What is the IWW?

The IWW is a rank-and-file-run, international union for all workers, dedicated to organizing both on and off the job, in our industries and our communities. We are not affiliated with any political party. We organize the worker and the job, meaning that, unlike most unions, you carry your membership with you no matter what job you have, including if you are unemployed. Because we are a democratic, member-run union, decisions about what issues to address and what tactics to pursue are made by the workers directly involved. Our dues are lower than any other union, and how dues money is spent is determined by the members themselves. We believe in the power of rank-and-file direct action, shop floor organization and class solidarity, both to win better economic conditions and to build a world without bosses.

Groundbreaking Unfair Labor Practice charges filed by the IWW Freshii Workers Union may redefine what it means to organize at a franchise

freshii_picketGroundbreaking Unfair Labor Practice charges filed by the IWW Freshii Workers Union may redefine what it means to organize at a franchise.

In the past few months, union members have been working hard to compile evidence and prepare arguments in order to secure a hearing with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for the reinstatement of workers subject to illegal retaliation by Freshii union busters.

The IWW Freshii Workers Union was formed last summer when workers at the 200 w Randolph location marched on their boss and demanded full reimbursement for all unpaid wages, an end to illegal alteration of paychecks, and formal recognition of their decision to secure union representation under the banner of the Chicago Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

The power of collective action almost immediately resulted in the repayment of stolen wages, but the fight for union recognition waged on as Freshii desperately fought worker organization at all costs.

Freshii punished supporters of the union with firings, retroactive pay cuts, and desolate hours — abusive actions which led to the filing of multiple Unfair Labor Practice Charges, or ULPs, against the company.

The NLRB has already determined that these ULPs have merit or, in other words, they have confirmed that there is sufficient evidence corroborating the charges.

Our argument for the joint-employer status of the Freshii corporation and the shop where the union was born has the potential to set new legal precedent and open the door for union organization at franchises without previously debilitating red tape.

We hope that this case reminds workers that no workplace is “un-organizable” and inspires all workers to fight against abuses in their workplace – whether it be small, large, corporate, or franchised.

Legal proceedings, however, are only one front in the battle for recognition, so be sure to follow the IWW Freshii Workers Union Facebook Page for developments in this innovating Unfair Labor Practice case, as well as for ongoing organizing updates directly from the shop floor.


Wobblies Reclaim May Day in Chicago

Friday, May 1 – Chicago-Over 400 people took to the streets in Chicago for the IWW-headed Radical Coalition’s March, Rally, and Noise Demonstration this May Day. The event was the largest distinctly anti-capitalist local showing in recent memory. 


Called by the Chicago GMB in late 2014, the Chicago May Day Radical Coalition brought together 10 organizations in an effort to facilitate collective decision making and revitalize the historical working class spirit of International Workers’ Day in the holiday’s birthplace. The Coalition members, consisting of unions, leftist organizations, and affinity groups, agreed to a set of principles, including refraining from sectarianism, appealing to reformist legislative solutions, and agreeing to to the promotion of direct action.

After months of planning, the Coalition was met by hundreds of supporters turning out for the announced march starting in Union Park on May 1st. Black and red flags and bandannas were distributed to participants as police staged around the mass. The Chicago Police Department staged by the dozens, but their showing was quickly dwarfed by a sea of red and black. Though the crowd’s diversity allowed Syndicalists, Communists, Anarchists, and unaffiliated rank-and-filers to coexist throughout the day, the heavy-handedness from authorities that Chicagoans have grown to expect was strangely absent.


Police kicked off the May Day weekend with an attack on the Chicago GMB’s annual fundraiser concert. State officials issued the United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers of America, whose union hall would be hosting the GMB’s benefit event, three Cease and Desist orders mid-week leading to May Day. The Orders were written targeting the May 2nd show, effectively shutting down the anticipated musical follow-up to May Day. In conversation with UE officials, Chicago GMB officers were told the Chicago Police had made an in-person visit the day prior to issuing the C&D Orders, where CPD accused the IWW of being an organization that “causes civil unrest.” Officers of the Chicago GMB and other Coalition organizers found this attack to be a source of strengthened resolve and promptly responsed via social media, ultimately drawing more attention to the May Day events.

