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How the IWW Differs from Business Unions

From the Preamble to the IWW Constitution:

The trade unions foster a state of affairs which allows one set of workers to be pitted against another set of workers in the same industry, thereby helping defeat one another in wage wars. Moreover, the trade unions aid the employing class to mislead the workers into the belief that the working class have interests in common with their employers.

The IWW is fundamentally different from business unions in the following ways:

  • The IWW is democratic, controlled by its rank & file;
  • The IWW believes in organizing industrially, not by trade or craft;
  • The IWW is a class struggle union. The working class and the employing class having nothing in common;
  • The IWW organizes on its own terms.

Following are some scathing critiques of business unions, i.e. unions that believe that the working class and capital are partners, and why that belief is suicidal for the working class. These documents are not official IWW literature and the opinions expressed here are presented for informational purposes:

On the Betrayal of Business Unions:

Alternatives to Reformism Within Existing Labor Law:

New Directions, Same Destination:

On the Limits of Reform Slates:

On the Dangers of Trying to Make Change as a Paid Union Staffer:

  • Organize From Below! - A Message to Young People Who Are Considering Taking a Job as a Union Staffer - By Richard Mellor and John Reimann, (April 11, 2004)