Wondering about the Wobblies?
Founded in 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) differed from other unions of the day in that they proposed one overarching union structure that could unite all working people as a class, rather than smaller craft unions that would be in competition with each other. They welcomed as members women, African-Americans, migrant workers, and new immigrants, when many other unions did not.
However, their vision of class warfare, their protests against World War I and their involvement in countless strikes, prompted severe and sometimes violent responses on the part of employers and the government. These responses plus an internal schism caused their numbers to drop significantly in the mid-1920s.
The IWW was active in Washington and its members were involved in the Everett Massacre of 1916 and the Centralia Massacre of 1919.
This collection of items was assembled from the materials collected for the trial that followed the Everett Massacre, and many of the books and pamphlets bear stamps reading “Plaintiff’s Exhibit” or “Defendant’s Exhibit.” The collection includes economics, philosophy, propaganda, posters, newspapers and broadsheets.
All these resources are available online at Classics in Washington History, a free online collection of full-text books. (http://www.sos.wa.gov/history/publications.aspx). Look under the subject heading “Industrial Workers of the World Collection.”
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October 8th, 2012 at 2:13 pm
A small correction: “its members were involved in the Everett Massacre of 1916 and the Centralia Massacre of 1919” leaves the impression that IWW members perpetrated the massacres, when in fact they were the victims. Perhaps “its members were among the victims of the Everett Massacre of 1916 and the Centralia Massacre of 1919” would be better?
October 8th, 2012 at 2:51 pm
Don’t forget the IWW’s activities in the east side of the state, such as the Spokane free speech struggle circa 1908-1909.