Shortly after the march left Union Park,CPD forces gave way to the crowd. National Lawyers Guild representative relayed to organizers the intent of the Police, to “avoid anything like Baltimore.” NLG contacts also relayed that the two target destinations had closed their doors early in anticipation of our arrival. It was clear by this point that the months of work put in by organizers had paid off; the City was afraid of the potential of May Day once again.

Organizers navigated the crowd to the first scheduled stop: The Mexican Consulate. Member organizations staged in front of barricades enclosing the Consulate’s front doors on the Near West Side for a short speak-out addressing concerns over 43 disappeared students, calling for a moratorium on deportations, for free movement of people, for an end to state terror on both sides of the border, and calling for a showing of solidarity with international working class struggles. While speakers shouted through bullhorns, activists plastered images of the disappeared students on the walls and windows of the Consulate.

The march continued throughout the West side to the Cook County Jail and Courthouse, arriving at roughly 5:30pm. Cook County Jail is the largest holding facility in the US, covering over 96 acres in the heart of the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago. Over 100,000 people pass through this institution annually. The Courthouse had been preemptively shut down by City officials at 2:30, so the demonstrators took this time to enjoy a meal provided by Pilsen Food Not Bombs and listen to short speak-outs from the Coalition members and individuals. While some sat to eat, the black and green flags of Vegan Antifascists stood firm in surrounding streets and held traffic at a standstill.

As demonstrators cleared their plates and speakers left the stage, Food Not Bombs distributed pots and pans for a noise demonstration in support of the incarcerated workers at Cook County. Starting with the main holding facility, the remaining 100-200 people used drums, cookware, sticks, and bullhorns to make as much noise as possible, then chanted in support of those inside. Shortly thereafter, the crowd shifted across the street to the much heavier-policed female lockup, where the crowd grew increasingly loud as incarcerated workers waved bedsheets and clothing in the windows. Demonstrators collectively shouted to them that they were not forgotten, and that we would not rest until all their cells were empty.

May Day served to show Chicagoans what we had known all along; Chicago has a thriving anti-capitalist community that is more than ready to burst out of dormancy. Organizers saw just as many new faces as familiar ones, and many attendees stated they were galvanized by the Chicago GMB’s efforts. As a city, we saw how we can come back stronger after what seems like a critical blow is dealt by authorities, and we saw that it can only happen with solidarity across the broad scope of the working class. This year, May Day was about more than having a local scene or coming to a single event, it was a part of laying out the foundation for a community, and a much more powerful movement.

Called by the Chicago General Membership Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World, the 2015 Chicago May Day Radical Coalition consisted of: The American Party of Labor, Chicago Socialist Party, Pilsen Food Not Bombs, Feminist Uprising Resisting Inequality and Exploitation, Chicago Torture Justice Memorial, Black Lives Matter Chicago, Moratorium on Deportations, Semillas Autonomas, and the Gay Liberation Network.


More information can be found at May1Chicago.org and Facebook.com/May1Chicago



On April 28th, 2015, at roughly 4pm, an organizer of this year’s Chicago May Day events was contacted by a representative of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America after a visit from the Chicago Police Department regarding the May Day Radical Coalition/IWW Benefit Concert on May 2. The UE representative was told by the Police that the Industrial Workers of the World and associated groups in the May Day Radical Coalition are organizations that “cause civil unrest.” UE clarified with police that the IWW is a labor union that is holding a benefit event for the union at a union hall, as the IWW has done many times before. It was made clear to the authorities that the UE and IWW were willing to resolve potential code or ordinance issues in order for the show to proceed.

Yesterday, April 29th, 2015, at roughly 4pm, it was brought to the attention of officers of the Industrial Workers of the World Chicago General Membership Branch that UE Hall was served 3 separate Cease and Desist orders. We value UE Western Region’s attempts to negotiate and understand that this effectively forced UE’s hand to cancel the contract with the IWW for the benefit event. The IWW does not wish to cancel the event, and officers have been searching for a new location but, at press time, the May 2 show is without a venue.

