Chicago I.W.W. Announces Worker Self Managed Union for Co-ops and Self employed

I.W.W Worker Self Managed Union

Democracy * Worker Self Management * Economic freedom

The Chicago I.W.W. would like to introduce an exciting opportunity and alternative shop model for cooperatives and the self employed. The I.W.W is an international union in which all decisions are made by the membership. We organize across all industries (job types) and also include unemployed, homeless, students and retirees. Our long term goal is worker self management, meaning workers running their jobs democratically instead of by owners and bosses.

With the economic recession, we are working to advance an alternative model against the current control of business and state management. Understandably, working to create your own shop as a co-op or self employed can be more empowering than having the lack of control and exploitation of a standard business. However, the competition from large businesses makes self organization difficult. Simply put, many of us do not have the resources to compete in a capitalist world.

An I.W.W co-op is different from traditional co-ops in that our co-ops are a part of a larger movement to organize workers across all industries. For some of us, it has been possible to start our own cooperatives or become self employed, however, for millions this is not the case. We struggle for self management in all levels of society and by bringing co-operatives into the union we hope to create solidarity between workers struggle on the job and small cooperatives competing against big business. If you are in co-ops or self employed and believe in worker self management you are able to join.

To clarify what a co-op is, it means that everyone involved at the shop is involved in the decision making process, take part in hiring and firing procedure, discuss finances a planning, and develop a profit share system. Groups or individuals will be placed in a co-op, or Chicago General membership Branch shop.

Our Plan:

Create an IWW Worker Self managed Union website consisting of participating Co-ops and self employed individuals.

Create an announcement list and calendar for events, deals, and special events by individual shops.

Link the site through the international site,, Chicago website, other unions, and grassroot organizations.

Create outreach materials such as fliers, posters, buttons, shop window decal stickers and brochures to explain the program to the public and advertise our services.

Encourage our union members and the general public to use worker self managed shops instead of traditional undemocratic shops. While the IWW is small, we hope that a Co-op union can add momentum in building the overall union while building the success of worker self managed shops.

Use dues to aid each other’s work outside of the high interest banking system.

Shops can provide discounts for participating union shops. For example, we currently have a printing, IT, and screen printing shop. An I.W.W bike shop can request discount services for fliers, installation of computer software or new T-shirts.

Can take part in union activities, trainings, and meetings.

Co-op and self employed are required and can:

Join and become chartered as an I.W.W co-op. All workers will pay dues which are based on income ($5.00 subminimum for financial hardship, $9.00 minimum-if you make less than 2,000 a month, $18.00 if you make $2,000-$3500, $27 if you make more than $3,500)

Co-ops are required to have three members while shop with less will be a part of the Chicago General Membership Branch.

Can use the I.W.W union label on products.

Use union and green products, respect boycotts and recycle when feasible.


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