Industrial Workers of the World

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Industrial Workers of the World and Labor Union Rights[edit | edit source]

Formed in 1905 in Chicago, a group of labor workers formed the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)Official Website, also called “Wobblies."[1] It denounced the American Federation of Labor’s acceptance of capitalism and unskilled workers. IWW began after Gilded Age, a period of rapid economic development. It promoted workers rights and wanted to protect them against capitalism under “One Big Union.” IWW had a very strong propaganda team of writers and speakers. IWW’s orators such as Joseph Ettor, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, and Haywood defended the oppressed working people and received their sympathy. IWW’s political activists organized strikes and boycotts to demand workers’ rights. Prior to World War I, IWW members numbered up to 100,000 workers. During World War I, IWW became the only labor organization that opposed U.S. draft in World War I.[2] The government reacted by prosecuting war objectors with the Espionage Act of 1917. This lead to a decrease in IWW’s popularity and officials arrested more than 160 IWW leaders. After the war, the Red Scare further harmed IWW’s public image. The number of IWW’s members then decreased to about 10,000 by 1930. IWW became the precursor of the Congress of Industrial Unions. Counterculture songs such as “Casey Jones” or “I Dreamt I Saw Joe Hill Last Night” became some of the cultural icons of the union movement at the time.

  1. Barnhill, John. "Industrial Workers of the World." Encyclopedia of Politics: The Left and the Right: Volume 1: The Left and Volume 2: The Right. Ed. Rodney P. Carlisle, Ph.D. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc., 2005. 240-41. SAGE knowledge. Web. 23 Mar. 2015.
  2. "Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)". Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Encyclopædia Britannica Inc., 2015. Web. 23 Mar. 2015