The City of Chicago’s attempt to shut down the IWW May Day Benefit Concert is a clear instance of repression of anti-capitalist organizing and a direct attack on our ability to fund the May Day 2015 Radical Coalition March, Rally, and Noise Demonstration, as well as future May Day events.

The history of May Day itself lies in the City of Chicago’s attempts to destroy the labor movement and silence revolutionary voices through the execution of the Haymarket Martyrs. This repression instead inspired a more radical and militant working class movement.  Today’s attempts to disrupt our May Day actions will only serve to inspire us continue our fight with even more passion.

We will not be intimidated, our resolve will never weaver, we will not stop until we achieve a world without bosses, and we will continue to stand by the words of Haymarket Martyr August Spies:

“If you think that by hanging us you can stamp out the labor movement… the movement from which the downtrodden millions, the millions who toil in misery and want, expect salvation – if this is your opinion, then hang us! Here you will tread on a spark, but there and there, behind you – and in front of you, and everywhere, flames blaze up. It is a subterranean fire. You cannot put it out”.

We call on all who wish to show that a fire still burns in the heart of Chicago’s working class movement to come to Union Park at 2:30pm tomorrow, Friday May1st, and take to the streets for a March, Rally, and Noise Demonstration against capitalism and state repression.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: ADVISORY: Chicago May Day 2015: Radical Coalition March, Rally and Noise Demonstration

Radical Coalition Reclaims Chicago’s May Day Local, national, and international organizations unite to celebrate working class.


Chicago 4/29/15 – Continuing a tradition of over 100 years, the May Day Radical Coalition will join workers across the world in a celebration of working class triumphs, as well as in remembering the sacrifices made by workers before us. This year we will focus on resistance to capitalism and the repression of class struggle by state and corporate interests. Ten organizations will be joining with fellow workers in Union Park on Friday, May 1st at 2:30 PM and will march to Cook County Jail in Little Village, arriving for a noise demonstration at approximately 5:00 PM.

This is the inaugural year of Chicago’s May Day Radical Coalition, which formed in response to abuse of rank-and-file workers during May Day events of years prior by organizers beholden to corporate and political interests. 2014’s “Red and Black Brigade”, called by the Industrial Workers of the World, brought numbers in the hundreds through a rainy day march and was an informal contingent in other May Day events.


Alison Olhava (Industrial Workers of the World) 847-707-5181
Miguel Del Toral (Socialist Party) 773-895-5774
Dan Bono (Industrial Workers of the World) 630-806-5000
Spanish Language / Hugo Rodriquez 773-918-0859


Industrial Workers of the World – Chicago General Membership Branch (IWW)
Feminist Uprising Resisting Inequality and Exploitation (FURIE)
American Party of Labor (APL)
Chicago Socialist Party
Black Lives Matter Chicago
Pilsen Food Not Bombs
Chicago Torture Justice Memorials
Moratorium on Deportations
Gay Liberation Network (GLN)
Semillas Autonomas


Friday, May 1, 2015
2:30 PM Union Park (Ashland & Lake)
3:45 PM Pilsen (18th & Blue Island)
5:00 PM Cook County Jail (26th & California)


March, Rally, and Noise Demonstration in celebration of the working class and against capitalism and state repression

Chicago’s May Day Radical Coalition was called to formation by the Industrial Workers of the World in February of 2015 and was formally created in late March of the same year. Each member organization, including the IWW, has equal voice and vote on all decisions.

Chicago’s May Day Radical Coalition Principles, by which every organization agrees to abide for this year’s May Day events, can be found at may1chicago.org/coalition.html.

