Details on 1997 IWW General Assembly

A reportback of the 1997 IWW General Assembly. Originally appeared in the Industrial Worker #1606 (October 1997)

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 17, 2016


Fred Chase was the sole nominee for General Secretary-Treasurer. Several candidates were nominated for next year's General Executive Board: Tim Acott (Portland), Laure Akai (Moscow), Monica Berini (Oakland), Alexis Buss (Philadelphia), Bright Chicezi (Sierre Leone), Dan Fisher (Tennessee), Liam Flynn (Berkeley), Miriam Fried (Philadelphia), Mark Johnson (Seattle), Steve Kellerman (Boston), Fred Lee (Leicester), Morgan Miller (Portland), John Persak (Seattle), Penny Pixler (Chicago), Bob Rivera (Michigan), Michael Reinsboro (Los Angeles), Scott Rittenhouse (Los Angeles), Robert Rush (Berkeley), Nathan Smith (Asheville), Bob Tibbs Jr. (St. Louis), Pete Wilcox (Honolulu). Note that many candidates have not yet indicated whether they wish to stand for election, nor has eligibility been verified, so the actual ballot will not include all nominees.
Members will also choose between Asheville (North Carolina), Boston, Detroit, London, Madison, Portland (Oregon) and Toronto for the 1998 General Assembly, and vote on whether to hold the Assembly over Labor Day weekend or in May.

Assembly Resolutions

Delegates approved a proposal urging each Branch to take responsibility for covering the full cost of providing services to members, even if this requires special assessments or fundraisers, and a motion calling on the General Executive Board to convene a committee incorporating representatives from countries where the IWW has significant membership to develop more effective international structures and communication. Another motion reaffirms the IWW's boycott against Borders Books and calls on IWW branches to step up organizing efforts against the bookstore chain.
Several proposals were sent to referendum vote of the membership, including a constitutional amendment to clarify minimum dues payments from overseas Regional Organizing Committees, a reorganization of the union's General Defense Committee, and to require IWW branches to furnish copies of all external communications to the IWW Archives at Wayne State University. (The text of the latter specifies that this would include email, web sites, and other non-traditional media; how this would be implemented is unclear.)

Another proposal being sent to referendum would amend the IWW Constitution to clarify the conditions under which non-waged producer cooperatives could be recognized as IWW shops. The proposal would require such cooperatives to not undermine wages in the industry, to honor all unions' boycotts and strikes, and adhere to democratic internal practices.

Also being sent to referendum is a proposal to eliminate the IWW's long-standing practice of imprinting dues stamps to indicate the category of dues (minimum, regular, maximum) being paid; a practice essential to enabling Branches and the General Administration to audit the records of union delegates and ensure that all dues collected are actually paid to the union. Similar proposals have been raised repeatedly over the past few years, with proponents claiming the current practice somehow places a stigma on low-income members. Others insist the current practice is essential to ensure accountability for union funds and protect against misappropriation of funds. This will be the first time members have been asked to vote on the issue.

The full text of all referenda will be published in the September issue of the IWW's General Organization Bulletin.

Originally appeared in the Industrial Worker #1606 (October 1997)