hired hands has perceived that upon them depends capitalist civilization, and without them it can not exist. Some of them, it is hoped, may wish to use this power for the emancipation and elevation of all workers.
The big question to the I.W.W. is not the ownership of industry, but its management. It is interested in who is to say whether industry is to run or stand idle; who is to decide what is to be produced and how production and the fruits of production are to be distributed. It doesn't want this control to be in the hands of financiers, because they are only interested in profits. Nor does it want the control to be in the hands of politicians, because of the dangers of totalitarianism. It feels that it never has been safe to let a few control the affairs of many and that it never will be. The alternative that it favors is, of course, control by the workers. Industrial democracy is its goal. It believes that this is the answer to many problems. It believes that workers properly organized can make society an harmonious whole, intelligently working for the common good.
Therefore, it contends that industry should be run by organized labor. All that is necessary is for workers to stop doing what they are told to do and start doing what they collectively decide to do. The key to the problem is for the workers to discover how to organize properly. The I.W.W. claims that proper organization must serve two purposes: (1) It must provide a complete solution of the industrial problem by making possible the efficient management of modern industry by organized labor once it is in power (2) it must provide the most efficient structure for carrying on the daily struggle for better conditions and better pay in the meantime. They say the appropriate organization is one in which workers are in groups corresponding to the work they are doing; not according to their crafts, but according to their place of business or industry.
An effort was made to obtain an understanding of various phases of the I.W.W.'s philosophy, such as its attitude toward private property; what compensation, if any, would be made to present owners of industrial property; what safeguards would prevent maldistribution of wealth when the workers control society, etc. However, although such matters have often been debated in union meetings no clearly defined policies were in evidence.
Chapter 2: form of the organization
The I.W.W. believes that it offers a form which will make labor invincible. This form of organization will make industrial democracy a reality. Industrial democracy, in turn, will make possible a better world. It will make society an harmonious whole, intelligently working for the good of all. It believes that this result will be obtained when the workers, rather than capitalists or political dictators, decide what is to be produced and what is to become of the product. Its contention is that democracy is possible only in industry of the people, by the people and for the people. Under the I.W.W. industry will be governed by democratically selected representatives from industrial instead of territorial groupings. It claims that its principles are an adaptation of those of Robert Owen, that essentially it aims at replacing the capitalist state based on territory and property by a workers' administration based on occupation, or industrial union lines. It intends its organization to be such that by education, promotion of a comprehension of business, and fraternal, public spirit, it can prepare the worker for a gradual transition from the wage system to the cooperative method of production of the future, which will have the purpose not only of meeting industrial needs but also of meeting social requirements. It desires that industry be administered according to the wisdom of the workers most basically and directly concerned. The workers will be their own employers, their own capitalists, their own beneficiaries.
According to the I.W.W. industry is divided into six major departments. In order that the union may be organized in conformance with industry, it is also broken into six departments. The following pages present the details of this organization.1
Department No. 100
Agriculture and Fisheries
Agricultural Workers' Industrial Union No. 110
All workers on farms, ranches, orchards, cotton and sugar plantations. All workers engaged in the raising of cattle, livestock, fowl, bird diary farms, etc.
Lumber Workers' Industrial Union No. 120
All workers in forests (rangers, foresters, etc.). All workers engaged in lumbering operations, in saw and shingle mills, and preparing wood for fuel and manufacturing purposes; collectors of sap, bark, etc.
Fishery Workers' Industrial Union No. 130
All workers in fishery and fishing pursuits on oceans, lakes and rivers; oyster and clam-bed keepers. All workers engaged in collecting pearls, corals and sponges, etc.
Floricultural Workers' Industrial Union No. 140
All workers engaged in nurseries, hothouses, etc., mainly devoted to flower production, in the distribution of flowers, in landscape gardening, etc.
Department No. 200
Mining and Minerals
Metal Mine Workers' Industrial Union No. 210
All workers engaged in mining of gold, silver, copper, lead, zinc, tin, platinum, iron, etc., in mills, smelters, refineries. and other reduction works. This division also includes quarry workers, such as those engaged in mining of salt, sulphur, clay, borax, mica, bromide, graphite, soda, gypsum, asphalt, limestone, sandstone, whetstone, marble, onyx, slates, building stone, granite, etc. All precious gems, salines, salt and soda dry works, etc.
Coal Mine Workers' Industrial Union No. 220
All workers engaged in coal mining, lignite, anthracite, bituminous, etc. in the production of coke, briquettes, peat and turf, and in the distribution of these products.
Oil Workers' Industrial Union No. 230
All workers engaged in the production of oil, and in refineries, gas wells, filters, etc., and in the distribution of these products.
Department No. 300
General Construction Workers' Industrial Union No. 310
All workers engaged in the construction of highways, streets docks, railroads, bridges, subways, sewers, tunnels, levees, canals, viaducts, air fields, dams, irrigation ditches, etc.
Shipbuilding Workers' Industrial Union No. 320
All workers engaged in the building and repairing of ships, launches, boats of all kinds; dry dock workers, etc.
Building Construction Workers' Industrial Union No. 330
All workers engaged in the erection and construction of buildings and the direct supply of building materials; or in their repair except when employed as maintenance workers.
Department No. 400
Manufacture and General Production
Textile and Clothing Workers' Industrial Union No. 410
All workers engaged in the manufacture of threads, yarns, of fabrics, or in dyeing them, or in the manufacture of knitted wears, or of synthetic substitutes.
All workers engaged in the manufacture of garments, including sewn clothing, gloves, hats, caps, furs, etc. and in the supply of their accessories.
All workers producing other textile products, as cotton belting, rope, awnings, etc.
All workers employed in laundries, cleaning and dyeing establishments, and the repair of garments, etc.
Furniture Workers' Industrial Union No. 420
All workers employed in planing mills, molding factories etc. not attached to sawmills; or the production of furniture, etc., whether of wood or other materials, including pianos, organs, etc., bowling and billiard equipment, and most sporting goods; phonographs, radios, etc.
Chemical Workers' Industrial Union No. 430
All workers engaged in the manufacture and distribution of drugs, medicines, perfumes and kindred products.
All workers in the production of rubber goods and synthetic substitutes, etc., and in the distribution of these products.
All workers engaged in the production of explosives and their allied products, and the production of industrial chemicala. etc.
Metal and Machinery Workers' Industrial Union No. 440
All workers engaged in steel mills, blast furnaces, rolling mills, tin-plate mills, etc.
All workers engaged in the production of machinery including electrical equipment, locomotives, autos, airplanes, industrial and household equipment, etc.
All workers engaged in the production of sheets, tubes, castings, etc., of non-ferrous metals.
All workers engaged in making household utensils, watches and clocks or musical and scientific instruments.
Printing and Publishing Workers' Industrial Union No. 450
All workers engaged in the production and direct distribution of newspapers and other periodicals, whether employed in the editorial, art, business or mechanical departments.
All workers employed in other printing establishments, in concerns printing periodicals for their publishers, and in allied work as photo-engraving, bookbinding, etc.
Foodstuff Workers' Industrial Union No. 460
All workers engaged in the manufacture of foods, as in meat and fish packing plants, canneries, sugar refineries, cheese and condensed milk factories, and dairies, including their distribution workers.
All workers employed in flour, cereal and feed mills; bakeries and biscuit factories, confectioners; breweries, wineries, distilleries, and plants producing carbonated and other beverages, and workers engaged in the direct distribution of these or allied products such as yeast, malt, etc.; tobacco factories; establishments for preparing and packaging teas, coffees, spices and other groceries.
Leather Workers' Industrial Union No. 470
All workers engaged in tanneries, etc.; in making boots, shoes, and harness; in the production of trunks, bags, belts and all other leather goods.
Glass and Pottery Workers' Industrial Union no. 480
All workers engaged in the manufacture of glass products; in the production of pottery, porcelain, chinaware; cement plants brickyards, tile and terra cotta workers, etc.
Pulp and Paper Mill Workers' Industrial Union No. 490
All workers engaged in pulp and paper mills, in making paper containers, etc.
Department No. 500
Transportation and Communication
Marine Transport Workers' Industrial Union No. 510
All workers engaged in loading and unloading of vessels.
All workers engaged in the operation of ocean, river, lake and harbor crafts. This includes all workers, in all departments aboard ships.
All workers on docks, wharves, etc.
Railroad Workers' Industrial Union No. 520
All workers employed by railroads in the operation of their service, whether they operate trains, repair and clean rolling stock, maintain the roadbed and equipment, work in the office, or watch as a crossing.
Motor Transport Workers' Industrial Union No. 530
All workers engaged in general trucking and inter-urban bus lines, including the warehouses, garages, etc. incident to this industry. (Note: The truckdriver employed by a factory or store belongs in the industrial union of his fellow employees.)
Municipal Transportation Workers' Industrial Union No. 540
All workers employed in street car, bus elevated, or subway service; taxi drivers, and any truckers or draymen, etc., not attached to specific industries.
Air Transport Workers' Industrial Union No. 550
All workers employed in the maintenance of this service, whether in its direct operation, in repairs and maintenance of airfields and equipment, in offices or attendant services.
Communication Workers' Industrial Union No. 560
All workers engaged in communication service, such as postal, telephone, telegraph, radio, television, etc., and the maintenance of the same.
Department No. 600
Health Service Workers' Industrial Union No. 610
All workers employed by hospitals, sanatorium, etc., including physicians, attendants, clerks, janitors, etc.
All workers employed by bath and massage establishments, barbers, beauticians, . etc.
All workers employed in sanitation, garbage disposals, etc.
Educational Workers' Industrial Union No. 620
All workers engaged by institutions of learning, schools, colleges, libraries, museums, research services, etc.
Recreation Workers' Industrial Union No.630
All workers engaged in the production of motion pictures, (actors, mechanics, etc.) or in the operation of motion picuure theatres; and all workers engaged in other theatres as actors, singers, musicians, stage-hands, ushers, etc.
All wage earning musicians not otherwise classified.
All workers at amusement parks, circuses, and other places of recreation.
Hotel, Restaurant, and Building Service Workers' Industrial Union No. 640
All employees of restaurants, hotels, public cafeterias, etc.
All domestic help.
All workers engaged in maintenance, servicing and cleaning of office buildings, apartment houses, etc.
Park and Highway Maintenance Workers' Industrial Union No. 650
All workers employed in maintenance of streets, roads, parks, zoos, cemeteries, golf courses, etc.
General Distribution Workers' Industrial Union No. 660
All employees in stores, warehouses, Wholesale establishments including delivery service.
All employees of banks, insurance companies, etc.
All employees of advertising agencies, etc.
All wage earners engaged in general salvage and junking.
Public Service Workers' Industrial Union No. 670
All workers employed in such services as water supply, gas and power plants, central heating plants, and similar public services.
The industrial unionism advocated by the I.W.W. stresses the following basic rules:
1.All workers on the same job, regardless of craft, belong in the same job organization.
2.All workers in the same industry belong in the same industrial union.
3.All members of these industrial unions belong directly as members of the One Big Union of the entire working class.
4.Any worker changing his job is entitled to transfer free of charge to the industrial union covering his new employment-- "once a union man, always a union man."
5.No part of the labor movement should accept any obligation to work on materials furnished by strikebreakers, or to furnish material for them, or to fill the orders that strikers were supposed to fill; or cross any picket line, or aid in any way to break the strike of any group of workers.2
It is noteworthy that the I.W.W. emphasizes the importance of the job or work place in this organization. As they put it, "The job is the worker's State, the medium by and through which he will introduce reforms and the new society." They liken the job or shop to a cell which in turn is part of the union of the industry involved, possibly as a local branch. The industrial union is then connected with other industrial unions in a district council. The industrial councils are in turn bound together in the One Big Union. The division into different industrial unions is not to be construed as separating them. They compare their organization chart to a wheel. The lines between the sections are not lines of division, but spokes binding the different groups together.
They claim that all members are directly members of the One Big Union and have a right to participate in the determination of policies of the whole union as well as a vote in the election of the general officers. In addition, they have the right to participate in the affairs of their own industrial union, and free transfer rights from one group to another. At the same time, members can not participate in the affairs of a part of the I. W. W. to which they do not belong. Their immediate organization is the job or branch at the place at which they work. Each part of the I.W.W. is self-governing as long as its performance is not in conflict with the general constitution or by-laws.
On a given job or in a particular shop, the I.W.W. members hold meetings, consider grievances, wage and other demands to be made of the employer, and also discuss social problems and their solution. The shop organization elects a committee to act for it, but such a committee has no authority to conclude any settlement without the approval of the shop organization. One of the advantages of the shop organization device is that it encourages understanding on the part of the workers of the technical problems of the industry and thus prepares them for management when capitalism collapses. In addition this democratic rank-and-file control stimulates members to take a more active interest in union matters, as compared to the method of management by business agents.
In preparation for their management of industry the I.W.W. has made studies of the technical processes of a few manufacturers with the intention of writing manuals so that the workers could be educated in the "know how” of the various industries. This project was later postponed indefinitely. In the woolen industry, for example, the woolen factories of the country were studied. Charts were made up classifying them as to capacity of output, nearness to sources of supply, manufacturing techniques, nearness to markets, etc.
The principal organizing goals of the I.W.W. are solidarity and efficiency. They desire all the workers at a given plant or place of business to be in the same union, but at the same time workers with certain common skills should be able to unite in order to advance their common purposes. For example, the I.W.W. cites the case of hospital workers. Although all the workers at the hospital should be in the same union, anyone group such as laundry workers will be free to join with other laundry workers in promoting common demands. On the other hand, although the staff of an industrial cafeteria, the mess department of a ship, and the kitchen department of a logging camp have much in common, they might find it more effective to be in the same union as the factory workers, seamen and lumberjacks, respectively. Gas station attendants might find it more satisfactory to join with the workers at the refineries rather than with store clerks in their locality. At any rate in the I.W.W. the problem of proper jurisdiction is unimportant. The workers at a given workplace decide for themselves with which group they will be affiliated. The important thing is that they are all members of the same union and assist each other in any way practicable whenever the need arises. The workers at a particular plant are united together regardless of craft, and as a group they associate themselves with whatever other groups they can bargain or strike with most effectively.
