The origins of May Day go back well into the 1800s, when workers across the country agitated for better working conditions in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. On May 1st 1886, three hundred thousand workers walked off over 13,000 job sites to agitate for the 8-hour work day, holding peaceful demonstrations and strikes all across the United States. In Chicago, nearly 40,000 workers walked off their jobs. This show of international solidarity is celebrated every year across the world on May 1st. This year as in years past, the IWW celebrates International Workers Day and honors the legacy of the hundreds of thousands of workers who have fought and died for better working conditions by continuing to agitate for and help organize workers across the world.
In 2021 the IWW has welcomed unions from four diverse industries into the fold. Workers from each union have found a home amongst the workers in our One Big Union, and we celebrate their recent successes. These workers range from booksellers, to administrative staff, to teachers and project coordinators, and each of them have been able to leverage the support of the IWW to organize for better working conditions in their workplaces.
Moe’s Books Workers Join the IWW
Workers at Moe’s Books have recently organized and joined the IWW. On March 9, 2021, Doris Moskowitz, the owner of Moe’s, voluntarily recognized their union.
Workers began organizing in order to ensure the safety of their workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, after a year of management ignoring workers’ concerns and retaliating against efforts to advocate for better safety protocols.
“Moe’s Books workers believe wholeheartedly that the best and safest way for Moe’s to proceed through this pandemic will be collaboration and mutual respect in addressing ever-changing circumstances,” they said in a statement. “The reputation of Moe’s Books as a bastion of radical bookselling since 1959 has always been tied to the devotion and love of its workers and they are unionizing with the view of keeping Moe’s a place where workers are respected and treated well.”
Supporters of the Moe’s Books union can visit Moe’s Books in Berkeley, California and buy a book to show their support.
The Staff of the Socialist Rifle Association Join the IWW
On March 13th, the workers of the Socialist Rifle Association submitted a request for voluntary recognition of their recently organized Socialist Rifle Association Workers United (SRAWU) under the IWW, and are in the middle of negotiating their contract. The SRAWU is committed to negotiating the creation of a Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention policy and the right of union representation at Assembly meetings.
Faye Ecklar, Director of Mutual Aid for the SRA, expressed her approval in a recent statement. “It’s time for the staff and volunteers of the SRA to unite and organize for their own wellbeing while we continue to do everything we can to support our chapters and membership.”
The Workers of Caliber: Beta Academy Form First Charter School Union in Richmond, CA
The workers of Caliber: Beta Academy have formed the Caliber Workers Union (CWU) under the IWW. On April 21, 2021, CWU submitted their request for voluntary recognition to the school leadership. Their demands include ending at-will employment, an equitable evaluation policy, and union representation at meetings.
“Caliber’s strength has always come from the brilliance of its students, their families, and the unwavering dedication and passion of its workers,” Tyler Powles, CWU member and 4th grade leader teacher, said in a statement. “Unionizing is the next necessary step in our commitment to the people who make our school possible.”
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Joins the IWW
The workers of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC) recently organized as the OVEC Union (OVECU) under the IWW. On March 4th, they submitted a request for voluntary recognition to the OVEC board of directors. Among their demands are a standardized pay scale, equitable discipline policy, and the right to union representation at meetings.
“Having a union is a logical next step in supporting our organization as our organization continues to support our communities,” OVEC Project Coordinator Dustin White said in a statement. “Unionizing only strengthens our commitment to the vital work we do at the crossroads of environmental, social, and labor justice.”
The IWW remains committed to helping workers nationwide organize their workplaces, wherever they may be. If you would like to learn more about how the IWW can help you and your fellow workers organize for better working conditions, contact the IWW’s organizing department.