This site is a static archive. Visit the current IWW website at ▸
Skip to main content

Industrial Classification

To organize the working class into structures corresponding to the facts of industry is the aim of the I.W.W.. As a system of classification for this rational industrial unionism, it uses a decimal method that provides ample opportunity for any changes and additions that new inventions and industrial processes may make advisable.

It is much like the system used by libraries to number their books, so that no matter what book may ever be written about any subject, there is a logical number to assign it so that it will stand in its proper relation with all other books ever written or to be written on the same subject. Similarly there is a logical grouping for every worker in the One Big Union plan of the I.W.W.

Without the coordination furnished by One Big Union, it would be impossible to provide a scheme of organization that would unite workers so that they could take whatever joint action various occasions might require. The interweaving of industrial relations makes that so. For instance, the steel industry requires iron miners, workers in lime quarries, in coal mines and coke ovens and the fuel oil industry, railway, road, and marine transport workers, as well as the workers at the furnaces and rolling mills. Often these workers furnishing materials are employees of the steel companies. But for other relations it is most convenient to have these coal miners organized with other coal miners, these transportation workers with other transport workers.

For effective working-class solidarity it is necessary that workers be able to plan jointly with either their fellow workers in their own industries, or with their fellow workers to whom they furnish materials. Only with the sort of industrial unionism that adds up to One Big Union is this flexibility possible. The lines marking off the industrial are not barriers; they are universal joints.

In the table is shown in general outline the arrangement of industrial unions currently used by the I.W.W.. In all instances workers on the same job are to be members of the same union, and by all workers is meant all wage and salary earners (except those what have the effective ability to hire and fire), each industrial union deciding for itself who is eligible and who is not.

Next page: How Employers Organize