The I.W.W. believes that the labor movement has been hampered considerably by faulty organization in the past. It feels, of course, that it has found the answer as to proper principles of organization. It is interested in a united working class and is, therefore, very much opposed to any kind of discrimination, whether it be on the basis of skill, race, religion or political allegiance. Solidarity and democracy are its underlying principles. Joseph J. Ettor, a prominent “Wobbly” in the days of the Lawrence textile strikes, expressed the essentials of the I.W.W. philosophy as follows:
The days that have just passed have demonstrated the power of the workers. The power of the capitalists is based on property. Property makes them all powerful, socially and politically. Because of it they control the institutions of attack and defense; they have the laws, the army, everything. They can employ agents to go around to plant dynamite and to provoke disorder among the workers, in order to defeat them. In spite of all that, the workers have something still more powerful. The workers' power, the one thing more powerful than all the property, all the machine guns, all the gallows, and everything on the other side, is the common bond of solidarity, of purpose, of ideals. Our love for solidarity, our purpose and our affection for one another as workers, binds us more solidly and tighter than do all the bombs and dynamite the capitalists have at their disposal. If the workers of the world want to win, all that they have to do is to recognize their own solidarity. They have nothing to do but fold their arms and the world will stop. The workers are more powerful with their hands in their pockets than all the property of the capitalists. As long as the workers keep their hands in their pockets the capitalists cannot put theirs there. With passive resistance, with the workers absolutely refusing to move, lying absolutely silent, they are more powerful than all the weapons and instrument that the other side have for protection and attack.3
The administrative organization of the I.W.W. is in conformity with its basic ideal that the rank and file workers should control; that democracy requires that the control be by, not over, the workers. Hence, there is no President nor Vice President, nor any other officer of similar importance with a different title. On several occasions when asked "Who is your leader?" the true I.W.W. has replied: "We have no leader. This is an organization run by its members, the workers." Administrative work is taken care by the General Executive Board, particularly the General Secretary, whose functions will be described shortly.
Several safeguards have been established to prevent the concentration of power in the hands of one individual or in a small group. For instance, no officer is elected for more than one year at a time. No officer may be elected for more than three successive terms. The shop committee at a particular plant is elected by the workers at that plant. This shop committee acts only under the direction of the shopworkers. It can conclude no agreement nor settlement with the employer without the approval of the shop organization.
The workers of several plants within an industry may decide to establish an industrial union; or, the workers of plants in different districts within the same industry may decide to set up district industrial unions; or, those in different industries may ally in an industrial department. In any of the above situations all officers are elected by the workers immediately concerned. The General Secretary-Treasurer is nominated and elected by a general referendum ballot in which each I.W.W. is entitled to participate. The General Executive Board is nominated and elected in the same manner.
The functions of the General Executive Board are executive not legislative in nature. It coordinates the activities of the member unions, supervises the press and publications of the I.W.W., and manages the education of members in I.W.W. principles. The members of this board serve without pay except when engaged in organization work. The amount of pay at such times is decided upon by the membership of the unions concerned. The board is in continuous session by mail. It meets whenever called by its chairman or one of the industrial unions to take up an issue needing attention between conventions.
Each industrial union may elect a General Organization Committee, whose function is primarily that of organizing. Local organizers or job delegates may be appointed by this committee upon approval of the membership. Generally, he is a worker on a dob which the union is desirous of organizing. It is his function to organize the shop. He accepts new members, instructs them in I.W.W. principles, supplies them with dues books and literature. When the shop is sufficiently organized, he calls a meeting and initiates the election of the shop committee. However, job delegates are not limited to a particular shop or industry. They are empowered to accept members for any of the industrial unions included in the I.W.W. The I.W.W. attempts to avoid the use of professional organizers by using only the workers on the job which is being organized.
The chief duties of the General Secretary-Treasurer are the managing of central headquarters, known as the Clearing House, processing correspondence, and supervising whatever bookkeeping and general clerical work needs to be done. The expense of operating the Clearing House is divided among all the industrial unions in proportion to membership.
No officer has the power to call strikes on or off. Such action is taken only upon vote of the members. Any officer is subject to recall by majority vote. The I.W.W. is opposed to the "check-off”. It feels that this device is injurious to unionism because it tends to divorce the job committee from the members. It believes that the union representative is more likely to become acquainted with the members' grievances and their satisfaction with the union's handling of grievances and other demands by personal contact in the collection of dues. The I.W.W. has noted that some companies have expressed preference for the "check-off" for opposite reasons. The I.W.W. thinks the "power of the purse" can be kept under the control of the rank and file better if there is no "check-off”.
Chapter 3: chronological history
There was a great deal of organizing activity this year. Speakers such as J.P. Thompson, C.B. Ellis, Fred Thompson, Arthur Boose and Ben Fletcher traveled throughout the country holding meetings and giving talks. The I.W.W. was active in Detroit, New York City, Cleveland, Bridgeport, Conn., Toledo, Spokane, Portland, Ore., Port Arthur, Ontario and Vancouver, B.C. as well as in many other places. Often their efforts met with strong opposition. In Flint, Michigan, for example, a meeting scheduled in September was canceled when Fred Thompson (Editor of the Industrial Worker since 1946) was arrested. The I.W.W. believed that his arrest had been instigated by officials of General Motore, who apparently were much concerned at that time about the possibility of their workers joining the I.W.W. The Flint newspapers referred to Mr. Thompson as an alien and former convict. They claimed that he had a record in California for "gang syndicalism” and that he was a dangerous jail bird and agitator.
In Toledo, Ohio in the latter part of August, an I.W.W. open air meeting conducted by speakers named Korenblatt and De Witt was broken up by a crowd of American Legionnaires who were holding a convention in Toledo at the time. Violence was narrowly averted.1
Several meetings were broken up in New York City by the police before the "Wobblies”t with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and a capable lawyer were able to put a stop to the practice. Free speech fights were waged frequently in the vicinity of Boulder Dam, Yakima and Port Arthur.2
During this year the I.W.W., together with other liberal and radical groups, were working zealously on behalf of W.B. Jones and W.H. Hightower and the other Kentucky miners involved in the famous Harland county trials.3 These men had been convicted of murder for the slaying of Jim Daniels, Otto Lee and Howard Jones in the bloody “Battle of Evarts”, in May 1931, The I.W.W. contends that the above three men were “tgun thugs" hired by the mine operators to prevent unionism. The whole affair was surrounded with violence. The I.W.W. was quite active in the organizing work and in publicizing the deplorable working conditions in the mines. As a result they were subjected to much oppression. More than one "Wobbly” was killed in this struggle.
General defense meetings were held by the I.W.W. throughout the country to call the public's attention to this situation as well as to raise funds to help the men on trial. Many contributions were received from the various I.W.W. Branches.
Organization work in 1932 was strong at Boulder Dam, in the Colorado mines, at Lake Cle Elum and among agricultural workers.
At Boulder Dam the I.W.W. concentrated on efforts to improve working conditions. They fought for the six hour day, for stricter enforcement of the safety laws, the improvement of safety laws, for better food and a comfortable lunch room, for recreation facilities, better transportation to the job and abolition of the blacklist system. They were violently opposed. "Wobblies” were frequently deported from the reservation and were occasionally arrested for distributing copjlea of Industrial Worker. The city manager of Boulder City seemed to have difficulty in making up his mind whether he should issue a permit for the sale of Industrial Worker or not. More than once the permit would be issued and then revoked.4
In Colorado well attended meetings of the I.W.W. coal miners were held to discuss strengthening the organization in that area. The meetings were at Erie, Lafayette, Louisville and Frederick, Colorado. In addition to bringing about general improvement in working conditions in the Colorado mines, the I.W.W. was able to obtain recognition of checkweighmen elected by the workers at the Crown mine at Lousiville and at the Baum mine at Dacona.
At Lake Cle Elum, near Ronald, Washington, I.W.W. construction workers werking for the Laher Company were able to secure better sanitary facilities. There was a short and successful strike on this job in 1932 due to alleged discrimination against I.W.W. members in regard to terminations.5
In addition to the Laher Company, Baum & Ridge Co. and Winston Bros. were also involved in these difficulties. On Sept. 26 workers of Laher Co. and Baum and Ridge went on strike under the banner of the I.W.W. for a raise in pay and for inclusion of "walking time” in the eight-hour work day. It took almost an hour to walk from their camp to the place of work.
When the job started the rate of pay was thirty cents an hour with one dollar and thirty-five cents deducted for board. On May 6, the strikers had previously won an increase of ten dents an hour, a five cent reduction in board, and pay for walking time one way. As a result of the strike on Sept. 26, the workers received a raise in pay to fifty cents an hour, and an agreement that "walking time” should be paid for as time worked.
These strikes were bitterly opposed by the companies involved, although no extreme physical violence occurred. However, there were the usual threats of sending in the militia and of tar-and-feather parties for the organizers. Management tried to get rid of the I.W.W. by hiring non-members after the customary lay-off during the “fire-prevention" season. The union successfully opposed this technique.
In 1932 the I.W.W. put forth considerable effort toward organizing the unemployed. It was their intention to set up a union for the unemployed in as many parts of the country as possible. Dues were to be as low as possible; no official was to draw wages; transfer into the various industrial unions was to be facilitated. In order to stimulate the organization of the unemployed, street meetings were held in the larger cities at which prominent I.W.W.s spoke on the evils of the capitalistic system. At this time also the I.W.W. occasionally advocated the General Strike. For instance, the March 22 issue of the Industrial Worker carried a full page two column exhortation which can be summed up in the following sentence extracted from the article:
The I.W.W. calls upon all workers in America to prepare and carry out a GENERAL STRIKE IN ALL INDUSTRIES. tI article also included these statements: ttprepare now for General Strike. Carry the slogan until the nation rings The one answer to bourgeois tyranny that they fear and cannot defeat.
The article also included these statements: “prepare now for General Strike. Carry the slogan until the nation rings with it. The one answer to bourgeois tyranny that they fear and cannot defeat."
Several conventions were held in 1932. I.U. 110, the Agricultural Workers' Union, met at Alva, Oklahoma in June and at Ellsworth, Kansas in July. The General Recruiting Union met in Chicago and Detroit, the Canadian branch met at Port Arthur, and finally the twentieth General Convention was held in Chicago for seven days beginning on Nov. 14. At the General Convention consideration was given to stimulating the organization and education of the members; to pioneering for the four-hour work day; to ettering the condition of the unemployed; to cooperation with the International Workman's Association; and, to stimulating interest in the organization of the Junior Wobblies Union, as well as in the Work Peoples College at Duluth, Minnesota. This college was managed by the I.W.W. and friends from 1916 to 1940.6
Major organizing efforts in 1933 were made in the hop fields near Yakima, Washington and in the auto industry at Detroit. There was also activity in Cleveland, Philadelphia, New Orleans, Schenectady, Oakland, Toledo, at Boulder Dam and at Port Arthur, Ontario as well as in a few other places.
The work at Detroit increased in tempo during a strike at the Briggs Manufacturing Co., body builders. The workers at that plant went on strike at the end of January in protest against a cut in pay. Strike headquarters for I.D. 440, Metal and Machinery Workers, I.W.W. were set up at 121 Victor Street in the center of the strike zone. Mass meetings were held at which several I.W.W. organizers spoke. One of the most prominent of speakers was F.R. Cedervall. I.W.W. educational literature was passed out at these meetings and many Briggs strikers joined up. Ralph Chaplin, writer of the recent book "Wobbly" spoke to strikers and other auto workers at the Northern High Auditorium, Sunday evening, March 19. The title of his talk was "The I.W.W. Way Out." 1
Attempts were made to organize the auto workers at several plants. The I.W.W. was probably most successful with the workers of the Murray Body Co., but workers at Chrysler's, Plymouth, Ford, Michigan Malleable Iron and other Detroit companies also joined. Several of the organizers were arrested. F.R. Cedervall, for instance, was arrested three times in one week. One of these arrests was based on the charge that he had been obstructing traffic. It was claimed that a man had been run over by an automobile while listening to him speak.
There were several interesting features connected with this organization drive. I.W.W.s of the different nationalities would address the workers in separate groups in their native tounge. Radio educational talks were given over Station WEXL. Meetings were held outside of the different factory gates before and after work and during the noon hour. Severe competition was received from the U.A.W.
On August 16, metal finishers at the Briggs Mfg. Co., went on strike for more pay and to secure the adjustment of certain grievances. The I.W.W. immediately went into action to assist the strikers, many of whom were members. The company acceded to the strikers demands immediately. It was a strike at this company in January, which caused such a great increase in organizing activity in the early part of the year.
I.U. 440 called a strike at the Murray Body Plant on Sept. 27 to secure recognition of the union. This unsuccessful strike was called off on Nov. 9 after a bitter struggle. Mass picket parades had been staged on several occasions. Warrants were issued for the arrest of about fifteen strikers for "conspiring to obstruct and impede persons in the lawful pursuit of their business." The Detroit Times editorialized on the merits of the "right to work." The regional labor board was drawn into this dispute by a letter from F.W. Thompson of the I.W.W. The board ruled in favor of the company.
During this period of activity in Detroit, the I.W.W. opened an unusually grand hall at 53 Sproat Street. The opening night was the occasion for a gala celebration.
Yakima, Washington was the center of organization activity in the hop fields of the Northwest.2 On May 12, the union drafted a list of objectives including the eight hour day, a minimum of thirty five cents an hour, and elimination of child labor. They planned to call a general strike of all agricultural workers in the Yakima valley if their demands were not met. On May 15, a strike was called on the ranch of a Mr. Slavin. This was the signal beginning a bitter struggle between the workers and the ranch owners, assisted usually by the police. Gun thugs were imported and many pickets were arrested. Mass meetings of the workers were held in several little towns and in the open fields in the area.
