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Minutes of the IWW's Founding Convention - Part 1


Industrial Workers of the World.


Tuesday, June 27, 1905.


The convention called in accordance with the terms of the Manifesto issued by the Chicago Conference, January 2, 3, 4, 1905, and which before final adjournment organized the Industrial Workers of the World, met at Brand’s Hall, Chicago, Tuesday, June 27, 1905, at ten o’clock A. M. The convention was called to order by William D. Haywood, in the following words:

MR. HAYWOOD: Fellow Workers: In calling this convention to order I do so with a sense of the responsibility that rests upon me and rests upon every delegate that is here assembled. This is the Continental Congress of the working class. We are here to confederate the workers of this country into a working class movement that shall have for its purpose the emancipation of the working class from the slave bondage of capitalism. (Applause). There is no organization, or there seems to be no labor organization, that has for its purpose the same object as that for which you are called together to-day. The aims and objects of this organization should be to put the working class in possession of the economic power, the means of life, in control of the machinery of production and distribution, without regard to capitalist masters. (Applause). The American Federation of Labor, which presumes to be the labor movement of this country, is not a working class movement. It does not represent the working class. There are organizations that are affiliated, but loosely affiliated with the A. F. of L., which in their constitution and by-laws prohibit the initiation of or conferring the obligation on a colored man; that prohibit the conferring of the obligation on foreigners. What we want to establish at this time is a labor organization that will open wide its doors to every man that earns his livelihood either by his brain or his muscle. There is a great work to be accomplished at this convention, and every one of you must recognize the responsibility that rests upon you.

When the corporations and the capitalists understand that you are organized for the express purpose of placing the supervision of industry in the hands of those who do the work, you are going to be harassed and you are going to be subjected to every indignity and cruelty that their minds can invent. You are also going to be confronted with the so-called labor leader, the man who will tell you and other workers that the interests of the capitalist and the workingman are identical. (Applause). I want to say that a man who makes that assertion is a worse foe to the working class than is D. M. Parry or August Belmont. (Applause). There is no man who has an ounce of honesty in his make-up but recognizes the fact that there is a continuous struggle between the two classes, and this organization will be formed, based and founded on the class struggle (applause), having in view no compromise and no surrender, and but one object and one purpose and that is to bring the workers of this country into the possession of the full value of the product of their toil. (Applause). The Secretary will read the temporary rules of the convention.


MR. W. E. TRAUTMANN, SECRETARY: The temporary Executive Board of the January conferees proposes to this convention the following rules:

1:—Convention to open at ten o’clock Tuesday, June 27, by Chairman W. D. Haywood.

2:—Secretary of the temporary Executive Board to act as temporary Secretary of the preliminary meeting and read rules governing formation of the convention.

3:—Original conferees to constitute temporary Credential Committee to act upon the credentials of those delegates who are clothed with full power to install international, national or local unions, assemblies or alliances as working parts of the proposed economic organization.

4:—The Convention, as then constituted, shall elect a Credential Committee to pass upon the credentials of such of the original conferees as represent only themselves as individuals.

5:—The Convention, as then constituted, shall elect a final Credential Committee to examine the credentials of those delegates who, while they represent international, national or local unions, assemblies or alliances, are not authorized to install their respective organizations as working parts of the proposed economic organization.

6:—This final Credential Committee shall then act upon the credentials of general individual delegates.

7:—Election of chairman of Convention.

8:—Election of permanent Secretary and Assistant Secretary of the Convention.

9:—Election of a Committee on Rules.

MR. TRAUTMANN: The original conferees of January who are here seated upon the stage will constitute the first Credential Committee to act upon the credentials of those delegates who have the power to install their respective local organizations, national or international organizations or alliances, into this economic organization to be formed.

MR. HAYWOOD: We will now have the reading of the Manifesto issuing the call for this convention.

MR. D. C. COATES, COLORADO: Just a moment, please, before we proceed any further. Do I understand that those rules that have just been read are the rules of the convention?

MR. HAYWOOD: No, sir. Those are simply the temporary rules, which are subject to this convention after the convention is organized.

MR. COATES: Well, I understand that. What I meant was that they are now in force until other rules are adopted by the convention?

