By joining the IWW ,the Wobblies, an individual worker is making a statement. They are saying I identify with a revolutionary union, in the syndicalist, bottom-up tradition. Many who join have busy lives, partly dictated by work, which may involve more than one ‘part-time’ job, young families or care for relatives and friends. Therefore, participation in the workings of a local General member branch (GMB) of the IWW may be occasional & restricted.
However, many who are joining, especially online, have little contact with active branches, whether local, or ‘industrial union’ networks. It is a world of social media: facebook, google+, twitter, many avoid email & face-to-face contact with ‘strangers’. By joining the IWW you become a ‘fellow worker’, one strengthened by a community of solidarity, at least in theory. All theory has to be put into practice, if it is to avoid becoming abstract & detached from social reality.
Scotland wide, and in city based branches, the Union needs to offer more in the way of explanation how we operate. There is no “top down” leadership. Our union depends on a level of participation and understanding. Induction meetings, perhaps extending to some ‘mentoring’ for new members (if they wish) will be organised in the near future. ‘101 Training’ is another means to boost the confidence & expertise of new members, equipping them with skills to organise in the workplace.
In Scotland we have an annual Assembly, usually in November, we have email lists, this wordpress page, facebook pages. Funds can be devolved, such as to members in the Highlands to promote local activity. A network (SEWN) in education has been established, and others – Health & Care; Call-centre; Bar & Restaurant, other ‘precarious’ worker networks are possible, with greater participation & understanding of IWW objectives.
We need a more social and supportive side to our union, and in so doing instill the Wobbly ethos, ‘we are all organisers’: reducing passivity and uncertainty about how new members can contribute.
Keith | firstname.lastname@example.org