On August 11, another strike was pulled by I.U. 110 on the ranch of D.O. Traubarger. The Condon ranch at Selah, Washington was struck on August 23. These and other strikes in the area were accompanied by a great deal of violence. Several strikers were arrested, organizers were deported, and vigilante committees were formed. A.J. Farley, who was Secretary-Treasurer of the I.W.W. in 1948, was one of the members active in and around Yakima at the time. More than one pitched battle took place between the farmers of the area, helped by the State police, and the workers.
In New York City activities were stimulated by the opening of a new hall at 94 Fifth Avenue, in June. This increased the number of I.W.W. halls in New York to five. Others were located at 31 Coenties Slip, 85th Street and Third Avenue, 2036 Fifth Ave. and 158 Carroll Street, Brooklyn. During this period the principal I.W.W. activities were a strike against the American Merchant Line in protest against a cut in wages, and the defense of "class war" prisoners, including an individual named Athos Terzani, who had been indicted for murder.3
Progress was made in Philadelphia also. The Textile Workers' Union, No. 410, obtained an increase in pay for the workers at the Densten Felt and Hair Company; I.U. 330, the Construction Workers Union, was on strike at Villanova College, and against three apartment building contractors in Ardmore. It was also attracting members in nearby Camden, N.J. In addition, the Marine Transport Workers' Union, No. 510, was picketing ships bringing sugar cargoes from Cuba.
The Marine Workers' Union was also active in New Orleans. In September it held a seven day convention at which its objectives were carefully considered. Prior to the convention, it had assisted I.U. 310 in its strike against the Seims Helmers Construction Co. on its Mississippi River bridge job.
This was one of the I.W.W. 's most successful years, particularly in Cleveland, where the union secured job control in several plants. The Marine Transport Workers were engaged in strike activity on the Gulf of Mexico and along both the east and west coasts; I.U. 210, the Metal Mine Workers' Union, made some progress in Colorado; organizers for I.U. 220, the Coal Miners, were busy in the coal mining fields of Pennsylvania, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah; I.U. 310, the Construction Workers' Union, carried on a struggle against the finger printing campaign that had been started on many public works; the Lumber Workers' Union was active on the old battlefields of the Northwest; progress was also reported by the railroad, agriculural, electrical equipment and auto workers' unions.
On April 16, I.U. 440, the Metal Workers' Union concluded a successful eleven day strike at the Enameling Divis'on of the Ohio Foundry Company in Cleveland, which resulted in recognition of the I.W.W. Shop Committee, an increase in pay and 3 abolition of the piece work system in existence at that plant.1
This strike had involved about one hundred and seventy five workers. The union was successful despite the opposition of the A.F.L.
On April 28, the same union won a two day strike at the Accurate Parts Manufacturing Company. This strike resulted opposition on the part of the management to I.W.W. Organizing efforts. The incident which started it was the termination of the entire night shift at the plant. It was called off when management agreed to full recognition of the I.W.W. Shop Committee reinstatement of the men laid off and an increase in pay.
The Draper Manufacturing Company plant of Jones and Laughlin Company experienced two I.W.W. strikes in 1934. The first occurred on May 3, and resulted in an agreement to recognize the I.W.W. Shop Committee and the discontinuance of company union propaganda. This strike lasted only seven hours. The second strike occurred on June 7. It was also of short duration and was ended when the plant management agreed that the I.W.W. union alone would be recognized.
However, the third strike at the Draper plant lasted fourteen weeks, ending on September 10. It was terminated after the Cleveland Regional Labor Board had intervened, and after the I.W.W. won the election held to determine whether they or the A.F.L. was to control the plant. It had been agreed that all employees must join the union winning the election. The I.W.W. withdrew its demand for an increase in pay, when the company agreed to begin negotiations regarding wages one week after the election. It was also agreed that the question of wages would be submitted to the labor board if the union and management failed to agree. This strike was peaceful throughout, although some bitterness resulted when the company attempted to transfer its production to the Stevens Metal Contained Company in Niles, Ohio. Shortly after this successful strike was ended, management agreed to an increase in pay.
At that time the I.W.W. claimed control of five plants Cleveland. In addition, it had members in several others. The plants in which it exercised control were those of the Accurate Parts Manufacturing Company, the Enameling Division of the Ohio Foundry Company, the Perfection Metal Container Company, the Permold Company and the Draper plant of the Jone. and Laughlin Company. Recognition at the Perfection Metal Container Company had been gained in May, 1934 without a strike; however, it was necessary to strike to secure recognition at the Permold Company. A short strike for that purpose was won on May 29, when the workers were also granted a pay increase. During this period it was the policy of the I.W.W. to concentrate its organizing efforts on the small plants. One of its objectives was to secure control of all barrel manufacturing plants in Cleveland.
In June, the I.W.W. was successful in securing recognition by strike activity at three plants of the American Stove company in Cleveland. First, they won recognition at the New process-Reliable and Enameling Divisions. The occasion for the strike was the dismissal of two I.W.W.s for organizing activity at the New Process Division. The union picketed both plants and won recognition of the respective Shop Committees, as well as reinstatement of the men dismissed. Later in the same month the union won recognition at the Dangler Division as well as an increase in pay. Victory at this plant enabled the union to claim that all divisions of the American Stove Company at Cleveland were organized one hundred per cent in the I.W.W. According to a telegram from the Organization Committee, !twelve hundred stove workers were wearing Wobbly monthly dues buttons on the job.
On September 28, the American Stove Company workers went on strike for two weeks to secure the dismissal of a female forewoman at the Enameling Division, who had slapped a male member of the union during the course of an argument on the job, and another woman for "inharmonious and uncivil behaviour in the shop”. The union finally agreed to a compromise in which the forewoman was given a two week disciplinary layoff and the other woman was transferred from the Enameling Division.
In September the I.W.W. also won a three day strike at the Republic Brass Company for recognition of the Shop Committee, suitable rotation of work and observance of seniority.
During this year the union was less successful in its attempt to organize the workers at three other Cleveland plants, the National Screw and Manufacturing Company, the Excelsior Dry Cleaning Company and the Cleveland Wire Spring Company.
This was also a big year for the Marine Transport Workers Union, I.U. 510.2 It was actively organizing longshoremen and seamen in many ports. Strikes were carried on in Galveston, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, New Orleans and San Francisco. It seems pointless to review these strikes because not much was accomplished by them. From May to the end of the year the Industrial Worker devoted much space to the details. The purpose of the strikes is not clear, but apparently they were expected to improve conditions for the seamen and longshoremen, as well as to attract new members. There is some possibility that they were part of a larger plan, which was to secure for the I.W.W. control over all shipping. At least, the words "General Strike" were frequently used by the Industrial Worker in reference to them.
During this year vigorous, but unsuccessful, efforts were taken in and around Philadelphia by I.U. 310 and 330, Construction Workers, I.U. 410, Textile Workers, and I.U. 420, Furniture Workers, to increase their membership. The Building Construction Workers' Union staged two minor strikes in the Chestnut Hill section of Philadelphia.
I.U. 440 was fairly successful in boosting wages in Detroit. The Industrial Worker referred to the method employed in the Hudson Motor Company's Department 3760 as being typical. It was referred to as "action on the job," "conscientious withdrawal of efficiency. In effect, the procedure was the same as that of a "sit-down" strike.3
Another I.W.W. strike during this year was that of the Canadian Lumber Workers, organized in I.U. 120, against the Abitibi Pulp and Power Company, near Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. This strike was of short duration and resulted in only minor concessions to the workers.
Several organizing conferences were held in in various parts of the country. Most important was the twenty-first General Convention, which met in Chicago from November 11 to November 18. The principal topics discussed at this convention were organization of the unemployed, affiliation with the International Workingmen's Association, the General Strike and central versus branch record keeping. In May, forty delegates from eastern branches of the I.W.W. met in New York City to discuss improvement in organizational activities. Separate conferences were also held by the Lumberworkers, Marine Workers and Construction Workers.4
Hmm. Not sure what to make of this.
the Draper plant [strike] lasted fourteen weeks, ending on September 10. It was terminated after the Cleveland Regional Labor Board had intervened, and after the I.W.W. won the election held to determine whether they or the A.F.L. was to control the plant. ..... . It was also agreed that the question of wages would be submitted to the labor board if the union and management failed to agree.
What do you mean?
What do you mean?
I'm not sure what to make of it. That is, whether I should be critical of it, accept it as face value or what. I mean, it's not a very radical approach, is it? Particularly leaving the wage dispute final resolution up to the labor board if the workers and the boss can't agree. I mean, I don't want to seem like I'm throwing the IWW under the bus, nor is it clear why the workers agreed to this or should revolutionary unionists should agree to this this at all (which I tend not to support). So I'm of mixed mind.
Guess its like agreeing to arbitration. In the context of what Cleveland did, a mixture of direct action and conventional trade unionism in the New Deal/WW2 era, it didn't really stick out to me.
Guess its like agreeing to arbitration. In the context of what Cleveland did, a mixture of direct action and conventional trade unionism in the New Deal/WW2 era, it didn't really stick out to me.
Funny, I'm not real good with theoretical stuff, but tactical stuff hits me straight away. Oh, for sure it's like arbitration, which threw me for a loop as it is the IWW. But I shouldn't be surprised I suppose.
I think the issue is what do you do when arbitration is forced on the situation as it was in the early (and War) US labor boards. Do you agree and then roll over if the arbitration goes against your interests? Or agree and then continue to push if the arbitration is not to your liking. This gets back to how the union is organized, the centrality of membership involvement, etc.
Overall an interesting read
Have you read that "From Syndicalism to Trade Unionism" paper about the Cleveland metal workers? You or fnbrill may have sent to me, I cant recall
I've got it if you need.
Several organizing conferences were held in in various parts of the country. Most important was the twenty-first General Convention, which met in Chicago from November 11 to November 18. The principal topics discussed at this convention were organization of the unemployed, affiliation with the International Workingmen's Association, the General Strike and central versus branch record keeping. In May, forty delegates from eastern branches of the I.W.W. met in New York City to discuss improvement in organizational activities. Separate conferences were also held by the Lumberworkers, Marine Workers and Construction Workers.
It's nice to know that back in the day, they knew how to discuss substantial issues at Convention, beyond just constitutional tweaks. Also interesting to think about the differences that a week-long convention would entail...
During this year the I.W.W. was very busy, particularly in Cleveland. The strike of the dharwomen at Terminal Tower, which began on Dec. 12, 1934, was finally defeated on April 10 by the mass arrest of the pickets. During this strike there was some violence and several rumors of plans for the use of dynamite Major Snead, manager of the Tower, used strikebreakers in 0pposing the strike. Prior to the mass arrest on April 10, several women had been arrested for assault and battery. In addition, in the latter part of January the Cleveland Press carried stories about a plot to dynamite the Tower which was uncovered when a bomb was found in a fire hose box on the sixth floor of the building. Later, there was a story about the bombing of the home of a Margaret Hozin, an alleged scab.1
The strikers demanded recognition of the Building Maintenance Workers' Industrial Union No. 440 of the I.W.W. as their bargaining agent. They also demanded a six hour day and thirty six hour week at the same pay received for the existing eight hour day forty eight hour week. At one time it appeared that the management was ready to yield on these points, but, since it was unwilling to reinstate the strikers who had been arrested, the strike continued.
At about the same time another unsuccessful I.W.W. strike was in progress at the National Screw and Manufacturing Co. This one was conducted by the Metal and Machinery Workers' r.U.No. 440. Like the other I.W.W. activities of the period, it 'NaS violently opposed by an organization called the "Associated Industries. The strike started on February 8, and involved about thirteen hundred men. It began when the management refused a ten percent general increase, which the I.W.W. claimed had been previously agreed upon.2 All workers in the plant went out, although the tool and die makers at first refused to participate in the picketing. However, they soon joined the rest of the workers.
There were frequent arrests usually resulting from skirmished between strikers and alleged gun thugs. Frank Cedervall and other organizers were also arrested from time to time. These abuses of the workerss' rights became so flagrant that the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter of protest to Mayor Harry L. Davis. The following quotations were taken from this letter:
Our information is that strikers are harassed with continual arrests; that more than a dozen of the workers' organizers and active committeemen have been arrested, held for 48 hours or more, and then released without any charge being made against them;-----that arrested strikers have been beaten by detectives-----that known gangsters have been used as professional strikebreakers---- whether a strike is lead, as this is, by the Industrial Workers of the World or by some other labor group, the rights of the workers are the same.
Norman Thomas was credited by the union as having sent a fifty dollar check be used by you in relief of the men and women now on strike at the National Screw and Manufacturing Company's plant." It was during this strike that Michael J. Lindway was jailed on the charge that an arsenal of "dynamite bombs, tear gall, revolvers. shotguns, ammunition, and a machine shop for the manufacture of further supplies" had been found in his home. Mr. Lindway was not released until 1946, despite the efforts of the General Defense Committee and other groups.
On April 29, this unsuccessful strike was called off.
Other Cleveland plants affected by I.W.W. activities during this year were the Accurate Parts Manufacturing Co., Republic Brass, Cochrane Brass, Perfection Metal Container, Cleveland Steel and Wire, American Stove and Holland Trolley. In addition, there were strike threats at the Dill Manufacturing Co., and a successful strike at Wedge Protectors Inc., which resulted in a raise in pay and recognition of the union as bargaining agent. At Holland Trolley where the I.W.W. had been recognized, no strike was necessary to secure the raise in pay sought.
During this year in order to get away from the I.W.W., the American Stove Co. management moved its Dangler Division Plant to Lorain, Ohio.
Efforts were made to organize the New York subway and bus workers during this year by Municipal Transportation Workers Industrial Union No. 540 of the I.W.W., but these efforts were not very fruitful. The Construction Workers' Union, No. 310, was active at Fort Peck, Montana and at Los Angeles. The Lumberworkers' Union, No. 120 was active also in the vicinity of Port Arthur, Seattle and Spokane. The Marine Transport Workers' Union, No. 510, was busy in Houston, where its hall was raided, and also in New Orleans and New York.
