Industrial Workers of the World

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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 whose members are further organized within the industry of their employment. The philosophy and tactics of the IWW are described as "revolutionary industrial unionism", with ties to both socialist and anarchist labor movements. The IWW was notable among the labor union movements for its prominent figures Bill Haywood and Joe Hill, radical leftism, and its role in numerous major strikes such as the Textile Strikes.


  • Deliver us from the greed and graft that exist in this nation and from the parasites who neither toil nor spin, but bedeck their persons with finery until they glitter in the gloming like a rotten dog salmon afloat in the moonlight.
    • "The Outcasts Prayer" [1]
  • Deliver us from a country where man is damned for the dollar and the dollar is deemed the man[2]
  • You scoff at the rebel and lynch him till' dead
    But I was an outcast and they called me a "Red."
    You call me Christ Jesus with intelligence dim
    But I was a Rebel called Jerusalem slim
    And my brothers: the outcast, the rebel and the tramp.[3]
  • We shall laugh to scorn your power that now holds the South in awe;
    We shall trample on your customs, we shall spit upon your law;
    We shall outrage all your temples, we shall blaspheme all your gods.-
    We shall turn your slavepen over the plowman turns the clods!.
    • "Us the Hoboes and Dreamers" (1912), Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology, p. 260

Quotes about the Industrial Workers of the World[edit]

  • The Industrial Workers of the World never brought about their revolution. Despite the IWW's internal problems, the state's intolerance for even moderate challenges to employer authority, not to mention those fighting to overthrow capitalism, meant that these radicals never had a chance to create the idealized would they sought. But the IWW provided hope and organizing expertise to workers who had none. It organized across the nation's racial divisions like no union had done before. It took on the most oppressive employers and sometimes won. The IWW advanced a radical critique of American capitalism that influenced another generation of radicals to come. It played a critical role in teaching American workers how to use radical ideas to advance an agenda that effectively challenged capitalism, laying the groundwork for the working class of the next generation to finally win dignity and respect.
    • Erik Loomis, A History of America in Ten Strikes (The New Press, 2018) p. 111


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