The IWW is a member-run union for all workers, a union dedicated to organizing on the job, in our industries and in our communities. IWW members are organizing to win better conditions today and build a world with economic democracy tomorrow. We want our workplaces run for the benefit of workers and communities rather than for a handful of bosses and executives.
We are the Industrial Workers of the World because we organize industrially.
This means we organize all workers producing the same goods or providing the same services into one union, rather than dividing workers by skill or trade, so we can pool our strength to win our demands together. Since the IWW was founded in 1905, we have made significant contributions to the labor struggles around the world and have a proud tradition of organizing across gender, ethnic and racial lines – a tradition begun long before such organizing was popular.
Does the IWW still exist?
Yes! Historically, we have been one of the biggest and most influential unions in the past and we believe “now” is a unique time where we can be even more useful than before. The Northeast Ohio IWW has seen a recent influx of membership for a variety of reasons, some timely (pandemic and workplace safety concerns, the rise of gig workers and the exploitation of “essential” workers are just a few) and some timeless (the human being’s basic desire for respect and dignity in all aspect of our lives.)
Our local branches conduct training to help workers organize and gain representation in the workplace, collect funds for strike and layoff support and meet regularly to support our fellow workers. Here are just a few of the campaigns the IWW has been involved in recently:
The IWW and Starbucks
Alamo Draft House
DC Area Activities
Child Care Workers Unite!
I am a member of another union. May I join?
Yes. Many IWW members are also members of other unions. They are people who form the fighting heart of such unions; rank and filers who strive to make their unions yield returns for the membership and not completely degenerate into docile pacifiers serving the boss.
Such workers have joined the IWW because they want to build a union stronger, more fearless, more honest, than the unions dominant today. Such a union must, in the end, match the unity of the employers with the greater unity of the workers, match the power of the employing class with the greater power of the working class.
That union is the one big union of the IWW.
Will the IWW protect my privacy?
Although there have been times (as with other unions) when members, to guard themselves from beating or lynching, have had to carry their IWW cards inside their shoes, the IWW has never been a secret organization.
Members of the IWW are proud of their red cards, which mark them as people and not driven sheep. Halls are open to all; union meetings are held regularly and openly; public meetings are advertised and are open to all workers.
Our official membership, however, is NOT made public for a variety of reasons. Most importantly to help workers avoid retaliation in their places of work. Undocumented workers may also want to keep their affiliation private and we respect that choice. It is up to each worker how public they choose to make their affiliation.
Does the IWW require a particular political affiliation? Or discourage another?
There are no politics in our union. While the IWW identifies as an anarcho-syndcalist organization (and thereby inherently “left”) it is poor union policy to encourage one religion, political party or candidate over another. These are not union questions, and must be settled by each union member according to personal conscience. The union is formed to reach and enforce decisions about industrial questions. Its power to do this can be destroyed by the diversion of its resources to political campaigns.