Monday, June 29, 2009

The Wobblies, true defenders of the interests of the working class

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies) is an international union currently headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. At its peak in 1923 the organization claimed some 100,000 members in good standing, and could marshal the support of perhaps 300,000 workers. Its membership declined dramatically after a 1924 split brought on by internal conflict. Today it is actively organizing and numbers about 2,000 members worldwide, of whom fewer than half (approximately 900) are in good standing (that is, have paid their dues for the prior two months). IWW membership does not require that one work in a represented workplace, nor does it exclude membership in another labor union.

The IWW contends that all workers should be united as a class and that the wage system should be abolished. They may be best known for the Wobbly Shop model of workplace democracy, in which workers elect recallable delegates, and other norms of grassroots democracy (self-management) are implemented.

The IWW's goal is to promote worker solidarity in the revolutionary struggle to overthrow the capitalist employing class; its motto is "an injury to one is an injury to all," which improved upon the 19th century Knights of Labor's creed, "an injury to one is the concern of all." In particular, the IWW is organized because of the belief among many unionists, socialists, anarchists and radicals that the AFL not only has failed to effectively organize the U.S. working class, as only about 5% of all workers belonged to unions in 1905, but also was organizing according to narrow craft principles which divided groups of workers. The Wobblies believe that all workers should organize as a class, a philosophy which is still reflected in the Preamble to the current IWW Constitution:

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 means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth. ... 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.

Industrial Workers of the World

IWW Starbucks Workers Union

What do Starbucks and Wal-Mart have in common?
[Brave New Films]

Sign the memo to Howard Schultz to insist he respect the right of Starbucks workers to join a union.

Faced with Growing Uproar, Starbucks Settles Sixth Labor Complaint

By Starbucks Workers Union

Mounting Rights Violations Fan the Flames of Escalating Public Outcry

IWW Starbucks Workers Union

June 1, 2009

Minneapolis, MN – The Starbucks Coffee Co. settled a complaint today from the National Labor Relations Board over charges of violating workers’ rights --- the sixth such settlement in three years for the ailing coffee giant. The case comes as a new website ( and viral video calling on CEO Howard Schultz to respect workers’ right to join a labor union spread like wildfire across the Internet. The new media initiative, from Robert Greenwald’s “Brave New Films”, has already been viewed over 60,000 times with a related petition garnering almost 15,000 signatures.

“This settlement proves that Starbucks executives are not above the law and cannot block hard working baristas from making positive change,” said Angel Gardner, a barista and member of the Starbucks Workers Union in the Twin Cities. “How can Starbucks claim that it maintains a positive work environment when one labor case after another exposes its lack of respect for employees?”

Pursuant to the settlement which stems from charges filed by the IWW Starbucks Workers Union, the corporation must cease engaging in a slew of illegal measures including threatening to call security to interfere with protected activity, prohibiting workers from discussing the union, and expelling union sympathizers from company stores. Today’s settlement is the first since a Labor Board judge found Starbucks guilty last December of similar rights violations in the first ever trial between baristas and the coffee chain.

“Howard Schultz needs to create quality jobs for hard working families, not just line the pockets of the fat cats at corporate headquarters,” said Erik Forman, a barista and member of the Starbucks Workers Union. “Our campaign for secure work hours, fair pay, and a voice at work gains momentum every day.”

The IWW Starbucks Workers Union is an organization of over 300 current and former employees at the world's largest coffee chain united for secure work hours, a living wage, and respect on the job. The union has members throughout the United States fighting for positive change at the company and defending baristas treated unfairly by management.

Starbucks Workers Union- Twin Cities
Industrial Workers of the World

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