Delegates’ Work and Organization Bookkeeping
(1905 - )
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), members of which are commonly termed "Wobblies", is an international labor union that was founded in 1905 in Chicago, Illinois, in the United States. The union combines general unionism with industrial unionism, as it is a general union, subdivided between the various industries which employ its members. The philosophy and tactics of the IWW are described as "revolutionary industrial unionism", with ties to both socialist, syndicalist and anarchist labor movements. (From : Wikipedia.org.)
Delegates’ Work and Organization Bookkeeping
Authorized by the General Executive Board of the Industrial Workers of the World.
BOX 39, MORGAN PARK STATION
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 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 earth and the machinery of production, and abolish the wage system.
We find that the centering of management of the industries into fewer and fewer hands makes the trade unions unable to cope with the ever growing power of the employing class. The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.
These conditions can be changed and the interest of the working class upheld only by an organization formed in such a way that all its members in anyone industry, or in all industries if necessary, cease work whenever a strike or lockout is on in any department thereof, thus making an injury to one an injury to all.
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. The army of production must be organized, not only for the everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.
The Industrial Workers of the World is growing so fast that it has become necessary to systematically instruct the active members in the best and most efficient way of carrying on, organization work. This course is therefore addressed personally to YOU, active members of the I. W. W.—to you who are the "live wires" of the organization which is the vanguard of the advancing proletariat.
Fight fire with fire—organization of capital with organization of labor. Fight capitalist efficiency in the exploitation of labor with working-class efficiency in the organization of labor. In the struggle between the capitalists and the workers that side which has the smoothest working and the most efficient organization to carry out its program will carry off the laurels of victory.
If you are not yet a delegate you ought to become one. While a man is alive anyway he might as well be a "live one"; after he dies he is a long time dead. If you ARE a delegate, G. O. C. member, supply agent, branch or industrial union secretary, this course will teach you how to perform your duties competently and accurately.
When you line up a new member you ought to be able to explain to him what it is that he is joining. You ought to be able to make this so plain to him that your explanation and arguments would be beyond any possibility of successful contradiction. What those arguments should be in detail, is, of course, outside the province of these lessons. However, to help you along, we will put you through a series of mental gymnastics:
Pick up an I. W. W. Preamble. Read the first sentence: "The working class and the employing class have nothing in common." Now, ask yourself the question: What is the real meaning of this sentence? If it says "the working class" and "the employing class" have nothing in common, does that also mean that the workers and the employers, as human beings, have nothing in common? Surely you know of workers who can curse as hard and as fluently as any employer that ever walked in shoe leather; and both of them also have in common the habits of wearing shoes, of getting married, of eating, etc.
What that sentence does mean, of course, is that the workers and the employers have nothing in common as social classes—on the economic field. What is good for one is bad for the other, and vice versa. Can you think of any other objections to the truthfulness of that first sentence in the Preamble, which might possibly be raised by a workingman whom you are trying to line up in the I. W. W.?
Now take the remainder of the Preamble, sentence by sentence, and try to get to the bottom of the meaning contained in each sentence. Look at it from all conceivable angles. Make sure that you are fully capable of answering any and all questions that might be asked by a prospective member whom you might be trying to line up after you have become a delegate.
Next take the Constitution and read it over carefully—that is, provided you have not already done so. This will give you a broad general idea of the structure of the organization.
Follow this by reading the first eight pages of the pamphlet "One Big Union of All the Workers—The I. W. W." One copy of this pamphlet will be sent with each course. Now can you explain why everything in modern society rests upon the rock-bottom foundation of industry?
"The Industrial Workers of the World is a revolutionary industrial labor union of all the workers in all the industries"—there you have a good definition of the I. W. W. Memorize it.
First of all, the I. W. W. is a labor union: it organizes actual wage workers at the point of production—in industry. It is a labor union; not an insurance society, nor sick and death benefit association, nor a political body, nor a banking business, nor a cooperative movement.
Are the A. F. of L. unions, or the railroad brotherhoods, labor unions? Yes—in a very limited sense. But they are sick and death benefit associations, or banking enterprises, in the first place, and labor unions in the second place.
The American Federation of Labor, as such, is a 100 per cent political body; the Industrial Workers of the World is a 100 per cent economic organization. See the difference? Try to get more information on this point.
The I. W. W. is not merely a labor union, but an industrial labor union—it organizes the workers as a class by industry instead of by craft. The A. F. of L. is made up of craft unions, but it itself is not a union at all. Can you think of any other industrial or semi-industrial unions?
The I. W. W. organizes all the workers in all the industries. Do you know of any other union anywhere that does that? No, you do not. The I. W. W. is the One Big Union of all the workers: the Industrial International of the future.
And, last but not least, the I. W. W. is a revolutionary labor union because "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.’" Can a union which organizes the workers in one industry only or in one branch of one industry, as, for instance, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, be a revolutionary organization? Of course not, because the workers will not be able to abolish the wage system by getting control of one industry only.
Now do you see what awful nonsense those people are talking who say that the I. W. W. is a dual union? Surely just because a sick and death benefit association has taken root in an industry and functions there to the end of keeping the workers divided along craft lines, is no reason why those workers should not make an effort to organize themselves into a genuine labor union. Only then will they be able to wrest from their employers more wages, shorter hours and better working conditions.
