Founded in Chicago in 1905, the IWW is open to all workers. Don’t let the “industrial” part fool you. Our members include teachers, social workers, retail workers, construction workers, bartenders, and computer programmers. Only bosses are not allowed to join. You have a legal right to join a union and your membership is confidential. It is up to you whether you discuss the union with your co-workers. If you are currently unemployed, a student, or retired, you can still join. We are a volunteer-driven union, and this means we, not union bosses, run the union. The IWW is not controlled by or affiliated with any political party or political movement. No money goes to politicians. Membership dues are used to maintain the union and assist organising campaigns. As a result, monthly dues are low.
Why join the IWW?
It does not take long to figure out that workers and their employers do not have the same interests. Workers want shorter hours, higher pay, and better benefits.
We want work to be meaningful, safe, and environmentally sustainable. We want more control over how we produce goods and provide services, through work that contributes to our communities and world. Our employers, in contrast, want us to work longer, harder, faster, and cheaper. They want fewer safety and environmental regulations and they demand absolute control over all decisions, work schedules, speech, and actions in the workplace.
Practical benefits of a union
The easiest way to stand up for each other in our workplaces and communities and to improve our working conditions is to join a union. That is why employers fight so hard, and spend so much money, to keep unions out of their workplaces. Workers with unions generally have higher pay and job security, better benefits, and fewer scheduling problems. More pay equals fewer hours at work and more hours for enjoying the good things in life. Union workplaces are safer and have less harassment, discrimination, and favouritism. This is because a union gives workers the power to make workplace decisions. The less we let our employers make all of the decisions, the better our lives and communities will be. Unions also provide mutual aid and community. This means assistance with problems at work, but it could also mean help with a community project or fighting a landlord.
Why every worker should be in the One Big Union
Whether your job sucks or is “pretty good” (at least today), we in the IWW believe you should join us for the following reasons. We need to start sticking up for our co-workers in our workplaces and in our industries. Ask around on your next shift. How many co-workers have two or three jobs? How many are one paycheck away from an eviction? We have a duty to our co-workers, and those who will follow in our footsteps, to make things better. The only way to do this is to organise together. When we band together around our common experiences and interests, we can improve our jobs and industries. Our labour, not our bosses, is what makes our workplaces tick and we can use our labour power to improve our jobs and our communities in the short term. In a lot of ways, that is what unions are all about.
With the IWW, you also belong to a union that has a long term vision and plan to eliminate the bosses, make our industries and economy democratic, and stop war and want and inequality. So join us.
As an IWW member, you get:
- volunteer organisers if you choose to organise your workplace and industry.
- union organising expertise in areas of strategy, media, community support, infrastructure building, and bargaining.
- commitment to democratic unionism, which means members control their own organising campaigns and the direction of the union.
- an international organisation dedicated to working together to build worker power on our jobs and in our communities.
- mutual aid and support.
- some practical things: a subscription to the Industrial Worker (union newspaper), the IWW internal newsletter, access to the IWW website, the union’s constitution, your local branch newsletter (if applicable), and a membership badge.