Redwing Workers Organization History

A short history on the activity of various small groups that eventually went on to become the Redwing Workers Organization, a libertarian socialist organization from Des Moines, Iowa that existed in the late 1970s.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on February 25, 2011

November 1972: Marxist-Leninist Educational 2 days, 13 people; high level of solidarity; decided to meet to discuss forming an ongoing group

December 1972: Follow-up meeting to the educational; decided to form an ongoing group

Summer 1973: Women’s and Men’s caucuses form; initiated by FSG; included all FSG members and people not in FSG, met bi-weekly.

February 1973: After several preliminary meetings the Feminist-Socialist Group (FSG) was formed; a united front group; low level of ideological unity; for many it was the first “political” organization experience; 19 members, met weekly; actions included: anti-JROTC (became the Des Moines Anti-Imperialist Caucus): NOW, Grape and Lettuce Boycott Committee, workers support group (provided support for Central National Bank organizing effort); food coop, and the women’s center. The agenda evolved from ritual, study, caucus, action discussions, announcements, agenda building and criticism/self-criticism to include caucus reports and problems of the group (group maintenance functions); study topics included Marxism, Feminism, Anarchism, Maoism, Leninism

March 1974: FSG sponsored 2 day revolutionary thought educational; 10 participants, 5 join

March-June 1974: Ongoing discussion of basis for division of FSG into 2 Primary Revolutionary Groups (PRG’s).

June 1974: Divided into 2 groups; guidelines for division included: desire for collective houses to stay together, desire to work for ideological unity or united front group, and strong tendency toward libertarian stance or tendency toward Socialist-Feminist stance.

8-member group formed (PRG), decided to strive for ideological unity focused around libertarianism, communism, feminism and working class stance. Listed priority topics to discuss. Began extensive study on feminism. Began to write statement of purpose outlining ideology.

Agenda: Ad hoc, study, action discussions, group maintenance (later changed to movement building) personal reports, criticism/self-criticism.

Actions included: Health care organizing, strategy development and various other actions such as the Des Moines Anti-Imperialist Caucus, organizational work for a newsletter, U.S./China Friendship Association, FOCUS newspaper, women’s awareness groups and a workers’ unity workshop.

10 member group formed, tendency toward feminist-socialist ideology, united front (PRG)

July 1974: 2 PRG’s exchanged consensus books weekly; held ad hoc meetings for communication

August 1974: Selected task force to develop study on racism, Black culture.

September 1974: Completed feminist study; began to write a paper on feminist stance.

October 1974 and January 1975: Two members changed their relationship with the group; meet with group every 3 months for feedback communication.

February 1975: Formed “Inter-PRG”, a structure to exchange information. Met quarterly.

April 1975: First draft of statement of purpose; began to develop more external focus; used potlucks to familiarize people to the group.

Spring 1975: Tried to form assembly of progressives; dropped after Inter-PRG members were the only ones to attend second meeting.

August 1975: Began racism study.

August 1975-Spring 1976: Changed group maintenance to movement building. Made individual assignments for communication with revolutionaries within and outside Des Moines. Discussed in-depth our relationship to non-members and how to involve people in PRG efforts and membership. Developed outline for process of joining PRG. Refined the statement of purpose. Developed perspective and time line for growth of group. Did extensive work on conceptual framework for developing strategy. Made assignments for strategy research.

Restructured agenda to rotate action time between: contact and work with potential revolutionaries and involvement structures, general topics, revolutionary contacts and general topics.

Restructured action agenda again to: workplace (health care), workers unity workshop, other actions and strategy development.

Fall 1975: Bi-monthly strategy meeting replaced Inter-PRG to begin community focus on strategy development. Formed project collectives, action focused groups, workplace, neighborhood & women’s issues. PRG continued to meet periodically.

April 1976: Strategy meeting changed to bi-monthly action evaluation/feedback meeting; called Revolutionary Action Meeting (RAM).

Spring & Summer 1976: Began transition to new organization. Changed name to Redwing Workers Organization. Developed membership statement, perspective on accountability, strategy statement to prepare to receive new members. One member left the area and 2 joined.

May 1976: Worked with other Des Moines libertarians to plan and organize a Midwest libertarian organizing and communication conference.

Summer 1976: 5 members of the PRG formed a libertarian tendency group, studied and discussed libertarianism. Began discussing of possibility of joining Redwing Workers’ Organization (RWO).

July 1976: Invited libertarian group to join RWO

August 1976: Libertarian tendency group joined RWO. Began work necessary for transition of RWO into a federation of small groups.

September 1976: Held 2 day RWO group process workshop. Formed RWO federation of two small groups, Redwing Healthcare Workers Organization and Redwing Workers Action Development Group.



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Submitted by syndicalist on September 3, 2015

Note to self