Sparky: Look for the Union Label — The Guru is in the mixup
The Guru's Union vs. the The Michigan Frog's Pretty Boy Hatchet Man Round 2!
A closed shop (US) employs only people who are already union members. The compulsory hiring hall is the most extreme example of a closed shop — in this case the employer must recruit directly from the union. A union shop (US) employs non-union workers as well, but sets a time limit within which new employees must join a union.
Your Guru is being very polite to a woman who has repeatedly lied to him. Santized for your protection - we present the below:
Hello [Name excised for privacy reasons],
I just had someone on the inside of the department of where I used to work at Michigan Frog tell me that someone of your agency had sent someone to work a data entry assignment at the MIS operations area on the lot. I'm very perplexed by this for two reasons:
A. You had written me in a earlier e-mail stating that you only send people out who have had experience working in executive positions and not data entry or general office of which my resume specifically states that I have a whole tenure of experience in.
B. You may have sent a person who is doing MY JOB of which I was laid off from close to six months now. A job that I am entitled to come back to - since I was laid off and not fired. Now I'm not stating that you are to blame for this - obviously MF's MIS Hachet Man who requested the job order is not aware that he is violating a whole stature of labor laws just so he can save a buck or two - since the job you sent your employee to do is a UNION POSITION - of which my union, Local 174 is not very happy about and are probably by now filing a whole of greivances with the Labor Board.
I'm just giving you the heads up that there is some legal action brewing over this and I'm sure your agency doesn't want to be caught in the maelstorm that is soon to be brewing around the corner.
~ [Your Guru]
"A Trade Union, as we understand the term, is a continuous association of wage-earners for the purpose of maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment"
Over the last three hundred years, trade unions have developed into a number of forms - with differing political and economic climates influencing them. The immediate objectives and activities of trade unions vary, but may include:
- Provision of benefits to members: Early trade unions, like Friendly Societies, often provided a range of benefits to insure members against unemployment, ill health, old age and funeral expenses. In many developed countries, these functions have been assumed by the state, however the provision of legal advice and representation for members remains an important benefit of trade union membership.
- Collective bargaining: Where trade unions are able to operate openly and are recognised by employers, they may negotiate with employers over wages and working conditions.
- Industrial action: Trade unions may organise strikes or resistance to lockouts in furtherance of particular goals.
- Political activity: Trade unions may promote legislation favourable to the interests of their members or workers as a whole. To this end they may pursue campaigns; undertake lobbying; financially support individual candidates or parties for public office.
Labor unions in the United States today function as legally recognized representatives of workers in numerous industries, but are strongest among public sector employees. Activity by labor unions in the United States today centers on collective bargaining over wages, benefits, and working conditions for their membership and on representing their members if management attempts to violate contract provisions. Although down from the peak membership they achieved in the third quarter of the 20th century, American unions also remain an important political factor, both through mobilization of their own memberships and through coalitions with like-minded activist organizations.
The first local unions in the United States formed in the late 18th century, but the movement came into its own after the Civil War, when the short-lived National Labor Union (NLU) became the first federation of U.S. unions, followed by the slightly longer-lived Knights of Labor (a broadly-based federation that collapsed in the wake of the Haymarket Riot), then by the American Federation of Labor (AFL), founded in 1886 by Samuel Gompers as a national federation of skilled workers' unions.
In contrast to the craft unionism of the AFL, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, or "the Wobblies"), founded in 1905, represented mainly unskilled workers. The Wobblies, a force in American labor only for about 15 years, were largely routed by the Palmer Raids after World War I, but the strategy of industrial unionism was soon revived by John L. Lewis's Committee for Industrial Organizations within the AFL. Founded in 1933, the committee split from the AFL in 1938 as the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The Red Scare after World War II pushed the AFL and CIO into a 1955 merger as the AFL-CIO under Lewis' leadership.
Today most labor unions in the United States are members of one of two larger umbrella organizations: the AFL-CIO and the Change to Win Coalition, which split from the AFL-CIO in 2005. Both organizations advocate policies and legislation favorable to workers in the United States and Canada, and take an active role in Democratic Party politics. The AFL-CIO is especially concerned with global trade issues.
American union membership in the private sector has in recent years fallen to levels not seen since 1932. Workers seem uninterested in joining, and strike activity has almost faded away. The labor force in unionized automobile and steel plants, for example, has fallen dramatically. Construction trades in cities have sudddenly shifted from over 75% unionized to under 25%. Meanwhile the forces of economic liberalization (neoliberalism), capital mobility, and globalization have affected measurably the material standard of living enjoyed by workers in the United States; and mass immigration from Mexico has continued to restructure the domestic labor force. 
Labor unions today
Today most labor unions in the United States are members of one of two larger umbrella organizations: the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) or the Change to Win Coalition, which split from the AFL-CIO in 2005. Both organizations advocate policies and legislation favorable to workers in the United States and Canada, and take an active role in Democratic party politics. The AFL-CIO is especially concerned with global trade issues.
Private sector union members are tightly regulated by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), passed in 1935. The law is overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), part of the United States Department of Labor. Public sector unions are regulated partly by federal and partly by state laws. In general they have shown robust growth rates, for wages and working conditions are set through negotiations with elected local and state officials. The unions' political power thus comes into play, and of course the local government cannot threaten to move elsewhere, nor is there any threat from foreign competition. In California the public sector unions have been especially successful.
To join a union, workers must either:
- be given voluntary recognition from their employer or
- have a majority of workers in a "bargaining unit" vote for union representation.
In either case, the government must then certify the newly formed union.
Public sector worker unions are governed by labor laws and labor boards in each of the 50 states. Northern states typically model their laws and boards after the NLRA and the NLRB. In other states, public workers have no right to establish a union as a legal entity. (About 40% of public employees in the USA do not have the right to organize a legally established union.)
Once the union has won the support of a majority of the bargaining unit and is certified in a workplace, it has the sole authority to negotiate the conditions of employment. However, under the NLRA, if a minority of employees voted for a union, those employees can then form a union which represents the rights of only those members who voted for the union. This minority model was once widely used, but was discarded when unions began to consistently win majority support. Unions are beginning to revisit the "members only" model of unionism because of new changes to labor law which unions view as curbing workers' ability to organize.
The employer and the union write the terms and conditions of employment in a legally binding contract. When disputes arise over the contract, most contracts call for the parties to resolve their differences through a grievance process to see if the dispute can be mutually resolved. If the union and the employer still cannot settle the matter, either party can choose to send the dispute to arbitration, where the case is argued before a neutral third party.
In the 1940s and 1950s links to organized crime were discovered in U.S. unions, hurting their image.
Since the 1970s, union membership has been steadily declining in the private-sector while growing in the public sector.
Members of labor unions enjoy "Weingarten Rights." If management questions the union member on a matter that may lead to discipline or other changes in working conditions, union members can request representation by a union representative. Weingarten Rights are named for the first Supreme Court decision to recognize those rights. <>The NLRA goes farther in protecting the right of workers to organize unions. It protects the right of workers to engage in any "concerted activity" for mutual aid or protection. Thus, no union connection is needed. Concerted activity "in its inception involves only a speaker and a listener, for such activity is an indispensable preliminary step to employee self-organization."
|Industrial Workers of the World|
|Cur. affiliation date|
|Office location||Cincinnati, Ohio|
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies) is a famous international union currently headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA. It contends that all workers should be united within a single union as a class and the wage system abolished. 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 and government repression. Today it numbers about 2,000 members world-wide, but with a recent renewal of organizing activity membership appears to be rising again. IWW membership does not require that one works in a represented workplace, nor does it exclude membership in another labor union.
The IWW was founded in Chicago in June 1905 at a convention of two hundred socialists, anarchists, and radical trade unionists from all over the United States (mainly the Western Federation of Miners) who were opposed to the policies of the American Federation of Labor. Its first leaders included Big Bill Haywood, Daniel De Leon, Eugene V. Debs, Thomas J Hagerty, Lucy Parsons, Mary Harris Jones (commonly known as "Mother Jones"), William Trautmann, Vincent Saint John, Ralph Chaplin, and many others.
Its goal was to promote worker solidarity against the employing classes and full support to other unions such as the Knights of Labor and the American Federation of Workers. From the current Preamble to the IWW Constitution:
The Wobblies differed from other union movements of the time by its promotion of industrial unionism (often confused with syndicalism); they were one of the largest examples of anarcho-syndicalism in action in the United States. They emphasized rank-and-file organization, as opposed to empowering leaders who would bargain with employers on behalf of workers. They were one of the few unions to welcome all workers including women, foreigners, black workers and immigrants (like Mexican miners and Asian workers). Indeed, many of its early members were first- and second-generation immigrants, and some, like Carlo Tresca, Joe Hill and Mary Jones, rose to prominence in the leadership. The Finnish-language newspaper of the IWW, Industrialisti, published out of Duluth, Minnesota, was the union's only daily paper. At its peak, it ran 10,000 copies per issue.
The IWW was condemned by politicians and the press, who saw them as a threat to the status quo. Factory owners would employ means both non-violent (sending in Salvation Army bands to drown out speakers) and violent to disrupt their meetings. Members were often arrested and sometimes killed for making public speeches, but this persecution only inspired further militancy.
The origin of the nickname "Wobbly" is unclear. Many believe it refers to a tool known as a "wobble saw", while others believe it is derived from an immigrant's mispronunciation of "IWW" as "eye-wobble-you-wobble-you". The most likely explanation is that the term was first used pejoratively by San Francisco Socialists around 1913 and adopted by IWWs as a badge of honor. In any case, the nickname has existed since the union's early days and is still used today.
Political action or direct action?
Like many leftist organizations of the era, the IWW soon split over policy. In 1908 a group led by Daniel DeLeon argued that political action through DeLeon's Socialist Labor Party was the best way to attain the IWW's goals. The other faction, led by Vincent Saint John, William Trautmann, and Big Bill Haywood, believed that direct action in the form of strikes, propaganda, and boycotts was the correct path; they were opposed to arbitration and to political affiliation. Haywood's faction prevailed, and De Leon and his supporters left the organisation.
A Wobbly membership card
1914 IWW demonstration in New York City
By 1912 the organization had around 50,000 members, concentrated in the Northwest, among dock workers, agricultural workers in the central states, and in textile and mining areas. The IWW was involved in over 150 strikes, including those in the Lawrence Textile Strike (1912), the Paterson strike (1913) and the Mesabi range (1916).
Between 1915 and 1917, the IWW's Agricultural Workers Organization (AWO) organized hundreds of thousands of migratory farm workers throughout the midwest and western United States, often signing up and organizing members in the field, in railyards and in hobo jungles. During this time, the IWW became synonymous with the hobo; migratory farmworkers could scarcely afford any other means of transportation to get to the next jobsite. Workers often won better working conditions by using direct action at the point of production, and striking "on the job" (consciously and collectively slowing their work). As a result of Wobbly organizing, conditions for migratory farm workers improved enormously.
Building on the success of the AWO, the IWW's Lumber Workers Industrial Union (LWIU) used similar tactics to organize timber workers, both in the Deep South and the Pacific Northwest of the United States and Canada, between 1917 and 1924. The IWW lumber strike of 1917 led to the eight-hour day and vastly improved working conditions in the Pacific Northwest. Even though mid-century historians would give credit to the US Government and "forward thinking lumber magnates" for agreeing to such reforms, an IWW strike forced these concessions.
From 1913 through the mid-1930s, the IWW's Marine Transport Workers union, led by Ben Fletcher, organized predominantly African-American longshoremen on the Philadelphia and Baltimore waterfronts, even gaining industry control in Philadelphia for over a decade before the Great Depression. The IWW also had a presence among waterfront workers in Boston, New York City, New Orleans, Houston, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Eureka, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, and Vancouver. IWW members played a role in the 1934 San Francisco General Strike and the other organizing efforts by rank-and-filers within the International Longshoremen's Association up and down the West Coast.
Wobblies also played a role in the sit-down strikes and other organizing efforts by the United Auto Workers in the 1930s, particularly in Detroit, though they never established a strong union presence there.
Where the IWW did win strikes, such as at Lawrence, they often found it hard to hold onto their gains. The IWW of 1912 disdained collective bargaining agreements and preached instead the need for constant struggle against the boss on the shop floor. It proved difficult, however, to maintain that sort of revolutionary elán against employers; In Lawrence, the IWW lost nearly all of its membership in the years after the strike, as the employers wore down their employees' resistance and eliminated many of the strongest union supporters.
