The Industrial Workers of the World/Wobblies


The Wobblies were the early radical members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), a union founded in 1905 by the leaders of 43 labor organizations. The group pursued short-term goals via strikes and of sabotage as well as the long-term goal of overthrowing capitalism and rebuilding society based on socialist principles. One IWW organizer proclaimed that the "final aim is revolution." Their extremist views and tactics attracted national attention, making IWW and Wobblies household terms during the early decades of the twentieth century. Nobody can truly confirm where the actual nickname "Wobblies" came from, however.

Mission of the Wobblies

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) or also known as the Wobblies had the intention of fighting for everyone’s rights. At one point, they held 100,000 Union members while being able to gain the support of 300,000. They fought hard to overthrow the ruling class with the motto, “An injury to one, is an injury to all”

“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 the 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 means of production, abolish the wage system, and live in harmony with the Earth. … 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 Wobblies with their firm believe in organizing the most oppressed were able to organize immigrants, people of color, and women long before any union and political party were able to do so. Their grassroots organizing outlook allowed them to do mass work and education. However, because of the strength of the state, they were broken down through means of brute force.

In today’s framework, with layoffs in the millions and unemployment already reaching 10%, Workers are looking for solutions. It is up to Trade Unions to fight with revolutionary militancy to protect and promote worker’s rights, defend workers movements from any reform unions that are in cahoots with the state and corporations to water down the militancy of workers, heighten the political consciousness through series of education and discussions, to empower the worker to participate in their struggle, and last to ensure international solidarity with workers and people’s of the world.

History and founding

Founded and led by miner and socialist William "Big Bill" Haywood (1869-1928) and mine workers agitator Mary "Mother" Jones (1830-1930), the IWW aimed to unite all workers in a camp, mine, or factory for the eventual takeover of the industrial facility. The union organized strikes in lumber and mining camps in the West, in the steel mills of Pennsylvania, and in the textile mills of New England. The leadership advocated the use of violence to achieve its revolutionary goals and opposed mediation (negotiations moderated by a neutral third party), collective bargaining (bargaining between worker representatives and an employer), and arbitration (third-party mediation). The group declined during World War I (1914-18), when the IWW led strikes that were suppressed by the federal government. The organization's leaders were arrested and the organization weakened. Haywood was convicted of sedition (inciting resistance to lawful authority) but managed to escape the country. He died in the Soviet Union, where he was given a hero's burial for his socialist views.



The IWW never rose again to the prominent status of its early, controversial days. Many accounts of the group's history cite its demise in the 1920s. But, according to its own statement, the organization continued to "enjoy a more or less continuous existence" into the twenty-first century. As the IWW prepared to celebrate its one-hundredth anniversary in 2005, it continued to promote its original goal of organizing workers by industry rather than trade. Under the IWW's scheme, workers around the world would organize into one big union divided into six camps (or "departments"): agriculture and fisheries, mining and minerals, general construction, manufacture and general production, transportation and communication, and public service. In the early 2000s the IWW had a few dozen member unions in the United States, as well as branches in Australia, Japan, Canada, and the British Isles.