An Introduction to the IWW

Founded in 1905, the IWW is open to all workers. Don’t let the “industrial” part fool you. Our members include teachers, cleaners, social workers, retail workers, construction workers, bartenders, and computer programmers. Only bosses are not allowed to join. If you are currently unemployed, you can still join. You have a legal right to join a union and your membership is confidential.

We are a volunteer-driven union, and this means we, not union bosses or bureaucrats, run the union. The IWW is not controlled by or affiliated with any political party or political movement. No money goes to politicians. Membership dues are used to maintain the union and assist organising campaigns. As a result, monthly dues are low.

Why join the IWW?

It does not take long to figure out that workers and their employers do not have the same interests. Workers want shorter hours, higher pay, and better benefits. We want our work to be less boring, less dangerous, and less destructive to the environment. We want control over how we produce goods and provide services. We want meaningful work that contributes to our communities and world. Our employers, in contrast, want us to work longer, harder, faster, and cheaper. They want fewer safety and environmental regulations and they demand absolute control over all decisions, work schedules, speech, and actions in the workplace.

Practical benefits of a union

The easiest way to stand up for each other in our workplaces and communities and the easiest way to improve our working conditions is to join a union. That is why employers fight so hard, and spend so much money, to keep unions out of their workplaces. Workers with unions generally have higher pay and job security, better benefits, and fewer scheduling problems. More pay equals fewer hours at work and more hours for enjoying the good things in life. Union workplaces are safer and have less harassment, discrimination, and favoritism. This is because a union gives workers the power to make workplace decisions. The less we let our employers make all of the decisions, the better our lives, our families lives, and our communities will be. Unions also provide mutual aid. This means assistance with problems at work, but it could also mean help with things outside of work too.

Why every worker should be in the One Big Union

Whether your job sucks or is “pretty good” (at least today), we in the IWW believe you should join us. We need to start sticking up for ourselves and our coworkers in our workplaces and industries. Ask around on your next shift. How many coworkers have two or three jobs? How many are one payday away from eviction? We have a duty to our co-workers and those who will follow in our footsteps to make things better, not only in terms of immediate gains but also as part of a bigger plan to build a radically new worker-run economy for the benefit of all. The only way to do this is to organise together. When we band together around our common experiences and interests, we can improve our jobs and industries. Our labour, not our bosses’, is what makes our workplaces tick; our knowledge and experience is what keeps their business afloat; and we can use that power to improve our working lives.