Radical media, politics and culture.

Worker History Conference IWW Centenary : Rutgers

If anyone has found interesting new material on the IWW amidst the research prompted by the centenary please submit them!

Flavia Alaya writes:

"One Big Union": The Dream, the Reality, the History
The IWW and a Century of Radical Labor Activism, 1905-2005

A Conference and a Celebration
Saturday, May 7, 2005
Paul Robeson Campus Center
Rutgers University, Newark Campus
350 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Newark, NJ

The New Jersey May Day Committee is at it again! Founded last year (when we organized a spirited worker history roundtable and tour in Paterson), we've now taken on a bigger event: a full-day, super-gala conference that will commemorate and celebrate the first hundred years of the Industrial Workers of the World--"the Wobblies"--founded in Chicago in 1905, and attempt to put a century of radical worker activism into historical and activist perspective.

With the generous support of--yes--the cultural establishment (aka Rutgers University and the New Jersey Council for the Humanities), we've assembled as brilliant a gathering of spirited dis-establishment historians and activists from all over the country as you're likely to find in one place: veteran scholars and feisty graduate students, organizers, artists, musicians, cultural workers of all sorts and conditions, smart, opinionated, talented, wise--and wiseass.

The event is FREE (only we're asking people to give us $15 or whatever they can to cover lunch plus coffee-and throughout the day.)

Everything else you need to know is downloadable as a pdf file at either of the following internet addresses:


You'll need Acrobat Reader (download free from the adobe.com website), and print and read over at your leisure.

The idea is simple, though the program is rich: it's to look at the long history of the IWW (which is still with us) as a kind of isotope for tracking what's happened to left and radical politics over the course of the past century. What forces produced this amazing dream of a global movement of workers for radical social change -- of bringing men and women together across industries, cultures and languages into “One Big Union”? Who were these visionaries, and what were their goals and strategies? What happened to them? Where is the IWW now?

As the New Jersey May Day Committee, we'll be looking at how this history particularly impacted New Jersey (with a whole session on Paterson and the Great Silk Strike and its aftermath). But more than anything else we want to know what are the legacies and traditions of the IWW that matter for working people today, to see what organizing for social justice now can learn/has learned from the past. So as a wind-up, we've put together a roundtable of working organizers and activists to talk precisely about that (with simultaneous translation English/Spanish available!).

Books and T-shirts will be for sale--all kinds of great mementos. And THEN (as if all THAT weren't enough), we're slipping across the river to Chumley's together (86 Bedford Street in the West Village)--where the Wobblies gathered in the twenties to conspire--so that we can do the same: have some eats and drinks and laughs and songs, and launch a brand new book on the IWW: Wobblies, A Graphic History, along with its co-editor, distinguished historian Paul Buhle (Verso, 2005).

We think it's going be the event of the century. We'd love to see you there.

PLEASE don't hesitate to write if you have questions.

Flavia Alaya
flavia@bigplanet.com OR
jgugliel@email.smith.edu (Jennifer Guglielmo)

Those websites again for downloading detailed program info: