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Sheffield IWW in solidarity with CWU picket

IWW | 19.07.2007 14:37 | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | Sheffield

IWW Sheffield group acted in solidarity with a picket of counter staff on strike at Castle House Postal Office in Sheffield.

Image Flyer - application/pdf 65K

We also talked to some "First" Bus Drivers
We also talked to some "First" Bus Drivers

Tea and Coffee making facilities
Tea and Coffee making facilities


Local Wobblies showed support and solidarity for the militancy of CWU workers in Sheffield today. Literature on the IWW was offered to trade unionists (as well as some free tea and coffee) while members encouraged the public to support fellow workers in the strike no matter what their industry (see attached flyer). The IWW is a union for all workers, founded on the principle of "an injury to one, is an injury to all", we therefore believe it is important to support worker struggles and encourage further autonomous activity wherever possible.

We handed out all our leaflets and literature, had a great deal of interest from the general public over the union and its activities and also had a very engaging discussion/debate with a CWU picketer over the merits of autonomous versus hierarchical struggle (and the general character of revolution!).

One Big Union for the abolition of the wage system!


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Hide the following 17 comments

Up the Wobs!

20.07.2007 09:14

Fellow Workers, keep up the good work!

Treasurer-West Midlands IWW GM Branch

Nice One!

20.07.2007 10:06

well done to all involved, keep it up!

Milk Tre
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a union for all?

20.07.2007 11:50

If the IWW is a union for all, how come the anarchist black and red flag is so prevalent? I have no problem with anarchists getting stuck into workplace issues, the more the merrier, but i think that actually the overlap between IWW membership and anarchist politics is probably pretty damn high. Conclusion: it's not a union, it's a political tendency in denial.


Myths about the IWW

20.07.2007 18:19

Myth #1 - The IWW is a political organization and not a "real" labor union:

This is a claim made by both dogmatic political sects and a handful of trade unionists and exploited by union busting employers.

Dogmatic political sects see the IWW as a rival to their own aspirations, because many of them are in the business of trying to "capture" union locals by infiltrating them and take over the leadership of these same unions through elections and constitutional reforms to further their own ends (which is not to suggest that rank & file workers shouldn't try to keep their unions accountable through their internal electoral processes), but the IWW has historically refused to allow vanguardist tactics such as these and has also argued against using the IWW as a vehicle to engage in similar machinations. Given the IWW's history, sectarians believe that capturing the IWW might give them more legitimacy. Furthermore, the IWW would represent democratic competition against a bulwark of trade unions controlled by a dogmatic political sect. Additionally, the IWW rejects the building of "workers parties" as an organizing strategy (but allows individual members to engage in doing so if they so choose), and this runs counter to various dogmatic political party discipline(s).

Some trade unionists also do not believe the IWW is a real labor union, because they either haven't heard of the IWW, or their union histories tell them so. The fact that most American history books completely ignore the vast and colorful history of the IWW, and those that do mention the IWW are generally hopelessly inaccurate certainly contributes to this widely held confusion. Perhaps some trade unionists believe that "real" labor unions are pro-capitalism, and since the IWW calls for the abolition of wage slavery and the overthrow of capitalism, that this makes the IWW "political" and not a union.

The IWW has always been a labor union first and foremost. The primary concern of the IWW is organizing workers industrially, at the point of production, for the purpose of abolition of wage slavery and the tyranny of capitalism. Such things are the purest form of unionism. The employing class uses the myth that the IWW isn't a real union to try and dissuade workers from joining. Sometimes they use this myth in order to convince workers to choose a conservative business union instead of the more radical IWW. The irony is that the employing class would just as soon use another myth to dissuade workers from joining a conservative business union altogether if they could.

informed wobbly
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but you look like anarchists on your pictures

21.07.2007 06:37

the basis of my comments was the pictures you posted. Black and red flags seem to me clearly anarchist, if the organisation isn't anarchist why have those flags?
'If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck' etc


well the flag is red and black ...

21.07.2007 08:16

Well the wobbly flag is red and black so ....
I am not sure how you can judge a whole organisation by its appearance anyway. Basically I think you are a bit nuts and I am not sure where your comment is coming from. I am a wobbly. I have to echo the comments of the last post. You would only really object to an anarchist element anyway if you had your own personal agenda for the union. We don't see the IWW this way and you shouldn't either. Sorry comrade but we aren't the vangaurd. We are a rank and file union controlled by its membership for the overthrow of the wage system.

One big Union,

Sheffield Wobbly
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One Big Union!

21.07.2007 13:51

Andy, meet Mr. Block

brum wobbly

hello Mr Block

21.07.2007 17:33

Well I believe in the IWW in the same way as I believe in the law of gravity. I'm just not convinced it's the way forward. The IWW, as is well known, was a mass organisation before the first world war, but most of its supporters moved towards some kind of political action in the wake of ww1, the russian revolution and the rise of fascism. My view is that these extremely political events showed that a simple 'one big union' approach was far too unsophisticated to deal with the storms of the period that began in 1914, hence people voted with their feet.
But then I read the comment from Sheffield that 'I am probably nuts' and in a flash of light I was convinced that I was mistaken.
But seriously, I welcome (for what its worth which ain't much) people turning towards working class struggle, i was just questioning the wisdom of having what i see as an explicitly anarchist symbol if you are seriously trying to portray the IWW as an organisation that isn't overwhelmingly composed of anarchists.


Andy, are you a swpie?

21.07.2007 23:20

Where are you coming from?

simple question


22.07.2007 08:49

'Fraid so.
and an active trade unionist. And a long time ago in a galaxy far far away I was an anarchist.
(awaits flaming..)

ps I really do mean it when i say i welcome people turning to working class activism. If you lot, somewhere, manage to shame, embarass or otherwise precipitate more activity from the existing bureaucracy then fair play. Can't see it, but I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again.



Wrong again ...

22.07.2007 10:26

"If you lot, somewhere, manage to shame, embarass or otherwise precipitate more activity from the existing bureaucracy then fair play. Can't see it, but I've been wrong before and I'll be wrong again."

This isn't really what the IWW is about at all. This is not what we want and neither would be satisfied with such a result if it did come about. This attitude really does expose your ideological bias. The IWW is not a tendency, nor is it a faction, nor does it attempt in anyway to capture the leadership (or even influence) of traditional trade unions. This is your cause comrade and in my personal opinion it is hopelessly lost. Such an attitude is incredibly disempowering to fellow workers who struggle everyday for better pay and conditions. What use is this if the power they gain is only lost once more to some trade union bureaucrat (or party official)?

IWW myth no. 9 - The IWW is dominated by anarchists who routinely alinate and/or bar membership to non-anarchists and purge non-anarchists from its ranks

Other doctrinaire political factions besides the SLP routinely claim that the IWW is an anarchist organization hostile to non-anarchists. This is no doubt due to the fact that the IWW steadfastly refuses to align itself with any political party.

The IWW has always maintained that by aligning itself with a political party with a narrow ideological perspective would divide workers rather than unite them, even if one political party is closer in its vision to goals and practice of the IWW than another. The IWW also believes that no political party can be close enough to the IWW in its visions and goals, thus an alliance with such a party would represent a compromise the IWW is not willing to make. Finally, it is believed by the IWW that while it is theoretically possible to achieve a few reforms for the working class through electoral politics, no election will bring about the complete emancipation of the working class from wage slavery, which is what the IWW stands for and always has.

To some, this makes the IWW seem "anarchist", and indeed many anarchists (famous and not) have been IWW members, but being an "anarchist" is not a requirement of IWW membership.

To many dogmatic Marxist parties (Trotskyist, Stalinist, Maoist, reformist, or otherwise) the IWW's perspective is an insult, because the IWW rejects their narrow attitudes, and yet the IWW has played such an important role in the history of the labor movement which is something that all such parties would love to claim as their own to give them a greater sense of significance and legitimacy.

