Is it our imagination? Has the middle class really been disappearing from the U.S.A.?
This article suggests it is later than you believe.
The Industrial Workers of the World, sometimes called the wobblies, are a union of workers.
Any worker is welcome. Since most students are in training to become workers, students are also welcome.
Unlike other unions, the IWW is dedicated to the proposition that the current economic system is inherently unfair.
The current economic system insures that there is always a substantial pool of workers who have no work. Why? Because willing job-seekers help to keep wages down.
If you work and you ask for that raise that you have earned (the idea of subservient asking—pleading—for better pay being built into the system), the boss can still say no. Quit, someone else takes your job. What would the boss say if he couldn't easily replace you?
Capitalism by design doesn't want too many workers without jobs, but they absolutely don't ever want all workers to have jobs.
This hurts workers and their families. I have many friends who are unemployed today, some of them well past the expiration of their meagre unemployment benefits. It sucks.
Another example: Worker's Compensation plans for injuries. Ever know someone on Worker's Comp? It is a plan designed to give a mere pittance for on the job injuries, publicized as your fair share, but in reality it is an amount carefully calculated to give you just enough blood money that you don't sue.
After all, you might get justice in the courts for the negligence of the boss who caused your injury. The boss doesn't want you to go to court. Worker's Comp throws a few dollars in your direction, but it also puts obstacles onto your path to the court.
Third example? The wage. You collect only a small fraction of the value that you contribute to the company. What happens to the rest? Well, friend, that is how CEO's and big investors become wealthy! Recent statistics indicate that the average CEO earns nearly 500 times what the average worker earns. Does he/she work 500 times as hard?
Just how wealthy are the wealthiest bosses? During the 2000 presidential campaign, candidate Ralph Nader stated that Bill Gates’ wealth was equal to the combined net wealth of the poorest 120 million Americans. There are only 280 million of us altogether! Thus, Bill Gates (one person) has wealth equivalent to nearly half of the rest of the people in the country! (That includes you and me, friend...)
Now i'm sure that Bill Gates is a fine boss. But is any human truly worthy of locking up all that wealth for himself? Think about it.
Wobblies support the goal of workers running their own factories, businesses, and stores. As one might expect, this goal makes the union singularly notorious in the minds of capitalists everywhere.
Much mythology fosters the good old american belief in a "classless society" where you can climb the social ladder by sheer effort. Yet the reality is very different.
The I.W.W. was formed in 1905, and was the first major union to admit blacks, immigrants, and women. The union grew rapidly, locking up the timber, agriculture and mining industries during the critical period of World War I. Because many IWW members had expressed anti-war views, the possibility of strikes in key industries seemed too great of a threat for the authorities to tolerate.
In the period from 1918 to 1925, the United States government teamed with local police and thugs to carry on a campaign of repression against the union. Union halls were smashed, IWW members were arrested for their beliefs. Many were jailed or deported.
Still, the union survived, and continues to fight for the rights of working folk everywhere. The union's hundred year anniversary will occur in 2005.
In addition to word of mouth and struggle on the job, early members spread the news about union via songs, cartoons and poetry.
This section of the website is dedicated to the art of the Industrial Workers of the World.
The Wobs Are Back!
An ambulance parked in the street.
Visit the main website of the I.W.W.
Current and upcoming I.W.W. events in the Colorado area.
Here are links to miscellaneous I.W.W. and working folk histories.
Do you have the right to dissent from the views expressed on this website?
About The Industrial Workers of the World
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