On January 17, the I.W.W. shop committee at American Brass Co. in Cleveland was recognized as the workers' bargaining agency. On July 1, a five per cent general increase was negotiated; however, apparently the company changed its mind, and as a result the workers went on strike. Picketing was carried on for sixty nine days until an agreement was finally reached that the strikers would be hired without discrimination, and that a five per cent raise be given, effective thirty days after the return to work. The I.W.W. Claims to have agreed to these unfavorable terms, because some of the workers, who did not belong to the union, had been negotiating separately with management and were about to break ranks and go to work.
In the meantime I.U. 440 was having difficulty with the management of the Dangler division of the American Stove Co. which had been moved to Lorain to get away from the union.1 Organizers were frequently arrested, and the I.W.W. was even unable to get a hall in Lorain to serve as organizing headquarters. The' union claimed that the workers were being asked to sign a "yellow-dog” contract, also. Shortly after the I.W.W shop committee had been refused recognition by management, an increase ranging from three to six cents an hour had been granted the workers.
During this year the I.W.W. was most active among the lumber workers of the Northwest. A conference of the lumber workers had been held in December, 1935 in the new hall at 207 Main Street in Seattle.2 After the customary resolution had been passed regarding the release of Tom Mooney and Warren K. Billings plans were laid down for a drive among the lumber workers which was to be very effective during the coming year, particularly in Washington and Idaho. Among other things these plans called for demanding a six hour day, minimum wages of five dollars a day, improved living conditions, and better safety standards. Another conference was held by I.U. 120 on March 2, in Spokane, which further stimulated the drive. Shortly after this conference three short strikes were pulled against Potlatch Forests Inc., all of which were successful and resulted in raises in pay and improved conditions. In May additional short strikes were called against the Winton Lumber Co., as well as against Potlatch Forests. Picket lines were set up at various times at Coeur d'Alene, St. Maries, St. Joe, Fernwood, Clarkia, Bovill, Kendrick, Elk River, Pierce and Orofino. Finally in July the lumber companies began to fight back by importing strikebreakers. Eventually, martial law was declared; a number of pickets and organizers were arrested; and, violence and gun play were in evidence Evert Anderson, G.E.B. representative was deported out of Idaho. On August 19, the strikers at Pierce, Idaho voted to return to work. Although the lumber strikes were eventually broken, pay and conditions had been improved in most cases.
During 1936, I.U. 440, in addition tobeing active in Cleveland, also opened an organizing drive in the Los Angeles area. I.U. 420, the Furniture Workers' Industrial Union was active in Chicago. I.U. 460, the Foodstuff Workers' Industrial Union was active in New York. In addition, the Marine Transport Workers Union, No. 510, was active in several ports, particularly Philadelphia and Boston, where it waged strikes against the United Fruit Co.
Ralph Chaplin resigned as Editor of the Industrial Worker in March, 1936. He explained as follows: "This step is unavoidable. Very serious disagreement with the policy and personnel of the newly elected Administration of the I.W.W. has made any other course impossible." Fred Thompson succeeded him. Mr. Thompson had been elected General Secretary-Treasurer as of March 1.
The twenty-second General Convention of the I.W.W. met eight days in Chicago, beginning on Nov. 9. In addition to usual reports and discussion of organization plans, it was decided to publish a monthly magazine to be called One Big Union Monthly.
Ralph Chaplin resigned as Editor of the Industrial Worker in March, 1936. He explained as follows: "This step is unavoidable. Very serious disagreement with the policy and personnel of the newly elected Administration of the I.W.W. has made any other course impossible." Fred Thompson succeeded him.
I know Chaplin moved to the right. is his resignation letter or similar document available?
I've never seen it. He goes over his reasons in his autobiography but I've never seen that either.
EDIT: from reading old GOBs I remember he was expelled from the GDC around this time, maybe his resignation was related.
I've never seen it. He goes over his reasons in his autobiography but I've never seen that either.
I read "Wobbly: A rough and tumble life" many decades ago. I'll have to dust it off an look it over again. As I recall, it wasn't very detailed. Certainly not like his withdrawal letter.
The May 1936 GOB has a statement from the GEB saying that Chaplin sent his resignation letter to be printed, but it broke the rules so they put a hold on it until they could discuss. If it was published in a later one, I don't have access to it.
The May 1936 GOB has a statement from the GEB saying that Chaplin sent his resignation letter to be printed, but it broke the rules so they put a hold on it until they could discuss. If it was published in a later one, I don't have access to it.
Interesting. Let me see what the book says. I have an original edition, so if it's not fragile I'll make a photo copy of the relevant pages and pass it along to you.
For anyone reading and interested but not me or syndicalist, I tracked down his resignation letter. I can't post it but I'll give the details when I get the chance.
thanks for doing that!
The Chaplin book does not go into particulars. He said he left the editorship to someone "less impatient" then he
Chaplin's auto-bio is problematic as it was heavily edited by the publisher to make him appear more anti-communist/wobbly than he actually was. Which is why he never let another edition be released.
So it seems that Ralph Chaplin in 1936 was the Industrial Worker's editor and 'business manager'. He identifies as the latter in the January 1936 General Organization Bulletin (GOB), in a delinquent accounts posting.
In January 1936, the General Recruiting Union #3 in New York passed a vote of confidence of Chaplin as editor of the IW. This indicates there was some controversy going on.
In February, Fred Thompson took over as General-Secretary Treasurer (GST). Not sure if this has anything to do with what happens with Chaplin, but I think people underestimate Thompson's maneuvering and agenda when it came to the IWW, as well as his version of history. While I admire anyone who puts in as much effort in radical organizations and the workers movement as he did, I've learned to treat him a bit more suspiciously as I've become more familiar with him. However, I'm not sure if this has more to do with what he did or that we would likely be in a disagreement on a lot of issues in the IWW if he was still around or I was around back then.
I previously mentioned that Chaplin was expelled from the General Defense Committee (GDC). I was mistaken. Actually, it was an individual named Ralph Chevrin.
It is indeed true that Chaplin resigned as editor of the IW in March 1936. The news of this seemed to have circulated in the organization, although not the reason. That same month the Seattle joint branches, the Seattle Lumber Workers Industrial Unon and the Seattle Agricultural Industrial Union passed resolutions asking Chaplin to reconsider and elected a committee to talk to the General Executive Committee (GEB) of the IWW to find out more information on the resignation. The General Membership Branch (GMB) in Port Angeles, WA passed a similar motion, which does indicate conflict between Chaplin and the General Administration.
In April 1936, Fred Thompson, the GST and Charles Velsek, the Chair of the GEB took over as editor of the Industrial Worker, splitting whatever stipend/salary that position had. This would have been in addition to the salaries they were receiving from their elected positions. That same month, the Aberdeen GMB passed a motion requesting the GEB to, barring Chaplin reconsidering, to get a competent editor, rather than Thompson. The Seattle Agricultural Worker Industrial Union passed a similar motion, also again asking for futher information on Chaplin's resignation. The Seattle joint branches passed a motion to communicate directly with both Chaplin and Thompson on what happened. In May, several NY and NJ bodies of the IWW passed similar motions.
Like I mentioned, Chaplin actually had written a statement and sent it for publication in the GOB, but it was referred to the GEB because it violated the rules of the GOB, which historically (and currently) don't allow for personal attacks. Also, the GEB thought maybe Chaplin issued it while angry and so apparently allowed time to make sure he didn't want to retract. However, in between Chaplin issuing this statement and it being published in the GOB, "The Chicago Committee Opposed to Dictators", who suppadly was an expelled member (Bill Thompson?) and an "associate" circulated Chaplin's statement along with introduction that accused General Administration of suppressing the reasons that Chaplin resigned, as well as conspiring to oust him.
The statement was finally published in the June 1936 GOB. In it, Chaplin acknowledges that he has received requests for a statement, but doubts issuing one would clarify anything. He mentions a "conspiracy" by "would-be dictators" and claims a member named Bill Thompson was expelled for exposing it. Chaplin seems to call Fred Thompson a "Hitler in the General Office" and condemns the rank-and-file of the IWW for being fooled by "ambitious politicians" in the organization. He then goes on to say he is finished with the IWW and claims that letters for him are being withheld by the General Administration. Also in this GOB are letters from individual Wobblies, advocating that membership get to directly elect the Industrial Worker editor. This is how someone becomes editor now, I wonder if this situation is the root of that change.
I'm still pretty unclear of what happened.
yeah, I've been thinking a visit to the Chaplin papers in Tacoma.
Right quick. The Chaplin autobiography basically said (more or less) it was time to move on from the IWW. reading between the lines, it's clear enough there were other things going on. One suspects personal, maybe "political" hard to say. Even from the stuff Juan quotes from, the main issues seem blurred. Perhaps on purpose.
While I do not want to knock those who "held the fort", I am not surprised by Chaplin's comments either. The whole process and apparent politiking around the proposed then rescinded IWW affiliation to the IWMA seems to have a certain similiar feel to what Chaplin describes. And I recall Dolgoff being highly critical of Fred Thompson (and others) over this situation. That said, without seeing stuff in black and white, some of this is only conjecture
On January 9 a strike for an increase in wages was won by the Food Workers' Industrial Union, No. 460, at Ritchie's Dairy, Toronto, Ontario.
However, Cleveland continued to be the center of the I.W.W.'s major activities. The Cleveland Plain Dealer in the week of August 9, included an article about the I.W.W. under this significant heading: “I.W.W. Gains Respect Here -Tribute to Cedervall Brothers - Pure Industrial Unionism."
In March the Superior Carbon Products Co. was added to the list of Cleveland companies which recognized the I.W.W. as representative of its workers. The Cleveland Steel Barrel Co. went I.W.W. in May, as did also the Globe Steel Barrel Co. and American Stove Co. Recognition of the I.W.W. by the American Stove Co. was challenged by the C.I.O. in June. However, the I.W.W. won out in an election supervised by the National Labor Relations Board. In July, the I.W.W. was elected as the bargaining agent at the Independent Register Co.
A short strike occurred at the Glove Steel Barrel Co. on June 29, as the result of management's encouragement of organizing efforts on the part of the A.F.L. This strike was won and insured the continuance of the I.W.W. as sole collective bargaining agent.
Conferences were held in Spokane and in Minneapolis by members of the Railroad Workers' Industrial Union, No. 520, in the closing months of 1937 to determine ways to strengthen the union among the maintenance workers of the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul, the Great Northern, and the Northern Pacific railroads. The drive which resulted was not particularly successful.
Marine Transport Workers' Union, No. 510 was active in Philadelphia, particularly, but also at New York, Galveston, Jacksonville and Tampa. They were protesting the use of the Copeland “Fink” Books. These books, known as "Continuous Discharge Books" were required under the Copeland Act. The I.W.W. objected to these books, because they believed the books would facilitate "blacklisting."
This was a very quiet year. Organizing efforts continued in Cleveland, in Detroit, and among the lumber workers in California, Washington and Canada. The Marine Transport Workers' Union was fairly active, as was that of the Railroad Maintenance Workers. For the most part, organization efforts were concentrated on W. P.A. projects in various parts of the country.
Conventions were held by several of the industrial unons and the twenty-third general convention was held in Chicago at headquarters., 2422 N. Halsted St. from Sept 12 to Sept.17. During this year reports began to come in of "Wobblies” killed in action in Spain. Several I.W.W. 's had joined the Loyalist forces.
In April delegates from Seattle, Everett, Olympia and Angeles met at Tacoma, Washington and Port Angeles drew up plans for organizing the W.P.A. workers in that area. At about the same time, similar groups met at Detroit and in Minnesota. However, nothing of importance resulted from the organization drives which developed, although there were minor strikes in Detroit and Missoula, Montana.
Agricultural Workers Industrial Union, No. 110, put on an organizational drive in California. They had limited success in the Watsonville and Salinas district. The Marine Transport Workers' Union gave considerable publicity to their opposition to shipping to Fascist dominated countries. And, in Cleveland I.U. 440 successfully opposed wage cuts by threatening to go on strike.
Nothing important occurred at the General Convention, except that a resolution was passed reaffirming the I.W.W. 's opposition to capitalist's wars and its unfaltering prosecution of the class war.
This year was quite a bit more eventful than the last. In the first week in March a convention was held in St. Louis by the unions represented in the American Stove Company's plants at St. Louis, Harvey, Ill., Cleveland and Lorain, Ohio. The A.F.L., C.I.O. and I.W.W. were all represented at this conference. Information was exchanged about job conditions at the respective plants, and a plan of coordinated action was discussed. However, subsequent events do not indicate that any important decisions were made. In fact, later events at the Lorain plant of American Stove and the Steel Barrel Stamping Companies, respectively, showed that no strong spirit of cooperation was developed with either the C.I.O. or A.F.L.
In April, the I.W.W. started a drive to organize the American Stove 60. plant at Lorain, but encountered opposition from the C.I.O. as well as from management.1 The three cornered struggle became violent, and in June the I.W.W. workers went on strike to secure a collective bargaining election. The election .as held on June 26, and after some dispute about its legality, it was determined that the C.I.O. had won.
In the meantime, I.W.W. organizers were active at the Lorain plant of the Steel Barrel Stamping Co. and at the Cleveland plant of Sealbrick Mfg. Co. A three day strike was called and won by the I.W.W. at the latter plant. It resulted in an increase in pay.
At the Steel Stamping Co. plant, after another bitter struggle against the management and, on this occasion, the A.F.L. the I.W.W. won the collective bargaining election held on August 23. A few weeks later the I.W.W. was able to negotiate a 12% general increase in pay, after threatening a strike.
On November 9, the I.W.W. won a collective bargaining election at the Globe Steel Barrel Co. plant in Cleveland. This election had been preceded by a strike for the reinstatement of organizers terminated for union activity. Again there were stories of violence and intimidation.
Efforts continued to organize the W.P.A. workers in various parts of the country, especially in Detroit, and Minneapolis. In addition, work was done among the lumber workers in Idaho, in the vicinity of Seattle and Olympia, Washington, in British Columbia and near Port Arthur, Ontario; among the agricultural workers near Sacramento, California and near Wenatchee, Washington; among the railroad maintenance men; and, among the construction workers along the Delaware River aqueduct.