Does the shoemaker of today produce a pair of shoes all by himself? You know that he does not. A great many other workers have to co-operate with him in the production of that commodity: Agricultural workers, packing-house, tannery, transportation, metal and machinery, chemical, construction, and all other classes of workers. In fact, a complete list would include all the industrial workers in the country. The same applies to every other product of labor.
What is to be learned from this? If all labor co-operates in all the industries in order to carry on production and turn out profits for the employing class, surely the logical thing for the workers to do is also to co-operate on the same scale to protect their own class interests. That is just what the Industrial Workers of the World is attempting to do.
In the back of the "One Big Union" pamphlet you will find a chart of all the industries. Study it. In the next lesson we will take it up more in detail.
There is always one best way of doing anything. Likewise, under certain conditions, of several ways, there is always one best way of carrying on organization work. Don’t be content until you find it.
The first essential in organization work is system, cooperation—team work. Wherever there are several red card men on a job they ought to get together and draw up a plan of action for that job. They ought to calmly consider the immediate problems that present themselves, and should not jump at conclusions. And under .no conditions should they permit personal considerations or antagonisms to interfere with the successful prosecution of the work. It is our fervent hope that in time such behavior will come to be regarded in the ranks of the I. W. W. membership as high treason.
The first concern of a delegate should be to leave a favorable impression on his unorganized fellow workers. He should strive to act in such a way that the other workers on the job will look up to him. He should do everything in his power to gain their full confidence.
Never antagonize your fellow workers unnecessarily. If the man working alongside of you is a fool don’t tell him about it the first time he opens his mouth; you will gain nothing but his everlasting hatred. If you find out after awhile that he is hopelessly thick-headed leave him alone and devote your propaganda energies to somebody favored with a larger portion of good sense.
Always be on the lookout for incidents that might be used to illustrate the necessity of class solidarity. No matter where you work, these incidents will present themselves in great numbers. Seize upon them and use them in your conversation to build up favorable sentiment for industrial unionism-sentiment that will materialize into the taking out of a red card. The lead might be furnished by long hours, poor grub, a bulldozing foreman, a notice in the paper about another impending war, an accident due to lack of safety devices-in fact, by anyone of a thousand different things.
Impress your fellow workers on the job with your greater stock of information. Whatever industry you work in, make a point of gathering as much data about that industry as you possibly can. If you work, let us say, in an automobile factory, you ought to have at your finger tips the vital statistics about the corporation that employs you: What was their original capital; what is it now; what is their yearly output of automobiles; what was their net profit during the past year; how much profit did they make on each employee during the year; what is it for each working day? You get the idea, don’t you?
These facts and figures will be of service to you in pointing out the extent of exploitation to which the workers are subjected. If you can prove conclusively to the man working next to you that eight dollars and fifty cents of what he produces every day goes to the boss, in the form of clear profits, you can bet your last thin dime on it that it will set him to thinking. Once you get the rusty wheels in a man’s thinking box moving, you can consider the battle half won.
The I. W. W. members on the job have no paid business agents to do their thinking and acting for them. The rank-and-file members have to do that themselves. They themselves have to act as their own organizers, educators, committee men, strike leaders, arbitrators, and peace-makers. Hence the need of an intelligent and a courageous membership which makes this course in organization work necessary.
That is as it should be. It is about time for the working class to rely upon itself for its own salvation. What have the fat-salaried, big-bellied, bourgeois-minded "leaders of labor" accomplished for the workers during these many weary years? Is there a more distressing and disgusting sight anywhere in the wide, wide world than a bunch of helpless, vacant-minded craft unionists waiting like a flock of sheep for their business agents and international officers "to do something"?
It is absolutely imperative that all students who take his course answer the questions that will be appended to each lesson, and perform faithfully the exercises in delegate work and bookkeeping that will appear in subsequent lessons.
Number the answers 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. You need not copy the question on your answer sheet. No answer should be over one hundred words long.
1. What is your interpretation of the I. W. W. slogan, "An injury to one is an injury to all?"
2. What is wrong with the motto, "A fair day’s wage for a fair day’s work."
3. Illustrate the meaning of the second sentence in the third paragraph of the Preamble by briefly describing an instance out of your own experience that confirms what is said there.
4. Do the same with the third sentence in the same paragraph.
5. What is the term of office of the General Secretary-Treasurer of the I. W. W.? Of the General Organization Committee member? Of a branch secretary?
6. How is the General Secretary-Treasurer of the I. W. W. nominated and elected? What are his duties?
7. What is the supreme legislative body of the I. W. W.?
8. Why should not a union make such an agreement with an employer as is cited in paragraph (a)? (Constitution, p. 15.)
9. What did the author of the "One Big Union" pamphlet mean when he said: "There is no other class below the working class" ? (Page 7.)
10. Explain in your own language the two things that a genuine labor organization must always have in view. (0. B. U. pamphlet, p.22.)
Transcribed by J. D. Crutchfield from a scan of the original in the General Headquarters of the I. W. W., with thanks to FW Alexis Buss.
Last updated 13 February 2004.
From : Marxists.org
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