- McJobs and Workers -

Reanimating the Union

Posted by: Flint Jones ( IWW, USA ) on October 19, 1998 at 11:31:49:

In Reply to: Dissecting the IWW posted by Julie-The Gruntled Generation on October 14, 1998 at 19:22:15:

Hi Julia,
Thanks for taking the time to atleast begin to read some of the IWW literature. The Preamble has some nice sentiments, but its really hard to incaptulate everything the IWW is about from the preamble. Its like trying to understand U.S. Government from the Declaration of Independence or the just using the Preamble to its Constitution. I'm going to go through your dissection point by point, and probably make alot of references to other pieces of information that I'd encourage you to read if your interested in serious discussion.

>>The working class and the employing class have nothing in common<<

Julia: I have to eat and pay bills just like my employees do. I need to have money for the basics in life.

Flint: Perhaps a better discussion on class is what is needed here. Managers, generally speaking; aren't the employing class. Fastfood managers generally don't own the means of production, instead they are employed to direct other members of the working class. The managers are given some limited amount of decision making, atleast locally... but many factors are decided much higher on the chain of the command. Likewise, while management is often getting a few more crumbs than those they boss around, they aren't the ones reaping all the profits.

From the One Big Union
"The original job of the capitalist was to furnish funds and
management. Today management is the job of a specially trained
section of the class of hired hands, and funds are amply provided
out of the various reserves taken from profits. The system of
corporate administration that the capitalists have built up has made
them superfluous." What Is Industry, and How Did It Get That Way?

What some fellow workers have a problem is that the view managers as collaborating with the employers. You boss them around, and get a share of the profit produced by their labor... you should expect a little resenment. However, ultimately... the middle classes are exploited by the employing class as well.
: >>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<<

Julia: I have yet to meet a rich fast food manager or district supervisor for that matter. Their car might be a bit nicer than mine or my employees but they sure aren't rolling in the dough.

Flint: As I think I've established, managers aren't members of the employing class. They don't own the building, they manage it.

: >>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.<<

Julia: Sounds real earthy but then their would be no reason for anyone to try to move up in life or better themselves or even have an opportunity to gain more in life because they are held down by a system that says they have to be like everyone else and cannot achieve more than others.

Flint: Thats not what that section says. It isn't declaring the creation of a communist state of abosolute equality. "Taking possession of the means of production" could result in a lot of different economic structures. For example: Self-employeed (they own the tools the work with), Co-operatives, collectives, communes, etc...
The key thing to remember is that the wage system is abolished. What do we mean by the wage system? Where you are paid a wage by the owner, which is always less than the value you produced; the difference being the profit the owner reaped for your work. We want a society of non-ownership, or worker-ownership.

Its important to mention that were not just talking about the money either. Its also about control, and who gets to make decisions. Were of the mindset that if a decision affects you, you should have a part in making it. Were trying to extend democracy to the job.

A bit more from One Big Union:
Industrial Democracy Wanted

"After all, the greatest problem facing humankind is not the
much-discussed question of production and distribution; it is the
problem of power. It never has been safe to let a few control the
affairs of the many; it never will be safe. The depressions, the wars,
the various other ills of the modern world, have been possible only
because there was already an unsafe concentration of power in the
hands of the few. What happened did happen as the result of the
will of these few, not of the will of the many. Every invention that has increased our power to produce or destroy has increased the power
of the few and decreased the power of the rest of us. Every
improvement in communication has extended the empire of this
minority [except maybe the 'Net! --transcriber]. And every time we
give more power to some one to try and remedy the resulting evils,
we increase the problem that much further. And this holds true
whether we allow that power to fall to the present managers of
industry, their friends in government or their friends in the Trade
Unions. Consequently the only safe choice is industrial democracy--
industry run by those who do the work."

As to the Wobblie being earth friendly, you might want to look into
Forest Workers Local #1 which Judi Bari of Earth First helped found.

: >>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 any one 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.<<

Julia: Oh great so if your pisssed off about your job I should lose everything Ive worked for eventhough I haven't been wronged by my employer. Unions aren't needed for work stopage. If one doesn't like their job or the way they are treated then they can stop working and go find a new job.

Flint: "An Injury to One, is an Injury to All" is an important idea. Its about solidiarty. None of us are free, if one of us is not free.
Sure, you can stop work by yourself. What happens? You get fired. Onto the next job. But if we act collectively, we may acutally be able to improve our working conditions where we are working!

To be a bit more descriptive, here's a quote from How to Fire Your Boss: A Worker's Guide To Direct Action

The best weapon is, of course, organization. If one worker stands
up and protests, the bosses will squash him or her like a bug.
Squashed bugs are obviously of little use to their families, friends,
and social movements in general. But if all the workers stand up
together, the boss will have no choice but to take you seriously.
S/he can fire any individual worker who makes a fuss, but s/he might
find it difficult to fire their entire workforce.

"All of the tactics discussed here depend for their success on
solidarity, on the coordinated actions of a large number of workers.
Individual acts of sabotage offer little more than a fleeting sense of
revenge, which may admittedly be all that keeps you sane on a bad
day at work. But for a real feeling of collective empowerment,
there's nothing quite like direct action by a large number of
disgruntled workers to make your day."

: >>It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism<<

Julia: Says who?? No one asked me if I wanted to do away with Capitalism. I infact like a system that will reward me for hard work. I know that if I do my job well then I will make more money and move up to a higher postion.

Flint: I'd like a system that would reward me for hard work too! Capitalism doesn't do that (or only does it incidently). Capitalism (an economic system based on the ownership of capital, and not on labor) rewards those who own, not those who work. Infact the richer a capitalist is in direct relation to how much profit they have managed to take that should have rightfully been in the hands of someone who created that value. Sure, there is some class mobility, but usually it is downwards, not upwards. If you like, I'll go dig up the current figures; but its pretty obvious that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer... were all working harder, longer for less.

Julia: Ok now Im inviting constructive debate on what Ive wrote. Any flaming or idiocity will not be responded to.

Flint: See, not all of us are flamers. :) Though its hard not to tossing in a good jab when your dissecting us (ewwww).

Finally, I'll leave you with just one more quote from The Wobblies: Tactics and Vision for a New Workers Movement

That largely depends on you. The IWW is a "do-it-yourself" union, and does not provide an all-knowing leadership or hefty
treasury to fight your battles for you. But if you're willing to organize at your job-site by talking with your co-workers about the
issues that matter to them, then you can count on your fellow workers in the IWW to lend their full support to your struggle.

"Individual workers can accomplish little by themselves, and are liable to be fired if they raise their voice in protest. But by
joining together in a union such as the IWW, workers are far more powerful when confronting their boss about workplace
injustices. Our union can provide tangible, community-based resources such as low-cost printing, speakers, legal advise, and
how-to manuals, as well as bodies on a picket line. You won't get bureaucrats in suits and ties telling you how to run your
strike, just friends lending a hand where they can."

I'd encourage you to read more of our literature other than just our preamble. The constitution is a little dry, and I'd only reccommend it if your seriously considering joining it as its basically just our operating rules, which are directly democratic with recallable delegates and officers (not as decentralized as I might like, but more decentralized and respectful of local autonomy than AFL-CIO!).



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