Conventions were held by several of the industrial unions. At the convention of the Marine Transport Workers, for instance, plans were developed for organizing the lake seamen from Buffalo to Duluth. The twenty fourth general convention was held in Chicago.
- 1Industrial Worker 3/11/1939, 5/2/1939 6/17/1939, 8/26/1939, 9/2/1939
The I.W.W. received the news with a certain amount of satisfaction that their Hungarian language paper Bermunkas had been placed on the list of those publications whose entry into Canada was forbidden. Bermunkas like other I.W.W. papers frequently contained strong statements against war, whether waged by Germany, England, Canada or any other country.
Most of the I.W.W.'s activities in 1940 were centered in Cleveland.1 At Cochrane Brass they were able to obtain their sixth wage increase, since the workers in that plant had been organized. At the same time, in January, they persuaded management to install certain health protecting devices. One of these was a blower, used in the polishing department. Management had objected at first because of the cost. There was a short strike at this plant in October, when a request for another general raise was turned down. Although trouble was anticipated, and although the workers expected the strike to be of long duration, it was settled in one week. The workers agreed to an adjustment slightly less than their original demand.
In November, at the American Stove plant the workers voted unanimously to enforce a closed shop. They also decided to seek a general increase of ten cents an hour. On November 20, a work stoppage began. It was the result of a number of accumulated grievances, in addition to the desire for an increase and the closed shop. This stoppage continued for eleven days. It was ended when the workers agreed to a three cents per hour increase and a union preferential layoff and recall arrangement. The union had accused management of discrimination against members, and of having to build up a company union. Management agreed to take the necessary steps to discontinue both of these practices. 2
Considerable effort was made to organize the plant of the Mitchell Metal Products company in Cleveland. However, these efforts were unsuccessful.
In Lorain, Ohio after a bitter 63 day strike at the Steel Stamping Co., an agreement was finally reached. This agreement called for the reinstatement of an employee previously fired because of a struggle with his foreman. This incident started the strike. The union members threatened to walk out if tne employee was fired. Management decided to call the union's bluff only to find out that it meant business.
In addition to protesting this discharge, the union made several other demands against the company. It also charged tne company with violation of Section 7a of the Wagner Act; with hiring girls at lower rates to replace men; with refusing to bargain in good faith; with threatening to move the plant to another city; and, with discrimination against union members in terminations. The union demanded discontinuance of these practices. It also demanded higher pay, time and one half for overtime and improved working conditions. Much ill will was generated between management and the men in this strike. The labor board sent a conciliator to try to straighten it out, but to no avail.
After weeks of picketing the following terms were finally agreed to:
"Strict observance of seniority in layoffs and rehirings; the company must meet with the Shop Committee within 72 hours of demand for conferences; four hours of pay if men report for work and there is no work or less than four hours work; time and one half for all holiday work; two cents an hour general wage increase; additional wage increases and other points In dispute to be negotiated."
In addition to these activities in Cleveland, the I.W.W. also did some organizing work in Pittsburgh at the Duquesne Smelting Corporation, and at Cle Elum, Washington as well as among the track workers at the yards outside of Tacoma, Washington. In the first two cases there was violent resistance None of this organizing activity was particularly successful.
There was very little activity worth reporting for this year. I.U. 210, the Metal Mine Workers' Union, was successful in securing a thirteen and one half per cent wage boost for the workers at the U.S. Vanadium mine at Bishop, California. Except for this success, and a minor strike at nearby Darwin, California by I.U. 210, all the rest of the news came from Cleveland.
Even from Cleveland, the news was thin. A slow down at American Stove in February was credited with persuading mana8ement to grant a wage increase. In March a two week strike at the Republic Brass Company resulted in a five per cent general increase. This strike was otherwise uneventful. However, it was claimed to have influenced the management of the Cochrane Brass Company to grant a similar increase to the workers in that plant. The workers at the Draper plant of Jones and Laughlin also received an increase in pay as of April 1.
The only other event of interest was the convention in Cleveland held under the auspices of [/i]Bermunkas[/i] the official Hungarian language paper of the I.W.W. The purpose of this convention was to consider means of increasing the circulation and support of this paper.
In March, 1942 it was decided at a National Labor Relations Board hearing to let the employees vote for their choice of a bargaining unit at the mines of the U.S. Vanadium Co. at Bishop, California. At that time the I.W.W. was the only union which had put in an appearance. In fact the ballot was to read: "Shall Metal Mine Workers Industrial Union 210 of the I.W.W. represent you for the purposes of collective bargaining”.1 After some dispute it was decided that the mill workers should be included in the same bargaining unit as the miners.
Later in the month A.F.L. representatives appeared on the scene. Shortly after their appearance, a company attorney was successful in persuading the N.L.R.B. to schedule a new hearing and to include the A.F.L. on the ballot.
In the meantime I.W.W. organizing work was accelerated. They tried to line up the whole town including waitresses, cooks, bar~enders, etc. Workers of the latter type were enrolled in I.U. 640, Hotel, Restaurant and Building workers. The miners and mill hands were included in I.U. 210. Women assisted in the organizing work, particularly for I.U.640. Opposition to the I.W.W. 's vigorous organizing activities on the part of some townspeople resulted in considerable excitement. There was talk of vigilante committees and tar and feather parties, although not a great deal of actual violence.
On August 20 the N.L.R.B. finally decided that an election would be held not later than September 20. Two ballots were to be provided, one for Group A, the other for Group B. Both A.F.L. and the I.W.W. were represented on the Group A Ballot. This group was to include only the miners. Group B on which only the I.W.W. was to be represented was to include all other employees, mill hands, waitresses, cooks and others.
The election was held on September 4. The I.W.W. won Group A; the I.W.W. won the larger Group B.
There was not much activity in Cleveland in 1942, although the little action taken was effective. At American Stove the union protested the firing of one of their number by a plant foreman. The member was reinstated immediately. At Republic a 5% raise was obtained through negotiation. At Jones & Laughlin a five and one half cents raise was obtained.
- 1Industrial Worker, 8/21/1942, 9/30/1942
In the early part of May, 1943 at the American Stove Co. plant at Cleveland the I.W.W. decided to walk out. During the war this company was making aircraft parts. Wages for the work involved had been set at a rate lower than that for work previously done on stoves. In some cases the rate was also lower than that paid by the other aircraft production plants for comparable work.
The union had been seeking adjustment of the rate from the War Labor Board since January. In the interest of the war effort the workers had declined to take the interest of the strike action. In fact, they had agreed among themselves to continue working until a decision was made by the Board. George Dobrich was the shop committee chairman at the time. 1
When the workers learned of unfavorable decisions by the Board in two specific cases, they walked out immediately. Conscious of the fact that they would be accused of impeding the war effort, they reasoned that not only was it important to fight for democracy and the four freedoms overseas, but also on the home front. They were determined that when the workers in uniform came home, they would find that the workers in overalls had maintained and advanced the rights of labor.
The workers came back a few days later when assured that favorable action would be taken in regard to their claims. In the next pay period some of the workers found as much as forty dollars extra pay in their checks for retroactive wage adjustments. This encouraged them to believe that the War Labor Board would shortly decide favorably upon their other claims. Incidentally, the workers voted to return on Monday rather than immediately, because the Board had been represented as not being in favor of paying time and one half for Saturday nor double time for Sunday.
On June 4, the War Labor Board finally approved the reclassifications sought by the union. The adjustment was retroactive to January. Some workers received back pay of close to five hundred dollars. Under the new classification the lowest paid sweeper in this I.W.W. organized plant received eighty cents an hour and the typical wage was more than one dollar an hour. This union victory came on the ninth anniversary of I.W.W. control in the American Stove Co. plant.
In August, 1943 the employees of the Draper Manufacturing Co. (Jones & Laughlin), Cleveland organized in the I.W. W. rejected an incentive pay plan proposed by the management. It seems that the company had circulated copies of the August Reader's Digest among the workers. It contained an article by William Hard boosting the plan. This trick seems to have backfired upon management. One of the reasons given for the workers having voted against the plan was that Hard's article described how C.I.O. shop stewards, where the plan had been adopted, were busy disciplining the men to promote production. The I.W.W. members couldn't visualize their job delegates performing that function.
Also in August 1943, as a result of joint negotiations by the I.W.W. (I.U. 210) and the International Operating Engineers with the United States Vanadium Corporation, the Non Ferrous Metals Commission sitting in Denver granted a wage boost of 50 cents per day to all workers employed by the company. This pay boost was retroactive to April 10, when negotiations began. The I.W.W. rejected this decision. A letter was written to the Commission by Pat O'Brien and E.A. Hicks pointing out the inadequacy of the raise. Excerpts from this letter are presented as follows: On the date of August 3, 1943, the Metal Mine Workers Industrial Union No. 210, I.W.W. at a meeting held at the Pine Creek operation of U.S. Vanadium Corporation voted unanimously to refuse the proposed 50t per day wage increase for the following reasons:
1.The original demand was for $1.50 per day and was made more than a year ago
2.The Principal Mediation Officer of the Commission made a thorough investigation and recommended $1.00.
3.The proposed $0.50 per day is too insignificant to make any appreciable difference to the men.
4.High altitude of the mine and long and dangerous road to be traveled to reach it should be worth more.
5.Conditions of employment hazardous and unhealthy. 6. I.U. 210, I.W.W. requests the case be reopened.
Shortly thereafter the membership voted to accept the raise in order to clear the way for future action. This was done because as long as the original case before the War Labor Board remained unsettled, there was no way for I.U. 210 to take further steps regarding the wage situation.
Other activities in 1943 were these:
1. A strike of I.W.W. longshoremen for wages and better working conditions in Chile was broken by the Chilean Government's use of Chilean soldiers and sailors to replace the strikers.
2. At American Stove in Cleveland the workers were irritated by the shortage of time clocks delaying their punching out at the end of the· day. Management answered their protests by arguing that there was a shortage of time clocks. One day the workers took matters into their own hands by simply forgetting to clock out. The next day there were enough time clocks.
3. I.W.W. controlled shops in Cleveland were granted increases by the War Labor Board. Specifically, the workers at Jones & Laughlin, American Stove and Republic Brass received increases.
4. I.W.W. organization work was stimulated in Toronto, Canada, particularly in the railroad industry by I.U.
520. After a fair start, however, little progress was made.
- 1Ibid 6/13/1943, 7/15/1943
Several Cleveland companies were affected by I.W.W. activities in 1944. In March, I.U. 440 arrived at an agreement with Federal Aircraft, Inc. by which it was to be recognized as the sole collective bargaining agency; there was to be no checkoff; there was to be union preference in hiring and 1ay-offs; no discharges nor 1ay-offs without the Shop Committee' s approval; top rates for the industry to b e paid; and, nothing in the agreement obligated any employee to work on jobs transferred from a struck plant or to aid in breaking any strike of any union. Organization of Federal Aircraft was facilitated by the fact that several of its employees were I.W.W.'s previously employed at the American Stove Company, where they had been laid off due to lack of work. I.W.W. control at American Stove continued.
In May the union was successful in securing the reinstatement of a foreman, whom the I.W.W. protested had been dismissed unjust1y. They indulged in a brief work stoppage to make their protest effective. 1
Unsuccessful efforts were made to organize Thompson Products and American Steel and Wire Company in Cleveland. Those exerted at the latter company are particularly interesting. There, the workers were represented by the C.I.O., but some of them had become dissatisfied with the behavior of the international office.
In October, 1943 the local absolved its President, James Adams, of charges filed by the international office because of a three day stoppage to enforce time and one half provisions of the local's agreement with management. The local conceded that the stoppage was a violation of a "no Strike pledge," and that during the stoppage disrespect had been shown the international representatives. In March, 1944 because of this stoppage and general dissatisfaction with the local leaders, Philip Murray ordered the officers of the local suspended from office, and told them to turn their records over to his appointee.
Resentment over this interference, as well as over a long list of unsettled grievances, influenced the workers to stop work again on March 26. The men refused to recognize the appointee, and the company refused to deal with the local officers who lacked the approval of the International. Coincidentally, the local officers were drafted into the armed forces shortly thereafter. However, the workers immediately elected others to replace them. These were not recognized by the International either.
Several of the workers were in contact with I.W.W. organizers. On their behalf the I.W.W. on March 30 wrote to the National Labor Relations Board, pointing out that the procedures adopted under Section 9a of the National Labor Relations Act had come into conflict with the rights guaranteed under Section 7 to the injury of a large number of the workers; that there was confusion concerning the question of representation by officers elected and wanted by the workers, or officers appointed and unwanted; that there had been a suspension of officers without trial; that this suspension was made known to the company, before the workers, even those suspended, were informed.2
No reply was received to this letter. However, the expulsions were not enforced. In fact, the local officers were later reelected and recognized by the International.
The I.W.W. organizers took advantage of the situation, of course, to impress upon the workers the advantages of belonging to their union, such as the absence of the "check-off"; the settlement of grievances at the local level rather than by international officers not necessarily conversant with the details; control by the "rank-and-file”; and, retention by the local of a larger percentage of the dues collected. The failure of this organizing effort was claimed to be due largely to the fact that other American Steel and Wire plants were organized in the C.I.O., and the workers preferred to maintain this unity of interest.
In May the I.W.W. became interested in an anticipated strike of the Cleveland street car operators. Public opinion had been aroused, and there was much criticism of the operators, who, by the way, were not members of the I.W.W. I.U. 440 sent the operators a suggestion, which was commented upon favorably by the press, to the effect that instead of going on strike, they might continue to operate the cars, but without collecting fares.3 The anticipated strike was finally averted, when the Transit Board consented to arbitration after having refused it previously.
An amusing incident was reported by the Detroit branch during this year. A member of that branch had discovered an unexpected use for his I.W.W. Committee button. For some time he had been trying unsuccessfully to secure a "Statement of Availability" from his employer. He was suddenly successful one day, when he showed up with his Committee button prominently displayed, and advised his boss that he had changed his mind about leaving and had decided to settle down on the job and to organize it.
