Submitted on Tue, 05/30/2006 - 2:49am
This story was psoted after May 20th, so the tense doesn't agree with the date of the posting. We will bring more news about this campaign as it develops.
TORONTO – Members of the Toronto branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) are pleased to announce a recruitment drive in several targeted workplaces in the city’s service and retail sectors. The IWW will kick off this campaign on May 20 with a public event at 18 Eastern Ave. (lower level), at 7 pm, featuring a presentation by Tomer Malchi. Malchi is involved in the union’s highly publicized organizing initiative at Starbucks coffee shops in New York City. On May 21, Malchi will lead an organizing workshop for interested participants.
The Cincinnati-headquartered IWW, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2005, is presently at its highest membership level since the 1940s, having recently enjoyed recruitment successes in, among other areas of the economy, New York food services and the California trucking industry. The union’s Toronto branch was re-established in the summer of last year.
While supportive of other trade unions, the IWW – informally known as the Wobblies – differs from mainstream organizations in its emphasis on rank-and-file initiative. IWW staff is minimal and dues paid by members are much lower than in other labour bodies.
According to Toronto branch secretary Rachel Rosen, this approach is appropriate in an economy where low-wage positions with high turnover constitute much of the “final frontier” for organizers. In retail, she added, “many workers can barely support themselves. They can’t afford expensive dues. But they could use the assistance and solidarity of an organization that’s been around for a long time. They need to come together to improve their wages and benefits in workplaces where employers clearly don’t have their interests at heart.”
Young workers, according to Rosen, are also drawn to the IWW because of its alternative image, its commitment to a green, de-centralized economy and its standoffish approach to political parties.
Aside from unorganized workers, the IWW also recruits the unemployed, students and dues-paying members of other unions (with no raiding intentions). The IWW “organizes the worker and not the job” and takes the view that those of its members who belong to other unions have a responsibility, in those organizations, to promote Wobbly values of grassroots democracy and militant action.