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Articles published in Fifth Estate related to the I.W.W. (in date order)

One Big Union, IWW stickerBombing won’t stop Redwood Summer
by Luba
Fifth Estate #334, Summer, 1990

In a doubly bizarre set of circumstances, two California environmentalists experienced an assassination attempt followed by their arrest for “possessing” the device that almost killed them. Judi Bari and Darryl Cherney, members of Earth First!, were victims of a car bombing Thursday, May 24, 1990 in Oakland, California. They were en route to Santa Cruz to continue preparations for the “Mississippi Summer in the Redwoods,” a planned season of civil disobedience aimed at disrupting logging of old growth forests. Read more…

The Centralia Massacre: Following World War I a Wobbly is lynched by the American Legion
by Alon K. Raab
Fifth Estate #346, Summer, 1995

In 1919, a fateful event, later known as “The Centralia Massacre,” occurred in this seemingly typical mill town. It was a time and a place where local businessmen, police, press, and judicial system, combined to murder workers and commit a travesty of justice. A town where the forces of hatred were unleashed upon those who were perceived as less than human. A town that is just beginning to address what happened. Read more…

The Wobblies Are Back!
by Fifth Estate Collective
Fifth Estate #368-369, Spring-Summer, 2005

Last year, Starbucks’ “baristas” in New York continued to organize for the first union shop in an outpost of the notorious coffee chain. In January, criminal charges were dismissed against an IWW Starbucks organizer stemming from a march at the 2004 Republican National Convention against the Bush administration’s collaboration with union-busting at the coffee shop giant. Read more…

Wobblies & Work: Special section intro
by Fifth Estate Collective
Fifth Estate #370, Fall 2005

This special section, announcing itself with the above headline, contains more of a critical and theoretical tension than may be immediately obvious at first reading. Imbedded in it is the difference between the clarion call proposed by Marxists to the international proletariat, “Workers of the World, Unite,” and another slogan, introduced in these pages some three decades ago—”Workers of the World, Relax!” Read more…

Beware, sabotage, I.W.W. signThe IWW: 100 Years of Resistance and Repression: A Radical Union Endures
by Julie Herrada
Fifth Estate #370, Fall 2005

By the last half of the nineteenth century, working conditions in American factories, mines, and mills were deplorable. Industrialists were ruthless about making money at the expense of the health and safety of the workers. They looked upon their employees as less than human. Read more…

by Julie Herrada
Fifth Estate #370, Fall 2005

Direct action (legal and illegal) and sabotage had been used by the U.S. and European labor movements as a method of class combat since the rise of industrialism. Read more…

IWW Free Speech Fights
by Julie Herrada
Fifth Estate #370, Fall 2005

Because of the IWW’s mission to organize all workers into One Big Union, immigrants, migrants, blacklisted, unskilled, itinerant, and other hard-to-reach workers were sought by Wobbly organizers as potential members. Organizers weren’t allowed into the shops, factories, or lumber camps, so they congregated on street corners and in town squares where they would address workers from soapboxes, urging them to join the union. Read more…

World War I: The Chicago Trial
by Julie Herrada
Fifth Estate #370, Fall 2005

“No war but the class war” was the expressed motto of many radicals who refused to enlist or otherwise contribute to any national war effort. At their tenth convention in 1914, the IWW passed a resolution stating, “We as members of the industrial army will refuse to fight for any purpose except the realization of industrial freedom.” Read more…

Wobbly Without Work?
Reflections on the IWW anniversary
by Anu Bonobo
Fifth Estate #370, Fall 2005

If there’s any idea promoted by the Wobblies that needs revision, it’s their concept of “One Big Union.” Even if one big union were doable, it may not be desirable. Read more…

Wobblies & Music: A Century of Radical Song: The IWW’s Singing Labor Movement at 100
by John Pietaro
Fifth Estate #370, Fall 2005

Looking back on the first century of the Industrial Workers of the World, the singing labor movement which brought us the Musician-Organizer, one can delve into its wealth of song to understand the urgency of its mission to create One Big Union that would replace wage labor and the state. Read more…

Drinking Joe Hill’s Ashes: Interview with Billy Bragg
by Billy Bragg, Walker Lane
Fifth Estate #370, Fall 2005

FE staffer Walker Lane interviewed Billy Bragg, the English singer/songwriter, when he played a 1998 Labor Day benefit for striking Detroit newspaper workers. Read more…

Strip Mining Big Rock Candy Mountain: A Tuneful Utopia
by Don LaCoss
Fifth Estate #370, Fall 2005