Joseph J. Ettor, who had been arrested in 1912, giving a
speech to barbers on strike
The effectiveness of the IWW's non-violent tactics sparked violent reaction by government, company management, and mobs of "respectable citizens". In 1914, Joe Hill (Joel Hägglund) was accused of murder and, despite only circumstantial evidence, was executed by the state of Utah in 1915. Frank Little, another senior IWW member, was lynched in Butte, Montana. In 1916 at Everett, Washington a drunken mob of deputized businessmen led by Sheriff Donald McRae attacked Wobblies on the steamer VERONA, killing at least five union members (six more were never accounted for and probably were lost in Puget Sound). Two members of the mob were killed, probably by their own side's cross-fire.[][]
Many IWW members opposed the United States participation in World War I, but the organization took no official position on the conflict. Regardless, the right-wing press and the U.S. Government were able to turn public opinion against the IWW, because of the IWW's refusal to support World War I. This led to vigilante mobs attacking the IWW in many places, including Centralia, Washington in November 1919, where IWW member and army veteran, [Wesley Everest], turned over to the lynch mob by the jail guards, first had his teeth smashed with a rifle butt, was castrated, lynched three times in three separate locations, and then his corpse was riddled with bullets before it was disposed of in an unmarked grave. The official coroner's report listed the victim's cause of death as "suicide."
The government used World War I as an opportunity to crush the IWW. An IWW newspaper, the Industrial Worker, wrote just before the declaration of war: "Capitalists of America, we will fight against you, not for you! There is not a power in the world that can make the working class fight if they refuse." Upon the U.S. declaration of war, however, the organization ceased all anti-war activity and propaganda. In September 1917, U.S. Department of Justice agents made simultaneous raids on forty-eight IWW meeting halls across the country. In 1917, one hundred and sixty-five IWW leaders were arrested for conspiring to hinder the draft, encourage desertion, and intimidate others in connection with labor disputes, under the new Espionage Act; one hundred and one went on trial before Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis in 1918.
They were all convicted—even those who had not been members of the union for years—and given prison terms of up to twenty years. Sentenced to prison by Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis and released on bail, Haywood fled to the Soviet Union where he remained until his death. Communist Party promises to reimburse those who had staked Haywood's bond went unfulfilled.
After the war the repression continued. Members of the IWW were prosecuted under various State and federal laws and the 1920 Palmer Raids singled out the foreign-born members of the organization. By the mid-1920s membership was already declining due to government repression and it decreased again substantially during a contentious organizational schism in 1924 when the organization split between the "Westerners" and the "Easterners" over a number of issues, including the role of the General Administration (often oversimplified as a struggle between "centralists" and "decentralists") and attempts by the Communist Party to dominate the organization. By 1930 membership was down to around 10,000.
Activity after World War II
The Wobblies continued to organize workers and were a major presence in the metal shops of Cleveland, Ohio until the 1950s. After the passage of the Taft-Hartly Act in 1950 by the US Government, which called for the removal of communist union leadership, the IWW experienced a loss of membership as differences of opinion occurred over how to respond to the challenge. The Cleveland IWW metal and machine workers wound up leaving the union, resulting in a major decline in membership once again.
The IWW membership fell to its lowest level in the 1950s, but the 1960s Civil Rights Movement, anti-war protests, and various university student movements brought new life to the IWW, albeit with many fewer new members than the great organizing drives of the early part of the 20th Century.
From the 1960s to the 1980s, the IWW had various small organizing drives. Membership included a number of cooperatively owned and collectively run enterprises especially in the printing industry: Red & Black (Detroit), Lakeside (Madison, Wisconsin), and Harbinger (North Carolina). The University Cellar, a non-profit campus bookstore formed by University of Michigan students, was for several years the largest organized IWW shop with about 100 workers. In the 1960s, Rebel Worker was published in Chicago by the surrealists Franklin and Penelope Rosemont. One edition was published in London with Charles Radcliffe who went on to become involved with the Situationist International.
In the 1990s, the IWW was involved in many labor struggles and free speech fights, including Redwood Summer, and the picketing of the Neptune Jade in the port of Oakland in late 1997. IWW members built their own Internet server from spare parts and ran it out of a member's bedroom for two years before moving it to its current home in a San Francisco office. The IWW now maintains its own internet domain (iww.org).
