A Worker’s Independence Day
[Note: this was originally published in The Line on July 1st, 2018.]
We the Industrial Workers of the World fight for a better tomorrow.
We believe “It is the historic mission of the working class to do away with capitalism. The army of production must be organized, not only for everyday struggle with capitalists, but also to carry on production when capitalism shall have been overthrown. By organizing industrially we are forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old.”
It is important to emphasize that by fighting for “bread and butter” issues on the job with the intention of building One Big Union organized industrially that has as it’s aim the overthrow of capitalism, we, as workers, are bringing together more and more workers towards the goal of their own interests.
We believe that Labor creates all wealth and we want what is our due.
We believe in organizing for a better world in the here and now. We believe in organizing for better pay and better conditions, and for worker control on the job. Because it is the right, just, and sane thing to do. Some like to think of it as being revolutionary, we like to think of it as common sense.
The IWW was founded in 1905, but our ideals are those of working people going back centuries. They go back as far as working people have been held down. We have a saying “Labor creates all wealth.” Even before the revolution workers in New York were already saying “By Hammer and Hand All Arts Do Stand,” and in Charleston, “Industry Produceth All Wealth.” On July 4th we celebrate independence.
But independence from what? We, as workers, are not independent. We are not free. When we go to work we leave our rights at the door. We no longer have the right to talk about certain things. We may not have the right to talk at all. We could be fired for something we say. For instance one could say they don’t like the president and the government could not stop you or retaliate against you for this. However, if you said you hate your boss, you may be fired, or otherwise retaliated against. Our jobs are not a democracy. We don’t have much say in how we do the work. When we do have some say it is only by happenstance. It is not fundamental.
This Independence Day we urge you to think about this, and more than that, to do something about it. Political democracy, such as it is, did not come from no where in this world. It came from people fighting for it in many ways. We have to keep fighting for it because it is eroding. But more importantly we have to ask “why don’t we have workplace democracy?” We have to ask ourselves, not the bosses. Because we are the ones that can take action to implement workplace democracy.
We don’t need the bosses, they need us. The workers do the work. We can stop doing the work. But it is not just about showing the bosses and owners that we have the power. It is understanding this ourselves. It has been so long since workers have used these muscles. We have to test them, to understand the power that we have. Sometimes it only takes thinking about it to see that it makes sense that our work should be controlled democratically. Other times it takes seeing it. It takes seeing workers stand up for themselves, before we realize that it can be done. In any case the point is to start. Start organizing with your fellow workers.
This July 4th, and on all days, let us not say nationalism, but rather let us say – Freedom.