The employing class often uses this myth to scare workers who associate "anarchism" and "anarchy" with political chaos, bomb throwing madmen, and terrorism. Leaving aside the fact that anarchy and anarchism are none of these horrible things, the IWW has never advocated or practiced them either. The IWW is open to all members of the working class.

For your previous post:

IWW myth no. 6 - The IWW ceased to be relevant after 1917
There are at least two sources for this myth.

(A) Labor Historians - For many years, Philip Foner's extensive, (but by no means error-free) History of the Industrial Workers of the World, 1905-1917--Volume IV of his ten volume History of the Labor Movement of the United States--has been considered one of the two definitive histories of the IWW (the other is We Shall Be All, by Melvyn Dubofsky). It is sometimes assumed that since Foner's Volume IV ends with 1917, that the IWW's history ends there as well (although Foner covers some of the IWW's later history in Volumes VII and VIII).

(B) Doctrinaire Marxist-Leninists - For many in this camp, the watershed moment of the history of Marxist-Leninism is of course the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the subsequent rise of the Bolsheviks and the USSR (themselves two separate, but overlapping developments). Even before the shortcomings of Bolshevism became widely apparent, the IWW remained independent of the Soviet Union. In 1921 the IWW's General Executive Board refused to affiliate the IWW with the Soviet controlled Red Trade Union International (something that caused the Bolsheviks and many of their American supporters no small degree of consternation). The strongest supporters of dogmatic Bolshevism quit the IWW and some of them (including James P Cannon and Len DeCaux) argued that the IWW ceased to be relevant when they refused to "join the new Communist international".

Both views are incorrect. The IWW not only did not cease to exist after 1917, it achieved milestone victories for workers in Mining and Timber in the early 1920s and beyond (including the eight hour day), benefits which workers take for granted today.

Anti-union employers use this myth to undermine workers confidence in the IWW by making us seem irrelevant, a product of a bygone age.

Andy, if you are just dogmatic enough you might even be able to hit all twelve
- keep trying my friend. :-)

Dr Swap

Just some comradely advice.

23.07.2007 10:24

I mean this in the nicest and most constructive, way possible, but if you actually do want to give the impression of being a pure syndicalist union and not aligned with any particular political faction, you may not want to use that coffeemaker covered in Anarchist Federation stickers. Just a thought.

Dogmatic Sectarian

Is it cos AF stickers are shite?

23.07.2007 11:37

yeah that too

really dogmatic sectarian with some good taste

Engage with the real arguments

24.07.2007 09:55

What, so an Afer provided us with a tea urn because we don't have one so now you think our union is aligned with them? You have some imagination my friend.

We are winning.

One Big Union,

Just Give Up

Is there another day of strikes tomorrow? (25/07/07)

24.07.2007 15:13

Does anyone know if there is another day of strikes by the CWU tomorrow? If there is does anyone know where? (for solidarity actions)


andy, coupla things:

25.07.2007 02:42

the red and black flag is is the flag of syndicalism as well as anarchism, they are ideas that support each other but they are not one and the same.

The IWW is a syndicalist union and flew the red and black long before there was a contemporray anarcjist organistaion in the UK doing the same.

Furthermore, does it really matter? Does the presence of anarchists really put people off if the methods and activity are sound? I mean, i'm sure the anarcho's in the union would love all workers in the uk to bhe able to recognise subtle things like red and black stickers as anarchist, but they don't. They may recognise a rank and file union which they can use at the same time as working in their current union.

It does put some people off though: Trotskyists.

Do you hear that mate? Its the world's smallest violin playing for the trotskyists.

(ironically there are trots in the IWW, a fact bemoaned by purist, non-wobbly anarchists!)

wobble me timbers

Ongoing strikes

25.07.2007 09:39

Ste, I've heard Brightside mail center's meant to be out for 24 hours, starting from 7 o'clock tonight. Dunno exactly where it is, tho.

Dogmatic sectarian in a vaguely constructive mood