IWW organizing drives in recent years have included a major campaign to organize Borders Books in 1996, a strike at the Lincoln Park Mini Mall in Seattle that same year, organizing drives at Wherehouse Music, Keystone Job Corps, the community organization ACORN, various homeless and youth centers in Portland, Oregon, and recycling shops in Berkeley, California. IWW members have been active in the building trades, marine transport, ship yards, high tech industries, hotels and restaurants, public interest organizations, schools and universities, recycling centers, railroads, bike messengers, and lumber yards.
The IWW has stepped in several times to help the rank and file in mainstream unions, including saw mill workers in Fort Bragg in California in 1989, concession stand workers in the San Francisco Bay Area in the late 1990s, and most recently at shipyards along the Mississippi River.
In 2004, an IWW union was organized in a New York City Starbucks, a company notorious for its refusal to allow workers to form unions. In September of 2004, IWW-organized short haul truck drivers in Stockton walked off their jobs and went on a strike. Nearly all demands were met.
Folk music and protest songs
One feature of the Wobblies from their inception is song. To counteract management sending in the Salvation Army band to cover up the Wobbly speakers, Joe Hill wrote parodies of Christian hymns so that union members could sing along with the Salvation Army band, but with their own purposes (e.g. "In the Sweet By and By" became "There'll Be Pie in the Sky When You Die (That's a Lie)"). From that start in exigency, Wobbly song writing became legendary. The IWW collected its official songs in the Little Red Songbook and continues to update this book to the present time. In the 1960s, the folk music revival in the United States brought a renewed interest in the songs of Joe Hill and other Wobblies, and seminal folk revival figures such as Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie had a pro-Wobbly tone, while some, like Phil Ochs, were members of the IWW. The Little Red Songbook, still in print, is a major document in American folk music. Among the protest songs in the book are "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum", "Union Maid", and "I Dreamed I Saw Joe Hill Last Night." Perhaps the best known Wobbly song is "Solidarity Forever." The songs have been performed by dozens of artists, and Utah Phillips has performed the songs in concert and on recordings for decades.
Some other notable Wobbly poets and song writers include Matti Valentine Huhta (better known as T-Bone Slim), who penned "The Popular Wobbly" and "The Mysteries of a Hobo's Life", and Ralph Chaplin who authored "Solidarity Forever".
Notable members of the Industrial Workers of the World have included Helen Keller, whose life was recounted in several films, Joe Hill, Ralph Chaplin, Ricardo Flores Magon, James P. Cannon, James Connolly, Jim Larkin, Paul Mattick, Big Bill Haywood, Frank Little, ACLU founder Roger Nash Baldwin, Harry Bridges, beat poet Gary Snyder, anthropologist David Graeber, graphic artist Carlos Cortez, Utah Phillips, and Finnish folk music legend Hiski Salomaa. It has long been rumored, but not yet proved, that baseball legend Honus Wagner was also a Wobbly. Noam Chomsky is currently its most famous member.
- The IWW Home Page
- The IWW Organizing Department
- IWW Culture, History, and Library
- IWW Starbucks Workers Union
- Jim Crutchfield's IWW Page current and historical documents
- IWW in Australia
- IWW Canada in English and French
- IWW British Isles
- IWW 100 an IWW centenary tribute with historical and news articles
- IWW FAQ
- Howard Zinn, "The Founding Convention of the IWW", A People's History of the United States
- Account of the repression of the IWW in Chile
- History of the United States (1865-1918)
- American Protective League
- Industrial democracy
- Workplace democracy
Anarcho-syndicalism is a branch of anarchism which focuses on the labor movement, hence the "syndicalism" qualification. Anarcho-syndicalists view labor unions as a potential force for revolutionary social change, replacing capitalism and the state with a new society democratically self-managed by workers. Anarcho-syndicalists seek to abolish the wage system and private ownership of the means of production, which leads to class divisions.
Anarcho-Syndicalism also served as a short, and also famous, gag for Monty Python in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975). In the scene, King Arthur (played by Graham Chapman) asks a group of peasants (played by Michael Palin and Terry Jones) who their lord is; one peasant explains that their community is an autonomous collective as part of an anarcho-syndicalist commune, while Arthur continues to assert he is their king. Among the peasants' responses is "Well I didn't vote for you!"
On that note - we'll call it a day - Sparks