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What is the IWW?

The IWW is a rank-and-file-run, international union for all workers, dedicated to organizing both on and off the job, in our industries and our communities. Founded in 1905, we stand by the principles written in our Preamble, that the working class and the employing class have nothing in common, and that “an injury to one is an injury to all.” We are not affiliated with any political party. We organize the worker, not job, meaning that unlike most unions, you carry your membership with you no matter what job you have, including if you are unemployed.unless, of course, you join management. We believe in the power of rank-and-file direct action, shop floor organization and class solidarity, both to win better economic conditions and to build a world without bosses.

The IWW seeks to be “One Big Union” for all workers. We recognize that unionism is not about government certification or employer recognition, but about rank-and-file workers coming together around common interests. Because of this, we have often stood out for organizing workers that the “business-style” unions of the old AFL, and to a large extent today’s AFL-CIO and other mainstream unions, were/are either unwilling or unable to organize due to racist, sexist or “craft” prejudices, bureaucratic practices and harmful “jurisdictional” divisions, over-reliance on labor law, or simply because a certain group of workers may be seen as “un-organizable.” As a result, the IWW has often been ahead of the times within the labor movement.

Because we are a democratic, member-run union, decisions about what issues to address and what tactics to pursue are made by the workers directly involved. Our dues are lower than most unions, and how dues money is spent is determined by the members themselves. You will not find over-paid bureaucrats signing sweetheart contracts with employers, spending union funds to support politicians instead of organizing on the job, or dictating to members how to run our fights. We do, however, provide a detailed two-day Organizer Training, by highly experienced workplace organizers, for anyone who may be interested in organizing where they work, even if you are not a card-carrying IWW member, and we offer as much as support as we possibly can to all of our members.

Additional Resources

Think It Over: An Introduction to the Industrial Workers of the World

Annotated Preamble to the IWW Constitution

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