Imagery created by the Coalition can be found at: may1chicago.org/posters.html

Find the Coalition on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/may1chicago

Facebook Event Page: www.facebook.com/events/360923034114774


May Day 2015 Benefit Concert for the Chicago IWW

Celebrate May Day weekend with six hours of live performances from radical musicians spanning the genres of Punk, Ska, and Reggae

6:00 – Saint Lost (Queer Emo Dream Punk)
7:00 – The Land Before Tim (High-Energy Ska & Rock)
8:00 – Alley Slob Service (Little Village Punk Rock & Ska)
9:00 – Malafacha (Ska, Reggae & Latin Rhythms)
10:00 – Ultrahazard (Ska Punk Crust Pop Fun)
11:00 – Arkham (Post-Hardcore & Punk)

Saturday May 2nd
UE Hall, 37 S Ashland
5:30 Door
6:00 Start
$7.00 suggested donation
21 to drink

Proceeds of the May Day Benefit Concert will help make future Chicago May Day events possible and provide support for the workplace organizing efforts of the Chicago IWW – Chicago Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

May Day 2015 March, Rally & Noise Demonstration

May Day 2015 March, Rally, and Noise Demonstration

Join the May Day 2015 Radical Coalition in a march, rally, and noise demonstration against capitalism and state repression!

March starts at Union Park at 2:30PM

Short speak-out by Mexican Consulate

**Accessibility point at 18th, Loomis & Blue Island at approximately 3:45PM

Rally & Noise Demonstration at Cook County Jail, 26th and California, at 5:00 PM

Food served during rally by Food Not Bombs Pilsen

Bring noisemakers!

We encourage all anti-capitalists, radical unionists, anarchists, socialists, and working class militants to come to the march wearing red and black.

**There will be a designated stop-off point at the intersection of 18th, Loomis, and Blue Island for those unable to walk the length of the march. Indoor seating, water and restrooms will be made available here. The 60 bus can be taken directly from here to the rally location.
If you are in need of additional accommodations, please e-mail may1chicago@gmail.com

Announcing: the “Chicago May Day 2015 Radical Coalition”

The Chicago IWW​ is excited to announce the formation of the “Chicago May Day 2015 Radical Coalition” with organizations including:
(1)The Chicago Socialist Party (2) FURIE – Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation​
(3) Chicago Torture – Justice Memorials​ Project.

Chicago IWW members at the Haymarket Memorial - May Day 2007

Chicago IWW members at the Haymarket Memorial – May Day 2007

Is your organization interested in joining the
Chicago May Day​ 2015 Radical Coalition?
(1) Read and agree to our coalition principles bellow. (2) Send an e-mail to: May1Chicago@gmail.com to request to join.
The first coalition meeting will be April 1st!


  1. We agree to promote direct action during and alongside our planned May Day activities

  2. We agree to promote a distinctly anti-capitalist message which encourages industrial democracy and condemns bigotry of any kind, including, but not limited to: sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, and/or sizeism.

  3. We agree to promote a world without borders or prisons and to the condemnation of selling out our fellow workers for the benefit of the few who appeal to the moral standards of our oppressors.

  4. We uphold our commitment to reason, logic, and scientific principles and our agreement to leave all spiritual and/or religious elements out of any of our messaging during May Day events, whether it be spoken, written, or otherwise presented.

  5. We uphold our commitment to refrain from direct promotion or endorsement of any political candidates or parties during May Day Events which falls outside of representing any coalition organizations and their names and to condemn aggressive recruitment which detracts from our shared message and goal.

  6. We uphold our commitment to refrain from selling any materials during the May Day march or rally, whether at a stated cost or for a suggested donation.

  7. We uphold our commitment to work together to promote class consciousness and to build a militant working class movement which includes, but strives to be larger than, our individual political ideologies and organizations.

The Chicago IWW’s “Red and Black Brigade” takes over the Haymarket Memorial during last year’s May Day March from Union Park.

Report Back: International Working Women’s Day

For more than a century, March 8th, or International (Working) Women’s Day (IWWD), has been dedicated to working class women’s resistance.  The holiday is traditionally celebrated by honoring the history of revolutionary women and taking action to demand working class women’s liberation, bridging the gap between feminism and class struggle.


Feminist Uprising Against Inequality and Exploitation (FURIE) led the effort to revitalize the radical working class history of the holiday, organizing an International Working Women’s Day event consisting of a rally at the Haymarket Memorial followed by a march for women’s liberation, which ended at Union Park.

The Chicago IWW is proud to have co-sponsored this event in coordination with FURIE as well as the Socialist Party and the International Socialist Organization.