MR. HAYWOOD: I so understand, yes.

MR. COATES: Don’t you think, Mr. Chairman, that they ought to be open to discussion?

MR. HAYWOOD: Well, not before the Credential Committee acts. The original members of the Conference Committee, the signers of the Manifesto, will act as herein stated on the organizations that are instructed with full power to install their unions, international, local or national organizations. Then the convention will be organized, and the rules will be subject to any change that the convention desires.

MR. COATES: Now, Mr. Chairman, to get the thing clear, as I understand it now there will be nothing done except to have the report of this provisional Credential Committee under these rules?

MR. HAYWOOD: That is all; the reading of the Manifesto calling for this convention and the action of the Credentials Committee.

MR. DE LEON: Under that ruling I would understand that there is nothing to be done now except to present the credentials.

MR. HAYWOOD: That is all.

MR. DE LEON: The reading of the credentials should come before the organization of the house, under your ruling.

MR. HAYWOOD: The reading of the Manifesto will take place at this time.

MR. A. M. SIMONS, OF CHICAGO, then read the Manifesto calling for the convention, as follows:


Social relations and groupings only reflect mechanical and industrial conditions. The great facts of present industry are the displacement of human skill by machines and the increase of capitalist power through concentration in the possession of the tools with which wealth is produced and distributed.

Because of these facts trade divisions among laborers and competition among capitalists are alike disappearing. Class divisions grow ever more fixed and class antagonisms more sharp. Trade lines have been swallowed up in a common servitude of all workers to the machines which they tend. New machines, ever replacing less productive ones, wipe out whole trades and plunge new bodies of workers into the ever-growing army of tradeless, hopeless unemployed. As human beings and human skill are displaced by mechanical progress, the capitalists need use the workers only during that brief period when muscles and nerves respond most intensely. The moment the laborer no longer yields the maximum of profits, he is thrown upon the scrap pile, to starve alongside the discarded machine. A dead line has been drawn, and an age-limit established, to cross which, in this world of monopolized opportunities, means condemnation to industrial death.

The worker, wholly separated from the land and the tools, with his skill of craftsmenship rendered useless, is sunk in the uniform mass of wage slaves. He sees his power of resistance broken by craft divisions, perpetuated from out-grown industrial stages. His wages constantly grow less as his hours grow longer and monopolized prices grow higher. Shifted hither and thither by the demands of profit-takers the laborer’s home no longer exists. In this helpless condition he is forced to accept whatever humiliating conditions his master may impose. He is submitted to a physical and intellectual examination more searching than was the chattel slave when sold from the auction block. Laborers are no longer classified by differences in trade skill, but the employer assigns them according to the machines to which they are attached. These divisions, far from representing differences in skill or interests among the laborers, are imposed by the employers that workers may be pitted against one another and spurred to greater exertion in the shop, and that all resistance to capitalist tyranny may be weakened by artificial distinctions.

While encouraging these outgrown divisions among the workers the capitalists carefully adjust themselves to the new conditions. They wipe out all differences among themselves and present a united front in their war upon labor. Through employers’ associations, they seek to crush, with brutal force, by the injunctions of the judiciary, and the use of military power, all efforts at resistance. Or when the other policy seems more profitable, they conceal their daggers beneath the Civic Federation and hoodwink and betray those whom they would rule and exploit. Both methods depend for success upon the blindness and internal dissensions of the working class. The employers’ line of battle and methods of warfare correspond to the solidarity of the mechanical and industrial concentration, while laborers still form their fighting organizations on lines of long-gone trade divisions. The battles of the past emphasize this lesson. The textile workers of Lowell, Philadelphia and Fall River; the butchers of Chicago, weakened by the disintegrating effects of trade divisions; the machinists on the Santa Fe, unsupported by their fellow-workers subject to the same masters; the long-struggling miners of Colorado, hampered by lack of unity and solidarity upon the industrial battle-field, all bear witness to the helplessness and impotency of labor as at present organized.

This worn-out and corrupt system offers no promise of improvement and adaptation. There is no silver lining to the clouds of darkness and despair settling down upon the world of labor.