Reports from other branches indicated minor progress. The Lumber Workers' Union held a convention in Spokane on Oct. 15, 16 and 17. Plans were discussed to stimulate the recruitment of new members in the short 10 log country in and around Idaho. A conference was held in Oakland on October 22 to devise ways to make the workers of the San Francisco Bay area better acquainted with the I.W.W. Letters from the Canadian and Australian branches were optimistic about their chances of increasing their membership. And, the Marine Transport Workers reported a few new members from the Lake Michigan area.
In addition, I.U. 310 reported from the Bishop mines of the U.S.Vanadium Co. that it was unsuccessful in its protest to the National Labor Relations Board about the Morrison and Knudsen Company. That company had insisted that its employees must be A.F.L. members. The company had fired those I.W.W.'s who refused to join the A.F.L.
During this year Cleveland continued to be the source of most of the news. However, there was also news from the Houston branch; the Detroit branch announced the opening of a new hall in May at No. 4 W. Vernor Highway at Woodward. In addition, during this year the magazine, Business Week, acknowledged the existence of the I.W.W. in an article from which excerpts are given below:1
War breathes life into the cadaver of the old Wobblies by uniting malcontents who spurn labor's no-strike pledge. Lastweek union members at the American Stove Co., in Cleveland walked out in a dispute over the transfer of several employees to departments where pay rates were lower...As recently as ten months ago, a new directory of U.S. labor organizations failed to list the I.W.W." although its listings were complete enough...But the I.W.W. is showing signs of life. In the metal shops of Cleveland, the vanadium mines of California, the copper diggings at Butte, the lumber camps around Spokane, and on the waterfronts of San Diego, New Orleans, and New York, the dead past is stirring and workers carry 'red cards'...Although the I.W.W. industrial union idea might be considered as having come to partial fruition in the C.I.O., many students think the organization's most important contribution to the labor movement is its development of the sitdown strike. A keystone in Wobbly strategy was the so-called 'strike on the job'. It implied the withdrawal of productive effort without absence from the work place...Now, as always, most Wobblies belong to two unions...Like the Communists, they operate on the theory that 'boring from within' can make them more widely influential than building exclusive organizations of their own...Consequently, the 7,000 members which the I.W.W. now claims... the I.W.W. is as purely syndicalist in philosophy as any organization that ever operated in America...As unionists, Wobblies have neve r sought recognition for their organization...The organization bargains for its members, but it will not sign contracts...Strikes for improved conditions are approved because the I.W.W. considers them fine training for the great revolutionary general strike which will bring capitalism crashing down...The decline of the I.W.W. movement was a direct result of the disappearance of the American frontier and pioneer conditions...A secondary factor which put the I.W.W. into the shade was the rise of the Communist Party...The I.W.W. revitalization, however, can hardly be expected to outlast the war...And the A.F.L. and C.I.O. have demonstrated, at least to the satisfaction of the bulk of their members, that labor's position can be improved under capitalism.
The Industrial Worker criticized this article on several points, protesting that it had never died out; that the article neglected to mention other contributions to the labor movement such as "endless-chain picketing"; that the I.W.W. does not believe in or practice "boring from within" tactics.
In May and June I.U. 510 reported opposition from the Galveston-Houston Towing Company to their efforts to organize the tugboat employees of that company. The company was accused of intimidating the employees and of declaring openly that it would discharge anyone promoting an outside union. In fact, the company did discharge L.R.Currington, an I.W.W., for organizing activities. The excuse given was that he had been absent with leave.
On Kay 14, the M.T.W. hall at Houston was raided by the police, apparently because someone had informed the police that the union was plotting a revolution in the hall.
The I.W.W. retained A.J. Mandell, a Civil Liberties Union lawyer, to protest this violation of civil rights, as well as the case of L.H. Currington referred to above. No satisfaction was obtained in either case.
In Cleveland a convention was held on October 20 and 21 by I.U. 440 at the Hotel Hollender. Twenty two delegates, the General Organization Committee, the General Secretary-Treasurer, and the General Executive Board member were present. Some of the questions discussed were: the check-off; the future of the Cleveland Newsletter ( a monthly paper printed by the Cleveland branch, including union news and personal items about the Cleveland members); improvement in the labor education of the members; and, minor amendments to the by-laws.
I.U. 440 had a little difficulty with the management of the Draper plant of Jones and Laughlin during this year. Apparently, the management wanted to get rid of the I.W.W. It complained of unprofitable operations due to a "slow-down" allegedly directed and supported by the union, and it threatened to close the plant. However, this threat was not carried out, and the situation didn't become serious until the next year.
Relations between the union and the American Stove company management were more satisfactory. During this year an agreement was reached by which the workers received a 20% increase.
- 1Business Week. 3/7/45
been thoroughly enjoying this series.
Yeah, me too. I'm sort of sad that 1946 is the last year and I am almost done with it. The rest of the Appendix's are the constitution and some songs.
I've been very interested in Cleveland for years. Brill was kind enough to send me a copy some time ago the thesis "From Syndicalism to Trade Unionism" (about Cleveland). I have an interest in how both the IWW and the Swedish SAC were able to maintain functioning unions during lean times for other revolutionary unions (mainly due to repression).
Interesting stuff. Thanks for the series.
Considerable organizing work was still being done in Cleveland by 1946. In June, there was a National Labor Relations Board election at the Cleveland Electronics Company. The vote was for the I.W.W. or no union. The I.W.W. lost this one, as well as a later election at the Green Ball Bearing Company. However, they won at the Schrimer-Dornbirer Pump Company.
The union went on strike at the Pump Company on the morning after Labor Day for starting rates of one dollar an hour for all employees working on assembly and machine work with increases of five cents a month thereafter, until their rates were in line with those paid for similar work elsewhere. They also demanded time and one half for all hours over eight in anj one day, and a union shop. In retaliation the company sued the union for twenty-five thousand dollars as damages. It claimed that performance of some of its contracts had been unreasonably delayed, and, in some cases, made impossible by the union's actions.
Early in October the union and company arrived at a compromise agreement. The company withdrew its suit, agreed to pay time and one half for all hours over eight, and also agreed to a wage adjustment saightly less than the union had demanded.
The friction between the union and the management of the Draper Manufacturing division of Jones and Laughlin culminated in a work-stoppage in 1946 which lasted for seven weeks. Although neither management nor the Ohio Unemployment Commission would agree with them, the union insisted that a "lock-out" and not a "strike" existed. The union contended that a lock-out had occurred, because no legitimate offer of employment had been given. The union had sought a twenty-five cent increase, a reclassification of jobs, and new hourly job rates. The company offered the eighteen and one half increase typical of steel industry settlements, but included a change in the existing incentive system, which the union contended would have resulted in an increase of only about six and one half cents. The union also pointed out that the company had no right to change the incentive system approved by the Wage Stabilization Board without the agreement of the union as well as the Wage Stabilization Board. The company then withdrew its offer entirely, including the eighteen and one half cent increase.
The seven week struggle which resulted was relatively peaceful. It was terminated, when the workers decided that most of their demands had been met. The eighteen and one half cent increase had been reinstated and the incentive plan previously proposed by the company had been modified. Other issues, such as the rates for certain job classifications, were left over for negotiation.
At about the same time satisfactory increases in pay were negotiated by the union with the American Stove and Republic Brass companies in Cleveland.
From March 21 to March 25 delegates to the twenty-fifth national Convention met in Chicago. Nothing of great importance developed from this convention. Resolutions were passed against the Communist Party, wars, and the check-off.
In September a conference of the Marine Transport Workers was held in Houston, Texas. Among other th&ngs it passed a resolution commending the various unions engaged in the 1945 water front strikes for their show of solidarity, and reaffirmed the I.W.W.'s traditional stand in support of all workers in their fight against employers.
Appendix 1: Preamble of the Industrial Workers of the World
The working class and the employing class have nothing in common. There can be no peace so long as hunger and want are found among millions of the working people and the few, who make up the employing class, have all the good things of life.
Between these two classes a struggle must go on until the workers of the world organize as a class, take possession of the earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system.
We find that the centering of the management of industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever-growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.
These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in anyone industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.
Instead of the conservative motto, "A fair day's wage for a fair day's work”, we must inscribe on our banner the revolutionary watchword, "Abolition of the wage system.”
It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for the everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.
Knowing, therefore, that such an organization is absolutely necessary for our emancipation, we unite under the following constitution:
Appendix 2: Constitution of the Industrial Workers of the World
Name and Structure
Section 1. This organization shall be known as THE INDUSTRIAL WORKERS OF THE WORLD.
Sec. 2. The Industrial Workers of the World shall be composed of actual wage workers brought together in an organization embodying Industrial Departments, Industrial Unions, General Recruiting Union and Industrial District Councils.
Sec. 3 (a) An Industrial Department shall be composed of Industrial Unions in closely kindred industries appropriate for representation in the departmental administration, and assigned thereto by the General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World.
(b) An Industrial Department shall consist of two or more Industrial Unions aggregating a membership of not less than 20,000 members. The Departments shall have general supervision over the affairs of the Industrial Unions composing same, provided that all matters concerning the entire membership of the I.W.W. shall be settled by a referendum.
(c) The Departments shall be designated as follows:
1—Department of Agriculture, Land, Fisheries and Water Products.
2—Department of Mining.
3—Department of Construction.
4 -Department of Manufacturing and General Production.
5—Department of Transportation and Communication.
6—Department of Public Service.
Sec. 4. Industrial Unions shall he composed of actual wage workers in a given industry welded together as the particular requirements of said industry may render necessary.
Sec. 5. Whenever there are three or more branches of an Industrial Union or the G.R.U. in any city or industrial district, they should form an industrial Union District Council.
Sec. 6. Industrial District Councils may he organized for the purpose of promoting general solidarity in a given district and shall he composed of delegates representing the branches of various Industrial Unions and the G.R.U. within said district.
Sec. 7. Said Council shall be limited in scope to industrial centers and environs, which shall be determined by the membership of such industrial centers jointly. All by-laws of Industrial District Councils must be ratified by a majority vote (hand raising and recorded) of the membership within said district. The Industrial District Council shall meet as often as conditions in its locality necessitate.
Sec. 8. Industrial District Council Charters shall he issued upon application of three or more branches of different Industrial Unions, upon payment of the fee of three dollars.
Jurisdiction of the Councils
Sec. 9. Councils shall have charge of all propaganda work such as taking charge of street and indoor meetings, and the proceeds of same, the distribution of literature and papers within their jurisdiction and they shall also secure halls and meeting places for Industrial Union branches. They shall have no legislative authority over the affairs of any Industrial Union branch. Councils shall not act on resolutions or communications unless said matters have been duly acted upon by a quorum.
Sec. 10. No legislation conflicting with the constitution of the I. W. W. shall be passed by any subordinate body.
Section 1 (a) None but actual wage workers shall be members of the Industrial Workers of the World.
No one shall be excluded from membership because of creed or color.
(b) Unions shall define the eligibility of their membership, not conflicting with the provisions of this Constitution.
(c) Editors of papers not controlled by the I. W. W. shall not be eligible to membership in the I. W. W. , except where such papers are sanctioned by the G. E. B. of the I. W. W.
(d) No member of the Industrial Workers of the World shall be an officer of a trade or craft union or political party.
Exceptions may be made by the Branch wherein permission shall be granted for members to become officers of trade or craft unions under special conditions.
Sec. 2. All applicants shall agree to abide by the Constitution and regulations of the I.W.W. and diligently study its principles and make themselves acquainted with its purpose. This obligation shall be printed on the application blank.
Sec. 3. Whenever there are seven or more members on a job, they shall constitute them-selves a shop or job branch, and elect a job committee and a job delegate to attend to urgent matters between business meetings. No member should serve permanently on a committee. At each meeting a new committee should be elected. All members should take their turn at serving on committees.
Sec. 4. (a) Not less than seven members, not including the paid Branch Secretary, shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.
(b) No paid official of any part of the Industrial Workers of the World shall be permitted to vote in Branch meetings.
Section 1. The General Administration shall consist of the General Secretary-Treasurer and the General Executive Board.
Sec. 2 (a) The term of office shall be for one year and the same shall commence on January 1. Officials after serving their first term of office shall be eligible for re-election for two more terms.
(b) The General Secretary-Treasurer and the members of the General Executive Board shall receive $40 per week, or $8 per day when working less than a full week, and mileage when on actual duty. The General Secretary-Treasurer shall be allowed expenses not to exceed $5 per week. The General Executive Board shall set the wages of all general organization employees and organizers.
Sec. 3. (a) The eight largest Industrial Unions shall nominate and elect their own G. E. B. Members. The General Recruiting Union shall nominate and elect a G. E. B. Member. The Secretary-Treasurer and G.E.B. shall be members for three years, and eighteen months in continuous good standing, immediately prior to nomination.
(b) The three candidates for Secretary-Treasurer receiving the highest number of votes on the floor of the convention shall be submitted to the general membership for election, the one receiving the highest number of votes on referendum to be elected.
The General Executive Board Chair-man shall be the alternate to the General Secretary-Treasurer. Alternates to the General Executive Board shall be so designated on the Industrial Union ballots.
(d) The general administration officials on assuming office shall be transferred out of their respective Industrial Unions and become members at large.
(e) No official of the general administration shall be permitted to hold other office in, or become a paid employee of any Indus-trial Union of the Industrial Workers of the World.
Duties of General Secretary-Treasurer
Sec. 4. The duties of the General Secretary-Treasurer shall be to take charge of all books, papers and effects of the office. He shall conduct the correspondence pertaining to his office. He shall be the custodian of the seal of the organization, and shall attach same to all official documents over his official signature. He shall furnish the committee on credentials, at each general convention, a statement of the financial standing of each Industrial Union. He shall have a voice, but no vote, in the governing bodies of the organization.
The General Secretary-Treasurer shall close his accounts for the fiscal year on the last day of July. He shall make a monthly financial report to the General Executive Board and the general membership. He shall also make a complete itemized report of financial and other affairs of his office to each General Convention.
