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Union Democracy

The purpose of the I.W.W. is to establish democracy in our everyday life on the job, and in the economy as a whole. Its practical policies are directed toward that end, and are essential to its achievement. They are determined by two basic principles: solidarity, and democracy within the union. It is necessary to avoid any practices that will interfere with the unity of our class, and it is even more necessary to make sure that the union, instead of running its members, is run by them.

To leave democracy out of such an organization as the I.W.W. is building would leave it a device for fascism or other authoritarian political groups, and a tremendous handicap to labor. Authoritarian leadership around the world and throughout history found it necessary to herd labor into an organization very much of that sort. The power of One Big Union must be wielded by us, not over us.

As protection against any clique running this union to suit themselves, the following safeguards have been devised:

  • No officer is elected for more than [a] one year [term].
  • No officer may be elected for more than three successive terms.
  • All officers are elected by referendum ballot, on which all members they represent may vote--all members in job branches for the officers of the industrial union branches that unite them; all members in the industry for industrial union officers; and all members of the I.W.W. for officers of the general organization.
  • All officers are subject to recall by majority vote.

Election, not appointment, is the uniform policy.

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