“The Big Rock Candy Mountain” has to be one of the greatest anti-work anthems in American popular music. One-time Wobbly busker and radio-show hillbilly Harry McClintock of Knoxville, Tennessee connived to claim authorship of the song in the mid-1920s… Read more…

The Lynching of Wobbly Frank Little (Film review)
by Don LaCoss
Fifth Estate # 370, Fall 2005

a review of “An Injury to One” (2002). Written and directed by Travis Wilkerson. Read more…

Still Wobbly After All These Years: A mini-memoir
by Sid Brown
Fifth Estate #370, Fall 2005

I was a Wobbly in the late 1950’s, through a portion of the tumultuous ’60s and into the always seeking-sometimes finding, ‘Seventies. Learning and honoring the historic traditions of the IWW and sharing tasks and decision-making with “fellow workers” changed my working life and continues to affect my creative endeavors. Read more…

Red In More Ways Than One: Carlos Cortez and the Native American/Wobbly Connection
by Franklin Rosemont
Fifth Estate #370, Fall 2005

Throughout U.S. history, the lives and struggles of Native Americans have been disregarded and disdained by the white, middle-class, christian, capitalist, Nature-despising national Establishment. Sadly, the disregarders and disdainers also included the great majority of socialists, communists, anarchists, trade-unionists and others who considered themselves critics and opponents of that Establishment. Read more…

The Wobblies (review)
by Jeff Ditz
Fifth Estate # 370, Fall 2005

A review of The Wobblies! A Graphic History of the Industrial Workers of the World, Edited by Paul Buhle and Nicole Schulman, Verso, New York. Read more…

Singing about Revolution & One Big Union
by Julie Herrada
Fifth Estate #375, Spring 2007

Reviewed in this article: The Big Red Songbook, Archie Green, David Roediger, Franklin Rosemont, Salvatore Salerno, editors; 2007; 538 pp.; $24; Charles H. Kerr Co., 1740 West Greenleaf, Chicago, IL 60626. Read more…

IWW Marine Transport Workers Local 8: Black lives mattered in this long-forgotten interracial union
by Peter Cole
Fifth Estate #401, Summer 2018

Among the greatest obstacles to a working class revolution in the United States (and beyond) has been, and remains, white supremacy Far too many white people, past and present, have put their racial identity above their class interests. Read more…

100 Years Later, Government Repression Has Not Stopped the IWW
by Eric Thomas Chester
Fifth Estate #402, Winter 2019

A hundred years ago, in September 1918, more than a hundred leaders of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) were convicted of conspiracy to obstruct World War I. The trial marked a critical turning point for the union and the Left. In marking this centenary, we remember the Industrial Workers of the World as the most successful organization holding to a radical vision in U.S. history. Read more…

Other sources

I.W.W. History Project

Founded in 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World captured the attention of a generation with its fiery rhetoric, daring tactics, and program of revolutionary industrial unionism. Pledging to replace the narrow craft unionism of the American Federal of Labor with massive industrial unions, the organization grew in numbers and reputation in the years before World War I, demonstrating an ability to organize workers neglected by the AFL, notably immigrant steel and textile workers in the Northeast, miners, timber, and harvest workers in the West. Read more…

IWW Biography

These are a list of some of our more notable members, some of them well known as IWW members, some of them not as well known. Read more…

The Industrial Workers of the World: Its First 100 Years by Fred W. Thompson and Jon Bekken, forward by Utah Phillips. I.W.W., 2006

Many histories have been written of the Industrial Workers of the World, often called the Wobblies. Founded in 1905 in hopes of uniting the working class into One Big Union, the IWW promoted industrial organization at a time when craft unionism was the established pattern. Read more…

Rebel Voices: An IWW Anthology, Edited by Joyce L. Kornbluh; Preface by Daniel Gross. PM Press/The Charles H. Kerr Library, 2011

Welcoming women, Blacks, and immigrants long before most other unions, the Wobblies from the start were labor’s outstanding pioneers and innovators, unionizing hundreds of thousands of workers previously regarded as “unorganizable.” Read more…

Wobblies of the World: A Global History of the IWW edited by Peter Cole, David Struthers, Kenyon Zimmer. Pluto Press, 2017.

This book is the first to look at the history of the IWW from an international perspective. Bringing together a group of leading scholars, it includes lively accounts from a number diverse countries including Australia, Canada, Mexico, South Africa, Sweden and Ireland, which reveal a fascinating story of global anarchism, syndicalism and socialism. Read more…

“The Wobblies” (1979) directed by Deborah Shaffer and Stewart Bird

The 1979 documentary film The Wobblies provides an overview of the rise and fall of the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World), complete with archival footage, loads of interviews, Wobbly art and songs. Read more…

The Wobblies: Online Film Documentary – YouTube

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