He shall prepare and sign all charters issued by the General Executive Board. He shall receive all moneys for charters from Industrial Unions and Industrial Departments. He shall receipt for same, care for and deposit all moneys as instructed by the General Executive Board, in some solvent bank or banks, which shall be drawn out only to pay indebtedness rising out of due conduct of the business of the organization, and then only if bills shall have been first duly presented by the creditors, when a check shall be drawn by him in payment thereof.
He shall employ such assistants as are necessary to conduct the affairs of his office, remuneration for such employes to be fixed by the General Executive Board.
Duties of the General Executive Board
Sec. 5 (a) The General Executive Board shall elect its own chairman from its own number.
The General Executive Board shall have general supervision over all affairs of the organization between conventions, and shall watch vigilantly over the interests through-out its jurisdiction. It shall be assisted by the officers and members of all organizations subordinate to the Industrial Workers of the World. It shall appoint such organizers as the conditions of the organization may justify.
(b) The General Executive Board shall not appoint or cause to be appointed any delegate or organizer against the protest of, and with-out first notifying, the G.O.C. of the Indus-trial Union which has jurisdiction in the territory in which the delegate or organizer is to operate.
All organizers so appointed shall at all times work under the instruction of the General Executive Board. All organizers and General Executive Board members, while in the employ of the Industrial Workers of the World, shall report to the Chairman of the General Executive Board in writing, on blanks provided for that purpose, at least once each week.
(c) The General Executive Board shall have full power to issue charters to Industrial Departments, Industrial Unions, Branches and Industrial District Councils.
(d) The General Executive Board shall have full power and authority over all I.W.W. publications and guide their policy.
(e) The members of the General Executive Board shall have power to visit any subordinate body of the I.W.W. and have full authority to examine and audit all accounts of such body; and also to enforce the use of the uniform system of bookkeeping as adopted by the Convention of the I.W.W. from time to time.
(f) The General Executive Board shall meet on the call of the Chairman or majority vote of the General Executive Board.
(g) All matters pertaining to organization shall be settled by the entire General Executive Board by mail or wire when absent from headquarters. It shall take a majority vote to settle any question.
(h) The General Executive Board shall have power to appoint a Secretary of the General Defense Committee whenever they deem it necessary.
(I) The General Executive Board shall issue a monthly report of their activities.
Charges Against General Officers
Sec. 6 (a) Charges against any of the General Officers shall be filed in writing with the G. E. B. or the General Convention, at the option of the person filing charges.
If the charges are filed before the G. E. B. they shall at once have a copy of the charges sent to the accused, together with the notice of the date of the hearing of the charges. Charges filed before the General Convention must be sent to the General Secretary at least thirty days prior to the date of the convening of the convention.
On receipt of the charges the General Secretary will forward a copy of the same to the accused and notice to appear at the convention for trial.
(b) Any decision of the G.E.B. on charges tried by them shall be subject to appeal to the next General Convention and from the General Convention to the general membership. The decision of the General Convention on charges can be appealed to the general membership.
The cost of appealing to the general membership shall be borne by the party taking the appeal. If the vote on appeal results in the favor of the party taking the appeal then the General Organization shall refund the cost of the appeal.
Sec. 1 (a) The General Headquarters of the Industrial Workers of the World shall function as a Clearing House that will automatically settle all debts between Industrial Unions and General Headquarters.
(b) All credentials shall be universal and issued from said Clearing House. All Branch Secretaries and all delegates of all Industrial Unions and the G.R.U. shall report to and remit all financial returns direct to the Clearing House, excepting where the Industrial Union by-laws provide for the job delegate reporting through the secretary of the branch of which the delegate is a member. The General Secretary-Treasurer of the General Organization shall deduct the cost of supplies, the per capita due the General Organization, that portion due the Press, the pro ratio cost of maintaining the Clearing House, from remittances on said reports and deposit the balance to the credit of the respective Industrial Union.
If the Clearing House costs exceed 15 cents per monthly dues stamp the excess cost shall be taken out of the funds of the General Organization.
The Chairman of the General Executive Board of the I.W.W. shall countersign all checks issued by the General Secretary. Books, records, and all financial and supply accounts of all Industrial Unions and the G.R.U. shall be kept in said Clearing House.
(c) The Industrial Unions and the General Recruiting Union shall determine percentage of dues, initiations, and assessments that may be retained by the Branches, providing that percentage remitted to headquarters be no less than the pro ratio expense of maintaining the Clearing House and the per capita to the General Administration.
(d) Each department, the Industrial Unions and the G.R.U. shall have a General Organization Committee of at least three members, who shall look diligently after the affairs of their respective union, or unions, carrying out the wishes of the respective membership of said unions. The General Organization Committee, through the General Secretary-Treasurer, shall order the withdrawal and spending of such sums as are deemed necessary for the carrying on of Industrial Union activities, and at all times be governed by the By-Laws, Constitution and referendum of their respective I.U., or departments, or General Recruiting Union.
(e) The cost of maintaining the G.E.B. and the General Convention shall be defrayed from the sum of the per capita tax and not from the funds of the Industrial Unions. The pro-ratio cost of maintaining the General Office shall in no manner include any expenditures necessary for the upkeep of the General Executive Board, the Press, or the General Defense.
(f) The General Administration can not use any finance belonging to an Industrial Union without the consent of the G.O.C. of the Industrial Union, or Unions. Any General Official violating any provision of this article to be held delinquent for such violation.
(g) An itemized financial statement shall be issued by the General Secretary-Treasurer at the end of each month, showing the total receipts and expenditures of each Industrial Union and of the General Recruiting Union.
(h) All units of the Industrial Workers of the World shall pay all indebtedness to each other at the end of each month.
(I) Industrial Unions, or the General Recruiting Union, becoming six months in arrears on per capita or pro ratio assessment account with the General Organization shall be declared on an unsound basis, and the General Executive Board shall assume full control of such Union, after having served a sixty day notice on such Union. During the aforementioned sixty day period, the G. E. B. shall advise the rank and file of such union in an endeavor to remedy the situation without drastic action.
Duties of Branch Secretaries and Delegates
(a) Applications for all accepted members eligible for membership in existing Industrial Unions shall be forwarded to the Clearing House.
(b) Branch Secretaries and Delegates of Industrial Unions shall be empowered to initiate and collect dues from all wage workers in any industry in their locality.
(c) No job delegate credentials shall be issued to any member not in good standing in the I.W.W. for at least six months.
Sec. 1 (a) The Annual General Convention of the Industrial Workers of the World shall convene on the second Monday of September each year where General Headquarters is located.
(b) The General Convention of the I.W.W. shall not remain in session over ten days. Prior to the Convention the General Executive Board shall issue an agenda to the delegates to the General Convention specifying the time limit on each question. All resolutions, wherever possible, shall be in the hands of the G.E.B. ten (10) days before the opening of the convention. Mimeographed copies of all resolutions to be furnished all delegates.
Sec. 2. The convention of the Industrial Workers of the World has power to expel any member for violation of principles, constitution or by-laws of the Industrial Workers of the World. It is also the legislative body of the organization and its enactments are of legal force when sustained by a referendum vote of the membership touching any and all amendments to the organic law which the convention may adopt. Such amendments shall be submitted to referendum vote by the General Executive Board within fifteen (15) days after adjournment of the convention. The vote shall close forty-five (45) days after the date of issuing of referendum.
Sec. 3 (a) Representation in the convention shall be based upon the amount of per capita paid to General Headquarters for dues for the fiscal year prior to the convention, except for Industrial Unions that have been chartered less than a year, which shall have representation in proportion. Each union entitled to representation in the convention shall be entitled to one vote for the first fifty (50) of its members and one additional vote for each additional fifty (50) of its members or major fraction thereof.
Votes of Delegates
(b) Unions, chartered directly by the Industrial Workers of the World, shall have two delegates for 200 members or less and one additional delegate for each additional 200 or major fraction thereof.
(c) When two or more delegates are representing an Industrial Union in the convention, the vote of such Industrial Union shall be equally divided between the delegates.
Sec. 4 (a) On or before July 1 of each year the General Secretary-Treasurer shall send to the Chairman of the General Organization Committee of each Industrial Union and the G.R.U. credentials in duplicate for the number of delegates and alternates they are en-titled to in the convention.
(b) The Chairman of the General Organization Committee of the Industrial Unions and the G.R.U. shall properly fill out the blank credentials received from the General Secretary-Treasurer and return one copy to the General Office not later than August 15. The other copy shall be presented by the delegate to the Committee on Credentials when the Convention assembles.
Sec. 5. The General Executive Board shall draw up a list of delegates against whom no contest has been filed at the general office. The General Secretary-Treasurer shall call the convention to order and read the aforesaid list. The delegates on the said list shall proceed to form a temporary organization by electing a temporary Chairman and a Committee on Credentials.
Sec. 6 (a) Delegates to the General Convention from the Industrial Unions must be members of the I.W.W. for one year and in continuous good standing for sixty days immediately prior to nomination.
(h) The general administration officials shall be delegates at large, with voice but no vote. All paid officials and employes must be off the payroll ninety (90) days prior to the convening of the General Convention to become eligible as delegates. Any member who has not been on the payroll ten (10) consecutive days in the three months immediately prior to the convening of the convention, shall be eligible as a delegate. No delegate shall cast more than one vote when voting on the seating of a contested delegate or delegates. No delegate shall have more than one vote on the expulsion of a member.
(c) Delegates to the General Convention shall not serve for two consecutive terms.
Records of Delegates
(d) The Clearing House shall forward a complete record of each delegate elected to the general convention of the I.W.W., to the Chairman of the G.E.B. and to the Secretary-Treasurer in order to facilitate the work of the Credentials Committee of the general convention.
Expenses of Delegates
Sec. 7. The expenses of the delegates at-tending the general convention shall be borne by their respective Industrial Unions except mileage both ways which shall be paid by the General Organization provided the delegate comes from and returns to the district he was elected from.
Sec. 8. Two or more unions, with a total membership of 500 or less, may jointly send a delegate to the convention, and the vote of said delegate shall be based on the representation hereinbefore provided for.
Sec. 9. Industrial Unions that are indebted to the official organs or the publishing bureau controlled by the organization, having sufficient funds to pay their indebtedness, shall not be entitled to representation in the General Convention.
Sec. 10 A general membership meeting shall be advertised and called in Chicago 30 days prior to the general convention for the purpose of electing an auditing committee from the floor of said meeting, to audit headquarters' books and supplies. Any member who has not been out of office for ninety days will not be eligible for this auditing committee.
Sec. 11. Resolutions for the General Convention shall be acted upon by their Industrial Union Convention, and if the Industrial Union has no convention, then the branches acting on same must send them to their Industrial Union G.O.C. or G.O.C. Chairman to be segregated ; and each resolution shall be on a separate sheet of paper and duplicated. No resolution sent in by an individual shall be considered by the General Convention.
Section 1. There shall be a Universal Label for the entire organization. It shall be of a crimson color and always the same in design. The use of the Universal Label shall never be delegated to employers, but shall be vested entirely in our organization. Except on stickers, circulars and literature proclaiming the merits of the Industrial Workers of the World, and emanating from the General Offices of the Industrial Workers of the World, the Universal Label shall be printed only as evidence of work done by I.W.W. members.
When the label is so printed it shall be done by the authority of our organization, without the intervention of any employer.
Whenever the Universal Label is placed upon a commodity as evidence of work done by Industrial Workers, it shall be accompanied by an inscription underneath the label stating what the work is that Industrial Workers have done, giving the name of Industrial Department to which they belong and the number or numbers of their unions; and the Universal Label shall never be printed as evidence of work performed without this inscription.
Sec. 2. Each union and branch shall be provided with a seal by the General Secretary- •Treasurer, which shall bear the number of the union, and all official papers from the union or branch must bear an imprint of this seal, and none will be legal without such impression.
Section 1. The revenue of the organization shall be derived as follows: Charter fees for Industrial Departments shall be $25.00, and for Industrial Unions $10.00. Industrial Union branches shall pay $2.00 for seal and charter.
Sec. 2 (a) The per capita tax of Industrial Unions and the General Recruiting Union shall be ten cents per month per member.
(b) All foreign administrations of the I.W.W. shall pay a per capita tax of ½ cent per dues stamp per month to the General Administration. All funds derived from this per capita tax shall only be used for international organization purposes.
Initiation Fees and Dues
Sec. 3 (a) The initiation fee for members of Industrial Unions and the G.R.U. shall be no more than $10.00. The regular monthly dues of Industrial Unions and the G.R.U. directly united with the general organization shall he no less than 50 cents and no more than $2.00. No part of the initiation fee or dues above mentioned shall be used as a sick or death benefit, but shall be held in the treasury as a general fund to defray the legitimate expenses.
(b) Each Industrial Union shall have the right to levy its own assessments.
(c) All dues stamps for all Industrial Unions must be of the same design without the price printed on them.
(d) A page shall be provided in the credentials fully stating the initiating fee and the dues charged by every Industrial Union for the information of delegates and branch secretaries.
Sec. 4. A twenty-five cent (25c) quarterly press assessment stamp shall be issued by the G.E.B. Revenue derived from this assessment shall be used as a subsidy for the Industrial Worker. The quarterly press assessment shall be payable on the first day of each quarter. Members who fail to pay their press assessment on, or before the last day of the quarter, shall be declared in bad standing until such time as the assessment is paid.
Section 1 (a) All proposed amendments to the Constitution and By-Laws shall clearly state the article, section and paragraph to which the amendment applies. New articles and sections shall be so stated. Each clause to be amended shall be on a separate sheet.
(h) All parts of the Constitution conflicting with amendments ratified by a referendum vote are hereby declared null and void.
Sec. 2. (a) The General Executive Board or the General Organization Committee of three or more Industrial Unions shall have the power to initiate a referendum on any organization question.
(b) On receipt of the initiative call for a referendum the General Office shall publish same in the official publications, and must submit it to a vote of the general member-ship within five (5) days.
