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Proposals for Hawai'i - page 4


Political parties in the US and Hawai'i put profits before people. The different "brands"-- Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Greens or Perot-ites-- only give the illusion of choice. They argue over the irrelevant details of capitalism but all believe in the "free market" (i.e., capitalist system)-- freedom for the owners, that is, not workers. Don't waste your vote on a political party. Some things just aren't worth recycling!

Getting elected to political office, even at the local level, is very expensive, and politicians have to raise a lot of money to have any chance of winning. In Hawai'i, that mostly means "donations" from the big land-owning estates and the tourism and construction industries. Once in power, politicians represent the interests of the big corporations and fat cats who financed them-- and their interests and working people's interests are very different, whichever party they belong to.

Voting simply doesn't work. It just encourages power seekers. It's not the particular politician or party in power that needs changing-- it's the system itself.

Voting disempowers people. It serves as a safety valve on dissent by misleading us into thinking there is hope through the system, that next time, things will be different. In fact, it keeps us from taking responsibility for solving problems ourselves through grassroots organizing and struggle in communities, unions, schools, etc. and takes decision-making power out of our hands. We need consensus-building and participatory, not representative, democracy. Politicians try to keep us quiet with crumbs, but we don't want crumbs. We want to own and operate the bakery.


The IWW is an industrial union, not a trade union. This means that all workers at a work-site are members of the same union, regardless of the particular job that they do. This helps bring about mutual respect and solidarity across craft/trade lines and makes it difficult for owners to play off one group of workers against another during contract negotiations, strikes or other forms of industrial action. Instead of pilots crossing flight attendants' picket lines, for example, we think pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers and ticket agents should all belong to one airline workers or transport union. In a school or university, teachers, secretaries and custodians should all belong to one education workers union, and so on. All workers are industrial workers, whether they work with their hands, their mind, or (hopefully) both.

Throughout its history the IWW has always welcomed racial minorities, immigrants, women and unskilled workers when other major unions rejected them, and this non-judgemental openness to all workers, including the lowest-paid, temporaries and non-profit staffers, is still true today. All kinds of workers are welcome in the IWW, regardless of occupation, gender, sexual preference, language, race, nationality or class origins. For tactical reasons, many wobblies are also members of other trade unions.

The union was severely repressed after the first world war (which it publicly opposed), and its membership declined, but it is steadily growing again because more and more workers are becoming disillusioned with their "options" as the rapid decline of capitalism and state socialism worldwide brings unemployment and sharp drops in living standards. Workers are searching for alternatives, and the IWW offers some.

The IWW is a "do-it-yourself" union. We believe in workers taking control over their own lives, starting with where they work. We will help you organize your workplace, but we won't do it for you. Although we have members and branches in Hawai'i, most parts of the USA and in many other countries, we are not a union with a bloated bureaucracy or a lot of money. The IWW has one paid officer, the General Secretary-Treasurer (GST), who is paid the same wage as IWW office workers. The seven-member General Executive Board (GEB) is elected annually by the entire membership, as is the GST. All officers may be recalled at any time by referendum. IWW workplaces and branches make their own decisions about bargaining and strategy. In other words, the members-- the rank and file-- control the IWW, not distant fat-cat union officials. We believe in direct, participatory democracy, not representative democracy of the kind championed by politicians and mainstream AFL-CIO unions, and we practice it in our own union affairs. ... If you would like to know more or join the Wobblies, write to the same address, or in Hawai'i, drop us a line!