From the Secretary of the Seattle IWW
Greetings from the Seattle General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, the “Rain City Wobblies”! This is the inaugural edition of the Seattle Worker, a publication in the spirit of the Industrial Worker, the long-running voice of the IWW. Our paper will be an opportunity for the Rain City Wobblies to engage directly with the people of the Seattle region as we continue our organizing efforts to empower the workers of our home city.
Considering the national decline in union membership, the resurgence of reactionary and fascist politics, and the stagnation of the American job market, it certainly feels as though we are at a turning point in US history. How we revolutionaries and radicals act in the next decade may decide the fate of the US labor movement and, by extension, the fortunes of the entire working class. Therefore, we are obligated to organize in this region a concerted union of workers dedicated to improving their lives and controlling their own labor. We hope that the Seattle Worker will help us accomplish this goal.
This paper will be home to news, editorials, photos, art, and essays detailing organizing campaigns, labor news, and the history of the Seattle IWW. We will profile workplaces, local organizations, activists and organizers, local and regional events, and other efforts around the Puget Sound. We hope to inform, educate, and collaborate with our fellow workers in the area to facilitate our goals of organizing the working class.
When I became Secretary of the Seattle branch this year, I said that my top priority is growing the union’s membership and ensuring that we are a force for change in the lives of workers across the region. As we assert ourselves and become more active, I expect our membership to continue growing. However, it is imperative that we build not just a group of dedicated workers who want to change the world for good, but that we build a movement that threatens this city’s employer class and sends the message that we are going to take back what we deserve.
We have a lot to be excited about. Our IWW branch is bigger than it has been in decades, and we’re growing. We have multiple organizing campaigns, ranging from the successful unionization of non-profit canvassers to brand new campaigns aimed at some of Seattle’s powerhouse industries. We have artists, musicians, and writers who are creating new and interesting works for the liberation of the working class. And we are building a new labor movement in Seattle, a labor movement that doesn’t stop at contract negotiations and pickets, but one that has its sights set on dismantling capitalism and the exploitation of all workers.
We also hope that this paper will help invigorate members and empower them to engage or re-engage with the union. This is a union that is built by and completely reliant on its members. We want to reach out to members, new and old, to share stories and news, collaborate on new projects, and increase involvement with the union’s work.
This branch also has a long history. When the IWW was founded in 1905 in Chicago, the Seattle branch was one of the first charters in the country. Within a year, we had 200 fellow workers organizing across the region. Most of our success came from organizing lumberjacks (nicknamed “timber beasts” at the time), miners, shipyard workers, and other so-called “unskilled” workers. The IWW helped organize the Seattle General Strike of 1919, one of the most infamous events in US labor history.
A concentrated crusade of state repression in the following years significantly undercut the union’s membership, and our chapter was inactive for years. But we never disappeared, and a Wobbly resurgence has now put us squarely in the midst of a historical moment that has breathed new life into radical organizing. We will share these historical episodes in the pages of the Seattle Worker as well.
Most importantly, we invite you to join us. Membership in the IWW is open to all workers, regardless of skill, craft, training, education, or employment status. All workers are welcome in the IWW. We hope that this publication will provide a space for workers to reach out to one another and share their experiences, their frustrations, their triumphs, their goals and aspirations and ambitions. We are all working for the same objective: the emancipation of the working class from the bonds of capitalism. On behalf of the Seattle GMB, the Seattle Worker Editorial Committee, and all of our fellow workers of Western Washington, thank you for reading this.
In solidarity and for the One Big Union, Lindsay Mímir.