(c) The General Referendum shall be open for voting not less than twenty-one days and not more than forty-five days. The date for a return of a referendum shall be stated on the ballot, by which date tabulated ballots must be in the General Office. I.U.'s and the G.R.U. on their referenda shall set their own time limits, within these limits.
(d) The returns of the referendum shall remain in General Headquarters in sealed envelopes until the ballot committee meets. Ballot committee shall meet immediately on expiration of time set for return of ballots. The General Secretary-Treasurer shall notify Industrial Union or body initiating referendum of date set for count of ballots.
(e) The ballot committee to count the votes on the referendum shall be composed as follows: Three (3) members in continuous good standing for one year prior to their election on committee shall be elected by the Industrial Unions in the city in which Headquarters is located. In reporting through the monthly bulletin the returns of referendums and elections, the General Secretary-Treasurer shall give the names of the ballot committee together with their card numbers and the Industrial Union of which they are members.
(f) The Industrial Union or body initiating a referendum shall pay the expenses of its own delegates on ballot committee unless the referendum is carried, in which event the expenses shall be borne by the general organization.
(g) Referendum returns from any Industrial Union cannot exceed its paid up membership for the three months prior to the vote on the referendum in question.
(h) Ballots shall be in duplicate form and numbered serially.
(I) All Constitutional changes ratified by a general referendum ballot shall take effect January 1st, unless otherwise decided by the General Convention.
Sec. 3. The general administration officials shall be subject to recall upon a referendum, initiated as provided for in Section 2 (a), Article IX. Such officials shall automatically stand suspended from office until referendum reinstates them. The alternates shall fill offices of suspended officials.
Transfers, Craft Cards, Etc.
Section 1. There shall be a free interchange of cards between all organizations subordinate to the Industrial Workers of the World, and any Industrial Union shall accept, in lieu of initiation fee, the paid up membership card of any recognized labor union.
Sec. 2. Members of an Industrial Union who cease work in that industry and are working in another industry for thirty days or more, must transfer to the proper Industrial Union. No member is allowed to transfer unless actually working in the industry he wishes to transfer to.
(b) Any member of chartered unions when working in another industrial union over thirty days and who fails to transfer shall be considered a member in bad standing.
Sec. 3. Members in arrears in dues and assessments can not transfer from one Industrial Union to another. Delinquent delegates can not transfer.
Sec. 4 (a) All delegates upon transferring a member from one Industrial Union to an-other shall immediately send the record of transfer to the Clearing House.
(b) Any member of the I.W.W. who has attended any I.U.S or G.R.U. Conference or Convention, with voice and vote 90 days prior to the convening of the General Convention, at which action was taken on resolutions to be presented to the General Convention, or at which delegates to the General Convention were elected, shall not have voice and vote at any other I.U.S Convention or Conference prior to the General Convention.
Withdrawal of Cards
Sec. 5. On application, members who cease to be wage workers shall send their cards to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Clearing House, who shall enter date of withdrawal on transfer page of membership book, together with his official signature, and return same to the withdrawing member.
Sec. 6. Any member in continuous good standing for ten years and found, after proper investigation by the Branch of the Industrial Union to which he belongs, to be incapacitated for life, the Industrial Union shall issue him a special membership card carrying the privilege of having a voice under "Good and Welfare", but with no voice on the business of the Branch.
Section 1. The number of signers required on an application for a Charter shall not be less than twenty.
Sec. 2. (a) Supplies issued to Delegates and Branch Secretaries on behalf of Industrial Unions shall be charged to the Industrial Union.
(b) Per capita for the actual dues paid during the month shall be remitted to the General Headquarters not later than the 10th day of the following month. Should any Industrial Union or the General Recruiting Union fail to do so the General Executive Board shall not issue any more supplies until the former are paid.
Sec. 3. The charter of a union or branch shall not be surrendered so long as ten members who agree to abide by the rules and regulations of the General Organization objects thereto, nor shall the funds of any organization be divided among its member-ship.
Sec. 4. Upon a union surrendering its charter, the General Executive Board shall appoint a representative of the Industrial Workers of the World to take charge of the charter, supplies and property and funds of said union. Members or officers of said union refusing to deliver charter, supplies, property or funds of union surrendering its charter to the authorized representatives of the Industrial Workers of the World shall be expelled from the organization.
Sec. 5. Whenever a membership of 500 has been attained in any industry, they shall be issued an Industrial Union charter upon re-quest.
Sec. 1. Industrial Unions and the G.R.U. shall be allowed to initiate unemployed workers at a fee not to exceed twenty-five cents (25c) and to charge them monthly dues not to exceed twenty-five (25c). The Industrial Union, or the G.R.U., doing so shall remit the regular charge for supplies used and five cents (5c) per unemployed dues stamp used, to the Clearing House to help defray costs. No per capita shall be charged for unemployed dues stamps.
Sec. 2. No member shall be allowed to pay unemployed dues ahead of the current month.
Sec. 3. The unemployed dues shall apply to unemployed members initiated prior to adoption of this provision. Each Industrial Union, or the G.R.U., shall define the eligibility of members to unemployed stamps, with-in its own jurisdiction. Unemployed dues stamps may be issued for back months, not to exceed six (6) months.
Sec. 4. Each Industrial Union, or the G.R.U., shall set the minimum number of back months for which dues may be so paid.
Sec. 5. All members shall pay the regular press assessment.
Sec. 6. Special unemployed dues stamps shall be furnished by the Clearing House, and be entered separately on report sheets.
Sec. 7. Members with unemployed dues stamps shall be entitled to full rights and privileges.
Sec. 8. The five cents paid the Clearing House per unemployed dues stamp shall en-title the Industrial Union or the G.R.U., to the same representation at the General Convention as the ten cents per capita paid per regular dues stamp.
Section 1. Unions shall have the power to enact such laws for their government as they may deem necessary, providing they do not conflict with the Constitution and By-Laws of the Industrial Workers of the World.
Sec. 2. A majority vote cast shall rule in the general organization and its subordinate parts.
Section 1. The General Defense Committee shall be composed of the members of the G.E.B. and Secretary-Treasurer, and they shall be empowered to hire any help necessary. All local defense committees shall submit monthly financial reports to the General Defense Committee.
Sec. 2. Membership in General Defense Locals shall be open to non-members of the Industrial Workers of the World who sub-scribe to the principles of the General Defense Committee.
Sec. 3. No expelled member of the I.W.W. shall be eligible to membership in any of the General Defense Committee Locals.
Sec. 4. The General Defense Committee shall be known as the General Defense Committee of the I.W.W. and shall be so stated on membership cards, literature and letter-heads.
Sec. 1. Whenever charges are filed by a member of one Industrial Union against a member of the same Industrial Union, they shall be in writing, setting forth the facts, together with the names of witnesses and their statements regarding the offenses with which the accused member is charged.
The charges shall be read in the Industrial Union Branch at the next regular meeting, at which time five members shall be elected from the floor of the meeting to act as a charges committee. The accuser and the accused shall have no voice in the election of the charges committee, nor can either of them act on same.
The committee shall furnish the accused with a true copy of the charges either by registered mail or by personal delivery in the presence of a witness. The charges committee shall set a date for a hearing and shall collect all evidence both for and against the accused, and at the end of their hearing they shall submit their findings together with the charges and evidence to the next regular meeting of the branch, at which time the membership will accept or reject their findings.
If the findings are accepted by both parties the decision shall at once be sent by registered mail to the headquarters of the Industrial Union. If either party so desires, an appeal may be taken within 30 days to the Convention of the Industrial Union, and to the general membership of the Industrial Union for referendum.
Sec. 2. Whenever charges are filed against a member of another Industrial Union the member preferring the charges shall present same to the branch of which the accused is a member if there is a branch in the city or industrial district where the alleged offense was committed. If charges are preferred against a member of another Industrial Union for an alleged offense in a city or industrial district where there is no branch of the Industrial Union of which the accused is a member, then the charges may be tried by any I.W.W. branch in the city, provided, how-ever, if there are two or more I. W. W. branches in the city the trial branch shall not be the one to which the accuser belongs.
Sec. 3. It shall be optional for each Industrial Union to make by-laws permitting the filing of charges direct with the Industrial Union Convention.
Sec. 4. Appeal may be taken from the Industrial Union Convention to the General Convention by either side.
Sec. 5 (a) No member's card shall be taken up without the action of a regular business meeting, conference or convention.
(b) No publicity shall be given in our papers on any suspension until same has been acted upon by the I.U.S Convention or General Convention. The I.U.S Convention or General Convention shall then order whatever publicity is necessary on the case.
Sec. 6 (a) The circulation of accusations by one member against another, unless substantiated by charges filed according to these provisions, shall be grounds for expulsion of members circulating such matters.
(b) No member of the I.W.W. shall be suspended for more than 90 days. All charges must be finally disposed of, and members so charged either expelled or reinstated within that time.
Section 1. All employes hired by the I.W.W. shall be members of the I.W.W. when possible.
Sec. 2. The general organization and Industrial Unions shall be prohibited from employing expelled members until such members have been reinstated and placed in good standing by the union or unions from which they were expelled.
Sec. 1. Monthly dues are payable the first of each month. Members whose dues are sixty days in arrears (sixty days from the first of the month when the dues were payable), shall be in bad standing and shall not be entitled to any rights or benefits in the I.W.W. until such dues have been paid. After six months in bad standing members can not take part in business meetings.
Sec. 2. Delinquent delegates are members in bad standing. Delinquency of delegates shall be defined by the Industrial Union to which the delegate belongs.
Sec. 3. All G.O.C. traveling delegates and branch secretaries when issuing credentials shall mark in delegate's membership card the number of the credentials issued with the date, and by whom issued; and when a delegate's account is cleared, the Clearing House shall issue him a clearance stamp to be affixed in his or her membership card.
All subordinate organizations of the Industrial Workers of the World must procure and use such supplies as due books, due stamps, official buttons, labels and badges from the General Secretary-Treasurer. All such supplies are to be of uniform design.
Speakers and Organizers
Section 1. No member of the I.W.W. shall represent the organization before a body of wage earners without first having been authorized by the General Executive Board or a subordinate part of the I.W.W.
Sec. 2. No organizer for the I.W.W. while on the platform for this organization shall advocate any political party platform.
Section 1. Any official or employe of any part of the Industrial Workers of the World seen in public in a state of intoxication shall, upon sufficient proof, be at once removed from his position by the authority having jurisdiction over such employe, and upon conviction, shall not be eligible to hold office in any part of the organization for two years thereafter.
Sec. 2. Any member who is, on sufficient proof, found engaged in selling intoxicating liquor (bootlegging) shall be expelled.
The commission on initiations shall be no more than 50 cents.
Any member who accepts nomination for an official position and declines after his name has been placed on the ballot, shall not be eligible for any office for two years, unless good cause is given, such as sickness or being in jail.
No publication that is entirely controlled by the I.W.W. shall accept paid advertisement in any form.
Political Parties and Discipline
Whereas, The primary object of the Industrial Workers of the World is to unite the workers on the industrial battlefield; and
Whereas, Organization in any sense implies discipline through the subordination of parts to the whole and of the individual member to the body of which he is a part; therefore, be it Resolved, That to the end of promoting industrial unity and of securing necessary discipline within the organization, the I.W.W. refuses all alliances, direct and indirect, with existing political parties or anti-political sects, and disclaims responsibility for any individual opinion or act which may be at variance with the purposes herein expressed.
Sec. 1. Each Industrial Union and the General Recruiting Union shall have power to make rules relating to agreements between its job branches and the employers.
Sec. 2. No agreement made by any component part of the I.W.W. shall provide for a check off of union dues by the employer, or obligate the members of the union to do work that would aid in breaking any strike.
No clause of the General By-Laws in the General Constitution shall be considered valid unless carried by referendum vote and inserted in the General Constitution and By-Laws.
LIST OF INDUSTRIAL UNIONS
To be Used for the Information of Delegates
in Initiating New Members
Agricultural Workers' Industrial Union No. 110.
Lumber Workers' Industrial Union No. 120. Fishermen's Industrial Union No. 130.
Floricultural Workers' Industrial Union No. 140.
Metal Mine Workers' Industrial Union No. 210.
Coal Miners' and Coke Oven Workers' Industrial Union No. 220.
Oil, Gas and Petroleum Workers' Industrial Union No. 230.
General Construction Workers' Industrial Union No. 310.
Shipbuilding Workers' Industrial Union No. 320.
Building Workers' Industrial Union No. 330.
Textile and Clothing Workers' Industrial Union No. 410.
Furniture Workers' Industrial Union No. 420.
Chemical Workers' Industrial Union No. 430.
Metal and Machinery Workers' Industrial Union No. 440.
Printing and Publishing House Workers' Industrial Union No. 450.
Foodstuff Workers' Industrial Union No. 460.
Leather Workers' Industrial Union No. 470.
Glass and Pottery Workers' Industrial Union No. 480.
Pulp and Paper Mill Workers' Industrial Union No. 490.
Marine Transport Workers' Industrial Union No. 510.
Railroad Workers' Industrial Union No. 520.
Motor Transport Workers' Industrial Union No. 530.
Municipal Transportation Workers' Industrial Union No. 540.
Air Transport Workers' Industrial Union No. 550.
Communication Workers' Industrial Union No. 560.
Health Service Workers' Industrial Union No. 610.
Educational Workers' Industrial Union No. 620.
Recreational Workers' Industrial Union No. 630.
Hotel, Restaurant and Building Service Workers' Industrial Union No. 640.
Park and Highway Maintenance Workers' Industrial Union No. 650.
General Distribution Workers' Industrial Union No. 660.
Public Service Workers' Industrial Union No. 670.
When initiating new members be sure to place them in the Industrial Union to which they belong.
Never heard of this, look
Never heard of this, look forward to seeing the full thesis!
Ok, I believe this is now
Ok, I believe this is now complete. Worth reading if you're interested in the IWW during this period.
Thanks for putting this up!
Thanks for putting this up!
Another one I keep meaning to
Another one I keep meaning to read