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Effective Strikes and Economic Actions

The IWW believes that the most effective form of action is direct action at the point of production.

The best-known form of direct action is the strike, in which workers simply walk off their jobs and refuse to produce profits for the boss until they get what they want. The traditional strike can be a risky move and may do more harm than good.

The bosses, with their large financial reserves, can be more able to withstand a long drawn-out strike than the workers, particularly if these workers are unskilled and easily replaced. In many cases, court injuctions will freeze or confiscate the union's strike funds. And worst of all, a long walk-out only is more likely to provide the boss a chance to replace striking workers with a scab (replacement) workforce.

Workers can be far more effective when they take direct action while still on the job. By deliberately reducing the boss' profits while continuing to collect wages, you can cripple the boss without giving some scab the opportunity to take your job. Direct action, by definition, means those tactics workers can undertake themselves, without the help of government agencies, union bureaucrats, or high-priced lawyers. Running to the National Labor Relations Board (N.L.R.B.) for help may be appropriate in some cases, but it is not a form of direct action.

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The contents of this webpage are adapted from the pamphlet, How to Fire Your Boss. The IWW does not endorse the full contents of the aforementioned pamphlet, particularly the sections not included here. The reasons for this disclaimer are tactical rather than philosophical. The sections excluded may or may not be effective, but in the United States of America, such tactics have been and are likely to continue to be misinterpreted as calls for individual acts of "sabotage" which the IWW neither endorses nor recommends.

Furthermore, none of these tactics are guaranteed to achieve their intended results. There are many variables to any given situation and it is best for you and your fellow workers to carefully and thoroughly assess each possible tactic before using it.

Finally, none of these tactics are particularly useful in the long run without stable organization to support them. Direct Action without organization may yield short term gains, but long term results tend to be negligible. It is essential that you and your fellow workers join and/or form stable organizations before using any of these tactics. Of course, we highly recommend that you chose to join the IWW.