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IWW Call to Action Against the WTO, Summer 1999

The IWW Played a significant role in organizing the now famous "Battle of Seattle" against the World Trade Organization in 1999. The complete history of this major turning point in the battle against capitalism has yet to be written of course, but here is the call to action by a group of IWW members in Seattle and Olympia, Washington. Note that this appeal includes a call for a general strike, something that has rarely been reported anywhere else.


At the General Assembly in Winnipeg, IWW delegates unanimously passed a resolution calling for an International Day of Action on November 30, 1999 in cities all over the US, Canada, and around the world to stop the World Trade Organization in its tracks.

This International Day of Action against the WTO, also known as N30 has been called for by many who are organizing against the WTO third Ministerial Conference in Seattle in November. This is the day that if all goes as planned, workers across the city of Seattle will walk off the job, as will students across the city, and meet downtown for a huge rally; march, direct action and civil disobedience, at which no less than 50,000 are expected. In addition to this, Seattle IWW members have established contact with workers at the venues where the WTO will meet and we are currently trying to get them mobilized to shut it down. IWW-led Flying Squadrons may be in effect the morning of the 30th as well, to encourage workers to walkout. Finally, the King County Labor Council is renting out the stadiums at Seattle Center (which hold upwards of 100,000 together) for the beginning of the march, to give you an idea of the size we expect.

At the same time, third-world based People's Global Action, which coordinated the Reclaim the Streets & Anti-Globalization actions in every continent around the world in more than 20 countries and 50 cities is helping coordinate with this effort as well in cities around the planet. An email listserv has been set up to coordinate N30 actions around the world. [Or you can] view the [online] archive. This is a historic opportunity for the IWW to get it's name out there as a militant worker's alternative to a WTO dominated planet and as a truly global union to organize into to more effectively fight to overthrow globalized, unregulated capitalism.

The reason this is so relevant to the IWW is that the World Trade Organization is in effect the polar opposite of our union - in that it is essentially a union of the largest corporations and most powerful nations in the world that uses solidarity between capitalists to crush workers, social well-being and the environment. In other words the WTO uses it's enforcement power on trade agreements (contracts between capitalists to maximize profits such as NAFTA, APEC, GATT, and the MAI) by collectively withholding their resources (their ability to impose sanctions and withhold trade) to enforce their will on the entire planet and over every national government. Since it's inception in 1995 it has passed over 100 resolutions, all of which have been anti-worker, anti-environment, pro-maximum profit. Among these include demolition of provisions of the US Clean Air Act, demolition of a law pushed through by activists in Massachusetts barring trade with Burma, a resolution in favor of Chiquita banana that resulted in over 200,000 lost jobs in Latin America, a recent ruling forcing El Salvador to lower their minimum wage from 60 cents an hour to 36 cents and hour, and many more.

The globalization and deregulation of capitalism is now in the public eye more than ever before. We would like to urge all Wobblies to get involved in this effort to stop the WTO by setting up local actions (pickets, sit-ins, strikes, walkouts, speakouts or anything at all) in your own cities through your GMB to happen simultaneously with N30 efforts. At the present time IWW members in Italy, Canada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington, Oregon, California and other places are either organizing local actions or coming to Seattle. In addition, PGA activists in 13 other nations around the world are planning actions as well. Also don't forget to use the anti-WTO flyer templates in the October [1998] Industrial Worker.