Monday, July 5, 2021

Industrial Workers of the World still unite

Jessico Dickerson and Gabe Galloway.
     If you think of the Industrial Workers of the World as relegated to Chicago’s distant labor past, the solemn faces of Big Bill Haywood and Eugene Debs gazing out of faded photographs, you should have been with me on Milwaukee Avenue Friday afternoon, on the picket line talking with living, breathing Wobblies Gabe Galloway and Jessico Dickerson.
     “A few weeks after we finished bargaining a contract, management just started ignoring the fact we had a contract or started reading the contract in absurd ways,” said Galloway, union secretary, explaining the two-day strike against the Dill Pickle Food Co-op near Logan Square.
     “Complaints about nine unfair labor practices went before the National Labor Relations Board,” said Dickerson, shop steward of the Dill Pickle Workers Union. “The NLRB found merit in eight.”
     Since the Sun-Times is owned in part by labor unions, and some readers think the way this works is a boss snaps his fingers twice, points at a story, and I go running, I should explain how I got there, because, to me, that’s the most amazing part.
     I was researching the espionage trial of 113 I.W.W. members in Chicago in 1918, most guilty of what today would be considered pacifism or labor advocacy which, in the patriotic passion of World War I, seemed like treason to authorities.
     So I’m picking over the historical record and notice the I.W.W., founded in Chicago in 1905, still has its international headquarters here, on Belmont Avenue. It has a store that sells pins and pennants. That was astounding, like discovering the Bull Moose Party is still around, still pushing for Teddy Roosevelt. Naturally, I had to reach out to them.
     The I.W.W. is doing what it’s always done.
     “Pretty much the same,” said Maxim Baku, communications officer of the I.W.W. “But of course the politics and times have changed a lot. ... The Second World War reshaped the labor movement, and shifted the I.W.W.’s place in the national dialogue. These days, we’re still very much focused on being a labor union, charting out an independent path.”

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5 comments:

  1. I love that they're striking at that wacko food co-op.
    Every time I read about one of these loony bins, it's always people fighting over what kinds of food they should be stocking. Everything must be pure, natural, organic & come from living saints who make sure they thank each & every individual weed, before they pull them from the ground to die & get composted.

    And I'm sure the reason their spokeswoman never go back to is that they had to hold a planning meeting to decide when to have a charrette to decide the overall tenor of her response & then hold six more meetings to hash out each & every letter in her response & then fought over the font to use, as some may have been designed by a ruthless capitalist corporation & waste too much ink while printing.

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    Replies
    1. Mmmmmm...good. Great snark.
      That's snark like Mother used to make...

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    2. Nah, I bet they didn't get back because they're bad people who can't even pretend to justify what they're doing.

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    3. Anti-union factions regularly accused IWW members of being slackers and bums, and claimed that IWW really meant "I-Won't-Work." IWW members were also known as "Wobblies"...but the origin of the nickname is uncertain. Supposedly, it derived from the way that Asian workers (mostly Chinese) pronounced the initials. It sounded like "I-Wobble-You-Wobble-You." That explanation has always seemed like an urban legend to me, but who knows?

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