Industrial Workers of the World Day
annually on June 27th
Industrial Workers of the World Day is a day to both remember the work industrial workers do all over world, and to reflect on the legacy of the labor union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW). The day takes place on June 27th, as it was on that day in 1905 when a group of organizers who would become the IWW had their first meeting. The IWW, whose members were sometimes known as “Wobblies”, have been one of the more radical labor unions in the United States, and have had ties to anarchists and socialists. The goal of the IWW was to form “One Big Union” with workers from different industries and trades, and to break down the barriers between race and sex to unite all workers in a common cause. They wanted to get rid of bosses altogether, so that workers could own part of the companies they worked in. The IWW had some successes in the 1910’s, and had about 150,000 members at this time. By the 1920’s their membership began to decline because of their opposition to World War I, crackdowns against radicals following the war during the First Red Scare, conflicts with other labor groups that were more conservative, and splits in the organization itself. But, they still are organizing today.
How to Observe
The day should be spent remembering those who work in industrial jobs that help to make things run smoothly in our daily lives. Their jobs are many times labor intensive, and their labor shouldn’t be taken for granted. This may be a good day to thank factory and construction workers, machinists, and welders. This is also a day to remember the role labor unions have played in helping workers, and this day specifically is dedicated to the Industrial Workers of the World. Regardless of one’s views on their tactics and political beliefs, it is important to understand their role in history. This may be a good day to watch An Injury to One or The Wobblies. It also may be a good day to listen to Utah Phillips, or other singers of labor songs such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.