IWWD dates back to the garment workers’ picket in New York City on March 8, 1857, when women workers demanded a 10-hour workday, better working conditions, and equal rights for women. Fifty-one years later on March 8, 1908, a group of New York needle trades women workers went on strike in honor of their sisters from the garment workers’ strike of 1857, where they demanded an end to sweatshop and child labor.


In 1910, at a meeting of The Second International, German socialist Clara Zetkin proposed that March 8 be celebrated as International Women’s Day to commemorate both previously mentioned strikes and lay a fertile ground for working women’s resistance and organizing across the globe.


This year’s rally included readings of memorable historical speeches penned by revolutionary women of the past as well as messages of solidarity, reflections on IWWD, and calls to take action against patriarchy, capitalism, and all forms of oppression voiced by representatives of the organizations sponsoring the event.


Chicago IWW member, delegate, and officer Alison had the opportunity to speak on behalf of the branch during the International Working Women’s Day rally, giving the following speech:

Sister Workers, have you heard this?

A woman’s place is in the kitchen. A woman’s place is in the bedroom. A woman’s place is in the nursery. A woman’s place is in the union hall. It’s no coincidence that the only one you haven’t heard is the only one that is true.

One hundred and ten years ago, a feminist, anarchist, and union organizer named Lucy Parsons stood before the founding convention of the Industrial Workers of the World and proclaimed “We, women, are the slaves of slaves. We are exploited more ruthlessly than men. Whenever wages are to be reduced the capitalist class uses women to reduce them, and if there is anything that you men should do in the future it is to organize the women”.

Luckily, the others present at the IWW’s founding listed to her advice and the IWW became the first union to organize across the lines of gender, race, ethnicity, color, language, industry, trade, skill, and employment status. The IWW became the one big union, the union for all members of the working class, standing by the motto of ‘an injury to one is an injury to all’ .

Fighting for the liberation of all workers necessitates doing more than organizing workplaces and building collective power on the job. It means fighting all forces of oppression which affect all members of the working class in intersecting ways- economic exploitation, alienation from one’s labor, racism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, incarceration, nationalism  and patriarchy.

Capitalism is designed to perpetuate the economic structures which keep material power in the hands of the ruling class, chaining the working class into wage slavery. Capitalism is also designed to maintain the social forces which divide the working class in order to prevent them from uniting against their truest enemy, their bosses. Capitalism relies on the oppression of the majority to maintain the power of the minority, and oppression thrives in the crushing inequality and desperation caused by the capitalists theft of our labor and our freedom.

The relationship between patriarchy and capitalism is one of mutual benefit, creating a situation in which women are subjected to interwoven forces of economic and social domination. Not only are women expected to wait on their husbands and children hand and foot without pay, they must also wait on others for a fraction of men’s already inadequate wages.This is the economics of capitalist patriarchy: if it doesn’t make a profit, make women do it for less.

Those who profit from our exploitation know the revolutionary potential of a class conscious women’s movement. They knew our power in 1857 when they attacked the garment workers’ picket in New York City where women workers demanded a 10-hour workday, better working conditions, and equal rights. They knew our power in 1912 when they arrested striking women in the textile mills of Lawrence, Massachusetts, for demanding not just bread, but roses too. They know the threat organized militant working women pose today, or they wouldn’t be writing our successes out of their history books.

We must not allow the history of International Womens’ Day to be diluted by a bourgeois agenda, much the way Labor Day has replaced May Day as the widely celebrated working-class holiday in the United States. The true working class roots of International Womens’ Day must not be forgotten.

Another revolutionary woman and IWW member, the Rebel Girl, Elizabeth Flynn, once said that “The IWW has been accused of putting the women in the front. The truth is- the IWW does not keep them at the back- and they go to the front”

I am deeply honored to come to speak to you on behalf of the Chicago Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World. I am proud to follow the fine tradition of wobbly women who come to the front.

Women have always been leaders of the labor movement.

Working women are forced intro class-consciousness by a patriarchal society of wage gaps, discriminatory hiring, withholding of gender-specific health care, and a denial of bodily autonomy or self determination, all of which points to where we stand on the capitalist pyramid and, let me tell you, it’s not on the top.

