Solidarity Unionism, Industrial Unionism, and One Big Unionism

The IWW practices Solidarity Unionism.

This means that we strive to build unions based on the strength of workers on the job, without regard to government or employer ‘recognition.’ It also refers to a strategy that eschews traditional contracts as our end goal, rejecting concessionary bargaining and the prevalent ‘no-strike’ and ‘management rights’ clauses most traditional trade unions are all too willing to accept. This does not mean that we never chose to follow a traditional route and bargain for a contract, only that we are not limited by this passive tactic and that we believe in the power of rank-and-file direct action, shop floor organization and class solidarity, both to win better economic conditions and to build a world without bosses.

The One Big Union is the idea that the entire working class must be united to act in our interests as a class and against capitalism.

The united working class must be intersectional in that it must cross geographic, cultural, and industrial boundaries as well as overcome the false divisions of race, sex, gender, sexual orientation, and age. While we do different kinds of work, we have the same basic role in the economy: we’re the people that make our society run but who have no power over how it is run. We recognize that unionism is not about government certification or employer recognition, but about rank-and-file workers coming together around common interests. Because of this, we have often stood out for organizing workers that the “business-style” unions are either unwilling or unable to organize due to racist, sexist or “craft” prejudices, bureaucratic practices and harmful “jurisdictional” divisions, or simply because a certain group of workers may be seen as “un-
organizable.” By joining into One Big Union we make it possible to shut down not only a shop, but an entire supply chain, or even an economy in order to organize as a class, take possession of the means of production, and abolish the wage system.

Industrial Unionism is the idea that we need to build labor organizations connected to each other logically based on the way that the modern economy runs.

Industrial Unionism is understanding how we carry out our principles in action. By organizing unions in this way, we can strengthen our power across connected industrial chains. Organizing along the supply chain amplifies our power: a union of agricultural workers, food processing workers, truckers, and fast food workers in one chain has more power against the employer or employers on that chain than organizing all the fast food workers in one city. While One Big Unionism is a set of principles that guides our work,  Industrial Unionism gives us practical suggestions about how to best implement our ideas and win when we fight the bosses.

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