This system offers only a perpetual struggle for slight relief within wage slavery. It is blind to the possibility of establishing an industrial democracy, wherein there shall be no wage slavery, but where the workers will own the tools which they operate, and the product of which they alone will enjoy.

It shatters the ranks of the workers into fragments, rendering them helpless and impotent on the industrial battle-field.

Separation of craft from craft renders industrial and financial solidarity impossible.

Union men scab upon union men; hatred of worker for worker is engendered, and the workers are delivered helpless and disintegrated into the hands of the capitalists.

Craft jealousy leads to the attempt to create trade monopolies.

Prohibitive initiation fees are established that force men to become scabs against their will. Men whom manliness or circumstances have driven from one trade are thereby fined when they seek to transfer membership to the union of a new craft.

Craft divisions foster political ignorance among the workers, thus dividing their class at the ballot box, as well as in the shop, mine and factory.

Craft unions may be and have been used to assist employers in the establishment of monopolies and the raising of prices. One set of workers are thus used to make harder the conditions of life of another body of laborers.

Craft divisions hinder the growth of class consciousness of the workers, foster the idea of harmony of interests between employing exploiter and employed slave. They permit the association of the misleaders of the workers with the capitalists in the Civic Federations, where plans are made for the perpetuation of capitalism, and the permanent enslavement of the workers through the wage system.

Previous efforts for the betterment of the working class have proven abortive because limited in scope and disconnected in action.

Universal economic evils afflicting the working class can be eradicated only by a universal working class movement. Such a movement of the working class is impossible while separate craft and wage agreements are made favoring the employer against other crafts in the same industry, and while energies are wasted in fruitless jurisdiction struggles which serve only to further the personal aggrandizement of union officials.

A movement to fulfill these conditions must consist of one great industrial union embracing all industries, providing for craft autonomy locally, industrial autonomy internationally, and working class unity generally.

It must be founded on the class struggle, and its general administration must be conducted in harmony with the recognition of the irrepressible conflict between the capitalist class and the working class.

It should be established as the economic organization of the working class, without affiliation with any political party.

All power should rest in a collective membership.

Local, national and general administration, including union labels, buttons, badges, transfer cards, initiation fees, and per capita tax should be uniform throughout.

All members must hold membership in the local, national or international union covering the industry in which they are employed, but transfers of membership between unions, local, national or international, should be universal.

Workingmen bringing union cards from industrial unions in foreign countries should be freely admitted into the organization.

The general administration should issue a publication representing the entire union and its principles which should reach all members in every industry at regular intervals.

A central defense fund, to which all members contribute equally, should be established and maintained.

All workers, therefore, who agree with the principles herein set forth, will meet in convention at Chicago the 27th day of June, 1905, for the purpose of forming an economic organization of the working class along the lines marked out in this Manifesto.

Representation in the convention shall be based upon the number of workers whom the delegate represents. No delegate, however, shall be given representation in the convention on the numerical basis of an organization unless he has credentials—bearing the seal of his union, local, national or international, and the signatures of the officers thereof—authorizing him to install his union as a working part of the proposed economic organization in the industrial department in which it logically belongs in the general plan of organization. Lacking this authority, the delegate shall represent himself as an individual.

Adopted at Chicago, January 2, 3 and 4, 1905.





























A labor organization to correctly represent the working class must have two things in view.

First—It must combine the wage workers in such a way that it can most successfully fight the battles and protect the interests of the working people of to-day in their struggle for fewer hours, more wages and better conditions.

Secondly—It must offer a final solution of the labor problem—an emancipation from strikes, injunctions and bull-pens.

Study the Chart and observe how this organization will give recognition to trade and craft divisions; yet provide perfect Industrial Unionism and converge the strength of all organized workers to a common center, from which any weak point can be strengthened and protected.

Observe, also, how the growth and development of this organization will build up within itself the structure of an Industrial Democracy—a Workers’ Co-Operative Republic—which must finally burst the shell of capitalist government, and be the agency by which the working people will operate the industries, and appropriate the products to themselves.

One obligation for all.

A union man once and in one industry, a union man always and in all industries.

Universal transfers.

Universal label.

An open union and a closed shop.

MR. HAYWOOD: Delegates will now please pass in their credentials to the Committee. The convention will then stand adjourned until two o’clock this afternoon.