We’re sick of three quarters on the dollar, we’re sick of unpaid domestic labor, we’re sick of unrealistic expectations of beauty, we’re sick of being subject to violence and abuse, and we’re sick of being legislated literally inside and out.

There is no hope for emancipation in this class society so we must change this society all together. We must continue forward in the spirit of our sisters who went on strike in 1857 and 1912, fighting to abolish patriarchy and sexism alongside capitalism.

After all, who are we as feminists if we let the prospect of a woman CEO cast a shadow over a single mother facing eviction because their full time job pays a starvation wage?

Who are we as feminists if we prop up a female candidate for president while apologizing for her stance on the criminalization of sex workers, disregarding their struggle for physical safety and economic security?

Who are we as feminists, if we look up to outspoken female celebrities who say how far we have come in our struggle against oppression, without admitting to ourselves how far we have to go to finally reach liberation?

Who are we if we call ourselves feminists and ignore the class war being waged on our sister workers and ourselves?

Women must always be leaders of the labor movement.

We must go to the front of the picket line.

We must go to the front of our own distinctly feminist organizations.and ensure that, as we fight the bosses, we also challenge sexism and patriarchy within our organizations and within the working class movement.

Women have come to the front today.

We have come to celebrate our history, not only as women, but as working women and as feminist workers.

We have come together today, united in the struggle for the liberation of our sisters and of our class.

We have come together today to work towards the revolution.

Working women, hear me!

The revolution begins when we go to the front.

Announcing the Chicago IWW March Social Event: Movie Night Double Feature – Lucio and Union Maids – Saturday, March 28 at 6:00pm

Join the Chicago Branch of the Industrial Workers of the World Saturday, March 28, to watch the movies “Lucio” and “Union Maids” at the Chicago Branch office at 1700 S Loomis.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/801430386577923

Lucio- 2007
“Lucio Urtubia dedicated anarchist participated in notorious kidnappings, he collaborated with Che Guevara, he swindled Citibank of 3,000 million pesetas. And did it all without missing a day’s work as a building laborer.”

Union Maids- 1976
“Union Maids is a 1976 American documentary film directed by Jim Klein, Julia Reichert and Miles Mogulescu. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature. This is the story of three women who were part of the rank and file labor movement during the tumultuous 1930’s. Their lives were like many other young working women, but all three rose to the demands of their time and became militant organizers for their class.”

Any and all people interested are welcome to attend. If you are a new or perspective member, come and learn about the union and meet local members in a casual and open environment.

Come get to know us!


Lucio- 6pm start time

Union Maids- 8pm start time

Feel free to arrive early to chat or pay dues. If you cannot stay to see both films, you can be here for either one.

Stick around after the movie ends for a social evening with much merriment to be had!

The Chicago IWW is Co-Hosting “International Working Women’s Day” March and Rally with FURIE – Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation

The Chicago IWW is proud to be a cosponsor of FURIE – Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation‘s International Working Women’s Day March and Rally.

We are also excited to announce that our Organizing Committee Officers will be presenting a speech during the event’s rally.

Be sure to make it out to the International Working Women’s Day event to show your support for woman organizers,  including the fight against patriarchy in the class struggle, and  working class feminism!



Join us for a rally at the Haymarket Memorial followed by a march to Union Park!

Bring your sashes, your picket signs, your voice, and your friends and co-workers!

In 1910, at the Second International Conference of Working Women, German revolutionary Clara Zetkin brought forward the question of organizing an International Working Women’s Day. The conference decided that every year, in every country, they should celebrate on the same day a “Women’s Day” under the slogan “The vote for women will unite our strength in the struggle for socialism.” The March 8th holiday became a day to mobilize working class women against capitalism.

In March of 1917 (late February in the old Russian Calendar) Russian women workers lead a mass strike for bread and peace that began the revolution, the first and only example we have when the working class successfully came to power.

Without women, there is no revolution!

Join us as we reclaim the revolutionary history of Women’s Day.

Organized by:
FURIE – Feminist Uprising to Resist Inequality and Exploitation

Cosponsoring Organizations:
Chicago IWW
Chicago Socialists – ISO
Chicago Socialist Party
American Party of Labor
UIC United Faculty Local 6456
UIC Graduate Employees Organization