The Industrial Workers of the World: Its First 100 Years


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By Fred W. Thompson and Jon Bekken
Forward by Utah Phillips

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. The IWW welcomed all workers, regardless of ethnicity, race or gender when other unions boasted of their exclusionary policies. Its reliance on direct action on the job generated much of the strategy and tactics of the modern labor movement. Often referred to as the singing union, Wobblies wrote hundreds of labor songs and published millions of copies of their Little Red Songbook. The IWW’s theme song, “Solidarity Forever,” became the anthem of the entire American labor movement.

The IWW: Its First 100 Years is the most comprehensive history of the union ever published. Written by two Wobblies who lived through many of the struggles they chronicle, it documents the famous struggles such as the Lawrence and Paterson strikes, the fight for decent conditions in the Pacific Northwest timber fields, the IWW’s pioneering organizing among harvest hands in the 1910s and 1920s, and the wartime repression that sent thousands of IWW members to jail. But it is the only general history to give substantive attention to the IWW’s successful organizing of African-American and immigrant dock workers on the Philadelphia waterfront, the international union of seamen the IWW built from 1913 through the 1930s, smaller job actions through which the IWW, Wobbly successes organizing in manufacturing in the 1930s and 1940s, and the union’s recent resurgence. Extensive source notes provide guidance to readers wishing to explore particular campaigns in more depth. There is no better history for the reader looking for an overview of the history of the Industrial Workers of the World, and for an understanding of its ideas and tactics. Includes nearly 60 photographs and illustrations, and brief forward from Utah Phillips.

Additional information

Weight 12.5 oz
Dimensions 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.75 in



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