The IWW on the job: job control

A short article about Portland IWW about job control. Originally appeared in Industrial Worker #1616 (October 1998)

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 19, 2016

WHEN THE IWW builds a presence on a job site or in a specific industry it should be a very different thing than the presence of a business union. The IWW is as completely different from the other unions as night from day, and its methods and results should be just as different. With a business union, the focus is on the contract, the NLRB decision to grant bargaining power to the union. With the IWW, the whole point of the exercise is Job Control, direct worker control over the job site, taken as far and as deep as can be done. It's a different goal that implies a very different approach.

The tactics that work best for job control don't always make great copy. A strike is news. Lots of high drama and noble resolve, a dramatic sellout and a lot of suffering and human interest. A quickie wildcat strike, however, is over before you know it, gets the job done neatly and precisely with a minimum of high drama and human suffering, and makes no real story at all in the paper. Much less a slowdown, or a threatened but never carried out wildcat action that gets best results without any publicity or embarrassment. Nothing is more subtle and less newsworthy than the gradual establishment of dual power on the job. It's a total yawner to the press, and the best thing going to the workers on the job. So, you don't read much about the real Wobbly stuff, neither in history nor in the news.

The tactics that get the job done directly aren't that dramatic. Go slow. Sit down. Work to rule. The open mouth. The usurpation, through efficiency and good sense, of the functions of management, often without the boss even noticing. To run the shop well and get the work done at a safe, reasonable pace, while gradually establishing certain practices of safety, rotation of tasks, relief from boredom and repetitive motion injury, gradual lengthening of breaks, elimination of involuntary overtime - these things aren't splashy, but they get the job done. That is, if the job to get done is establishing job control for a long term better life. It's subtle, infectious and insidious - and it's a real threat to the boss and his pals all around the world.

Organize IWW on your job today and every day, for job control, for workers' power, for a better life, and let the NLRB tend to the business unions while they tend to themselves and the bosses' best interests. Job Control is the real menace to the status quo. how well does the status quo serve you and your needs?

Work for a better life. Establish workers' job control. Join us!

-- Portland IWW

Originally appeared in Industrial Worker #1616 (October 1998)